Sermon for Sunday, March 7th, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
Old Testament reading:
[Exo 6:1-13 ESV] 1 But the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” 2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.'” 9 Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. 10 So the LORD said to Moses, 11 “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land.” 12 But Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” 13 But the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them a charge about the people of Israel and about Pharaoh king of Egypt: to bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
New Testament reading:
[Rev 21:1-4 ESV] 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
[Luk 1:67-79 ESV] 67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
In Exodus Chapter 5 we saw Pharaoh deny God, the Hebrew people complain to Moses, but Moses take his concerns to the Lord.
Now in Chapter 6 the Lord answers.
And in the answer we see that God is to get the glory for the Exodus. Moses does his part, but God is the true deliverer. God does what Moses cannot.
What is the Lord’s answer? How does he answer Moses?
God promises the deliverance of Israel by a strong hand. Persuasion having failed, God will compel Pharaoh to let Israel go, and even to drive them out of Egypt.
I. Driven Out
Did you see that? The people will not be sneaking out AGAINST Pharaoh’s will, but will be driven out by him!
Pharaoh will drive out the Israelites. And they’ll be better for it.
In the 1920s a movement grew in the Presbyterian Church to hold on to AT LEAST the fundamentals of the faith. Sadly, there were ministers who denied the inerrancy of the Scriptures, the virgin birth of Christ, the vicarious atonement, the truth of Jesus’ miracles, and his bodily resurrection. And when the Bible-believing ministers left to found the Orthodox Presbyterian Denomination and the Bible Denomination, they were at times called schismatics. And to cause a schism in the church is a terrible thing. But the reality is that those fundamentalist professors and pastors J. Gresham Machen, J. Oliver Buswell, Carl McIntire, and others, were KICKED OUT of the church. They were suspended from ministry. In some cases, like in Machen’s, they were kicked out without even being allowed to speak in their trials. The Bible-believers were DRIVEN OUT of the church. And the old church denomination, the PCUSA, as it has declined by millions of members, has grown to look more and more like Egypt and less and less like a church. Traditional Presbyterian churches, like the Bible Presbyterian Church and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church have far greater continuity with the great American Presbyterian churches of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. If a man from those olden days were to time-travel and come to our service, he might be amazed at our technology, but he would hear the same Scriptures that he heard in his time. But if this time traveler were to visit one of the apostate churches with women ministers, gay pride flags, pro-abortion messages, and completely ant-Scriptural doctrines, he would be DRIVEN OUT by the force of hearing that evil. And left behind is the morass, the Babel, the Egypt of unbelief.
God brings about these separations to the sanctification of his people, and the hardening of the opposition.
The Hebrews will be driven out of Egypt to be made a people holy unto God while the Egyptians will wallow in sin.
And I hope that the sin in the world is driving you away from it.
I hope that you have been forced to divert your eyes from most of the movies of today and have turned the channel on most of the tv programs of today.
We live in sinful times. Times that would shock people only a generation or two ago.
God is, I’m convinced, using these times to separate his people from the evil of the world. No longer can you be a lukewarm merely cultural Christian. You must chose to follow the Lord. Either you are coming with him to the Promised Land, or you are stuck in slavery in Egypt.
And some people get accustomed to slavery. We’ll see numerous times in the Exodus that the people will beg to go back to Egypt, to go back to Slavery!
Today people get accustomed to sin and addiction. But the Lord will bring his people out of that lifestyle.
How foolish it is to want to go back to it.
We too, saved by the Lord, should not desire to go back to the slavery of sin, but to go forward to the freedom of Christ. We should not desire the things of the world, but the thing of God.
It says in 2 Corinthians 6:17 – “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord”
As God brings the Israelites out of Egypt, we find that he is answering the prayer of Moses. God hears Moses, and God responds. He responds verbally, and he will respond with action.
So we know that God Answers Prayers.
