At Gateway Church in Austin, we kicked off our series called Outlaws, a series looking at prophets whose stories point towards the Messiah.
In life, we all go through trials and tribulations that may seem impossible to get through. Moses, a man whose life is chronicled in the Bible, had many such difficult situations. But we learn through his experience that we’re faced with a choice of whether we will act out of fear or whether we will trust God. When times get tough, will you cry out to God, or will you trust in your own limited abilities?
The Outlaws series included the following messages:
Work through the following questions and Scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.
WITH YOUR FAMILY, ROOMMATES, OR LIFE GROUP, WORK THROUGH THE MESSAGE NEXT STEPS:
WATCH THE MESSAGE JOHN BURKE SHARED:
HERE ARE THE MESSAGE NOTES FROM JOHN BURKE:
Have you ever been in a situation where you were crying out to God for help, for deliverance, from some bad situation; but it seemed like He wasn’t listening? I’ve had many. One that stands out was when I got the very clear message to start Gateway church because God cared about people outside the church who didn’t know He loved them. We came and started Gateway with many trials, but we were amazed at how many people were coming and exploring faith and finding faith. But then we kept being forced to move locations – 6 times in 2 years – and every time we would move we’d lose people. In fact, I met someone recently who said “I started coming off and on when you were in the General Cinema, then one day I came back and you guys were gone.” He didn’t find us again until 10 years later he’s driving on McNeil and said “Oh—there’s that church I started going to. Started coming again and came to faith.” [I’m not sure he looked that hard for us before that]. But that season was confusing. Why wasn’t God delivering a facility—He could do that! After all those moves, we find a Round Rock ISD facility, tried to negotiate a lease for an entire year on again, off again, it finally fell through. So disappointing, confusing, why did God ask us to start this church for people who don’t go to church and then make us play hide and seek with them? Am I enough here?
Today we’re starting a series I’m really excited about, called Outlaws. From now until Easter, for 5 weeks, we’re going to look at some of the Old Testament, Jewish Prophets who were Outlaws of their day. Some literally were running from the corrupt powers that be, others were treated like Outlaws for their message. We’re gonna look at Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah and John the Baptist. If you’re a skeptic, not sure if you believe God is real or Jesus was revealing God in human form—you’re in luck—cause I’m gonna basically prove it to you if you stick with us these 5 weeks. I’m going to show you in 5 weeks leading to Easter how God showed for 1500 years leading to Easter—exactly what, when, where, and why he was going to do this in verifiable history—saying “so you could know I’m God!” There’s proof if you want to accept it. If you’re heart and mind are not open, you can always find reasons to reject God. But if you’ll stay open minded these 5 weeks, I think you’ll realize there really is a God who loves you.
But the second reason I’m pumped about this series is believers have a lot of questions, like why does God not deliver me from trials and crises, why is it so confusing sometimes, is the God of the OT really the same as the God of the NT? Paul in the New Testament says that’s the purpose of all these OT stories:
Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did…These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us. 1 Corinthians 10:6, 11
We can learn valuable lessons through the Prophets about human tendency (which, if your human, you have these tendencies). And God wants us to learn from history, not just repeat it. He wants to lead us into good things, if we will trust him.
So today, we’re talking about Trusting God when you need deliverance. When the future looks bleak, or circumstances are not lining up your way, you’re being tested and crying out to God when something’s coming against you. Does God see, does God care, will He come through and deliver? Will you trust his promises when tested? That’s what we’re going to explore through the book of Exodus. So first, a little context.
4000 years ago, God chose Abraham and Sarah, a couple full of faith, to create the Jewish Nation. God declared the purpose of that nation in Genesis 12:1-3:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and…All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3
Notice the big Picture—God chooses Ab and Sarah to create a nation for a distinct purpose: To bless all nations! How is God going to bless all nations? Two ways—he will create a nation set apart with very distinct laws and protections to do two things: Record and preserve God’s Words through the prophets (the Dead Sea scrolls show how miraculously this has happened). And second, to foretell His own self-revelation in Human History through the Messiah (or Christ, in greek). Keep both those in mind—reveal the Scriptures and reveal the Messiah to bless all nations.
So Abraham’s great-grandson, Joseph and the nation of Israel is sent by God to Egypt to bless Egypt and the nations delivering them from 7 years famine, but about 300 years later Israel has grown to millions of people, but the Egyptian Pharoahs forgot God’s blessing through Israel, and enslaved the Israelites. [which archaeology shows ancient pottery indicating this. And if you hear “There’s no archaeological evidence of Exodus. They also said Babylon is a mythological city—but archaeology eventually showed otherwise, as it’s slowly doing with the Exodus too]. The Israelites cry out to God—for decades—it seems like God is not listening. Pharoah is scared of too many Hebrew male slaves, so decrees all male babies be killed. Moses should have been killed, but God delivers him when Pharoah’s daughter rescues and raises Moses as her own.
