Sermon: God Provides For What He Commands

 

16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: 17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. 18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. 19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: 22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians. (Exodus 3:16–22)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In Exodus 3:10, God said to Moses:

 

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. (Exodus 3:10)

 

Moses had already objected twice: His “who am I to do this?” was met by God’s “I will be with you.” Further, Moses’ “What name shall I give them?” was answered with “I AM THAT I AM,” a name of authority, of power, of faithfulness, of eternity.

 

Then it seems that the Lord God anticipated what might have been his next question, “How do I do this?” I know that would be one of my questions: how do you gather two million people and get them out from the grip of a tyrant king?

 

Moses never asked, at least not out loud, but in Exodus 3:16-22, God gives Moses clear instructions on how he was to go about getting the Israelites out of Egypt.

 

What I want us to see is that these instructions are more than the “go to point A and then point B; fold tab C and put in slot D” variety. These instructions show that for what God commands, he also provides.

 

When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he provided a substitute, a ram caught in the bush:

 

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh [means “the LORD will provide.”]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. (Genesis 22:13–14)

 

In the New Testament, we also read that God provides for everything that we need to live the way he wants and to do what he wants:

 

3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:3)

 

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

 

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

 

It’s wonderful that we can go back to the Old Testament and see examples of God’s truth in action. This truth is no exception. God does provide for what he commands us to do.


I. GOD PROVIDES HELPERS

 

Exodus 3:16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: 

Exodus 3:17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. 

Exodus 3:18a And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt,

 

A. The Elder Helpers

 

The “elders” were the leaders of Israel, probably of individual families or clans. They weren’t organized into a formal central government, but informally they could determine the direction of their people.

 

Moses was to gather them together and speak to them what God told him to say.

 

Why speak with the elders first? Because the easiest way to speak to a nation is to speak to it’s leaders. The Israelites would trust their elders and if the elders believed Moses, then the people would believe Moses.

 

Another reason to go to the elders was that Moses would need their help. Practically speaking, there is no way to direct a nation of two million people by oneself. Not even today with our modern communications could a single person direct that many people without help.

 

Montana has one million people. Could the governor, in the event of a crisis, give directions without the help of television and radio staff, without advisors to help plan, without local officials to address questions and complaints in the field?

 

Moses would have helpers. Verse 18 says, “and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt.” 

 

Now, throughout the next several chapters it does appear that Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh by themselves (see 5:1), so perhaps what this means is that the elders gave their support, ran communication with the rest of the people, etc.

 

The elders would be one way that God provided resources for Moses to complete the task that he commanded.

 

B. The Church Helpers

 

God also provides helpers for us today. The Church is the help that we can rely on for support, encouragement, and even the occasional boot in the duffer to get us going again.

 

13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13)

 

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

 

Now, a common complaint might be: I came to the church to get help when I needed it, but they ignored me or judged me or the like.

 

That’s a sad accusation. It shouldn’t be that anyone who walks into the church, especially another Christian, cannot receive the help that they need. 

 

You can imagine that there were probably elders who refused to go along with Moses. Were they being obedient to God? No sir. Their disobedience would have cost them blessing.

 

In the same way, when we refuse to help someone (and I understand that there are cases and situations where great care is needed), we lose out on a blessing.

 

The Church is here, in part, to be Christ’s helper in this world. God provides helpers.

 

II. GOD PROVIDES HIMSELF

 

Exodus 3:16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: 

Exodus 3:17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

 

A. “The LORD God” had spoken to him.

 

The “LORD” is how our Bibles translate the divine name of Yahweh or Jehovah. In the previous passage, the Lord linked his name with the statement, “I AM THAT I AM,” which, as we discovered, is packed with meaning. 

 

I AM means that:

 

  • God has no beginning.
  • God has no end.
  • God is totally self-sufficient.
  • God is the only unchanging constant.
  • God is the absolute and final standard.
  • God is the most important person.

 

That is the God that would be helping them leave Egypt, and how could they fail with a God like that!

 

By the way, this is not just the God of the Old Testament, he is the God of the New Testament also.

 

58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58)

 

The people of the Old Testament knew the Great I AM by the name Jehovah—we know him by the name Jesus.

 

Jesus is a God with no beginning, no end, who is totally self-sufficient and unchanging—so you can depend on him.

 

B. “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob” had appeared unto him.

 

This was not a new God that was coming to help them. It was not as though the God of Genesis had failed them and now a new God was going to help.

 

No, this was the God of their fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob. He had not forgotten them…in fact he had “visited” them and “seen that which is done” to them “in Egypt.”

