Pyramids  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:25
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-One of my wife's favorite things to do is to put puzzles together
-i for one am not a puzzle person,
-I don’t have the patience for it, I don’t have the eye for it
-she’s one of those people who can just look at a puzzle and go
ope there’s a piece.
ope there’s another one
-i on the other hand was not given the gift of puzzle building
-because I will stare at that thing for hours and hours and find nothing
-some people are puzzle people I unfortunately am not
-but my wife is.
-and we don’t put them together now as much as we used to, but before we had kids we almost always had a half finished puzzle on the table
-we’d have it on a piece of poster board so that when we needed the table we could move it, to a different table and everything would stay in tact
-and then when you have it on the posterboard you can take hodgepodge glue and glue it together and hang it on the wall and it’s really cool.
-and so it took quite a while to finish it because life events kept getting in the way
-and we kept having to move the puzzle to another room,
-and so I want to say it took us almost a year to finish it, just because other things kept coming up.
-well unbenounced to us,
-a friend of ours decided that it would be a really fun prank to hide one piece
-so that when she finished this 1000 piece puzzle we would panic because there was a missing puzzle piece
-and then he would return with the puzzle piece
-and we’d all laugh and everything would be fine
-and it was just a silly little prank between friends .
-that’s not what happened.
-because life events came up, and it took us so long to finish the puzzle
-our friend ended up losing that one piece that he was hiding.
-so now we have this 999 piece puzzle with one little hole in it where a piece was supposed to go.
-it was imperfect
-keep in mind we had already picked out the perfect frame and the perfect spot on the wall, and and the right kind of glue that you need
-everything was perfect
-but there’s a missing piece in the puzzle
-and we tried to come up with all sorts of solutions
-we thought about cutting out a piece of cardboard and painting it to fit the missing spot
-we thought about just framing it against a background that would blend in and hide the missing piece
-we even went so far as to consider buying a wholenew puzzle just for that one piece
-we ended up not doing that last option because that would be torture
-and so at the end of the day we were stuck with this imperfect puzzle
-and no matter how hard you try, if you take something that is perfect and you try to mix it with something that is imperfect
-it’s gonna clash
-it doesn’t fit
-much like our relationship with God
-we are imperfect people with a perefect God
-and so the question I want us to answer today

How does a perfect God interact with imperfect people?

Exodus 17:8-13

Exodus 17:8–13 NIV
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
-This is one of those Bible stories that you maybe heard in Sunday School
-You might have read this story in a Sunday School class
-and if you have, you’ve probably heard the explanation of this story to be a little bit something like this:
-Moses’ friends helped moses to Rely on God
-And that’s not a bad interpretation
-that’s a perfectly fine way to read the Bible
-In fact if you read this passage
-and you walk away thinking to yourself
-You know, I should rely on my friends
-because when my faith is weak, they can help me.
-that is a perfectly acceptable way of applying this passage of scripture
-If we’re thinking about our pyramid method
-Remember the base layer of the pyramid is simply “what does the Bible say”
-and then the next layer up from that is “how do I apply this to my life”
-and by reading the story this way we are focusing on those two base layers of the pyramid
-and there’s nothing wrong with that
-But today I want to encourage us to dig a little bit deeper
-and see Gods’ word a little bit more clearly
-rather than simply being content with reading for the base layer
-Which is why I asked the question at the beginning
-how does a perfect God interact with imperfect people
-that is a tip of the pyramid question
-that’s a big question
-that’s the kind of question we think about and wrestle with for our entire lives
-and so as we look at this passage
-I am going to challenge you by saying
-that the main point that God wanted the Israelites to see was not simply “we should help each other to have faith in God”
-that was a point
-but I don’t think it was the point
-And the reason I say that
-is because if we zoom out and look at this passage in the broader context of the book
-we see that it is a continuation of the theme “so that you will know that I am God”
-in fact if you had a friend or family member who had never opened the Bible
-and they wanted to know in one sentence what the book of Exodus is about
-you could define the entire book with the phrase
-”so that you will know that he is God
-That’s it
-if you get nothing else from this entire Exodus series
-you should know the phrase “so that you will know that I am God”
-up until this point in Exodus
-we have learned two things
God is Perfect
We are imperfect
God is strong
We are weak
God is Good
We are Bad
-Which raises the question
-how does a perfect God interact with imperfect people
-Remember all the way back in Genesis
-God walked with Adam and Eve side by side in the Garden
-But because of Sin
-because of our imperfectness that relationship was severed
-Gone are the days in which you can just walk up to God in the Garden
-can’t do it
-we can’t handle it
-And so one of the things that this passage did for the Israelites was establish the authority of Moses to stand between them and God
-to Go to God during battle
-and plead with God on their behalf
-and ambassador
-an intercessor
-a go-between
-Otherwise Aaron and Hur and all of the people who weren’t fighting in the battle would have raised their own hands
-they would have prayed to God on their own accord
-but they don’t
-God is working through moses to defeat the Amalekites.
-They needed Moses
-They needed a Go between.