Moses grows up as an adopted son of Pharoah. For 40 year, Moses gets the best education and opportunity imaginable as son of Pharoah… but he knows he’s Hebrew. He feels the Hebrews are being treated unjustly, and wants to do something about it (it’s his calling really). And one day, he sees an Egyptian mercilessly beating a Hebrew—he tries to stop him but ends up killing the Egyptian. Moses runs for his life—an Outlaw of Egypt. He runs to Midian, in the desert, eventually he takes a wife, Zipporah, and settles into a life as a desert shepherd.
For 40 more years he’s tends sheep! 40! I point that out because some of you have waited a long time for what you feel God has you here to do. Moses felt he was supposed to help the Hebrew Slaves, but after his Harvard education, he ends up shoveling sheep poop for 40 years—and yet, at age 80, He’s finally ready for God’s purpose. Remember that—just because your life isn’t as you envisioned, it doesn’t mean God hasn’t been preparing you for something Great to bless humanity. So stay faithful, trusting God. You know what God said about Moses:
Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth…[God said], “he is faithful in all my house.” Numbers 12:3, 7.
Stay faithful, only God knows the full story of your life.
One day, Moses sees a Brilliant light up on the mountain. He goes up to see a Light like brilliant fire in a burning bush that is not burned up. The God of Light tells him he’s sending him to do what was in his heart all along.
7 The Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. [It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.] Exodus 3:7-8.
How often have you been in a situation, crying out to God, but he didn’t act or deliver in your timeframe? We’ve all experienced that because our timeframe is…yesterday! But God does see “I have certainly seen” God says, “I have heard your cries” “I am aware of your suffering.” In Genesis 15, God said he would give the Amorites 400 years to stop sacrificing their children and doing evil and turn back to him, he gave the Egyptians years to stop oppressing the Hebrews. God does see and care, but sometimes the timing of Deliverance is not our timing because He cares for all people—the Hebrews, the Amorites, the Egyptians—sometimes his delay in delivering us has to do with his loving patience for other people too. God delivers…first through Moses Insecurity.
God Delivers Through Insecurity
So God says to Moses, the old Pharaoh died, go to the new Pharaoh, never mind your mug shot is still plastered on the pyramid walls as an Outlaw, but go tell Pharaoh “God says let my people go.”
10 Moses said to the Lord…I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Exodus 4:10
Moses is insecure. He doesn’t feel able to do what God’s asking. Apparently Moses had a speech impediment. And isn’t it just like God to ask a guy with a speech impediment to go speak to the most powerful person on earth. Have you ever had an insecurity in an area where God was prompting you forward? You know what God wants you to do, but you don’t have what it takes. I’ve found that’s exactly where God wants you—because you have to depend on Him. Not by your power, but by His power.
11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths…Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:10-12
I told you that I studied Engineering at the University of Texas, and I was good at it. Graduated Magna cum laude, but I made 1 C in college. It was in English Composition. I was not good at writing or speaking. In fact, when I went to petition my grade, my professor said “No, you deserve a C…barely, but look on the bright side, at least you’re gonna be an engineer and not an author! Yes, my darker side has been tempted to send him a link to my books, but they’re not mine, it’s evidence of how God often works. When God asks you to step out in an area where you’re not able, you’re insecure, trust Him—God will deliver.]
Exodus is the story of God Delivering Israel, giving Pharoah chance after chance (warning after warning) to humble himself, trust God not his slave labor, but through 10 increasingly consequential plagues of warning, Pharoah hardens his heart until finally God gave him over to a hard heart (a theme of Exodus). The last plague became the Passover Festival of Israel—and a foreshadowing of Christ. Moses told Pharoah, 9 times you said you’d let Israel go but 9 times you didn’t. Now the final sign will be that every firstborn son will die. But God also said, I will forbid this plague from harming any people (Jews or Egyptians) who trust in me by taking a lambs blood and marking your door—the angel of death will Passover that house.
God was very specific for a reason:
2 “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. 3 Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice…They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses… This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.14 This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it….” Exodus 12:2-14
The Passover foretold and symbolized God’s provision to pay for all our sins through Jesus, the final Passover Lamb. Eternal Death would Passover all who trust in God’s forgiveness offered through Messiah. God is a Deliverer…and
God Delivers from Sin.
