PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

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 | , , , ,

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