Ten Strikes & YOU’RE OUT! – Part 1

Dr. Jim McGowan | Nov 20, 2016 | John 1:17 | Law & Grace

Dr. Jim McGowan

Ten Strikes and You’re Out, Part 1

November 20, 2016

Good morning to you and Happy Thanksgiving. Normally we have a Thanksgiving service but because of the way the calendar fell this year we’re not going to be able to do that, but you know every day is a day of rejoicing in our hearts, isn’t it.  I just want to say so much, thank you; thank you to the singers and musicians this morning, the song choices.  I wasn’t privy to that this time around and what a great selection and I so appreciate that; my heart was truly touched by that.

I’d like to just also welcome those who are going to be listening by way of live streaming this morning; we thank you for listening and tuning in and if for any reason you’re not able to hear this please let your friends know that we do archive all of our messages online so if they’d like to go back at any point in time and listen to the messages they have that as an option.  And we do provide all the notes and the PowerPoint presentations also.

As was mentioned earlier, Pastor is in Massachusetts and I was under the impression that he went there to learn Creole, it just so happens he’s at the, I believe it’s the Baptist Tabernacle Congregation which is a Creole speaking congregation.  I’m not certain but I think they are Haitian, but in any case I had the privilege of going and listening to his message from Friday night and it was fascinating watching him speak in English and then the interpreter tried to figure out what he was saying.  And all I can say it looked like and sounded like he did a good job because it seems like the people laughed at the right places at Andy’s jokes so that’s a good sign.

Also I just want to again mention that if you would please be in prayer for Ann as she goes, I’m not sure, she might be on her way or already be in Dallas at this point in time; be sure pray for her and her family as they try to figure out what’s going on with her father.  I’d appreciate that, and I guess the last thing I should say is thank you to all of you who came this morning; I know you probably were expecting to see someone quite a bit taller and more handsome than myself but in any case thank you for being here.  Deacons, please lock the doors now.  [Laughter]  All right, so you had your opportunity to leave.

Having said that what I’m going to do this morning is I’m going to pick up with part 2 of a study that I began a couple of weeks back… Gabe Morris, hello brother, good to see you today; I just wanted to get a shout out to you there, good to see you back.

In any case this is part 2 of a series that I started on Law and Grace and we’re going to be making some comparisons and such so if you didn’t have a chance to hear that message please, by all means, go back to the website and get that and that should fill in any gaps that you might encounter this morning.

This morning, first of all let me give you a brief outline.  You know, you’re always supposed to have an outline if you’re a good speaker so I threw something together here; now whether or not it works out this way I don’t know, we’ll find out, but here it is anyway.

I’m going to present my purpose, aim and objective again, then we’ll do a brief review.  And then this morning it’s important that you understand that I’m going to introduce to the concept of Jewish baseball and I think you’ll find that very interesting.  You’ve probably never heard that before.  And then we’ll get some contextual background on the verses we’re going to cover.

We’re going to spend most of our time here in contrasting and comparing Law and grace from Exodus 3:1-10 so if you want to you can go ahead and turn there and be ready for that.  I’ll give you a little foretaste of future lessons while we’re going through that section and some things to consider regarding a proper perspectives on Law and grace.

So again, what is our objective, here it is: in this study we want to compare and contrast Law and Grace because we want  to properly understand these two important themes and how they are related to the life of the New Testament Believer.  Are they related; how are they related and that’s important.

So let’s begin our review.  First of all you may recall when we began talking about the life of Moses and talking about Law and grace, we’re considering this; what I am going to attempt to do over the course of the study, and when I say that that’s not just today but hopefully I will be invited back if I don’t really mess up this morning and then I’ll be able to continue in this study .  But we’re going to be considering this topic of Law and grace and we’re going to be in three different sections of Scripture.  We’re going to looking at Exodus through Joshua, we’re also going to consider the book of Matthew and then we will also consider the book of Romans thru James and that will be down the road a little bit.  But today we’re going to be comparing and contrasting Israel under the Law and the church under Grace.

So again I always like to start out with a question like this;  well, you know, does this really matter, is this really that important and I think it is.  For one thing it’s a matter of what the Bible actually says; is it important to know what the Bible says on a given subject or a given topic?  I think so, and in fact, the more we can know about that the better we know how to order our lives.

Secondly, making distinctions impacts relationships and identities and again I strongly encourage you to go and look at the first presentation that I did on this where I go into great depth on this but again with this idea of clarity and distinctions with regard to relationships and identities, I have a picture up here of my gorgeous wife in her wedding gown and another picture of my gorgeous daughters and my younger daughter, Rachel at her wedding.  And I would presume that you would agree with me that it’s probably pretty important that I don’t get those two confused.  Would you agree with me on that?  Somebody wave at me, smile, is anybody out there… yeah, it’s pretty important, if you don’t think so just ask your wife men, and you’ll find out very quickly.

