September 19, 2021 Service
Building a People of God With Unusual Characters: Moses, Part 1: A Man With Self-Doubts
- Building a People of God With Unusual CharactersWe finished Genesis as we finished the story of Joseph last week, and we will be diving into part of Exodus as we start to look at the second most important man that God uses to create his unique people. Of course, since its Exodus, its about Moses.We don’t need to spend too much time on the details of his early life; we have heard most of that since we were young, with the reed basket made into an ark of safety as Moses was placed among the reeds on the banks of the Nile.Where will will be going in our study of Moses is the ways that this important character has character flaws and strengths that match our own.Today, we want to see how Moses had many self-doubts, and how God met each of them.We will start the story at the opening verses of Exodus, but not reading them directly. I invite you to have your Bible open and you can read along with the scripture as I give my story-form outline using a few WHEN-THEN statements to move us through.What everyone knows about . . .The Plight of the People of Israel’s Clans-Joseph and his generation died-A new Pharaoh who didn’t care about Joseph-The multiplying Hebrews worried Egypt-Israel was subjected to slavery and put to work building Pharaoh’s store cities.What everyone knows aboutMoses’ Beginnings:WHEN Egypt became afraid of the HebrewsTHEN Pharaoh decided to have all male children killedWHEN the midwives wouldn’t comply,THEN Pharaoh decided to have male babies thrown in the NileWHEN a Levite family, Amram and Jochebed, she had a second son, who was healthy, she hid him 3 months.THEN she threw him into the Nile–but in a reed basket, and his sister Miriam watched where it went.WHEN Pharaoh’s daughter saw him, Miriam helped arrange Jocabed to wet-nurse him.THEN she returned him to the princess who adopted him and named him Moses: drawn out of the water.What We Know and Don’t KnowNow, everyone knows those stories from Sunday School or even movies or cartoons. Everyone thinks they know about the years of Moses in Egypt from the time of becoming the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, whatever her name was, until Moses decided to identify with the Hebrews whom he learned he was born from, but it is all screenplay, stories, and traditions that the Bible record in Exodus knows nothing about.But we don’t need to go there. We have a lot to talk about just from the records that we do have in the Bible. So that’s what we’ll stick with. So, we come to Exodus 2:11 and get this story ofMoses When He’s GrownWHEN after a number of years, Moses as a man saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew w/o mercy,THEN Moses struck the Egyptian and he died; Moses hid him in the sand.BUT this didn’t get him any points with the Hebrews, who didn’t trust this Egyptian who claimed he was Hebrew.WHEN Pharaoh heard about it, he put out an execution order against Moses;THEN Moses took off out of Egypt and went to Midian, across the Red Sea from Egypt, into lands the Pharaoh didn’t care about.We sort of know the story that happens next, because it is a familiar one from the stories of Isaac and Jacob, as well as Moses.WHEN Moses got to Midian, he sat by a well, wondering what to do, and he saw 7 sisters come with flocks.THEN the other male shepherds that were there harassed the sisters and so Moses defended them and drew the water from the well to take care of the flocks.WHEN the sisters went to tell their father,THEN the priest of Midian whose last name was Reuel, invited Moses into their home.THEN, later he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses as his wife.THEN his son Gershom (“I’m not from here”) was born to them.This all took years. Meanwhile, the Pharaoh who had put out the order on Moses’ life died. The Israelites cried out to God for rescue since their slavery was so bad. God heard them, and had in mind his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God knew what they were going through.We’re now back to a familiar part of the story, because, in Exodus 3 we have the story ofThe Burning Bush.That happened like this:WHEN Moses brought Jethro Reuel’s flocks to Horeb, a place of desolation where the Mountain of the Lord was, he saw a bush burning on the hill because an angel of the Lord settled in it as flames of fire.THEN Moses went to see what this was all about–a bush on fire that just kept burning but was never burnt up.WHEN the Lord saw Moses was there, God called out to Moses by name: “Moses, Moses!”THEN Moses answered, “Here I am.” to the GREAT I AM, and was told to go barefoot on holy ground.So let’s get to the scripture record in some bits and pieces as we focus on the core issues we want to get from this part of Moses’ life.What are the self-doubts that almost kept Moses from being used as one of the Unusual Characters that God Uses to Build His People.>>>First, what God the Lord has to say:The Lord Knows What’s Going On7 Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the territory of the Canaanites, Hethites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.The Lord Knows Whom He Will Send9 So because the Israelites’ cry for help has come to me, and I have also seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them, 10 therefore, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”But, people don’t always realize that God’s call comes with God’s gifting to get the important stuff done.Moses was told, “I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead my people out of Egypt.”That might be all well and good for God to say, but now, if you’re Moses, how would you feel about that kind of brief and complicated assignment?Where do you begin?Moses decided to take a dodge. Maybe a sidestep would help God change his mind.Moses’ First Objection: I’m a Nobodywhich, beyond “Why are you ordering me to go?” is recorded in11 But Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”Pretty much, here, Moses said to the Lord God of Heaven, “You’ve got the wrong man. I’m just a nobody.”His emotions are running deep I think, as he says, “Who am I?” “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?”There was a serious doubt for Moses that he should even begin to get on board with this whole enterprise.It’s like if God called any one of you listening to me today to go and have it out with the President of China (in terms of global influence right now), just because you can speak the language.God Has An Answer that’s characteristically God:12 He answered, “I will certainly be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I am the one who sent you: when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will all worship God at this mountain.”You hear the answer to Moses’ objection that he is just a nobody?God says, “So what? I’m going too.” I can imagine Moses saying to himself right now, “Oh, great. I’m going to show up in front of Pharaoh, king of the mightiest nation in the world—someone who can wave his hand and I’m dead—and my assurance that I should go and do that is this voice in my head and a memory that this bush that was on fire but not burning up.”That’s not all that God is saying here. Moses says he’s a nobody. “Who am I?” and God says “It’s not a problem who you are. The solution is who I am and that I will be with you.”