The Way of the LORD of the Covenant


Sermon Text: Exodus 6:1-13
Sermon Series: “Exodus” (#9)

Main Points:
I. Moses’ questions
II. God’s answer
III. The way of the LORD of the covenant

Someone posted on his Facebook a cartoon of rescuers trying to save a woman from a building engulfed in smoke. The woman jumped down and landed on the rescuers’ net. But she was bounced off and thrown into a window of a neighbouring building which was on flames. That was exactly what the Israelites thought and felt in Ex. 5. Their backs were already breaking due to heavy daily works in slavery. Then, an extra burden of collecting straw was added to their agony. It was to their eyes out of a frying pan into the fire.

They complained and accused Moses and Aaron of their trouble. Hearing it, Moses turned to God and questioned as recorded in Ex. 5:22. Listen to what he said, “O Lord, why have You done evil to this people?” Listen carefully what he continues, “Why did You ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all.” Moses is confused. He thinks he has done what he was asked, but nothing good has happened. Instead, more evil is upon him and his fellow Israelites.

This is the background of ch. 6. Now, in the first thirteen verses of Ex. 6, we hear God’s answer. What is His answer? A summary is this: ‘I am the LORD of the covenant, and I will deliver Israel from their slavery and bring them to the land I promised to give to their forefathers.’ It’s a strange answer. Moses asked, ‘Why?’, and God answers here in the first thirteen verses of ch. 6, ‘I am the LORD, and I will deliver Israel.’ God’s answer to a ‘Why?’ question does not begin ‘that’s because,’ but ‘I am the LORD.’

In this strange Q & A, God speaks to us something you and I must never forget but remember always. And that is the way of the LORD God of the covenant in saving His people and leading them – us – to our glorious home which was in the OT term, the promised land flowing with milk and honey. God’s strange answer teaches us to which direction we must keep our sight and on which way we must continue our gait in the midst of life’s troubles and toils.

To hear this message, let us start from the two questions of Moses. One is the question I pointed out to you a minute ago, that is, ‘Why all these troubles?’ The other one is found in 6:12 and Moses asks God in these words, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” Simply put, he’s asking, ‘What do You want from me, God?’ And these questions are, in fact, an important key to understanding God’s message for us.

I believe that the most immediate impression you get from these questions is familiarity. I mean, these questions are familiar to us because we human beings ask these questions to God all the time. Everyone says, ‘God, what’s going on?’ and ‘God, what do You want from me?’ At every turn in our life, we ask God, ‘What’s going on?’ In every situation, without exception, we raise our eyebrows and say, ‘God, what do You want from me?’ This is what we ask and also hear from Moses’ lips in Ex. 5 and 6. In this sense, Moses is one of us; he is the exact representative of us.

Many years ago, I was in the Korean Army, flying helicopters. On a special training mission I was in, one of the Blackhawk helicopters crashed, and four aircrews were killed. I saw my fellow pilots and aircrews lying lifeless in the crash site. In just a few minutes’ time, the living became lifeless. Shuddering, I asked, ‘O God, what is going on?’

A friend of mine had to close up his business. When he finally reached that conclusion, he had no idea of his next move. When he discussed it with me and another brother in Christ, three of us asked one and the same question in our minds, ‘God, what is going on?’ A church member I ministered to many years ago told me that her unbelieving husband was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. In tears, she said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on.’ We ask this all the time.

Not only this but the other question of Moses do we ask, and that is, ‘What do You want from me, God?’ In Moses’ case, the Israelites did not listen to him. But God asks him to go and speak the same to Pharaoh the Egyptian king. And Moses asks in this sense, ‘What do You want from me, God? Don’t You see these people have rejected me, and You want me to convince Pharoah?’ He sounds quite reasonable, doesn’t he? He failed to influence his fellow Israelites, then, how could he persuade the Egyptian king?

Not only do we frequently ask the same but also hear others making the same comment. Being challenged by God’s word or a sermon message, we immediately say in our mind, ‘Nope, can’t do that; I haven’t converted my own brother or sister or husband or wife, then, how could I be a messenger of Jesus to others, let alone my neighbours?’ Or, ‘I’m not capable of living a holy life; I can never be a disciple of Jesus.’ Making comments like these, we do exactly what Moses did in Ex. 6.