So let’s look at this application:
Application: God Answers Prayers
This isn’t scientifically measurable. Attempting such measuring would be to “test God” which we should not do. But the answering of prayer is experiential. It is something that Christians can attest happens in their lives. And while an unbeliever will doubt that our prayers are answered, we know from experience that they are. And they are answered in ways that are more than just coincidence.
And because God answers prayers, it behoves us to pray often. Let us not grumble like the Israelites, but take our concerns to the Lord like Moses has done.
God surely answers our prayers.
[Mat 7:7 ESV] 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
[1Jo 5:15 ESV] 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
[Psa 91:15 ESV] 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
Let’s look then at the next section of God’s response to Moses. First we saw God’s promise that he will cause Pharaoh to drive the Israelites out of Egypt. Now God continues in explaining the new stage of relationship that God will have with His people.
II. God Made Known
2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name [Yawheh] the LORD I did not make myself known to them.
God had as far back as Genesis 2 been known as Yawheh.
So the text cannot mean that the people didn’t know God by this name.
But rather, they thought of God as “the almighty” – the El Shaddai, and didn’t know him as the covenant God with a personal name – Yawheh. They knew the word Yahweh, but they didn’t live in personal covenant relationship with.
One minister well explains: “While God revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in those virtues expressed in the name God Almighty, he will now especially reveal that he is the eternal and unchangeable I AM.” (Herman Hoeksema)
So, what God is promising to Moses is that He (God) who has been known as the all-powerful, will be known as THEIR God.
THEIR God. YOUR God.
This thought can be overwhelming. It can be overwhelming for us today as well.
The God of the Universe, cares about YOU. The all-powerful, almighty God delivers YOU from evil and cares about YOU.
He is not only your creator, He is also your father.
He is not only all-powerful, He is yours. He is your God.
Because God is the God of the Israelites, he remembers his covenant to bless them.
Let us look then at the third point: God Remembers His Covenant.
III. God Remembers His Covenant
If God did not promise great things, or if he were to forget His promises, we’d be in deep trouble. There would be no escape. The Israelites certainly had no hope for escape from slavery on their own. They were in captivity here for 400 years! Nor can we hope to escape from the curse of sin on our own. Our sin has a hold on us that we cannot break free of. We need the Lord.
Praise God that He remembers His Covenant.
Our text says:
4 I also established my covenant with them [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob] to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.
God’s covenant of Grace with Abraham now extends to Moses and the Israelites of that time.
God remembers his covenant.
And the covenant contains a number of promises. The Lord says this:
1. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians
2. I will deliver you from slavery to them
3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment
4. I will take you to be my people
5. I will be your God
6. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
There is continuity in the covenants. While there are many covenants mentioned in the Scriptures — Covenants with Noah, and Abraham, Moses, David, and the new covenant — they are all administrations of the Covenant of Grace because in each of these covenants the same promise is carried out – “I will be your God.”
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of Moses and the God of David, and the God of Jesus. And the God of you and the God of me.
We have that same promise “I will be your God.” “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God.”
And only God has the means and ability to fulfill what he declares he will do. He will deliver the people from bondage in slavery. He will redeem them with great acts of judgement. And He will be their God.
And He will be our God.
We see this continuity in the New Testament as well.
In our Gospel reading today we heard Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, say that God will remember His holy covenant with Abraham. And in our New Testament reading we read of the New Heavens and New Earth where we have the same promise as in Exodus: “they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
The promise of God then is for all times, from the earliest times in the Scriptures to the very end, and certainly encompassing our lives and time here on earth.
For the Israelites, even though things look like they are at rock bottom in that not only are they in slavery but they have more work than ever to do, making bricks without straw, they have the promise of God. And that is where they should look.
In our many struggles, when things look rock bottom, we should know that we have the promise of God, that he remembers his covenant and takes us to be his people and to be OUR God. Let us trust the promises of God over the appearance of things in the world.
God, OUR God, remembers His Covenant. Thus we have confident hope in the grace of God in all things. He answers our prayers and gives us eternal life. Praise be to God.