Dying To Self

Exodus

Dying To Self

June 13th, 1990 @ 7:30 PM

Exodus 4-5

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land. And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs. And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him. And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped. And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go. And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens. And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words. And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw. Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished. So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw. And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw. And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore? Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants? There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people. But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD. Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks. And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task. And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
Print Sermon
Downloadable Media
  
Play Audio

Show References:
ON OFF

DYING TO SELF

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Exodus 4:18-5:23

6-13-90    7:30 p.m.

 

You are going to listen to a homily tonight.  In the theological seminaries, they have professors of homiletics.  In the nomenclature of the institution, it refers to preaching.  You take a course in homiletics; it is a course in preaching.  A homily itself is actually taking a passage of Scripture and commenting on it verse by verse.  That is a homily. 

And tonight, I want you to turn to the fourth chapter of the Book of Exodus.  If you don’t have a Bible with you, why, just look in the pew right in front of you and you will find it.  And we’re going to have a homily tonight from Exodus 4:18 to 5:23.  So you turn to the second book in the Bible and be prepared to follow the pastor. 

Now five times in this reference to Moses in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, it speaks of "by faith: and the type and the subject and the theme is: Dying To Self:

 

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child, By faith – second one – by faith [Moses], when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the emoluments and the pleasures and affluence of sin for a season … Third one: by faith he forsook Egypt, as seeing Him who is invisible.

Four: through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of the blood, And five: by faith they passed through the Red Sea, being delivered from the Egyptians who assayed to slay them.

[Hebrews 11:23-29]

 

Now the homily, in Exodus 4, beginning at verse 23: faith is dying to self.  It is setting ourselves aside that God may work through us in His own righteousness. 

And Moses was allowed to make his first efforts for the emancipation of his people in his own strength and he failed ingloriously and fled to Midian [Exodus 2:11-15].  And that’s where our passage will begin.  And in the years of solitude in Midian, he was reduced to nothingness.  Then God, in the bush that burned unconsumed [Exodus 3:1-3], placed in his hand the almightiness of heaven, and Moses is finally yielded to the purpose of God as the staff he held in his hands. 

So we begin now with our homily in chapter 4 verses 18 and19:

 

And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive.  And Jethro said – the father-in-law said to Moses, Go in peace. 

And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.

[Exodus 4:18-19]

 

Now that is according to the ancient custom of the tribe and of the clan.  So Moses leads his sheep back to the central camp for the last time and prepares to leave for Egypt. 

Now, three things happened in preparation for his journeying to Egypt.  Number one, found in 4:21-23:

And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I put in thine hand: but I will hardened his heart, that he shall not let the people go. 

And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, My firstborn:

And I say unto thee, Let My son go, that he may serve Me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

[Exodus 4:21-23]

 

So this is a further revelation of what God will do in Egypt when Moses obeys the word of the Lord and goes down into that land to carry through the purpose of God. 

All right, the observation: God’s will is revealed a step at a time.  You never know, ever, the whole purpose of God for your life at any beginning, at any one time.  We leave in His grace and goodness, and trust Him for the beyond, and we learn as we obey.  No one of you ever shall know the entire will of God for your life – how it will come out – when you begin.  You take it a step at a time and, as you obey, you learn God’s will. 

Now, beginning at verse 24 to 26: 

 

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. 

Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 

So God let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. 

[Exodus 4:24-26]

 

Now our homily: God emphasizes, in this second incident in the life of Moses on the way to Egypt, God emphasizes the importance of His ordinances; in this instance, the ordinance of His circumcision.  Moses falls into a dangerous illness by the hand of God.  God did it.  God allowed it; and the reason God did it was because he had neglected the rite of circumcision. 

Now why did Moses neglect that sacred rite?  It must have been due to Zipporah, his wife – and next, I’m going to later on talk about that – it was due to Zipporah’s dislike.  She did not like the ordinance, and this youngest son, Eliezer, remained uncircumcised.  But God’s workings are always in the same pattern: when we disobey God, it is like gravel in the machinery, it is like a stone in the foot of a pilgrim and of a traveler.  When you disobey God, there will always be a very sad recompense. 

