Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Call of God (Exodus 3:1-4:17)

I can distinctly recall the conversation I had with a fellow church member many years ago in the hallway of another church. I was talking to him about spiritual disciplines and serving the Lord, and he said, “Well, we are not all called like you are.” Now, to be perfectly clear, I wasn’t talking about preaching sermons or pastoring a church. I was talking about basic things that are essential to the Christian life – things like prayer, Bible study, godly living, and sharing the love of Christ with others in practical ways. But in his mind, these were things with which “normal Christians” need not concern themselves with. In his opinion, these things are reserved for the “professional religionists,” like pastors.

The mindset that this man had is unfortunately all too common. In fact, one of the greatest contributions of the Protestant Reformation to church life today is the tearing down of the wall of separation between the so-called “Clergy,” and the so-called “Laity.” Fundamental in the ideals of the Reformers was the priesthood of all believers. While we may not have a vocational call to serve the Lord as a full-time career, all Christians have a calling to know the Lord and to grow in our relationship to Him, to serve the Lord and one another in His name, and to live for Him in faith and obedience. These should not be considered the subjects of seminary courses for the initiation of a class of spiritual elites. These should be the subjects of Sunday School classes and regular discussion in church life. The ministry does not belong to the pastor alone, but to all Christians. According to Ephesians 4:12, God has called teaching pastors to, among other things, “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ.” That means that the work of ministry and the edifying of the church is not something the pastor does alone, but something that his teaching and preaching should be enabling every Christian to do. And fundamental to that instruction is understanding the call of God.

There is much mystery that unnecessarily surrounds the idea of the call of God. Some would liken it to the NFL draft, in which God is looking for some especially gifted and talented people to select to help Him round out his lineup. In their minds, those who have been “called” are the spiritual elite, while the “normal Christian,” just sits on the sidelines as a spectator. Nothing could be further from the truth. The normal Christian life is not a spectator sport. Every believer is an active participant in the work of God’s kingdom. The specific gifts and roles that we have will vary from person to person, but God has called every Christian to serve Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 is the favorite passage of many Christians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” But we must keep reading, for verse 10 of the same passage (the very next sentence!) says of all who have been saved by grace through faith, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Similarly, Jesus said to all of His followers, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16).

There are few, if any, passages of Scripture that are more informative for us in understanding the call of God than Exodus 3 and 4, in which Moses received a clear call from God and responded to it. So as we look at this text today, it is our goal to understand more about how God calls us to serve Him, and what that call entails for every one of us.

I. The call to serve God comes in the course of normal life and work (3:1-4).

When you survey the vast and diverse landscape of world religions and belief systems, you will find that there are some common threads that all of them (or many of them) share. One of the most obvious, which is counter to biblical Christianity, is the notion that one must work hard to gain God’s favor. By the performance of a regimen of religious duties and rituals, one becomes favorable to God and is thereby granted a reward. Christianity stands alone in proclaiming that God’s favor comes by grace alone and is received by faith alone apart from any works that can be done by us. Christians are not those who are trying to work their way up to heaven, but rather those who have trusted in the God who has come down to save us because we could not work our way to Him. It is not the exalting our ourselves before God, but the condescension of God to us, the laying down of His own life on the cross as the payment for our sin-debt, that we may be saved from sin and reconciled to Him.

Another common thread found in many belief systems, particular in cults, is the notion of an exalted spiritual leader who received some special revelation from God when he or she withdrew from the world and went on a quest of spiritual discovery. The accounts of the visions of Muhammad and those of Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism), to name but a few, are eerily similar to one another in that way. But in the Bible, we do not find the call of God coming to those who are waiting for it or preparing for it. A biblical notion of the call of God does not discount or exclude preparation, but that preparation comes in response to the call, not as a prerequisite for it. In fact, just as we see with Moses, the call of God typically comes to those who are engaged in the normal course of life and work.

We find Moses in the opening verses of Exodus 3 “pasturing the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law.” He wasn’t up on a mountain top waiting for the clouds to part or for the heavenly tablets to fall into his lap. He was busy working hard at the same job he’d been doing for 40 years or so in Midian. Remember, he had an inkling that God was calling him to a special role of service before he went to Midian. He had tried to begin the task of liberating Israel by killing off an Egyptian and intervening in a dispute between two Hebrews. Imagine, when his father-in-law first said to him, “Go out and shepherd my flock,” if Moses had said, “Well, I’d love to, but you know, I don’t want to get tied down to anything like that, because I think God has bigger plans for me.” Just a tip – if someone wants to marry your daughter, and has that attitude, you might need to have a long talk with him, and your daughter!

