I am greatly privileged to be here with you this morning as we look into God’s word together. Today, we will be looking at a time in the past to see God’s passion for liberating his people from spiritual darkness and I would like us to focus on Exodus chapter three to do that. You know the story of the burning bush well. This text may seem like an odd choice as a missions text, but I think you will see that the truths here are a great encouragement to us as we seek to be more earnest and effective senders and goers to the unreached peoples. The point where this story of God’s covenant faithfulness to his people, intersects with our responsibility of reaching the forgotten peoples is simply this: God is faithful to keep his promise to deliver his people from Satan.
In the midst of breaking up the hard ground that comes with
the task of pioneer missions, a failure to actively, persistently place your trust in the absolute faithfulness
of God is crippling. In
the Exodus story, God comes down as the Deliverer of his people and tells Moses that he will make good on his promise
to bring them out of the bondage of
Let me give you two texts that decisively establish the truth that God has within each people group his people. The first is in John 10 where Jesus reveals himself as the Good Shepherd. He says beginning in 10:14, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has sheep who he knows and who know him. That’s the message of verses 14-15. Then in verse 16, he expands on that and says something that, for the Jews who originally heard and understood it--must have sounded scandalous. That is—that Jesus has other sheep not of the Jewish fold. There are multiple folds of sheep, (not just the one Jewish fold) and those other Gentile sheep belong to the Shepherd just as much as those within Judaism who knew him and listened to him. They are his sheep too. All he needs to do is bring them in to join the rest of the flock. That’s what the task of the missionary is—to act as Christ’s ambassador on earth so that Christ will through them bring in his sheep to his fold. These sheep will listen to his voice. They don’t know Jesus yet—perhaps they haven’t yet heard of Jesus, but he says, “They are my sheep—they belong to me and they will listen to me.” He clearly sees these sheep as his people.
text revealing this truth is in Acts 18.
Paul is church planting in
could have said any of those things and accomplished the goal of encouraging Paul to stay--and that was his reason
for the promise—to encourage Paul to endure in
And to drive that point home, the word Luke uses here in Acts 18 for my “people” is very
particular in its emphasis. The Greek word he uses for people here is the word “
So let’s do that now.
Let’s apply this Biblical lens to our understanding of Exodus chapter three. Because God has
his people among the unreached, I see three important implications for mission from God’s call to Moses. The first is: Because some of
God’s people live among the unreached, God
is impassioned to deliver them from
their spiritual bondage. Look in verse seven as he speaks with Moses.
“Then the Lord said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in
They are harassed and helpless. The words are very similar in meaning to those used in Exodus three. They are “bullied and oppressed.” Without a shepherd, they are subject to the decimation by wolves and other spiritual predators. Oh, that we by God’s grace would have his compassion for his people within the unreached! We must ask to be regularly reminded of how he views his forgotten people. The main difference between the enslaved Jews under Pharaoh, and the enslaved Muslims or Hindus or animists who are also part of God’s flock but haven’t yet been brought in is--the Jews were not blinded to their oppression. They were painfully aware that they weren’t enjoying the covenant blessings of their God. The enslavement of the unreached is in this sense even more diabolical, even more pathetic because the unreached who are in the bonds of slavery don’t even know it. They have been blinded to it through their unbelief. God sees his people in this situation and he is deeply impassioned to liberate them from their enslavement.
It is good to ask—how does the fact that God has such passion for his people line up with the fact that he waited 400 years to liberate them? How does the math work there? The short answer is of course in his prophecy to Abraham in Genesis 15. He was waiting until “the iniquity of the Amorites was complete.” Though God was impassioned to liberate his people, he was also impassioned to show first, mercy and then justice to these other people. When their iniquity had reached his pre-determined limit, then his invincible passion for his people’s liberation was unleashed. Once he flipped the switch on his program to free his enslaved people, things moved very quickly. For 400 years, nothing. But then, like a lightning bolt, God’s timeline reached its pre-determined point and within a very short time, his people were liberated—even though there were absolutely no external indicators of their impending freedom. In fact, the closer their liberation came, the more their masters oppressed them. Does that dynamic sound familiar? How many fields have been opened up and churches planted, only after the fire of opposition grew white-hot in its intensity?
So many of these people groups are so deeply enslaved with so many obstacles to keep workers out or greatly limit their activity. The ground seems as unbreakable as a hardened missile silo with the missionary seemingly tapping away at the top layer of concrete with a little toy hammer, not even making a mark, its crucial to remember the ways of God seen in this text. That is—God is impassioned for the plight of his enslaved people and when the time of their liberation has come, it may come very rapidly and with no external indicators pointing to his impending liberation. And there is good reason to believe the time for his deliverance is near. Look what God has done in the past century—He’s on the move. He’s challenging believers and churches all over the globe and awakening them to his heart for his people just as he awakened Moses’ heart for his people. Keep sending, keep going, keep preaching the gospel, keep laboring. Satan, like Pharaoh in Moses’ day is living on borrowed time and his final judgment is sure. God is impassioned to liberate his people from among the unreached. If you ever doubt that, just spend some time meditating on the cross of Christ--the ultimate measure of his commitment to deliver his people from bondage. He’s already paid for these people with the blood of his Son.
A second implication that comes from the fact that God has his people, his sheep among the unreached is: God will send his co-liberators to deliver them. I want us to focus here on the relationship between God and Moses in this task of liberation. Notice first in verse eight. God tells Moses, “…and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” God says, “I have come down to deliver them.” “I will bring them up out of that land to a land flowing with milk and honey.” What must have gone through Moses’ mind at that point?!—I suppose the Ancient Near Eastern equivalent of, “Well, that’s cool!” We mustn’t ever forget that God is the Liberator. This is ultimately his responsibility. Missionaries burn out in part because they forget that. God comes down and delivers his people from bondage. When you make out those monthly checks of missions support, you are unleashing the hand of God to liberate his forgotten people from the bondage of false religion. If you are out on the field, never take the responsibility of liberation upon yourself—ultimately, God sets his people free.
In verse 10, he tells Moses how he’s going to do that.
He says, “Come, I will send you
to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of
As we move on in this text we find a third implication that flows from the fact that God
has his people among the unreached. That is:
God has done and will do whatever it takes to deliver his people for his glory.
We see this truth in verses 19-20 of Exodus chapter three.
God says to Moses, “But I know that
the king of
By the way—as a side note, do you know what was happening as God was liberating the Jews
by his final assault on the gods of
Because God is sovereign over all these people and circumstances, he knew precisely what
to do to comprehensively manifest his supremacy over the demonic, false gods of Egypt and bring him optimal glory. He knew what was
required to bring his people out of bondage and he had more than enough firepower to do it when the time came. On this side
of the cross, we know that God knew precisely what he needed to do through his Son Jesus to comprehensively show
his supremacy over Satan and bring him optimal glory.
Colossians 2:15 tells us, “He disarmed
the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” As he did in
If what is needed in some fields are the reverberations from the cross in the form of
signs and wonders—he will do that for his people.
If those aftershocks from the seismic event of
Page last modified on 1/1/2009
(c) 2008 - All material is property of Duncan Ross and/or Mount of Olives Baptist Church, all commercial rights are reserved. Please feel free to use any of this material in your ministry.