Sermon #81                                                                                                                          Exodus Series

 

      Title:                                 The Stranger’s Heart

 

      Text:                                 Exodus 23:9-13

      Date:                                Tuesday Evening — September 23, 2008

      Tape:                    Exodus #81

      Readings:           David Burge and Darvin Pruitt

      Introduction:

 

My subject tonight is The Stranger’s Heart. Our text will be Exodus 23:9-13. When the Lord God gave his law at Sinai and commanded the children of Israel to honor him in all things, he gave two reasons: (1.) He said, “For I am gracious,” and (2.) “For ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” These two things we must never forget. He who is our God is gracious; and we were strangers in Egypt, when he sought us out and saved us by his grace.

 

Don’t ever forget who you were, what you were and where you were when God saved you by his grace. How often the Lord God commands us to remember that we were bondmen in the land of Egypt, urging us to look unto the rock whence we were hewn by the hammer of omnipotent mercy and to the hole of the pit whence we have been dug by his almighty grace.

 

(Isaiah 51:1) “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.”

 

There are some things we must never forget.

 

1.    We must never forget the price of our redemption (Galatians 3:13-14; 1 Peter 1:18-20).

 

(Galatians 3:13-14) “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (14) That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

 

(1 Peter 1:18-20) “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”

 

2.    We must never forget what God has done for us (1 John 3:1).

 

(1 John 3:1) “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”

 

3.    We must never forget what we are by nature and what God has saved us from, by his almighty grace (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

 

(1 Corinthians 1:26-31) “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

 

(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

 

Proposition: In our text tonight the Lord God himself calls us to remember that we were “strangers in the land of Egypt” when he came to us, sought us out and saved us by his almighty grace (Exodus 23:9-13).

 

(Exodus 23:9-13) “Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (10) And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: (11) But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard. (12) Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed. (13) And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.”

 

Divisions

 

The Lord our God commands us neither to vex nor oppress a stranger. He commanded us not to “vex” (22:21), suppress, mistreat, or act violently toward a stranger in our midst. The Lord commands us not to “oppress” a stranger here. The word “oppress” heavier than the word “vex.” It means “afflict, crush, force down, hold down, or thrust yourself upon.” Now, look at the reasons he gives for this command, by which he teaches us to treat graciously those people we are naturally apt to treat with cruelty. Mark them. There are three of them:

1.    For ye know the heart of a stranger” (v. 9).

2.    Seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (v. 9).

3.    And the stranger may be refreshed” (v. 12)

 

The Stranger’s Heart

 

If we are truly his, the Lord God declares of you and me, “Ye know the heart of a stranger.” Do we? Do you and I know the stranger’s heart? Do we know what it is like to grope about in darkness, as a stranger in Egypt? If so, we above all people ought to pity the stranger.

 

Oh, yes, I know the heart of a stranger in a strange land; and you do too. You who have tasted that the Lord is gracious know “the heart of a stranger,” and we know it well. It will be profitable to our souls to look back and again call to our remembrance what we are by nature. Lord God, help me never to forget! — Child of God, ever “consider thyself!” Believer, seek grace from God the Holy Spirit that you may ever live in relentless awareness of the plague of your own heart (1 Kings 8:38).

 

Never was mercy more seasonable, more abundant, more unexpected, unlooked for, and unmerited, than when bestowed upon me, when the Lord Jesus passed by me, spread his skirt over me, and said to me, “Live!” And he says to me, “Ye know the heart of a stranger.

 

Oh! for grace to rightly apprehend, and always apprehend, that state out of which the Lord God has brought me by his grace! I was living as a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, “without hope, and without God in the world,” when Christ Jesus reached down for me.

 

Once my soul was astray from the heavenly way,

And was wretched and vile as could be;

But my Savior in love, gave me peace from above,

When He reached down His hand for me.

 

I was near to despair when He came to me there,

And this sinner, by grace, He made free;

Then He lifted my feet, gave me gladness complete,

When He reached down His hand for me.

 

How my heart does rejoice when I hear His sweet voice

In the tempest to Him now I flee;

There to lean on His arm, where I’m safe from all harm.

Since He reached down His hand for me.

 

When my Savior reached down for me,

When He reached down His hand for me,

When Christ Jesus reached down for me,

When He reached way down for me

I was lost and undone without God or His Son,

When He reached down His hand for me.

 

Ye know the heart of a stranger.” What is the heart of a stranger? The stranger’s heart is…

Š      A heart of utter enmity against God (Romans 8:7).

Š      A heart without the slightest knowledge of the Triune God. — God the Father. — God the Son. — God the Holy Spirit.

Š      A heart utterly ignorant, blind, senseless, unconscious of sin, and unconscious of danger.

Š      A heart of sin, base, vile and corrupt.

 

(Isaiah 51:1) “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.”

 

We were hewn from the rock of human depravity, by the hammer of omnipotent grace.

Š      We did not break ourselves from the rock. God broke us from it.

Š      We did not fall from the rock. We were hewn from it.

Š      We did not gradually evolve from the rock. We were hewn from it, with the violence of God’s omnipotent hand!

 

We were dug from the pit of human corruption, death, and degradation by the hand of God’s irresistible, immaculate mercy (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21-23).

 

(Genesis 6:5) “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

 

(Jeremiah 17:9) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

 

(Mark 7:21-23) “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, (22) Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: (23) All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

 

Your heart and mine is by nature as black as the heart of Judas. Whatever sin there is, has been or shall be in this world is in your heart and mine by nature. The germ of all evil is in us all. It does not matter who your parents are, that which is born of the flesh is flesh. Corruption brings forth corruption. It can never give birth to purity!

