Sermon on Exodus 6:2-8
Text: God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.
6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’”
When parents name their children, they do so for a variety of reasons. It may be that they simply like the sound of the name, especially when paired with their last name. They might give the name to the child because it is a fashionable or unique name. They may use a name that has been in the family for generations. In biblical times, the names that people had had a meaning to them and, at times, would highlight an event in their lives. For example, after God made a promise that he would be the ancestor of a great nation, God changed the name of Abram, which meant “exalted father” to Abraham, which meant “father of many.” In our Gospel lesson this morning, Jesus gave Simon the name “Peter,” which means “rock,” because of his rock solid confession of faith. Even the names by which God has revealed himself to us have special significance. This morning, we are going to look at one of those names as God says of himself, “I AM THE LORD.” 1. I Have Heard Your Groaning. 2. I Have Redeemed You. 3. I Will Give You The Promised Land.
Prior to our text, God had appeared to Moses in a burning bush on Mt. Horeb. He told Moses that he was to be the one who would lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Moses went to Pharaoh to tell him to let the people go. Not only did Pharaoh refuse the request, he made the lives of the Israelites more miserable by no longer providing straw for them to make bricks as they built his cities. The people complained about their situation. Moses asked the Lord, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” (Exodus 5:22&23) God spoke the words of our text to encourage Moses.
God did not just give a pep talk to Moses. Instead, he highlighted his name “the Lord.” If you look at this word, as it is translated in the NIV, you will note that all four letters of the name are capitalized. Normally, when you hear the word “lord,” you would think of a master or royalty. However, this is not the idea behind this special name by which God calls himself. Often, when you read this word in the Old Testament, it highlights God’s love for people. This is very easy to see as God encourages Moses to continue the task of leading the Israelites.
God told Moses, “I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving.” (Verse 5) This is the first instance showing God to be a God of love and mercy. He was aware of what the people were suffering at the hands of te Egyptians. He was not indifferent to what they were going through. He saw what they were suffering.
Our Lord, also, says the same thing to us. I have heard your groaning. I know what you are suffering as you are in slavery. You might think to yourself that you are not a slave. You live in the United States of America, the home of the free. The fact is, however, that you were born in slavery, the slavery of sin. You and I, by nature, cannot help but do what our master, sin, tells us to do. As we live in that state, we feel the increasing burden of our sins. When we look at how God demands that we live our lives, we quickly see the mountainous load of sin that is upon. We see the times that we have lied to or about others. There are the words that we have spoken out of anger, because we have run out of patience. A discontent with how our lives are going and subsequent complaining to God is there. While we might try to pacify this by saying that we haven’t committed this or that sin, like other people do, the fact remains that those sins just seem to pile up. We know that we have sinned against God. We know that we justly deserve his punishment both today and for all eternity. We quickly realize that we cannot get out of this situation on our own. All we can feel is the crushing load of our sin. We chafe under the slavery into which we were born. We join in the tax collector’s prayer, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” (Luke 18:15)
God heard the groaning of the Israelites in their slavery and said that he would do something about it. He said, “I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” (Verses 6&7) God promised that he will rescue his people from their slavery. He talks about the fact that this rescue would come with his “outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.” The picture of an outstretched arm is similar to someone flexing their biceps, showing their strength. God was going to show his power as he delivered his people. As we read further in the book of Exodus, we see God sending a series of 10 plagues upon the nation of Egypt. In last of the 10 plagues, God put to death all of the firstborn children in the land. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the people of Israel were free to go. The firstborn sons of the Israelites were kept safe from this plague because God told them to kill a lamb and spread its blood on the doorframes of the houses where they lived. The blood of the lamb saved them. God said that he would redeem his people. The word “redeem” means to buy back or ransom. The blood of the lamb bought the life of the firstborn sons of Israel.
God has also heard our groaning as we stagger under the slavery of sin. He, too, set out to set us free. We have been set free from our sins by God’s outstretched arm and his mighty acts of judgement. We see God’s mighty power in action as the Son of God took on human flesh and blood. We not only see the power of Jesus as he performed miracles, but also as he withstood each and every one of the temptations that the devil threw at him. God’s mighty acts of judgment are on full display when Jesus was on the cross. There Jesus was punished for every one of those sins that weigh us down. God’s justice was upheld while Jesus was suffering and dying on the cross. We, also, see the redemption that took place there. Just as the blood of the lambs redeemed the firstborn sons of Israel, Jesus’ blood has ransomed us from the slavery of sin. We have been set free. When God sees us, he no longer sees our sins, for they have all been paid for. He sees us as holy and perfect. We, also, see God’s outstretched arm as Jesus rose from the dead. Death had to release its icy grip on Jesus, because he was too powerful. This act assures us that our sins have been forgiven. The Lord, the God of mercy and grace, heard our groaning under the load of our sins and has redeemed us. Just as he promised the people of Israel, so also he says to us, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” When we are brought to faith, we become part of God’s own people. We belong to the LORD.
God also made a promise to the people of Israel. “I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.” (Verse 8) The God of mercy and grace promised that he would lead them to the land of Canaan that he promised their accentors would one day be theirs. The people did not receive it right away. They would be led out of Egypt. However, they didn’t receive this land until forty years later. During this time, they would face many difficulties. They would be traveling through a desert, where food and water would be scarce. God would provide for them during this time. They would have various nations attack them, starting with the Egyptians when the people of Israel left Egypt. Yet, even though these other nations were larger and more prepared for battle than the Israelites were, the Lord fought for his people and defended them. The Lord kept them in each and every circumstance until they finally reached the land of promise. Then, the LORD gave them this land, which was described as a land flowing with milk and honey. It was even better than what they could ever have dreamed it to be.
The Lord also makes this promise to us. He will lead us to the land of promise, heaven. We don’t get to go there as soon as we are delivered from our sins. For many of us, this took place when we were infants in baptism. The Lord has promised that he will lead us to that promised land. However, he also shows himself to be the God of mercy and grace, as we travel to that promised land. There will be various difficulties that we will face. There may be times when it appears that we do not have enough. God promises that he will provide for all of our needs. We will face dangers of various kinds. God promises that he will deliver us from them. When we face these difficulties and dangers, God promises that he will make each and every one of them work out for our benefit. We will have people attack us for our faith. God promises to be there right beside us. He will give us strength at those times. They will, ultimately, be defeated. Finally, when our trek through the wilderness of life comes to an end, God has that land of promise, heaven, waiting for us. Its beauty and joy will be far more than we can ever imagine. How can we be sure that this is what is waiting for us at the end of our lives? The Lord, the God of mercy and grace, has promised it to be so. Just as he has fulfilled every other promise that he made, we know that he will keep this promise, as well. The Lord will lead us to the promised land of heaven.
In William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Romeo says, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” He was saying to Juliet that it didn’t matter what her last name was. To him, the name had no meaning. That may have been true for Romeo, but it not the case when it comes to the various names of God. Today, we have had the privilege of studying this special name that God has given himself. It is the LORD. It is a name that conveys his mercy and grace. This is so evident as he had compassion on us when we were in the slavery of sin. His grace moved him to redeem us from our slavery. His mercy is with us each step of the way until we reach that land that he has promised us. We praise the name of the LORD! Amen.
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