Grasping God’s Purpose: “The Pattern of Surrender” – Exodus 35:20-35

World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. Over 60 million people were killed, which was over 2.5% of the world population. Among those were 418,000 Americans who died to overcome the rise of tyranny. In Europe, the Act of Military Surrender that brought World War Two in Europe to an end was signed on May 7th 1945. The Act of Military Surrender was signed by Alfred Jodl, on behalf of Nazi Germany.

 1. We the undersigned, acting by authority of the German High Command, hereby surrender unconditionally to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command all forces on land, sea, and in the air who are at this date under German control.

2. The German High Command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European time on 8 May and to remain in the positions occupied at that time. No ship, vessel, or aircraft is to be scuttled, or any damage done to their hull, machinery or equipment.

3. The German High Command will at once issue to the appropriate commanders, and ensure the carrying out of any further orders issued by the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and by the Soviet High Command.

4. This act of military surrender is without prejudice to, and will be superseded by any general instrument of surrender imposed by, or on behalf of the United Nations and applicable to Germany and the German armed forces as a whole.

5. In the event of the German High Command or any of the forces under their control failing to act in accordance with this Act of Surrender, the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force and the Soviet High Command will take such punitive or other action as they deem appropriate.

 Signed at Rheims at 0241 France on the 7th day of May, 1945. On behalf of the German High Command. Alfred Jodl in the presence of On behalf of the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force. Walter Bedell Smith On behalf of the Soviet High Command. Ivan Sousloparov Major General, French Army (Witness) François Sevez

 What is critical to notice about that document was that there was a specific way to face the surrender process. As we open a much older document, this one recorded by Moses and revealed by the God that created all things, we see the same truth…

Key Principle: There is a very specific pattern to surrender, and God helps us move from our old life to our new with some necessary instruction.

Not everything is resisted because we are stubborn. I am repeatedly amazed at how many times I run into believers who have followed God for many years, but really DON’T KNOW what God expects from them on a daily basis. It is true that some are resistant (we all are inside) but many just don’t really know.

I want to explore HOW God wanted these three measures of our surrender – TIME, TALENT and TREASURE dealt with in our daily lives. There is a pattern for surrender, and it can be found in the second part of Exodus 35:

First, real surrender is YOUR PERSONAL GIFT to God.

No one can compel you to truly obey God in your heart. It is an internal matter. The decision to obey was each man and woman’s decision. The people did it when they got HOME – just like you will (or won’t). Exodus 35:20 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel departed from Moses’ presence.

There is behind this rule a principle about surrender that is vital to recall: No one is responsible for your walk with God but you. We at your church can help you, but you must choose to walk with God. Even HE doesn’t just grab your life and thrust Himself into it. He invites, encourages, calls and comforts. Remember, your life is like a coin – you can spend it any way you choose – but we can only spend it once.

What is the first part of the pattern of surrender? It is the recognition that I will not be measured by my mom’s faith or my dad’s faith – but only by my personal choice. The striking reality of our eternal destiny is this – we chose it. Millions will take the wide road that leads to destruction. They will choose the path of comfort and conformity. They will walk, lock step, with leaders of an ever-darkening moral decay. They will lie and they will believe lies. Then, for some inexplicable reason, they will stand before God as though they wanted God, and followed God during this life.

I don’t want to be too wordy on this matter, so let me be clear: You can choose to follow God and He will walk with you through life. You can choose to follow your own will and refuse God’s place in your life. If you take the second choice, you will end up without God – because you told Him you had everything covered and did not want Him to guide you to His home. Surrender is a personal act, and no one can do it for you.

  • If you choose to surrender to God’s leading, you will hunger for God’s Word.
  • If you choose to surrender to God’s power, you will walk in His strength and not your own.
  • If you choose to surrender to God’s purposes, you will conform your choices to His will as He expressed them in His Word.
  • If you choose to surrender to God’s plan, you will pray fervently and seek His leading day by day.

