Summary: People don’t accept or reject you or even what you think. They accept or reject God who is behind you.
Title: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”
Text: Exodus 5:1-4
FCF: Acceptance of our Deliverer requires trust that God is a better God than we are.
When the tomato was first brought to the United States, people didn’t trust it much. They thought it was pretty, but they certainly wouldn’t eat it. It looked like nightshade after all! The Puritans thought it was too sexual at best, and poisonous at worst. But by the 1820s, Europeans knew better. Thomas Jefferson imported seeds for cultivation in Virginia, and gave all sorts of speeches on their behalf. But according to legend, it was Col. Robert Giddon Johnson who, on September 26, 1820, made history by eating an entire bushel on the town green in Salem, New Jersey. The idea was hard for people to accept, but they could trust the man.
In the early 1500s, Nicholas Copernicus worked out a solar system that contravened nearly two thousand years of pagan Greek thought. Aristotle had taught that the sun went around the earth, and people respected Aristotle, so that’s what everyone believed. It took brilliant and brave scientists like Galileo to convince people otherwise. Ultimately, the idea may have been hard for people to accept, but eventually people learned to trust the man.
In 1928, a Westinghouse engineer named Vladmir Zworkin gained the trust of David Sarnoff, then president of the radio powerhouse RCA. Zworkin told Sarnoff that with just two years and $100,000, he could invent television. It actually took him eight years and nearly $50 million, and included using the patents of one Philo T. Farnsworth to actually get it going, but Sarnoff never lost confidence in Zworkin. The idea was backed by a man he could trust.
Ideas and beliefs transform us, but they never do it alone. The power to change how we think rarely comes to us as pure revelation alone. Ideas are brought to us by men and women, and our ability to judge them is usually less an act of intellect than it is of trust. For every story I could tell you of men and women who changed the world with their ideas, there are hundreds more of great ideas that were rejected, because people wouldn’t accept the source.
Nobody in Europe listened to Churchill warning about Hitler until it was too late. Nobody on the Titanic listened to the warnings of icebergs straight ahead. Nobody in Troy listened to Cassandra. They just thought, what a nice present, this giant wooden horse those nasty Greeks gave us.
For the last several weeks, we have been following the story of Moses, and seeing how God chose Moses to accomplish his purpose. The title has been “My Deliverer is Coming.” Today, the Deliverer is here. But make no mistake, Moses may have been the leader, but he wasn’t the deliverer. Moses was a great man to be sure, but the only thing he delivered was a message. Deliverance only comes from God.
And therein lies the problem.
What we know of Moses is far less important than what we learn of God in the process, because in the end, Moses’ greatness lies only in his faithfulness to communicating who God is. For every 10 commandments statue out there, there is someone who wants to call Moses the great “lawgiver.”
The truth, however, is that he is nothing more than a messenger boy. What we do with Moses is irrelevant. But what we do with the God who sent him makes all the difference.
What we accept or reject is not some guy who died four thousand or two thousand years ago, but the God who stands behind him then and now.
In our text this morning, I want to show you this. Let me highlight the first exchange Moses had with Pharaoh, in Exodus 5:1-2
Exodus 5:1-2 (NRSV)
5 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.’ ”
2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should heed him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.”
Did you catch that? I don’t know your Lord. Why should I do what he says?
Moses has come back to Egypt, and he is going to deliver the message of God’s deliverance. We know Pharaoh’s response, of course, but I want you to pay attention to his reasoning – it’s not as far removed from us as you might think.
You know what happens next. Moses & Aaron do their thing with the snake. And then God sends Egypt 10 plagues. Throughout it all, Pharaoh’s heart is hard. He won’t budge. In spite of clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, Pharaoh still wants to believe that this God of the Hebrews is no match for him.