Merry Christmas, everyone! I am praying for all of our Soldier families, and friends of the club, who are studying with us. Grab your bibles and let’s dig into the testimony of Moses.
A God-ordained Adoption
In Exodus 2, Moses’ story begins with his birth. His parents had to send him down the river in order to try to keep him alive; if only they had known what God had in store for him. The daughter of Pharaoh makes him her own. (v.10) Moses looks to use his status in Pharaoh’s house to look out for his people (v.11). In his defending a Hebrew man who was being beaten, he kills an Egyptian soldier and flees to Mideon to avoid the wrath of Pharaoh. (v.12-15). He marries and has a son in his time away from Egypt. At the end of Exodus 2, we read that Pharaoh dies and the Israelites cry out to God to remove them from their bondage in Egypt.
Exodus 2:23-25 Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
An Unlikely Leader
In Exodus 3, we read about the incredible encounter Moses has with God at the burning bush. God making Himself known through this kind of encounter is what is called a Theophany. Moses shows great reverence and righteous fear at the presence of God. God tells Moses that He has seen His people’s affliction and heard their cries and that he will deliver them to the Promised land. Then God says something Moses would have never expected. He says you will be my mouth piece before Pharaoh and chosen leader. Listen, to Moses’ response: But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
Too often we get caught up in looking only at the horizontal. Meaning, we are only worried about what other people think of us, how they will respond, and of what we are capable. But realize, when we do this, we are missing something very critical. What God thinks about us and what He can do in and through us, is the vertical truth we must walk in every day. Yes, by the world’s standards, we are often very insufficient and unqualified, but that is not how God works. He most often takes the least of these and raises them up to do mighty things so that He is the one who gets the glory.
Notice as we read on that God doesn’t give Moses a pep talk. He doesn’t slow down and say, “You can do it!” What God doesn’t say to us in response to our feeling defeated or ill-equipped is, “You just have to believe in yourself.”
God’s response to Moses is a statement of truth and of assurance of the one who is in power! Five life-shifting words:
Exodus 3:12 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 isn't the guy who wants to cast you in His epic story because He is desperate for anyone who will show up. This is the author, perfector, designer, creator, director, and sustainer of all things. “I WILL BE WITH YOU!”
God has given that life-shifting statement to everyday, average, unlikely people time and time again. It is those same words Jesus told His previously cowardly, failed, and scared disciples. After experiencing the risen Christ and hearing the promise that He would be with them all the way, what did they do? They rose up and gave all they had to their faith as they gave birth to the church.
The question for us is, “What have we done with those words?”
God says: “I will be with you.” How have you woken up and lived life this last week as a result of those words? Has it been, “Thank God! Having You around will make things easier and more convenient,” or “Ok God, I’ll remember that when I can’t seem to do it on my own,” or has it been, “God, I recognize it as being all from You and for You. I trust that You will lead me, sustain me, and use me for Your purposes. Let’s go!”
One of the things that helps us is to rightly know and remember who God is, is to understand what His name is. In our text, we get one of the most important insights into who God is as He describes to Moses His name!
Exodus 3:13-18 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?” 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.’” 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. Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’
What you need to understand about the religious system in Egypt in that day is a belief in many gods; these are “little-g”, little-pretender gods—a god of soil, of fertility, of the sun, of death. So, Moses is asking, “How do I describe You to those who believe in many gods? Which god will they think You are?”
Now listen to God’s answer:
Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am."
Now you might be thinking, “Well that just clears it right up!” But pay close attention to what He just said. “I am who I am” is taken from a Hebrew word that means “to exist”. What God is telling Moses is, “I exist, I am real!”
In this, He is totally slamming the entire religious system and putting to proper shame all the little-g, man-made gods.
He makes no excuses nor any explanations. He is as straightforward as He can be. I am! Whether you figure Me out or not, or whether you acknowledge Me or not, I am.
Next God says, “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” So, God’s name is “I am.”
Exodus 3:15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, “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 from generation to generation.
The Lord (all CAPS) L-O-R-D
The Lord = four Hebrew consonants (YHWH); these were so sacred that the Jewish people wouldn’t even pronounce them.
Our modern word for God’s name is “Yahweh”, so anywhere you see the word Lord in all caps in the bible this is a sign that it is in reference to the one, true God.
This is the name of God! YAHWEH! It is not a name to be taken lightly; it is full of power and wonder; it is a name describing His eternal power and unchangeable character. In a world where values, morals, and laws change constantly, we can find stability and security in our unchanging God.
This name is used 6,800 times in the Old Testament. Now think of the difference between knowing Him as GOD versus knowing him as YAHWEH—“He Is”! When God reveals His name, He is not only letting us get to know Him, He is proclaiming who He is.
So, when He says, “I am,” He is saying, “I am huge, I am it, I am vast, I am who I am!” No matter what you think, or have been told, I am.
I Will Put My Power on Display for All to See and Talk About
Exodus 3:19-22 “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”
God raises Pharaoh to power and then hardens his heart to not let His people go so that God can put His power on display. In each interaction with Pharaoh and each plague to follow, Moses remains faithful. He leads the Israelites to the mouth of the Red Sea where God will put His power on display again. God uses Moses for so many mighty works in delivering a nation out of bondage. Surely Moses could have tried to make his new leadership and fame about himself but instead he remains faithful and continues to make it about God.
In Exodus 20, we read about God giving this law to Moses and His people. The Ten Commandments are the cornerstone of God’s expectations of His creation. They are God’s moral law for how mankind should honor God above all else and love and honor one another before themselves. These are moral expectations God has had on His creation from day one, but God personally wrote them into stone so that the people would be clear about His expectations.
At Moses’ death, this is said of him:
And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)
Moses thought the Israelites would not obey him and that he was too “slow of speech and of tongue” to lead Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 3:1-4:17). Yet the Lord, in His patience and grace, remained with Moses and strengthened his hand. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Moses stared down the mightiest king on the planet (Exodus 4:18-14:31), led the Israelites against the Midianites (Numbers 31), and did many other mighty works.
Despite years of serving the Lord, however, Moses never steps foot into the Promised Land; rather, Joshua leads Israel into Canaan (Deuteronomy 31:1-8). Even though Moses does not enter the land, God grants him a vision of it, reminding Moses that the promise to the patriarchs (Genesis 15) would come to pass. Moses dies on Mount Nebo after seeing Canaan, and God, Himself, buries him (Deuteronomy 34:1-8)—probably to guard against the people later building an idolatrous shrine to Moses. Being buried by the Lord, of course, was also a great honor.
Death before entering Canaan was earthly discipline for Moses, who failed to trust God at Meribah-kadesh (Deuteronomy 32:48-52; see Numbers 20:1-13). Even the greatest old covenant prophet had to learn that his place in the kingdom is through a grace that covers all his failures. No less than all the other saints of God, Moses had to recognize the truth of the old hymn Rock of Ages which says, “Not the labors of my hands can fulfill the law’s demands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; thou must save, and thou alone.”
What I love about the testimony of Moses is that it is far more a testimony about God. I want my life to be that way. I want the people who have walked with me, heard my preaching, and followed me, to have way more to say about all that God did in and through me in that time than what I did.
Soldiers, may we keep our eyes on the vertical and not just the horizontal. May we never forget that we are utterly dependent on the great I am who is with us always. May we never lose our gratitude or trust in God, even when what stands before us seems insurmountable.