Have You Come to Know God as the Lord?
O Lord, our precious Savior God, may we by grace ever be led to understand our own sin and weakness and then to rejoice in Your mercy and grace. It is You, O Lord, who has saved us; not we ourselves. Give us the strength day by day to live our lives in peace and with love to the glory of Your name. With faith in Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Our God's wisdom and knowledge go far beyond our abilities to understand. Let us, therefore, with humility and appreciation listen as He reveals His gracious plans to us and for us in His Word!
Who is Jesus Christ? While many in our day seek to make of Jesus simply one religious teacher among a multitude, let us join Peter in recognizing that Jesus Christ is "the Christ, the Son of the living God!"
Text: Exodus 6:2-8
And God spoke to Moses and said to him: "I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them. I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.’"
In Christ Jesus, the expression of God’s love, the object of our faith, the long-awaited Christ and Son of God, dear fellow redeemed:
What emotion or attitude lies at the root of your relationship with God? For many people that emotion is fear and their attitude is one of uncertainty. They know God exists and they know they are responsible to Him, but that thought makes them uncomfortable. In reality they resent God’s control over their lives and chaff under what they perceive to be His many restrictions. They know things are not exactly right in their relationship with God, for many times they simply choose to ignore God’s will, as they pursue their own wants and desires. For such individuals God is held at a distance. Their present and future relationship with Him is filled with uncertainty.
For others their emotions are a bit harder to define, but their attitude could be described as business-like. These individuals approach God in much the same way as employees approach employers. They recognize God’s right to control and accept their responsibilities, but they also expect that if they strive to fulfill those responsibilities, God will owe them what they perceive to be rightfully theirs. That, after all, in their minds is only fair.
My dear friends, God’s goal for our relationship with Him is not that we fear Him as a taskmaster, nor that we judge Him on the basis of our sense of fairness. Rather, our God wants us to come to know Him and to see Him as He is—His power, wisdom, mercy, and above all else His love. If and when we do that, the root emotion in our relationship with Him will be love, and the attitude at the very base of our relationship with Him will be one of trust.
This was God’s goal for the children of Israel as He prepared to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians so many years ago. He sent Moses to them and instructed him to tell them, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them.” Think about that for a moment. Are not “God Almighty” and “the LORD” one and the same? How could God then say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know Him by the name “LORD”? The answer lies in the significance of the name “LORD.” “LORD,” found printed in our Bibles in all capital letters, is the name of God implying His deep interest in and commitment to us human beings. It is the “LORD” who saw mankind in his sin and promised to send a Savior to deliver us from sin. It is the “LORD” who is preparing a brilliant future for us, and who will guide, direct, and protect us as we pass through this life en route to His gift to us—eternal life. God wants us to know Him as “LORD,” for to know Him is to love Him!HAVE YOU COME TO KNOW GOD AS THE LORD? My dear friends, review with me God’s promises to the Old Testament children of Israel, for they mirror God’s actions on your behalf.
We see, first of all, that the LORD has redeemed you from the burden of your sins! God had heard the cries of the children of Israel as they served in bondage in Egypt. He was now ready to deliver them and to give to them what He had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—that Promised Land of Canaan. He communicated with Moses through the burning bush on Mount Sinai and sent him to Pharaoh. Pharaoh, however, had not listened and in fact increased the burdens of the people, causing them to despair. Moses came to the LORD, failing to understand why God had permitted this to happen. The LORD responded, “I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” The children of Israel did not understand. They were frustrated with their situation—a situation, which seemed to be getting worse. What the LORD instructed Moses to tell them was that they should remember His promises and prepare to experience their redemption. The LORD delivered the children of Israel, as we all know, by causing Ten Plagues to devastate Egypt and only after humbling Pharaoh and destroying his military hosts in the Red Sea. The children of Israel witnessed their redemption first hand. They saw Egypt devastated by insects, disease, and hail from the heavens; they heard the cries of Egyptian parents as they held their firstborn sons struck dead by the angel of death; they witnessed the walls of water collapsing upon the war-chariots in the Red Sea. They came to know God as the LORD, who redeemed them from their burdens. Yet, even as that first Passover lamb eaten in Egypt by the children if Israel was to symbolize the future “Lamb of God” (cf. John 1:29), so the deliverance from Egypt was intended to portray a much greater deliverance of Israel to be accomplished in the future. That deliverance would be from sin and sin’s master Satan—that deliverance would be accomplished through Jesus.
