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The Hope of God

 

Exodus 19:1-6

Exodus 19:5, 6

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

 

I thank God that we have our 2009 NJ summer bible conference right before the European International Bible Conference / with the same theme, ‘the hope of God’.  Last summer God revealed the Love of God through the Purdue International Bible Conference.  We were so moved and touched by God’s love of this world.  This summer God wants to reveal His hope for us.  Biblically, there are three things we must have / to live in this world; they are belief, love and hope.  As much as we need love and belief, we must have hope.  Have you ever wondered why the title of this conference and the European conference is the hope of God?  The answer is very easy.  It is because we are losing God’s hope for us, for America, for Europe and for this world.  We desperately need the hope of God / to change me, us, Rutgers, America, and Europe into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  So are you ready to seek the hope of God through this conference?  Let us shout this together. “Please show us the hope of God.” “Please show us the hope of God.”  I pray that through this conference all of us can be captured by the hope of God and live up to the hope of God.  Amen.

 

Today’s passage is about the hope of God for the Israelites.  The Israelites were just hopeless people in slavery.  But, since God had hope in them, they could become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for the whole world. In fact the hope of God changed the history of one nation, Israel.  And the hope of God is able to change the history of our nation and the history of our future.  Let us see how the hope of God has worked in the Israelites. 

 

Part 1, In the desert of Sinai, the Israelites heard the Hope of God

 

Let’s read verse 1, 2 “In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt – on the very day – they came to the Desert of Sinai.  After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.”  What has happened with the Israelites?  Let me briefly sum up the history of Israel until that time.  After the flood of Noah, all human beings on earth were dead except Noah’s household.  And God started the new history of mankind and planned a new salvation work.  God wanted to testify himself through men of faith and his people.  God called Abraham and raised him up as the ancestor of faith and established the covenant with him / to make him into a great nation and a blessing for the world.  God succeeded his covenant through Isaac and Jacob and led the house of Jacob into Goshen in Egypt / to let them grow.  For 430 years, they grew in number, enough to build up one nation.  But for the last period of time in Egypt, the Israelites were oppressed with forced labor as slaves.  The Egyptians made their lives bitter and bitter, and harder and harder by using them ruthlessly in all their field labors.  Even the Egyptians threw Israel’s new-born-baby-boys into the Nile River.  (In NJUBF, we have many first-baby-boys. Right! Can you endure that if your baby was thrown into the river as soon as you delivered him?  How cruel it is!)  The lives of the Israelites were full of sorrow and grief.  They became totally helpless and hopeless.  But, in their lives, a new beginning had begun.  God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, remembered his covenant and sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt.  God released his people from the bondage of Egypt and was leading them to the Promised Land Canaan.  And now they camped in the desert of Sinai in front of the Mountain.  Here, in this place, God was about to do something great / for the Israelites.  

 

First, God gave them his Law.  Actually the Israelites were in the process of making God’s nation.  As anyone knows, to make one nation three things are required; People, Land and Law.  In Egypt, God prepared the people of Israel.  And In Canaan, God prepared the land to settle down, the land of milk and honey.  And in the Desert of Sinai, God prepared the Law.  In order to let them serve God and to make them His nation, they needed God’s law.  If they had not received God’s law, they would have worshiped idols or gone astray like other gentile nations.  So, in the desert of Sinai, God gave them a set of laws and instructions beginning with the Ten Commandments / for 11 months and five days.  In that sense, listening to the word of God and setting it as our life principle can be the way to be his people in this corrupted world. Amen.

 

Second, God shared his great hope for them. Let’s read verse 3 “Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel; The Lord called to Moses and said “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel.”  In the mountain of Sinai, God eagerly wanted to tell the Israelites about his hope.  But before sharing his hope, God wanted them to remember how God had carried them. Look at verse 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”  Freedom from the bondage of Egypt was not Israel’s prison-break plan.  It was God’s salvation plan for his people and the seed of redemption of the whole world.  God judged all man-made-gods in Egypt with 10 plagues.  In the last and most terrible plague, God used the blood of the lamb to save the Israelites from God’s judgment.  And God carried them on eagles’ wings by dividing the Red Sea, raining down manna and quail from heaven, and supplying water from rocks.  Through all this, the Israelites had to know there was no other god except the Lord of Israel.

 

As God rescued the Israelites from the bondage of slavery, God has rescued us.  God has carried us on eagles’ wings and brought us here.  And here, let us think about why God did so?  Why did God bring me here?  Why did God bring you here?  In order to understand this easier, let me ask you a quiz about science.  (Action)  What caused it to fall down to the ground?  Gravity!  And what about this!  What do we call something that we breathe through our nose?  Air!  And here comes a really hard question!  What is the power or thing that has led you so far?  Has some accident or some invisible power led you?  I want to name this power as the Hope of God.  The power that has led us this far / is the hope of God.  From the beginning the hope of God was upon each one of us and still this hope of God is with us like gravity or air.  For the Israelites, God put his hope in them from Abraham.  And because of his hope, God rescued them and brought them to himself.  Now it was the time to tell what the hope of God for the Israelites is clearly.  We can discover God’s great hope for the Israelites in verses 5, 6.  

 

Part 2. You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

 

Let us read verse 5, 6a  “Now If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”  <repeat> God’s hope for the Israelites was to make them his treasured possession out of all nations even though the whole earth belongs to God.  (Personally, this verse helped me get out of my small concept about God.  In the past, as I am Korean, I couldn’t understand why we had to believe in foreign religion, Christianity.  I couldn’t understand missionaries who came from foreign countries and forced us to believe in their God and tried to change Korean tradition.  But from this verse I could understand why God chose the Israelites among many nations.  Then I realized God of Israel is God of Korea too.)  Truly, God of Israel is the CREATOR and the LORD of the whole earth. Amen.  This God wanted to have his own people, the most precious people on earth, who can live up to his hope and purpose.  God wanted his people to play a role as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  And why did God want to make his people into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation / rather than a long-lasting and powerful nation like Rome or America?  In two words we can see God’s clear purpose of his nation.

 

First, a Kingdom of Priests.  We are so familiar with this concept.  After Exodus chapter 19, God established the offering system and tabernacle in which God could forgive people’s sins and dwell among his people.  God anointed priests and used them as mediators between God and Men.  In addition to this, priests were supposed to keep God’s law and teach people to obey it.  That is to say, they had to proclaim the knowledge of God to the people from generations to generations.  But, the situation of the Israelites seemed to make it impossible to do so.   They had just been liberated from the bondage of slavery.  Living in slavery for more than one hundred years was not a small matter.  It affected their behaviors, thinking, and even souls.  Slaves don’t have good self-esteem let alone a sense of ownership.  They easily grumble and complain about little things.  They tend to be lazy and dependent.  Indeed, for just three months after the Israelites left Egypt until they arrived at the desert of Sinai, they revealed their slavery mentality / to the full.  They grumbled against God before the Red Sea.  They grumbled because of bitter water.  They grumbled for not having Egyptian meat.  They were just a nation of whiners.  But God who is Lord of Israel was able to change his people into a kingdom of priests.  Indeed God’s hope for the Israelites changed a nation of whiners into a nation of priests.  The hope of God even changed the small South Korea into a shepherd nation. After the Korean War had just finished, Korean people suffered from famine and the wounds of war.  They were hopeless and nobody thought this nation would feed other nations.  But one person saw the hope of God and prayed for Korea to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation like the Israelites.  Then God changed South Korea into a shepherd nation for God and for more than 99 nations.  And here, in this country, in this generation, the same hope that God had for Israel is upon us.  God wants each one of us to be a priest who can keep and teach the word of God and proclaim the knowledge of God to the world.  Look around!  God wants you to be a priest in this generation.  God wants you to be a priest in your campus.  This is God’s hope for you today.  Amen.

 

Second, a Holy Nation.  I think each nation in this world has a special feature or color.  We call America the land of freedom.  Italy is called the nation of art.  Switzerland is called the nation of landscape.  Korea is called the nation of red pepper because of its spicy food and hot temper.  But the nation that God wants to build up is a holy nation.  Here, ‘holy’ means ‘different from others’ and ‘setting something apart’.  God wants to set Israel apart from the other nations.  It is because through the Holy nation Holy God can be revealed.  Only a holy nation or a holy person can testify to the Holy God.  How about America?  Is she Holy nation or not?  I think America might have decided to be a nation that seeks freedom rather than the holiness of God.  She brought the statue of liberty from France in 1886.  And in 1962, the Supreme Court stopped school initiated-prayer in the public school system which was prayer / acknowledging dependence on God.  And recently, Same-sex marriage has been legalized in six of the 50 states of America.  Last month, June 28th, there was a gay-rights movement held in Manhattan and / hundreds of thousands of people gathered for this parade.  Anyway what I want to say is, the holy God can only dwell in a holy people and a holy nation.  Let us pray for America to be a holy nation not just a super power nation or a better country in this world.  Let us pray for American young campus students to seek God’s holiness rather than an American free lifestyle.  Let us pray that someday a holy nation movement can be held in Manhattan starting from Rutgers Campus.  I pray that RURP can be another holy club in Rutgers so that they may reveal Holy God among campus students.  Amen.

