Summary: There are no leaders who haven’t experienced somekind of trail. This sermon shows us how Moses overcame those trials.
Just a few weeks ago we saw John Roberts sworn in as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. We watched as he was grilled over and over about his stance on certain issues. And now sometime in the near future we will see Harriet Miers going through the same things. But I doubt if either one of them will go through the gauntlet like Clarence Thomas did. Jack Danforth in his book called the "Resurrection and Confirmation of Clarence Thomas," talks about the circumstances that surrounded the affirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. The book talks about the accusations made by Anita Hill, that he had acted inappropriately towards her ten years earlier. This was an accusation that completely devastated both he and his wife. Thomas said, “I have not always been a Christian but the accusations brought by Ms. Hill simply are not true.” But even with the convincing evidence that the accusations were not true, Hill was allowed to testify on national TV. More than a half dozen women testified to his outstanding character. But the media had a field day. Thomas kept asking, “Why are they doing this to me? Why are they trying to destroy me?”
Here’s a fact if you are a leader: you are going to encounter obstacles. You will encounter various trials and difficulties. This morning we don’t have any Supreme Court nominees with us, but we do have many leaders and potential leaders in the church with family, sports, community, business and some public officials. The obstacles that we face may not be as threatening or well publicized as Clarence Thomas but there will be opposition, trouble and criticism. How we cope with these problems will determine how well we lead and how much of an influence we will have.
This was true with Moses. God gave Moses a call at the burning bush; go tell Pharaoh to let my people go. Moses tried to cast the vision to a doubting Israelite nation and to a very stubborn Pharaoh. But even though it was a struggle, the Jewish people were freed and over a million of God’s people walked out of Egypt with their faces fixed on a promised land. But Moses encountered one obstacle after another. This morning I want us to look at three major trials he faced and as we study his trials.It is my hope that we can learn to cope with our trials as we go forward as well.
The first trial that Moses faces was hostile opposition. It wasn’t long before Pharaoh began to regret his decision to let the Hebrew slaves go. It was the last of the ten plagues that finally softened his heart, the death of the each first born in Egypt, including Pharaoh’s son. So Pharaoh had had enough and he said, "you people are a curse to our nation. So go and never return." But just a few hours later, he thought again, we have released all of our man power and he ordered the armies to pursue the Israelites and bring them back.
Exodus 14:9 says, "The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen [a] and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon." If you dare to be a leader, you are going to come up against some intense opposition, especially if you are trying to lead people to Christ. Bill McCartney, who began Promise Keepers, calls men to keep their promises to their families, to be men of integrity. But Promise Keepers in the past have had to withdraw from many venues in America because as one of the enemys of the ministry put it, “Promise Keepers is a male, supremacist, conservative, religious organization that strongly advocates gender bigotry.” It is not that at all. It is an organization that encourages men to be faithful to their wives, and to be a better father to their children. It is an organization that draws men closer to God by worship and by Word.
A few years ago James Dobson and Focus on the Family were run down as a group that may have even caused the death of a young homosexual man out west. It was absurd, but it made national headlines and was on all the news shows. This was so unfair. If you try to lead in moral values, you will be opposed. It may come from the government or the press or even your own family or friends or by someone in the church who thinks you are badly mistaken. Just like Moses though, when we are faced with opposition, we must press on toward the goal. Moses told the Israelites when the Egyptians came, to stand firm. Don’t run away. Don’t go back. Stand firm.