 

The God of their past knew about their situation. More than that, the Hebrew here is very strong. You could translate the last part of verse 16 as “I have indeed turned my eyes toward you.” In other words, there’s an attitude of caring that God has towards his people.

 

Frank Graeff went through some very difficult trials…When he turned to God’s Word, 1 Peter 5:7 gave wonderful comfort: “He cares for you.” After meditating on that truth, Graeff wrote these lyrics…

 

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained

Too deeply for mirth or song,

As the burdens press, and the cares distress

And the way grows weary and long?

 

Oh yes, He cares, I know He cares,

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares.

(http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/d/o/doesjeca.htm)

 

God not only cared for the present situation, but…

 

C. God promised to bring them up out of “the affliction of Egypt” “unto a land flowing with milk and honey.”

 

The promises that he had made to Abraham hundreds of years before were still good. He would keep them. The land flowing with “milk and honey” would be a land that was large enough for them all and a land with the natural resources to provide for their needs.

 

Jesus also promises us a future. He says:

 

1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1–3)

 

Like the Israelites, it’s a promise that we must wait for, but it’s a promise that he will indeed keep. If it wasn’t true, he would have told us. But it is, because it’s a promise made by him. 

 

God Provides Help to get us through trials and to do the things that he commands. God also Provides Himself. 

 

The God of their past had remembered them; And he was not just a past God, he is the God of the present, the I AM. This God had promised them a future: a land flowing with milk and honey.

 

Is this true for us today as well? Yes. One commentator I read put it so well, l’ll just quote him:

 

Jesus Christ is the God of the past, who entered human history to save sinners by dying on the cross and rising from the grave in real time and space. 

 

Jesus is also the God of the present, who is watching over us and who knows our suffering, including the ways that we are sinned against. 

 

The Christ of past and present is also the Christ of the future, who has promised not simply to save us from sin but also to bring us to glory. One day he will return to take us home forever. 

 

(Philip Graham Ryken and R. Kent Hughes, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory [Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005], 103)

 

So far we’ve seen that, for what God commands us to do, he provides helps and he provides himself. 

 

III. GOD PROVIDES WONDERS

 

Exodus 3:18b …unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. 

 

A. The Need For Wonders Then

 

“let us go…three days’ journey”—this seems a little deceptive to us. Does God plan only to get the Israelites out of Egypt for three days? No, of course not. 

 

Is he lying to Pharaoh? Well, that is the debate. But the Lord cannot be a liar, so there must be an explanation (Numbers 23:19).

 

(1) One explanation for this is that in our culture, we tend to be more direct with our requests. The people of the Ancient Near East often used gentle suggestions to get what they wanted. It was understood that more was actually desired, and so no lie was implied (see NAC).

 

As an example, imagine a teenager asking his father, “May I have the keys to the car?” Now, when that teenager drives off for several hours, is the father going to accuse him of lying? “You only asked for the keys to the car…you didn’t say you wanted to drive it!” 

 

It’s probable that Pharaoh understood that the request would mean the exodus of the Israelites on a permanent basis.

 

(2) Another way of understanding this is that in the Ancient Near East, the term “three days’ journey” was a figure of speech akin to when we ask someone, “Do you have a second?” No one understands that to be literally true—we automatically know that it could be 600 seconds or more.

 

Again, Pharaoh probably understood that they were leaving for a very long time. That would help explain his bitter resistance through all the ten plagues. I mean, if he thought that they would really only be gone three days—would he have had put his nation through so much turmoil?

 

So what this brings out is the Pharaoh’s resistance to the Lord God and his people. Something would have to be done on a large scale in order to convince Pharaoh to let them go.

 

Exodus 3:19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 

Exodus 3:20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.

 

“I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.”—This could be read one of two ways: that the Pharaoh would not let the people go, even by a mighty hand or that the Pharaoh would not let the people go unless a mighty hand compelled him. 

 

The first fits into the text better, but the second foreshadows the Lord’s work through the ten plagues to compel Pharaoh to release Israel. 

 

Either way, it would take a devastating amount of compelling wonders in order to convince Pharaoh to give in.

 

B. The Existence Of Wonders Today

 

Does God provide wonders for us today? Yes, I believe so.

 

There are plenty of people who have been unexplainably cured of cancer or other diseases. Books have been written about miracles that God have performed today. But many of God’s wonders are of a kind that we miss seeing when they happen.

 

  

If the plagues God sent on Egypt—lice, river of blood, grasshoppers, and the like—happened today, I am certain that people would attribute them to bad luck or global warming. 

 

In fact, I am certain that already happens time and time again whenever there are natural disasters or the like. People don’t want to wake up spiritually.

 

I think we often miss the wonders that God performs—or, at least, we fail to give credit to him. 