God told them every year, bring a sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem and offer it as a substitute, confessing your sins, trusting that God would forgive and deliver or save you from the debts you owed God from that year. It was a yearly reminder that our sinful ways are costly, the greatest cost. This annual sacrificing of a Lamb or goat to pay for past sins happened for 1500 years, until Jesus. Jesus was the final Passover Sacrificial Lamb. Consider this, the Talmud, the historical commentaries of the Religious Leaders who crucified Jesus say,
“On the eve of the Passover Yeshu [the Nazarene] was hanged…because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.” Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a
Jesus’ enemies documented this. Jesus was the final Passover Sacrificial Lamb.
Here’s what’s amazing, the first Passover and the yearly sacrifices were only a cosmic drama foretelling what God would do. Every year, people had to bring a lamb to the Temple in Jerusalem where the High Priest would sacrifice it and bring it into the Holy Tabernacle. But all that was pointing to Jesus final payment for all sins for all time—The writer of Hebrews that Jesus
12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Hebrews 9:12
You don’t have to pay for your wrongs over and over and over—You don’t have to live in guilt and shame and fear constantly. With Jesus Passover crucifixion, you can be permanently forgiven. God did this so you will love and trust Him, not so you’ll keep doing wrong, so you’ll follow Him and grow into the person He created you to be. Why wouldn’t you trust him if He proved his love with the ultimate price—in real history.
Check this out—it’s amazing. All Jewish sacrifice ended after Jesus crucifixion. Think about this, every year, for 1500 years, every Jewish family would sacrifice a lamb to pay for their sins, then it just stops. I found a site called Judaism 101 that answers why:
For the most part, the practice of sacrifice stopped in the year 70 C.E., when the Roman army destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Torah specifically commands us not to offer sacrifices wherever we feel like it…but in the Temple in Jerusalem, but the Temple has been destroyed. –Judaism 101
It’s not been rebuilt for 2000 years, so all sacrifices stopped—because they were only a cosmic drama foretelling God’s great sacrifice. This is real history—outside the Bible—yet how did it just so happen that the Jewish Pharisees and Roman Rulers came together to crucify Jesus on Passover? Coincidence? And Who could orchestrate all Jewish sacrifice stopping right after Jesus final Sacrifice. That’s why John the Baptist (the last Jewish prophet) saw Jesus and declared:
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
God is a deliverer, and He delivers us from all our sins, wrongs, character defects—if we will let him. Have you asked God to deliver you, saying “I want what Jesus did to count for me. I want your forgiveness and leadership?” That’s all He needs to restore relationship with you forever. He does that so we will walk through life following God. God’s put his promises in the Bible for us to know we can trust him to lead us to good places, even through the tests and trials.
So Pharoah finally lets the people go—Exodus tells of how Moses led them out, Pharoah chases them down and pins them against the Red Sea, yet God miraculously delivers them again. Two months later, they get to Mt. Sinai where God will establish a Covenant with the people—called the Mosaic Covenant. On Mt. Sinai, God says:
You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ Exodus 19:4-6
The Abrahamic Covenant was God’s promise to bless all nations through Israel—it was unconditional—he did that by preserving the Scriptures and sending Jesus the Messiah. The Mosaic Covenant was conditional. God wanted them to be a Holy Nation—Holy means “set apart” for God’s purposes. A nation of priests—a priest helps reconnect people to God—and all the laws and ceremonial and civil ways of Israel spelled out in 10 Commandments and Torah are for this purpose.
But the Mosaic Covenant was conditional—if you obey…then blessed. If you rebel…you will suffer consequences. God forgives through Jesus, but the purpose of the law was to show us there are natural consequences when you go against the ways God created us to live and love. Just like there are natural laws of gravity—if you walk off the top of a 50 story building, it doesn’t matter if you’re right with God or hate God, you’ll drop like a rock. Well, there are spiritual laws too. Like with a car—it was created to run on gasoline. You can choose not to do what the Manufacturer says—you can put nitrous in your car to make it fly, but you can also melt pistons and blow things up—it’s the law of reaping and sowing. Jesus reiterates it “a person reaps what he sows.” And sometimes God allows tests to see what’s in our hearts—will we go our way, or trust His Promises? That’s how we love God—when we trust his promises, even through tests.
God Delivers through Tests
Which is important to remember, when you’re crying out “God why are you doing this? Where are you? When will you answer and deliver?” God told Moses said,
“The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him.” Deuteronomy 13:3-4.
And he says “so that it may always go well with you and your children after you. Deuteronomy 12:28
I want good things for you.” So when tests come, say “This is a chance to show God I love him.” Because sometimes…
God Tests Our Patience.