A perfect God interacts with imperfect people through an ambassador

-Through an ambassador
-but there’s an inherent flaw in this system here in Exodus
-Because if Moses is set up as being the Ambassador between a perfect God and imperfect people
-But moses is an imperfect person.
-in other words moses has no right to stand before God any more than you and I do
-and we see a little later that he does in fact stand before God
-but that is not an indication that he is worthy of it
-That’s an indication that God allows it in this case
-even though he’s not worthy.
-and because he’s not perfect
-he is an imperfect ambassador
-if the job of the priest is to stand between us and God
-then who stands between God and the priest
-it doesn’t work, it breaks down
-there’s a piece of the puzzle that is missing.
Hebrews 8:1 NIV
Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
-as we read on we’re going to see all of these ways in which God interacts with imperfect people
-but at the core of it, at the heart of it
-moses is the link
-Moses is the foundation upon which all of these interacts are built
-and it doesn’t work
-it worked for the Israelites because God allowed it to work, temporarily
-but ultimatley
-if we want to apply it to our lives
-Jesus has to be our foundation.
-wHEN WE get into chapter 18 we read

Exodus 18:1-4

Exodus 18:1–4 NIV
Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”
-So here, just as a side note, if you’re like me, you got to verse 2, where it talks about moses sending his wife back to Jethro
-and you probably immediately flipped back because you don’t remember ever reading about that
-and when you did that, you probably scratched your head a little bit, because you couldn’t find where that happened.
-and that’s because this is the first and only time that it gets mentioned.
-and at this point if you’re trying to keep track of the timeline and when all of this stuff is happening, it starts to get a little fuzzy.
-at some point Moses sent his wife back to midian,
-and the bible doesn’t tell us when that happened
-also at some point Moses had another child named eliezer
-and we have no idea when that happened.
-obviously eliezer must have been born after the people crossed the red sea
-because verse 4 says his name was eliezer because he says “my fathers God saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”
-But we don’t read about when eliezer was born, it must have happened at some point,
-and possibly,
-in fact it’s more than just possible
-there were more sons and daughters
-because back in chapter 4, before all of the plagues happened, we had this little verse, you almost miss it that says
Exodus 4:20 NIV
So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.
-So here in chapter 18 we are introduced to the idea that at some point moses had other kids
-at some point he sent his wife back to midian
-and at some point Jethro, all the way in midan heard about what had happened to the Israelites
-Regardless of when or how all of that stuff happened
-you’ll notice that there is a major timeline gap that we simply don’t have in the Bible
-we should notice that God leaves out a lot of details
-because it’s not important for us to know exactly when eliezer was born
-it’s not important to know exactly how Jethro heard about what happened all the way in Midian
-and it’s not important for us to know when exactly Moses sent Ziphorah back to her father
-But at the very least we should notice it
-we should notice the fact a lot of times the Bible is not an in depth documentary of every single detail that ever happened.
-it’s not like reading someone’s daily diary
-we’re getting glimpses.
-we’re getting little pieces of the things that happened.
and it’s our job
-just like my wife’s puzzle
-it’s our job to take this incomplete puzzle and do our best to see the full picture
-Nonetheless we find out that all of this stuff had happened at some point
-and now Jethro is coming back with Moses’ wife and kids and this is what happens

Exodus 18:5-12

Exodus 18:5–12 NIV
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.” So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them. Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
-Bear in mind, Jethro is a pagan priest
-Jethro does not know God
-Jethro is not an Israelite
-This whole Go-between idea is great if you’re an israelite,
-If you’ve already experienced the fact that God has put Moses in authority
-then there shouldn’t be any problem
-But what happens if you’re not an Israelite
-what happens if you haven’t experienced God’s authority at the Red Sea
-If you haven’t personally experienced God providing for you
-if you don’t personally understand the important role that Moses plays in your community
-Well in that case it makes it rather difficult for an imperfect person to interact with a perfect God
-And so what we’re introduced to here is the idea of Testimony
-God hasn’t personally interacted with Jethro
-instead, Jethro is able to experience God through the Testimony of Moses
-God has already established that he is going to work through the israelites to establish his kingdom
-He has already established that he is not going to work through other nations
-he chose the israelites
-he wants to work through the israelites
-and that’s what he’s going to do
-and so the only way Jethro
-a pagan priest
-the only way he can be introduced to God is through the testimony of someone who has already experienced God

A perfect God interacts with imperfect people through the testimony of people who have experienced Him

