November 27, 2015 | by: Renette de Beer | 0 comments
Community CRC - L.A.F.F. - 2015 -2016 - study guide #3
Moses: God's Appointed Servant Leader
(read Exodus 3:1 - 4:17)
One of the most amazing and blessed truths of Scripture is that to do His work, God uses people who are the most unlikely qualified, having sinned miserably and in some sense, were disreputable. Jacob, a deceiver and schemer; Samson, a womanizer and braggart; David, an adulterer and murderer; Jonah, a coward and one with narrow view of mercy; the apostle Paul, by his own admission the chief of sinners (I Tim. 1:15); and Moses. According to Acts 7:25, Moses presumed he was the chosen leader and so murdered an Egyptian ....and as we shall see, he offered many excuses for refusing God's call to lead, really testing God's patience. Yet God, in His grace, calls him to do a great work. Even so, God calls us to do good in His service.
The call out of the blue. Exodus 3:1 describes Moses doing something he had been doing for 40 years.....leading sheep to find pasture. For 40 years shepherding sheep, each day like the day before and the day to come. God decided to break into Moses' ordinary day in an extraordinary way. A burning bush...but not consumed. A most amazing thing. It's a good thing Moses was willing to pay attention....to investigate. Verse 3 tells us Moses was curious - he thought "I will go over and look..." Verse 4 tells us that God saw that Moses went over to look at the bush. It was then that God called out to Moses. When an unusual event or something out of the ordinary happens to us, it's good to stop and consider what God may be trying to teach us.
Point to Ponder. A curiosity about a natural wonder led Moses to discover God anew. Our capacity to be amazed at natural wonders can be the doorway to faith and a relationship with God. Be always ready to be amazed. Have an appetite for wonder.
The call out of the bush. (Exodus 3:4-10) When Moses went over to investigate the burning bush, it was then that God called out to him, by name. I wonder if Moses wondered how the Voice from the bush knew his name. In any event, Moses' reply "here I am" is a standard reply found in Scripture (see Genesis 31:11, I Sam. 3:4, Isaiah 6:8). The reply has the tone of a soldier responding to a call from a commanding officer. God sets the stage to introduce Himself...."Moses, take off your shoes, this is holy ground!" Shoes carry the dirt and filth of daily work and walk - it mustn't be tracked into God's presence. Hence the custom yet today of worshippers taking off shoes as they enter a temple, shrine or mosque.
Then the Voice identified Himself: "I am the God of your father (Amram), the God of Abraham,.. Isaac and ...Jacob (Verse 6a). When Moses heard this, he realized he was speaking with the Covenant God of his people, the Israelites. This was no god of the desert, or a god of the storm...this was the God who is connected to His people, who lives with His people - the covenant keeper. At hearing this Moses hid his face...as did Isaiah in Isaiah 6:2; Judges 6:22. No one can see God and live - Genesis 33:20.
Point to Ponder: God casts a vision for His people which takes our breath away. Redemption, full and free. Consider the focus of our "prayers of the people" in Sunday worship, are our prayers big enough?.....it is in this prayer that the Church can be reminded of the great dream of the Kingdom of God which God sketched for Moses.
Then God, in verses 7-9, describes what He sees and hears about His children of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. They are in bondage, in distress, oppressed and were crying out for deliverance. God then declares His "gospel" - the good news - He will come and rescue them and deliver them to their own land where they will prosper. This is a magnificent, wondrous dream that God shares with Moses. It's the Old Testament version of the good news of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced when He began His ministry.
Point to Ponder.
The call to Moses (Exodus 3:10) Now comes Moses' biggest surprise...God says to Moses, "you are the one to lead my people out of Egypt." There is no "if it pleases you"; no "I'll give you time to think about"; no "so, are you in?" God calls Moses with no chance for him to back out. But Moses is a very reluctant recruit for doing God's Kingdom work. And as we shall see, God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the one He calls.
When the call of God came, Moses' response - Excuse #1 -(Exodus 3:11) was to downplay God's assessment of his ability... "who am I that I should go to Pharaoh...." Perhaps the scope of God's vision to redeem His people was too intimidating; perhaps Moses had a surge of fear rise up within his heart; perhaps Moses misunderstood God to mean that he, Moses alone, had to do this work. Answer #1 - (Ex. 3:12) God had to reassure Moses, "I will be with you....and you, and Israel, shall worship God here on this mountain (Sinai)."
Point to Ponder: What God has in mind for redeeming His people is breathtaking. When we are called to do a task in God's Kingdom work, our response can often repeat these same fears, anxiety and lack of vision that Moses expressed. What we do for God, we do with God.
Moses wasn't so sure. More stubborn mule than obedient sheep, he throws up one excuse after another. Excuse #2 - (Ex. 3:13) "Who are you?" It had been 350 plus years since a word from God had been heard. The Israelites had perhaps only a distant memory of the God of their fore-fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. "What is this God's name?" they would ask. "Who is this God you claim to speak for?" Answer #2 -(Ex. 3:14) God identifies Himself as "I am who I am..." and God adds to this identity by connecting Himself to Israel's forefathers. In Hebrew "I am" is written YHWH - Yahweh, or Jehovah. This phrase "I am" becomes an important word that Jesus used to identify Himself in John 8:58. God goes on to describe His grand work of Exodus (verses 16-22)
Excuse #3 - (Ex. 4:1) "The people might not accept me as a legitimate spokesman for God".....as in "who are you that you should presume to speak for God?" A legitimate fear, no doubt. Anyone who would dare speak for God will have his/her legitimacy challenged. It happened to Jesus as well (John 2:18; 8:13; 10:31,33). It seems though, that Moses offered this excuse out of fear of ridicule and perhaps, the people's memory of the murder he committed 40 years earlier (Exodus 2:14). Answer #3 -(Exodus 4:2-9) Perhaps Moses didn't trust what God had said answering Moses' first excuse - "I will be with you." God now responds by showing Moses that He will be with him - enacting three signs, or miracles, to demonstrate Moses' legitimacy to speak for God. Jesus was able to demonstrate His legitimacy by miraculous signs as well (John 2:18,19; Luke 5:18-25).
Excuse #4 - (Ex. 4:10) "But I get tongue-tied speaking in public!" Moses is really pushing God's patience with this excuse. Moses was actually a powerful public speaker according to Acts 7:22b. Maybe 40 years of herding sheep in the deserts of Midian had dulled his eloquence with words, but maybe he just didn't want to do what God wanted. Answer #4 -(Ex.4:11) God responds with what sounds like "you can't fool me Moses! Who made man's ability to speak? I know what you're capable of. I'll give you the power to speak and the words too!"
Excuse #5 -(Exodus 4:13) "Please send someone else". Bottom line...Moses didn't want to go to Egypt, to stand up to Pharaoh. He wanted out. Cowardice? Stubbornness? Lack of trust? Who knows? Moses had to learn to trust God's power and ability to supply all Moses' needs and weaknesses with His divine strength...as Paul wrote years later II Corinthians 12:9 'My grace is sufficient for you...for my power is made perfect in weakness." Answer #5 - (Ex. 4:14-17) God's response of anger shows He runs of patience. "Listen! I want you to do this and no more excuses! Take your brother Aaron and remember I will be with you both. Now go!!"
Our response to God: "Who me, Lord!?" 1. How do we demonstrate resistance to a 'nudge' or 'call' of God? What kinds of excuses do we offer? 2. How important is it to you to have all the answers in order to say "yes" to God's call? 3. What qualifies a person to be effectively used of God? 4. What are some ways to make more sure you are really hearing God's voice and not your own will? 5. What are some ways you could become more confident that God is empowering you to do His will
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