 

The history of our race, when honestly read, is a history of corruption and depravity.

Š      Wars!

Š      Persecutions!

Š      Ambition!

Š      Greed!

Š      Debauchery!

 

Things have not changed in our day of enlightenment, education, and reason! If you care to see how far we have advanced above the cannibalistic barbarians of New Guinea, read today’s paper! It reads like the chronicles of a barbaric society.

Š      Self-serving Politicians and Preachers.

Š      Adultery, Fornication, and Rape.

Š      Rioting, Murder, and Abortion.

Š      Homosexuality, Pedophilia, and Cannibalism. – (Jeffery Dalmer)

Š      These reprobate practices men and women want to protect and promote by law, while they fret about protecting frogs, trees and worms!

 

Yes, my God, I know the heart of a stranger, for I know the present corruption of my depraved heart! — I thank God for his forgiveness of my sin and for the righteousness that is mine in Christ. I thank God for a new nature of grace that he has established in me, causing me to truly love him and love righteousness. But there is a real warfare in my soul (Romans 7:14-25; Galatians 5:17).

 

(Romans 7:14-25) “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. (15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (17) Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (18) For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (25) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

 

(Galatians 5:17) “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

 

Illustration: David – Psalm 73

 

A Stranger’s Condition

 

Oh, yes, we know the heart of a stranger! That ought to make us merciful to strangers. But the Lord God gives us another reason why we should be merciful to strangers. He says, “Thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” We should never oppress, abuse, hold down, afflict, or thrust ourselves upon a poor sinner, “a stranger,” because we were once strangers in Egypt, this land of darkness and oppression (Ephesians 2:11-13).

 

(Ephesians 2:11-13) “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (12) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: (13) But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

 

We were strangers to the blessed Lord Jesus! We knew him not. We loved him not. We desired him! His love, his grace, his pity, his mercy, were thoughts that never entered our hearts. Neither his person, nor his salvation, the merits of his blood, nor of his righteousness, were precious in our eyes. There was nothing in us but contempt for the ever blessed Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us!

 

Dead in trespasses and sins,” we were strangers to grace and strangers to God, strangers to Christ and strangers to the Spirit! We were every second exposed to the tremendous horrors of “the second death,” where we would have been strangers to God and to Christ to all eternity!

 

What deep impressions this ought to make upon our hearts! You and I ought to be a broken, humble and contrite people. Pride ought not exist in us. God hates it; and we ought to hate it! We have nothing about us that is more despicable than pride.

Š      Pride of Race!

Š      Pride of Place!

Š      Pride of Grace!

 

(1 Corinthians 4:7) “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”

 

This ought to encourage us!

Š      With regard to Our Own Salvation.

Š      With regard to the Souls of Others.

We ought to be kind and tender to others.

Š      To Our Brethren in Christ (Ephesians 4:32).

Š      To Our Brethren in Adam (Romans 10:1).

We ought to be faithful to Christ, our God and Savior (Romans 12:1).

 

Illustration: My Remembrance Room!

 

 

A Stranger’s Refreshment

 

Yes, “we know the heart of a stranger;” and we were “strangers in the land of Egypt.” But there is a third thing in our text that is precious beyond words. Read it again with me and understand that the Lord God specifically tells us (in this passage) that he gave the law of the sabbath that “the stranger may be refreshed.

 

(Exodus 23:9-13) “Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (10) And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: (11) But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard. (12) Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed. (13) And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.”

 

Let me say just a little about that. The word “refreshed” in verse 12 means “to breathe passively, to be renewed by a breathe of air, to be breathed upon, or to be made to breathe passively.” It is used in Ezekiel 37.

 

(Ezekiel 37:7-10) “So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. (8) And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. (9) Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. (10) So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”

 

The Lord Jesus fulfilled all the law in the room and stead of chosen sinners and died upon the cursed tree, as the Surety for strangers, that they might be breathed upon and refreshed by the Spirit of grace in regeneration. Christ was made a stranger, when he was made sin for us, that we might live before God and rest forever in him (Psalm 69:8; Proverbs 6:1-5; 27:13-14).

 

(Psalms 69:8) “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.”

 

(Proverbs 6:1-5) “My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with (for) a stranger, (2) Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. (3) Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. (4) Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. (5) Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.”

 

(Proverbs 27:13-14) “Take his garment that is surety for a stranger, and take a pledge of him for a strange woman. (14) He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him.”

 

Bless God for his grace! In Christ, at the throne of grace, there is grace and mercy for strangers, “yea, for the rebellious also!

 

(1 Kings 8:37-44) “If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be caterpillar; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; (38) What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: (39) Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) (40) That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers. (41) Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name’s sake; (42) (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house; (43) Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name. (44) If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name:”

 

Let us be humbled in the dust before our God, and ascribe all our mercies to his distinguishing grace. Everlastingly cry, my ransomed soul, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!” Let us ever return praise to give God the glory (Luke 17:17-18).

 

(Luke 17:17-18) “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? (18) There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”

 

I once was a stranger to grace and to God,

I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;

Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,

Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.

 

I oft read with pleasure, to sooth or engage,

Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;

But e’en when they pictured the blood sprinkled tree

Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.

 

Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,

I wept when the waters went over His soul;

Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree

Jehovah Tsidkenu—’twas nothing to me.

 

When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,

Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;

No refuge, no safety in self could I see—

Jehovah Tsidkenu my Saviour must be.

 

My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;

My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came

To drink at the fountain, life giving and free—

Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.

 

Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,

Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;

In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field,

My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield!

 

Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,

This “watchword” shall rally my faltering breath;

For while from life’s fever my God sets me free,

Jehovah Tsidkenu, my death song shall be.

 

Amen!

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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