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The Invisible Hand of God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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February 5, 2024 12:01 am

The Invisible Hand of God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 5, 2024 12:01 am

To crush the growing threat of the Jews, Pharaoh sought to destroy all the Hebrew baby boys in Egypt. Today, R.C. Sproul analyzes how God used this evil edict to preserve the life of Moses and prepare him for his future ministry.

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Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul

I think the single most important person in the whole Old Testament is Moses.

Why? Not only because he led the people out of bondage in the Exodus, but also because he was the mediator of the Old Covenant, just as Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant. Moses is such a well-known and important figure in the Old Testament, the single most important, according to Dr. Sproul. His life has many incredible moments, encountering God in the burning bush, the ten plagues, the exodus, and the receiving of the Ten Commandments. We mustn't skip over the incredible events surrounding his birth and early life.

He revealed to us the invisible hand of God. Welcome to the Monday edition of Renewing Your Mind as we begin a series with R.C. Sproul on Moses and the burning bush.

If you'd like to own the series, you can request the DVD, the companion book, and the digital study guide at Until Thursday, you'll hear messages from this series as we discover the lessons and theology that we can learn from Moses' encounter with God at the burning bush. But in our first message, we'll see that just as extraordinary as those events were, so were the events surrounding his birth and his early months of life.

Here's Dr. Sproul. Tonight we're going to start a whole new series of messages that we plan to have ten of them, and they're all going to be focusing on the significance of the encounter that Moses had in the Old Testament with God in the burning bush. I'm convinced that that episode is a watershed episode, not only for the life of Moses, not only for the history of Israel, but for the history of the entire world. And what I will be doing in the first couple of lectures is looking at a little bit of the early period of Moses' life leading up to that encounter in the burning bush. And the last eight messages will be focusing on the theology that is revealed, that is the knowledge of God that is revealed to us in that particular incident.

I'm reading tonight from the New Geneva Study Bible, and if you have that or the Reformation Study Bible, you will see on the spine the logo of this Bible, which was the symbol of the Protestant Reformation, which symbol is, of course, the burning bush. And so let's begin tonight by looking at the early portion of the book of Exodus in the first chapter. In verse 8 of chapter 1, we read a statement that is somewhat ominous.

It's foreboding. It introduces a notion of deep and profound concern that sets the stage for all that will follow in the book of Exodus. Verse 8 reads as follows, Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. Now if you're familiar with the history that's unfolded in the book of Genesis, you immediately feel the weight of this statement, because the book of Genesis ends where the children of Israel are invited to move from Canaan where the famine had hit so heavily and come now into the borders of Egypt where Joseph was serving as the prime minister. And this Jewish family was given the land of Goshen as a settling place. But as the years passed, the population of this Jewish group living within the borders of Egypt grew exponentially, became a large portion of the population of Egypt, and in earlier days they enjoyed the favor of the Pharaoh who had promoted Joseph to the level of prime minister. But now that's all in the past, and a new Pharaoh comes to power, and we're told here, did not know Joseph. And that signals a radical shift in the relationship between the Jewish visitors, or immigrants, and the host country of Egypt. And this new king said to his people, look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we are.

That's probably hyperbole. They weren't that great, but in his eyes he was very much concerned of this growth of the Israelites in their midst. And so he says, come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply. And it happens in the event of war that they join our enemies and fight against us and go up out of the land. So they said, we've got to be shrewd here. We've got to be careful. On the one hand, we don't want them to leave because they are our slave labor force upon which the whole economy depends. But at the same time, we don't want them to become so numerous and so strong that if we're attacked by another nation, they're involved in an insurrection and join our enemies and destroy us.

So what we have to do is keep them here, but keep them as weak as we possibly can. And so now the Pharaoh institutes a program to that end and listen to what his shrewdness involves. Therefore, they sent taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. The idea here is, the heavier their burdens during their period of slavery, the less likely that they will live to old age so that the life expectancy of particularly the men among the Hebrews will be shortened. And he goes on to say, and they built for Pharaoh supply cities, pithom, and rameses, but the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.

So the exact opposite result came to pass from what Pharaoh and his shrewdness had tried to bring to pass. And so they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel sick, and they were in dread of the children of Israel served with rigor. That is, again they increased the burden.

