Prayer as Kingdom Partnership, 8 January 2023

Prayer as Kingdom Partnership
40 Days of Prayer
Matthew 6:10, Colossians 1:13-14; Romans 14:17
Series Big Idea: We are beginning the new year on our knees, joining other Alliance churches for 40 Days of Prayer.
Big Idea: King Jesus wants us to experience God’s Kingdom and share it with others.
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word
kingdom? Maybe Disney or the animal kingdom or the United Kingdom or even Burger King! Unless we’re speaking of something historical or foreign, we don’t often think about a kingdom, yet it’s the English word used to describe what may be the primary subject of Jesus’ teachings…the Kingdom of God.
Today we begin week two of
40 Days of Prayer, a nationwide series with our global family, the Christian & Missionary Alliance. There are daily devotionals, weekly online gatherings, and our sermon series designed to get us on our knees as we begin 2023. If you’re paying attention, the series itself is a study of what we call the Lord’s Prayer. Last week Pastor Donald spoke on prayer as worship:
“ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, (Matthew 6:9, NIV)
Today’s text continues:
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NIV)
God’s Kingdom. What is it? Where is it? Few words have been more misunderstood among Christians than this word
One of my favorite professors, Scot McKnight, wrote a book on the subject entitled
Kingdom Conspiracy. In it, he notes these five elements to the meaning of kingdom in the Bible:
a kingdom (1) has a king who (2) rules both by way of redemption and governing, and this king rules (3) over a people [Israel, church] through the revelation of (4) the law [Torah, teachings of Jesus and the apostles], and this king rules (5) in a land. All five of these elements are needed to speak biblically about kingdom, and all five are needed to be a kingdom-mission church.
Many reduce
kingdom to only one or two elements, which is insufficient. Kingdom is ultimately a people, and that people is Israel expanded, the Church. The Kingdom of God is not a church building. It’s not a church service. It’s not merely a local congregation. When we speak of the Kingdom of God, we’re referring to the global people under the rule of King Jesus, the Holy Scriptures, and the land they inhabit.
Jesus used the word
kingdom well over 100 times. To a first-century Jew, “kingdom” always meant “Israel.” To us, it should mean…well, us! The capital-C Church. It’s more than just good deeds. It’s more than salvation. It’s about us, who we are, and what we do under the Lordship of King Jesus. Perhaps the greatest challenge in understanding the Kingdom is it is now and not yet. Jesus recognized this. In the first chapter of Mark’s gospel or “good news” biography of Jesus, he said
The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15, NLT)
King Jesus was on the scene.
One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?”
Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” (Luke 17:20-21, NLT)
The rule and reign of Jesus was present, and that included miracles, healings, signs, and wonders. These did not cease when Jesus ascended into heaven, but actually exploded onto the scene in Acts 2, the early Church. The entire book of Acts—and much of the New Testament—is filled with accounts of love winning over hate, life conquering death, health dominating disease, and truth prevailing over lies. My favorite definition of heaven is it’s where God is present. Hell is the one place God is absent. Never mind playing harps on clouds. Don’t focus on pitchforks and fire.
Heaven is where God is present.
Hell is where God is absent.
It’s interesting how often people speak of heaven and hell, though the words heaven and hell never occur together in the Bible, though heaven and earth are often together. Regardless, heaven is where God is present, hell is where God is absent, and that’s really all you need to know…except that we experience aspects of both today. We see people who have rejected God and live as if He is absent…hoping He is absent. Some day they’ll be in for a rude awakening, but C.S. Lewis famously said, “All that are in hell choose it.” Keep God out of your life now, He’ll honor that decision for eternity. It’s your choice.
But let’s shift toward heaven for a moment, the spaces where God is present, or particularly visible. When Jesus said to pray
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NIV)
He’s saying to welcome God, submit to the LORD, live under the rule and reign of King Jesus, and seek moments where heaven kisses earth.
Family, this still happens today. I’ve seen God heal the sick, restore broken relationships, provide in times of desperation, and transform lives from darkness to light. If it weren’t for such God-things, I’d quit my job and go drive a brown truck for UPS or something!
For he has rescued us from the kindom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:13-14, NLT)
The kingdom of God includes salvation, but it’s so much more than just praying a prayer. It’s the ultimate alternative lifestyle!
Unfortunately, many so-called Christians live dull, lifeless, faithless lives without experiencing the power of God through the Holy Spirit. It’s just religion. The writer or Romans, in contrast, said,
For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17, NLT)
Some have taken the other extreme and had phony encounters, but kingdom people should be seeking the experiencing the power of God…not simply for our pleasure, but the benefit of others.
Personally, I want more of God. Is anyone with me? Maybe my new year’s resolution is summarized in an old song that said, “More love, more power, more of You in my life.” There are moments when the kingdom of God is visible now, and it’s a wonderful thing.
The late Dallas Willard said,
“Discipleship is learning how to live in heaven before you die.” I love that. Some of you have been taught to just tolerate this life, but Jesus said to
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33, NLT)
In doing so, we will be doing life with God, living in the Kingdom of God, experiencing the fruit of godly choices, and knowing the abundant life Jesus promised his followers. It does not mean life will be easy and happy-happy-happy, but you will find peace, contentment, and joy.
If we’re honest, the problem isn’t God, it’s us. No matter how holy or mature, righteous, or religious, we all mess up…a lot! All of the problems in our world are the result of sin…ours or someone else’s. I often pray,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NIV)
…but then I sometimes want it my way. My will. Sometimes He allows it, which leads to…regret.
I said the kingdom of God is now and not yet. We experience the rule and reign of God from time to time, but the earth is not fully submitted to the lordship of King Jesus. That’s obvious. In chapter 19, Dr. Luke records,
The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. (Luke 19:11, NLT)
We experience moments of the Kingdom of God now, but someday it will be all we know. John records in Revelation,
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:3-4, NLT)
That’s what we have to look forward to…but we can seek and experience it now, too. The now and the not yet. It’s a tension. We are called to be light in our dark world. We are on a mission from God to participate in His kingdom now, bringing faith, hope, and love to our friends, family, neighbors, and even enemies. The Church is to offer a sneak preview of the kingdom to the lost world. We are not to be known for our rules, our politics, or our condemnation, but rather our love, our joy, our peace.
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NIV)
The kingdom is God in action. The Church is God in action. You can’t see the wind, but you can see it’s activity. People can’t see God, but they can see Him at work in and through us. Right?!
To put things into historical context, many have viewed reality as a play with multiple acts. If you’ve ever been to a multi-act play, you know each act is different, but each fits the greater story. If it’s a play about the Civil War, you wouldn’t expect to have Lebron James in a scene or spaceships on stage! There are a few different outlines, but consider this as one example of the biblical story:

I.         Act 1: Creation and the Fall
God creates a magnificent world for us to enjoy, and then sin ruins it.

II.         Act 2: Israel
I mentioned this is what first-century Jews knew of kingdom, God leading his people through Moses, Joshua, King David, and others. The Psalms and the Old Testament record Act 2.

III.         Act 3: Jesus Brings Us into the Kingdom
King Jesus makes his first appearance on our planet, showing us what it means to be human while accomplishing his mission of seeking and saving the lost through his death

IV. Act 4: The Church

The Holy Spirit arrives fully in Acts 2, guiding those in the Kingdom to become like Jesus and live out God’s Kingdom on earth…now!
Lord, let Your Kingdom come on earth! Now!
The Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5 give us a vision for God’s Kingdom on earth.
Matt. 5:3    “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
                         for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4          Blessed are those who mourn,
                         for they will be comforted.
5          Blessed are the meek,
                         for they will inherit the earth.
6          Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
                         for they will be filled.
7          Blessed are the merciful,
                         for they will be shown mercy.
8          Blessed are the pure in heart,
                         for they will see God.
9          Blessed are the peacemakers,
                         for they will be called children of God.
10         Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
                         for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Let’s pray that God’s Kingdom is evident in our lives, that people see God in action through us. I pray that our lives are so different, so attractive, that people want to join our family, they want to taste the Kingdom, they want to follow King Jesus.

IV.         Act 5: Completed Redemption
This is the reward for following Jesus, the fulfilment of God’s Kingdom, the new heaven and a new earth.
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10  And they were shouting with a great roar,
            “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
                        and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10, NLT)
But it all begins now. This week. This month. This year. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Will you submit to the lordship of King Jesus? Will you seek first his kingdom? Will you pray for his will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven? Will you surrender your time, talents, and treasures to him? When people pray, they usually tell God what they want Him to do. Jesus taught us to pray, LORD…

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10, NIV)

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Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast, 2 August 2015

Matthew 13:31-35

Series Overview: this summertime series will examine the various parables of Jesus recorded in thirteenth chapter of Matthew.

Big Idea: The kingdom of God is advancing…whether you see it or not.


Every year at this time the news is lit up—literally—with reports of wildfires. California is especially vulnerable this year because they’ve been having severe drought. Nearly one million acres have been destroyed this year by wildfires…some caused by negligently discarded cigarette.

It only takes a spark to get a fire going.

The Kingdom

Jesus devoted much of His teachings to the kingdom of heaven. We began our Parables series looking at the sower. Last week we discussed the weeds and wheat. Today we look at two parables that Jesus does not interpret for us, yet two similar stories which have much to teach us today.

Our first parable today is about mustard. Do you like mustard? What do you do with mustard?

Mustard is a condiment. It has no vitamins. It’s one of the few things you can get for free at a ballgame, though it’s hardly satisfying on its own.

Mustard comes from…the grocery store! It comes from a tiny seed. We don’t commonly see seeds—aside from possibly pumpkin or sunflower seeds—but mustard seeds were known in Jesus’ day.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)

Mustard comes from mustard plants. Some have criticized Jesus, saying there are seeds smaller than mustard seeds, but that wasn’t then point. In biblical culture it was known to be the smallest, yet it grew tremendously.

There’s a bit more you should know about mustard seeds. Virtually all seeds produce plants that grow, but according to Pliny the Elder, a Roman author in the first century,

“Mustard… with its pungent taste and fiery effect is extremely beneficial for the health. It grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it is sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once.”

Mustard grows big and fast.

John Dominic Crossan states, "The mustard plant is dangerous even when domesticated in the garden, and is deadly when growing wild in the grain fields. And those nesting birds, which may strike us as charming, represented to ancient farmers a permanent danger to the seed and to the grain. The point, in other words, is not just that the mustard plant starts as a proverbially small seed and grows into a shrub of three, four, or five feet in height. It is that it tends to take over where it is not wanted, that it tends to get out of control, and that it tends to attract birds within cultivated areas, where they are not particularly desired. And that, said Jesus, is what the Kingdom of God was like. Like a pungent shrub with dangerous take-over properties (
Jesus, A Revolutionary Biography, page 65).

The kingdom is “like a pungent shrub with dangerous take-over properties.”

What would make the kingdom dangerous? It is a threat to satan and the world system. Last week we said the wheat and weeds grow together. Good and evil grow together. The kingdom of God has explosive potential to change people, communities, and even nations.

One writer said this:

Think again though about the people who followed Jesus and the multitudes who lived in the margins of society who had their fields taken away from them by the Roman occupation and the corrupt leaders of the Jewish Temple. “The Kingdom of God will take over where it is not wanted. God shall break into this mess and challenge the oppressors?” the peasants must have pondered with one another. No wonder they followed Jesus.

In the west, we seem to hear only bad news. The church is in decline. People are abandoning the faith. Atheism is on the rise. Young people are less interested in the things of God. At least this is what we are often told.

Perhaps the weeds are growing strong in the west, but the kingdom of God is forcefully advancing around the world.

It took nearly 2,000 years for the gospel to spread from the early church to nearly half the world’s population. In 1900, 45.7 percent of people everywhere were aware of the gospel, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. More than 100 years later, that number has grown to more than 70 percent.

There’s plenty of work to do, but the kingdom of God is advancing like a mustard seed.

By the way, don’t forget two weeks ago we mentioned the birds that came and took away the seeds that were sowed. We have a real enemy, satan, who wants to steal, kill and destroy the mustard seeds and the kingdom of God.

Jesus and His kingdom were a threat to the principalities and powers of His time…and ours.

He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Matthew 13:33)

Some have called this the key parable of the chapter. Interestingly, yeast or leaven is always used in the Bible as a symbol of evil. You may recall the importance of unleavened bread in Jewish life, including the Passover.

Yeast is a fungi that multiplies rapidly through fermentation. Bread rises because of yeast. We usually think negatively about fermentation and fungi, yet Jesus reverses the meaning of yeast to symbolize the positive, hidden movement of the kingdom of heaven in our world.

Today, much of the kingdom of heaven is hidden from our view, much like dough slowly rising. Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. In fact, the most radical kingdom activity, heart transformation, begins hidden from our view. It sometimes takes years before the seeds of faith take root, before the effects of the yeast are visible in someone’s life.

It’s amazing how something so small like a cigarette butt can produce such a large wildfire.

It’s amazing how something so small like a mustard seed can produce such a large plant.

It’s amazing how something so small like a bit of yeast can produce such a large loaf of bread.

Michael Wilkins summarizes, “The mustard seed emphasizes an inconspicuous beginning of the kingdom of heaven with its growth into external greatness, while the yeast suggests its inconspicuous permeation and transformation.”

God has a way of doing great things with the small. Jesus Himself may be the greatest example. The Jews believed the Messiah would enter our world with power and greatness. He surprised them. In fact, Jesus’ first visit to our planet was so different than what was expected that most Jews are still waiting for the first arrival of the Messiah. Jesus came to earth as a small baby, virtually unknown except for a few visitors. Yet despite humble beginnings, Christ changed the world.

The prophet Zechariah famously wrote

Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the LORD that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” (Zechariah 4:10)

It doesn’t look like much, but just wait!

Our text for today concludes with these words:

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:

“I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35)

There has never been a story teller like Jesus for He not only entertained, He spoke truth, His is the truth, and His teachings demanded a response. He repeatedly said, “He who has ears, let him hear” and said those who hear would be blessed. The spiritually alive would become His disciples. The spiritually dead would turn away, some even yelling, “Crucify Him.”

As kingdom people we are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (5:13–16), regardless of what is politically correct and popular. The kingdom of God is advancing…whether you see it or not.

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Covenant & Kingdom: Moses, 21 September 2014

Big Idea: God made a covenant with Moses out of which he led the God’s kingdom people of Israel.


In previous weeks we said the Bible is a big book. It’s actually a library of 66 books. We usually study it verse-by-verse, like looking through a microscope. This series will look at it through a telescope, examining the big idea of the Bible.

Covenant and Kingdom are woven throughout the Scriptures like a double helix is woven in DNA.

Covenant is a sacred treaty in which two parties become one. In ancient times, this always involved the shedding of blood by an animal to imply consequences for failure to fulfill the agreement.

God made a covenant with Abram, promising blessings to him and his offspring in order for them to bless the world.

Covenant is about relationship. Being. Invitation.
Kingdom is about responsibility. Doing. Challenge.

Life is filled with tension between being and doing, relationship and responsibility, being invited into relationship with God while also being challenged to represent Him and bless the world.

As we look at this idea of challenge, of kingdom, of doing God’s work in the world we are going to look at one of the most important characters in the Bible—Moses.

Who are you?
That is one of the two most important questions you and I must address. The other is, “Who is Jesus?” Earlier this year in our series Who Do You Think You Are? we looked at the book of Ephesians and saw the ramifications of being “in Christ.”

Identity comes from many places. It begins with our name and family of origin. What does your name mean? Do you know why it was chosen for you? What messages did you receive as a child? You may be troubled to even think about the answer or you may recall great memories. We are a product of our past, for better or worse.

One of the great things about the kingdom of God—the church—is regardless of our past, God dictates our present future when we entrust it to Him.

Like Abraham, we are invited into covenant with God, surrendering our individual existence to become “one” with God and His people. We are given a new name—child of God. We enjoy the same rights and freedoms of God’s other children, including Jesus!

Like Joseph, we are a part of God’s kingdom, representing God and taking responsibility and authority, exercising the power of forgiveness.

There are so many fascinating Bible characters and few as important as Moses. You may be familiar with the stories of his life, but I want to encourage you to encounter them in a fresh way as if you had never heard them before.

Our story begins in Exodus 1. Joseph is Pharaoh’s right hand man providing provisions to his family and other Israelites in Egypt. A new king sees this growing Israelite population and makes them slaves, working the ruthlessly. Furthermore, he told the Hebrew midwives to kill all baby boys so the Israelite population could eventually die (1:16). When they refused, he ordered every baby boy thrown into the Nile river.

This isn’t pretty. It’s actually horrifying. The Bible can be quite graphic and disturbing…because humans can do some pretty disturbing things, as we see every day in the news.

A woman has a baby, hides him for three months, and realizes she can no longer hide him. She puts him in a basket in the very river where she is to drown him.

Pharaoh’s daughter sees the basket, opens it, sees the baby, and keeps Moses as her son.

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. (2:11-15)

Charles Swindoll says, “Here we see the beginning of a narrative that is all of our lives. We are blessed, broken and then we are used. Used by God.”
Perhaps you’re waiting for God to use you while He waits for you to be broken, not in a harmful way, but in a way that causes you to be desperate for Him.
Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
That’s lordship. That’s what it means for Jesus to be king, to be Lord. Die to yourself and live with and for Him. That’s the message of baptism, we die and then live.
Who do you think Moses thinks he is?
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 desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (3:1)

If youʼre in the desert, embrace it. Go into it and pass through it. Moses embraces the desert and finds there the symbol and metaphor of the desert that is woven throughout Scripture: Desert leads to dependency on 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.” (3:2-3)

Fire is the symbol of God’s presence.

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. (3:4-6)

God knows Moses’ name. He knows his identity. He knows his past living in privilege in the palace and later hiding in the desert after committing murder. This is God’s invitation into relationship with Moses. Covenant.

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, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites 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.” (3:7-10)

“And I have heard the cry of my people.” Not of “the people” but of “my people.” “I am their God because I have a Covenant with them. And I will stay faithful to them. And out of that Covenant security, Moses, Iʼm sending you to do the work of my Kingship.” This is God’s challenge for Moses to be involved in kingdom work.
God’s promises can be trusted. Where He guides, He provides. He doesn’t promise we’ll be happy and healthy all the time, but He honors obedience and faithfulness.

So Moses is excited, grateful for the opportunity to lead the people of Israel, and joyfully accepts the challenge. Hardly!

But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (3:11)

And Moses says, “Not me! Anybody else but me!”
Why does he resist?
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” (3:12)

I will be with you. That’s a promise. It’s a promise that’s echoed throughout the pages of Scripture.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? (Ps 139:7)

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28:20b)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob — has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. (3:13-15)

God speaks to him about the Covenant: “I am the God of your Fathers. You are the Son of Abraham, the Son of Isaac, the Son of Jacob, that Identity comes from me and you know it!” And already we have the resonance of Fatherhood. Why are they fathers? Eventually we find that they are fathers because they are in Covenant with THE FATHER. But right now, in the unfolding revelation of Scripture, is a matter of life and blood and bone. But Moses hears from God, that God is in Covenant with him. “Youʼre mine.”
“And I have heard the cry of my people.” Not of “the people” but of “my people.” “I am their God because I have a Covenant with them. And I will stay faithful to them. And out of that Covenant security, Moses, Iʼm sending you to do the work of my Kingship.” And Moses says, “Not me! Anybody else but me!”
God invites Moses into relationship and challenges him to lead the people.