 

I cringe inside when I hear another Christian say something like: “He was lucky to get out of the car accident alive” or “He was lucky that the doctor found a blocked artery when he only went to the doctor for a cold.”

 

Come on! God is performing wonders! How could anyone just say it was luck? 

 

Yet our culture says that it is luck and our culture rubs off on us. So we must fight spiritually. We must look for God’s wonders that he provides for us in times of trial or in the areas of faith.

 

When we got to Gillette on our vacation, we expected to stay at the Motel 6 because they always have adjoining rooms. 

 

But alas, this Motel 6 had rented out all the adjoining rooms, so began the hunt for a hotel room for the night–never a fun task when you have kids who are ready to be out of the suburban. 

 

One hotel after another was a bust, either no adjoining rooms or way too expensive. 

 

But then finally we got to a Comfort Inn, where the clerk was going to give us adjoining rooms for ninety dollars each, until he saw the look on my face and gave us a suite for ninety dollars instead—which was lower than the normal suite price.

 

When I told Tami, she said that she had been praying and we gave God the glory—there was no mention of how lucky we were.

 

The point is that God is always working wonders: are we watching for them?

 

When God commands us to do something, he may provide wonders to help us to complete the task. It’s just that the we may miss the wonder because we’re looking for something different.

 

In my case, God commands me as a father to provide for my family—food and shelter—and he provided a little wonder that night in Gillette. 

 

And really, throughout our entire vacation I never felt like we got ripped off for the motel rooms (and we stayed at Motel 6 only twice), God provided throughout the whole time.

 

IV. GOD PROVIDES WEALTH

 

Exodus 3:21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: 

Exodus 3:22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

 

A. Spoiling The Egyptians

 

Wealth may not be the best word here, since it often has a negative connotation. Wealth simply means an abundance of valuable possessions or money, and that is exactly what God provided for Israel.

 

Not only would the Lord get Egypt to release Israel, he would also make them to be favorably disposed to the Israelites—so much so that they would give the Israelites valuables.

 

“every woman”—Why is the focus on the women? Because who in a family is most in charge of “jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment”? It’s the woman of the house.

 

There’s women who lived with Egyptians—“sojourneth in her house”—probably as a housemaid. 

 

What is it to “borrow”? Borrowing is not stealing, it’s asking if you can use something for a time. The emphasis here is on the asking not on the returning later, because obviously, the items would not be returned anytime soon!

 

What is “spoil the Egyptians”? The word for “spoil” means “to plunder.” Keep in mind that this wasn’t like the Israelites were breaking in and stealing stuff from the Egyptians. They were asking and being given the items.

 

Why was the “spoil” necessary?

 

(1) It could have been used during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness in a variety of ways: to buy supplies from nomads, to buy passage through restricted areas, etc.

 

(2) It seems that it was used to help in the building of the tabernacle. 

 

5 Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the Lord; gold, and silver, and brass, (Exodus 35:5)

 

(3) Unfortunately, the wealth was also used to build a golden calf.

 

2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 32:2–4)

 

B. Wealth and Unbelievers

 

Wealth has always been a sticky subject for believers.

 

(1) Jesus has a clear warning about wealth—

 

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:13)

 

Simply put, we cannot let the pursuit of wealth be our overwhelming passion. It cannot be allowed to interfere with relationship with the Lord Jesus.

 

(2) Yet, in that same chapter, Jesus makes another statement about wealth.

 

Jesus had just told the parable of the unjust steward, who, before he left the employment of his master (he was fired), allowed his master’s debtors to pay off their bills at a much reduced price. 

 

Why? So that he could gain friends who would help him after he lost his job. Jesus concludes and says:

 

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. (Luke 16:8–9)

 

What is he saying there? He is saying that we should use worldly wealth—that it should be our servant—in order to win people to the Lord. That’s what he means when he says make “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.” 

 

It’s not just about making worldly friends, it’s about them being saved so that when you fail (meaning, die) they will “receive you into everlasting habitations.”

 

So Jesus is saying that when we serve mammon (or wealth) when we allow the pursuit of wealth to dominate our lives and cause us to serve it instead of Jesus.

 

But if we are wise, we will use wealth as a means to draw people unto the Lord. How will that look?

 

  • We could give money to missionaries.
  • We could help people in our community in hopes that when they know that we care that they we care about what we know.
  • We could invest in things like advertising to communicate to unsaved people.
  • We could maintain our church building in a way that doesn’t detract the unbeliever from coming.

 

God always provides for what he commands. He has commanded us to reach the lost. He provides wealth to do just that. 

 

CONCLUSION

 

For what God has commanded for us to do:

 

God provides helpers. God provides himself. God provides wonders. God provides wealth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s