We’ve been getting to know a series of people from the Old Testament better. These people among our cloud of witnesses have been teaching us many things.
From Noah we learned how we can make a difference.
From Esther we learned no place is out of place when you’re in God’s place.
From Joseph we learned to never give up on the dreams that God has given us.
This week we’re going to be looking at the person of Moses.
What do we know about Moses? (Ask)
Hebrew - born to Hebrew parents
Younger brother of Aaron.
Taken into Pharaoh’s home
His mother becomes his nursemaid
He killed an Egyptian
Fled into the wilderness - became a shepherd
Conversations with God
On Mount Sinai
Conversations with Pharaoh
Let my people go
He led the Israelites out of Egypt.
Never himself entered the promised land.
Moses’ life can be divided into 3 neat 40 year spans.
His first 40 years were in Egypt.
Then 40 years as a shepherd in Midian
Then 40 years leading the Israelites in the Wilderness.
When Moses approaches the burning bush, God lets him know of his presence. Moses is asked to remove his sandals for he is on holy ground.
God tells Moses, (3:10) “Come I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Moses questions the Call:
This to me is sort of equivalent to saying, “Why me?” Isn’t it interesting that God doesn’t answer his question directly. God simply says, ”I will be with you.”
It’s not that God is choosing Moses because of Moses’ powers. Moses’ strength comes through God not of himself.
In the Bible when it says God is with someone, it is stressing God’s power enables the person to carry out the calling.
And whom shall I say is sending me?
Moses does not say he is the one who needs to know this, but he is aware that the people are going to wonder why he should think he has been sent.
God answers, “I AM WHO I AM”. This is perhaps one of the most powerful names of God throughout Scripture. Notice it is in the present tense - never past - never future. I am present, here, now, always.
God gives Moses three different signs to prove who it is that is sending him.
He’s told to throw his staff on the ground it becomes a snake, he grabs it and it becomes a staff again.
He’s told to put his hand in his cloak and take it out, when he does it’s leprous. When he repeats this, he’s healed.
He’s told to take water from the Nile and pour it out on the dry ground. It becomes blood on the ground.
I noticed that Moses’ initial question seems to be about whether the people of Israel will believe him and the Lord shifts it to the include both the Israelites and the Egyptians.
I love God’s answer here. It reminds me of a kind old man I stood next to years ago in church. I think I was in High School. We were standing for one of the hymns and like the typical HS students I wasn’t singing or if I was it wasn’t very loud. This gentleman turns to me and says, “You’re not singing?”
“I don’t have a very good voice,” I said.
“Who made your voice?” he asked.
“Exactly, and He wants to hear it. I don’t care what it sounds like.”
That was a very freeing statement for me, and I’ve sung out in church ever since.
God’s answer to Moses is, “Who made your mouth.”
This is perhaps my favorite of Moses’ excuses. Because it totally demonstrates his fear. All of Moses’ questions have been answered. This is God - the one and only, God is with him, God has given him tools in the form of various signs to shows that God is with him, God knows Moses’ better than he knows himself - he made him!
This is where God does not back down in fact it says in vs. 14 that the Lord’s anger was kindled against Moses,” and yet God is also incredibly merciful. Okay, Aaron will go with you; you will speak to Aaron, he will speak to the people for you. You’re not off the hook, but I’ll let Aaron be your voice piece.
If we follow Moses’ life we can see this constant tension between living in faith or living in fear. Faith calls us to step out into the unknown, fear keeps us in what we know and what is comfortable. Fatih will always stretch us, fear will cause our faith to atrophy and perhaps even die.
So what would Moses have to say to us as we run our lap - continuing with our cloud of witnesses motif?
It’s not natural to step out in faith
Think of all the times you’ve stepped out in faith trusting God in the past. For Moses it wasn’t comfortable for him to leave Egypt, it was all he’d known. But had he not left he would never have experienced the burning bush. It wasn’t natural for him to leave his life as a shepherd of sheep, but if he hadn’t he never would have experienced the parting of the Red Sea! Nor talked to God face-to-face.
Just because you don’t want to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
Growth begins when we step out in faith
As a pastor people often tell me they want to grow. Yet often when it comes to stepping out in faith they refuse. It’s easy to get comfortable and feel safe with where your present situation. God calls us to grow.
As we step out in faith, it’s a lot like exercising our muscles. When we exercise we actually “tear” muscles at the microscopic level. Thats part of what causes the soreness we feel. But our bodies being fearfully and wonderfully made, heal, reinforce, and build to be able to do more the next time. That’s why our muscles grow, and our faith is much the same way. As we step out in faith, as we take risks, trusting God, we grow in our faith so that we can trust God again with something bigger.
Not stepping out in faith robs you of the greatest of adventures
God wants us to experience life to the full. That’s why he sent Jesus, “I have come that you might have life abundant.” Life is about growing, not wasting away. Life is about moving, not staying in one spot. Some people are so afraid of taking any risk they will spend all of their time in Egypt. For the Israelites, this was the land of “not enough”. Eventually they would have died.
Others have just enough gumption to get out and move just a little, but not too much. They are like the Israelites who followed Moses to the desert or the land of “just enough.”
God doesn’t want you living in the land of “not enough”, nor “just enough,” God wants to lead you to the land of “more than enough”, the promised land.
Twenty years from now you will be more saddened by the risks you didn’t take than by the one’s you did. Defeat tomorrow’s sadness by stepping out in faith today.
God’s call is to one that we are not the instigators, but God is. It requires trust and it requires stepping out in faith.
We often ask the “What if” of the future - God’s promise to us is “I AM”.
We seldom look back and ask the “What if” of the past - that has brought us here. Because we know that God has been faithful in the past, we can be bold and step out in faith in the present and continue to trust in the future. That’s Moses’ message to us.