Exodus 6:9-30 ~ 20101003 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
10/3 Exodus 6:9-30 ...we'll be right back after these important messages...
So far everything has gone terribly wrong in the exodus. Moses is reluctant to go in the first place, and when he finally goes, things go from bad to worse. Pharaoh doesn't budge and turns up the heat on the Israelite foremen. The Israelites feel that Moses must have flubbed up in his role as deliverer and so they call down God's curse on him. Moses, more concerned about how he is doing in the popularity polls than with what God has said he would do, turns to God and hurls accusations his way. 'Why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? I spoke to Pharaoh in your name, but you have not delivered your people at all.' God patiently and mercifully responds with a fresh revelation of who he is. He sends Moses to the people with a fresh message of hope; a message of who God is and what God will do. I am YHWH. I will bring you out; I will deliver you; I will redeem you; I will take you to be my own and I will be yours; I will bring you into; I will give it to you. I am YHWH.
Moses Speaks to the People
So Moses, renewed with this fresh revelation, goes to the people and gives them the message. This should cheer their weary souls.
Is there ever a time in your own life where you can't see past the end of your own nose? You allow what is possible to be determined by your circumstances, and you can't see anything but more problems. The difficulties loom so large that you can't imagine that God cares or is involved at all. Remember, Jesus said:
But things are clearly not going the way they should go, and God's encouragements to you fall on deaf ears. That is what is happening here. According to outward appearances everything that could possibly go wrong has gone wrong. God has a word for you and is speaking into the situation, but your problems drown out his still small voice. God is about to show up like never before in history and demonstrate his absolute supremacy over every created thing, to show his unfailing passionate commitment and love toward his people and triumph over their enemies, and his people don't even have ears to hear him. They don't listen because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. This could be better translated 'because of their impatience and harsh slavery'. Do you ever have a schedule and God doesn't seem to be the least concerned with what you have written in your day planner? God had promised deliverance and instead things got worse. 'You said you'd rescue me and I want you to do it right now!'
God's Commission and Moses' Complaint
This seems contrary to all semblances of common sense. Moses spoke to the people – God's people – the people who should be on his side – and they did not listen. So the Lord sends him off to the enemy who has no motivation to listen or care and has in the past been stubbornly resistant. God sends you off to do the easy thing, the thing that you could reasonably expect to be successful at, the thing that seems like there is great probability of success, and you fail miserably. You meet resistance and apathy where there should be hope and joy and excitement. You go away with your tail between your legs feeling like a pathetic excuse of a failure and God says 'good, now that you've totally failed at the easy thing, I'm going to send you off to do the hard thing – the impossible thing. Now that our people won't even listen to you, go tell our enemy the king of Egypt to let all his slaves go. This is Moses' objection:
Moses ties his objection back to the incident in chapter 4 at the lodging place on the way. God met him and threatened to kill him for his failure to keep the covenant of circumcision in his own family. How can you be God's representative when you don't even have your own family in order? Moses is reminding God of his own past moral failure. I've failed to keep your commandments. You can't send a man who is a moral failure on mission for you. Maybe Moses is feeling guilt over his recent outburst toward God. He accused God of evil, of foolishness, and of failure to come through in the moment of greatest need. Now Moses asks 'how can someone who said those things to you be fit to carry your message to the king?' Moses, too, cannot see past the end of his own nose. He is so consumed with his own failures and rejection, that he cannot see the patient, forgiving, redeeming, loving, passionate covenant keeping character of the great God he is supposed to be representing.
God responds to the objections with a command. This is not a discussion. I am not looking for your advice on how to handle the exodus problem. There is a time for patient encouragement and gentle reminders. And there comes a time for command. God is God. I am in authority here and you will do this. I am giving you a charge. I demand obedience. Bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
And now for a message from our sponsors. We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a genealogy. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, blah blah blah. Names, names, names. We have an interruption in the story of 12 verses of some 44 names. Our eyes glaze over and our brain disengages as we think 'why is this here?' and 'I can't pronounce these anyway' and 'who really cares who begat who?' and 'why would anyone ever name their son that!?'
So why is this here? Why should we care? Who are these guys? This genealogy is inserted carefully at this point in the narrative, not only to give a dramatic suspenseful pause just preceding the climax of the story, but also to give us some important details and answer some pressing questions.
God commanded Moses and Aaron to be the leaders who would bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. Who are these guys anyway? Who do they think they are taking it upon themselves to march into the presence of the king and speak on behalf of the people? We didn't vote for them! We don't like how things are going. We don't like how they are handling the situation. We certainly don't like the results they are getting. This genealogy gives us a historical anchor for the story. The exodus is not the result of some ancient creative writing class, a theological fiction that begins 'once upon a time in a land far far away...' It doesn't end with 'and they all lived happily ever after.' This is a real historical narrative. The events described really happened. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
This genealogy connects the narrative all the way back to Israel, the patriarch we know better as Jacob, (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) from whom come the twelve tribes. This also connects the narrative forward all the way to Aaron's grandson, who lived at the time of the book of Judges, and gives future generations a way to identify with the story.
It helps me to see this laid out visually, so I've attempted to diagram it in a way that we can see the connections and trace the paths of the genealogy. I'd invite you to try to follow along on the screen as I read from the text:
Up to this point in the genealogy it follows what we would expect of a typical list of the descendants of Israel. It starts with the firstborn Reuben, then Simeon, then Levi. But rather than going on with Judah and the rest of the 12, it breaks off here and the focus is all on the descendants of Levi with Aaron right in the middle of it.
A few things we can learn from this listing of names:
Aaron is shown to be in the priestly tribe of Levi, but not from the branch of the tree that produced the rebellion of Korah in the wilderness (Numbers 16). Phinehas his grandson had a prominent role in ending the cultic prostitution scandal at Baal-Peor in Numbers 25 and was rewarded with the “covenant of perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel” (Numbers 25:12-13). There are four women mentioned in the genealogy, the first highlighting the fact that the Israelite nation was not ethnically pure, by including Simeon's Canaanite wife. The next three women center around Aaron, demonstrating that the focus of the genealogy is the legitimacy of Aaron as a leader. His mother, his wife and his daughter-in-law are named. Aaron's father married his aunt, which at the time was prior to the giving of the law abolishing this practice. This makes Moses and Aaron's parentage on both sides from the tribe of Levi. Aaron married a woman from the tribe of Judah, who if we trace her family connections, we find both her father and brother in the lineage of Jesus the Christ (Matthew 1:4)
The genealogy is concluded by this statement:
This is a restatement of the main concepts from verses 10-13, which provides a frame for the genealogy. This is the family background and historical anchor of the Aaron and Moses whom God called to lead his people out of Egypt. They were the human instruments. But the focus is again on the Lord. The Lord said to Moses 'I am YHWH'; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you. We have this contrast between the Lord who is the true hero of the story, and Moses, who lacked confidence in his own character and doubted his ability to carry out God's orders. Moses needed God's constant reassurance and strength throughout the process. YHWH was the one who called him to do the impossible, and YHWH was the one who sustained him from beginning to end.
God says I am YHWH. I will bring you out, like a captive out of prison. I will deliver you out of the hands of your enemy. I will redeem you – as a close relative who fights for the honor of the family. I will take you to be my own with deep covenant commitment; you will be mine and I will be yours. I will bring you into a relationship with me. I will give to you exceeding, abundantly, beyond what you could ask or imagine. And I will sustain you from beginning to end.
This is the message of the cross, where God showed up like never before in history bringing us out of captivity, delivering us out of the hand of the enemy, redeeming us with his own blood, taking us to be his own, bringing us to himself and giving us graciously what we do not deserve. At the cross, God demonstrated his absolute supremacy over every created thing, showing his unfailing passionate commitment and love toward his people and triumph over their enemies. God will sustain us guiltless to the end. He is faithful, he will do it. He will finish his work and bring us to completion and present us blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy through the finished work of Jesus on the cross.