Close encounters with the divine, God the Creator, engaging faithfulness over time. God keeps his promises. But have you figured out yet his timing isn’t always the same as your own? And that is by intention. That’s what we’re going to look at today. This past week, as a number of us who work with the worship services here were considering the text, Pastor Susan, our church chaplain, shared a story in her own life where, for 18 years, she prayed for the conversion of her son. I have her permission to use this, just so you know. And, uh, 18 years. And she didn’t know it was going to be that long as she’s going… through that pilgrimage journey year after year. She said God would send scriptures to encourage her every now and then when she was kind of maybe faltering in her faith to keep praying. And then she said 18 years and then her son came to faith. Praise the Lord. I mean, that’s maybe, there’s no greater prayer for a parent to pray. Is there? Than for the salvation of your child. And the Lord graciously answered. Her persistent prayers of over 18 years. My wife and I had, uh, friends back in our home church in Vermont when we lived there, and those two parents prayed for the salvation of their child. For years and years, there’s a continual prayer request that they would bring up. They both died. The child did not come to faith. They didn’t see the answer to their prayer. And yet, God was faithful. It was a number of years later that child did come to faith and is alive and well, following Jesus even yet today.
Now the parents died not having received the promise that they were seeking from God, but in God’s providence and his timing, he was, he answered their prayer, was true to his word, and led their child to faith in Christ Jesus. Just after the 8 o’clock service, another member here shared with me, she’d been praying for a grandchild salvation for 10 years, It just happened. What might be your story of God keeping his word, fulfilling a promise that you’ve been seeking him for years? I’ll bet you a number of you are right in that journey yourself right now. That’s what we’re going to consider today, God’s faithfulness over time. In this Close Encounter sermon series where the intent is to really see God’s redemptive plan unfold across the pages of scriptures. Different people that he raises up and uses for his own kingdom purposes as well as works in their own lives. So that we might see in the pages of scripture there’s intent by God and a plan behind all of scripture. Bringing us up even to today, God’s redemptive plan still unfolding in our own lives. If you remember how we even began the sermon series back in the garden with Adam and Eve and then they fell, but God didn’t leave them there. He gave them a promise that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent or Satan’s head. And that was a prophecy that was fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Already looking to Jesus from the garden. God’s redemptive plan being unfurled across the pages of scripture. We looked at Abraham and Sarah, how God gave them a covenant promise of a son, and that through the son all, all the world would be blessed. Again, looking ahead to Jesus, but a covenant promise. Garden, now Abraham and Sarah. Then we looked at Jacob. Abraham’s grandson last weekend and God bringing him back into now this land of promise that God had promised the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob. And now today we have Moses. One of the big hitters. He’s, you know, among the, you know, Lou Gehrig, Ruth, you know, kind of hall of fame for Israel. I mean a whole sermon series should be spent on him sometime. But God has now called Moses to deliver his people out of years of slavery in Egypt to go to the promised land that Jacob had left. And now his descendants were numerous, slaves in Egypt, and now God is going to keep his promise, his covenant promise, to bring them back to the promised land. And so, just a quick, remember on Moses, don’t just go by Ben Hur. Okay, read the scriptures about Moses, right? About his birth, he was born at a time when he should have been killed. Pharaoh had issued a decree that all the male Israelite boys should be killed. Miraculous little water rescue. He’s raised by the…
Daughter of Pharaoh and his mom gets to even raise him in the daughter’s home. And so now Moses, he, he lives. As a family member and pharaoh for 40 years, but then he goes out and he sees the Egyptian slave master brutally beating an Israelite. Moses kills the Egyptian, hides the body, but then discovers the next day that he’s found out. Word’s gotten out that he killed this Egyptian, so he flees out of Egypt across the desert to Midian. And that’s where we’re going to pick up our story here today. So Moses, 40 years old, when he flees Egypt to go to Midian, meets Zipporah, they get married, they have a couple of boys. 40 more years go on where we pick up our text. So Moses is 80 years old. When God’s plan really starts unfolding for him. We should all take heart in that, shouldn’t we? Let’s read these first 10 verses of Exodus chapter 3. Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father in law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up. So Moses thought, I will go over and see this strange sight, why the bush does not burn up. When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, Moses, Moses. And Moses said, Here I am. Do not come any closer, God said. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Then he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. At this, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said, I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out. Because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So, I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land, into a good and spacious land. A land flowing with milk and honey. The home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Parasites, uh, Parasites, sorry, Hivites, and Jebusites. Next time I’ll give that to the lector. And now the cry of Israel has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. The word of the Lord. Let’s pray. Father, as we delve into your word, we get to see your hand at work in some powerful ways.