What do you do when God doesn’t deliver in your timeframe? Rebel? Take matters into your own hands against His will? Panic and give in to fear, go back to old addictions or habits? Or Trust his ways, that He has good things in store? God leads the people of Israel out of Egypt, they saw 10 miraculous signs from God, plus he did what every Atheist demands “show yourself” and God led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. But
God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Exodus 13:17-18
God knows they’re not ready to enter the Promised Land, so he takes them the Roundabout Way. Remember that when God’s not doing things in your timing—maybe he’s taking you the roundabout way because he knows what it takes to get to the promised land.
Back to my 2 years of Gateway wandering in the facility desert. We tried to get Round Rock ISD to sign a contract for a whole year, nothing! Then one Saturday my kids cry “Fire.” There was a fire in the easement behind our house, and I go to put it out. Joe from the other side of the easement was there helping. I met Joe 2 years earlier, and he asked “Hey, how’s that church you started going?” I said, great, except we keep losing our facility. He pauses and says “You know, I just became head of a Retirement Manor that bought a Synagogue right off Mopac. We’re gonna tear it down this month, but I started feeling bad about that this week. I said “You should, let me see it.” I go look at it, and it’s perfect! Joe said “No way my board will lease it to you, we’ll save $5000/mo on taxes. We could only pay $3000/mo. Yet they did lease it for 1 year, we were there 5 years and grew from 300 people to 2000 people finding faith. It’s our Burning Bush story.
Sometimes God’s late timing is because he has something better in store, but you have to wait and trust. Are there areas where it’s hard for you to wait and trust God’s ways—with marriage and sexuality, with debt and material wants, with ethics and getting ahead? Trust Him—it will go well with you and your children.
In this case, Pharoah still hasn’t learned his lesson—he comes charging with Egyptian army. The people quickly forget God’s past deliverance, and hate on Moses:
“What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?…It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” 13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. Exodus 14:11-13
So God could have led them a different direction, but now they’re pinned in—Ever felt that way? Do you Grumble and complain and rebel, or see it as a way to Love God by trusting? God parts the sea, and delivers them. But I’ll tell you, my experience is that God often takes us to the wire to test our trust and love. And then when He comes through—He’s the 11:59 God—but then there’s no doubt it wasn’t us, it was Him.
God Tests Our Obedience
So one month later, after 10 miraculous signs, pillar of fire and cloud, Red sea deliverance starring Christian Bale, they run out of food crossing the desert. So what do they do? Remember God’s faithfulness? Pray? Trust? No—
“the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron. 3 “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. [forgot about the whips, chains & oppression] But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. Ex. 16:2-4.
So that evening quail fly in and cover the ground and the next morning there’s this bread-like substance on the ground, and they say “What is it?” It’s Manna. Which literally means “What is it?” But God tests them again saying “Okay, but here’s the deal—I don’t want you to save any overnight, and no working all week, I want you to rest. So on the 6th day, I’ll provide twice as much so you’ll have enough for the Sabbath, but don’t go try to find food on the 7th day, it won’t be there. But in fear rather than faith, many try to save it overnight. They go out on the Sabbath trying to get more.
The Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Ex. 16:28
When you have some need or want or desire, do you give in to fear or in faith view obedience to God’s will and as a way to say “I love you, God. I’ll trust you—you know the future?” They didn’t learn…and finally
God Tests Our Loyalty
Two months later, they get to Mt. Sinai, God gives them the 10 Commandments and makes a covenant to bless them and prosper them if only they will love him and follow his will and ways. Moses goes up into the Mountains to meet with God, but he doesn’t come back for days. The people get scared. This Moses guy is dead—We’re all gonna die—we should make gods like the Egyptians had, out of gold, and pray to them for our safety. So they did. Like an addict going back to a familiar addiction, they go back to superstitious ways, rejecting the one true God. And finally after rejecting God’s leadership 10 times, God gives them what they want. You don’t want to trust me to lead you into a Good Land, a Good Life, okay—I’ll give you what you want.
Moses pleads for God to forgive them.
20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live…not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—not one of them will ever see the land I promised…. Deuteronomy 14:20-21
Only Joshua and Caleb who trusted God’s promises got to enter the Promised Land. Maybe that sounds harsh, but learn from them. After all this, God reiterates his heart.
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.” Ex. 34:6-7
God forgives you through Jesus, you are loved and forgiven adopted as his Child, and he won’t forsake you even when you stumble and fall, but admit it, turn back and trust more. Don’t keep resisting God’s leadership, or he eventually lets us have our way, but like walking off a tall building, spiritual consequences do follow. Friends, God has a Promised Land for you—He wants it to go well for you and your children, and that’s why he forgives us—so we will love Him and trust him and stay loyal to Him. If you do, you will see His Deliverance, you will see your promised land, and you will be glad not only in this life, but forever.