So just like there are distinctions in terms of relationships between people it’s very important that we understand that there are distinctions between Law and grace also.  We say that we in the church have been “crucified with Christ” and that was so that we might die to the Law, so that Christ would do the living through us and that’s found in Galatians 2:19-20.  [Galatians 2:19-20, “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.  [20] I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.]

And then also one of the things that we spoke about last time was that if we insist as believers on living under the Law the Bible tells us that we are actually trying to be blessed by a ministry of death and condemnation.   And you’ll find that in 2 Corinthians 3:7-9 [2 Corinthians 3:7-9, “But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, [8] how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? [9] For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory”]

So I don’t know about you but I would prefer not to be seeking my blessing from a ministry of death and condemnation.  I think I would prefer to receive the riches of glory in Christ Jesus that abound to me.  How about you?  And then also last time that we were together I presented this chart to you and it does an okay job, I think, of providing you with some comparison and contrasting  points and the most important thing there, of course, is that there are different people groups that are mentioned.  Again, if you want a copy of these notes instead of trying to write all this down, those are provided on the website and you can go back and look at those if you like.

Let me point one thing out to you this morning that I didn’t go into a whole lot of depth, I don’t think last time, but you’ll notice on the left hand side under the word “baptism” that we say here that the children of Israel were baptized into Moses and we, on the other hand, were baptized into Christ.  And let me read a little commentary on this, I think it might help clarify that statement so you’ll understand what we’re talking about here:  When we refer to this, baptism is the outward expression of the believer’s identification with the object of his or her faith.   And we find this in Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27.  [Romans 6:3, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Galatians 3:27, “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”]

Consequently Paul could say the Israelites were baptized into Moses even though they did not undergo literal water baptism in the name of Moses.  By following him, that is by following Moses, by submitting to him and his authority the children of Israel expressed their identification with him and that’s what we mean here when we talk about baptism; they were identified with Moses and we now as believers are identified with Christ.

And one of the other things that we mentioned last time in regard to distinctions between the Law and grace is we said there was this issue of distance and intimacy.  And a significant point in contrast is just that; it’s our access to and our intimacy with God based on these differing systems.  Under the Law of Moses, you recall from last time, we said that distance from God was, in fact, a legal requirement, a LEGAL requirement and again I refer you back to our previous session.  If you recall I gave you a picture of the temple when it was built and we spent some time reflecting on the fact that the whole temple structure was designed as a way to separate people.   You had your Gentile court, you had your women’s court, you had your other courts, you had your inner sanctum so to speak and you had your Holy of Holies.  Each one was a separation from a legal requirement that was followed.  And we also mentioned that the fact that under the Law the Law said do not come near but we also said that when we look at grace what does grace continually say to us?  Draw near!  And we’ll talk some more about that here in a moment.

We said it’s pretty important that we understand these distinctions because there are some consequences when we don’t understand Christ’s earthly ministry, for example.  And particularly what we pointed out was that Jesus was born a Jew, wasn’t He?  And He was living where? He was living in Israel and He was Israel’s King and Messiah.  What was it that Jesus did predominantly in the earlier part of His ministry?  He proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God but He only proclaimed that to Jews.  Jesus introduced the topic of the church only after the Jews had rejected Him as their King under the Law of Moses.  And after the Jews rejected Christ as their King and Messiah the church, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, which is not under the Law but under grace, was put in place in order to make Israel jealous, Romans 11:1.  [Romans 11:1, “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.”] One of the functions that we’re serving right now as the body of Christ is we are making Israel jealous, causing them to be jealous so that they will come to the realization that there is something that they haven’t quite gotten right yet and they have the opportunity to participate also in this.

All but the very last part of the earthly ministry of Christ was to Jews.  Now that’s a very significant thing when we’re reading the Gospels.  We need to make certain we understand the context: who is Jesus speaking to?  More often than not He’s speaking to the Jews in the land of Israel and He’s appealing to them to live under the Law but also to accept Him as their King.  All right.

We said that when we misunderstand the place of the Law in the life of the believer it puts us under a yoke of bondage and if you look at that picture those are kind of self-explanatory, aren’t they.  Have you ever felt that way?  The Law causes many Christians to misunderstand grace as well, leading them to think that they must do or not do things under the Law in order to be blessed.  But the Bible teaches us that under grace what?  We’re already blessed because we’re relying on what Christ has already accomplished in us.  That’s good news right there!

Furthermore, the problem we run into is when we misunderstand the differences and distinctions between Law and grace we get things out of order.  When we mess up in one area of theology what happens to the rest of the system?  It collapses.

Have you ever played this game?  I’ve never actually played it but somebody out there went yeah, I played it.  Well, you know the object of this game is to pull those out; well if we apply this spiritually we don’t want to be pulling those out because if we pull those pieces out, theologically speaking, and we get them in the wrong places the structure, the whole structure is going to come down and now we have a big mess, don’t we?