And yet the day to day living it out of your people Um, we may be experiencing some of that ourselves right now. So Holy Spirit, come, speak to us through, through your word. Open our hearts to hear the message each of us need to receive from you this day. To trust you, the God of all things, people, places, and time. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. Well, dear friends, grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. So our text today introduces us to God in action to free his people from slavery and to eventually bring them to the land of promise, the promised land, right? That’s where that phrase comes from, right? From our text. It’s a covenant promise that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and is now making good on. And God’s deliverance includes a powerful showdown, right, between God and Pharaoh. Don’t, don’t… You know, lean on the movie Ben Hur. Read the biblical account of it. It’s so much more powerful and amazing who God is and what he can do and has done. This momentous event, it’s called the Exodus, and it’s the cornerstone really in both the Old and New Testaments. God eventually rescues his people from shackles of slavery. But this deliverance was a long time coming. According to Exodus chapter 12, the Bible says, Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.
At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, All the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. I love that note. To the very day. That’s a long time, but it’s not just a, you know, uh, an estimate from God. He’s not just rounding up. To the very day. God, God has a plan. 430 years. Can you get your mind wrapped around that? 430 years ago from today. Portugal, Spain, England and France were vying for territorial dominance in the newly discovered new world. William Shakespeare was alive and actively writing and publishing his plays 430 years ago. 430 years ago, the Mayflower’s voyage from England, it was still 27 years yet to come. 430 years, it equates to over 20. generations. And think of the number of Israelite families who endured brutal enslavement across generations without any glimpse or hint of liberation or freedom. Yet, God was keeping his covenant that he had made to Abraham, Isaac, and And Jacob, to bring their descendants into the land in which the patriarchs had lived. It took 430 years of waiting. Nevertheless, God was unwavering in his promise throughout this vast expanse of time, transcending the ebb and flow of generations. I’m still learning, but have you figured out yet that our perception of time is different than God’s? Someone once said to me, God’s never late, but he’s often last minute.
There’s ongoing lessons for us. Here’s what the scripture says, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends, with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. Doesn’t mean the days are meaningless. Remember 430 years to the day. God delivers Israel. He’s aware of each day, but his sense of time is way is transcendent to ours So how do you handle waiting on God? How’s that going for you? I want to just lead you into three different ways that you can Persevere and be patient in times of waiting in your own life. How to handle waiting for God to act? The first is just to remember who He is. Remember who God is. That’s, God reveals Himself to Moses. In fact, He reveals His name. to Moses. Didn’t do that to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To Moses, he revealed himself, so Moses could get to know who God is more. So for you and me also, when you’re going through a season of waiting and wondering, remember who God is. God assures Moses that he is remembering his covenant promise back to his ancestors. And here we’re reminded God’s faithfulness is not bound by time. His promises endure across generations. And just as God revealed himself to Moses, he continues to reveal himself today to you and to me, inviting us into a relationship based on trust and patience. Remember who God is. Second, trust God in the face of uncertainty.
