Go, Show, Tell, and Leave

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Exodus 3:16-4:9 | October 25 -

October 25
Go, Show, Tell, and Leave | Exodus 3:16-4:9
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Go, Show, Tell, and Leave

A Sermon by Kevin DeYoung on Exodus 3:16 – 4:9, delivered on October 25, 2015

Have you ever thought about how much we don’t like to be alone? Some of you, with all the craziness going on in your lives, may think, “I would gladly sign up for some time alone right now.” But even for those of us who are introverts—who love to go on a long walk, curl up with a book, and to recharge by themselves—I would guess that those experiences are relatively short-lived and freely chosen, and not so much about the absence of people as the absence of bother. To be forced to be alone when you don’t want to be alone is one of the worst punishments humans have devised. If you’re a really bad, misbehaving prisoner, what do they do to punish you? They make you be all alone—not only so you can’t get into trouble, but as part of the punishment: solitary confinement.

Suppose I were to ask you the question—not in January, but just now—“Do you want to go live on a deserted island somewhere? You would have all your food, clothing, and shelter provided for. You wouldn’t have any physical wants. Or you can go live in some run-down part of some city, but with people you love.” Where would you rather be?

It’s not a hard choice for me. I’d love to get away by myself with a book on an island for a time, but even for the introverts here, to be alone is one of the hardest things to do. One of the most miserable summers of my life was spent out in the mountains of Colorado. It was absolutely beautiful, but I was with two other people that I barely knew doing work on a political science textbook. Even though I woke up every day, saw hummingbirds flying around, and got to use an outhouse (yes, an outhouse) that overlooked a pristine mountain wilderness, I was miserable because I felt so alone.

Moses is going to have some of those occasions here in the book of Exodus, and this won’t be the last time that God wants to remind both him and the people that they are not doing this all by themselves. God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. He’s sending him back to Egypt to save the people—but Moses isn’t so sure that he’s the right guy and that this is the right plan. God was patient with Moses just as He is patient with us, to reassure us that we’re not alone.

Exodus 3:16 – 4:9:

16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”
Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
(Exodus 3:16-4:9)

God is here to remind Moses that He is not sending him to figure this out on his own. Whatever you’re called to do right now, the God who calls is also the God who equips. You have to remember that, whether you’re called to be a mom and feel like, “I don’t know if I can do this another week”, or you’re called to be single, called to have a hard conversation, or called into a ministry or a job, and you feel like, “God, You’re calling me to something that I can’t do.” That may be the case, but the God who calls is also the God who equips.

Though there will be many more promises to come, here He promises Moses three things: “I will give you elders, I will give you plunder, and I will give you signs.” Or, to put it another way, God reassures Moses that “You won’t work alone, you won’t leave alone, and I won’t leave you alone.” Let’s look at each of those.

“You Won’t Work Alone”: the Role of the Elders

Look at verse 16. God repeats many of the things we’ve heard before. He says, “I’m the God of the Patriarchs: of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I’ve been watching over you, and I will bring you into a land flowing with milk and honey.” But there’s also something new. Did you notice it?

16 Go and gather the elders…
(Exodus 3:16a)

How remarkable it is that as He instructs Moses at the beginning of this great act of deliverance (the Exodus), the very first thing that he is to do is not to barge in and talk to Pharaoh. “When you go back, you’re going to talk to the elders.”

And notice verse 18:

18 And they will listen to your voice…
(Exodus 3:18a)

Then He says, “They will go with you as you speak to Pharaoh.” This is often overlooked in Exodus. How many of us have missed before that Moses was going to talk to the elders? I mean, I’ve seen the old movie with Charlton Heston and the newer cartoon versions—all sorts of movie versions of the Exodus—and I always seem to remember Moses (maybe with Aaron nearby) wearing a really nice little bathrobe sort of thing, and walking in there and having this showdown with Pharaoh. But Exodus tells us that somewhere in the background (maybe in the foreground) are these elders. When Moses came, the first thing that he was to do was talk to the leaders of the people.