When you are faced by the burdens of this life, your God wants you to lay out your fears and frustrations, your cares and concerns, and He promises to hear and respond! As the “LORD” He will deliver you, even as He has already redeemed you through the blood of Jesus Christ. He has delivered you from the bonds of sin, the control of Satan, and the destiny of hell. While the children of Israel were encouraged to look forward to a greater deliverance from sin through the lenses of their lesser deliverance from Egypt, we are encouraged to look back to that greater deliverance from sin as a testimony to the fact that the “LORD” will deliver us today. We can ask with St. Paul, “He (God the LORD)…did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). HAVE YOU COME TO KNOW GOD AS THE LORD? Rejoice in the fact that the LORD has redeemed you from the burden of your sins!
Rejoice as well that the LORD has adopted you as His own special people! Moses was instructed to go on to tell the children of Israel, “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” The LORD, who loved the children of Israel took them as His own special people during the Old Testament times. This action was not based upon the merit of Israel, but rather upon the grace of the LORD, as He would later frequently emphasize through Moses and later prophets (cf. Deuteronomy 7:7-8). Anyone who knows Old Testament history recognizes that the children of Israel consistently proved themselves unfaithful to God, but God remained ever ready as the LORD to forgive, to love, and to embrace His children once again. It was not until the nation of Israel had rejected their own Messiah, the Lord Jesus, that they special relationship God had with this nation ended. But even then, God’s love for individuals continue, whether Jew or Gentile, combining them together as St. Paul reminds us into one body in Christ, His holy, Christian Church (cf. Ephesians 2:11-22).
My dear friends, HAVE YOU COME TO KNOW GOD AS THE LORD? If there is any uncertainty in your minds and hearts concerning the love and commitment that God has for you, listen to these words of St. Peter: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Listen to the words of St. Paul: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Listen to the words of St. John: “God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He love us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:8b-11). The LORD has adopted you as His own special people!
Rejoice, finally, for the LORD has claimed you as heirs of His heavenly Kingdom! Moses told the children of Israel, “I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD!” The LORD is the God of promise, and any promise God gives, He keeps. Because of the unbelief and the rebellion of the children of Israel, God’s words were not fulfilled for another forty years. Israel rebelled against God at Mount Sinai, worshipping a golden calf. They rebelled the Scriptures tell us ten times in the wilderness (cf. Numbers 14:22) and, finally, God decreed that this generation would not enter the Promised Land, but would die wandering in the wilderness. They had seen the deliverance of the LORD—they had experienced His redemption, but their hearts remained hard. Yet, their children crossed over the Jordan with Joshua at their head. Under his leadership God fulfilled everything that He had promised (cf. Joshua 23:14).
My dear friends, the LORD has made many promises to you as well, and I can assure you without reservation that as you entrust yourselves to Him—as you strive in faith to love and serve Him, He will be faithful to you! We heard the words of St. Paul earlier, that “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). The words that follow are equally significant: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave not free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28-29). When we are led by the Spirit of our God to embrace Jesus as our Savior—rejoice in His forgiveness and to live by His love, we can rest assured that we are also heirs of His heavenly Kingdom!
This afternoon we will lay to rest the mortal remains of Louie Hauch. We do so not with fear or uncertainty, but rather with the calm confidence of children of God to whom the LORD Himself has promised that bodies, which are “sown in corruption” will be “raised in incorruption,” that we who have “borne the image of the man of dust” will also “bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Corinthians 15:42.49). This is possible because we have been given the victory over sin and death “through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
Dear friends—God does not want you to live your life in fear and uncertainty, nor it is proper to judge Him on any human concept of fairness. Recognizing the enormous weight of our sins and rejoicing in the overwhelming power of God’s grace, may we all come to know God as the LORD! He has redeemed us. He has adopted us. We are His heirs, who by grace through faith will enjoy His heavenly kingdom! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting