Fine Tuning Defiance: Part 1-Exodus 6:1-9

Updated: Mar 9

WHAT THE HEBREWS TEACH US ABOUT DEFYING YHVH

One thing throughout Scripture we witness is how the people who YHVH blessed and called His own, the Israelites, constantly rebelled and disobeyed their God. This was no ordinary "god", this was THE God that liberated them from their captivity and affliction in Egypt with mighty works of power and greatness, the God who fed them in the wilderness while leading them with His very presence faithfully, who protected them from all their enemies and eventually led them triumphantly into the land He promised their forefather, Abraham. So, how on earth did they every justify their defiance of the all-powerful God of gods and Lord of lords? We will explore their "fine tuning defiance" and learn of what often led them into rebellion. However, this study should force us each to take a long, hard look into our own lives and forms of fine tuned defiance which lead us into rebellion to YHVH. We pray this article blesses and edifies you.

 

Exodus 6:1-9 nasb 1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.”

2 God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am YHVH; 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, YHVH, I did not make Myself known to them. 4 I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. 5 Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. 6 Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am YHVH and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am YHVH your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am YHVH.’” 9 So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage. YHVH tells the people to have hope because He will honor the covenant He made with Abraham and free them from their captivity. However, the Hebrews do not listen to the message delivered by Moses as a direct result of their current difficulties and perceived sufferings. The Israelites definitely would be justified in being frustrated or upset with their circumstances, but it is their response to that frustration that causes them to refuse the word of YHVH and to trust Him with their promised salvation.

 

The word “despondency” in this verse is only used once in the Old Testament, and it may not mean what you might think. The Hebrew word is Qotser, and it means shortness or impatience. There’s something crazy and frightening happening here. Take a look at the flow of action in this verse.

God basically tells the people, “Hey, I got this, don’t you worry!” And they respond with, “Nope! Hurry up already!”

I don’t doubt they were feeling the pressure, and that they were in despair about their situation, but in their emotional state they became impatient with God. They wanted rescue right away, yet God wasn’t doing what they wanted when they wanted. As a result, they didn’t listen and trust YHVH. Instead, they rejected the Word of God because of their emotional response to their outward circumstances. There is another interesting word in this verse “listen” in verse 9, which also may help us understand the issue with the Hebrew's impatience toward YHVH. “Shama”-Means to hear, but with a focus on understanding and obedience. In other words, to hear with the intent to understand and obey. The issue is not their feelings, it’s how they respond to their feelings. They use their feeling of despair as an excuse to reject God’s message, His message of hope and salvation. They are fine-tuning their defiance, making room for it, tweaking it in their hearts and minds and giving it space. This ultimately causes them to not "hear" YHVH's truth and leads them to not trust Him in that moment. Fortunately, YHVH was not done making Himself known to them and to their Egyptian oppressors.

 

The question we need to really explore is this: Is there ever a point in our lives where we can fine-tune our defiance toward God? Many of you may already have an idea about the answer to this question, but do our lives actually mirror what we “know” to be right? If not, how do we get there?

Let’s first explore how the Bible addresses this particular problem of defiance against God. Number 15:27-31 27 ‘Also if one person sins unintentionally, then he shall offer a one year old female goat for a sin offering. 28 The priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who goes astray when he sins unintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven. 29 You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the sons of Israel and for the alien who sojourns among them. 30 But the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of YHVH and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt will be on him.’” Numbers 15 reveals something critical about defying YHVH. It tells us willful defiance is the

physical demonstration of how we despise the "word" of YHVH and the end result is blaspheming Him. As a result of the blasphemy, Numbers tells us, this person is "cut off" from among YHVH's people. Just like in Exodus 6, the people are given the Word of the Lord, and they choose, willfully to despise it, to not believe it, and this had the potential of leading them into absolute defiance of YHVH. It appears as the story progresses, that this is exactly where the Israelites are headed. Grumbling and complaining against Moses, and blaming him for their hardships, rather than trusting YHVH would keep the promise He made to Abraham so many centuries before. Their decision to defy the word of God was not accidental, it was deliberate, they heard, they had understanding, yet they rejected YHVH's word anyway. If we are being honest with ourselves, we too have committed this same error. We too have heard His word, we have despised it because of our impatience, and in many cases it leads us to rebellion and deliberate disobedience to YHVH's commands. No matter the difficulty we face, or the circumstances we find ourselves, obeying YHVH is not optional, and we do not get to make demands of Him. We, like so many in Scripture testify, persevere through that adversity in obedience even if it leads to our suffering or death. The good news is YHVH doesn't ask us to obey without first demonstrating His love and commitment to His promises and His covenant. In the Israelites case, He did 9 wonders in Egypt before asking them to obey in the 10th plague. For us He demonstrated His love for us first by sending Yeshua to atone for our sins even while we were still His enemies. We can have confidence and trust YHVH that when we obey, even if it leads to suffering, He is able and will bring us peace, joy, and comfort in that suffering.

 

It is this rejection of YHVH's word that is the source of all kinds of evil and sin throughout the Bible and in our modern world as well. The Bible lays out several examples which guide our understanding of this issue. King Saul is just one example.


1 Samuel 15:22-23 22 But Samuel declared: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obedience to His voice? Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance is like the wickedness of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of YHVH, He has rejected you as king.” Reading back through 1 Samuel 15 we discover Saul's sin is deliberate disobedience to YHVH. He was given the word of God through Samuel the prophet, and he chose to go his own way, despising YHVH's instructions, which blasphemes YHVH not only in the face of his enemies, but in front of the Israelites whom Saul was required to guide in all truth. To make matters worse, Saul attempts to lie and manipulate his way out of the situation.

However, Samuel rebukes Saul, telling him that YHVH requires obedience and attentiveness from His people. In other words, Saul heard the words, but didn't listen with the intent to obey. His ears and his heart were not fixed on following YHVH's instructions. To make matters worse Samuel equates Saul's actions to divination and idolatry. The root of Saul's behavior mirrors the Israelites, and if we are honest, Saul reflects our own shortcoming as well. Samuel tells us it was Saul's arrogance that led him to this rebellion and disobedience to YHVH's word. The word arrogance in the Hebrew is "patsar" which means to push back against. To fully understand Saul's precarious position we must compare his actions and motivations to the Hebrews in Exodus and then to ourselves. Consider the following questions: 1. In the Exodus account (Exodus 7-12), which person in the story repeatedly rejects the word of YHVH? 2. What internally motivates this person to continually reject the instruction of YHVH? 3. What was the result of this individual's defiance against YHVH? Pharaoh is the marked antagonist in the Exodus account. He willfully and repeatedly defies the word of YHVH. Just like Saul, it is his arrogance and his stubbornness that motivates his rejection and disobedience. In both cases we see these two men are cut off from the people of YHVH. Recall, during Joseph's day the Pharaoh actually was blessed by hearing and obeying the word of YHVH given by Joseph, and the Hebrews were a blessing to his nation. This new Pharaoh, however, chose a different route and it cost him his son. Saul was no exception this pattern. We see the same pattern play out with the Israelites as they make their first entry into the promised land. They too reject the word of YHVH and refuse to take the promised land as He instructed. As a result the entire generation except for Caleb and Joshua pay by being removed from the people of YHVH. Once again, we see that hearing the word of YHVH and willingly rejecting it leads to serious consequences. We cannot be foolish enough to believe we somehow are free from this same outcome. We presume to disobey and reject the Word of YHVH on a daily basis, and in our arrogance follow our own way and knowledge. In that rebellion we have the nerve to be "impatient" with YHVH, just like the Hebrews, and expect YHVH to save us in our time and in our way. We can no longer continue to fine-tune our defiance and expect to be saved. Yet, we openly blame God when we suffer as a result of our defiance.

Fortunately, we are given several examples of how to properly respond to YHVH in Scripture, and king David is a good place to start. Acts 13:21-22 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.What set David apart from King Saul? David's desire to obey, is what sets him apart from Saul. It is actually the same characteristic that set Abraham apart, Job, Samuel, Yeshua, Paul and others throughout Scripture. It is critical we understand, our circumstances do not matter when it comes to our defiance. We choose to obey no matter the cost. That is what true servanthood looks like. It is the will of YHVH above all else that drives us through our lives, and any deviation from that narrow path will lead to our absolute destruction.

 

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