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Moses! Moses!

The Gospel According to Exodus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  52:07
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Just another day tending the flock; just another day in a long line of days—years, actually. Nearly 40 years. Moses, after all this time, after all these years is still tending the flock of his father-in-law.
Moses has worked for Jethro (aka, Reuel re: 2:18) for many, many years. Moses is glad to work for him; he got a wife of the deal—Zipporah. Moses and Zipporah eventually had a son—Gershom—and then another—Eliezer. It’s not a bad life for Moses, living in Midian, working as a shepherd, tending his flock and his family.
One particular day, Moses led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
What Moses encounters at Horeb, WHO Moses encounters at Horeb changes the course of his life and the course of human history.
—>If you have your Bible (and I hope you do) please turn with me to Exodus chapter 3. If you are able and willing, please stand for the reading of God’s Holy Word. --
Exodus 3:1–10 NIV
1 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 wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 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. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” 4 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.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
Exodus 3:1–10 NIV
1 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 wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 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. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” 4 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.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
Exodus 3
May God add His blessing to the reading of His Holy Word!
----------------
Just another day tending the flock of his father-in-law turned into a day unlike any before it; Moses has an encounter with the Almighty.
“Honey, I’m home!”
“How was your day, Moses-dear?”
“You’ll never believe what I saw today...”
I’m sure Moses himself had a hard time getting his head around it.
Moses was just a shepherd, doing what shepherds do: moving their flock from place to place in search of water and food. In pursuit of this, Moses came to Horeb—he traveled a long way from Midian and found himself at the base of a mountain, the mountain of God as it’s known.
Horeb is also known as Sinai. This is the mountain where God does some pretty spectacular stuff (as we’ll see throughout Exodus).
God drew Moses to this place in order to reveal Himself to him.
At this mountain, the text tells us that the angel of the Lord appeared to [Moses] in flames of fire from within a bush.
Exodus 3:2 NIV
2 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.
Now this angel is not what we might have sitting on our bookshelves or around the house. I’m not sure the popular conception of angels is altogether Biblical; this—the angel of the Lord that appeared to Moses—was not a fluffy little, fat baby angel (a la Cupid) dressed in a golden diaper.
The angel of the Lord is the translation of two Hebrew words “malak” meaning messenger and “Yahweh” which is the personal name of God.
The angel of the Lord is no mere angel. This—the angel of the Lord—is said to be in flames of fire from within a bush (v. 2). In verse 4, the angel of the Lord is called both Yahweh (LORD) and God.
On several occasions in the Bible, an angel—the angel of the Lord—does and says things that only God does and says. This is the Lord’s indirect presence and representation.
The angel of the Lord is not all there was to God, but was a true and real representation of Him.
Illus: Meghann’s brother and his family live in Canada, all the way in Edmonton, Alberta. This is way too far away, and it’s far too expensive for them to travel to us or vice versa. So we Skype. Coraline and Amelie love Skype. Meghann and I gather in front of our laptop, place a video call to the Canadians, and visit with our nieces (and Matt and Becca), but it’s mainly for the nieces.
On a handful of occasions, Amelie or Coraline will say, “Uncle Brown Bear (that’s me, by the way), Uncle Brown Bear, come see my room,” or “Aunt Meghann, will you read me a book?”
They’re not asking for us to drop what we’re doing, head to Kansas City, hop on an airplane, and fly to them. They expect that their mom will carry the laptop (which is, to them, the same as Uncle Brown Bear or Aunt Meghann) into their bedroom or up on the couch with them so we can be part of whatever it is they want us to do.
Skype (or Facetime for all you Apple folk out there) brings a valuable sense of a person’s presence into the room; it’s almost like Meghann and I are in Canada, though it’s just a representation of us on a screen and through some speakers. They can see us (sort of) and hear us, almost like we’re there, though we’re not actually fully present.
The angel of the Lord is not all there was to God, but was a true and real representation of Him.
This is what fancy people call a theophany—an appearance of the invisible God.
—>What catches the attention of Moses this bush that’s on fire but doesn’t burn up.
So Moses (as he’s writing this down for us) tells us he thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
This sounds a little like he saw one of those billboards on I-70 while driving across Kansas, advertising “World’s Largest Prairie Dog”.
“Let’s go over and see this strange sight.”
Of course, what Moses saw that otherwise ordinary day next to the mountain of God was far and away more incredible than what we can imagine.
This is the first, but not the last appearance fire makes in the story.
Later, fire leads God’s people; there’s fire at Mt. Sinai. Later in the history of God’s people, there’s fire in the tabernacle and fire on the Day of Pentecost.
It is written: our God is a consuming fire.
Deuteronomy 4:24 NIV
24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
The burning bush Moses saw was not consumed by this fire. It wouldn’t have been anything to write home about if it was just another bush burning in the desert.
Here’s a bush, on fire, but not consumed.
Moses takes the bait. And when the Lord Yahweh saw that Moses had pulled off the interstate to look at this incredible sight, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
God calls him by name. “Moses! Moses!”
This is significant. Tony Merida: “Everyone who has been called to salvation has experienced God’s personal summons."

All who are saved have been called by Him.

In fact, no one comes to the Father unless He calls them.
One of the very best parts of my job is the opportunity I have to visit with people whom the Lord has called to Himself, to hear each individual story. To speak with Garren, Briley, Jena, and Andrew over the last couple of months…there’s nothing better than hearing how and when the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses called them and saved them and drew them to Himself.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is, because of His effectual calling, the God of Garren, Briley, Jena, and Andrew.
Peter—one who had been called as one of Jesus’ earliest followers—writes that God called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9 NIV
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
“Moses! Moses!” called the burning bush.
“Here I am,” said Moses.
“Do not come any closer.”
God called for Moses and then made it clear to Moses that there was a gap between Him in His holiness and Moses in his sinfulness.
There’s an unbelievable gap between the Holy God and sinful man.
Listen to A. W. Tozer: “I tell you this: I want God to be what God is: the impeccably holy, unapproachable Holy Thing, the All-Holy One. I want Him to be and remain THE HOLY. I want His heaven to be holy and His throne to be holy. I don’t want Him to change or modify His requirements. Even if it shuts me out, I want something holy left in the universe.”
Moses couldn’t just saunter-up to the Almighty Maker, the Impeccably Holy God.
And neither can we. We must learn what Moses’ learned on that un-ordinary day:

God is superior, other, separate.

The God who is holy, holy, holy orders Moses: “Take off your sandals.”
In my house, we are “shoes-off” people. Even if someone tells us, “Oh, you don’t have to take your shoes off,” I can’t make myself walk into someone’s house with my shoes on.
One of my friends has a sign posted: “Unless you’re God or George Strait, take off your boots.”
Taking off shoes is a sign of respect, of deference to the other. In the ANE, taking off shoes was done when entering the presence of a superior person; when one was at the superior person’s house, palace, or tent, they’d take off their shoes.
Now, I don’t think George Strait is a superior being; but I’m certain that God deserves our respect, our reverence, our symbolic shoe-removal.
I know a preacher who preaches barefoot each Sunday. No one wants to see my hairy hobbit feet; I won’t preach barefoot. I have friends who take off their shoes anytime they gather for worship.
I don’t think we need to apply this literally, but we do need to get the point.
“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
Horeb/Sinai is Yahweh’s place. That means the very ground is holy—something said of no other location in the Bible.
So maybe if you travel to the mountain of God you can think seriously about taking off your shoes. Otherwise, simply understand and acknowledge the point:

The LORD is Holy and you are not.

The Lord is simply other. You cannot approach Him on your own. It’s only through Jesus that we draw near.
You cannot approach Him on your own. It’s only through Jesus that we draw near.
Hebrews 10:19–22 NIV
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
—>The God of the burning bush is not some unknown deity. He introduces Himself:
Exodus 3:6 NIV
6 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.
exodus
The Lord of all creation exchanges names with Moses. “Moses! Moses!” “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”
Moses, in the presence of the Holy One, hides his face out of fear and reverence. “Good idea, Mose.”
As God continues to speak, little does Moses know that he’s going to play a significant role in God’s plan for His people.
—>
The Lord has seen the misery of [His] people. He has heard them crying out because of their slave drivers. And He is concerned about their suffering.
The Lord—the One and Only—has come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and bring them into a good and spacious land, flowing with milk and honey.

God sees. He hears. He is concerned. He has come down to rescue. And He will bring His people home.

Doesn’t that sound like Gospel-sized Good News? Our God is not different from OT to NT. He is the same. He changest not.
There’s no magic formula, no special prayer you have to pray. It’s about crying out over the misery of your sin and begging Jesus for mercy. God saves us from something (slavery) for something (worship).
This is God’s great purpose of redemption—now and then.
—>After revealing His great purpose of redemption, God tags Moses, saying, “You’re it.”
Exodus 3:10 NIV
10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
I am sending you.
God is a sending God.
Joseph was sent to save lives in a famine.
Here Moses was sent to deliver people from slavery and oppression.
Elijah was sent to influence the course of international politics.
Jeremiah was sent to proclaim God’s word.
Jesus said that He was sent to proclaim good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Luke 4:18–19 NIV
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The disciples were sent to evangelize and plant churches.
Jesus sent the Church to make disciples from every nation.
Paul was sent to tell the Gentiles about Jesus.
Titus was sent to put a messed-up church in order.
God is a sending God.
—>If you’re worried about where the sermon is headed now, I’m with you. I always tensed-up a little when my pastors got to this point. When chapel speakers and conference preachers got to this point in their sermons on Moses, I wanted to slip out the back because I knew what was coming.
I was going to have to face the call of God on my life again. And I was reluctant. What God calls us to isn’t always easy. We won’t be comfortable. We will have our share of excuses.
When I tell people that God is calling them to something, I’ve started to feel like what you parents must feel like. I feel like I’ve heard every excuse and justification in the book:
“Why did you hit your sister?
“She hit me first...”
“Why are you home late?”
“My cell phone set itself to Mountain Time; there wasn’t a working clock anywhere.”
You know what I’m talking about. You know all the good excuses because you made up said excuses 20 years ago.
I tell people: “God called you to Himself and now He’s calling you to do something.”
I hear all the same excuses: “I’m not comfortable doing that…I can’t remember what to say…I’m not good enough…I’m too busy…isn’t that the pastor’s job...Who am I?”
I’ve used all those excuses—though the one about it being the pastor’s job doesn’t get me out of anything anymore.
But, man, have I worked hard over the years to skirt around God’s call on my life to preach and make disciples for Him.
I knew when I was a junior in High School that I was supposed to preach. But I wasn’t about to admit it!
“I’m just an ill-behaved, smart-mouthed kid with a speech impediment (I was Bawwett Case until I was almost 12 years old). Who’s going to listen to me, anyway? I’m just a kid from a small, backwater town in southwestern Kansas. I won’t be any good to God; I’ve messed-up too much. I’m not the kind of person God would use—He wants someone better, someone smarter, someone with a full head of hair, someone more like him, someone more like her.”
I know all the excuses; some of the excuses I hear I’m pretty sure I made up. I’ve used them all. So did Moses. We’ll look at all of his excuses next week. But they’re just like ours: really poor excuses that God has covered to begin with.
When Moses asks:
Exodus 3:1–12 NIV
1 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 wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 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. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” 4 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.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 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.”
Exodus 3:11–12 NIV
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 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.”
Our God is a sending God. He raises up Moses—a deliverer—to rescue His people and is going to send Him to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. And, get this: God promises to be with Moses all the way.

Our God is sending God.

For us, the hard work has been done. God’s not calling us to save anybody. Jesus has already done the heavy lifting, bearing our sins, absorbing the wrath of God, dying our death.
Jesus has successfully vanquished our foe; He has taken care of sin and death once and for all. The hard work has been done; as someone said a few thousand years ago: It is finished!
God—the sending God—is calling us to be His witnesses. He is, as our Master, ordering us to go and make disciples of all nations.
God is calling you.
Now, the Lord probably won’t call to you audibly, “Larry! Larry!” or “Tishy! Tishy!”
And you can just go ahead and rule out the possibility of the Lord calling to you from a burning bush (or anything of the sort).
But, make no mistake: the Lord is calling to you.
Jesus loves me
He’s calling you, first and foremost, into a relationship with Him.
And He’s calling you to a specific task.
And if that scares you, frightens you, worries you, alarms you—remember: the Lord is with you.
And if that scares you, frightens you, worries you, alarms you—remember: the Lord is with you.
He is with you—never to leave you or forsake you.
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