Now what happened here in this instance: Zipporah goes back to her father, Jethro [Exodus 18:2-3] – you will read that later on in Exodus – and she is not with Moses until he brings the children of Israel out of Egypt and goes by his father-in-law’s home in the land of Midian.  When we disobey God’s plain commandment, you always can remember there will be a repercussion and a sadness in it later on.  And thus it was in the life of Moses. 

Now verses 27 and 28:

 

And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.  And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.

And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him. 

[Exodus 4:27-28]

 

Now the homily: this is the brotherly alliance that remained for the rest of their lives.  This is the first time that Aaron had seen his brother, Moses, in forty years, and when they met they kissed, and they made a covenant there in the mount of God.  That’s where Moses saw the burning bush and God spoke to him out of that plant unconsumed [Exodus 3:2-10]. 

So Moses is now on his way to Egypt.  We pick up the story in verse 29 in chapter 4.  And Moses and Aaron now are in Egypt: 4:29-31:

 

And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:

And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses, and did the signs and the sight of the people.

And the people believed:

– they accepted the leadership of those two brothers. 

and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshipped. 

 

This is the interview of Moses and Aaron with the elders, the heads of tribes and families.  And a new day is promised in the coming of those two men of God.  This is the first time in four hundred years of slavery that they have a light of hope from heaven, and the response was beautiful.  The elders bowed before the Lord and worshipped [Exodus 4:21], and the true beginning of a true deliverance is at hand. 

Now chapter 5, verse 1:

 

And Moses and Aaron went in, and stood before Pharaoh and said, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness. 

[Exodus 5:1]

 

That must have been a new departure for Moses because he is now a suppliant before Pharaoh in the exact place that he had occupied as the crown prince.  This Pharaoh who is now ruling Egypt could have been Ra Moses – Ra Moses. 

Ra was the god of Egypt, the sun god, and the Pharaoh was worshipped and looked upon as the son of Ra; and Moses’ name was Ra Moses – Ra Moses.  When he denied the idolatry of Egypt, no longer would he be called Ra Moses.  They cut off the Ra, they cut off the idolater’s name, and he is now known, throughout all the years, as Moses, who is drawn out of the water for the purpose for which God had prepared him [Exodus 2:3-6]. 

Now verse 2: "And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?  I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go" [Exodus 5:2].  This is Pharaoh’s supercilious scorn: "Who is the Lord, that I,?"   You see, each Pharaoh was a god and he was worshipped.  For him, the Pharaoh, great Egypt existed.  For him, the Pharaoh, the Nile yearly overflowed.  For him, the armies marched and fought.  And for him, the multitude of magicians and priests ministered. 

"Who is the Lord God that I,?"  The Pharaoh was insulted.  He was presented with a mandate from a God greater than himself.  It was unthinkable to him, for the God of Israel was a God of conglomerated slaves.  And his royal lips curled in scorn when he said, "Back to your burdens and back to your tasks.  I will not let Israel go" [Exodus 5:4].

Now we continue with our homily: beginning at verse 5, through verse 21.  I haven’t time to read it.  There is a new order.  There’s a new mandate from the Pharaoh.  In his supercilious scorn, and in his wrath, and in his insulted spirit he says, "From now on, I give you no more straw to make brick.  You will find your own straw, but the tale, the number of bricks that you are to make every day, will not be lessened" [Exodus 5:6-11].  That meant there was double work to compensate for those seeking stubble.  It took about half of them to scour the land to find stubble – the Bible calls it – and half of them to make brick, and it was an impossible assignment. 

In [Exodus] 5:15-16, the people, who are so tragically burdened, bypassed Moses and cried to Pharaoh.  And in verses 20 and 21, they come from Pharaoh, who has scorned their appeal, and they pour out upon Moses and upon Aaron the bitterness of their desperation, 20 and 21:

They met Moses and Aaron,and said, The Lord look upon you, and judge; because ye have made us to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, in the eyes of his servants, and you put a sword in his hand to slay us.

[Exodus 5:20-21]

 

Now, verses 22 and 23:

And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Lord, wherefore has Thou done so evil by these people? And why is it that Thou hast sent me?

For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Thy name, he has done nothing but evil to this people; and You have not delivered them at all. 

[Exodus 5:22-23]

 

This is the resort to an agonizing, and baffling, and troubled, and failing soul. 

