Preparing To Be A Deliverer
Exodus 3:3-14 (GOD speaking, verses 4, 5, 6, 7-10, 12, 14)
3And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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 upon God. 7And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. 11And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. 13And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
Forty years before this time, Moses had tried prematurely and in vain to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage. Despite his great faith which led him to refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Hebrews 11:24, Moses, when he was an Egyptian prince, was not properly prepared to be the deliverer.
24By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
The first 40 years of his life in Egypt, Moses learned about the wisdom and power of man as a Prince. The second 40 years of his life, he learned about the wisdom and power of man as a shepherd in Midian. Now he was prepared by long and hard experience to understand that God, not himself, would be the actual deliverer of Israel. He would be used as the humble servant and instrument of God.
Moses’ daily life as a shepherd was routine and ordinary; still this was as much a part of God’s plan for his life as was his call to be the leader of Israel. After Moses failed and years had passed, he learned not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, Romans 12:3, and with this new attitude God could use him, because he would trust, not in himself, but in God.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Among the most sobering and life changing experiences of the Christian life is the call to serve God in a specific manner. The histories of Israel and the Church contain numerous accounts of people confronted by God to undertake a task.
The calls and responses were as diverse as the individuals who were summoned. Some were called to positions of leadership; others were called to simple acts of service.
Some fled; some argued and some responded with immediate obedience. The common element among them all is that a choice was made. The account of Moses’ call provides for us a picture of one man’s awesome experience.
This account encourages those of us, who see only our weaknesses, by looking to God, who has all power. One of the fundamental principles of serving God is that the task undertaken originates in the call of God.
No one, regardless of talents, position or stature can establish himself in God’s sight. Positions of spiritual service are sovereignly assigned by God. In Exodus 3:1, “kept the flock” implies that this was Moses’ occupation. He was a shepherd.
Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God even to Horeb.
He was living quietly in exile, far from the position of the Egyptian prince he once held.
People often judge the qualities of others in terms of their intelligence, skills and decision-making ability. God’s standards are different. Moses, a man who murdered an Egyptian, and fled to the wilderness, does not fit human standards for special service, but God saw something in Moses that He knew He could use.
God did not call Moses at the height of his training in the Egyptian courts, rather, this prophetic call represented a radical break with the past.
When Moses met God at the burning bush, he was not portrayed as brooding over the plight of his people, aspiring to be the one that would lead them to freedom. Instead, the whole account portrays Moses’ call as initiated by God.
He was to leave the care of sheep for the confrontation with the power structure of Egypt. He would exchange the silence of the desert for the crowded throne room of Pharaoh and then for the leadership of vast crowds of turbulent, freed slaves, but through it all he would be guided and guarded, sustained and strengthened by God’s presence and power. The old life of shepherding was over; the new life of a deliverer-prophet was beginning.
Moses was part of a special and supernatural movement. He was being confronted by the God of his fathers.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
In Exodus 3:3, above, Moses was interested in knowing why the bush was not consumed by the fire. See verse 4 above. These are significant words. They indicate something God looked for and found in Moses: sensitivity, alertness, a searching spirit, an inquiring mind. These were all qualities that were evidenced when he turned aside to see the burning bush.
What a strange place to find the everlasting God…in a bush!…but God can be and is present everywhere. He spoke to Jesus from a cloud. He spoke to Elijah in a still, small voice and above all, He spoke through His Son who came to be with us and share our life‘s experiences.
It should be noted that God called Moses by name. Surely God had been with Moses from the time his mother placed him in his little basket in the Nile River. Although Moses had spent 40 years in the wilderness, he had not been beyond God’s notice or care. The call and commission into God’s service frequently comes out of wilderness experiences. The call of Moses was filled with significant events. God manifested His very presence to Moses. He would reveal His great love and care for the people and confirm His call through signs and wonders before Moses.
All of this would leave Moses with a lasting impression that he must fulfill the call of God to service. In Exodus 3:5, above, Moses had just been standing on the ordinary soil of a common mountain slope. Suddenly, it had become a sacred spot because it was hallowed by the special Presence of God in a small flaming bush. Moses was told to remove his shoes or sandals. It was an appropriate way to show reverence for the Presence of God. There on an isolated mountain before an ordinary desert bush, with only sheep as onlookers, Moses had a life-transforming experience with God.
Christians have assembled in schoolrooms, vacated stores, beside lakes and in parks, wherever they meet to humble themselves before God, to praise Him, to seek to learn of Him and to do His will. When they do this, they will experience meaningful worship that can change their lives.
Exodus 3:5, above, emphasizes the Holiness in two particular ways. First, God instructed Moses not to come any closer. This was to bring to Moses a recognition of the awesome Power and Presence of God. Secondly, God commanded Moses to remove his shoes. This was to produce in Moses an awareness of the honor and reverence due unto the LORD.
The concept of “holy ground” signifies the change that the Presence of God makes, not only upon a life, but also a place without the Presence of God.
The early life of Moses reminds us that God raises up leaders in every profession and trains them for serving Him. Although Moses was trained as an Egyptian prince, his heart belonged to his people, the Israelites.
In Exodus 3:11-14, above, Moses was reared in luxury and splendor. Might it not be expected that years and decades of such association and emphasis would make him vain and proud: dressed in regal splendor, while banqueting in marble-floored palace rooms or riding as a warrior in the chariots or hunting? This would have been just another barren spot in a mountain wilderness area; however, the Presence of God made it sacred, and hallowed ground.
This transformation does not depend upon one’s surroundings or circumstance. Only God can make a life or a place holy.
Moses resisted God’s call with five distinct objections.
The First of His Objections
In Exodus 3:11, also mentioned above,
And Moses said unto God, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharoah and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
God’s response to Moses was direct and powerful. The issue was not who Moses was but Who it was that called him.
Moses’ Second Objection
In Exodus 3:13, Scripture in context above,
And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
Moses and the people needed to know what God’s intentions were. Though He was the God of their fathers, what would His future relationship be with them?
Christians should be committed to the lifelong pursuit of knowing God. Regular Bible reading, prayer and fasting are vital steps needed in order to grow in the knowledge of the Lord.
Moses’ Third, Fourth, and Fifth Objections
Exodus 4:10, 11 (GOD speaking)
10And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. 11And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? Or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the LORD?
Exodus 4:13, 14 (GOD speaking)
13And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. 14And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
Each of these five objections were taken seriously by God and were answered in a complete and overwhelming manner.
Forty years earlier Moses had felt that he was the right person to deliver his people from Egyptian slavery, but when Moses felt very competent to do this and assumed that the Hebrews would follow him, he was rejected and forced into exile.
For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
Moses knew at this time in his life God wanted him to go to Pharaoh, the most powerful man in Egypt, and seek the release of many thousands of valuable slaves, but Moses doubted his ability. It was one thing to stand in the desert, another to stand in the center of power, one thing to lead sheep, quite another to lead an entire nation, but what Moses could never do in his own strength he could do through the Mighty Presence of God.
Exodus 4:12 (GOD speaking)
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
What an assurance!