So that’s our introduction, that’s our review, let me bring you to something fresh and new and exciting.  You know, I would presume that we probably have some individuals out here who like baseball and I can tell by the rousing sound in the congregation that I’m absolutely correct on that issue; thank you for your participation.

The name of the message this morning is Ten Strikes and You’re Out.  Ten Strikes and You’re out! Now we’re going to be focusing this morning on Exodus 3:1-10 and we’re going to get to those verses but it’s really important that I provide you a little bit of historical background and context about Jewish baseball.  Okay.  So we’re not going to understand where we’re going if we don’t understand Jewish baseball.  You have to understand it; okay?  You’re looking at me like you are crazy, well, my wife thinks so too.

So here we are.  Now what’s really important with Jewish baseball, brothers and sisters, is that there’s a big rule book of Jewish baseball and the rule book is from the big inning!  [laughter]  Whew, how did Johnny Carson do it for thirty years?  Now listen: It’s vitally important that you understand that there are DIFFERENT RULES for JEWISH BASEBALL… they’re different from what you may be accustomed to.  Like all baseball of course you have your basic equipment – you have your caps, and the bats, and baseballs, all those kind of things.

But there are some differences in Jewish baseball.  If you’re playing JEWISH BASEBALL your only opponent is the EGYPTIAN TEAM.  So you know, if you remember…  I remember when I was a kid watching the Harlem Globetrotters and everywhere they went they played that sad team, bless their hearts, but Israel is playing the Egyptians and it’s really important, you can’t mix these teams up.  You know, rosters are important for you that follow baseball, right?  Well not only that but you have to understand and be familiar with the fact, as we said, that the rules are a little different; in Jewish baseball it’s ten strikes and you’re out… let it sink in!  Okay, ten strikes and you’re out.

But that’s not all; it’s really important that you understand again that you may all be very, very familiar with the concept of a fly ball in American baseball.  I know you’re familiar with that but you need to understand that in Jewish baseball a fly ball has an entirely different meaning to it.  I’m waiting… [laugher], yeah, it’s a different meaning here, okay.  But that’s not all, just like… you know, in Jewish baseball the players, it’s important whatever team you are on that you have a coach and a manager and all those different positions.  Earl, I hope you’re getting a lot out of this, you keep me straight as a former player.  Yeah, but you know in Jewish baseball the players are continuously looking to their manager, right; and that would be Moses.  Moses is the manager and he’s the one that gives all the appropriate instructions while they’re on the field.  Okay.

And the key mindset of Jewish baseball, the team is always thinking the most important thing is what would Moses do?  What would Moses do!  And just like the nation American leagues have their sports paraphernalia the Jewish team does too.  Now I’m telling you this and I’m actually getting a little bit ahead of myself but I thought it was pretty important that I kind of give you a little bit of background here.

You’ll notice, of course, that you can get your baseball cap here; so you can get a Mo Knows Best cap or What Would Moses Do baseball cap.  You have to have your paraphernalia in order to really enjoy baseball properly.  So now you  understand a little bit about Jewish baseball; you’re always wondering, are you going to learn something new when you come to church and now you have learned something new.

So now let’s catch up here to the contextual background of what we’re actually wanting to talk about today and in order to do that I need to give you a little bit of a historical background, if I could.  Here is a timeline of Moses and the Exodus and some other key events.  And keep in mind as you look at this chart that these are round numbers; okay!  The specific event that we’re going to discuss this morning are going to be those events that happened approximately 1446 B.C. and that’s the Exodus time frame there.  You’ll notice as you look at this chart that Abraham lived somewhere around 2000 B.C.  Moses came on the scene somewhere around 1500 B.C.; we see David around 1000 B.C. The completion and close of the Old Testament was somewhere around 400 B.C.  And then of course Christ came on the scene there as  you can see.

But this morning Moses is going to be the focal point of what we’re discussing so let’s move on to that discussion.  You will recall, again by way of historical background here, that the Israelites after the time of Joseph, were slaves in Egypt for approximately 400 years.  And during that time the Israelites greatly multiplied in number even though they were making bricks for Pharaoh.

And  you’ll notice there, I have a picture of one of these bricks that they discovered, the bricks were made of straw and mud and they always had the stamp of Pharaoh on them.  Isn’t it interesting that archeology has actually discovered this, there is an actual picture of a brick with Pharaoh’s stamp on it.  That’s what the Israelites would have been doing.

In order to control the population of the Israelites and to limit their ability to potentially rebel, (you know the story) Pharaoh ordered the killing of all the male children two years old and under.  And so what happened?  Moses was placed in the little basket and sent down the river and eventually he was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter and she raised him up out of the water, from whence he received his name, Moses, which means to draw, right, draw out.  And Moses was then educated in Pharaoh’s household.  It’s a fascinating story how God did that.

