Heart-Wrenching Decisions

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. Matthew 1:18-19

We don’t know much about Joseph, but what we do know we can admire. Early on he didn’t understand what was going on (and many 2000 years later don’t quite understand), but didn’t want Mary to be the subject of a scandal. Was he just saving his own hide or did he care for her? We obviously can’t know his motives, but we do know what Scripture tells us.

Joseph didn’t have all the facts, but he was prepared to do an honorable thing, and one that was lawful. Fortunately, he was stopped, something we’ll discuss tomorrow.

What do we do? If we can, we pray and wait.

If we’re not able to wait, we pray that God will honor that decision and redirect us if we’re wrong.

Just like Joseph, the decisions we make are sometimes difficult. He made decisions based on what he knew to be true. We have the same set of guidelines. We don’t always have all the facts but we have to make heart-wrenching decisions nonetheless.

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On a Mission From God

28 Now when the Lord spoke to Moses in Egypt, 29 he said to him, “I am the Lord. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.”

30 But Moses said to the Lord, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?” Exodus 6:28-30

Why does God choose some people and ignore others? Moses is absolutely correct. Certainly the Lord could have chosen someone more eloquent in speech and manners to talk with Pharaoh. But Moses’ unique upbringing gave him a leg up on any competitors. And besides, as we’ve stated many times, God chooses the weak to prove how strong He is. If you could do it on your own, you could also easily take the credit for doing it on your own.

We get a glimpse into Moses’ thinking but would rarely want to reveal similar thinking on our part. We might voice those fears to God, but never to several billion people who would eventually read our words.

As an aside, since Moses wrote the first five books of our Bible, he made himself even more vulnerable by writing down his failed conversation/argument with God.

To answer Moses’ question, though, Pharaoh should not listen to Moses. He’s the supreme ruler of Egypt. Men live and die at his command. They tremble in fear as he passes by. They cower in his presence.

But Moses was commanded by the Almighty God to approach him and make unique demands. The God of the Universe would right there with him, encouraging him, telling him the exact words to say, and leading him away safely. In Moses’ own strength, he should stay home and play with his grandchildren. In the strength and power of Almighty God he could do the same with a dozen kings and come out unscathed.

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Every Step of the Way

13 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

14 These were the heads of their families:

The sons of Reuben the firstborn son of Israel were Hanok and Pallu, Hezron and Karmi. These were the clans of Reuben.

15 The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. These were the clans of Simeon.

16 These were the names of the sons of Levi according to their records: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. Levi lived 137 years.

17 The sons of Gershon, by clans, were Libni and Shimei.

18 The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. Kohath lived 133 years.

19 The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi.

These were the clans of Levi according to their records.

20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.

21 The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg and Zikri.

22 The sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan and Sithri.

23 Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

24 The sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph. These were the Korahite clans.

25 Eleazar son of Aaron married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas.

These were the heads of the Levite families, clan by clan.

26 It was this Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.” 27 They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt—this same Moses and Aaron. Exodus 6:11-27

Twice in this passage, the Lord reitereated his command to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. In other words, they now knew what was expected of them. He, of course, would be with them every step of the way, but they still had to actually take the steps to do it.

In between these commands was a brief genealogy “to remind the people of Israel that Moses and Aaron were in a direct line from Abraham.”

What would it take for Aaron and Moses to actually go see Pharaoh again?

Before we’re too hard on these two men, think of all the times we’ve disobeyed when called upon to do something we knew was the right thing to do? As long as we’re still part of the human race and the sin condition, we’ll struggle with doing the absolute right thing to do. We forget that God is on our side every step of the way.

Every step of the way.

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Our Gaze

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?” Exodus 6:10-12

Moses alternated between bold and faltering. Sounds like some people I know: me!

I can think of similar courage/fear contrasts happening with Elijah, Peter, and half of the other disciples. It’s human nature it seems. We become bold but cower at the sight of our own shadow when we think about what could have happened if our boldness had failed.

the remedy is always the same, having the same faith that brought us the boldness. Unfortunately we let our eyes gaze elsewhere instead of on the Lord Jesus.

Our gaze should be on the Lord Jesus, but because there are so many distractions, we quickly lose that gaze. That’s not just during times of tremendous boldness but everyday life.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2

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To Embrace Change or Not?

6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.'”

9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.Exodus 6:6-9

Moses had just heard from God Almighty. Prior to this, very few people had heard from God Himself.

Recall that not long ago, he heard God in the burning bush. He had already been to Pharaoh once, and now he was the conduit for God’s message to the Israelites.

What a unique position Moses held in histroy. God was using him in spite of himself. It was clearly a new role for Moses to be in. This was clearest example ever of “on the job training.” He still had doubts and fears, but he was doing it.

Isn’t that the case with anything we do in life? At first, we have no idea if it will work. When it starts to go in our favor, we begin to embrace it. And then it’s normal everyday life, that is, until the next big change.

We see societal and cultural changes happening all around us, some of it good, some of it terrible. Embrace the good and stand strong against the evil that creeps up on you. “They” will push and push until it’s part of normal society.

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