Times were tough. Moses was between a rock and a hard place. The Israelites had given up on God. All seemed lost. Then God spoke hope into the situation. But only one person listened to that word and was forever changed.
God uttered a word for Moses to pass on to the Israelites, but the Israelites didn’t listen. However, as we discussed last week, I think God gave it more for Moses’ benefit than Israel’s. Moses needed the encouragement from God. And God gave it. Let’s read again what God said.
“I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’”
There are five points that God reminds Moses of in this passage and therefore, five lessons we can also glean as we read and ponder this passage. For just as Moses faced discouragement in his calling, so we too will experience seasons where we feel ready to give up and quit. But during those seasons, God isn’t done with us. He has more work for us to do and more things for us to learn. Therefore, just as Moses needed these important reminders, so also we need to be encouraged by what God has to say about who He is, what He’s done, and what He will do. So here are the five reminders God gave Moses and gives to us.
1. Remember who God is. “I am the LORD.”
This phrase is used repeatedly throughout this passage. And when a phrase or word is used several times in one passage, it because extremely important to note and pay attention to it. God wanted Moses to see with extreme clarity that He was the LORD. YHWH. The all sufficient One. The living God. The voice in the burning bush. The personal, all-powerful God. Likewise, when we’re feeling down, God wants us to remember who He is—His nature, the essence of His character. For when we focus on the greatness of who God is, all else gets smaller by comparison.
2. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob…”
God didn’t just appear to Moses. No, He also appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses’ forefathers, and He was faithful to them. God guided and preserved them throughout their wanderings and poured out blessings upon these men. Therefore, He wanted to remind Moses that just as He was faithful in the past, so He will be faithful in the present.
This is important for us to remember, and we have even more testimonies of God’s faithfulness before us than Moses did. Our list could be miles long! God could say, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Mary, Paul, Timothy, Augustine, Corrie ten Boom…” and you continue the list. There have been so many saints who have gone before us who testify to God’s faithfulness. So when we get discouraged, let’s remember God’s faithfulness in the past and trust that He will be faithful in the present and future.
3. Remember the intimacy we can have with God. “…by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.”
As we mentioned before, God didn’t reveal His personal name to anyone before Moses. It was a special gift God gave to Moses, and it was given to foster intimacy and a personal relationship with the living God. So here, God wants to remind Moses of the special holy ground moments that they had together and the intimacy they shared.
But with the birth of Christ and the arrival of the New Covenant and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, we can have even greater intimacy with God than Moses ever did. We don’t have to stand before the holiness of God and worry if we will survive the experience. Under the atoning blood of Christ, we can wear Christ’s holiness and fellowship with God as our Abba Father. So remember the intimacy we can have with God and treasure it!
4. Remember God’s heart. “I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.”
Even though 400 years had passed, God never forgot His people Israel. He saw their sorrow and knew their hurt. His heart was broken for them, and He was compassionate. This was why God raised up Moses to deliver them, why He made the effort to rescue them even though they were ready to give up at the first sign of hardship. This was God’s heart, and He wanted to remind Moses of it.
Similarly, God’s heart toward us is one of compassion and kindness. He sees our sorrow and knows our pain and wants to bring healing and restoration. That is why Jesus came, and why God even goes to the effort of fixing our brokenness. All because He loves us. So when you’re feeling down and discouraged, remember God’s heart toward you. Remember why He came and why He cares, and be encouraged.
5. Remember God’s promises. “I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession.”
The final point God wanted to remind Moses of was His promises. Over 400 years previously, God made a promise to Abraham and confirmed that promise to Isaac and Jacob. This was another reason why He sent Moses to deliver Israel. God had a promise to keep, and God always keeps His promises. He never fails, but will do what He says He’ll do.
The Bible is full of promises like the one God gave Abraham. They are not all material promises of wealth and possessions, but they are just, if not more, valuable. God has promised to never leave and forsake us, to remember us and keep us, and to bring us into an eternal inheritance, just to name a few. In many ways, the Bible is a book of promises—promises that God will keep. So during those low moments in life and all seems to be falling apart, remembering God’s many great and wonderful promises renews our hope and encourages our hearts.
These five points of remembrance helped Moses and bolstered his faith and hope, giving him the courage to go forward without turning back. After these life giving words, he was a different man. On the other hand, the people of Israel refused to listen to the words of God and continued slaving away in misery and without hope. So to close, what path will you chose? Will you be like Moses who listened and took to heart the words and reminders of God and be forever changed, or will you be like the Israelites who didn’t listen and therefore never received hope?
I hope you will join me in following Moses’ example of listening to the gentle reminders of God and knowing that He is the LORD.
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