They made their lives bitter with hard bondage in mortar, brick, and all manner of service in the field, and so that all the service they made were made with rigor. Now what comes next is of enormous significance for the history of the world. You see the situation that the Pharaoh has and what he's trying to control. Before we look at what comes next, I want to ask this question, a question that easily would begin an argument among Christian people. Who do you think was the most important person in the entire Old Testament? Well, I can hear various nominations for that office. Some may say Adam. Some might even say Eve because she was the mother of us all. Or people might surely nominate Abraham because he's the father of the faithful and is the one that God called out of paganism and made that covenant with him and with his descendants. Some might nominate David as the prefigurement of the king that would come in New Testament days in the person of Jesus. And all of those persons that I've just mentioned are, I think, legitimate candidates. And it's just like saying, who was the greatest football player ever lived? You can argue these questions forever. But for me, in terms of redemptive history, I think the single most important person in the whole Old Testament is Moses.

Why? Not only because he led the people out of bondage in the Exodus, which again was a watershed event for all of history, but also because he was the mediator of the old covenant, just as Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant. And He is the one through whom God delivered the law to Israel in the giving of the Ten Commandments.

And I think of it this way. No Moses, no escape from bondage, no Exodus probably wouldn't be a surviving Jew on the face of the earth today. Because without the Exodus and the leadership of Moses, the Jewish slaves would never have been molded into a nation by God. And they would never have had the law code that was delivered through Moses.

You can't study jurisprudence in Western civilization without seeing the impact of the decalogue delivered by Moses upon later Roman law, certainly on British law, and on American jurisprudence. So this man is of enormous significance, and the early chapters of the book of Exodus reveal to us an extraordinary providence by which God in His sovereignty gave the world Moses. Because now the fear of Pharaoh has escalated to such a degree that his new program of shrewdness, in order to protect his concerns about this growing strength of these Jewish slaves, was to destroy the boy babies that were about to be born. In a significant redemptive historical parallel, an edict came out from Pharaoh, not unlike Herod's program in New Testament days with the slaughter of the infants in order to destroy the Christ child. So now, in this epoch of history, the Pharaoh issues a decree to destroy the newborn Jewish boys. Let's read what it says.

Let's read what it says. So the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives of whom the name of one was Shipra and the name of the other Puwa. And he said, when you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, see them on the birthstools. If it is a son, then you shall kill him. This is not simply a government sanctioning abortion, as wicked as that is. But this is a case where a government is commanding infanticide. The government, the king instructs the Hebrew midwives, if you see that woman giving birth, and the baby is a boy, it is your duty to kill it.

If it's a daughter, then she shall live. Verse 17, but. One of my favorite words in biblical history, but. Something comes along that thwarts this decree of the most powerful ruler in the world, but the midwives, who, by the way, I'm sure were intimidated by the power of Pharaoh.

How could they not be? Since he was the most powerful man in the world, but the Scriptures say that the midwives feared God. These were God-fearing women who had more reverence and fear of offending God than they had of offending Pharaoh. Without that fear, in the providence of God, again, no Moses, no Exodus, no law. But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded him. This is an act of civil disobedience that receives the blessing of God, because we are always to obey the civil magistrates unless they command us to do something that God forbids or forbids us from doing something that God commands. And in this case, they were commanded to kill these babies, which would violate the character of God and their own consciences, and so they disobeyed the Pharaoh. They did not do what the king commanded them but saved the male children alive. And Pharaoh gets wind of this.

Listen to this. He calls the midwives in. He said, what are you doing? Why have you saved these babies?

Why have you not done what I told you to do? So how do the midwives respond? They respond with a righteous lie. There are such righteous lies. We understand the biblical ethic that there is a sanctity of truth, and we are to speak the truth whenever we possibly can. But the principle is this, that we are always to tell the truth to whom the truth is due. That is, we are always called to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, in the case of justice. But if the enemy crosses your borders and wants to know where your company is bivouacked, you're not obligated to reveal that secret information. If a murderer comes to your house and wants to know where your child is, and you know that his intent is to kill him, you're not required by God to tell him, oh, well, he's hiding in the bedroom.