Fast forwarding just a little bit, Moses was living like a Prince of Egypt all this time, being educated and trained and at one point something terrible happened: he ends up killing an Egyptian and he was about forty years of age when that happened.  And this caused him to what?  He had to flee Egypt and go into exile and at that point in time what happened?  He goes from being a Prince in Egypt to following the sheep; what a fun thing that must have been.  So what did he do?  He fled to Midian, he became a shepherd, he married a local girl and he started raising a family.  And I’m sure when that happened Moses thought okay, whew, I got away from that bad situation I can just sort of chill out here in Midian and just raise my family and everything is going to be fine.

Well, at this point in time one of the things I want to bring to your attention is that when we look at the life of Moses, for the sake of conversation to kind of help us understand, we can sort of break his life down into separate segments of forty years.  The first forty years he was in Pharaoh’s court and he was being raised and trained as a Prince of Egypt.  And then he messes up and what happens? He finds himself out in the wilderness, following the sheep and he’s there another forty years.  So I don’t know about you but at 80 years of age I think I probably would be thinking retirement is right around the corner here, I’m going to retire from the sheep business and let my kids take care of me.  But no, that’s not what happened, as you know; there’s a remaining forty years that we’re going to talk about where he began his life as the Lawgiver and the leader of Israel.

So all of this to say that now I’m bringing you up to what we want to actually talk about this morning.  And that’s going to deal with an actual contrasting and comparison of Law.  So if you have  your Bibles open, and I hope you do, to Exodus 3:1-10, I’m going to read these, it’s a lengthy passage but it bears reading so you can read along there quietly as I read here.

“Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-Law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. [2] The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. [3] So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.  [4] When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.  [5] Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” [6] He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.  [7] The LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. [8] So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite” and the mosquito bites… no, I’m sorry, I got carried away.

 

Verse 9. “Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.  [10] Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”  All right; so what actually is happening here?  Well, at 80 years of age God has decided it’s time for a career change for our Moses here.  And there he is, following the sheep.  Moses doesn’t know it but the end of his shepherding career is just about to end; he’s about to receive a new assignment from the Lord shepherding the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.  He doesn’t know it but this will be a much harder assignment.

Now let me take a slight rabbit trail just for a minute because the angel of the Lord is mentioned in this passage.  So let me just take a moment and just give you some information about this.  As you can see here on the screen it says “so the angel of the Lord appears to Moses as a burning bush that never burns up.”  And that gets Moses’ attention and draws him toward the burning bush for a closer look…  He’s pretty brave, I don’t know if I would have gotten closer but maybe.    There are some interesting points about this person, the “Angel of the Lord.”  One of the important things to consider is that the angel of the Lord speaks as God and he does the things that God does.  And I’ve given you quite a lengthy list there of passages in the Old Testament where we see this happen.  [Genesis 16:7-12; 21:17-18; 22:11-18; Exodus 3:2; Judges 2:1-4; 5:23; 6:11-24; 13:3-22; 2 Sam. 24:16; Zech. 1:12; 3:1; 12:8]

So this is kind of interesting; who is this “Angel of the Lord”?  As we see in this account, many who saw the angel of the Lord said that God had spoken and that they had seen God.  Appearances of the angel of the Lord though, interestingly enough, ceased at Christ’s birth and so we take this to be the Pre-Incarnate, Son of God, and His appearing in the Old Testament, all through the Old Testament.

All right, so back to our topic here.  Moses is about to have a career change, the angel of the Lord appears to him and the bush doesn’t burn up and then something interesting happens in verse 5, God calls Moses by name twice and Moses responds by saying, “Here I am.”  Let me stop there for a moment; one of the things that you’ll discover in the Bible, in the Old and New Testaments is that when God wants to emphasize something He says it twice.  Okay!  And in this instance He calls Moses by name twice and then we have Moses’ response.

Let me give you a couple of examples of other places where we see this same thing happen.    When God spoke to Abraham God calls, He called him, “Abraham, Abraham,” in Genesis 22:11.  When He spoke to Jacob, He said Jacob, Jacob, in Genesis 46:2.  And when the Lord spoke to the young boy, Samuel, he cried out “Samuel, Samuel,” in 1 Samuel 3:10.  And then in the New Testament guess what?  When the Lord wanted to get the apostle, the soon to be apostle Paul’s attention he said, “Saul, Saul,” in Acts 9:4 and in Acts 22:7 and Acts 26:14.

[Genesis 22:11, “But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’”  Genesis 46:2, “God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’”  1 Samuel 3:10, “Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for Your servant is listening.’”  Acts 9:4, “and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’’  Acts 22:7, “and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’” Acts 26:14, “And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”]

So when God speaks your name and calls it twice it’s time to listen up.   We can sort of relate that, I don’t know what your upbringing was like but in my household, you know, and I’m not giving anybody free liberty here to call me this, but my name in my household was Jimmy.  Okay.  That was my family name.  My name when I was in trouble was different.  How about you?  You know, it wasn’t Jimmy this, Jimmy that, it was James Allen McGowan  and when you hear that holy trinity you were in trouble, right.  You’d better listen up because bad things are about to happen.