It speaks to the importance of eldership in the Bible. We hear a lot in the Old Testament about prophets, priests, and kings—and they all matter, but God’s plan was to govern and guide His people by a plurality of elders. We’ll get to Exodus 18 later, where Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law) says, “Moses, you are making yourself miserable. There are too many people here, and you’re trying to do everything yourself. You need to get some other people whom you can entrust with these responsibilities.”

You may think, “Well, here at URC, I hear a lot about elders. I learned about it in the New Members class, they’re praying for elders, and the elders are up there when we do communion. Elders, schmelders. Enough!’” Well, it’s biblical. It’s not some idea we came up with. It’s there in the Old and New Testaments.

You know what the word ‘Presbyterian’ means, don’t you? It’s the name of a denomination. Maybe it carries certain connotations in your mind: this is a ‘Presbyterian’ church. For years when I was growing up, when I heard ‘Presbyterian,’ do you know what I thought of? I’m pretty sure this is not what Pastor Jason thought of! I thought of that scene from the first Muppets movie where Kermit and Fozzie are on their road trip. They come up to this little church and open the doors. Who’s the guy playing? Is it Dr. Teeth? Is that his name? There’s a band in there playing rock-and-roll. And they open the door, look at each other, and say, “They don’t look like Presbyterians to me.” That’s what I thought of for a long time. You go find that clip.

That’s not ‘Presbyterian’. The Greek word, ‘presbuteros,’ simply means, ‘elder’. So, ‘Presbyterian’ is just another way of saying that we’re trying to be biblical. We’re trying to have elders. Elders govern and guide Christ’s church—because the plan, whether it’s with Moses or a pastor in a church, is not to have a one-man show with one person calling all the shots.

To have more workers, counselors, and wisdom is practical advice for all of us. It’s true that massive change can come through just one person. Sometimes you have to work in opposition to the established authorities—Jesus had to in His day. Nevertheless, God’s first plan of action is usually this: “Okay, I want you to go talk to the leaders. I want you to talk to the respected ones. I want you to find who the people are following, and I want them to listen to you.” That’s what God says to Moses: “See if they are with you.”

What a practical comfort it would have been for Moses. Remember the first time he did this? We learned in Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7 that when Moses struck down the Egyptian he was not only trying to set free the Hebrew, but all the Hebrews. He thought, “I’m going to kill this guy, people are going to see what I’m doing, and we’ll march out of Egypt. I’m the deliverer”

Of course, that didn’t happen. Now, God is saying, “Forty years later, you’re going to go back. Instead of doing it your way, Moses—to lose your cool, fly off the handle, and kill somebody—let’s do it My way, which means you’re going to start by going to talk to the elders. You’re going to have them listen, and then I’m going to send you with them. We’re going to take care of this, and I’m going to do it through you.”

It’s important for all of us to remember not to get so out in front of everybody else that there’s nobody following. Moses had elders. Pastors lead with elders. In fact, it doesn’t matter what you’re leading—whether it’s a church, a business, a school, a department, or a program. If you aren’t sharing responsibility, working with a team, raising up leaders, and listening to many counselors, then you’re not leading in the way that’s best, wisest, and most sustainable.

Some of you are bosses in your workplace; some of you have bosses; some of you are just bossy! But think about the people who you work for. If you think, “I love work and I’ve got a great boss,” it’s probably because he or she is somebody who listens, has many counselors, and is willing to talk to others. If you have a job where you feel like you’re about ready to quit every other day, it may be because you have a boss who doesn’t do any of these things. God tells Moses, “I want you to go. We’re going to start this great Exodus with you sitting down with the leaders of Israel.”

Now look at one other thing before we get onto the second point. Verse 18:

‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us [this is what they are saying to Pharaoh]; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’
(Exodus 3:18b)

That has raised some questions. “You’re going to go to Pharaoh and say that we need three days? Is this really accurate?” Is Moses kind of “wink-wink, nudge-nudge,” to the elders here? “We want three days,” but they want to be set free?

