Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

Miracles For Moses

Posted on November 28th, 2021

Exodus 4: 1 – 9

“I believe for every drop of rain that falls,
a flower grows.
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night,
a candle glows.
I believe for everyone who goes astray,
someone will come to show the way.
I believe, I believe.
I believe above the storm the smallest prayer
will still be heard.
I believe that someone in the great somewhere
hears every word.
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry,
or touch a leaf
or see the sky,
then I know why I believe!”

I like that song. I always have. It’s been sung by Frankie Vale, Frank Sinatra, The Lettermen, and many others. And what appeals to me (and the millions that have loved it like I have) is that it declares that there is hope in this world. And the reason there’s hope is because we believe in a God ... who does mighty things. In fact, as Christians, that’s the power of what we believe: we believe in a God who does stuff. A God who does mighty stuff.
And, that brings me to our story this morning. Moses has been commissioned by God who tells him Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)

The problem is, Moses doesn’t want to go, and he’s been trying one excuse after another to get out of it. But this morning’s scripture I believe gets to the heart of why Moses doesn’t really want to go.
I don’t think Moses believes... anymore. He might have believed once. He might have felt he was ordained by God to save the people of Israel. I mean, that’s probably why he struck and killed the Egyptian who’d been beating an Israelite. But God hadn’t rewarded him for stepping up and defending His people. And so Moses had become a fugitive from justice and an exile for the last 40 years.
Now God has come to Moses and asks Moses to believe in Him. And Moses is saying “Thanks... but no thanks.”
Our text for today is found in Exodus 4: 1 – 9
Moses says in verse 1 But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’ ”
They WILL NOT BELIEVE! And under his breath I can sense Moses saying: “I don’t either. I don’t believe... either.”
Moses is struggling with unbelief, and so I think these 3 miracles are as much for Moses’ benefit as they would have been for the Israelites he was being sent to. The miracles are there to give Moses confidence. It’s something he desperately needs.

Now, before we get to these 3 miracles, we need to understand the nature of miracles.
1st - when God does something miraculous ... He always has a reason. In the Bible (for example) there were 5 seasons of miracles where God used numerous miracles to establish something He wanted done. At the CREATION He did miracle after miracle. He spoke and the Sun appeared. He spoke and the dry ground appeared. He spoke and there were Fish and Birds and numerous Animals. Then, when God FLOODED THE EARTH there was miracle upon miracle - God brought the animals to Noah and He flooded the earth. When MOSES LED ISRAEL out of slavery until they settled. There were the 10 plagues God brought upon Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, the miraculous giving of water and Manna in the wilderness. When God used PROPHETS LIKE ELIJAH AND ELISHA He again used numerous miracles to try to draw His people back from paganism. And, of course, during Jesus’ ministry up thru the establishment of the church there were numerous healings, raising people from the dead and casting out of demons.
One person noted that “If these miracles were happening every day, they wouldn't be called miracles, they'd be called regulars.”

But when God did miraculous things... there was always a reason.
A 2nd thing to remember about miracles is that God does them when He’s ready. If God does something spectacular in your life
it will be on HIS timetable... not yours. And that can be frustrating.

ILLUS: There was once a famous preacher who was known for his great faith. But one day a friend of his saw him pacing the floor obviously agitated. His friend asked him “What’s the problem?” The Preacher replied “The problem is – I’m in a hurry... but God isn’t.”
God’s not always in a hurry to do things on our time-table. That’s why the Bible repeatedly tells us – WAIT!
Psalms 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him...!”
Psalms 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage...!”
And Isaiah 40:31 “They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
The key thing for us to remember us that God commands us to WAIT! God will do mighty thing when He sees the need and when He’s ready to do them, but not until then.
Now, I believe in a mighty God who does mighty things.
Don’t you? Great. You wouldn’t want me up in this pulpit if I didn’t believe that.
In Matthew 13:58 we’re told “(Jesus) did NOT do many mighty works (in His hometown), because of their unbelief.” Their lack of faith robbed them of God’s power in their lives.

HOWEVER, there was one instance in Jesus’ ministry where that wasn’t completely true. In Mark 9:22-24 we’re told about a man who came to Jesus to have him heal his child. It was a desperate situation and the father pleaded with Jesus: “IF you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
And Jesus healed the boy!!!
For me, that’s one of the most comforting verses in scripture. The very idea that I could say to God “Help my unbelief!!!” and He’d have mercy on me (as He did for that father) is mindboggling.
And I think that’s kinda where Moses is at right now. I think Moses WANTS to believe, but it’s been a long time since he thought God even cared about him or even gave him a 2nd thought. And so (in his unbelief) God has mercy on him, and shows Moses his power! God does the Miraculous in Moses’ life because that’s what Moses needed at that time.
Now, what I find interesting about these 3 miracles God allows Moses to do is that they’re all kind of... parlor tricks. You know what a parlor trick is, don’t you? It’s a minor magic trick that it’s simply meant to entertain you, but isn’t all that impressive.
But this is Moses! This is the man that God used to bring the plagues down upon Egypt; to part the Red Sea; to bring water rock when the Israelites were wandering/wilderness;
and to feed those same Israelites with Manna every day. By comparison, these 3 miracles aren’t really... all that impressive.
So, I got to thinking that maybe there might be more to these 3 miracles than first meets the eye. I believe there’s something about these miracles that teach us something special about our God.
Let’s take them one at a time.

