Welcome to the Old School series where we go back to the Old Testament to discover what God was doing and what it means to us today. The challenge we have this summer is that the story of the Old Testament is a 4,000 years long story. And, we only have thirteen weeks this summer. That means we can’t even begin to jump into every story. So, one of the challenges we want to give you is read the Old Testament and send us your questions.
Last week, Sam talked about Abraham. Do you remember what he talked about? God’s timing. What do you do when you feel God is leading in your life but there are no results? You feel like God is with you or has promised you something and that thing you want so badly, just doesn’t seem to be happening. What do you do? That’s the story of Abraham. Abraham was seventy-five years old and God gave Abraham an incredible promise. Twenty-five years later, his son was born. Sam did such a good job walking us through that story and gave us this awesome scripture.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times. MSG Lamentations 3:25
Think about this. How are you at passionately waiting while not getting the results you want and at the same time, diligently seeking God?
Today, we jump into the story of Moses. To give you context of Moses’ life, his great-grandfather was Abraham. Abraham has Isaac. Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Do you remember the story of Jacob tricking his brother out of his birth right for a bowl of soup? They were Isaac’s sons.
Now this is where the story gets a little complicated. Here is the simple part— Abraham to Isaac to Jacob. What makes it a little confusing is, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. Israel then had twelve sons. They became known as the Children of Israel or the Israelites.
One of Israel’s sons was named Joseph. Do you remember the story of the brothers selling Joseph to the slave traders? Joseph ends up in Egypt and becomes Pharaoh’s number one leader. Years after Joseph, the Egyptians forced the children of Israel into slavery and they remained slaves for 430 years. In slavery, the Israelite population grew and grew. Pharaoh got scared and came up with the idea to kill the baby boys.
That is when Moses enters this story.
1:22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” 2:2 Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. NIV Exodus 1:22-2:6
Moses is then raised in Pharaoh’s palace and was royalty for 40 years. One day, Moses is watching an Egyptian beating a slave, his own countryman, so Moses kills the Egyptian. Because of this, Pharaoh comes after Moses to kill him. This forced Moses to run for his life to Midian. In Midian, Moses gets married and becomes a shepherd. Years pass. Pharaoh died and the slavery in Egypt gets worse. One day, 40 years later when Moses is 80, this is what happens.
3 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.”
…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.” NIV Exodus 3:1-7
God sees the pain and suffering. God wants to do something about it. What does God do? He invites Moses into what He is doing. Isn’t that awesome? Wouldn’t you like that? Wouldn’t you like a burning bush experience? Don’t you wonder sometimes, what does God want from me? How can I join God in what He is doing? Does it sound exciting to be the solution for God? Don’t you want your life to count for God? This story of Moses sounds awesome and crazy. A burning bush. Freeing a nation from slavery. It’s epic.
Before we move on, I have to tell you, this story is a story about you. God sees pain and suffering around us, in our towns and in our school districts. God wants to do something about it. What does God do? He invites you into what He is doing. Isn’t that awesome?
Let’s see how Moses responds and see if you feel the same way Moses does.
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.” NIV Exodus 3:11-12
Moses thought he knew who he was. He is 80. He is a shepherd. He hasn’t been in Egypt for 40 years. He looks at himself and concludes, ‘Who I am to join God in what He is doing?’
When God speaks to your heart, how do you respond? Do you look at yourself and all the ways you come up short and conclude you are disqualified? When you hear that God is inviting you into what He is doing, don’t you want to say, “Who am I?” What have you concluded about yourself?
Can I tell you something, you don’t know who you are, but God does. The reason you don’t know who you are is because you are too focused on why you don’t measure up. You need to take the focus off of yourself and turn it to God and who He sees in you.
Let’s see how Moses responds.
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. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” NIV Exodus 3:13-14
Moses was concerned he didn’t have the credentials for them to believe him. It’s a huge risk to show up to a group of slaves and say, God has revealed this new thing to me and you need to risk your life and follow me. They are going to demand something from Moses to prove that it’s worth taking the risk. Any rebellion will end in beatings or death.
When God speaks to your heart, how do you respond? The thing God is inviting you into, do you think it is a huge risk? Do you wonder how people will respond to you? Are you afraid that you don’t have the right credentials?
4:1 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” NIV Exodus 4:1
Moses is asking, “God, will you come through for me?” That’s when God does miracles for Moses. The staff becomes a snake and then a staff again. His hand becomes white with leprosy and then is healed again.
When God speaks to your heart, how do you respond? Do you wonder, ‘God will you come through for me?’ Has that been your fear in following after God? Fear that God won’t be there when it counts?
Moses continues to find reasons why he can’t join God in what He is doing.
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.” NIV Exodus 4:10-12
Clearly, Moses is looking for any excuse not to go. There is a burning bush in front of him. He is standing on Holy Ground. God is speaking. God just did two powerful miracles. And Moses says, ‘I’m not good at speaking.’
Many times, God is all over you. God has forgiven you. Healed you. Allowed you to experience His grace. He has provided for you. He has protected you. Then God invites you into what He is doing. How do you respond? Do you come up with any silly excuse in hopes God will leave you alone?
God has to remind Moses, take your eyes off of yourself, there is something bigger going on, and look to me. I created your mouth, I can do anything.
Moses finally just comes out and says it.
13 “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” NIV Exodus 4:13
Moses just doesn’t want to do it. He wants to stay comfortable. He has a wife, a child, a job. He is secure. What God is asking of Moses is going to mess up everything Moses has planned.
When God speaks to your heart, how do you respond? Do you ignore it in hopes God will leave you alone? Do you want God to find someone else to do it? Do you think, oh man, this is going to mess up every plan I have?
I want you to see how God responds to Moses.
14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses…
God gets angry. God hears and sees the pain and suffering of the Israelites. God wants to free them. God is inviting Moses into something beautiful. God is going to bless him and protect him. And all Moses can do, is think about himself. If you were God, you would be angry and frustrated, too.
God then says to Moses…
14 “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. NIV Exodus 4:14-18
The story of Moses sounds crazy. We think, if God gave me a burning bush experience, then surely, I would follow God anywhere. Truth is, this story is about us. God sees pain and suffering. God is inviting us into what He is doing. How do you respond to God? Do you enter into a wrestling match with God as to why you could never do it?
Do you disqualify yourself by asking, who am I God? What if people don’t understand or believe me? But God, I don’t know if you will come through for me. God, I’m not qualified, I don’t speak well. And do you want to push God away and say, ‘God, just send someone else.’
Please hear me. Today is your burning bush. Today is your moment. If you want to experience God, it demands that you get rid of excuses and take one step.
Moses did do what God wanted. He lead the people for 40 years and died at age 120. And Moses fully experienced God.
The problem we have in following after God, we are like Moses. God invites us into what He is doing and it seems unnerving to us. Instead of joining God, we wrestle with God. We come up with so many excuses as to why we could never do it. We wait for God to give us a perfect road map and a promise that everything will work out. We begin to ask questions to try to understand how God will work. We wait and as we wait, we feel the sense of worry and doubt and fear move in on us. We conclude, ‘I can’t.’ And we never experience God.
Moses’ story is a story about you. God is inviting you into what He is doing. If you want to experience God, get rid of your excuses and take one step.
Let me ask you, what has God been saying to you?