Why are they asking for three days? Some people have said, “Well this is a lie—just an acceptable lie in the time of war.” Others have said, “Well, it’s technically true. They were going to go for three days. They didn’t say when they were going to come back. They didn’t say how many days they’d going to take after that.” Others have said, “Well, it’s really a figure of speech. This is the polite way, in the ancient Near-East, of making a request known. It’s a way of saying, ‘Can we go out for an indefinite time?’” There’s some evidence to support that. That may be part of it.

I think that what we have here is simply the beginning point of negotiations with Pharaoh. This was their first request, but it wasn’t meant to be their last. God knew—in fact, God planned—that Pharaoh would not accept their initial demand. I think this is God’s way of saying, “All right, King of Egypt. We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way.” Pharaoh sure liked to do things the hard way.

Some of us do things the hard way. “Okay, I’ve got a lesson to teach you. I’ve got something I want to do in your life. There’s an easy way that involves you listening, and obeying, and submitting, or I’ll get through, but we can do it the hard way.” Pharaoh, of course, chose over and over again to do things the hard way by refusing to listen. The difference between the righteous and the unrighteous is chiefly this: whether or not they listen to the Word of God. The elders listened, but Pharaoh wanted nothing to do with the message that Moses gave.

You and I would do well to consider in our own lives that sometimes our opposition to the messenger is actually from our hard-heartedness towards the message itself. We can convince ourselves otherwise. Maybe some of you are here this morning. You don’t want to be here, but Mom and Dad made you come here—and though you sit here and look nice, in your heart, you’re really like this. Or maybe your husband or wife is dragging you here, or your friend has brought you here, and you don’t know why. Sometimes we convince ourselves: “You know what, it’s just the messenger. This Christian who keeps sharing the gospel… he’s so full of himself.” “She’s such a hypocrite.” “These people don’t understand me. They’re so overboard.” You’ve convinced yourself that the reason you won’t submit to Christ is because of all these people telling you about Him. “Oh, Mom and Dad. They’re so dumb. I can’t listen to people like them.”

Certainly, all of these instruments are imperfect—but have you considered that you are not really rejecting the messenger, but the message? Pharaoh may have had reasons. “I don’t like this Moses. He used to be an Egyptian and now he’s back. Why does he think he’s so high and mighty—so holier than thou?” It wasn’t Moses, ultimately, but the God that Moses knew that Pharaoh did not care for. The request from Moses and the elders would reveal that the heart of the problem was with Pharaoh’s heart. He would not tolerate any other deities. He would not allow for any other god to be worshipped. They wanted to go into the wilderness and worship the God that had met with them for three days, but Pharaoh said “No.” Pharaoh was a glory thief.

Phil Ryken says:

“Pharaoh was unwilling to give God even three days of glory.”

“No, I’m Pharaoh. I’m king. I’m god.” Some of us are like that: “God, I’m happy to have you be a part of my life, get me out of jams, and save me from my sins, but the glory is for me. Pride, accolades, and attention are for me.” Pharaoh wouldn’t even give the Lord a long weekend of glory. Ten plagues were necessary to show him that the Lord was God and he was not. I hope that we can come to the same conclusion without quite so many plagues, because God has a way of getting His way: the hard way or an easier way. “I will not have you work alone.” That’s what God told Moses.

“You Won’t Leave Alone”: the Promise of Plunder

At first glance, verses 21-22 sound rather harsh—like God is saying, “You’re going to steal from all the Egyptians on your way out of town. Look, they’ve been robbing you. Now you can rob them! Take that, suckers!” That’s not what God’s saying. Look at the details. Verse 21:

21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians…
(Exodus 3:21a)

This is not breaking and entering. This is favor from the Egyptians. How?

…when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house…
(Exodus 3:21b-22a)

He’s imagining women who might have worked in Egyptian households—women who (maybe while the men are slaving away out of town) are living shoulder-to-shoulder with their Egyptian neighbors—telling their Egyptian neighbors, “We’re leaving. Can we have some silver, gold, or clothing?” And they would give it to them. This is not an example of forced thievery, but of divine favor.

Why did the Egyptians do this? Did they feel bad after all those years? “Well, we’ve treated you so rottenly. Yes, have something.” Or did they just see that, “Look, they have some God on their side. After ten plagues, we’ll give them whatever they ask for, just to get them out of here.” Whatever the case was, it was another aspect of the Lord’s provision.

Isn’t it amazing how intricately the Lord cares for us? I’ve read Exodus I don’t know how many times, so these stories are very familiar to me (and to many of you). And yet, as I’m studying it, I’m noticing things that I’ve never seen before. God doesn’t just have a big plan. He’s got a little plan to carry out His big plan. He said, “You’re going to go and talk to elders.” Did you notice that before? “Then you’re going to leave. You’re going to have favor, and the Egyptians are going to give you stuff.” And did you notice this sentence?

“…You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters…”
(Exodus 3:22b)

This is not about getting some bling to look fashionable as they walked out of town. It’s saying, “I’m going to make sure that your kids have some clothes on their back and sandals on their feet. I’m going to make sure that you have what you need to make this journey through the sea into the wilderness and the Promised Land.” It’s a measure of God’s care for us. This is how He works. He not only gets you out, He gets you going. He doesn’t just save you; He equips you. He doesn’t just redeem you and rescue you; He gives you gifts—and He never tires of giving you gifts.

Parents love to get their kids gifts up to a point—and then there are holidays after holidays. Halloween? Boy, that’s become an expensive proposition! I like the kids who say, “I’ll just dress up as a soccer player.” “Good, we’ve got soccer stuff. Go for it.” “I’m going to dress up like it’s cold outside.” “Good, it probably will be. Welcome to the Midwest.” You have Halloween. You have Thanksgiving.

Then you have Christmas. Christmas is two months from today. Boy, is that discouraging! We got in two big, thick Toys-R-Us catalogs in the mail yesterday Did any of you get that? Our kids are just tearing into them. They are finding things that they never knew they needed so much in their lives. “Where has this been? I never heard of this until four seconds ago, and now I need it to live!”

As a parent, we even get tired of giving gifts. Don’t picture God like that: “Boy, these people need things again!” God’s not exhausted, not tired, and not too busy. There is a beautiful pattern throughout the Bible of God delivering His people and then giving them gifts. Way back in Genesis 15:14, God promised Abraham that “Your people are going to be slaves in a foreign land for four centuries. Then, I will lead them out with great possessions.”

This rule of thumb then became enshrined into the Israelites’ law. In Deuteronomy 15, the Mosaic Law says that if a Hebrew sells himself into slavery—it happens when somebody can’t pay debts. It’s kind of like, “I’ll be your indentured servant.” It says that “in the seventh year, you are to release your slave—and when you do, don’t have him go away empty-handed. You’re to give him some of the gifts that the Lord has blessed you with on his way out, because you too were once slaves in Egypt.”

God’s saying, “That’s what I did for you in Egypt. That’s what you’re going to do if you have a slave. In the seventh year, they go free, and you load them up with stuff. Have you ever noticed this, years later when God’s people left Babylon, in Ezra 1:4?

And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”
(Ezra 1:4)

Even Cyrus, in making that declaration, says “When the exiles leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem, you’re to give them gifts.” That’s how God works. When He saves His people, he gifts His people. It makes sense: when God delivers us from the bondage of sin, He doesn’t just leave us there. He gives us presents. Ephesians 4:8:

“When [Christ] ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
(Ephesians 4:8)

Ephesians 4 tells us that a part of those gifts is that He gives to us apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers. Those are gifts to the church. But He also gives each of us spiritual gifts—things you can do. Isn’t that wonderful? God doesn’t just say, “Alright, I forgive you. I’ve saved you. Welcome into My family.” He says, “I’m having a party. I’m so glad that you’re here. I’ve rescued you, and now I’m going to give you some spiritual plunder to get you on your way and send you out.” When God saves people, He gives them gifts. You don’t have to leave alone.

