Many believers have faced great trials. They have faced financial uncertainty, failing health, or even fatal loss. This is the unfortunate consequence of living in a world cursed with man’s own rebellion. As severe as those trials are, often the most difficult tests to pass are not when something is taken from us, but when something is given to us.
It may defy reason to say Psalm 68:19 presents the greatest test. “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loadeth us with benefits, Even the God of our salvation.” Let us use the Israelites as our example. As they were evacuating Egypt, the people spoiled the earthly treasures of the Egyptians. In an attempt to appease the Lord of Israel, the Egyptians gladly parted with ornate gifts. This was something God designed to happen and he even included it in His detail plan to Moses. The Israelites were going to leave with Egypt’s riches. Why? There are two passages which illuminate the reason.
In Exodus 32, the impatience of the people translated into idolatry and the “benefits” from God were wasted on a golden calf. God’s blessings were inappropriately lavished upon their own idolatrous imaginations instead of waiting for the opportunity to worship God through their offering. They indulged their own fancies. Then in Exodus 25, we learn of God’s intention for His blessing. “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering” (Exodus 25:2). Once the people realized the joy of giving and the reason for God’s blessing, they could not give enough. The people gave so willingly, Moses gave a commandment to restrain the people from giving (Exodus 36:6)!
Hence, the greatest test is not a matter of losing something, but of giving everything. In order to pass this test, we must remind ourselves of the reason God blesses us. Your value of salvation is reflected in your stewardship of God’s daily blessing.
Which book of the Bible would you nominate as the Most Valuable Book? The MVB award would be hotly contested for certain, however, Exodus should be a top contender. Genesis is extremely valuable. It tells us so much about God and man. It tells us about the origins of man and his fall, failure, and faith. You turn the pages through Exodus, though, and every story is an illustration of some powerful question asked within this wonderful book.
There are two very inciteful questions asked. The first is when Pharaoh asked, “Who is the Lord” (Exodus 5:2)? The second most significant question: “Is the Lord among us, or not” (Exodus 17:7)? The question seems absurd. When you remember what the Israelites have seen the God do for them, you almost want to scream through your Bible to them as if they could hear you. This question highlights a rather typical response man has to the wonderful and miraculous display of God. The dramatic events often are not more convincing of God’s presence and power. In fact, the dramatic and cataclysmic hardens hearts and stiffens necks. Is it not recorded in Revelation after the powerful pouring out of God’s wrath how men are not drawn to Him? Instead, “men blasphemed God because of the plague” (Revelation 16:21). The heart which is tuned to wisdom is ready to accept the reality of God’s presence even in the mundane.
The people asked, “Is the Lord among us,” as they gather manna each morning.
“Is the Lord among us,” as they drink from a rock.
“Is the Lord among us,” as they are led by the cloud of God’s presence.
“Is the Lord among us,” as they witness the miraculous accomplished by the rod of Moses.
We may tempt God by asking the same question. We may desire the fantastic display of God’s power and presence to soothe our mind. If you would simply see him in the mundane, you would appreciate his ever faithful presence.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of heaven” (John 6:49-50). God is among us.
Paul said the Israelites drank from the Rock which is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:14). God is among us.
We are told to seek guidance from a cloud of witnesses, but most imperatively look unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). God is among us.
He is the Rod of Jesse which championed our life! It is because of His miraculous presence in my life I now live for the cause of Christ. If someone can’t recognize God’s presence in the simple everyday ways, then they will never appreciate the profound promise. Do not waste your breath to remind them, “He hath said, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee'” (Hebrews 13:5).
Tick, tick, tick…
The clock seems to spin as your life rushes onward. Needs arise. Difficulties need an answer. Problems need a defender. You have taken your cares to God in prayer. Now you wait and wait.
