Rev Dr Edgar Mayer;
For more sermons and other writings check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org
The Bible book of Exodus reports in the first chapter Exodus 1:11-14: . the Egyptians [original: they] put slave masters over the Israelites [original: them] to oppress them with forced labour the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter Then, in the second chapter we find these lines Exodus 2:23-25: The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
Considering these opening statements
what do you think that the Bible book of Exodus is about? The title of the book
may give us a clue. Exodus comes from the Greek word exodos
which means departure and therefore it
is a natural assumption that the book of Exodus is about the departure
the escape to freedom of the enslaved
Yet, this is a very incomplete
understanding of what happened. I have been wrong about this for years. What
the book is really about is worship. There is a rescue from slavery and there
is a promised land but the heart of it all is the worship of God. The people of
Is God opposed to these aspirations? God is not opposed to blessing us with milk and honey we have a rich God but there is a two-fold correction. 1. You are not aiming high enough. Any rescue from slavery any life improvement is wonderful but there is so much more worship. Nothing satisfies more than God. 2. It is not about you but God. God loves you he hears your cry but when he rescues you from slavery or from whatever darkness this does not mean that he is your servant and you are his master. He is God and it is about him. The goal of worship is for his glory.
A Bible teacher writes [abbreviate and retell in your own words]: The first seven years after I was saved, I attended and eventually worked for a large church that emphasized Gods promises and provisions. It was a very evangelistic church with a passion to reach the world with the good news of the gospel, yet the gospel preached there accented the benefits of the kingdom rather than the glory of knowing God [ worshipping him]. People traveled from all over the world to come to the congregation, for it was well known internationally. The leaders zeal to see others saved was contagious. Many people in the international outreach church had a passion for ministry, and I was certainly one of them.
In those first few years of my association with that church I arose each morning and prayed as long as an hour and a half before going to work. I asked God to use me to reach the lost and dying, to heal the sick. I cried out to go to the nations to set the captives free. On and on I prayed fervently till one morning I heard the Lord say to my heart, John, your prayers are off!
I thought to myself, That cant be Gods voice. That has to be the enemy. Yet I knew it was the voice of the Lord. I was bewildered: Lord, how can You say this to me? I am praying for people to be saved, healed, and delivered [ set free from Egypt]. This is what you desire! But God saw beyond my words. He saw how little I knew of his true nature, and without it He knew that even though I would have been leading people out of bondage, such ministry would have eventually led me and many of those I taught to further bondage of idolatry within the church setting.
He said to me, John, the goal of Christianity is not ministry [further
rescue missions from
We have to remember that when the apostles went out with power to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out devils, Judas was included (Matt. 10:1-8).
I quickly asked, Then what is the goal of Christianity? He immediately replied, To know Me intimately [ in worship]! I then remembered that Paul said he counted all things as rubbish that he may know him (Phil. ). The Lord whispered to my heart, Out of that intimate relationship [intimate worship] will come true ministry. Daniel confirmed that by saying, But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits (Dan. NKJV) (John Bevere, A Heart Ablaze, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 1999, p20-21).
What is the Bible book of Exodus about? What is the true goal of Christianity? It is not setting the captives free. It is not the healing of cancers and the driving out of demons as much as we are hungry for this here at Living Grace. The true goal of Christianity is worship knowing him intimately because nothing satisfies more than God and God also is satisified by our worship of him. Everything is about his glory not us and then as a consequence from his glory true ministry flows.
This is critical. The slave people in the Bible book of Exodus became free from their human masters but then never committed to the worship of their Saviour God which means that they never got to know him. They were interested in what he could do for them but never sought to understand him or honour his intentions and therefore (this is absolutely tragic) they died in the desert never made it to the promised land.
Before we unpack this from the book of Exodus, I let another pastor shed light on the matter. He writes: As a speaker in citywide and regional conferences, I am often asked to unmask the spiritual power opposing the body of Christ in the conference region. City leaders and intercessors have even asked if I knew the name of the principle spirit that is resisting the church in their area. Do you want to know the name of the most powerful spirit opposing most Christians? I ask. Eager faces respond affirmatively. Its Yahweh. My questioners, who suddenly look like a tree full of owls, are always bewildered by my answer. They are sure I misunderstood the question. Then, I explain. I remind them that, according to the Scriptures, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6) (Francis Frangipane: The Land Beneath Our Feet).
