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Summary: God can use signs to confirm his message, as he did with Moses, but signs can also become a way of evading God and rejecting his message, as Jesus found out.

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GIVE ME A SIGN

Exodus 4:1-5

I. WHEN WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH.

A. It got their attention.

On July 1, 2003, a visiting evangelist at the First Baptist

Church of Forest, Ohio, was conducting an evening revival.

Rev. Don Hardman had just finished his sermon on repentance and

was closing with prayer.

Apparently he felt that he had not accomplished what he was

there for.

A storm was raging outside, and as he prayed he just kept

asking God what else he needed to say.

After one loud clap he said that in the Bible, God's voice was

often compared to thunder.

He looked heavenward and said, "That's right, God! We hear

you!"

At that moment a bolt of lightning hit the church steeple and

surged through the electrical wiring.

It blew out the sound system and traveled through the microphone

to envelope the preacher in a ball of blue flame.

That really got the congregation's attention.

Church member Ronnie Cheney said, "It was awesome, just

awesome!"

The evangelist wasn't hurt and the meeting continued.

But 20 minutes later they smelled smoke and realized the church

was on fire so they all got out of there.

Do you wish God would respond like that every time you needed

him?

If you harbor doubts about God, do you think an event like this

would be sufficient proof for you?

Turning around the Bible verse, you could walk by sight and

not by faith!

#29386

B. Moses felt he needed some backup.

1) God gave him a clear mission, but Moses dithered.

a) He plays the "what-if" game with God.

b) The real issue seems to be Moses doesn't believe God.

2) God gives him more than he'll need.

C. What does it take for us to believe God?

1) Faith cannot be forced.

2) But God will help us believe, if we let him.

II. A GRACIOUS GOD GIVES MOSES SOME SIGNS.

A. Signs have a clear purpose in the Bible.

1) They give credibility to God's messenger so the people will

accept the message.

2) They were not to entertain or impress people, but to

convince them, to produce faith.

B. The first sign is mentioned in chapter 3.

1) In Exodus 3:12, the sign is that Moses will worship with

all the people on Mount Sinai.

a) This is what you might call a confirmation sign.

b) After everything is accomplished, Moses will know that

God is the one who did it.

2) Most people don't want confirmation, they want proof.

a) For confirmation signs, you have to have faith first.

The results come later.

b) Proof signs, on the other hand, produce faith.

3) For the sake of the Israelites, God establishes proof.

a) Note 4:5 - "so that they may believe...the LORD..."

C. The three signs given to Moses.

1) His staff becomes a snake.

a) Unusual that he would be told to pick it up by the tail.

2) His hand becomes leprous.

a) A number of diseases were covered by this word.

b) None of them were desirable and most of them cut you

off from society.

c) The on/off nature of the leprosy would have been a

powerful sign to the people.

3) Water from the Nile becomes blood.

a) Recalls the blood of Abel that was poured on the ground.

b) It will also remind them of all the suffering the Jews

have endured at the hand of the cruel Egyptians.

D. God suggests the signs have a multiplying effect.

1) One sign may not be enough, so the others support it.

2) This is why Jesus rebuked his opponents for seeking signs.

a) One is never enough.

1> If you don't want to believe, you won't.

2> You can always come up with a counter-explanation.

b) Jesus actually gave plenty of signs (=miracles) but

none of them would force people to believe.

III. DO SIGNS WORK?

A. They worked for the Jews. 4:30-31

1) They saw the signs and believed.

2) They heard the message of God's concern, and worshipped.

B. They did not work for Pharaoh.

1) His heart would be hardened.

a) Who hardened it, Pharaoh or God?

1> The text seems to say God did it. 4:21

2> What is more, God will then punish him by

killing his firstborn son.

b) Is this fair?

2) Taken at face value, it would be very unfair.

a) But this verse condenses what would be a long episode.

1> In the first five plagues, Exodus says Pharaoh

hardened his own heart.

2> Only from the sixth plague on does it say God

hardened his heart.

b) As time goes by, our free will seems to harden into

determinism.

1> Everyday experience shows us that repeated actions

become unchangeable character.

C. They did not work for Jesus.

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