God answers to us as He did to Moses. At first glance, however, His answer seems to be totally irrelevant. Moses asked for a reason, but God gives a statement, ‘I am the LORD.’ We alongside Moses make our point and say, ‘What do You, God, want from us?’, and His reply is the same statement, that is, ‘I am the LORD.’ It seems that we and God are talking at cross purposes.

More often than not, this is what many Christians feel. They are confused with various things happening to themselves as well as others in the world. Not too many years ago, the whole world was bewildered with a virus pandemic that covered the whole world. At present, wars and political tensions among nations cause many hearts wonder. People seek God’s guidance in their path. In each circumstance, individuals seek God’s specific answer and direction.

But what most of them find is not a tailored answer to their prayer, but a theoretical one, like, for example, ‘Trust God and wait for Him’ or ‘Do not be anxious but rejoice in Jesus.’ I need God’s direction NOW, but receiving such an immediate guidance from God seems impossible. Your mind demands a clear explanation of the meaning and purpose of what is happening to you, but you know you won’t get a direct and clear answer from God. All you hear is somewhat irrelevant or too vague, too theoretical than pragmatic. That’s the answer Moses heard in Ex. 6 and that is, in summary, ‘I am the LORD.’

Why does He answer in this way? Why can’t He be more specific and direct to our questions?

Truth is, in this answer, ‘I am the LORD,’ God’s full explanation is given, and His perfect guidance is included. This is the answer that clears up your questions and mine as well as Moses’.

By this answer, ‘I am the LORD,’ God means that He is the God of the covenant; He remembers His promise and accomplishes it. He means that He is a faithful God.

In other words, God could not be God if He was unfaithful to His covenant. God’s making a promise with Abraham explains this well. In Gen. 15, God was going to make His covenant with Abraham. With that covenant, God would be forever the God of Abraham and Abraham would be of God forever. In preparation for this covenant, God commanded Abraham to prepare animals cut in half and wait for God. As the sun went down, a deep sleep came upon Abraham and, in his vision, God visited him in the form of a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch and passed in between those carcases. That means that God sealed the covenant with His life! As God is eternal, His covenant is eternal. He means that, as long as God lives, He’ll keep the covenant He made with Abraham. And that blood covenant is affirmed in the death of Jesus the Saviour. The animal carcases Abraham prepared pointed out the true and perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. God’s faithfulness to His covenant is sealed with the resurrection of Jesus. And now, as long as the seal of the new covenant is living, God’s promise is a living promise for the believers who are the spiritual descendants of Abraham and members of the spiritual Israel.

Simply put, by believing in Jesus Christ, God will always be with us, believers. No trouble can make you stumble; no toil will ever drag you off the way Jesus has prepared for you; nothing of this world will take your sight off from the cross of Christ and its glory. No matter what, your path is firmly held by God. This is what God means with His answer, ‘I am the LORD.’

More importantly, telling us, ‘I am the LORD,’ God explains the purpose of all things happening to us individually and to the world. And His purpose is to let people know, let you and I know, that He alone is our God. You might wonder what I mean because you already know that God of the Bible alone is God and you believe in His Son. The point is that we often, if not always, forget who God is and try to take over His works. As some Christians would feel God’s answer to their questions as theoretical than practical, many of us would consider God’s existence and nature theoretically than realistically. I mean, many of us try to sit on the pilot’s seat and steer our life around. Telling us, ‘I am the LORD,’ however, God points us to both know God and live in His salvation.

This is why Moses failed to convince Israelites in Ex. 5. To teach Moses that it is not him but God who saves His own, God allows Moses a failure. To teach all of Israel that it was not Moses but God who was going to save them from their slavery, God added another burden to their already back-breaking agony. After all, to let the whole generations of Israel know this, God directed Moses and all his people into the wilderness to wander there for forty years! And their sojourning in the wilderness is for our benefit too.

For the same purpose, I was led to the crash site I mentioned to you earlier and saw the reality of death there. For the same purpose, my friend had to close his business. For the same purpose, many things take place in your life and mine. Yet, all these point us to the ultimate goal set by God, that is, to be a holy people as our God is holy!

My dear friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ our Lord, let us remain firm in our faith for our God is gracious and faithful toward us. He will accomplish His purpose and guide us to Himself. Our path that has begun from the cross of Christ will end up at the gate of His glorious kingdom. In the meantime, let us stand strong and rejoice because God’s promise is living in Christ and we live in Him. ***

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