In the end this is what happened to the
slave generation in
Even for us this is an interesting question: What is the principal spirit resisting Living Grace and Toowoomba? What is the name of the Spirit? Is it Yahweh? Is God opposed to us or are we on the way of having him oppose us? Have we ever read the book of Exodus and understood the goal of deliverance, that is: the worship of our God?
This goes deep and today in this message we will only be able to scratch the surface of the matter. At first
according to the book of Exodus everything
was well. The circumstances were oppressive but the peoples worship if
you can call it worship at that time (because after more than four hundred
The people offered God neither repentance nor praise. They simply cried out in pain. Life became so bitter and the forced labour became so hard that an entire nation burst out with a primal and primitive scream for survival. This was not worship in the conventional sense this was not going to church and praising God in songs but nevertheless the cry for help went up to God. Why? Because it is in Gods nature to help those without hope. A long time ago he promised to the man Abraham that his descendants would be blessed and that even all peoples on earth including us would be blessed through him (cf. Genesis 12:2-3). Therefore, when we are caught up in a most desperate downhill spiral, he cannot shut his ears to our anguish and depression but overflowing with concern and love is moved to honour his promises which were given because he has compassion on his creations in the first place.
You may be here in church today and you may still be on the fringe in your relationship with God but the good news is that God responds to the desperate. If you feel that you are overwhelmed by life if you are humbled by your circumstances and know that you need someone else to help you (you in your own strength are done) and therefore you cry out to whoever is there in the heavens, then be assured: God is hearing you. There is hope. Deliverance is coming. You will be set free and there will be a promised land for you and he will lead you to worship him.
Ephesians 1:4-12 I read from the Bible: In love God predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods grace in order that we might be for the praise of his glory. Keep crying out for help! God predestined us to be free as his children forgiven redeemed from any bondage by the blood of Jesus and (please take notice) as in the Bible book of Exodus this is promised to happen with the goal of worship in mind. I repeat two phrases from the Bible reading: to the praise of his glorious grace we might be for the praise of his glory.
Maybe in our thinking right now deliverance and worship do not seem to have a strong connection (I may want to be free from drug addiction but have no interest in prayer I may want to get a job but not commit to Sunday worship) but learn the truth. If you want to be free indeed and aim as high as God has allowed you to aim, then listen to him. God sets you free for worship (and only those who worship will experience complete deliverance).
A brief survey of Exodus makes this
clear Exodus 3:12: When you
have brought the people out of
There is a connection between deliverance and worship because the worship of God our Saviour comes with his presence as we worship, he dwells among us which is the guarantee for ongoing freedom. I say it again: As we worship God, our deliverance becomes complete and he satisfies all of our needs. Any compromise on this point is going to enslave us again because any hankering after other gods, persons or life-styles is bringing us back under their influence which is not giving us the same freedom as God. Therefore, this morning go for God: Worship him enjoy all of him and be free.
However at the same time be warned. Guard your attitude. God is not always what you want him to
be. It is more than likely judging by the experience of his people (past
and present) that you will take
offense at him. When the people of
How would you react how would you feel about God when he promises to help you but then causes even more misery? Instead of becoming healthier, you become sicker. Instead of going ahead financially, you lose more money. Instead of the family coming together, there are further temper tantrums. Instead of the church going from strength to strength, there are further challenges and heartaches. What would you make of this? Honest now. Many a time we are not that impressed with God and from a certain perspective we are actually right to blame God. It is his fault. Only he has not wavered from his commitments but feels free to follow his own strategy not ours.
We read in the Bible Exodus 7:3-5: . I will
harden Pharaohs heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders
It would not be surprising if God wanted Toowoomba to be saved in the same way. Precisely when everything looks beyond redemption (no water, more family breakdown), he will break through with his glory.
In the meantime for that purpose there was (and is) increased hardship, the endurance of plagues judgements on Egypt which also affected Gods own people such as water turning into blood, frogs and gnats. Would we (do we) bless God for this? Do we make sense of this? [We always seem to make everything personal and take everything personal. However, God may be bringing plagues of judgement upon our region and people with the consequence that we end up simply sharing in their suffering. Not every hardship in our lives is caused by our own personal sins Then, put yourself in the shoes of the Israelite leaders. Ten times they were full of courage and faith confronting the most powerful man of their day and ten times they did good work the plagues came but ten times they made not one little bit of progress. How can this not lead to discouragement and exasperation?]