-And you know what’s beautiful about Moses’ testimony to Jethro
-Notice what he doesn’t say
-Moses does not go to Jethro with a list of do’s and don’ts
-He doesn’t start off talking to Jethro by telling Jethro all of the ways in which Jethro is sinning against God
-he doesn’t start off by saying you really need to stop worshipping idols
-you really need to worship the one true god
-you really need to obey God
=he doesn’t say any of that stuff
-because honestly to Jethro it would probably fall on deaf ears.
-Jethro doesn’t care
-Jethro is a priest
-Meaning Jethro is already well versed in religious arguments
Jethro has his own religion with its own set of sacrifices and laws and rituals
-Jethro is probably a smart Guy
-Jethro probably already knows the answer to all of the questions
-If Moses says Yaweh tells us we need to do X, Jethro’s just gonna come back and say
-yeah well my god tells us to do Y
-If moses says you should worship yahweh only
-Jethro’s just gonna come back and say my god says the same thing
-you’re not going to convince him that way
-the Jethro’s in your life
-the ones who don’t follow Christ but they have an answer for everything
-you’re not going to convince them that way
-If moses would have approached it that way
-Jethro probably would have Gotten mad, and said yeah well, you’re wrong
-and he would have went back to midian and that would have been the end of it.
-But Moses doesn’t do any of that
I want to read verse 8 again.
Exodus 18:8 NIV
Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.
-A perfect God interacts with imperfect people through the testimony of people who have already experienced him
-and the best testimony you can give is how you have experienced him.
-before you open a bible
-before you pull out John 3:16, or Romans 6:23, or Acts 2:38 or any of those verse
-you should start with
-this is how God has impacted my life
-this is how I have experienced God
-For a lot of people the only way they are going to experience God is through Testimony
-they’re not reading the Bible
-they’re not praying
-they’re not in church
-they’re not listening to worship music
-so the only opportunity they have to interact with God
-is through your testimony
-And it’s moses testimony
-Moses description of how God has made his life better
-it what enables Jethro to know God
And then in a strange turn of events
-Jethro who previously did not Know god
-ends up having something valuable to teach moses

Exodus 18:13-27

Exodus 18:13–27 NIV
The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.” Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves. Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.
-So Moses is acting as the Go-between between the people and God
-a position that God delegated to him
-and it doesn’t take long to realize that that system of Moses being the Go-between for every single person just isn’t sustainable
-Jethro says look if you try to be the go-between between God and every single person out here in the desert it’s never going to work
-There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
-There’s no way you can do it
-you’ll wear yourself out
-And so Jethro
-probably relying on his past experience as a priest
-says you know you should delegate some of this stuff
-rather than be the sole go-between, why don’t you select some people
-teach them the will of God
-and let them decide the minor cases
-so that you can focus on the big stuff
-what we see here is God through Jethro is setting up a hierarchy
-a community through which imperfect people can interact with an imperfect God
-There’s an obvious parallel here with the way we interact as a church
-if your brain instantly thought of Acts chapter 6, congratualtions you’ve found a fingerprint
-if you didn’t that’s ok, I’m going to read it just so that you can see the connection

Acts 6:1-4

Acts 6:1–4 NIV
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
-This division of labor in the community of faith is a key component
-we don’t have a single pastor church for that very reason
-because one person can’t do everything
-paul says in 1 corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 12:12-23

1 Corinthians 12:12–23 NIV
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
1 Corinthians 12:22 NIV
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
-a church is not a building
-a church is not chairs and powerpoint presentations
-a church is people
-if someone broke in to this building and stole all of the TV screens
-we’d still be a church
-if, heaven forbid the electrical system malfunctioned and this building burned to the ground
-we’d still be a church
-you can build a new building
-you can get new chairs
-you can go to walmart and buy new TV’s and computers and iPads and bibles and communion trays
-all of that stuff is replaceable
-you can’t replace people
-you can’t replace the person who comes in early just to put bread on a plate and juice in cups
-you can’t replace the person who puts on their coat loads a snow-blower and clears the sidewalks because they thought to themselves you know I don’t want anyone to slip and fall and get hurt
-and maybe sometimes that cup is a little bit too full
-maybe sometimes there’s just a little bit of ice still on the ramp
-maybe sometimes the power point presentation font is a little bit too small.

A perfect God interacts with imperfect people through other imperfect people

-Here’s the bottom line
-the reason it works for us, but not for israel
-and if you’ve read the old testament you’ll know
-It did not work for Israel
-But the reason it works for us
-the reason he can use our imperfect testimony
-and work through imperfect people
-is because we have the missing puzzle piece
-Jesus is the missing piece
-he’s the foundation
-the final link between you and God
-he is the one upon which all of our imperfectness rests
-As long as you have Jesus
-as long as you have that final piece
-God makes it all work
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