As I read this story and reread it, I could see Moses playing the part of me. And as God says, check. Moses says, well, I got another move up my sleeve. Perhaps I'll accept this one. And God says, check again. So Moses comes up with a third. Let's call this one the excuse or the attitude of inability.
I may go in there. I may tell them that I have met with God and his name for us is Yahweh, the Existent One. And what if they look at me and say, well, so what?
We're still not going to follow you. And let's face it, for 40 years I've been tending sheep. I haven't even been around people. Have you ever felt out of your depth? You had a task or responsibility before you, but you felt inadequate for the task. When Moses was given a difficult task by God, he had several questions regarding how things could be accomplished. God didn't give him all the answers he wanted. But what God did clarify for Moses was who he is, who God is. And Moses took comfort in God's power.
Maybe you need the same message from God today. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen is continuing through his series called Out of Egypt with this message that he's called Availability and a Game of Chess.
It's interesting. I believe it was D.L. Moody who originated the thought that for 40 years, Moses thought that he was somebody. For the next 40 years in the desert of Midian, he would discover that he was nobody. And then in the next 40 years, the final 40 years of his life, he would learn that God could make somebody out of nobody.
Well, he is about to receive a call. Let's pick it up at chapter 3, verse 1. Moses was pastoring the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush. And Moses looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, I kind of chuckle when I hear his response, because it leaves out perhaps how he was feeling, his eyes popping wide, his mouth dropping open, I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up. When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses.
And he said, Here I am. God said, Do not come near here. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. He said also, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. And the Lord said, I have seen the affliction of my people, who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their suffering. The Israelites didn't know that. They thought God had abandoned them, but he said, I was watching all the while. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. And now behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to me. Furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
And let me stop right here before we get any further. If you have notes, I suggest you pull them out, because we're about to enter the call of Moses, and the excuses that he will give to God, and telling God that he isn't the one for the job. They are the same excuses, ladies and gentlemen, that you and I use as well.
I believe the Church is filled with people who have heard the call of God, that imperceptible, that inaudible voice, ministering to their spirit, and saying, I want you to do this, I want you to minister here, I want you to serve there, I want you to speak my name there in that corporation, or there in the neighborhood, I want you to become my representative. And we all give one of five, perhaps several, reasons why we say no to God. And Moses becomes a classic illustration of an individual who had received a call from God, but yet refused or tried. I want to give you the first excuse before we even read any further.
It is the excuse or the attitude of insignificance. Look at verse 10. Therefore, God says to Moses, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.
And here's the point where we would think that Moses would jump, as if he had been waiting for 40 years. I knew 40 years ago that I was the man for the job. And finally, you've come to me.
I'm ready. What does he say? Moses said to God, who am I? Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt? And you ought to mark in the margin of your mind whenever you read this passage, I believe that God probably spoke under his breath. That's exactly what I wanted to hear. That's wonderful. I think if Moses had responded, well, Lord, it's about time you called me.
I'm the man for the job. God would have probably said 40 more years in the desert. No, because Moses responded with this thought.
I think God was pleased, but yet God would not let him be excused. He says, who am I? Now, after 40 years, I realize my insignificance. I realize the fact that I am perhaps not to appoint myself, but I am to be appointed by God for this task. Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Have you ever had the opportunity of having someone come to you and ask you perhaps to serve in some way? And the first thought that goes through your mind is, wonder why they asked me. Perhaps you have been in that corporation and God has placed you in the hallway of a man who needs Christ, and you sense God's Spirit saying, I want you to be the one to witness for me on the job.
Have you ever thought, who am I? I want you to notice what God says in response. His response is basically, I am with you. His response is, certainly, verse 12, I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you. When you've brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain. God didn't say, shame on you, Moses. What a poor self-image. Why, I don't want you to ever say anything like that again.
Pull yourself up. You're somebody. Well, we are significant in Jesus Christ and who He is, but in terms of ministry, our efforts in our flesh are totally insignificant unless God is with us. God says, I know who you are, and I'm not necessarily looking for a dynamo to go to Egypt. I'm looking for a dependent disciple to approach Pharaoh. So Moses, knowing that he can't get around that one, comes back with a second one. We'll call this the excuse of ignorance.
Perhaps you've used this one as well. Verse 13, then Moses said to God, I'm going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you. Now they may say to me, what is his name? What shall I say? In other words, Moses is saying, I don't have all the answers. I don't know what to say, and what, Lord, should I say if they come back and ask me this or that? I haven't been schooled. I don't know all that I'm supposed to say.
I don't have all the answers. Have you ever thought when God impressed you to get involved in something or speak something, the first thing that runs through your mind, oh, I could get boxed in not knowing what to say, so I'd better just keep quiet. I think Moses thought this one would make sense and perhaps get God off his back in effect, but I want you to notice what God said. Verse 14, God said to Moses, let me summarize it.
I'll give you the answers as you learn to know me. God said to Moses, verse 14, I am who I am. Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I am has sent you.
I am, the word Yahweh or the name Yahweh comes from the verb hava, which means to be. He is saying I am simply the existent God. That is a characteristic or an attribute of himself that he is revealing in a sense for the very first time to anyone on planet earth. He is in effect telling Moses, I don't want you to necessarily know all the answers.
I want you to know me. You see, the basis for Moses's ministry is not knowing all the answers, but knowing God. The basis for any ministry that you or I may have is not based on the fact that we've got it all mapped out.
We've got all the answers. No, it is that you and I know God. And how do I get to know God? It's interesting that Jesus Christ in fact turned to John chapter 8, verse 24, refers to himself with exactly the same Greek word that's translated in the Old Testament, Septuagint. John chapter 8, verse 24. Start with verse 22, therefore the Jews were saying, surely he will not kill himself, will he, since he says, where am I going? Where I am going, you cannot come. Jesus was saying to them, you are from below, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. I said therefore to you that you shall die in your sins for unless you believe that I am, the word he, it should be italicized in your translation, it's implied.
He says, unless you believe that I am, that I am the Existent One, it's the same word that God used, it could be translated back into the Old Testament, I am, Yahweh. You want to know how you get to know God? By spending life or spending time studying and getting to know the life of Jesus Christ. You know, wouldn't it be interesting if we had candidates for ministry and instead of giving them all of all of the answers and all of the methods and all of the programs, we gave them a plan that would enable them on a deeper level to get to know Jesus Christ.
You know, I believe there is so much failure in ministry, I believe it's because you and I know very little about him and we know so much about what we are about. God told Moses out there when Moses said, God I don't know all the answers, God said I want to reveal myself to you because I want you to get to know that I am the Existent God. I am eternal.
And as you get to know me, I will give you the answers. I will direct your path in ministry. Note what he says furthermore, verse 15, thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and of Jacob has sent me to you.
This is my name forever and this is my memorial name to all generations. Go gather the elders of Israel together and say to them exactly what I've told you. Verse 17, so I said I will bring you up and out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and all of the the other ites to a land flowing with milk and honey and they will pay heed to what you say.
Why? Because you come in with all authority? No, because you come in with the authority of my name. Then they will heed. You say to them, the Lord, the God of the Hebrews has met with us. So now please let us go a three days journey into the wilderness so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. Verse 19, but I know that the King of Egypt will not permit you to go except under compulsion.
So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all my miracles, which I shall do in the midst of it. And after that, he will let you go. By this time, I think Moses is getting rather nervous. I think perhaps to him sheep have never looked better. He's probably dancing about on his bare feet.
The sand is getting hot and he's thinking now wait a second, I can't get out of this. I've told him I'm ignorant. I told him I'm insignificant and yet he has come back with exactly the solution so that I will still be the individual to minister for him.
What can I say next? I have mentioned to you on past occasions one of the most delightful ladies in my life, my grandmother, and I am hoping she is planning to be with us on her anniversary Sunday. Perhaps I've mentioned in the past one of the things that she taught my three brothers and I as we were growing up in the Serviceman Center where my parents ministered. She taught us all how to play the game of chess. We had a name for her called, it was called Granny. I don't know if you have ever called your grandmother Granny. It's kind of a term of affection, but don't let her name fool you. She was really vicious when it came to the game of chess.
It wouldn't be long before the game turned into a chase. I was running with my king and she was chasing me with all of her pieces still intact and sooner or later I would hear her little voice as she looked over at me through her glasses as she would say, check. And you know how you can take your king and exchange it for the castle? You know that little move?
Any chess players here? You know how you can change them when the heat's on? You're only supposed to do that once. We'd bargain for six or seven times.
You know keep switching that thing back and forth. After a while we'd hear her say again, check. Finally after all of the finaling and all of the moving and doing all those little moves we thought we could get out of checkmate. Sooner or later we'd see her grin and she'd say checkmate.
I learned to love and hate that woman all at the same time. As I read this story and reread it I could see Moses playing the part of me. He's dancing about trying to avoid God saying checkmate and as God says check Moses says well I got another move up my sleeve perhaps I'll accept this one and God says check again. So Moses comes up with a third let's call this one the excuse or the attitude of inability.
Let's just tell him downright I'm unable I'm not only unqualified I'm not only ignorant I'm unable. Look at chapter 4 verse 1 then Moses answered and said well what if they will not believe me or listen to what I say for they may say the Lord has not appeared to you. In other words what Moses is saying is they may deny my leadership. I may go in there I may tell them that I have met with God and his name for us is Yahweh the Existent One and what if they look at me and say well so what we're still not gonna follow you and let's face it for 40 years I've been tending sheep I haven't even been around people. I'm totally unable for this job but I love God's response. In fact his response is lengthy at this point because I really believe ladies and gentlemen like Moses you and I come back with this we are unable.
I can't do that me there's no chance no possibility it's not in me. God will come back and instruct Moses in a very profound way. Look at verse 2 and the Lord said to him what is that in your hand and Moses looks at it and he says so it's a staff and God said throw it on the ground so he threw it on the ground and it became a serpent and Moses fled from it. Now implied in this this was evidently a poisonous viper otherwise Moses who knew animals well would not flee. So here his his staff perhaps six feet in length or in heights he throws it down and it becomes a poisonous viper and you see Moses barefoot taking off across the desert running and God says in effect stop come back. Verse 4 stretch out your hand and grasp it by the tail. I think Moses is probably wondering if God knows much about animals because I would imagine if you grab a snake you grab it by the head so it can't bite not the tail so that it can turn around and strike.
See that was part of the act of faith that was part of God revealing to Moses his power over nature. Moses I want you to grab that snake by the tail put yourself there. I have tried to picture this in my mind and I think Moses spent an hour trying to work his way around that snake till finally he lunges for the tail and he grabs it and he closes his eyes perhaps shrieking with fear and all of a sudden it feels hard.
The text tells us that it had turned back into a staff. Verse 5 you see Moses this has been done that they may believe that the Lord the God of your fathers the God of Abraham the God of Isaac the God of Jacob has appeared to you this is undeniable you throw your rod down if any of them get wise I'll let it turn into a viper and you just casually walk over and bend down and pick it up by the tail I don't impress them. Moses still isn't convinced so God says in verse 6 put your hand into your bosom right inside your cloak and he put his hand into his bosom and when he took it out behold his hand was white or leprous like snow. Moses perhaps was horrified and God not taking too much time lest he have a heart attack says well just put it back in your bosom again and when he took it out behold verse 7 it was restored like the rest of his flesh and it shall come about verse 8 if they don't believe you or heed the witness of the first sign that they may believe the witness of the last sign. Well Moses is thinking this is wonderful I've got authority and I have power but is it really enough and I want you to note the third sign this is significant it shall be verse 9 if they won't believe these two signs or heed what you say then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground. Now this really isn't any more amazing than the first two when you think about it it takes about the same amount of power I imagine if we could calibrate the amount of power to turn a serpent into a rod and a rod into a serpent as it would to turn water into blood.
What's the point? The point is that the the chief God of the Egyptian was what? The Nile God. This was the most powerful God in in Egypt's pantheon and God was in effect showing Moses that I have authority over the most powerful God in Egypt you take water from the Nile God and I'll turn it into blood but I think there's something else here perhaps it's because the children of Israel had been in Egypt for over 400 years and had been impressed by the magnificence of Egypt perhaps they were beginning to wonder is this God more powerful than the Elohim of Abraham Isaac and Jacob?
Can he really pull this exodus off? I think this sign was not for Moses I think this sign was for the people of Israel to recognize that Yahweh was the most powerful God in all the land. Moses said Lord I'm unable of pulling this off and God says in effect I will empower you. Let's take a look at the fourth we'll call this the excuse of inadequacy chapter 4 verse 10 we need to hurry. Then Moses said to the Lord please Lord I have never been eloquent neither recently nor in time past nor since thou has spoken to thy servant for I am slow or literally heavy of speech and heavy of tongue. It's a possibility and some commentators think that Moses stuttered that Moses had difficulty getting his words out and so Moses pulls this one out this is the big one you know God wants me to go and speak to Pharaoh Lord do you remember that I stutter? Do you recognize the fact that I am slow of speech? I have never been eloquent now you'll have to find somebody else. God says in verse 11 look what he says the Lord said to him verse 11 who has made man's mouth or who makes him dumb or deaf or seeing or blind is it not I the Lord now then go and I even I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to say in other words I'm not going to correct perhaps the speech problem but I will overshadow your efforts I'll overshadow that that bumbling that thought of you standing before the Pharaoh and not being able to get those words out I'll overshadow that you just go and I'll be glorified in your availability not your ability see ladies and gentlemen we have the idea that God is looking for people with the impressive resume spiritually with all of the qualifications ABCD we have that mentality because we're so used to this in society and and we would think that if God is seeking out people to serve him he wants a resume see in Acts chapter 6 that little church that had just exploded into existence had a problem had all kinds of money because they were selling land as need be and they were to give that money to widows and yet some of the widows were being overlooked and so the Holy Spirit impressed the Apostles let's choose out men to make sure the widows get the money who would you choose well where are the accountants in the church where are people who work with money no choose out from among you men full of the Holy Spirit the implication is men who are empty of themselves and filled with the presence of the Spirit of God Jesus Christ comes to planet earth and he's to choose 12 people to introduce his kingdom program to planet earth where would you go well I'd go choose 12 of the most brilliant graduates of the rabbinical school and yet he overlooks it he bypasses it and he goes and chooses 12 unlearned in Ben why he doesn't need eloquence he doesn't need the impressive qualifications he needs men and women who are dependent who are available who are filled with the Spirit of God's control so God says Moses in effect did you forget I made your mouth that way did you forget that I created that particular impediment did you forget that in my design you were wired that way so what will you say now Moses this is what I'll call an attitude of irreverence but he said please Lord send the message by whomever thou wilt we could translate it please Lord send it by somebody else in other words Moses is saying I'm through playing I don't want to hear checkmate I'm gonna knock the pieces over and I'm gonna get up and leave and God I want you to choose somebody else because I'm simply saying to you no God in effect responded after encouraging him with the presence of Aaron who would turn out to be a problem later God basically said Moses I didn't call anybody else I didn't ask someone else I asked you ladies and gentlemen the truth of the matter is that when you hear the Spirit of God witnessing to your spirit that you are to be involved you are to serve you are to speak you're the one he's calling nobody else in that particular courtroom where you have been placed that residence that occupation that ministry you're his plan you say have I really been issued a call would you turn to Matthew please with me Matthew chapter 28 and I want to show you how this call fits perfectly with all of the excuses that Moses used in trying to deny the ministry God wanted for him you say well I'm insignificant Lord he says all authority has been given to me and in effect in Acts he will say I give you that it authority I I transfer the authority of myself to you insignificant of yourself yes but I have given you a dose all you need of my authority for ministry you say I don't have the credentials right you don't verse 19 so go in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit you say I don't know what to say all you need to do verse 20 is to teach them to observe all that I have commanded you to Lord would you send somebody else lo I am with you always let me apply this quickly two ways from the life of Moses we can discern at least two wonderful things about the call of God number one your past doesn't handicap God's power Moses perhaps could have made reference to the fact that he was a fugitive it didn't handicap the power of God in his life no matter what kind of past you have come from in the body of Christ and by the cleansing of his blood you can be an ambassador number two your inadequacy doesn't hinder God's performance we have far too much of the charisma today in the church we have far too much personality we have far too much energy in the flesh impressive things impressive people I wonder if God is searching today in our fellowship for those who will understand apart from him I am nothing the abilities well they're not all there but I will be available I believe ladies and gentlemen that the church is filled with people who have heard the call to ministry a call to purity a call to a life of faith a call to a life of distinction but who in effect have said not me I would suggest that ladies and gentlemen before you play any further that you simply as we would do in the game of chess take your king and just lay him over as a symbol of surrender it is by that surrender that you and I can hope and pray to impact our generation for Jesus Christ people who are not being impacted because we are denying the call with one of these excuses I'm unable not qualified I'm insignificant I'm not eloquent use somebody else what a wonderful thing to know that God would use Moses as Moses finally surrendered to the plan of God this reminder from the life of Moses is very powerful if you have a comment a question or would like more information about our ministry you can send us an email if you address it to info at wisdom online dot org we'd really like to hear from you we'd like to learn how God's using these lessons to build you up in your faith Steven's desire is to help you know what God's Word says understand what it means and apply it to your life if God is doing that please let us know and then make sure to join us back here next time as we continue through Exodus on wisdom for the hearts you
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