Well, it’s kind of a similar idea here, God is getting his attention and just like my parents used to get my attention, as it were.  So God calls Moses but look what He says to him, “Do not come near.”  So He says Moses, Moses, don’t come near.  That’s a little strange, isn’t it?  Like Moses, come here but don’t come near.  Right?  And so what we see happening here is Moses, who’s going to be the Law­giver, notice, he was not allowed to come any nearer to God.  This is an important point here about the Law.

So God called but He says keep your distance.  Moses is then told to do what?  He says take off your sandals, remove your sandals because you are on holy ground.  Right.  And then God proceeds to tell him who He is, I think this is really fascinating, God said, “I AM the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  And I just love that… I LOVE the way God identified Himself.  You know, God knew that Moses knew who those individuals were.  And so God was telling Moses I’m not just some deity, I’m not one of those guys that you used to worship back in Egypt; here’s who I am!  And He clearly identifies who He is.

There’s something else that comes through in this very brief statement here, which is fascinating to me, is that God is an individual God.  He’s an individual God; He cares about individuals AND He knows them by name.  Isn’t that fascinating?  You know, that’s true about  us, isn’t it?  God knows us by name.  The reason I’m emphasizing that right now is that so many times in our lives as believers we find that things start to go wrong in our life.  Right?  Circumstances start to change, things start to happen and one of the first things we often do is God, are you there?  Have  you forgotten me God, don’t you know how I’m trying to live for you and serve you?  Why are my prayers bouncing off the ceiling Father?  Read thru and okay to here

You know, the whole time God is still calling your voice, right?  Calling your voice, telling  you that He’s there, reminding you that He loves you, reminding you that He would have sent His Son to die on the cross if you were the only person that had ever lived on planet earth.  He loves you that much.  Now I don’t know about you but that sure does a lot for me; it really ministers to my heart because people don’t always treat me very well. God always treats me wonderfully.  Amen!

So God said do not come near.  Now when I teach this in a Sunday School format where I have a little bit more liberty I can actually play this video clip from the Ten Commandments and it’s great, you know, when Charlton Heston comes there you hear “Moses.”  How many of you know… I didn’t know this for years, how many of you knew that the voice of God was actually Charlton Heston?  Did you know that?  I thought that was kind of interesting.  So here he is, he’s coming up and God says don’t come any nearer, and suddenly what happens?  Moses hides his face because he’s afraid to look at God… afraid to look at God!  This is fascinating; what’s the difference, a difference between the Law and grace?  Let’s keep this contextually sound here.  Who is God dealing with here?  He’s dealing with an Israelite, isn’t He?

Let’s come over to the New Testament where God again deals with Israelites in a book that’s specifically addressed to Israelites, the book of Hebrews; that’s where we’re headed.  Hebrews 4:16, the book of Hebrews is written to believing Jews and look what God says to these believing Jews.  “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Isn’t that marvelous?  Before Christ it was don’t draw near, maintain your distance, limited intimacy, but after Christ it’s draw near and don’t just draw near but do so confidently.  Isn’t that fascinating?

We’re not done, Hebrews 7:19, look at this, “(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which” what? “we draw near to God.”   Hallelujah!  Wait a minute, I’m not done.  Hebrews  7:25 says what? “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”  What a contrast between Law and grace.  We jump back now to Exodus 3:6, look what God said; here He is again defining who He is, we mentioned that.

One of the things I’d like to point out to   you here is that in the Septuagint version, which is the Greek version of the Old Testament, this expression, “I Am” is egō eimi [ἐγὼ εἰμί] ; now those of you that are linguists may understand that there are some languages that when they use a verb that the person is contained in the form of the verb.  For example, if you speak Spanish and I say yo hablo, I speak, I do speak, I am speaking, I don’t even have to use a pronoun there.  But if I want to be emphatic in what I’m saying I say [can’t understand word] me, I do it, I’m the one doing it.

The Greek is similar in that regard.  He could have just said eimi and that would have said “I Am.”  But He didn’t, He said egō eimi [ἐγὼ εἰμί].  That is, profoundly emphatic, PROFOUNDLY emphatic.  I Am God says.  I myself am!  Okay.

 

In verses 14-16 which we’re not going to cover but I just want to point out to you He goes on and He uses this expression again.  He says here in verse 14, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ AND He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”  And they would know immediately that that was a term for deity; they knew that.

And that’s the point here, this is a deity claim, “I AM” in these passages and also in the Greek Old Testament is a claim to deity.  Now why is that important for us?  Because if we fast forward, law to grace, here we go, law to grace, if we fast forward we see someone else pretty important using a very similar expression, don’t we?  Jesus, when He’s confronting the religious leaders of His day says what?  “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born,” egō eimi, “I myself am.”

Now lest you’re unsure of what He’s saying, to clarify that the Jews did what?  They immediately picked up stones to stone Him.  Does that leave any doubt in your mind that they understood what He was saying?  They knew exactly what He was saying—Jesus was claiming deity!

