Summary: The theme of Exodus is redemption and the point of the book is that God saves his people.
Sermon 1 - Who is Yahweh?
Bruce B. Miller
Who is Yahweh?
9-11 video and series bumper
For days the media has been remembering 9-11. In the wake of overwhelming 9-11 memories, for some there are too many stories and pictures. What I remember are the questions, important questions. Ten years ago, churches around the country were filled with people asking where is God? Who is God and does he care?
These are the very questions that the book of Exodus addresses. The people of Israel were asking similar questions, not because of a terrorist attack, but because of their long oppression in Egypt. Today we begin a new series: Exodus: the God you thought you knew. Exodus also calls us to remember, but what we are to remember is very different. It is not a tragedy we are to remember, or even individual heroic acts, but we are to remember the great God who delivered his people.
We will discover that the theme of Exodus is redemption. The point of the book is that God saves his people. The central character is not Moses or Israel, but God himself. This is an exciting book. According to the ESV Study Bible, Exodus is an adventure story par excellence. It features a cruel villain (Pharaoh), an unlikely hero (Moses), overwhelming disasters (the plagues), a spectacular deliverance (crossing the Red Sea), a long journey (through the wilderness), a mountaintop experience (where Moses received the Ten Commandments); and a grand finale (the presence of God coming down to the ark of the covenant, filling the tabernacle with glory). The story features unexpected setbacks and unpredictable delays, magic tricks (from Pharaoh’s sorcerers) and miracles, feasts and festivals, music and dancing, and many close encounters with the living God.
We are exploring and remembering seven anchor stories of our faith in Exodus. In each of them we will come to better understand the God you thought you knew. This chart from the Exodus study guide shows where we are going from, who is Yahweh?, to, God acts, God redeems, God delivers, God provides, God instructs, and finally, where is Yahweh? The story takes place in three main places. We start in Egypt and move through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, where we receive the Ten Commandments and the instructions about the Tabernacle. We will learn about God’s power, protection and presence.
In many ways Exodus is the central book of the Old Testament. It reveals the character and presence of God with his people. Passover, the exodus from Egypt through the Red Sea and the Tabernacle are anchor stories referred to again and again in the rest of the Old Testament and in the New. Understanding Exodus helps you understand Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfills the role of Moses, the deliverer, the great Liberator. Passover anticipates Christ’s redemption as the ultimate Passover Lamb of God. Jesus is associated with the manna in the wilderness. Jesus is the One who dwells with us. His death is our exodus out of slavery to sin. We are getting ahead of ourselves, but I want you to look out at what is coming. Look for connections.
Today we are asking the question: who is Yahweh? Yahweh is the main Hebrew name for God. This is one of the most fundamental questions we can ask. Why is it so important to answer this question? The answer to this question quiets our fears. It solves our insecurity. If we really know God, it puts everything in perspective. The point of our passage today is that you should ask who is God more than who am I, because God is the God of people past, the God who rescues and the God who IS, so his ability overcomes your inadequacy.
How can we trust and obey a God who we only vaguely understand? But what if you could really see who God is? That vision will settle your anxieties. It will fill you with confidence and peace and hope. Each person should ask "Who is Yahweh?" more than "Who am I?" You may be inadequate, sinful and scared, but Yahweh is the God of people past; the God who rescues and the unique I AM, so confidence is found in looking to him over looking to yourself.
Let’s dive into our story. We will focus on the amazing burning bush story in chapters three and four, but they make much more sense with some historical context. Exodus begins about 400 years after the end of Genesis. Genesis concludes with Joseph, second in charge of all Egypt, saving the empire from a seven-year famine. He brought his dad Jacob and his brothers and their families to live in Egypt. There was a total of 70 of them. Over the centuries they multiplied. They came to be called the Israelites after Joseph’s dad, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. A king arose to whom Joseph meant nothing, probably about 1450 BC. He was scared of the Israelites because they were so numerous, so he enslaved them, putting them into forced labor to work in the fields and building brick structures. The Israelites kept multiplying so the king told the Hebrew midwives to kill every Jewish baby boy. They refused because they feared God over the king. Then he told them to throw Jewish baby boys into the Nile River.