Don’t surrender only when you think you can see the benefits. God is ALWAYS at work, even when you don’t see it. I told you this true and short story before, but it is one that always helps me to put God’s hand behind the scenes in perspective.

Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn’t share her newfound interest in spiritual things. Nonetheless, she had set about praying for him feverishly and unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly awaited the day when her husband surrender his life to Jesus. And now this. What do you do when faith doesn’t make sense? When God doesn’t seem to be answering or opening doors or being found? Ruby Hamilton stopped living for God. Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date – May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?” “Sure am.” “Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.” “Not quite that far – do you live in Chicago?” “I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton.” They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never. “Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord. The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.” Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand “You knew my husband?” Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me what day that was?” “Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.” “Anything special about that day,” she asked. He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. “Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.” Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.” “Where is your husband, Ruby?” “He’s dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!” (Bret Toman, Sermon: Power to Live the Golden Rule, 1/3/2011)

Surrender is personal, but you should be able to see it in your life, and measure if you have, in fact, personally surrendered to Him. There is a “big surrender” in your life, when your conscious will openly declares God as Master. Following that, there is “daily surrender”, where we daily recall His Mastery and apply it to specific areas of daily life.

Second, real surrender begins in you when God stirs and moves within.

Yet, that only happens in those who let Him – and don’t ignore His voice or drown out the sound it makes. He will not push us until we ask, but will aid us when we do! God moved in each who opened to Him – and people made the choice to respond. Exodus 35:21 Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD’S contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments.

Here is a profound principle behind this rule: Real obedience can only be measured from the inside. God moves inside our hearts. You and I cannot see people’s motives or intent – nor should we speak like we can. We must be careful not to judge things we cannot know. God may be moving in someone right next to you right now, but they look bored. They have built up defenses over the years to listen, but not look as though they are listening – so as to not make people watch whether they do what they commit to do. The opposite is also true. Some people may look riveted to the message right now, and be thinking about the roast in the oven, or why that lady in front of them doesn’t change salons.

I cannot always see surrender on the outside, but it isn’t so difficult to see un-surrendered lives on the outside. Obedience is the mark of the surrendered man or woman. Hunger for God’s Word and obedience to God’s Word. Surrender sounds like submission. Surrender sounds like thankfulness. Surrender sounds like praise.

Surrender is responsive to God’s stirring, because God works in each of us in very unique ways. We should expect the pattern to follow the Word of God – but the specifics to follow the stirring of God. He has a way of getting to you – and getting His point across.

Third, real surrender begins with a deliberate identity loss. 

“I gotta be ME!” and “I did it MY way!” are anthems of the un-surrendered. Ego and self centeredness are the opposite of surrender in life – and they are at the heart of identity. God wants us to see our real IDENTITY to be found in how HE sees us – not how we perceive others see us. The toughest part of surrender is facing a new identity that emerges from the relationship with God. Our old self gives way to a new one – and that is easy for others to see! When People surrender the markers of their old identity, they show their serious change has taken place. Exodus 35:22 Then all whose hearts moved them, both men and women, came and brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and bracelets, all articles of gold; so did every man who presented an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 Every man, who had in his possession blue and purple and scarlet material and fine linen and goats’ hair and rams’ skins dyed red and porpoise skins, brought them.

The principle behind this rule of the pattern – the identity loss rule – is this: My true identity is not how others see me – but how God sees me. I will never properly relate to things while I am not properly related to their Creator. Further, I will never properly relate to things while I believe they define who I am. My stuff doesn’t make me who I am. My abilities don’t make me who I am. My God makes me who I am…

Technically speaking, David Ring was born dead. Quick acting medical personnel were able to get him breathing, but oxygen deprivation left him with cerebral palsy. He suffered from a speech impediment, hands that don’t cooperate, and a limp. As if that wasn’t enough adversity for one person, both his parents died by the time he was fourteen years old, and his hemophiliac brothers subsequently dies of AIDS. David’s remaining family members feared that David would never have a normal life, because they assumed he would never marry, have children, drive a car, earn a living or take care of himself. As a young teenager, David came surrender his life to God and came to see his disability as a gift. Once he began to see his circumstances as being chosen for him by God, he began moving forward. Today he is married, had four beautiful children, drives a car, and speaks to more than 250 audiences a year. At his speaking engagements he sells T-shirts bearing the slogan “Don’t Whine…SHINE!” David ring has taken responsibility for his life—the bad, the difficult and the wonderful. And he continues to celebrate the difference he is able to make in the lives of others. When people wrestle with difficult life experiences, the why question often gets in the way. One of David Rings Axioms is “Don’t ask God why. Ask What. What do you want me to do with this?” SOURCE: Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop, Seven Keys to Spiritual Renewal (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1989), pp. 85-86.

Can you hear it in David’s voice? That is the sound of a surrendered life. He isn’t asking what everyone else sees – He is asking what God wants and what God sees.

Fourth, real surrender comes when we GIVE, not plan to give.

People discovered the privilege of giving – that God had enabled them for a purpose! Exodus 35:24 Everyone who could make a contribution of silver and bronze brought the LORD’S contribution; and every man who had in his possession acacia wood for any work of the service brought it….29 The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the LORD had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the LORD.

Smart believers get it: God gave us what He did so that He can use us as He chooses. Tell me, why do you think that when believers got more riches, they became more stingy? When the nation was poor, and Christians were really struggling –they were marked by a profound generosity for each other and for God’s work. No one can deny it – there has never been a time when more wealth was in the hands of those who name Jesus as their Savior – and yet works are struggling all over. What has happened? Many have forgotten the SHEER JOY of giving sacrificially. We give out of the spare – and want to be blessed in abundance. God isn’t cheap, and we must measure whether we are truly extravagant in our generosity as He is – or not.

Here is the principle behind that rule of surrender: Stubborn resistance comes from belief in the lie that I own what I possess. Once I understand that I don’t have ANYTHING but what God provides me daily – health, breath, emotional stability, material wealth, spiritual strength – my life becomes properly focused on serving God’s ends.

Beloved, a great many of us suffer from the addiction to the things of this world. We don’t want Heaven as much as we once did, because we are so busy developing every comfort in this life. We have been exhausted into swallowing the lie that our “stuff” truly matters. In fact, we are a people, standing on the edge of a brand new day of renewal:

Imagine a city under siege. The enemy that surrounds the city will not let anyone or anything leave. Supplies are running low, and the citizens are fearful. But in the dark of the night, a spy sneaks through the enemy lines. He has rushed to the city to tell the people that in another place the main enemy force has been defeated; the leaders have already surrendered. The people do not need to be afraid. It is only a matter of time until the besieging troops receive the news and lay down their weapons. Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency, pp. 149-150.

That was Calvary! Jesus has come. The power of death is broken – and the power of the material world has been forever subjected to the immaterial one. My place in Heaven is under the careful construction of the skilled hands of my Savior. Each piece is being lovingly assembled with His gentle precision. He left to prepare a place for me, and nothing I can build can compare to it! I don’t own anything… I use it. It is all His. When I really live that truth – I will be free to discover the JOY of giving as He intended.

Fifth, real surrender brings a new fulfillment.

People are energized by obedience and engage life with a new joy when we work in the area of our gifts and talents – and dedicate that work to God’s higher purpose. Exodus 35:25 All the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue and purple and scarlet material and in fine linen. 26 All the women whose heart stirred with a skill spun the goats’ hair.

The best worship isn’t singing or praying – it is working. True worship is when I exhaust myself before the Lord using His loaned abilities to the fullest extent that I am capable of using them…

William Temple made this clear long ago: For worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose — and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self centered nature which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991, p. 119.)

The underlying principle for this rule is this truth: God delights to use those who prepare their skills and discipline their life to consciously serve Him. When you ask young people today: “What is your plan for your work life?” The natural answer is one about education and preparation to make a good salary, or gain a good position. Even Christians rather unabashedly share that better salary or personal happiness are their chief reasons for their life choices. Is is wrong for me to desire to hear the answer that God stoops downward to hear? Oh that once, someone would truly say  “I am getting this education because I have been called by God to follow Him. This will put me in a position to be used of God in this field – and there is much ministry to be done there.”

Divorcing work and worship is a mistake. Every aspect of life that can be deliberately planned and prepared can be an act of worship – because worship is not just about what I am doing, but HOW I do it and WHY I do it.

When a mother prayerfully and carefully prepares meals for her children that are nutritious, balanced, and made in a cost effective way – she performs an act of conscious worship – if it is done deliberately to fulfill her God-given role with a careful knowledge of God’s inspection. When she cleans a house, conscious of Jesus’ presence in that home, and with the desire to delight Him with her diligence – that act becomes an act of worship. It isn’t simply the JOB – but the attentiveness to God’s presence and delight in how we do it. Any planned task can be done for God – or forgetting Him. Compartmentalization KILLS our faith. It distances God from our daily life. Try this week to recognize God is near – and He cares about the little things. Sense His presence in your choices and plans. Walk each step as though they matter to Him. Such care will keep your feet on the right path, and your perspective spiritually tuned.

Sixth, real surrender is different for different people.

God made it clear that He entrusted some with more than others – but they were to surrender what they had to the work. Exodus 35:27 The rulers brought the onyx stones and the stones for setting for the ephod and for the breast piece; 28 and the spice and the oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense.

Not everyone had the more expensive stones in their possession. We are all created equal in value, but very unequal in ability and opportunity. God called on leaders – on rulers – to get the more precious gems needed for the ephod. That breast plate was to be used to discern God’s intent and direction. God used them to carry His oil, and His spices. They were the privileged – not because they HAD MORE for themselves – but because they HAD MORE to be “at the ready” of God’s call.

The underlying principle for this rule is simply this: God plants things in my life to allow me the opportunity to CHOOSE to USE them for His glory. That is why the Christian life must be increasingly a prayer oriented life. Maybe I can connect these two ideas in this statement:

Prayer is surrender-surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boat hook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.” E. Stanley Jones, in Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, K Hughes, Tyndale, 1988, p. 73

When God gives me things, He hides them away in my house to be used when He calls for them. As I walk prayerfully, I will be sensitive to His call for His things, entrusted to me. Even more, I will be ready to easily give them over to Him when He asks – because I kept myself aware they were never really MINE.

Finally, real surrender has to be administrated.

God’s work had leaders and organization – it wasn’t a free for all and it wasn’t a guessing game. The supervising leaders were announced, recognized and followed. Exodus 35:30 Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 31 “And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; 32 to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, 33 and in the cutting of stones for settings and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. 34 “He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. 35 “He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.

This rule has an underlying principle: God is a God of order. He coordinates and plans. He is not haphazard. He is a designer and a planner. Too many believers have come to equate “Spirit led” with NO PLAN. That isn’t God’s way. He is able to lead in the plan – and sometimes He moves away from the plan, just to keep us trusting HIM and NOT THE PLAN.

There is a very specific pattern to surrender, and God helps us move from our old life to our new with some necessary instruction.

Glenn Newton pointed out an important truth in a message he wrote. In it he asked: “Does anyone know what that piece in the middle of the washer is called?” The part in the middle that moves back and forth and shakes the clothes back and forth? What is that called? I’m going to call it an Agitator…. What is the purpose of the AGITATOR? As far as I can tell, it sole purpose is to cause havoc for the dirty clothes… it’s there to shake and separate the clothes from all the dirt and grime that may be in or on the clothes, right? As soon as we are saved, the Holy Spirit moves into our hearts, but He doesn’t have our heart to himself… there’s still a lot of things in there… the main one being our own selfish desires…even though we have been saved from our past sins, there still remains some things of the world that we are still fond of… these things of the world have a way of attaching themselves to us like dirt on clothes… they can stain us, they seemingly won’t come out…” How does He get them to “shake off”? He agitates. Some may be feeling it RIGHT NOW.