David knew about waiting. He was the baby of the family, so he was always waiting to do what his brothers did. He waited for God to make him king. He waited through the attacks of Saul. “Truly my soul waiteth upon God…my soul, wait thou upon God” (Psalm 62:1, 5). Some have erroneously claimed our trust in God is a blind faith—a leap in the dark. Not so with David. He gave reasons for his confidence. Twice David writes the refrain, “He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved” (v. 2, 6). He experienced, not once, but more than once “that power belongeth unto God” (v. 11). It is upon this God of all power David puts all his expectations. Don’t trust in oppression or robbery. If you are successful, don’t build your dreams upon your riches. Keep your expectations in God.
It seemed impossible for the Israelites to break free from Pharaoh’s grip. Keep your expectations in God.
They tried nine times without success! Keep your expectations in God.
They had their hopes dashed to pieces every time Pharaoh changed his mind. Keep your expectations in God.
They were frustrated each time Pharaoh compromised. Keep your expectations in God.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh…afterwards he will let you go hence” (Exodus 11:1). Four hundred years earlier, their deliverance, although arranged by God, was visibly procured by a gracious Pharaoh and Joseph. Now there was no hope in man. The people needed to trust only in God if they were to survive the wilderness trials and the occupational battles in the Promised Land.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Sometimes it’s simple, but other times it’s tricky. Whenever you last took a test, did you breathe a little easier when you saw it was multiple choice? However, maybe as you began to take the test, you realized it was not your ordinary multiple choice test. You had choice A, choice B, then somewhere down the list, there it lurked to paralyze your cerebral powers: “None of the Above.”
Pharaoh faced a test. The options were: A) Let God’s people go; B) Refuse and face judgment (Exodus 8:1-2). Pharaoh tries to pencil in his own option. It’s option C—Compromise. “Sacrifice to your God in the land” (8:25). “I will let you go…only ye shall not go very far away” (8:28). In future confrontations, he tries to mitigate disaster through compromise. God was not a game show host. With God, it was all or nothing.
In our own lives, we are constantly positioned to respond either A) All for God or B) Refuse and face consequences. Yet. we try to insert option C into the mix. We allow the circumstances to determine our action.
“But the children were really looking forward to it.”
“It’s only temporary.”
“I already paid for it; what a waste if we don’t go.”
On and on, we complicate the obvious answer with our imaginary option C. Anything other than complete devotion to God causes us to default to option B (which has the consequences). There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 16:25). Believer, you know better! Our refusal to stand upon principle places us in opposition to God. You cannot serve God and your corrupt desires for compromise. Moses will ask the fateful question in a few chapters, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” That’s option A and it’s the right answer. There is no option C.
Are you vertically challenged? Maybe you’re mentally challenged? How about God challenged?
If you were raised believing anyone who sat on the throne was literally a god, wouldn’t you find it offensive to hear your slave’s God is ordering you around? When Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel,” for all he knows they have developed a new and improved God. No one had heard the name Jehovah until Moses heard it from the bush. So from one perspective, we could give Pharaoh a little room to receive this new development from Goshen. Obviously, the slaves had too much time on their hands if they are contriving this 2.0 version of their God. The name Jehovah was so new, God himself spoke to Moses and colored in the details. In Exodus 6, the Lord explains he is a personal (3), promise keeping (4), perceptive (5), powerful (6), possessive (7), and providing (8) God. This was a new revelation for everyone.
The clincher is what man does with the revelation from God. Pharaoh, surrounded by groveling magicians, never had anyone tell him what he needed to hear until he was already stiffened against God. As we know, this was his undoing.
In John 1, we learn of a new expression of God, the Word. All the mysterious conceptions of God were clearly tangible in the person, Jesus Christ, and he challenged everyone, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Just as Pharaoh had to choose his response, so every person must decide what they will do with God’s revelation. What complicates matters is, just like Pharaoh, we have been raised with the world’s message and our own natural delusion that we are gods. Normally it is not explicitly stated that way, but our preoccupation with our wants and ways is evidence we know the Lord as well as Pharaoh.
Do your actions mirror Pharaoh’s response? Are you challenging God by saying, “Who is the Lord?” You know how things turned out for Pharaoh. Whether people believe it our not, there will be a showdown, a God challenge if you will, where you either fear Him or face the consequences.
Are you God challenged?