“You Won’t be Alone”: the Promise of Signs

Each one of these promises speaks to where some of us are at. For some people, it’s, “Boy, I’ve got a lot of work to you. I don’t know how I’m going to do this.” You need to be reminded, “You don’t have to do this alone. Even Jesus sent out the disciples in twos and pairs. You don’t have to do the work alone.” Some of us doubt that we have anything and that God cares for us. “No, I won’t leave you alone. I’ll give you the plunder of the Egyptians.” And some of us just wonder whether deep down we really are alone. God tells Moses, “I know you’re not sure that this is a good idea and that this is going to work, but I’m going to give you some signs to authenticate you and to make sure you know that I’m with you.”

There are five times in Exodus where Moses gets in this same argument with God—basically saying, “I don’t think this is going to work.” The first time, he says, “Who am I?” God says, “Not important.” “Okay,” Moses says. “Well then, second, who are You?” He says, “Well, I’m the Lord. I am.” Now we get to the third objection. He asks, “But what if they don’t believe me?” (Exodus 4:1) “What if they don’t listen to my voice? Okay, it doesn’t matter who I am. Fine. I know a little bit about who You are. Fine. But what if I tell them, and they say, ‘Uh-uh. You didn’t talk to the Lord.’” It seems like a reasonable question, but you have to keep in mind verse 18 of chapter 3. God has already said:

18 And they will listen to your voice…
(Exodus 3:18a)

God’s saying, “Go to the elders, and they’ll listen.” “But what if they don’t?!” God is very patient with Moses, and He’s very patient with us. When Moses first meets God in the burning bush (in chapter 3), he says he’s afraid. Now his fear has subsided somewhat, and he’s not afraid to argue with this God. He wants to know that his ministry will be authenticated. He wants further confirmation of his call. He wants to be sure that God is really with him.

God gives him three signs: He turns a staff into a serpent, makes a hand leprous, and turns water into blood. He says, “Why don’t you try these for the elders if they don’t believe you?” It’s really a preview of coming attractions—what’s going to happen in the next eleven chapters to convince Pharaoh to let them go.

Surely the signs were chosen for a reason. All three hint at the superiority of the Lord over Egypt. This is a theme that will become much more developed in subsequent chapters. This God is more powerful than their gods. The serpent was god of the lower Nile. The snake, or the cobra, was a symbol of Pharaoh. God says, “I’ll take your staff and turn it into a serpent, and it’ll eat up Pharaoh’s snakes.” The Nile was quasi-divine. It was the place of fertility and life. It was worshipped. God said, “I can turn that whole thing to blood.” The leprous hand is less demonstrably religious, but nevertheless an attack on their quest for health or immortality. God is saying, “Look, Moses. I know what I’m doing, and Egypt is no match for Me.”

But there’s another reason for these three signs: all three involve God taking something ordinary and using it for extraordinary purposes. What’s so special about a staff? or a hand? or some water? Think about the staff, for example: a common shepherd’s crook. It’s almost comical. The Lord says to Moses, “You want some proof? What’s in your hand?” “Well, I got a stick.” “That’ll do. I want you to throw down the stick.” And it becomes a serpent and he runs away. “I want you to pick up the snake.” It becomes a stick again. The Lord can do amazing things with even a stick.

You could do a great Bible study sometime on the book of Exodus from the perspective of a stick. Oh, the places you will go, Moses’ staff! You’re going to turn into a serpent. You’re going to eat some other snakes. This stick is going to be used and lifted up in the air so that the Red Sea will part. You’re going to touch the Nile and it will turn to blood. You’re going to hit a rock and water will gush out of it. Oh, this is going to be a special stick.

It was a sign for Moses, I think, as much as for the elders of Israel. “Look, Moses: if I can do this with a stick, what makes you think I can’t use you?” Some of you here don’t have a problem with confidence. You look at this and you’re like, “Yeah, me and God, we can do some stuff—me and You together.” But there are a lot of you that come by it honestly. You think, “I don’t know. I don’t have all these gifts. I don’t have background. I’m not one of the empowered people. I don’t look like these people. What am I going to do? Are You sure that You’ve got the right person?