I dropped out of college after my sophomore year. I was beginning to sense God was calling me to ministry, but I didn’t know what to do with that. So I thought I’d just come home and loaf until God made it clear. Well, I soon found out that I needed money to survive, so I got a job. My pastor asked me why I got a job instead of enrolling in a Bible college or something, and I said, “Well, I’m just going to do this until God makes His calling more clear for me.” And my pastor said, “Then He never will!” He gave me some of the best advice I have ever gotten. He said, “Don’t do this job until you go into the ministry; make this job your ministry and work hard like you are going to be the next president of the company.” By God’s grace, I did just that. In a couple of weeks time, I went from being a part-time sporting goods salesman to being the manager of the store, and took every opportunity I could to be a witness to my employees. I found myself being something of a “chaplain” to them. And within a year, I had the top store in the company. And it was then that God made the next step of His calling more clear to me. When I gave my notice that I was leaving to enroll in Bible college to prepare for a ministry career, the owner of the company told me I could have any position I wanted in the company if I would stay, and promised me I would always have a job if I ever changed my mind. 

What’s the point of telling you all of that? It is this: I learned from my personal experience what I see here in the biblical account of Moses. God’s calling comes in the course of normal life and work. God is not looking for lazy mystics on mountain tops. He is looking for people in the trenches who are not afraid of or allergic to hard work. And though He has a calling for each of us, He will not disclose it to us until we begin to serve Him in our everyday lives with every opportunity in front of us. People ask me all the time, “Can I take a test to discover my spiritual gifts?” Or they might say, “I don’t want to serve in any role in the church until I know for sure what God is calling me to do.” That is not how it works. God reveals Himself and His calling to us as we do what is already before us. My service in the church began with my friend asking me to help him pass out bulletins and take the offering one Sunday. Next thing I knew, I was being asked to read the Scriptures and pray in the service; then to teach Sunday School; and so on. And I never said no to any opportunity. But through all of that, I began to discover my gifts and God’s specific calling began to grow clearer in my heart. Step up and show up! Do the ordinary things, the mundane things, the routine things, and in the course of so-doing, God will reveal the next steps of His calling to you.

II. The call to serve God begins with a call to intimacy with God (3:2-6).

In the doing of ordinary things, Moses observed an ordinary sight – a bush on fire in the desert. That’s not unusual. Moses had spent enough time out there in the desert to know that, no matter how hot it got in the daytime, it often got cool in the evening. So it was not unusual for a shepherd or a Bedouin to set fire to a bush for warmth. It was not the burning bush that captivated Moses’ attention and beckoned him to inquire more closely. It was the fact that this bush was burning unattended, and the fire was not dying out. You have perhaps seen how quickly fire will consume a dry twig. This one was not consumed. That was odd. Moses could not avoid checking this out.

Of course, God knew that Moses’ attention would be captivated by this phenomenon. That is why He orchestrated it this way. He doesn’t always confront us with burning bushes, but He confronts us all in ways that are suited to what He knows will impact us as the bush did for Moses. But it was not the bush or the blaze that was important here. What was important was the presence of God within the burning bush.

Verse 2 says, “The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush.” So, we have a question: Did Moses encounter God, or did He encounter an angel of God? Well, in short, the answer is “YES.” Now, I need to explain that a bit. To begin with, let’s be clear about the meaning of the word, “Angel.” It does not mean, strictly, a winged heavenly being who looks like a beautiful woman or a naked baby strumming a harp. In fact, none of the Bible’s descriptions of angels are remotely similar to those ideas. And the word means, quite literally, “Messenger.” So, in some cases where the context does not clearly indicate otherwise, the “Angel” could be a human being who is bringing a message from God. The “angels” of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 seem to be the pastors of these churches. Throughout the Bible, we find accounts of heavenly, spiritual angels doing God’s work – not as many accounts as we may assume are there, but there are enough to notice. Now, in a small number of these angelic accounts, there is a specific Hebrew phrase used to describe the angel. It is literally, “THE Angel of YHWH.” That is what we find here. When we compare all of these passages with each other, it seems clear that “the Angel of the Lord” is a special and unique being.

When people interact with “the Angel of the Lord,” they do not reflect back on it as an encounter with a heavenly, spiritual being, but rather as an encounter with God Himself. And in these encounters, it is not the “angel” who is said to speak, but the Lord Himself who speaks. Just look throughout this passage. After introducing the figure as “the Angel of the Lord” in verse 2, the rest of these two chapters describe interactions between Moses and God. So, from all of the available biblical data, “the Angel of the Lord,” seems to refer to a Person who is at the same time God, and distinct from God. The Angel of the Lord represents a merciful “accommodation or condescension” of God into the midst of sinful people. He is fully divine, and yet veils His deity in part so that He may confront and interact with sinners. And it is worth noting that “the Angel of the Lord” who figures so prominently in several critical texts of Old Testament Scripture never shows up again on the scene after the birth of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is with a large degree of confidence that we may concur with Alec Motyer, who says,