But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” (4:13)

Have you ever said that?

Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. (4:14-16)

What follows is a series of exchanges between Moses and Pharaoh, ten plagues, the last a plague of death in which the first-born child and animal of everyone in Egypt was killed—except for those Israelite homes that had the blood of a lamb on the sids and tops of the door frames. The death angel passed over those homes which leads us to call the celebration Passover. Finally, Pharaoh lets Moses and the people go.

Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. (12:40)

God was their king. Isn’t that great?!

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. (13:21)

Moses surely thought the worst was over. The exodus from Egypt was going great…until Pharaoh had a change of heart.

The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. (14:8)

The Israelites are furious.

Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (14:12)

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (14:13-14)

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. (14:15-16)

The rest, as they say, is history.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. (14:21-22)

The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. (14:23)

During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.” (14:24-25)

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen — the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. (14:26-28)

But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. (14:29)

And they all lived happily ever after! Hardly! For forty years they wandered in the wilderness, complained, disobeyed God, and drove Moses crazy!

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: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 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.” (19:3-6)

What is the “If?” It’s the Ten Commandments, not rules to follow, but instructions to obey.

Who are you?

Israel is to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. That may sound far from a group of Gentiles like us thousands of years later, but actually it applies to us. Through Jesus—whose live, death, and resurrection allowed us to be grafted into God’s story, we are a part of the kingdom. The kingdom is a people. It’s a people of priests. It’s a holy nation.

The Rest Of The Story

Moses leads the grumbling people for 40 years in the wilderness. There are highs and lows, but God remains faithful to Moses and the Israelites.

So what?

Without identity, obedience is just rules. With identity, it is an expression of love, something we desire to do.

You can’t make God love you more by obeying Him. We can never be good enough, but Jesus is and we take on His identity.

Moses understood his covenant identity and knew he had the backing of the King of heaven.

For the Israelites and many of us obedience without Identity becomes the mark of their lives.


You know itʼs a great thing to be obedient to the Lord, but he wants it to be out of your identity. And if you can be obedient out of your identity then you can function in power because you have received his authority. You see, identity and authority go together, and obedience and power go together. These are the key concepts of Covenant and Kingdom and they function as the Father, who is our King, reveals himself to us. Our identity is tied up with him. Because our identity is tied up with him, we are the children of God. And because we are the children of God we recognize that whatever he is, we are. Heʼs the King. We have royal blood running through our veins so we have the Kingʼs authority.

Because power is tied up with obedience, and obedience flows out of identity. The way that it works is this: We know we are the children of God and out of that authority of being the children of God we are able to dispense that power that God places into our hands because authority will always lead to power. Because power without authority is always tyranny. And God never wants that. He wants his people to break the bonds of tyranny. He wants his people to feed the hungry. He wants them to lift up the weak and the broken. He wants them to come, in his authority, dispensing power, breaking the chains of the Kingdom of darkness. And we can only do this successfully and sustainably if you know both your Covenant and your Kingdom calling.

Iʼve watched it so many times. The Kingdom becomes the subject. The Kingdom becomes the agenda. And people rush to do the works of the Kingdom and they begin to become detached from their sense of identity and they have no idea about the rhythm that is woven into their lives that is spoken of so clearly in Scripture:
There is a rhythm of advance...and then return. There is a rhythm of working and resting. Of taking the works of the Kingdom and doing something for God and then returning and abiding in Jesus and being with him. And if you donʼt know that rhythm, you wonʼt sustain the work of God. Do you see that?

Itʼs so important that we hear this. Itʼs out of our understanding of our Father that we reflect that our Father is the King.

- Mike Breen


Ideas for this series taken from book of the same title by Mike Breen and