I mean, is this not the very definition of faith? As Ted just read for us in Hebrews 11, that great hall of faith. The first verse. Now, faith is confidence in what we hope for. The assurance about what we do not see. When you don’t see God’s hand at work, that’s when your faith can flourish and grow. The Hall of Faith in Hebrews commemorates people who throughout the centuries trusted in God’s promises despite the passage of time. From Moses to Rahab, then to the judges, prophets, kings, myriads of martyrs. Their stories remind us that faith is not confined by time. And these saints had an unwavering belief in God’s faithfulness and a patient anticipation of his promises, even when they didn’t receive in their life what they had promised. These heroes yet endured trials, persecution, and brutal death for some. They held on to their faith, knowing that God’s plan was greater than the challenges they faced. How can you wait upon God in times of wondering and waiting? It’s remember who he is, trust God in the face of uncertainty, and then it’s the third point.
Embrace the timeless, God’s timeless faithfulness. Trusting in God’s enduring faithfulness. It’s really tried, is it not, when circumstances seem dire and time keeps to be slip, slip, slipping away. Wondering, God, when are you going to act? Where are you even? And yet, just as the Israelites experienced the fulfillment of God’s promises after centuries of waiting, we too are called to patiently wait for God’s perfect timing, knowing that His plans and His ways are beyond our comprehension, and yet they are always guided by His love. Why does God Take so long to answer some of his promises. I don’t, and I can’t know all the reasons why, but I can know this one. It’s right from Scripture in 2 Peter. The Bible says, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. That got my attention. Instead, he’s patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. What might be the purpose of time passing until God keeps his promise, even in your life? Just as it has been for his people throughout God’s redemptive history, it’s so that as many as possible would come to trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior. This is what happened for Pastor Susan’s son. What happened for our member’s grandchild here.
It’s what happened for my friends back in Vermont, but it transcended time. This text from Hebrews 11, this companion text really to our sermon today, says this about God’s people who have waited for God’s promises. They were all commended for their faith. We like that, but how about this? Yet none of them received what had been promised. Why? Since God had planned something better for us, so that only together with us. God has planned something better for us here today. So that only together with us would they be made perfect. You know, Moses himself did not enter into the promised land. He got to see it, but because of some disobedience back in the wilderness and God’s providence, he only got to see it after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness with those obstinate people. Moses got to see the land, but not enter it. Why? Because God had something better. So that only together with us would he be made perfect, you know, God working through Moses. Created the, the foundational celebration for the Jewish people of the Passover. When blood of a lamb was put over their door frames so that the destroyer would pass over and the firstborn male of each household would not be killed.
That’s commemorated by the Jewish people ever since, even up to today. And yet we know… So, as Christians, that Jesus Christ, when he himself was celebrating the Passover, on the night, that night, the night in which he was betrayed, he re tasks Passover, the bread and the cup. When he says, this bread, okay, it was like the bread from the Passover, is now actually my body broken for you. This cup, do you remember the blood? and delivers you, is now the new covenant in my blood, Jesus says, given for you, for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is the ultimate and once for all time, perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. And so while Passover may come out of the whole So, slavery, deliverance, exodus experience. Now across time, God’s redemptive plan, back from then, reaches to us today to the tables of communion prepared for us to join at in just a few minutes. So that you, dear friend, Dear child of God in Jesus Christ, can know that God’s redemptive plan is still at work in your life. And if you’re in a season of waiting, it’s for a purpose.
Ask Him to show that purpose to you. That’d be nice, but maybe even more so, ask Him for the faith to endure. in a persistent posture of waiting upon him. And even as you come to the table now, may you be strengthened with all that Jesus has to give you through this sacrament, that you may be strengthened in your life now and brought to eternal life. Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, be glorified now as we come to your table, as we remember you, the perfect Lamb of God who took away our sin. We praise your name. Strengthen us by your spirit and through your word to hang in there for those who are just barely hanging on. Looking for you to work, grant us all the faith to trust in you. When we don’t see all that’s going on or know why, we trust you because we know you are good and you are God. Be glorified now I ask in Jesus name. Amen.