What is the first miracle Moses is told to do? (His staff turned into a snake) “The LORD said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A staff.’ And God said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it.
But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Put out your hand and catch it by the tail’ — so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand. (Exodus 4:2-4)

ILLUS: A preacher once noted: Why would God turn that rod into a snake in the 1st place? Couldn’t He have made it a mouse, or a dog or cat, or some less frightening animal? I think God turned that rod into a snake because the serpent was the symbol of power that was worn on the crown of Pharaoh. It was as if God was saying to Moses, “I created the power and glory that Pharaoh claims as his own... and I can... take that power from him at will”
So this preacher felt the serpent represented Pharaoh, and God turning Moses’ staff into a snake – was God’s way of declaring that He had power over Pharaoh. And that got me to thinking... who else is symbolized by a serpent? MIGHT BE SATAN!
That’s what Revelation 12:9 says “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient SERPENT, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
In Scripture we’re told God has power over Satan. You don’t have to be afraid of him because when God takes hold of your life Satan can’t harm you. In 1 John 5:18 we read “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.”
Now, there is a caveat there. If you continue to sin, if you allow bitterness or lust or greed (or some other sin) to rule your life, you might be giving Satan an opening. You’ll be giving him an opportunity to harm you and set up camp in your life. You don’t want that.
But if you give that sin to God (like Moses gave his staff to God) God can use your repentance as a way to destroy Satan’s power. And that was the first miracle – God showing His power over Satan.

Now, what was the 2nd miracle Moses was asked to do? (Put his hand in his cloak/leprous) “Again, the LORD said to him, ‘Put your hand inside your cloak.’ And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, ‘Put your hand back inside your cloak.’ So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.” (Exodus 4:7-8)

ILLUS: One scholar noted that leprosy was the scourge of the ancient world. Nothing evoked more fear, dread, and revulsion than the sight of the walking dead. The smell of decaying flesh would announce their coming long before you could hear their rasping cry of "Unclean! Unclean!" The disease slowly destroyed their bodies, and made them untouchable to society. Most scholars explain that leprosy was a vivid and graphic picture of the spiritual defilement of sin. Like leprosy sin is an ugly, loathsome, incurable and contaminating disease and it separates us from God and makes us outcasts.
Leprosy was a horrible picture of what sin does to us.
And so, as the serpent represented God’s power over Satan, the miracle of the leprous hand represented God’s power over sin. Moses was being sent into Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery. And in the same way Jesus was sent to free us from the leprous slavery of sin.
In Romans 7, Paul goes to great lengths to describe the power that sin can have over us and then he says “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this BODY OF DEATH? (Just as leprosy made its victims be the walking dead, so also sin made us the walking dead). Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!... There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 7:24 - 8:2
We are freed from the power of sin by the blood of Jesus. We’re no longer the walking dead. The leprosy-like destructiveness of sin has been washed away. Now there is no more shame and no more guilt. We are free because of God’s power over sin. That was the 2nd miracle.

Now, what was the last miracle that Moses was to perform?
“God said ‘You shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.’” Exodus 4:9
The Nile brought LIFE to Egypt. It was literally - the lifeblood of Egypt because without the Nile, Egypt would die. Thus as the serpent represented God’s power over Satan, and leprosy represented God’s power over Sin, so also the water of the Nile represented God’s power over life and death.

ILLUS: In our Sunday evening Bible Study on ZOOM we talked about a man named Jairus – the leader of the synagogue where Jesus was at. Jairus came to Jesus because his 12 year daughterl was terribly sick and he wanted Jesus to come to his home and heal her. But as Jesus and the father were walking to their home, they’re about ½ way there when a servant comes and tells Jairus “Don’t bother the teacher anymore... your little girl is dead.”
The first time I ever heard this biblical account in the life of Jesus I was in shock! We had to feel that this isn’t the way the story is supposed to turn out. If Jesus had been there in time... that little girl wouldn’t have died! And death seemed so final! This part of the story disturbed me.
I paused for a moment before I read the rest of the story. Jesus told Jairus it would be alright, and then went on to the home. When he entered the room where the child lay dead, Jesus took her hand in his and say “Child arise!” And the girl came back to life.
Many are asked if they feared death... and most . That’s not surprising - the Bible tells us everybody fears death, but that’s why Jesus came.
Hebrews 2:14-15 “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through FEAR OF DEATH were subject to lifelong slavery.”
You see, when we belong to Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of death. Jesus conquered death in order to give us life and the promise of eternal life.

ILLUS: One day in a Sunday school call a 10 year old girl asked the minister if death would be a time of eternal blackness. She was serious, and it deeply bothered her. The minister smiled and said “Oh no. When we become Christians, death has no power over us. That’s the imagery God uses in baptism.
When Jesus died for us He was buried in a tomb... but He didn’t stay there. He ROSE from the dead!
In baptism, the Bible says WE “DIE” to our sins. And what do you do with dead people? You BURY them. That’s why baptism is a burial in water... you’re being buried with Christ. But you don’t stay buried. Just as Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb... you don’t stay in the water. You literally rise from the dead to walk in newness of life
That’s why Romans 6:2-4 tells us: “How can we WHO DIED to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE.”

Sermon Contributor: Jeff Strite

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