You may remember this chart, we’ve seen this many times before over the course of about three years, and look here, Jesus said I AM the bread of life, etc.  I’m not going to read all those to you, you’ve heard them many, many times before but Jesus is making an emphatic statement in each one of these, I Myself AM, I AM, I AM being in fact God AM the Bread of Life [John 6:35]  I, being in fact God AM the Light of the world.”  [John 8:12]  etc. etc. etc.  [I am the Gate for the sheep, John 10:7, cf. v. 9.  I AM the Good Shepherd, John 10:11, 14; I AM the Resurrection and the Life, John 11:25; “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life,” John 14:6, “I am the True vine,”  John 15:1, cf. v. 5.

You may not have thought about this but that wasn’t the only place that Jesus used this I AM expression; you’ll recall that when He was in Gethsemane He also used this expression, when the guards came to apprehend Him.  It says, “So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him went forth and said to them,” now who’s He speaking to?  He’s speaking to those that have come to take Him away.  He says what?  “Whom do you seek?” And what do they say?  They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.”  He said to them, “I AM .”  Now you’ll notice the “He” is in italics, that’s because that’s not in the text.  That’s supplied.  The actual expression is egō eimi, I Myself AM God; the One you seek I Myself AM God.

And what an interesting thing happened when He said this; “And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them.”  And then in verse 6, “So when He said to them, “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground.’”  I imagine they did.  [7] “Therefore He again asked them, ‘Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” And what happened?  [8] “Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am;egō eimi, “I being God Am the One you’re seeking.”  And then He tells them to let the others go free. [“…let these go their way.”

Back in Exodus 3:6, again what we discover is here is this person who’s going to be the law-giver to the nation and what is going on here.  [Exodus 3:6, “He said also, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”]  He hides His face… He Hides His face!  Well wait a minute, this is Big Moe, right, this is “The Man.”  “He hides his face” because He’s afraid to look at God.

But what about grace?  Let’s look at grace in 2 Corinthians 3:18 and 4:6, what it says.  [3:18] “But we all,” believers now, “we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord…,”] in other words we are not having to hide our face from the glory, we’re encouraged to behold it.

Then he goes on, [4:6] “‘for God who said, Light shall shine out of the darkness’ is the one who has shown in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ,” we’re beckoned to behold God, behold the glory of Christ.

And back in Hebrews 12:2 where he once again, speaking to Jewish believers, He says we fix our eyes on Jesus, we’re not veiling ourselves from the glory; we’re not hiding our face from God, we’re fixing our eyes on the majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  [Hebrews 12:2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”]

Is there a difference between Law and grace?  I think there is.  In Exodus 7-10 here, it’s kind of an interesting passage that we read.  [7]  “The LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of  My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.”  And look what it says here, God says, “SO I HAVE COME DOWN TO DELIVER THEM”  have you ever in your life wondered God, where are You?   You know God, this has been going on in my life for ages, when are You ever going to respond to me Lord?  Now imagine that same attitude and it’s been 400 years… 400 years!  And what did God say?  God didn’t say well, I woke up this morning and  you know, I finally heard those folks crying out.  That’s not what He says, He says, “I have given heed to their cry,” He heard it the whole time, “SO I HAVE COME DOWN TO DELIVER THEM from the power of the Egyptians.”

Come down to the bottom part there, then He tells Moses, I love this, He says, God says I’ve heard them and I’m going to do something about it.  And then he comes down here, I just love this, He says, now I’m going to send you.  [10, “THEREFORE, COME NOW, AND I WILL SEND YOU to Pharaoh, SO THAT YOU may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”]

Have you ever been in a position where you wanted God to do something, and God, this just needs to be changed, we need to fix this.   You  know, the church has this problem and Lord, You just need to fix it.  And God says well, let’s go back to Exodus and learn a lesson here; I hear your cry, right, and I’ve come down to deliver you, so what are  you going to do about it?  Right?  Isn’t that fascinating.  Some said come on, yeah, all right, huh?

More often than not here’s what we do.  Find an elder, find a deacon, where is Pastor Morris, where is Pastor Woods, right. Or better yet, where are their wives.  Isn’t that what happens?  That’s not it says, he didn’t say here I’m going to deliver you, go get your wife, Zipporah, that’s not what He said.  Okay, I’m starting to touch… people are pulling their toes back in their shoes, I know I need to stop.  Let me just point this out before I go past this slide here.  If you’ll look at verses 7 and 9 you’ll notice an interesting pattern here; 7 and 9 and 8 and 10.  In 7 and 9 the Lord speaks of His awareness of their problem.  And in verses 8 and 10 He speaks about what He’s going to do about it.