“Oh, and here’s how you will know. After it’s all over, you’ll come back to this place with all the Israelites and worship me.”Moses says to himself, “So I won’t know that I’m not crazy until I get Pharaoh to set free hundreds of thousands of my people who are enslaved by Pharaoh, and march them out here to this desolate place. You know I think I am losing my mind with these grandiose thoughts.”>>>Well, Moses hasn’t gotten out of it yet. He better try something else. So now we read of . . .Moses’s Second Objection: I Don’t Know Your NameMoses tries to take another tack now. He says to himself, “OK, I’m supposed to go to Pharaoh. He will probably laugh me out of the palace, if he doesn’t kill me first.But what does any of that matter if the Israelites won’t even listen to me?”That seems like a good reason not to go. I’ve got no credibility with them.>>>Besides, who do i think is sending me?13 Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what should I tell them?”Moses: “I don’t even know your name”14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.God: “Look, I’m the God of the Universe. God almighty. Creator God. . I don’t need a name besides “I am who I am.” Tell them I’m the God of their ancestors. Tell them I sent you. That will do it.God says, “I don’t have any other name except that I AM. I don’t need any other name. Why would I? I know who I am”That’s the essence of what the name is that we know as “Yahweh”, which is written in Hebrew with four letters we write as YHWH in our alphabet.“I AM WHO I AM”Moses isn’t very comforted yet.Then God says,>>>Tell them I know what’s going on.16 “Go and assemble the elders of Israel and say to them: The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I have paid close attention to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt.Then tell them,17 And I have promised you that I will bring you up from the misery of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, Hethites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.>>>That will be enough, because,18 They will listen to what you say. Then you, along with the elders of Israel, must go to the king of Egypt and say to him: The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Now please let us go on a three-day trip into the wilderness so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.>>>Oh, and by the way, God says to Moses, I already know Pharaoh is not going to listen to you.19 “However, I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go, even under force from a strong hand. 20 But when I stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all my miracles that I will perform in it, after that, he will let you go.By the way, God says, you won’t leave naked and poor. Your women will get all the gold and silver and clothes they can carry from the Egyptians.>>>But, of course, Moses isn’t yet ready to go and do what God told him.Moses’ Third Objection: They Are Going to Say I’m Nuts1 Moses answered, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”No way they are going to believe me. Why should they? I don’t even believe what I’m hearing.>>>God offers Moses proof: his walking stick would become a snake.2 The Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied.3 “Throw it on the ground,” he said. So Moses threw it on the ground, it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 The Lord told Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grab it by the tail.” So he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand.What is Moses thinking now?God says, That will help them know you heard all this from me. In case that doesn’t work to convince them,>>>and it probably won’t be enough—try this one:6 In addition the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, his hand was diseased, resembling snow. 7 “Put your hand back inside your cloak,” he said. So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, it had again become like the rest of his skin.That should do it. If they don’t believe the one with the snake, they’ll believe the one with the skin.But, there’s one more proof you’ll have.9 And if they don’t believe even these two signs or listen to what you say, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the Nile will become blood on the ground.”So, you have the snake, the skin, and the blood. They’ll believe you.Moses’ Fourth Objection: I’m A Really Bad Speaker10 But Moses replied to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since you have been speaking to your servant—because my mouth and my tongue are sluggish.”So what if you can barely make a sentence. God says,11 The Lord said to him, “Who placed a mouth on humans? Who makes a person mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.”>>>This isn’t working. Moses will just have to get plain:Moses’ Fifth Objection: I Don’t Want to Go13 Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.”Not really a good answer to the Lord of the Universe. In fact, we read that the Lord, YHWH God, was getting really upset with Moses:14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses, and he said, “Isn’t Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, he is on his way now to meet you. He will rejoice when he sees you.So Aaron is coming. He’s looking forward to it. And,15 You will speak with him and tell him what to say. I will help both you and him to speak and will teach you both what to do.God Says, I Am Giving You Everything You Need!16 He will speak to the people for you. He will serve as a mouth for you, and you will serve as God to him. 17 And take this staff in your hand that you will perform the signs with.”The Objections of Moses are Objections We Share:I’m a nobody.I barely know who you are.They’ll think I’m nuts.I can’t talk in front of people.I don’t want to go.God’s Answers to Us Are the Same Too:It only matters who I am because I am with you.I will show you more of myself as you go.I will give you favor where I send you.I am responsible for your abilities.I will give you everything you need and more.
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