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Exodus 3:11-15; The Great I AM

 

  http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100627_exodus03_11-15.mp3

6/27 Exodus 3:11-15 The Great I AM

3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” 13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”’ 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘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, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

Moses was minding his own business, tending his father-in-law’s flocks when God interrupted, took the initiative and revealed himself to Moses. He got Moses’ attention by his mercy – a bush on fire but not consumed, and he declared his holiness to Moses – where I am is holy, you may not approach any further. Take off your sandals and take the place of a servant.

Now that God has Moses’ attention and has established how he is to be approached, the LORD communicates his compassion for his people with Moses. He tells him:

7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey

God has surely seen. He has heard; he knows; he has come down to deliver and to bring them up to bless them. This is a God of compassion. This is a God who cares deeply about his people. This is a God who is about to take action. He says “I have come down to deliver them… and to bring them up”. And then he says to Moses:

10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

God claims that he has come down to do the delivering, and then he says that he is sending Moses to bring his people out of Egypt. Is this a contradiction? Who’s doing the delivering, God or Moses? This is only a contradiction if we fail to recognize that God often accomplishes his purposes through means. God works through people. Paul says:

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Colossians 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Moses’ response to God’s call demonstrated appropriate humility.

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

God’s answer was:

12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Moses, it’s not who you are, but who is with you. If I will be with you, you have nothing to fear, not because of who you are, but because of who I am. God gives Moses a sign. This is a different kind of sign than we might expect. Gideon put out a fleece to see if it was really God before he was willing to obey. This is a different kind of sign – a fulfillment sign that will only come to pass after Moses’ obedience. God is predicting a seemingly impossible future event, so that when it happens just as he promised, it will demonstrate his power over all circumstances, and be a milestone of God’s faithfulness to look back on for the rest of the journey.

In this sign, God reveals the purpose of the Exodus. The purpose is worship. A major aim of the Exodus is the conversion of the people back to the one true God. As we will see in the coming narrative, the people are quick to turn to the gods of Egypt or the gods of the people around them. Apparently, the understanding of who God is had degenerated over the 400 years of bondage in Egypt. The name of YHWH is found on the lips of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but is absent from the record of the sons of Jacob. Moses is sent not only to deliver the people from physical bondage as slaves in Egypt, but to deliver them from the bondage of serving false gods to the freedom of serving the one true God. The sign God gives Moses is not only a successful escape from Egypt, but an escape to the one true God.

12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

God has made a promise to Moses to boost his confidence. Look at Moses’ response:

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

Moses was self-effacing. He asks ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” But his humility was entirely self focused. He says “Who am I that I should go? If I come… and say… God… sent me… and they ask me … what shall I say?” Who am I, I, I, me, me, I. Moses had his eyes fixed on himself and his circumstances and his shortcomings and inadequacies and fears and past failures. Moses’ humility is the wrong kind of humility because his focus is all in the wrong place. It’s a false humility because he is still at the center of it. Humility that is all about me is really a twisted form of self-deprecating pride. I want all the attention to go to me and how amazingly humble and wretched I am because I don’t think I’m good enough to do the thing God is asking me to do. By placing the focus all on me, I am detracting from the glory of God.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less” – C.S. Lewis

Moses is slowly starting to get it. Moses asks ‘who am I?’ and God answers ‘But I will be with you’. Moses is beginning to see that it’s not all about him. If it’s not Moses’ credentials that matter, then what are God’s credentials? Moses is beginning to understand that it’s all about God. So his question moves from ‘who am I?’ to ‘who are you?’ Let’s look at God’s answer:

14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”’ 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘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, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

God here draws Moses’ attention away from himself and on to the one who really matters. God says ‘It’s not who you are, Moses, but I will be with you. I AM! I AM WHO I AM”; Moses, tell them I AM has sent you. I AM WHO I AM. I will be who I will be. I cause to be because I cause to be. I am the self-existent one. I am the uncreated creator of all that is. I exist in and of myself. I am self-defining. I am the ground of existence. Our being is derived and dependent. God’s being is un-derived and independent. Genesis begins “in the beginning God” – in the beginning God already was.

Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

God always was; we became. Our existence is finite and derived.

Psalms 103:15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

Psalms 144:3 O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? 4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.

Acts 17:28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

Apart from him we are nothing. We exist ultimately because he wills that we exist. He causes us to exist.

Psalms 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

There was never a time before God existed. God is the uncaused cause of all that is. God tells Moses:

This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

YHWH, the God of your fathers, the God Abraham, The God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. A God linked with history and promises. YHWH – a name derived from the verb ‘to be’. God is the one who is. He is the one who has made promises to his people. He is the active one.

This is how Jesus is described in the New Testament:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Jesus was in the beginning. Jesus has life in himself. The life or Jesus is intrinsic, not derived. Jesus is:

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Jesus is the creator and sustainer of all things.

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.

King Jesus is the origin of all things both spiritual and material. Jesus is the uncaused cause of all things. He is also the goal of all things – all things were created for him.

Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Jesus claims to be the Almighty. He claims to always exist. He is the A to Z, the first and the last, the start and the finish.

Revelation 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

God revealed his identity to Moses as I AM WHO I AM. Let’s look at some of the I AM statements of Jesus. Jesus explicitly claimed to be the I AM WHO I AM from the burning bush.

John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am (he) you will die in your sins.”

Here, Jesus ties belief in his identity as the I AM with salvation from sin. We must believe that Jesus is the I AM or we will die in our sins. The knowledge of Jesus as the I AM comes from the cross.

John 8:28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am (he), and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

Jesus pointed to his identity as the I AM of the Old Testament:

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

And the Jews made sure we didn’t miss his point. They were going to stone him for blasphemy because he claimed to be God. Jesus claimed this in his prayer to the Father in John 17:

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

At his arrest, the power of the great I AM was unleashed for a moment:

John 18:6 When Jesus said to them, “I am (he),” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Jesus made many other I AM statements. Listen to what he claimed:

John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

John 13:13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Jesus is the great I AM, the self-defining, self-existent, omnipotent, uncreated creator and sustainer of all that is, he is the active one who has being in himself.

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”’ 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘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, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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June 27, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 3:10-12; It’s Not About You!

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100620_exodus03_10-12.mp3

6/20 Exodus 3:10-12 It’s Not About You!

We’ve been following Moses in the early chapters of Exodus. Today we’re in Exodus chapter 3, and we’ll be looking at verses 10-12, the commissioning of Moses.

Moses, rescued from the death sentence of the Pharaoh by the Pharaoh’s own daughter, cared for in his earliest years by his own Hebrew mother, then raised in the courts of Pharaoh. But at age 40 he considers himself a Hebrew, and knows God is sending him to rescue his people from cruel oppression, so he takes action to defend the helpless. He came to his own people, but his own people did not receive him, so he spends the next 40 years of his life an exile, takes a gentile bride, and tends another man’s sheep in the desert. Moses, now 80 years old, out on the back side of the desert, sees a strange sight.

3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses is confronted with the holiness of God. God calls to him ‘Moses, Moses’ indicating that God is intimately acquainted with him and cares for him. But when Moses approaches, he is ordered to come no closer, because God is holy and cannot be approached by sinful man. Moses must remove his sandals and take the place of a servant in the presence of this holy God. God initiates the relationship and establishes the ground rules as to how he is to be approached. Then he introduces himself as the God of Moses’ father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This is the same God that had called the idolatrous Abram to leave home and family and follow this one true God, and God had promised to bless him and multiply him and make him great, and through him to bless all the nations of the world. God had confirmed these promises to the miracle child Isaac, and then to the wily manipulator Jacob. This is the God that Moses father had taught him about when he was just a babe. This is the one true God, and Moses is rightfully terrified in his presence and hides his face.

Now that God has Moses’ attention and Moses knows who he’s dealing with, God communicates his message to Moses.

7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.

God cares about the plight of his people. Although God has been seemingly absent for 400 years, God has been paying attention all along. I have surely seen… I have heard… I know. I have come down. I have come down to deliver. I have come down to deliver my people and to bring them up, to bless them beyond their wildest imaginations. God understands affliction, suffering, cries for help, oppression. God is not coldly distant when his people suffer. He cares. He experiences suffering with his people.

Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. Jesus is with us in our pain, in our sufferings, in our sorrows.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

The Psalms give us insight into the heart of Jesus

Psalms 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 22:2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. 12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet– 17 I can count all my bones– they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. 19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! 22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

Our God is a God of comfort.

Jeremiah 31:13 … I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

God has surely seen, he has heard, he knows. God identifies with us in our affliction. God himself has come down, personally, to deliver.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. :2 He was in the beginning with God. …14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So God communicates his heart for his people to Moses.

7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.

I wonder if Moses was bitter. He had it made. He was raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter. All the wealth of Egypt was at his fingertips. Power, prestige, position, he had it all. When he stood up to save the Hebrew slave from the hand of the cruel taskmaster, he had nothing to gain and everything to lose, but it was the right thing to do. He stepped out in faith, according to Acts 7, trusting that the people would understand that God was giving them deliverance through his hand. But instead they treated him with scorn and contempt. He had nothing to gain and everything to lose, and he indeed lost everything and gained nothing. Now he’s 80 years old, he has been exiled in the wilderness for the last 40 years, he has no possession of his own, no purpose, no hope, no future. He’s out tending another man’s sheep on the back side of the desert, and God shows up to tell him to take off his shoes; to tell him that he’s seen, he’s heard, he knows, and he has come down to deliver.

I could imagine Moses thinking ‘Why are you telling me this? God, with all due respect, don’t you know that Egypt is that way? If you’ve come down to deliver your people, you’ve come down in the wrong place. This is the middle of the desert and your people don’t like me. I don’t belong – anywhere. If you’re so concerned about the suffering of your people, then why didn’t things go differently 40 years ago when I stood up for my people? That’s really great if you care about your people and you’re going to rescue them now. I’ll just stay out here in the desert with these sheep.

But God makes it very clear what he expects of Moses:

10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Moses, I am sending you. I have come down to deliver and bring up my people. The reason I came to you Moses, is that I’ve been preparing you for the last 80 years to be my chosen instrument to deliver my people. I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.

Now Moses asks a very good question.

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Let’s put ourselves in Moses’ shoes for a minute. Moses was 40 years old before he had the courage to do anything for God. It was 40 years before he stepped out in great personal risk for the sake of what is right. I wonder how long it had bothered him before he took action. I wonder if there was a nagging at his conscience that what was happening to his people was wrong and by his inaction, he was a part of the problem. Then, when Moses finally works up the courage to act, he is totally misunderstood. Rather than being the celebrated rescuer, he ends up rejected, in the wilderness with a nomadic people herding sheep. He was a complete failure.

So Moses asks God ‘who am I?’ This is a humble question from a broken man. What qualifications do I have? What abilities or skills do I have to offer? What position do I hold? What influence do I have? What experience or know-how do I possess? What’s my reputation? What can I contribute to your great plan? What can I do? What makes me special? Why me? Who am I? Who am I that I should go?

Moses’ question is humble, but the emphasis is all in the wrong place. Moses is looking at himself and in humility asking ‘what can I possibly do for you? But as C.S. Lewis put it:

Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less” – C.S. Lewis

Moses was consumed with who he was. God redirected his attention to get his eyes off himself.

12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

Moses question: Who am I?; God’s answer: But I will be with you. Moses, it does not matter who you are. Who you are is not the point. Who you are is irrelevant. Moses! Get your eyes off yourself! It is not who you are, but who I am that matters! Stop being consumed by your own inadequacies. Who I am is the only thing in the universe that really matters. Who I am and how I relate to you is the one thing you need to pay attention to. Moses came to understand this later in his journey. Moses asks who will go with him:

Exodus 33:12 Moses said to the LORD, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’…14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”

Moses got it. It is the presence of God that makes all the difference. That God is with you is the only thing that matters.

Psalms 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalms 21:6 For you make him most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence.

Psalms 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The removal of the favor of God’s presence is the definition of hell.

2 Thessalonians 1: 7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

God was promising Moses the one thing that really matters. The one thing that brings joy. The one thing that promises success. The one thing that truly satisfies. I will be with you. That is enough. God told Moses ‘I have come down. I will bring them up. I will be with you.’ Precious promises! Immanuel – God with us – Jesus!

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let’s take our eyes off ourselves and fix our eyes on Jesus. If God is with us, if God is for us – and God has demonstrated at the cross that he is decisively for us – then we can do anything that he calls us to do. Jesus taught us

Matthew 17:20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

If we are looking away from ourselves and looking to God, trusting in God, depending on God, then nothing is impossible. God told an improbable man to do the impossible. God promised to be with him. And through this unlikely instrument, God did the impossible!

June 20, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 3:6-9; God Come Down

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100613_exodus03_7-9.mp3

6/13 Exodus 3:7-9 God Come Down

2:23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel––and God knew.

3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

God’s people have been in Egypt over 400 years. They are slaves, cruelly oppressed. God has been blessing them and multiplying them and making them powerful in fulfillment of his promises, but Egypt sees this as a threat and so they have taken measures to control and restrict the population growth, even going so far as state mandated execution of all male babies born. But in preparation to answer prayers that the people would pray 80 years later, God providentially preserved one baby boy named Moses. Moses was raised in the courts of Pharaoh, but when he was 40 years old, he understood that God was sending him to save the Hebrew people. He took action to deliver them, but he was rejected by his own people and went into exile in the desert. Moses spent the next 40 years in the wilderness caring for another man’s flocks. He married the daughter of an idolatrous Midianite priest and has begun a small family. There is no suggestion in the text that he had any goals or aspirations other than continuing to lead sheep around the desert. It appears that he had lost all hope, lost purpose, lost direction, and he may have even lost his faith in God. He was certainly not looking for an encounter with God. But that’s when God showed up and got his attention. God captured his attention by showing up as a flame of fire in the midst of a desert bush when he was far away from home.
God introduced himself to Moses. He called Moses by name – twice – as an indication that he cares deeply and is intimately acquainted with him. He appeared as a consuming fire, and yet as merciful, not consuming the bush. He presented himself as holy, unapproachable by sinful man. Moses is instructed to remove his sandals, humbling himself and taking the place of a servant, because that is our place in the presence of God. And God connected himself with history – he is Moses’ father’s God. He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is the same God that called Abram from out of his pagan idolatrous culture and initiated a relationship with him. This is the same God who made staggering promises to Abraham and entered into a covenant relationship with him and with his descendants, with Isaac, with Jacob and all who would follow in their footsteps.

Moses’ response to this revelation was appropriate. He was afraid and hid his face. Throughout the bible, whenever God’s people have an encounter with the Divine, they are terrified, on their faces, crying out ‘woe is me’. God is holy and he is to be feared. Even the seraphim around the throne of God cover their faces in the presence of God (Is.6:2). And yet to see the glory of God is the one thing that the human heart longs for more deeply than anything else. All other pleasures are but cheap imitations of the One we were designed to delight in.

Once God has captured Moses’ attention and revealed to him his character and how he is to be approached, God now is ready to bring his message to his servant.

7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Much of this is repetition of what we saw in the narrative of 2:23-35 in God’s response to the cries of his people.

2:23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel–and God knew.

We, the hearers of the story know God’s heart for his people, but Moses, who’s been out tending sheep on the backside of the desert has not heard what we have heard. He does not know what we know. He doesn’t know that the king of Egypt had died, and he doesn’t know that God was moved to compassion by the cries of his people So God now communicates to Moses his heart for his people.

Back in 2:23-25, the four words used to describe God’s response to the people’s cries are: God heard, God remembered, God saw and God knew. Those verses give us a third person narrator’s perspective, describing God’s attitude toward his people. Here God is speaking in the first person to Moses, and he says ‘I have seen, I have heard, I know and I have come down’. The first three; ‘I have seen, I have heard, and I know’ are all a repetition of what was said before.

God says ‘I have seen’. Moses years earlier…

Exodus 2:11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.

God says ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people’. Moses identified with the Hebrews – they were his people. Much more, God identified them as his people, a people who were to be his own possession.

Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (c.f. Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18; Psalm 135:4; Malachi 3:17; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9)

Moses called the Hebrews ‘my people’ as an indication of his identity. God called Israel ‘my people’ as an indication of ownership. Moses observed one instance of injustice and cruelty and took action to rescue. Much more, God had seen every unjust act, every cruelty. Our translation ‘surely I have seen’ attempts to capture the emphasis of the original language. Literally it reads ‘seeing I have seen’, the same word duplicated to intensify the thought. Nothing of the past 400 years had escaped his attention. God has seen. God has seen. He has seen their affliction. There have been many words used in Exodus thus far to describe the suffering of the people of Israel; taskmasters, afflict, oppressed, ruthlessly, slaves, bitter, hard service, work as slaves, burdens, beating, groaned, cried out for help, cried for rescue; but the four words used by God in this verse are new to the Exodus narrative; affliction, cry, taskmasters, and sufferings. The word ‘affliction’ means to be bowed down, pressed down, or humbled. The word ‘cry’ indicates an outcry against an intolerable situation or a cry of distress. The word for taskmaster used earlier in Exodus describes one who oversees laborers; this word indicates one who presses or drives or oppresses. The word for suffering is one of pain or grief. God has not missed anything. None of their suffering has gone unnoticed. Even if God seemed silent and unmoved, God says ‘I have surely seen.’

God says ‘I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters’. God has heard their cry. God is not deaf to the cries of his people. When we pray we may feel that God does not hear us. But that is our perception, that is not reality. God hears everything all the time.

Psalms 94:9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?

Psalms 139:2 …you discern my thoughts from afar. …4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

God may not respond to our prayers the way we would like. It may be because there is sin in our life.

Isaiah 59:2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Or it may be simply that he hears and answers ‘no’.

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

God says ‘I have surely seen.. I have heard.. I know’. God sees our affliction. God hears our cries. God knows our sufferings.

Psalms 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

God sees, God hears, and God knows. But this means more than that God is all-seeing, everywhere present, and all knowing. God cares. God is deeply and intimately involved in our lives. God is not standing aloof. God is with us.

Proverbs 18:24 … but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Hebrews 13:5 … for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God is looking with compassion on their situation and preparing to do something about it. God sees, God hears, and God knows. God remembered is replaced in this section by ‘I have come down’. Where God has remembered his covenant promises to his people, now God says I have come down. This is personal. God made promises and now God is going to show up personally to see that those promises get fulfilled. This is an intense and personal thing for God to say that he has come down.

Psalms 18:9 He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.

Psalms 144:5 Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!

Isaiah 64:1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence–

Micah 1:3 For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.

God come down. This is Jesus!

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Notice what God comes down to do. He comes down to deliver his people. To deliver his people and to bring them up.

8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

God has personally come down to deliver his people out of the hand of their enemies and to bring them up to a good and broad land. See God’s heart here! God so desires to bless his people! A good land; a land flowing with milk and honey. A land bursting with produce and dripping with sweetness. A good land and a broad land. A land with room to spread out and grow. A land so large that it has been the home of six peoples. Take heart in your suffering, because God is preparing a place for you!

Psalm 30:4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

God has come down to bless and to save and to rescue and deliver. Let’s look for a moment at why God has come down. What was it that motivated God to come down? God says ‘I have surely seen’, not the perfect performance of my people, but the affliction of my people. God says ‘I have heard’, not because they claim to have done everything right, but because they cried out for help. God says ‘I know’, not their righteousness and goodness, but their sufferings. What is it that motivates God to come down and deliver? Not merit, but need. Not righteousness but helplessness. Not performance, but desperateness. God is not compelled by our inherent goodness to come and save us. God sees our helplessness and need and when we cry out to him in utter desperation, he is moved to act. This is the free and sovereign grace of God in salvation.

Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us , not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, …

Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–

God saves not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy. It is not by our merit but by his grace that we are saved. Jesus said:

Mark 2:17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

If you will acknowledge yourself as a needy sinner then you are in the right position to be rescued by Jesus!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

June 13, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 3:1-6; The Presence of God

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100606_exodus03_1-6.mp3

6/06 Exodus 3:1-6 The Presence of God

2:21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” 23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel––and God knew.

3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses, God’s deliverer to his people, descends from his high position as adopted son of the king to bring rescue, he acts on behalf of his people, but is misunderstood, rejected by his own people, and exiled into the wilderness. He sits down by a well. He rescues some women that have come to draw water, settles down with the Midianites, and marries Zipporah, the daughter of this pagan priest. Stephen in his sermon in Acts 7, tells us that Moses was forty years old when he was exiled from Egypt (v.23). Now, another forty years has passed (v.30). Moses, God’s chosen instrument to deliver the Hebrew people from Egypt is in the wilderness. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, the Pharaoh had died. The people hoped that a change in leaders would mean help for their situation, but if anything, things got worse. Their hopes were crushed. So they groaned. They cried out for help. They plead for rescue. And God heard. God remembered his promises. God saw. God knew. God, who had been there all along, working behind the scenes, blessing his people, was about to step to center stage and take decisive action to honor his promises. God had been at work preserving and preparing this man for the past 80 years to be his instrument to deliver Israel from bondage, and now, in response to the prayers of his people, he is ready to unleash his promised plan. Remember, this was all under the sovereign hand of God, who was working all things according to the purpose of his will. He had told Abraham half a century earlier:

Genesis 15:13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. …16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation…

So we find Moses, a shepherd in the wilderness. It is interesting to compare Moses with Jacob. Jacob too fled for his life from his home and met his bride to be by a well. He too tended her father’s flocks for twenty years, and in that time became independently wealthy, with flocks of his own greater than the flocks of his father-in-law. But we see Moses now at the end of forty years still with nothing of his own, still tending another man’s flocks.

He had learned shepherding and he is keeping and leading the flocks. In fact his shepherding takes him to the back side of the desert, maybe in search of greener pasture, probably weeks away from home. It is notable that in this time his perspective has changed. This was a journey that brought him west, in the direction of his former home in Egypt, but it was now the back side of the desert to him . It is in this obscure place that unsuspecting Moses will be confronted by the living God himself.

3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

There is no indication that Moses was seeking this encounter with God. God took the initiative and got Moses’ attention. This is always the way it is. God initiates and we respond. Here we have the angel of YHWH appearing to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. Now we know the bible teaches that God is omnipresent, or not limited by space:

Jeremiah 23:23-24 “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.

Psalm 139:7-10 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

I Kings 8:27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!

So when God revealed himself to Moses out of the burning bush, we are not to think that God was at that moment limited or confined to that bush or that particular place. Just as we saw in the closing verses of chapter 2, when it says God saw and God remembered, we are not to think that God was becoming aware of new information or being reminded of something that slipped his mind, but that he was about to take action on behalf of those who needed his help. God chooses to reveal himself to us in ways that we can comprehend and relate to.

We also know from the bible that God is not material, He is spirit, and invisible.

John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (c.f. John 6:46)

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

I Timothy 1:17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

I Timothy 6:15-16 ––he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

I John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

So when the text says that he appeared to him, that he looked, and that he saw, we are not to think that Moses was able to see God in the fullness of who he is. Rather, God condescended to reveal himself to Moses in a way that he could understand. God who is spirit, invisible and everywhere present, came down as it were and showed himself in a form that Moses could relate to. In this case a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. God has often used fire as a visible representation of who he is. A pot of fire is how God represented himself in his covenant with Abraham (Gen.15:17). He showed himself as a pillar of fire to lead the Israelites in the wilderness (Ex.13:21). He descended in fire to give Israel his law at Sinai (Ex.19:18). Ezekiel saw him as a fiery shape (Ezek.1:27; 8:2). Daniel saw him seated on a throne of fire (Dan.7:9). The apostle John saw him as one whose eyes were fire (Rev.1:14). The bible describes God as a consuming fire (Deut.4:24, 9:3; Is.33:14; Heb.12:29).

Fire and smoke draw attention, but they also conceal from view. Fire is both attractive and destructive. Fire will consume or purify all it comes in contact with. There is both attraction and separation. God is holy, and we are drawn to his holiness, but as sinners his holiness will consume us. This was the prophet Isaiah’s cry as he was brought into the presence of God:

Isaiah 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Isaiah understood the absolute holiness of God and the consequences of someone who is not perfectly righteous entering into his presence. He was purified with fire.

So Moses is on the back side of the desert and sees a bush that was on fire but was not being consumed. Moses, having spent forty years tending Jethro’s sheep in the wilderness and trying to stay warm on cold desert nights, would probably be very familiar with how quickly a small bush like this would burn up and disintegrate into ash. What caught Moses’ attention was not the fire alone, but the fact that the bush was engulfed in flames but was not being consumed. This could serve as a picture of Israel in Egypt, in the midst of the fire of suffering, and yet multiplying rather than being consumed. This would also be a striking picture for Moses of God’s holy presence, and he, a sinful man, not being consumed by it. This is God’s mercy toward sinners made possible by the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus in our place. However Moses interpreted it, this is what he saw and what caught his attention.

But the primary revelation came not by what Moses saw, but by what God said. God has revealed himself to us not in pictures, but in words. In John 1 and Revelation 19, Jesus is called the Word, and throughout the bible we see God as a God who communicates in words.

Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Our God is a God who has spoken. In fact, we have in our hands his word written so that we can have a reliable accurate trustworthy record of who he is and what he requires of us. God himself puts great priority on his word.

Psalms 138:2 … for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

In fact, there are serious consequences for disregarding God’s word.

Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

God reveals himself by speaking, telling us about himself. He calls out to Moses “Moses, Moses”. The repetition of a name in that culture indicates intimacy and endearment. Jesus confronted those who called him “Lord, Lord” but did not do what he said. They claimed to be close to him but did not really have any relationship with him (Luke 6:46, Matt.7:21-22). So when Moses heard his name repeated, he would understand that this is a friend, someone who cares deeply about him. So he responds.

God’s instructions are clear; “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” God gets his attention, calls out to him, and then tells him to stop. God is teaching Moses what he is like. He is not to be approached casually. He is holy. God initiates the encounter, and God lays down the rules of engagement. This is who I am and this is how I am to be approached. God commands that Moses remain at a distance, because a holy God cannot be approached by sinful man. Because God is holy, the place where he appears is holy. There was nothing particularly sacred about the geographic location or the dirt; the Jews did not consider it special, and we don’t even know for sure where it is. The presence of God made the place holy. This is the first time in the bible the word ‘holy’ is used. God is set apart, separate from everything that falls short and totally committed to promoting his own honor. He is in a category by himself. He alone is worthy to be worshiped. So God demands that Moses treat him with the proper respect. He is to come no closer. He is to remove his sandals and take the position of a slave in relation to his master.

Just who is it that is speaking to Moses here? The narrative begins by saying that the angel of the LORD or the messenger of YHWH appeared to him. In verse 4 it says that YHWH (or Jehovah) saw, and then it says that God (Elohim) called to him out of the bush. The angel of YHWH, YHWH, and Elohim (God) are all used interchangeably in this passage. Because in this passage God makes himself known in a visible way, this points us to Jesus.

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Jude points us to make the connection with Jesus

Jude 1:5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

Jesus himself claimed to be the one who spoke from the burning bush

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Here he makes the concrete connection with history. He claims to be the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This is the very God that Moses’ own father worshiped. This is the God who made promises to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. This is the one true God, the omnipotent creator of all things.

Let’s look as we close at Moses’ response to the one true God revealing himself. God has initiated a relationship with Moses. God has established the terms of this relationship; he is to be treated as holy. He revealed his identity as the only true God who created all things and made promises to the patriarchs. When Moses understands who he is dealing with, he hides his face, because he is afraid to look at God. Over and over in scripture we are commanded to fear the Lord. We are told the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We see a proper humility before God knowing that a sinful human cannot hope to survive an encounter with the holy God.

Genesis 32:30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Judges 6:22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.”

Judges 13:22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.”

Isaiah 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Our pride, our rebellion, our running after other things with the hopes that they will satisfy, our valuing of other things more than God invite his righteous wrath.

Isaiah 59:2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

And yet seeing God for who he really is is the one thing that will truly satisfy our deepest longings. And as believers in Jesus, this is what we look forward to.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is .

Revelation 22:4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment