Expository Sermon on Exodus 6:1 – 11
by Maylan Schurch
Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church 8/22/2020
©2020 by Maylan Schurch

To watch this entire YouTube broadcast, click the link just below. The sermon starts at the 55:08 mark.

Please open your Bible to Exodus Chapter 6.

Several weeks back I began a sermon series called “Exiles,” mainly because of what we’re all going through during the pandemic crisis.

It just occurred to me this week that not only are we exiles from places we would normally go because of the virus, but we are exiles in a number of other ways.

We are exiles from an ordinary political season. And that could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your point of view. This past week the Democratic convention did not happen in a large convention hall with delegates raising banners honoring the states they came from, and triumphant red-white-and-blue balloons rising to the ceiling. Speechwriters did not have to craft orations with applause lines.

This coming week the Republican convention will happen, probably under much the same conditions. Some of the news reporters I’ve listened to like the change – they consider it refreshing. Other reporters long for the heart pumping, orchestrated excitement of an in-person convention.

And school kids of all ages are exiled from a normal and predictable school year. And if school needs to happen at home, parents who otherwise would be going to work might have to partially or totally exile themselves from employment.

And around the world, a number of countries are suffering under leaders who have exiled their citizens from peace and prosperity and security. Protesters take to the streets, desperate for change, yet worried that the change won’t produce anything really better.

As I was looking through the Bible for more examples of exiles for this sermon series, I found a very encouraging chapter in Exodus, Exodus 6. Because Exodus describes a really interesting exile situation.

The reason I say it’s interesting is that when Moses eventually led more than a million people out of Egypt, the Israelites did not become exiles from Egypt. Even after hundreds of years of living there, the Israelites were actually returning exiles, going home to the land God had promised them, and where He had called their father Abraham.

But notice who else went along with them. Put a temporary bookmark of some kind in Exodus 6, and turn to Exodus 12. Here we’re going to watch the very start of the Exodus, the marching out.

Exodus 12:37 – 38 [NKJV]: Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock.

This “mixed multitude” that went along with the Israelites were most likely Egyptians who had admired the faith and the lifestyle of the Israelites and wanted to go with them. Some of that mixed multitude may have been people who just liked to follow the crowd for excitement’s sake. And some of them may have hoped for a better life in the land God had promised Israel.

But this mixed multitude would cause problems.

Numbers 11:4 – 6: Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”

The manna, of course, was the delicious, nutritious food which God provided every morning except Sabbath. On Friday He provided double, so people didn’t have to work on the Sabbath.

But whenever the mixed multitude got discouraged, they stopped thinking of themselves as on their way to freedom, and flipped over to thinking of themselves as exiles, homesick for a beloved homeland. And they began to complain, and then the Israelites got discouraged and started wanting to go back to Egypt themselves.

And I don’t know how this whole “exile era” is affecting you emotionally, or even spiritually. I know that if I’m not careful, I could be overwhelmed by the messages of a whole lot of “mixed multitude” type of people flooding social media with a lot of worrisome ideas and theories.

We’ve got to watch our attitudes, folks. Our attitudes are formed by verbal noise we allow to enter our ear canals, or flicker across our retinas, noise that we don’t carefully evaluate and then decide to ignore.

I can’t get out of my mind the picture of a well-meaning young man with a rifle rushing into an East Coast pizza restaurant four years ago, demanding that captive children in the basement be released. There were no children in that basement. That was a made-up story, a conspiracy theory, but this young man—with probably a pretty good mind—had allowed himself to be suckered into the lie.

So what’s going to keep us from this kind of desperate despair? It’s filling our mind with solid Bible encouragement. And Exodus 6 contains that kind of encouragement. So let’s take a look at it.

I’ve called this sermon “God’s Exile Encouragements.” And in Exodus 6 I can find at least four such encouragements we can really use in the weeks ahead.

The first encouragement comes in the very first verse of Exodus 6. And it’s important to remember where we are in the Exodus story at this point. The Exodus hasn’t yet happened. Moses and Aaron have gone to Pharaoh and said “Let our people go.” Pharaoh has said, “No, I won’t let your people go. Instead I will force them to work even harder.” And he does this, and the people complain to Moses, and in the last couple of verses of Exodus 5, Moses complains to God.

By the way, it’s okay to complain to God, if your complaints are honest. It’s okay to be reverently and earnestly direct with God. In fact, let’s listen in on what Moses says to God.

Exodus 5:22 – 23: So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”

So it is okay to honestly complain to God. (Of course, you need to think through your case carefully before you complain. David the Psalmist, along with Elijah and several of the Old Testament prophets, labored with God, urging Him to act more quickly than He seemed to be doing.)

Moses considered he had legitimate reason complain. God had told him what to do, he had done it, and jup popped this roadblock—the people wouldn’t listen.

But notice something very interesting. God does not get snippy with Moses. He does not get annoyed. Instead, He just goes ahead and gives Moses the first of his five exile encouragements.

Exodus 6:1: Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

Here comes Sermon Point One. Here’s the first of God’s Exodus 6 exile encouragements.

God knows exactly what He’s going to do for me.

In every election season, people are looking for leadership. They want someone who has a plan, and who can gather together enough consensus to carry out that plan.

Well, the good news is that God knows exactly what He is going to do. And He is going to do what He’s going to do no matter what happens. Human choices and rebellions and forced wilderness wanderings might delay those plans for a bit, but what God decides to do, God gets done.

To me, that’s some very heart-settling knowledge. Once upon a time, God decided to create a breathtakingly complex organic ecosystem on this planet, and it He got it done in a week. God told Joshua to march the people around city of Jericho according to a divine plan, and sure enough, right on time, those walls crumbled.

God told the fugitive Elijah to hunker down by a brook, and right at mealtime those ravens came flopping toward him with fragments of bread gripped in their beaks.

God sent a brilliant, hair-raising dream about a statue, a dream which frightened King Nebuchadnezzar, and that statue’s progression of world kingdoms has worked out just the way the Lord said it would.

So what should we do with this? We should go back to the Bible and remind ourselves, or learn for the first time, what God is planning to do, in a large-scale way, with this planet. Re-read Daniel 2, especially watching what happens to the toes of the image. Re-read Matthew 24. Re-read First Thessalonians 4, and First Corinthians 15. Then you will know what God plans to do, and that should help settle your heart.

God’s next encouragement must have encouraged Moses at least a little. Notice what God says. Let’s start with verse 2:

Verses 2 – 5: And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them. I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.

What is God’s next exile encouragement?

Not only does God know exactly what He’s going to do for me, but God hears my groans.

A couple of days ago our Washington Conference leadership had a large Zoom meeting for pastors. (In a normal August this would be held in person up at Sunset Lake Camp over two or three days.)

One of the guest speakers was Rick McEdwards, who was a pastor years ago in this conference, and who is now president of the Middle East and North Africa Union of Seventh-day Adventists. His headquarters is in Beirut.

Rick told us where he was when that tremendous August 4 explosion happened. He first felt what he thought was an earthquake tremor, and then 10 seconds later he heard the loudest sound he had ever heard in his life. He tells us that experts say that this was the third most powerful human-caused explosion that’s ever happened—the first two being the two atomic bombs dropped on the cities in Japan.

Rick confirmed what you probably know if you been following the news about Lebanon. Even before this blast, there were protest in the streets against the government. And this explosion was a crushing blow to the hopes of the people.

But there on the Zoom screen Rick showed us a picture of two young men wearing masks and sweeping the street. He said that they were two of the protesters, and he said that all through Beirut, the young people who had been protesting had turned their energies toward cleanup.

You could tell that Rick’s heart was hurting for the Lebanese people. And the verse we just read says that God hears their groans too. Back in Exodus 3:7, God puts His compassion in different words: “And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.”
God sees our oppression, He hears our cries, and He knows our sorrows. After all, Isaiah 53:3 says that Jesus was “a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” And in Luke 15:20, in the Prodigal Son parable, Jesus says this about God the Father: “And he [the Prodigal Son] arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”

So whatever you’re facing this coming week, remember that God not only knows about it but cares about it. And He knows exactly what He is going to do about it, and when. So just keep talking to Him. Have faith in Him. Put that faith to the test. Because God will make a way, either over your dilemma or through it.

And the reason I can say that so confidently is because of God’s third exile encouragement.

Exodus 6:6: Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
Here comes God’s next exile encouragement:

Not only does God know exactly what He’s going to do for me, and not only does God hear my groans, but God will liberate me.

Okay, but is this really a promise for me? I’m not a brick-making Israelite slave. Is this a Bible-wide promise?

I sometimes get a little nervous when I hear people say that they’re going to claim all of the Bible’s promises.

I don’t really think that “every promise in the Book is mine, mine, mine, mine.” God made many promises to many people in the Bible. Some of them were promises of doom, and I certainly don’t want to claim those “doom” promises.

And some of the positive promises were specific to certain groups of people. God promised Solomon earthly wealth, but He’s not necessarily going to give Maylan Schurch earthly wealth.

So if you find a Bible promise, it’s a good idea to think through the Bible and see if it is a Bible-wide promise.

Well, this one definitely is. When God says He will liberate the Israelites, that is simply one example of several promises of liberation. In Jesus’ first recorded sermon, there in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, He insisted that He Himself was the fulfillment of Isaiah chapters 49 and 61, parts of which He quoted: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;”

Jesus often told His disciples that He only did what His Heavenly Father told him to, so this liberation was God’s plan as well.

And other parts of the Bible agree. Paul often speaks about God’s power to liberate us from our sinful ways. In John chapter 11, Jesus liberated Lazarus from death, and at the resurrection He will liberate anyone who has fully responded to the heart-softening influence of the Holy Spirit. And in 2 Corinthians 3:17 Paul says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

So whatever you’re facing this week, claim God’s promise to liberate you. You may not be a physical slave – though horrifying number of people around this planet are. But maybe you need liberation in some other way. God knows how to liberate you, in His own good time.

And what’s so wonderful is that He WANTS to liberate me. Because look at the heart-filling promise in verse 7:

Verse 7: I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. . . . .

And God followed through on this, didn’t He? God wasn’t an impersonal consultant which Moses engaged to supervise this huge tribal movement. No, God said, “You exiles are going to be My people.”

And He proved it. Psalm 34:17 and 18 says: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.”

In Acts 17:27, Paul tells a group of amateur philosophers in Athens that God “is not far from each one of us.”

And God proved that He is near, even more dramatically. There on the desert floor, in the very center of all those tribal tents, He Himself lived in the tabernacle. His presence hovered over His people day and night. And He insisted that if anyone sinned, they could bring their sin to Him, right there to that tabernacle, and He would personally forgive it.

Is God really near to us today? Jesus promises this in His fervent John 17 prayer. He first prayed for His disciples, and then for those whom the disciples would share the gospel with, and that’s you and me.

He told God, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one.” (John 17:20 – 22)

That’s how near Jesus knew His Father wants to be with us. You can’t get any nearer to someone than that. And that is good news—which is what the word “gospel” literally means.

Now let’s turn to just one more of God’s exile encouragements. I’d never seen this one before, though I’ve read this chapter several times. God finishes His talk with Moses, and then watch what happens.

Verses 7 – 8: I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.’ ”

Ringing words of confidence, right? And now it is Moses’ job to say those words to the people, to inspire them to pack up and head for Canaan. But watch what happens.

Verse 9: So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.

If you’re a fairly seasoned Bible reader, you might feel an uneasy tingle of apprehension go down your spine right about now. I mean, here are the very words of God, in which He firmly repeats His promises several times in different ways. But when Moses tells these words to the people, they didn’t listen.

So, what is God going to do now? He has something of a history of being rightly frustrated when people ignore Him.
But watch what God does. Let’s read verse 9 again.

Verses 9 – 11: So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the children of Israel go out of his land.”

So what did God do when the people didn’t listen to Him? He did nothing! He just let it pass, and simply assigned Moses the next task in the agenda.

So, why did God let this pass, rather than get angry with them? Because He has heard the groans of this people. He knows that right now they’re so beaten down with discouragement that of course they can’t summon the faith right then. And that’s okay with Him.

He knows that later, of course, as they see the ten dreadful plagues fall on the Egyptians but leave Israel untouched, their faith will begin to build, and they’ll finally get the courage to march eastward. (And after that point, when they’ve seen abundant evidence of His great love and power, if after that they stubbornly rebel, that’s when God will get understandably more earnest and emotional.)

So here’s the final sermon point:

God knows exactly what He’s going to do for me. God hears my groans. God will liberate me. And finally, God isn’t discouraged by my discouragement.

Psalm 103, verses 13 and 14, says this: “As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”

So if you’re going through a rough patch right now, and your faith is pretty feeble, remember what these verses in Psalm 103 say about God. In fact, all of Psalm 103 is a powerfully encouraging “read” for tough times like these.

Because God is a God of follow-through. If you happen to be discouraged right now about how He’s leading you, and where He’s leading you, remember that God has a plan. And your job is to say, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!”

And if you are harried and hassled by what’s happening all around the planet these days, remember that the entire Bible rings with the joyful truth that “There is a place of quiet rest near to the heart of God.”

As we close, let’s sing about what will keep us happy and confident in the days and weeks ahead. “Near to the Heart of God.”