Some of you are thinking, “You don’t know who I am, where I’ve been, and what I’ve done. All I want is for God to save me, keep me out of trouble, and get me into Heaven. That’s all I want. Pastor, you don’t know the sort of dumb things that I’ve done and the baggage that I have in my life.” “Oh, like maybe killing somebody, burying him in the sand, and running away for forty years? That sort of thing?” God can even use sticks, five smooth stones, or an Egyptian Hebrew runaway to Midian.

Calvin says,

“For although the rod turned into a serpent could not speak, yet very loudly indeed did it announce that what the Israelites deemed altogether impossible would not be difficult to God.”

You think that God can’t use you? He uses water and a staff, and He speaks through a donkey if He has to. He finds a way. The signs here are meant to confirm to Moses that God is with him, and to authenticate his ministry to the elders.

The use of signs in the New Testament is a curious thing. On the one hand, they are often good and powerful. The Gospel of John is arranged around signs of glory. First the water turns into wine, then the feeding of the five thousand, and then the raising of Lazarus. There are seven of these signs in the book of John—and the eighth sign is really Jesus rising from the dead. So signs can be a good thing. They help to authenticate the identity of Christ and the ministry of the apostles.

But miraculous signs are only as good as the eyes that see them and the hearts that can receive them. You can see a whole bunch of stuff, and if your heart doesn’t want to believe, it will find a reason not to. Remember the parable (in Luke 16) of the rich man and Lazarus? Lazarus was a poor man, and he’s in Heaven (called Abraham’s bosom). The rich man, who didn’t care a rip about anybody in his life, is suffering in Hell. He’s saying, “Why don’t you go and warn some of my family about this?” Then there’s this interesting exchange, as Jesus tells the story. Abraham says:

‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
(Luke 16:29-31)

Do you understand the point that Jesus is making in the context of His ministry? Here you are. You think, “If we could just have a dead person come to life, we would believe.” If course, Jesus knows, “No, you have Abraham. You have Moses. You have the prophets. You have miracles. And you’re not believing now. You’re not going to believe, even if I come back to life.”

There are all these signs which scream, “Look at Christ! Trust in Christ!” The surest of those signs is the empty tomb—what Jesus calls “the sign of Jonah.” “You will be in the belly of the earth for three days and then you’ll be spit back out.” Sometimes, we think to ourselves, “You know what, God? I would really trust You if You could just give me some signs. I’d really follow you, I’d really be earnest, if you would just do some of these kinds of miracles. Maybe the stick trick…that’s kind of cool. Or maybe seeing a dead person come back to life.”

Be careful. Are we going to be like the elders of Israel or like the king of Egypt? The elders heard Moses, listened, and said, “We believe.” To the king of Pharaoh, it didn’t matter how many plagues, and signs. The heart of the problem was with his heart. Some of us could have irrefutable proof: they find out there’s some video-tape evidence of the empty tomb. You could talk to the disciples yourselves. You could have run with the women there in the early morning, and you would still not believe.

Did you know that in those early days of the church Jesus appeared to five thousand? There were all sorts of people around who said, “I saw Him. I saw Him. I saw Him.” He passes through a wall, and Thomas still says, “I need a little bit more.” Let us not think that if we could just see, we would believe. Most of the people who came in contact with Jesus and saw the signs of His power still did not believe. If we cannot be convinced, is it a lack of signs or our own unwillingness to believe?

Have you really considered that this story is true? Not just Moses, though that’s true. It’s easy to think, “Man, that is an old book. There’s a lot of weird stuff happening.” It really happened! But what about the sign of the empty tomb? If you’ve got other doubts or other things that you’re not sure of—maybe you’ve got Biblical ethics that you don’t agree with or a lot of Christians in your life that annoy you. Set that all aside. Just think about this. Did Jesus come back to life? Is that sign true? There were witnesses. It’s recorded. There was evidence.

Do you believe it? If you do, it authenticates the apostolic messengers. If you do, it authenticates their gospel message. If you do, it authenticates that Jesus is the Messiah. Here’s the good news for you: if you accept that empty tomb, the good news is that you won’t have to work alone, leave this earth alone, or go through this life being alone. But you do have to listen, and you do have to believe. Let’s pray.