[Exodus 3:7-10, “The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of  My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.  [8]  SO I HAVE COME DOWN TO DELIVER THEM from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land,  to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. [9] Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. [10]  THEREFORE, COME NOW, AND I WILL SEND YOU to Pharaoh, SO THAT YOU may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”]

We know the rest of the story, don’t we?  We know that eventually that God’s going to send Moses and Aaron and they’re going to appear before their own people and then they’re ultimately going to appear before Pharaoh’s court.  That’s down the road, that’s what’s coming; right?  So there they are, and we also know from the rest of the story that God is going to use some interesting methodologies to bring about His deliverance of the children of Israel, including ten strikes, remember Jewish baseball?  He’s going to use ten strikes and here they are, blood and frogs and lice and flies and diseased cattle, and boils and hail and locusts and darkness and finally the death of the firstborn.

Now why in the world is God doing this?  You know, couldn’t God just have waved His hand and all this would have been resolved, we wouldn’t have to have had all this mess and frogs and flies and stuff, you know.  I mean yuck, why couldn’t He just, you know, snap His fingers and it would have all been fixed?  Well, because God has a reason for everything He does and it was very important that He make a point, and the point that He wanted to make was that the foreign gods that the Egyptians served… and oh, by the way, just in case you didn’t know this they served some 700 gods… 700!  My goodness, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast two days ago, how do you remember the names of 700 gods.  Right?  Well, God wanted to make a point that He was THE ONE AND ONLY GOD, He is the I AM and so what did He do?  He directly attacked those things that particular Egyptian gods were associated with controlling.

And here you see a list of this.  What did the water and the blood have to do?  Well, Osiris was in charge of the water.  What about frog infestations?  Well, the god Hapi of the frogs.  Lice, well that was Seb, etc. you can read those, right.  And then finally the death of the firstborn, that was God’s final act to let the Egyptians know that there is one true God, period!  Here’s the same thing in a little different format, I’m not sure you can read that but if you get the power point presentation or the notes you’ll be able to see that a little bit better.  But the same idea.

And so when we got to the ten plagues what happened?   Well, we know the story, God told the Israelites to put the blood over the doorposts, and they were to prepare their meal in such a meal as to be ready to go when the word came.  Right?  I don’t know, is that perhaps the first instance of a fast food… maybe, I’m not sure.  And then ultimately, because God brought his wrath on the nation of Egypt and God just devastated them, and you understand what the killing of the firstborn was; the killing of the firstborn of the Egyptians, the firstborn are the individuals that the Egyptian people had put all their hope in.  The firstborn in the Semitic culture, if you will, is always the one who gets the double blessing, is the one who is considered the right hand and right arm of his father, the most important person in the family next to the parents.  And God got rid of them.  Imagine that.

And so then we pass forward a little more and now here we are, we’re getting ready to be delivered and go through the water there, and what a fascinating thing that is.  Notice, keep in mind that the final plague that the Egyptians experienced moved the common people to come against their own Pharaoh; they came back to Pharaoh and said are you going to continue to be so stubborn and hardhearted until we all perish?  And he finally relented at that point in time.  Of course he picked up where he left off a short time later, didn’t he?  And he perished with his men in the Red Sea.  All right, so here we are again, God says to Moses, either do not come near or draw near?  What are you going to do.  Moses was told to come near but he was told to keep his distance.  When we look at the book of Hebrews here the Hebrews were repeatedly urged to draw near to God.

And so the question we have to kind of ask ourselves here is, well, did Moses just get all this wrong back there? Is God just an uptight God as He was then back there in the Old Testament?  You know, for the longest time there were individuals who actually taught this, that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are not the same, because they clearly saw these distinctions and they just said there’s no way this can be the same person.  But they are!

Well, obviously the response to this is no, there is a difference and what is it?  It’s the difference is grace.  Grace changes everything.  Grace changes everything!  So even though Moses kept his distance, know this, even though he kept his distance he was clearly afraid of God.  The boundaries were set and established, he was still afraid of God.

But what’s the message of the New Testament? When we come under grace the message of the New Testament is to do what?  Approach God boldly and confidently… boldly and confidently!  And so we approach God humbly, yes, but we do so boldly and with confidence, understanding that this bold and confident access is not based on anything we’ve done, right?  It’s because we’re, by God’s grace, “in Christ.”  Now you’ll notice, when you see that expression “in Christ” those of you that were here for the earlier service, what should that immediately tell you?  “In Christ” is what?  That’s identification.  Right?  “In Christ!”  We’re “in Christ” therefore because we’re “in Christ” we have this wonderful and bold access to the Father.

In Exodus 3:6 we read that “Moses hid his face, for he was afraid [to look at God.”] and the comment here, before this grace, think about this, before grace looking at the Lord was fearful and possibly even dangerous.  But in the New Testament what do we see? Again this appeal to be always beholding and looking to the Lord because beholding Him has both present and eternal benefits and it’s His will.

