The End of the Beginning
August 1, 2022 | Ray Pritchard
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The year was 1943.
Slowly the Allied forces were squeezing the Germans out of North Africa. From the east, Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery’s British forces sent Rommel’s Nazi tanks reeling in retreat across the Libyan desert. From the west, a little-known general named Patton rallied his troops after the humiliation at Kasserine Pass.
The British moved west from Egypt, while the Americans moved east from Casablanca and Algiers.
They eventually trapped the Germans in Tunisia. It was the first great Allied victory of World War II.
Moses is a lot like us
Six months earlier, Winston Churchill had spoken to England about the campaign in North Africa. These were his words:
“This is not the end.
It is not the beginning of the end.
It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
This is the final message in the series called Moses: The Making of a Champion. It is not the end of the story, or even the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.
When we met Moses, he was a baby in the bulrushes.
Then he was running for his life.
Then he was a shepherd in the desert.
Then God met him at the burning bush.
As we leave him, he is ready to face down Pharaoh and deliver his people. We have traced his rise from obscurity to prominence.
Now we know he is more than the larger-than-life hero carved into marble by Michelangelo.
He is more like us than we ever dreamed.
Now we have come to the end of the beginning. Let’s focus on five final things in this passage.
#1: A Final Encouragement (Exodus 6:1-8)
Moses complained that there had been nothing but trouble ever since God called him: “What were you thinking, Lord?”
God’s answer is simple:
“Moses, you did not fail. Your job is to obey me. Do what I say and let me take care of the results.”
Like a flea on a horse’s backside.
This is verse 1:
“Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh:
Because of my mighty hand he will let them go.”
The time has come for God to lay bare the arm of divine omnipotence. Psalm 139:12 alludes to this when it says the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt “with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.” Pharaoh is no match for the Almighty. As the wise man said, “Your arms are too short to box with God.”
God will flick Pharaoh aside like a flea on a horse’s backside.
That’s a promise from Almighty God.
Moses could never deliver the Jews.
Only God can do that.
But here’s the best part. God told Moses, “You will see it.” Remember that Moses doesn’t know how events will unfold. He certainly has no knowledge about the crisis at the Red Sea. All of that will be revealed later. But God wants Moses to see it so he will never forget it.
Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.
Moses will have a ringside seat to watch as God takes down mighty Pharaoh. When God gets through with him, Pharaoh will not only let them go but will “drive them out of his country.” Israel’s God will utterly defeat the tyrant.
Pharaoh is alive and well today
The Lord backs it up with a series of statements:
Three times he says, “I am the Lord.”
That’s in verse 2, verse 6, and verse 8.
Then he makes seven “I will” statements:
I will bring you out of Egypt (v. 6).
I will free you from being slaves (v. 6).
I will redeem you (v. 6).
I will take you as my own people (v. 7).
I will be your God (v. 7).
I will bring you into the Promised Land (v. 8).
I will give it to you as a possession (v. 8).
These statements lead to an inevitable conclusion: Because the Lord is God, when he makes a promise, he keeps it.
When he makes a promise, it will happen.
When he makes a promise, you can take it to the bank.
What does this mean for you and me?
Pharaoh is alive and well today. He is there with his arrogance and his disdain. He wants nothing to do with you or your God.
Pharaohs come and go.
The word of the Lord stands forever.
Friends fail us.
Loved ones disappoint us.
Our dreams vanish.
People we trust turn against us.
But the word of the Lord stands forever.
We need a big God!
We need a big God. When you stand before Pharaoh, a small God won’t do. When tragedy strikes, you need the big God of the Bible.
We need the God whose name is The Lord.
Get to know God!
It’s the only way to make it through life.
#2: A Final Question (Exodus 6:9-12)
We might think Moses’ self-doubt is in his past. But that would be wrong. After all God has done to reassure him, Moses still battles his inner demons.
9 Moses reported this to the Israelites,
but they did not listen to him because of
their discouragement and harsh labor.
10 Then the Lord said to Moses,
11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt
to let the Israelites go out of his country.”
12 But Moses said to the Lord,
“If the Israelites will not listen to me,
why would Pharaoh listen to me,
since I speak with faltering lips?”
Why didn’t the people believe Moses when he reported what God had said? Why were these glorious promises not enough for God’s people? The text tells us they did not listen “because of their discouragement and their harsh labor” (v. 9). And who could blame them? They had endured year after year of backbreaking labor and forced slavery. That will wear down the strongest man eventually.
