PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 3:10-12; It’s Not About You!

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 | , ,

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