Who is the LORD that I Should Obey Him?

Have you ever asked, Who is God that I should trust Him? Who is the LORD that I should obey Him?

Huge question. Consider how you might answer this.

The past five weeks we've been in Genesis and Exodus. The Lord revealed His faithful love to Abraham. He disclosed His grace to conniving Jacob. He showcased His sovereign authority and heart of justice to Joseph.

Last week, God called Moses to deliver Israel from their captivity in Egypt.  

Exodus 5:1 And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to [the new] Pharaoh, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.'" 2 But Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go."

Pharaoh has cities to build, riches to make. So Moses’ request to "Let God's people go" is met with scorn: Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice?

That is the very question that God determines to answer.

If you know the story, Pharaoh won't let them. Through a series of ten plagues the LORD demonstrates His power over Pharaoh and over every one of Egypt's gods. He delivers the slaves. He parts the Red Sea. He drowns the Egyptians. And this is the redemptive story of the OT. This is what the people point to when the question is "Who is the LORD that I should obey Him?"

But there's more to it than that.

Moses and Israel expected God to make Pharaoh let them go right away. Yet Pharaoh made life harder for the Israelites and so they turned on Moses.

Exodus 5:22 Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? 23 Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all."

One thing we should earn from Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses is that God is faithful, yet He is also patient. Our impatience, fear, deadlines never force Him to act because He has greater goals than our immediate comfort:

He wants to reveal Himself in a way that changes us not just our circumstances. He wants us to know Him in a way that inspires our worship and obedience.

Exodus 6:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land."

Remember the question is, "Who is the LORD that I should obey Him?" Ask that question for yourself as we read God's words to Moses for His people,

Exodus 6:6 "Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 'I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.'"

Who is the LORD that Israel should obey Him? I Am the LORD. Through great judgments against your captor, I will deliver you. I will take you for My people and I will be your God. That's how you'll know me. That's why you can obey Me. I'm the LORD your God who rescues you from the Egyptians.

1500 years later, Jesus said, "I Am the Lord. I have come to rescue you from sin and death and to liberate you into the freedom of God's grace. To give My life for yours, to bring you to the Father and into the kingdom that you may know My love and trust Me for God's mercy and gladly obey Me forever."

Exodus 6:9 So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.

It's sometimes hard to believe God is good when things are so bad for so long. We can become hopeless. But this doesn't stop God from acting.

Exodus 6:29 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "I am the LORD; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you." 30 But Moses said before the LORD, "Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?"

We think I can't even convince my friends, how can I convince the world? How can God use me? How can I ever make a difference?

The LORD is with you. God doesn't choose Moses or us because we're so talented or godly. God basically tells Moses, You guys have this. Moses, just say what I tell you to say, and Aaron just tell Pharaoh to let the people go…

Exodus 7:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land."

Exodus 7:3 "But  I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.  4 When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt  and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. [Remember this is answering the question, "Who is the LORD that I should obey Him?"] 5 "The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst."

God will harden Pharaoh's heart so that he won't let Israel go.

Why? Because Pharaoh asked who is the LORD that I should obey Him?

God uses Pharaoh's pride against him for in his resistance to God and to mercy, he allows God to display His power in a way that the world may know that He is the LORD!

In ten instances, God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Ten other times Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Each time he hardened his heart he made a terrible choice and brought judgment. There's mystery here. But what's not a mystery is that Pharaoh was a brutal dictator who kept over 1 million people enslaved.

A lot of people insist God would never harden Pharaoh's heart so they say it was the Lord's actions, He brought harm to Pharaoh's people but Pharaoh hardened his heart. So God passively did it. But that's not how it reads.

God purposely stated, "I will harden Pharaoh's heart" ... "so that He will not let them go"… so that "I can perform signs and wonders"… so that "I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.”

There's an active move of God here. Purpose. At the very least, Pharaoh decided, I'm not letting them go! And God didn't give him the grace to change his mind. God cemented Pharaoh's choice by not intervening with His grace. For we only repent by God's grace, yet we always sin by free will.

Whether God did this actively or passively, when our heart resists God, we make self-destructive choices. God looks like the enemy, even when He's doing a beautiful thing like take action against injustice. God is good in this.

The apostle, Paul, commented on this in his letter to the church in Rome,

Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! [Let that be settled in your heart!] 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”

Point is nobody deserves mercy or grace, but He gives it as He freely chooses. Paul continues, since no man can ever merit God's grace,

Romans 9:16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My Name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens [in other words, God does not have mercy, the Lord does not soften the hard hearts of] whom He desires.

Exodus 7:6 So Moses and Aaron did it; as the LORD commanded them, they they did. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

Time after time, plague after plague, Pharaoh refused to let them go. After nine destructive plagues, we read,

Exodus 11:10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; yet the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land.

Finally, the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn sons—aka the Passover.

God says this is the final one. The LORD told Israel and all who trust Him to prepare a meal and to slay a lamb for the meal but also for a substitute for each family. And they were to brush the lamb's blood above their front doors. The LORD Himself explained,

Exodus 12:12 "For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments — I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt."

And on the night we now call Passover, the LORD carried this out. He used Pharaoh's resistance to demonstrate His power and His grace. Yes, grace because He judged the wicked that night, not just the Egyptians. He only passed over those who took refuge under the blood of the substitutionary Lamb. God judged the wicked that night whether the firstborn or a substitute.

This entire story previews what our LORD Jesus Christ did for us. He rescued us from sin's slavery. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. And all who trust in Him come under His blood and the Father or our LORD Jesus judged our sin in His body on the cross that He may pass over us, not our sins, but our lives. He judged our sins in His body that we might live in newness of life today. Trust Jesus for God's mercy, His forgiveness, and for the Father's love for you.

The next day, in broken lament, Pharaoh finally let God's people go. And the Egyptians gave them their silver and gold as God promised. A fresh start.

There's more to the story, God hardened Pharaoh's heart again so he pursued them. God hardened Pharaoh's heart and he chased them into the parted sea and then He collapsed the walled off sea upon them and He delivered Israel.

That's the point not to be missed. This showcases God's justice in the carrying out of His faithfulness to His people and His compassion on their suffering. He is the Lord fierce in justice because He is rich in mercy and committed in His love.

Who is the LORD that you should obey His voice? Until Jesus this was the answer. He's not only the LORD Almighty who decimated the most powerful nation on the earth with ten plagues and the parting of the sea and the destruction of their army but He is the LORD who faithfully, mercifully, mightily liberated His beloved from a life of cruel slavery.

Who is the LORD that you should obey Him? To the world He revealed His sovereign power and superiority over every god and government and ideology.

And to His hurting people, He revealed His loyal love, His power to deliver them, His faithfulness despite their lack of faith or hope in Him, and He demonstrates for all time His commitment to liberate us from bondage into the freedom of His grace that we know His love and gladly obey Him.

But here's that question for you: Who is the LORD that you should obey Him? All of this is true, yet we also know Him through Jesus Christ. And through our own experiences, if rightly interpreted.

And this we know for sure:

He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who loves you and sent His Son to reclaim you. He is Jesus who bore your sin and assures you God accepts you. He is the LORD who rose from the dead and guarantees you the same. He is the Holy Spirit who indwells you. He is the LORD who'll bring you into His kingdom to come, Christ whom we will love and worship and obey forever.

Knowing Him today, you can choose to obey Him with confidence that He will work through you whatever you face, to use you, to rescue and to love.