When you are tired, when you are discouraged, when you’ve been struggling for a long time, it’s easy to lose your perspective. Fatigue makes cowards of us all.
No one can fight forever.
But notice God’s response to their unbelief. It’s as if it doesn’t matter at all. “Go tell Pharaoh to let my people go.” God’s plans don’t depend on our faith. If they did, no miracles would ever happen. So God says, “Don’t worry about the people. Just do what I tell you to do.”
But Moses doesn’t want to talk to Pharaoh. Why would Pharaoh listen to him if the Jews won’t?
This is an honest question. After all that has happened, two things are true:
- The people still doubt Moses.
- Moses doubts himself.
This should not surprise us. People are the same everywhere. They are fickle, quick to forget the good you have done, and quick to blame you when things go wrong.
People are the same everywhere
Nothing is ever as easy as it seems.
For Moses, the issue comes down to one central question:
Will he believe what God has said?
Everything hangs in the balance.
God’s answer comes in the form of a genealogy!
#3: A Final Reminder (Exodus 6:13-27)
In these verses we have a short genealogy that gives a bit of Reuben and Simeon’s history. It then goes into great detail about the sons of Levi because both Moses and Aaron were Levites.
What’s the point of the genealogy?
It reminds Moses and Aaron that they had come to the kingdom “for such a time as this.” We already know Moses wrestled with enormous self-doubt. His first encounter with Pharaoh had been a disaster.
So God reminds his men that they were his men. Look how he does it:
Verse 26: “It was this Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord spoke.”
Verse 27: “This same Moses and Aaron.”
Moses is the right man, at the right moment, in the right place. If he obeys God, he cannot fail.
If you are a hockey fan, you no doubt recall the Lake Placid Winter Olympics in 1980 when the U.S. Men’s Hockey team beat the mighty Russian team.
The Russians were pros.
They were destined to win.
They were four-time defending Gold Medalists.
No one gave the Americans a chance. In the locker room before the game, Coach Herb Brooks looked at his players, knowing they were overmatched.
His message came down to one sentence: “Men, you were born to play this game.”
“You were born to play this game”
That’s what God is saying to Aaron and Moses. “Don’t be afraid of Pharaoh. Don’t worry about what anyone says. You were born to do this.”
Brothers and sisters, I say the same thing to you. You were born for courage, bravery, strength, to be an overcomer.
If God called you into his family,
If God gave you his Spirit,
If God declared you righteous,
If God seated you in heavenly places,
If God put his name upon you,
Where God guides, God provides
Then God will give you whatever you need to do his will.
Nothing will be withheld. If you need strength, it will be supplied at the right moment. If you need endurance, you will find the power to keep on going. If you need guidance, you will be guided with light from above. If you need power to speak for Jesus, when the time comes, you can open your mouth and the words will be given to you.
If Moses had a godly heritage, how much greater is the heritage of all the blood-bought children of God?
You can do whatever God calls you to do. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or quick or enjoyable. God’s will is often difficult to do. But where God guides, God provides.
True for Moses.
True for us today.
#4: A Final Promise (Exodus 7:1-5)
God says three specific things to Moses:
I have made you like God to Pharaoh (v. 1).
I will harden his heart (v. 3).
I will bring my people out of Egypt (v. 5).
At the end of chapter 6, Moses repeats his question to the Lord: “Why would Pharaoh listen to me?” Here is the answer: “I have made you like God to Pharaoh” (v. 1). Moses represents Almighty God, the Creator of the universe. Moses doesn’t need to be clever or ingenious or glib. He doesn’t have to speak to Pharaoh because Aaron will be his “prophet.”
God will tell Moses what to say.
Moses will tell Aaron what to say.
Aaron will speak to Pharaoh.
Whatever problems Moses has with his speech won’t matter because he won’t have to say a word to Pharaoh. Aaron will do all the talking.
Moses has only one job.
Tell Aaron whatever God tells him.
It’s a perfect solution.
Just be faithful, and let God take care of the results.
Be faithful–let God take care of the results
God will harden Pharaoh’s (already hard) heart so that he will refuse to let the people go. That will happen nine times in a row, which is certainly discouraging, but that’s not the point. When the time comes, Pharaoh will drive the people out of the land, and they will finally be free.
Don’t pass over what God says in verse 5: “The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” God will glorify himself by keeping his promises to Israel and by pouring out his wrath on Egypt. Everyone involved will know what the Lord has done.