So, what should I take away from this?  If you’re a believer obviously God wants you to begin to understand that there are clear distinctions between the rule of Law and the rule of grace, so that we will fully realize and enjoy the divine riches in glory that we have, that are ours, and they’re available to us right now “in Christ Jesus.”  This is what God wants you to understand.  He doesn’t want you to be under a yoke of bondage; He doesn’t want you to be under the Law.  But what if you’re a non-believer?  What if you’re in here and you’re thinking gee, you know, this doesn’t make sense to me, why did I come today.  Well, you’re here for one reason, a divine appointment.  God has you hear divinely appointed because He wants you to know and understand that He’s telling you that today is the day of salvation. Today is your day.  God loves you so much that He had you come here this morning, He purposely sought you out because He knows your name and He’s calling to you because He has some wonderful things He wants to do for you.  What He wants you to do is He wants you to place your faith in Christ, right now, this very instant, and you can do that.

The greatest question that the unbeliever can ever ask is what must I do to be saved?  And I don’t know what you may have heard, I don’t know what you may have been told about what it means to be a Christian, but let me just tell you, it’s so simple; it’s almost absurd it’s so simple.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!  The world likes to put all kinds of conditions on it you.  Christ puts no conditions on you but one, just believe.  There are no magical incantations, you know, well if I just say this little formula I’ll be magically saved.  No!  There’s no secret handshakes.  There’s some groups, you know, where you’ve got to do that.  No!

Here’s a good one for you, guess what?  There’s no promise to do good deeds.  Jesus doesn’t come to you and say now give  Me  your promise, I want it right here, notarized, I want you to promise Me…. No, He doesn’t do that.  This one just blows a lot of people’s minds, He doesn’t even ask you to become a member of the church here.  Can you believe that.  I mean, I don’t even have to join the church?  Whew, man, I was afraid I was going to have to join to get my name on the roll and start getting e-mails.  No, you don’t even have to do that.  Right!

I hope that you’re recognizing that there’s no emotional pressure, we’re not using car salesmen up here pushing Jesus, you know.  It’s a work of the Spirit. We’re not even going to ask you to raise your hand, we’re not going to ask you to walk down the aisle, that’s okay, I mean if you want to do that you could but you don’t have to do that.  Frankly there’s one condition for salvation, it’s just simple faith.   And what do we mean by that?  You know, sometimes people load all kinds of stuff on the backend of the word faith.

Well, faith is trust in, or confidence in or reliance upon Christ’s promise to give you new life if you’ll come to Him for salvation.  It’s just that simple.  So if, in fact, that’s something that you may be doing right now then… one of the wonderful things about being a teacher if God’s Word or just being a believer in general is that when you share this information God gives you the authority then to say well guess what, if you’ve done that you’re a child of God, you know!  Isn’t that amazing, you know, you just share the Word and simple truth and  you go from being an unbeliever to a believer and it just happens instantaneously.

Isn’t that fascinating?  And then the great thing about that is that once that happens you now are given access, remember we talked about bold and confident access?  You know, before you became a believer you didn’t have that.  Now you do.  You have bold and confident access to come to the Father and you can call Him Father because He’s going to call you son, or He’s going to call you daughter. You have a new relationship; you now have access to all of Christ’s divine riches in glory.   You’re now set on a path where you get to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and  you get to experience what it means to have fellowship with other believers.

And listen, fellowship with other believers is better than any fellowship anywhere else.  Frankly, the bottom line is it’s just that simple, you can just do that right there, you say Lord, I believe what that fella says, I believe it!  And the moment you do that  you’re saved.  Well, if you need more information, of course it’s our privilege to be available to you, we have wonderful elders and deacons here that can talk with you about those things, about being a Christian, and not only that but we’re a Bible church.  Did you know that?  A Bible church!  So that means that the people that are attending here regularly are also knowledgeable and they’re able to sit down and talk to you about the Lord also.  So take advantage of that and with that I’m going to close.  And guess what, you’re going to get out real early today.  You say well, we’ll bring him back.  See, there’s a method to my madness here.

Let’s close in prayer.  Father, I just thank You so much that really Your Word is so clear and Your truth is so free, Father God, when we allow it into our hearts and we allow the Spirit of God to manifest it to us and my prayer Father is that this morning could have just been a foretaste of what  You’re going to do in the hearts and life of Your people as they meditate on these things, as they take them with them, as they mull over them, as they ponder them, Lord, as they reflect on them during the course of the week and days ahead.  And I thank  you, Father God, that You always accomplish  Your purposes, that no matter how frail the speaker is or how inarticulate, Father God, the Holy Spirit is always able to take the truth and apply it to the hearts of men and women, boys and girls.  Lord, I thank you for our congregation this morning, I thank you for their indulgence and the fact that, Father God, they love you so much that they’re here.  I pray Your blessing upon them, I pray that You would just encourage them and minister to them today and I just thank  You, Father, that You’re working out Your plan,  Your purposes in our hearts and lives and that You’re growing and maturing us in the word.  Thank you for bringing Pastor Andy and Anne back to us safely and we look forward to what You’re going to do in the days ahead at Sugar Land Bible Church.  In Jesus name, Amen.