And then in the ultimate confrontation God even trapped his own people in a situation of certain death. They
ended up cornered with Pharaohs
army on one side and the sea on the other. What madness. They cried out
Was it because there were no
Are we willing to come on board with this? Is God allowed to be God? There will never be any lasting deliverance, if we do not learn to trust Gods strategies. With him hardships have their place but they are serving his purpose (they bring glory to him) and they are not lasting.
Yet many a time we do not seem
to learn the lesson even with Gods best ongoing superb encouragement. The people of
Ten plagues broke the resistance of
Yet, the grumbling for Gods people nevertheless became a bad habit. It never took more than a few days when there was another tight spot some other hardship the previous evidence of Gods goodness was forgotten and nothing was learned by anything that God had done for them. Are we same? How quickly do we forget that we are saved that there is hope that so far God has never abandoned us? [List previous blessings from God.]
Think about this! Our mighty God managed to harden Pharaohs heart for the duration of ten plagues but he could not seem to soften the hearts of his own people on another ten occasions of testing hardships. [After ten plagues Pharaohs hardened heart finally softened into releasing the slaves and after ten grumbling times Gods soft heart finally hardened into judgement.] At last God threw in the towel in devastating judgement, saying Exodus 14:11-23: How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, no one of the people who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but disobeyed me and test me ten times not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.
Why did the Israelites persist in grumbling? Why do we keep grumbling? From the very beginning the Israelites learned the wrong lesson. Before God did anything, they were humble and simply crying out in desperation. However, as soon as God showed concern for them and began to act on their behalf (even against their will), they made the proud assumption the proud demand that this was the relationship. They had the needs which God must meet. God had to serve them.
Then as time progressed this attitude was reenforced because it worked. Grumbling actually works for a while. [The squeaky wheel gets the oil.] Early on when Exodus : for three days they traveled in the desert without finding water, they grumbled, saying Exodus 15:24: What are we to drink? Then God provided and even made them a promise Exodus 15:26: If you pay attention to my [original:his] commands and keep all my [original: his] decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you. Nice. This is how it should be or so the people thought.
Soon afterwards the people grumbled about a lack of food which prompted God to declare Exodus 16:4: I will rain down bread from heaven for you Exodus : I have heard the grumbling At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God. At the next place the grumbling was again about water and God again supplied the drink (Exodus 17). Grumbling worked for a long time but it was a dangerous habit with a disastrous outcome. [God wanted them to grow up.]
When the grumbling persisted, God no longer just responded with kindness but also judgement with fire (Numbers 11:1) and plagues (Numbers 11:33; 12:10) but to no avail. Are we learning from this?
Our grumbling is always based on lies (God cannot be trusted but why would he rescue his
What about our own grumbling? Can we snap out of the habit of blaming God for everything and always feeling sorry for ourselves? I come back to my original point. Unless we understand that the goal of deliverance is worship we will never make it. Miracles do not satisfy. The Israelites were amazed and wowed by so much a dry passageway through the sea, the drowning of Pharaohs army, bread from heaven, water from a rock but none of this sustained them and it was never meant to sustain them.
The goal of the miracles of the deliverance was to worship God. The truth was that God promised himself to his people. There is this amazing privilege of connecting with him praising him in child-like faith reveling in his goodness trusting him enjoying his presence and so on. Yes hardships will come they may even increase before Pharaoh lets us go but Gods glory never fails. He knows what he is doing. There is enough evidence to know better than grumbling. Agreed?
Therefore and this is now practical worship God in all circumstances. Do not believe the lies that diminish him. (Some of the hardships are actually meant to test you in this. Do you honour God with faith?) He is good to you. He is concerned about your groaning (groaning not grumbling) he looks with compassion on every tear that you cry and he loves you. You may not feel like it but try it out: Worship him. Love him. He is there and he will satisfy your soul. Nothing else does.
After Jesus broke our bondage of sin on
the cross, the outcome was worship
with joy. I read from the Bible
Luke 24:51-53: While Jesus was blessing the disciples, he left them and was
taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to