The truth that saves some condemns others. By his mighty hand he brings down the strong and lifts up the weak. “Thus God’s name is exalted both in those that are saved and in those that perish” (Matthew Henry).
The truth that saves some condemns others
Here’s the final statement about Moses and Aaron:
6Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them.
7 Moses was eighty years old and
when they spoke to Pharaoh.
It is all to their credit that Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord. Moses had plenty of objections (and so do we), but what matters is not his objections (or ours) but that he (and we) obeyed in the end.
#5: A Final Obedience (Exodus 7:6-13)
Now they go before Pharaoh for the second time.
When the king asked for a miracle, Aaron threw his rod down and it became a snake. Somehow the Egyptian magicians duplicated that feat (whether by sleight of hand or demonic power is unclear). But in a preview of what was to come, Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.
The final word comes in verse 13: “Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.”
It is all working out just as the Lord had planned. God’s power proved to be greater than anything the Egyptians could muster. Meanwhile, Pharaoh’s heart became progressively harder.
Two Final Truths to Ponder
Two great principles summarize what we’ve learned from our journey with Moses.
#1: When God wants to prepare a man to do a job for him, he is never in a hurry.
When we started this journey, Moses had not yet been born.
As we end, he is 80 years old.
80 years is a long time to discover God’s will.
80 years is a lifetime for most of us.
It took God 80 years to get Moses ready.
It took God 80 years to get Moses ready.
Looking back, he could see that nothing had been wasted, not his education in Egypt or his long sojourn in the desert. Both prepared him for the greatest challenge of his life.
His education prepared him to face Pharoah.
His desert years prepared him to shepherd God’s people through the wilderness.
His past toils laid the foundation for his future victories.
Do not attempt to vault over the slower seasons of life. God is using them to plant seeds of character that will reap a large harvest in the future.
It is folly to be anxious about what you might do someday. Instead, put all your efforts into serving God right where you are. Do that, and tomorrow will take care of itself.
If you want to raise bean sprouts, you can do it in a week.
If you want oak trees, it will take a lifetime.
Bean sprouts are easy,
Oak trees take time.
No one likes to wait. But the Bible repeatedly encourages us to “wait on the Lord.” We don’t like that because we think “waiting” means giving up.
But that only shows how little we understand either the Bible or the Lord. From a biblical perspective, waiting isn’t passive; it’s the most proactive thing we can do. To “wait on the Lord” means getting out of the way so he can act. You wait because you are so confident in God that you refuse to take matters into your own hands.
Give God time to work in your life. Don’t try to grab the steering wheel from the back seat. You’ll just end up driving into the ditch.
Let God lead.
Don’t get ahead of the Lord.
My friend, be encouraged.
God knows what he’s doing in your life.
You don’t have the full picture. No matter. God does, and he won’t stop until he’s finished. Nothing you can do will hurry him along.
#2: When God wants to prepare a man for leadership, his best tool is adversity.
A.W. Tozer said it this way: “It is doubtful that God can use any man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”
Although we enjoy the good times, we learn little from those happy days. In God’s economy, we learn more at midnight than we do at high noon. When the sun is shining, we relax and take it easy. But when the sky darkens and the clouds of difficulty roll in, that’s when we look to heaven and beg for God’s mercy.
We certainly see it in Moses’ life.
No less do we see it in your life and in mine.
While attending a pastor’s fellowship, I heard the moderator say, “We trust this will be a better year. I know this last year has been rough for most of you.”
Everybody — I mean everybody — nodded.
That made me feel better.
When the pandemic started in 2020, no one knew what was ahead. After two harrowing years, the world hardly seems like a safer place.
The calmest people on earth
We see the problems on every hand:
War in Ukraine,
Worries about World War 3,
Unrest in our cities,
And we wonder what tomorrow will bring.
No one knew what was to come two years ago.
No one knows what the future will bring.
Let me repeat something I’ve said before:
Christians ought to be the calmest people on earth because we know the Lord, and he holds the future in his hands.
As we move forward from here, let this be our motto:
God has taught me many things, some of them the hard way. But my faith is stronger today than it was two years ago.
Hard times and spiritual growth go together.
It was true for Moses.
It is true for us as well.
We see in Moses’ life what we see in our own lives:
God is at work, and he is in no hurry.
God is at work, and his best tool is adversity.
It may take a while, and the road may be bumpy, but when all is said and done, we will leave Egypt far behind, and by God’s grace, we will be on our way to the Promised Land.