 

Let us read verse 5a. “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant,” Here God gave a great opportunity to every nation by saying ‘now if you obey me fully’.  Every people and nation can be his treasured possession as long as she obeys God fully.  In KJV, it says ‘now if you obey my voice fully’.  God’s voice is the word of God, ‘the Bible’.  Do you believe that this Bible is the written voice of God?  Yes it is God’s voice.  So if you go back to the Bible and read it day and night and obey one word as God’s voice, you can be his treasured possession in this world.  Here we have to pay attention to this word ‘fully’.  Let me find some examples of the antonym of this word.  If you obey God 80%, if you obey God from time to time, if you obey God when you are able to do, if you obey God as people obey him, if you obey God silently or lukewarmly, God doesn’t want you.  God eagerly wants to find one person or one nation that can obey God fully. Amen.  Let’s obey God fully not with our mouths or our habitual religious activities but with all our hearts and all our souls and all our strengths.  Let’s go back to the Bible and obey God’s very words so that NJUBF can be a kingdom of priests and a holy Bible Center for Rutgers and Princeton students. Amen.  

 

When you speak to me, you say “Msn. Matthew”, and I appreciate it very much.  But I am not missionary Matthew. I am miserable Matthew.  I am such a pathetic person.  For the last two years, do you know what I have been doing?  Exactly, I have been losing hope for myself.  I came here as a missionary and God’s servant.  But every day I had to face myself who slept a lot, who didn’t study English hard, and who didn’t live like a missionary.  At first, I thought it was because taking care of my daughter Margaret or my deep weaknesses.  But later I realized that it was because I was losing God’s hope for me.  I thought I was a hopeless missionary in NJUBF because I wouldn’t feed American sheep.  I thought I was a hopeless Asian Minor in America because I wouldn’t conquer English and I wouldn’t do anything in America.  With such a hopeless mind, I could not live joyful and passionate life.  But, through today passage, I realized I have to see myself in the sight of God.  Then I could see that God has had hope in me from the beginning until now.  And his hope is to make me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation for America no matter who I am and no matter what I do.  But there is one thing that I have to do is obeying God fully.  Now if I obey God fully, I can be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation in America and this generation. Amen.  

 

Before closing this message, I want to ask you two questions.  Where is the Hope of God and who can be the Hope of God now?  Did you find it?  The hope of God is here!  And the hope of God is you.  So let us say to each other. “The hope of God is upon you.”  “You are the hope of God in this generation.”  Let us read the key verses together, until ‘a holy nation’.  “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” <repeat> These are the words God is speaking to us now. Through the rest of this conference, I pray that each one of us can accept the hope of God personally deep in our hearts and live out the hope of God.  So, may we become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation in this generation!

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21 2009 ESBC Main Message VI by Shep. Bruno Aussant: The Word of the Lord Grew in Power [2] admin 2009.08.31 24834
20 2009 ESBC Main Message V by Shep. Georgi Kumanichliev: The Risen Christ Gives Great Commission [1] admin 2009.08.31 19565
19 2009 ESBC Main Message IV by Shep. Joachim Dietzel: Jesus Said, It is Finished admin 2009.08.31 12885
18 2009 ESBC Main Message III by Shep. Titus Keller: But Seek His Kingdom [1] admin 2009.08.31 12951
17 2009 ESBC Main Message II by Shep. Abraham Kaier: Your Sins are Forgiven [2] admin 2009.08.31 15055
16 2009 ESBC Main Message I by Shep. Eberhard Groß: Jesus, the Spring of Living Water admin 2009.08.31 13231
15 2009 ESBC Opening Message by Shep. Dr. Samuel H Lee: The Hope of God [2] admin 2009.08.31 12379
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