This evening I want to share with you the first of a few lessons. These lessons basically will call your attention to parallels with what God did for Israel in the book of Exodus and what God does for the Christian in Jesus Christ. Each lesson will be independent. While it should be insightful to consider all the lessons together, we should be able to understand each lesson in and of itself.

I would like to begin by asking God to open our hearts and bless our understanding. Would you please pray with me?

The first thing I wish to do is to read from the book Exodus. Please read with me from Exodus 2:11-14.
Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. He went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, "Why are you striking your companion?" But he said, "Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and said, "Surely the matter has become known."

  1. Moses knew who he was and what his roots were, and he wanted to help his people.
    1. The fact that Moses wanted to help his people was a good thing, not a bad thing.
      1. Not wanting to help his people would have been a bad thing.
        1. Becoming such a selfish person that he felt no responsibility to help them would have been bad.
        2. Becoming such an ashamed person that he preferred to be in denial would have been bad.
        3. Becoming such an arrogant person that he would not consider his people's needs would have been bad.
      2. Wanting to help his people was a good thing.
        1. He knew that he had roots in an enslaved people, and that was good.
        2. He was neither ashamed to help them nor "too good" to help them, and that was good.
        3. Though he had a very privileged life, he could feel the pain and humiliation of their abuse.
    2. The problem: Moses viewed himself as the solution; he wanted to help his people.
      1. The solution would arise from him.
      2. He was confident that his people would respond positively to his concern.
      3. He was confident that his people would identify with him without shame just as he identified with them.
    3. The situation:
      1. One day he was watching, noting how difficult and inhumane the Israelites' work was.
        1. He watched as an Egyptian beat a Hebrew brother.
        2. Whatever was occurring, Moses regarded it a gross injustice, a totally unreasonable act.
        3. As he looked around, there was no one within sight except the Egyptian doing the beating and the Hebrew being beaten.
        4. Thus Moses took advantage of the situation--he killed the Egyptian and hid the dead man's body in the sand.
      2. The next day he went out to observe again.
        1. This time two Hebrews were fighting each other.
        2. He asked the Hebrew who was the attacker, "Why are you striking your companion?"
        3. The response shocked him:
          1. "Who made you a prince over us?"
          2. "Who made you a judge over us?"
          3. "Are you going to kill me like you killed the Egyptian?"
          4. Instead of feeling any sense of gratitude toward him for what he did the day before, they resented him!
      3. And Moses was afraid.
        1. He was afraid because his secret was now an "open secret."
        2. Instead of quietly appreciating Moses' help, the delivered Hebrew man told other Hebrews what happened.
        3. If these slaves were talking about what he did, it would just be a matter of time before the Egyptians knew what happened, and then Pharaoh would know what happened.
    4. Instead of helping his people, he only brought trouble on himself.
      1. What he did was not enough.
      2. He could not do what he thought he could do.
      3. Moses had some critical lessons to learn, and he had to learn those lessons the hard way.
        1. Before he could be used by God, he had to lose all confidence in himself and his position.
        2. Before he could be used by God, he had to have a much better understanding of who God was and what God willed to do.
        3. Before he could be used by God, he had to learn that power belonged to God, not to himself.
        4. Before he could be used by God, he had to become totally dependent on God.
        5. Before he could be used by God, he had to realize that nothing he could do of himself was enough!

  2. This evening, I want you to compare Moses' self-reliant efforts in this incident with Jesus' earthly ministry.
    1. It is my impression that many of us conclude that if we saw Jesus' earthly works and heard Jesus' earthly teachings, we, collectively, would have reacted positively.
      1. I do not think that is true.
      2. "David, don't be ridiculous--of course that is true!"
      3. Let me explain why I do not think it is true.
        1. We form our conclusion about our hypothetical response by looking back.
        2. We know about the resurrection.
        3. We know about what God had in mind in creating a universal people.
        4. For us, the New Testament has been in existence for centuries, and some of us have know parts of its message as long as we have been alive.
        5. However:
          1. The Israelites could not look back as we do.
          2. The resurrection had not happened.
          3. Consistently, God had worked through nations in the past, and primarily through the nation of Israel for centuries--they had no concept of the church as we understand it.
          4. The New Testament had not yet been written.
        6. In no way was Jesus or his ministry what they expected.
          1. God had never taken action in precisely the way He acted in Jesus.
          2. Sure there were prophets in their past, but there had never been anyone with the unique relationship with God that Jesus had.
          3. Jesus was extremely different, and what he taught about God was radically different--he simply did not fit expectations and what he said was just too different, too extreme to represent God as they knew him.
      4. As much trouble as we have in reacting to change, as reactionary as we are to things that are different, as upset as we get when spiritual things do not meet our personal expectations, I conclude we would have reacted to Jesus and his ministry in the same way they did.
    2. Let me clearly state that Moses and Jesus had one clear difference: Jesus always relied on God and put God's divine will before his human desires.
      1. Whereas Moses had to learn to rely on God and put God's will in the forefront, Jesus always relied on God and always kept God in the forefront.
      2. Jesus knew what Moses had to learn.

  3. This is the primary point I want you to consider: Jesus' ministry was precisely what God wanted it to be, totally focused on God, but Jesus' ministry was not enough!
    1. Jesus lived among, worked among, served among, and taught among the people who knew God better than anyone who was alive at that time.
      1. Though they knew God [and in their thinking knew Him well], they did not [as a nation] recognize Jesus as coming from God.
      2. Though they had heard and studied scripture all their lives, they did not [as a nation] recognize that the source of Jesus' teachings was God.
      3. Though they were certain they understood the correct meaning of scripture [as a people], they did not recognize Jesus' emphasis as accurately reflecting God's emphasis.
    2. If anyone in the entire world was teachable in the time of Jesus' ministry, it should have been the people he lived among.
      1. Yet, he performed all kinds of miracles, and that was not enough.
        1. He healed every form of sickness, including the impossible ones--and that was not enough.
        2. He raised the dead--and that was not enough.
        3. He fed many who were hungry--and that was not enough.
        4. He walked on water, stopped a windy storm, and walked away from angry people unharmed--and that was not enough.
      2. He was an unselfish servant of others.
        1. He did not use his power to make money.
        2. He did not use his power to gain prestige.
        3. He did not force people to listen to him or to follow him.
        4. Yet, his unselfishness was not enough.
    3. He wanted so desperately to help the people he taught--and he could have.
      1. But they were jealous.
      2. And they were arrogant.
      3. And they were selfish.
      4. He could help, but they would not let him help.

If you have not realized how deeply Jesus wanted to help these people through his ministry, listen to these words spoken by Jesus near the end of his life:
Matthew 23:37-39 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"

I am personally convinced that Moses really wanted to help his people, but it was not in Moses power to help. God could help. The power had to come from God.

I am personally convinced that Jesus really wanted to rescue his people during the period of his earthly ministry, but it was not in Jesus' power to help. God could help. God could do things in Jesus' death that Jesus' could not do in his ministry.

I hope that you, as a Christian, want to help people. Let Jesus and Moses teach you a lesson. You are not the answer. The power is not in you. The power is in God. Connect people to God. God is the power and the source of answers--you are not!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 21 September 2003
next in series

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell