Friday, 6 August 2010

Mission Impossible - Exodus Chapter 3-4

Preached by William Ford on 16th May 2010 in Cregagh Congregational Church, Belfast.(Apologies to the preacher if these words are not exactly what you said - they are what I heard through God's voice.)

William Ford - 16th May 2010. Exodus Chapter 3-4

An Impossible Mission?

Exodus 3

Moses and the Burning Bush

 1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up."

 4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
      And Moses said, "Here I am."

 5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6 Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

 7 The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."

 11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

 12 And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you [a] will worship God on this mountain."

 13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

 14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am . [b] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

 15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, [c] 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, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

 16 "Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.'

 18 "The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.' 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

 21 "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians."


a. Exodus 3:12 The Hebrew is plural.

b. Exodus 3:14 Or I will be what I will be

c. Exodus 3:15 The Hebrew for LORD sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for I am in verse 14.

Exodus 4

Signs for Moses

 1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"

 2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
      "A staff," he replied.

 3 The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground."
      Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 "This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you."

 6 Then the LORD said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, [a] like snow.

 7 "Now put it back into your cloak," he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

 8 Then the LORD said, "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground."

 10 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

 11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

 13 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."

 14 Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it."

Moses Returns to Egypt

 18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, "Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive."
      Jethro said, "Go, and I wish you well."

 19 Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead." 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

 21 The LORD said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.' "

 24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met {Moses} [b] and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched {Moses'} feet with it. [c] "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said. 26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom of blood," referring to circumcision.)

 27 The LORD said to Aaron, "Go into the desert to meet Moses." So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform.

 29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.


a. Exodus 4:6 The Hebrew word was used for various diseases affecting the skin-not necessarily leprosy.

b. Exodus 4:24 Or {Moses' son}; Hebrew him

c. Exodus 4:25 Or and drew near {Moses'} feet

How would we react if we were asked to do what Mosses was being asked? At eighty years of age, he was called to go back to Egypt. To Moses, the message looked to be a good one, until God asked him to deliver it and go to Egypt. Moses then gives four objections as to why God's idea was a bad one. Don't blame Moses, we would probably have done the same.

3:11 - WHO AM I? - Moses considered himself to be insignificant in the face of Pharaoh - a shepherd against a king. And yet God says - I am with you. Moses was right - he is insignificant, he is not special. BUT GOD IS!!

3:13 - WHAT DO I SAY WHEN THEY ASK GOD'S NAME? - The Israelites will ask Moses - what do you know about God? God answers - say I am who I am has sent me. Your lack of knowledge of me is sorted - don't worry.

4:1 - WHAT IF THEY DON'T BELIEVE? - God gives Moses three signs that actually pre-figure the plagues. The people will believe. God has equipped Moses.

4:10 - I AM INADEQUATE FOR THE TASK - I cannot speak to people. God says that He will give the words and the teaching.

On the face of things, these may look like fair objections - BUT they are all self-obsessed. Moses objections are all focused on why he cannot do this job. God answers all four objections in the same way - He switches Moses focus from himself on to God. So don;t look at the problems - look at God.

Acts 1 - You will receive power to be witnesses, Matthew 28 - I am with you always.

When God sends someone, He will equip them for that mission. So God sends us out wherever He calls us to go. This does not mean it will be easy, but God is faithful and will always be faithful.

4:13 - The last objection - that underlies all the other objections - SEND SOMEONE ELSE.

Up to now, God has dealt patiently with Moses. But read 4:14 Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses. Is it appropriate for us to refuse what God asks?

If we change our focus form us and me - and focus on God, then we can and we will. We just need to be willing to be used by God. (And just in case this inflates our ego - God also used Balaam's donkey.) He is important - we are nothing. The most important ability we can have is AVAILABILITY.

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