Summary: God delights in delivering His people when they come to Him on His terms
I’d like to begin this morning by taking a poll on a matter of critical importance in many households. In fact, it is so critical that the Wikipedia article on this topic has 91 notes, over 100 references and 13 suggestions for further reading. Of course I’m referring to the correct way to put the toilet paper on the holder. [Show pictures of over/under methods]. I know that many of you may not think this is an important issue, but let me assure you it is a matter of great debate in many households.
So how many of you think the under method is correct? And how many think the over method is correct? And how many of you really don’t care?
Well, in my exhaustive research on this topic this week, I discovered that there a number of ways that people try to support their opinions on this topic. For instance, some of you may have seen a post on Facebook with a diagram of the original patent for a roll of toilet paper from 1891 that appears to support the over method. [Show photo] But if you have a cat, this photo seems to suggest that perhaps the under method is better [Show photo]. But if you can’t come to an agreement in your house, then I suggest this might be your best solution [Show photo of roll sitting on top of holder].
While our choice of how to hang the toilet paper is not a life or death issue, the choice of how we choose to approach God certainly is. And as we’ll see this morning, that is a choice that even a great hero of the faith like Moses got wrong before he got it right. So undoubtedly that is something that we’re likely to struggle with as well.
This morning we’ll embark on the second leg of our journey through the Old Testament as we explore the idea of deliverance in the book of Exodus. In the first leg of our journey, we worked our way through the book of Genesis – a book of beginnings. And at the close of that book Joseph, who had been brought to Egypt by God in order to save both the Egyptians and his own family, dies. But before he dies, he made his family swear that they would one day return his bones to the land God had promised to him and his fathers.
As the book of Exodus opens, the people of Israel have multiplied and prospered in Egypt. But a new king, who did not know Joseph, came to power and because he was fearful of the increasing population of the Israelites, he subjected them to harsh slavery. But when that failed to keep them in line, the king gave orders to kill all the Hebrew babies. During that time, a baby is born to a Hebrew couple who is not even named until later in Exodus. When the baby is three months old, his mother puts him in a basket, which she hides on the banks of the river.
When Pharaoh’s daughter comes to bathe in the river, she finds the baby and, in a series of circumstances that could have only been orchestrated by God, ends up employing the baby’s own mother to be his nurse. She names the baby Moses, which means “drawn out” because she had drawn him out of the river. So Moses grow up in the household of Pharaoh.
When he is 40 years old, he sees an Egyptian beating a fellow Hebrew and he takes things in to his own hands and kills the Egyptian. So Moses has to flee from Egypt and he settles in Midian where he marries Zipporah and for the next 40 years, he lives as a shepherd, caring for his father-in-law’s flocks. At the end of Exodus 2, we learn that God’s people cry out for help and God hears their cries and prepares to act.
Let’s pick up the account at the beginning of Exodus 3:
[Read Exodus 3:1-22]
This passage is so rich that there is so much we could take away this morning, but since our time is limited, here is the truth that I want us to focus our attention on:
God delights in delivering His people
when they come to Him on His terms
I’ll explain how Moses’ encounter with God here reveals this truth in just a moment. But before I do that, I want to point out that throughout the remainder of the Old Testament, as well as in the New Testament, this truth is constantly the source of the tension that we see between God and man, both as an individual and as part of a covenant community.
In spite of what man knows about God’s sovereignty, goodness, love and power, he seems to constantly fall back into the trap of trying to approach God on his own terms rather than on God’s terms. We see this later in the book of Exodus. Even after God miraculously delivers His people from slavery in Egypt, just as He promises He will do in this passage, it isn’t long until the people ignore God and try to approach Him on their own terms by making a golden calf while Moses is away receiving the law from God. But they repent and return to God on His terms, only to go their own way again shortly thereafter. And that same pattern continues to characterize the people of Israel throughout their history. And, I would suggest, it is the same pattern that we tend to get caught up even today.