Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
With this message we shall begin to consider the matter of God’s demand and Pharaoh’s resistance. God’s demand and Pharaoh’s resistance issued in a number of conflicts, which are recorded in chapters five through fourteen of Exodus. In this message we come to the first of these conflicts.
Exodus 5:1 says, “And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith Jehovah, God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness” (Heb.). In this verse we have an important title of God: Jehovah, God of Israel. In verse 3 God is entitled the God of the Hebrews. Hence, the demand on Pharaoh was made by Jehovah, the God of Israel, the God of the Hebrews.
We have pointed out that in Hebrew the title Jehovah is a form of the verb to be. This indicates that Jehovah is the unique self-existing One. He is the One who was, who is, and who will be. Only to Him can the verb “to be” be applied in an absolute sense. Only God is; we and all other things are not. In 6:3 God says, “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God All-sufficient; but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them” (Heb.). God revealed Himself as Jehovah for the first time in Exodus 3. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not receive this revelation of Him.
In 5:1 God is also called the God of Israel. This title is different from the title the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, a title which signifies God as the God of resurrection. The title the God of Israel indicates that God is the God of a transformed people. Jacob was the name of a natural man, but Israel was the name of a transformed man. At birth, Jacob was not given the name Israel. Rather, he was called Jacob, which means a heel-holder, a supplanter. But throughout the course of his life, Jacob was transformed, and eventually God changed his name to Israel. This name implies victory and kingship. On the one hand, the transformed people are victors; on the other hand, they are kings. Even when the children of Israel were in a dreadful situation in Egypt, God still regarded them not as Jacob, but as Israel. In the eyes of God, His chosen people had already been transformed into victors and kings.
The same principle applies to the way God sees the church today. In the eyes of God, the church is already glorious. However, if our eyes are set on our spiritual condition, we may regard ourselves as being very pitiful. We may see ourselves as Jacob, not as Israel. Nevertheless, as God sees us, we are Israel. In His dealings with Satan, the persecutor and usurper, God told him that He is the God of a transformed, victorious, and kingly people.
We all need to see and believe that we are an Israel. You may not believe this today, but you will certainly believe it in the future, either in the next age or in eternity. In eternity all God’s chosen people will be an Israel. Do not be shortsighted, limited in your vision by your present situation. God does not regard you as one still in bondage under Pharaoh; rather, He sees you as one who has been delivered and brought into the all-inclusive Christ typified by the good land.
Do you dare believe that you are such an Israel, such a victor and king? We all must be bold enough to believe this and to declare it. Do not hold to your feeling regarding yourself, but believe in the word of God. If God says that you are an Israel, then you are an Israel, whether you feel this way about yourself or not.
Yes, in chapter five of Exodus the children of Israel were still under bondage in Egypt. However, God knew that they soon would be delivered from this bondage and brought into the wilderness, to the mountain, and eventually into the land of Canaan. In the good land they would be Israel, and God would be their God. Therefore, as God came to Pharaoh to negotiate with him, He was not disappointed by the condition of His people. He did not have Moses and Aaron tell Pharaoh that He was the God of Jacob. Instead, He let Pharaoh know that He was Jehovah, the God of Israel. It seemed as if God were saying, “Pharaoh, you must realize that I Am. I am He who was, who is, and who will be. You cannot change Me. Furthermore, in My sight, My people have been transformed into an Israel. They also are Hebrews, river-crossers. Because they are Hebrews, don’t try to keep them on this side of the Red Sea. I am Jehovah, and whatever I say must come to pass. I say that My people are Hebrews; therefore, they are Hebrews. You cannot keep them in Egypt. You must let them go.”
The titles of God mentioned in chapter five are extremely important. Even in diplomatic relations among the nations of the world, titles are of great significance. If a representative of a certain nation is to negotiate with the government of the United States, he must have a proper title. If he were simply a consul or minister, his position would not be high enough. He would need to bear the title of ambassador. Then he could engage in diplomatic negotiations. In the same principle, as God was negotiating with Pharaoh, He presented Himself according to the proper title: Jehovah, the God of Israel, the God of the Hebrews. He let Pharaoh know that He was the great I Am. As the I Am, He was everything, and Pharaoh was nothing. Moreover, He revealed Himself to Pharaoh as the God of Israel, the God of a people transformed to be victors and kings. As the One with such a marvelous title, God made His demand of Pharaoh.
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