Now, this was a godly deceitfulness, which receives the full blessing of God, by the way. They said to Pharaoh, the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptians. They're lively. They give birth before the midwives even come to them. No long labor period for these ladies. You know, when they're ready to deliver, wham, they had the baby before the baby.

They had the baby before the baby before the midwives can even get there. Therefore, we are told, God dealt well with the midwives. God blessed these women for their brave disobedience and dissent from Pharaoh's program. And so the people multiplied, and they grew very mighty. And so it was because the midwives feared God that God provided households for them. And so now Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive. Not just the Jews, everybody.

I'm going to get them one way or another. And we read, A man of the house of Levi went and took a wife of the daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him for three months. She had her baby, and she knew that if this little boy would be discovered by the law, by the soldiers of Pharaoh, that her child would be put to death. And so she hid him.

She hid him for three months. But you can keep a six-week-old baby somewhat quiet. But by the time their lungs develop, and by the time they become three months old, their cries cannot be silenced. And so people will begin to take note that there is an infant here, and they cannot be continually hidden. And when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark, she took an ark, the same word that is used for Noah's ark. She took an ark of bulrushes for him, dabbed it with asphalt and pitch, built this little vessel, and put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank. And she consigned her baby to the benevolence of God, to His sovereignty, and to His providence. She knew, I am no longer able to keep this baby safe.

I have to let him go, and I have to put him into the hands of my God, that my God will save his life, protect him from the wrath of Pharaoh. And so she built this little boat. And she didn't set it adrift in the Nile. She put it in the reeds, where it could still remain hidden, and had the baby's older sister go and watch and see if anybody would come along, if anyone would rescue the baby. Then in the providence of God, a woman came down to bathe at the river. She wasn't looking for Hebrew babies to adopt.

She just went down to the river to bathe, and it wasn't just any lady. It was Pharaoh's daughter. Can you imagine the terror in the heart of Moses' sister when she sees the daughter of Pharaoh approaching the reeds where the little ark is hidden with her baby brother?

Oh, no. She's coming closer and closer and closer, and it's Pharaoh's daughter. Her maidens walked along the riverside, and she saw the ark among the reeds. And so she dispatched her maid to go and get her. What is that?

What's that thing over there? And when she opened it, she saw the child, and the child began to cry. She opens this package she didn't expect to find in the reeds, and there's a baby, three months old. And the baby looks up at the daughter of Pharaoh and starts to weep. And so we read, she had compassion on him and said, this must be one of the Hebrew children. She didn't just say, this has to be one of the Hebrew babies.

I'll report it to my father and have the soldiers come and dispense with this child. No, she had compassion. This was a woman. And her natural instincts when she finds a baby and the baby's crying is for her to feel for that baby and to pick that baby up and hold that baby and try to comfort that baby. She doesn't know anything about the Ten Commandments or the Exodus, but she's holding the mediator of the old covenant in her arms.

She's a woman having compassion on a baby that's been set adrift. Moses' sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew woman that she may nurse the child for you? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, go ahead.

So she went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, take this child and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages. Take this little baby and take care of it for me. I'm going to adopt this baby, and I'll pay you if you will nurse this baby.

Pay me? This is my baby. Of course I'll nurse him, but she didn't say that. And the child grew, and she brought him, and the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses, for I have drawn him out of the water. This is how the life of Moses begins. It will be 80 years from that moment until Moses will meet the living God in the burning bush in the Midianite wilderness. We're not Moses, but that invisible hand of providence is at work in our lives as well.

And I'm sure you can look back and see God's providence, and that should cause each one of us to pause and to give thanks. You're listening to Renewing Your Mind, and that was R.C. Sproul beginning a four-day study of Moses and the burning bush. This series is 10 messages, and you can continue your study of this watershed moment when you request the DVD, companion book, and digital access to the messages and study guide at or by calling us at 800 435 4343.

R.C. Sproul will help you understand what took place during Moses' extraordinary encounter with God, but also what this event teaches you and me about the God we love, worship, and serve. Request this bundle today at And if you're planning on joining us for Ligonier's national conference in May, spending three days with 6,000 other like-minded Christians, the current discounted rate ends on Saturday. So I'd like to encourage you to be sure to register today at slash 2024. So what actually took place at the burning bush that wasn't consumed? Join us tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-10 18:52:06 / 2024-02-10 19:00:10 / 8

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