Moses has died to self-esteem and to pride.  He lies on the ground before God, the corn of wheat that dies, and that is what God seeks in us.  We must get to the end of ourselves before God can begin in us, and that’s why the sixth chapter begins with a "then" [Exodus 6:1].

Now we shall see what God can do.  Through fire and flood, we learn to depend upon God.  And sweet people, when you come to the end of your way, that is always the beginning of the might and power of the Lord God.  When we can die to self, the Lord God can begin to live in us.  When we utterly fail, the Lord then has opportunity to show the might and strength of His right arm.  As long as we are sufficient in ourselves, God has no place or part in us.  It’s when we are devastated, in abject failure, that God can come in and do His miraculous and marvelous works. 

Sweet people, I guess the reason I think in these terms is because of the place in which I now, at this moment, stand.  Yesterday, I went through that campus of our college.  It is a vast enterprise.  I didn’t realize it.  It’s the first time I’ve done it.  I did not realize the extensiveness of that renovation – and we’re pouring $5.5 million into it.  Outside of that center auditorium, that whole thing has been gutted out.  It is being remade. 

When we bought that property, they said the corner building must be imploded.  I said, "They don’t build buildings like that anymore, those beautiful Greek columns and pediments and the architecture of that building.  You won’t find a building like that in the earth today, anywhere."  So they are gutting it out and even the dome, which was hidden underneath the roof they’ve built, even the dome is there.  All of that is going to be restored. 

And that’s going to be one of the most beautiful and effective campuses for any school in this earth, and we’re going to have hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of young preachers taught how to deliver the message of God, how to pastor the church, how to be an effective missionary.  There’s no end to the glorious ministry of that school in that beautiful place, with a whole block of parking back of it. 

Then at the same time, God has given us this Life Foundation.  I never thought of such a thing.  I had given it up.  I had tried and failed.  And it is now ours. 

Then of course, these young people say we have filled this Ruth Ray Hunt Building, and there’s no place for us to expand or to grow.  And that building at 505 came to us at $9.23 a square foot – an unheard of thing.  And we can move out the adults, the older adults, in our C.E. Building.  It is joined to that youth building, and our young people can expand their work and our adults can grow over there in the new property that we own. 

But O Lord, dear God, where are the gifts and the money to pay for those tremendous expansive programs?  I bow before the Lord God: Lord, we must have at least five million dollars.  And our people have just responded, but their response is not one-half of what we need.  O God, what shall we do?  What can I do?  Where shall I turn? 

We’ll just see what God does.  I have absolutely and literally come to the end of the way.  And our people – so many of them – have such burdens, trying to exist: the economy down, so many things changing in life.  We have literally come to the end of ourselves, absolutely, and we are looking to God. 

Please, Lord, please see Your pastor of the church and Your people of the congregation bowed before Thee in intercession, in appeal.  God must help, and we’re looking for that glorious intervention from His gracious and saving hands.  Out of what we’re doing will come preachers, saving the lost, preaching the gospel, all over this world.  And out of what we are seeking to do will be ministries to the poor and the homeless, by the thousands.  And out of it will be the building up of the teaching ministries of our dear church, as you saw last Sunday night, those young people thronging down here, accepting the Lord as Savior, giving their lives into full-time service.  That’s God, and we’re looking to Him for that ultimate and final victory. 

Now sweet Eddie, let’s sing us a song of appeal.  And while we sing the song, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you who would come and to be with us, answering the call of the Spirit of the Lord in your heart, on the first note of the first stanza, come.  And God sanctify and hallow the commitment you make, while we stand and while we sing. 

 

DYING TO SELF
Dr. W. A. Criswell

Exodus 4, 5

6-13-90

 

I.              Faith of Moses

1.    After first forty year Moses allowed to try to emancipate Israel

2.    Then forty years in solitude

3.    Moses yielded to God’s plan and purpose

II.            Journey to Egypt

1.    God revealed His will one step at a time. We learn as we obey

2.    Injustice emphasized

3.    Brotherly alliance with Aaron

4.    Interview with elders

5.    Audience with Pharaoh

6.    Superiority attitude of Pharaoh

7.    Moses baffled and in agony