Sermon on Exodus 3:1-22 – “God’s Calling”

Sermon for Sunday, January 24th, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

Old Testament reading:

[Exo 3:1-22 ESV] 1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 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.” 13 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?” 14 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.'” 15 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. 16 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, 17 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.”‘ 18 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.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 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. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 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.”

New Testament reading:

[Phl 1:19-26 KJV] 19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest expectation and [my] hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but [that] with all boldness, as always, [so] now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether [it be] by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this [is] the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh [is] more needful for you. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Gospel reading:

[Mat 4:23-25 ESV] 23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

INTRODUCTION

God calls Moses. They did not have even landline phones yet in Midian, and certainly were without cell phones. But God calls Moses nevertheless. He literally calls to Moses from the burning bush saying “Moses, Moses” and he gives Moses his calling – to go to Pharaoh that he may bring God’s people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.

This is not Moses’ idea, it is God’s calling.

I. THE CALLING OF MOSES

“Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian.”

Reuel is now Jethro. And, as for Moses, he’s minding his business.

And some Christians contend that God doesn’t force his way in. That is, they contend upon some theory of “free will” that man must come to God. Well, that is never the case the Scriptures. Man cannot come to God. And God can barge in whenever he likes. He is God after all. There is none that seeks after God. But here is grace – God seeks after sinners. God blinded Saul on the road to Damascus and changed him from an enemy of the faith to an apostle of the faith. God gave Jonah a mission and made Jonah carry it out against his will. And now, while Moses is minding his own business, keeping the flock of Jethro, the Lord comes to Him.

Moses sees a bush that is burning, but not being consumed. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said “Moses, Moses.” God himself called Moses.

And “the angel of the Lord” is the Lord. That is how he then introduces himself. After Moses says “Here I am,” the angel of the Lord responds, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

In our account of the Exodus the people of God are yet in slavery in Egypt. We ended last week’s sermon with God remembering his Covenant. There, at the end of chapter 2, we read

[Exo 2:23-25 ESV] 23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel–and God knew.

Now, we continue on this theme. God says to Moses,

7 Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.

And perhaps Moses is now thinking, “Great, I’m glad YOU’RE going to do this.”

But the Lord says “Nah-uh” “I will send YOU Moses.”

And here’s Moses. A fugitive from Egypt. Married, has a son. Has a job – shepherding. And God wants to interfere in all that? And send Moses!?

II. INSTRUCTIONS FOR MOSES

And God gives Moses instructions. There are at least six instructions:

1. He’s to take the people out of Egypt

2. They are to serve God on this mountain (in Midian) (And this is the location of Mt. Sinai)

3. He’s to say “The God of your fathers has sent me to you” and that his name is “I AM WHO I AM.” This is where we learn of the divine name. God wants Moses to tell the people that God’s name is YHWH. Spelled in Hebrew: Yod-He-Waw-He. As Hebrew did not have vowels, the exact pronunciation is unknown, but we say Yawheh. At some point in history the vowels of the word “adonai” meaning “Lord” were borrowed and YHWH became “Jehovah.” This is a less accurate pronunciation than Yawheh.

The Lord is “I Am.” He does not change. He is. There is no a shadow of turning with thee. God depends on no other. He is not created, but is the creator of all things. And because God does not change, he cannot retract his promises!

4. He is to “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. 16 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, 17 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.”

5. He’s to say to Pharaoh “Let us go three day’s journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.”

6. And when they finally leave Egypt, they are t ask for silver and gold jewelry and clothing.

These are rather detailed instructions. More detailed than most prophets receive.

The Lord calls us to certain vocations and certain stations in life, but does not give us such detailed instruction as he gives the prophet Moses.

Our calling is not by the Word of God spoken to us as God spoke to Moses, but our calling – each one of us – must be in accord with the Word of God which is the Scriptures.

The Lord allows us much freedom in choosing our vocation, our job and career. But, we are not entirely free in this choice. Each person has certain gifts, and you must chose a livelihood that befits your gifts or you will be quite miserable. A bookish man probably ought not be a mechanic, and many mechanical men would be quite displeased to live an accountant. And we are limited by the employments that exist.

I heard this saying the other day – “Everyone wants to write poetry and eat tacos, but no one wants to make tacos and consume poetry.” As an author myself I know how difficult it is to sell books. And I must imagine most budding poets struggle to find any audience. There are jobs a plenty in the restaurant industry, but few but the greatest poets can make their living in such a pursuit.

So we limited in our calling by our skills to an extent, and by the forces of supply and demand.

But when we are called by God into whatever work it is or whatever place in life it may be, we are to embrace the calling. We ought not to doubt our purpose. The Lord has brought you to where you and has done so for a purpose. We ought not to doubt that.

Moses expressed his doubts to God when God called him to the be deliver of the Israelites.

III. OVERCOMING DOUBTS

Moses, apparently feeling insufficient for the task, says to God “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Who am I?

Perhaps we each ask this ourselves?

Who am I do solve this challenging problem at work? Who I am to juggle all of life’s responsibilities. Who am I?

You are called of God.

And as Moses is encouraged by the Lord, so you are to be encouraged.

The Lord says to Moses “But I will be with you.” [But I will be with you]

This is the covenant promise.

I will be thy God.

[Gen 17:7-8 KJV] 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

[Exo 6:7 KJV] 7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

[Isa 41:10 KJV] 10 Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Moses shall not go alone. He has the Lord with him.

And all the Lord promises Him shall happen. “So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” (v. 22)

CONCLUSION

In our age, unlike perhaps any others, many suffer with loneliness.

But the Lord knows of your suffering. He hears your cries.

And you are not alone! [REPEAT: You are not alone.]

The Lord says, “I will be with you.” “I will be your God.”

Moses is weak, but God is strong. To the Lord be the glory. He will use you – weak as you are – to carry out His plan and to bring Him glory.

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