First Mennonite Church
April 19, 2015
God and His Self-revelation II
Text: Exodus 4:1-17
Last Sunday we began to see that it is the nature of God to reveal himself. From Genesis to Revelation, story after story tells us about God’s work, his compassion, and of his plans for humanity. Last Sunday we saw how God revealed himself to Moses. Moses was fleeing from Pharaoh and just as he was settling down, God called from a burning bush and there he revealed his name to Moses. I finished by saying that to those whom God reveals himself, their life is redirected and given a new purpose. In the case of Moses, God said to him, “I have seen the anguish of my people; I have heard their cries, and I have come to deliver them. Now go and deliver my people.”
Time and time again, God’s self-revelation does not happen for the sake of providing to the object of his revelation a sense of superior enlightenment or the gratification of having his or her doubts about the existence of God clarified. When God reveals himself, it is with the purpose of using them to make him known to others. And that is a scary proposition. This might be the greatest obstacle for those who refuse to believe in God based on the argument that if He really exists, “to let him” or “it,” as they say, “show himself in a lightning bolt.” Again, those who refuse to believe in God because He has failed to clear out their doubts are not open to having their lives turned around and much less are willing to submit their lives to the demands of this God. Along with God’s revelation comes a high calling and that is the scary part about knowing God. It was scary for Gideon, for Isaiah, and for Jeremiah. It was scary for Peter. Peter was sort of giving up after Jesus’ death. But in John 21:18-19, Jesus comes to seek Peter after he had returned to his life as a fisherman. And Jesus commands him to feed his flock and to tend his sheep. Then Jesus tells Peter, “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go, wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said, “Follow me.” Being called by God implies that we no longer “fasten our own belt and go wherever we want,” but it is God who girds us and lead us where he wants us to go. God’s revelation to Paul and his calling was also difficult. This is what the Lord told Paul the day the Lord appeared him, ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me’ (Acts 26:16-18).
So let us have this very clear: when God reveals himself, he intrudes into the life of those he chooses to reveal himself. And here I am attempting to figure out, attempting to understand how God reveals himself to us. If we only take a closer look at Moses we will see that he would have preferred that God had not have appeared to him as God did. Moses would have preferred to remain anonymous, unsummon, or at least to continue to be someone lost in the crowds. Moses would have preferred to not to have known God or be known by God. That was because Moses was fully aware that once God showed himself to him, there would be no way Moses could escape, avoid, or dismiss the call from God.
Once again, my dear brothers and sister: God’s revelation and call are a serious matter. That is because when God reveals himself to someone, that someone is called to becomes an agent commissioned to make God known. And God has a good sense of humor also, although every so often God’s humor can only be understood in retrospect, not at the time of his interaction. You see, when God revealed himself to Moses, he identified himself as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God then told Moses that he had seen the misery of his people, that he had heard their cries, and that he was coming to rescue them. I am sure Moses was happy to know that God knew about the misery of the Israelites. I am sure Moses was happy when he heard God was coming down to rescue them. But right then the Lord said to Moses, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (3:10). God commanded Moses to go three times. But Moses began to present excuses before God.
Five point of resistance
- Who am I? Moses asked God. And God’s reply was, “You are not by yourself and alone. I will be with you!” The question of “who am I” has echoed throughout the centuries and still echoes among God’s people today. Who am I to do this or that? Who am I that I should give this or that? Who am I to care for these or those? Who am I to bear with this or that? Who am I to sacrifice my time, money, patience, or even my thoughts? Let us know what Moses found out when he asked God this question. God said to Moses, “I will be with you.” In other words, “you are not alone.” And this is God’s assurance to us today also. When the task given to us looks enormous, when the people we need to deal with seems impossible, God tells us we are not alone. When the mission seems impossible, God’s promise to Moses become ours too. “I am with you!”
- I do not know your name. What if the people ask me who has sent me, what name shall I say to them has sent me? And God answered him, “I AM WHO I AM.” Therefore go and gather the elders and go to Pharaoh and tell him “the Lord has met with us…” (3:18). We will know the Lord in the assembly of brothers and sisters. In the community of brothers and sisters God’s work will shape up before our very eyes. In the community of believers we will be able to know the name of God. In the fellowship gathered together we will have God’s assurance that he has met with us. As in the words of Jesus: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
- What if they do not believe me? This is one of the difficult challenges every Christian faces, to not be believed. This is the most challenging issue church leaders have: to lose credibility or to have irremediable skeptics among those they work with. But this is how God addressed this problem to Moses. God asked him, “What do you have in your hand?” Moses said, “My staff.” “Throw it on the ground,” commanded the Lord. And the staff became a snake. “This shall be a sign that I have spoken to you,” the Lord answered Moses. Again my dear friends, if we need any proof that God has manifested himself to us and have called us to do something, let us look no farther. Let us begin by using what it is we have in our hands. Use your gifts to honor God. Use your voice to speak of God. Use whatever the Lord has place in your hand and give witness.
- I have never been eloquent. I am slow of speech! I fully sympathize with Moses on this. You are my witnesses that for more than nine years I have been stammering, mumbling, and often butchering the English language. In the case of Moses, it was not that he did not know either the Egyptian or Hebrew language. His excuse in part was that he was inarticulate, but most of all he was afraid to speak the message of God’s deliverance he was being given by the Lord. Is it not fear of communicating God’s salvation our greatest difficulty in sharing the gospel message too? Our ineloquence is not that we cannot speak as much as it is our fear to speak of the good news. God has revealed himself to us. He has called our name. He has sent us with a message and our excuse is that we cannot speak.
- This was God’s response to Moses, “Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” And this is also God’s assurance to us today. Let us open our mouth and let us allow God to help us speak and tell us what to say. But let us open our mouths!
- Please send somebody else! God’s anger rose against Moses. Nonetheless, Moses went and faced his fears. But most of all, once Moses began to obey, Yahweh began to reveal himself through Moses. In the end, Moses was known as a great man of God, the liberator of Israel. Moses became the man through whom Pharaoh came to acknowledge Yahweh as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Israel!
Moses knew the Lord and trusted each word that the Lord spoke to him. God, on the other hand, never failed Moses.
Let me close with these words of Psalm 9, verse 10: “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
The Lord desires to reveal himself to us, if we are willing to obey his word. It is my prayer that the Lord reveals to each of us afresh. It is my prayer that we would learn to know the Lord. It is my prayer that we obey the Lord. Amen!