There is only one other in the Bible who is both identical with and yet distinct from the Lord. One who, without abandoning the full essence and prerogatives of deity or diminishing the divine holiness, is able to accommodate himself to the company of sinners and who, while affirming the wrath of God, is yet a supreme display of his outreaching mercy. Such indeed, is the Angel of the Lord as revealed in the Old Testament, and, consequently … understood as a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.[1]

Some use the term “Christophany” to describe these appearances of the eternal Son of God coming into the world to deal with the people of God prior to the incarnation and birth of Jesus. And so we should understand this interaction of Moses with the Angel of the Lord here at the burning bush. Moses was not interacting with a bush, with an angel, or with any other created being, but with God Himself, and more particularly with the God who would take upon Himself human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.

So, the point we are trying to make here is that the call of God begins with a call to intimacy with God. It is a call to move beyond knowing about Him, to knowing Him more completely as He truly is in the fullness of His divine nature. And to demonstrate the intimacy into which God was calling Moses, He calls out to him by name in verse 4: “Moses, Moses.” Lest Moses make the mistake of believing that this divine condescension allows him to be overly familiar with God and less reverent toward Him, God gives to Moses an instruction on how He is to be approached.

First, He says, “Do not come near here.” Because God is holy and we are sinners, there is a necessary separation between us and Him. God tells Moses that “the ground” is holy. It is not the ground itself, but the presence of God that makes that holy ground. A moment before God showed up, and a moment after He departed, it was “regular ground.” But where God is holy, because He transforms all He touches into holiness, or else He consumes it with the fire of His wrath. The message to Moses is not that God cannot be approached at all, but that God must be approached His own prescribed way. And that way is to have our uncleanness made clean. For Moses, this was symbolized by the removal of his shoes.

Now, I’ve had opportunity to host several groups of people from other religious backgrounds here and discuss the Christian faith with them. When I stand on the front steps with them, I say, “In your religion, what should you do before you enter the place of worship?” They say, “Take off our shoes.” I say, “Right, but you don’t have to do that here. The dirtiest thing you bring into God’s presence is not your feet, but your heart. And you can’t take that out and leave it outside, but the God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ can change your dirty heart and make it clean.” That’s the point here. Moses’ shoes were dirty, as all shepherds’ shoes would be. But they were just a symbol of God making a way for sinners to draw near to Him by being made clean. We cannot come into God’s presence or draw near to Him in intimacy without Him making us clean. And it was as Moses followed God’s instructions on how to draw near to Him that God began to reveal Himself and His call to Moses.

Friends, of greater importance than what God is calling you to do for Him is His call for you to draw near to Him in the intimacy of a personal relationship. When Jesus appointed His apostles, the Bible said it was so that they would “be with Him” first and foremost, and that “He could send them out to preach” secondarily (Mk 3:14). You will never do more for God than you are with God. Moses had to learn that, and we must all learn it to.

III. The call to serve God is rooted in God’s heart, not ours (Ex 3:7-10).

I suppose that there are many who are in the service of the Lord who began doing so because they saw great needs in the lives of people, and were moved with pity and compassion to do something to meet those needs. That is good and noble. But let me tell you from experience, your heart for people and their needs cannot – and better not—be the foundation of your understanding of God’s call to serve Him. Why would I say that? It is because people will hurt you, disappoint you, and resist you, and if you deal with that enough, the reservoir of your compassion will dry up and you will become cynical and jaded and walk away from serving the Lord. This is why, when Jesus called and commissioned Peter to serve Him following the resurrection, He did not say, “Peter, do you love my sheep? Then feed them.” No, the question to Peter was, “Do you love ME?” And it was on the basis of Peter’s love for Jesus Christ that the Lord said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Peter was a lot like Moses. He had early on discerned God’s calling on his life, but he had blown it badly. Peter had denied the Lord. Moses had tried to God’s will his own way, resulting in a shady murder and causing him to lose the respect of those he wished to serve. But just as Jesus would later do with Peter, we see God here with Moses anchoring his call to service in the proper soil – the heart of God, not the heart of Moses. God did not say to Moses, “Have you seen the affliction of these people?” He said, “I have seen the affliction of My people.” He did not say, “Have you heard their cries?” He said, “I have given heed to their cry.” He did not say, “Are you aware of their sufferings?” He said, “I am aware of their sufferings?” And He did not say, “Will you go down to deliver them?” He said, “I have come down to deliver them.” “Therefore,” in verse 10, He says to Moses, “I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Of course Moses had seen their affliction, and he was aware of their sufferings. But God’s point to Moses is that Moses’ affection and compassion for his fellow Israelites was not enough to compel or sustain him in the service of God. These people would prove to be more obstinate than Jethro’s sheep over the course of the Exodus. If Moses’ call to service was rooted in his own heart for these people, he would have given up many times over. But his call to serve the Lord was anchored in a much more solid and unshifting bedrock – and that was the love of the Lord for His people. It was His heart and His compassion, His desire for His people that was the root of Moses’ call to serve Him. 

Being aware of a need that you can help meet is good, and it is good to act on that awareness. But, the call of God will become most powerful in your life as you move beyond your own compassion and affection for others and begin to see God’s heart for them. Moses had to learn that no matter how much he longed for the burden to be lifted from Israel’s neck, God longed for it all the more. You love the church and long to see God work in and through it? Good. But God loves it and has greater plans for it than you do! You have pity on a lost and dying world? I hope so! But until you recognize God’s love for the world as being far greater than yours, you will not be able to survive the mission to which God has called you. So the call to Moses was not to serve until the limited resources of his finite reservoir of compassion ran dry, but rather to serve in devotion to the God who loved him enough to give him a second chance when he had blown it in the past, and who loved others enough to send him to them.

IV. The call to serve God rests on God’s ability, not ours (3:11-22).

They say you cannot judge a book by its cover, but if you could then Jill Briscoe’s little study of Exodus might be one of the best books ever written. The title is simply this: Here Am I – Send Aaron. Moses has been personally encountered by the Lord God Almighty in an awesome and miraculous display of His holiness and glory. He has been drawn into intimacy with God, and God has opened His heart to Moses. By God’s grace, He has commissioned Moses to the high task of being Israel’s deliverer. But Moses doesn’t want to do it, so he makes a string of excuses here.

Now it should be noted that none of Moses’ excuses have anything to do with the enormity of the task. I suppose it would be somewhat understandable for him to say, “You want me to single-handedly go in and convince the Israelites to believe me, to convince Pharaoh to agree with these terms, and to lead this vast multitude out of Egypt and across this desert? No one can do that all by himself. It would take an army of men to pull this off!” But Moses never questions whether it can be done, or even whether it can be done by one man. He merely questions that it can be done by this man. All of his excuses center on his inability, his inadequacy, and his ineffectiveness.

In verse 11, immediately after God says, “I am sending you,” Moses says, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” Admittedly, this is a better response than if he had said, “Well, Lord, you got the right guy! I am completely able to handle this task.” The enormity of God’s call on any of us to serve Him should cause some introspection on our part. But God never gets the wrong guy. He sovereignly calls whom He will. The simple answer to Moses’ question, “Who am I?”, is this: “You are the one whom God has chosen for the task.” That is all the qualification needed. But in order to convince Moses of this, God gives him a promise and a sign. The promise is all-important. He says, “Certainly I will be with you.” Moses might be a nobody, but God is with him, and God is enough for any challenge or any task. So, when God calls His people to do something for Him, the question is never, “Who am I?”, but rather, “Who is God?” If we know the answer to that question, then we have no reason to back down.

The sign that God gives Moses is this: “When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” Catch that – the sign comes after the fact, not before. Moses will have to walk by faith before the proof comes. There are rare occurrences in the Bible and, even more rarely in our experience, when God gives a confirmation of His call prior to us taking action. More often, however, it is in hindsight that we discover that we have been in the center of His will. It takes a step of faith to act on God’s call, trusting that the confirmation will follow.

Moses’ second excuse goes something like this: “What if the Israelites don’t believe me?” He figures that when he says to them, “God sent me to you,” they will say, “Oh yeah, who is this God who sent you? What is his name?” You see, the Israelites lived in a universe densely populated with deities. They were surrounded by pagans who worshiped all sorts of gods and goddesses, so there should be some hesitation to believe someone just on the basis of a so-called message from God. It is the same for us. We should never just implicitly trust someone who says, “God says,” or “God told me,” unless they can back up the claim. And that claim is backed up by pointing to prior revelation. We do that by pointing to Scripture. God will not say anything here and now that contradicts His word recorded for us in the Bible. And it was also true for Moses. So when he says, “What if they ask me Your name?”, God says “I AM WHO I AM.” Tell them “I AM has sent me to you.” Now, you could fill an ocean with the ink that has been spilled on unlocking the meaning of this statement. We can’t improve on the translation of it. God is identifying Himself as the self-existent One; the One who is what He is, and not what others say He is. He is not whatever you want Him to be or imagine Him to be. He IS Who He IS! And to explain that to Moses, He identifies Himself more specifically by pointing back to how He has revealed Himself in history.

He says, “The LORD.” Your English Bibles should have all capital letters there for LORD. That is a way of indicating in English the divine name, YHWH. This, He says, is His name forever, His memorial name to all generations. YHWH is the God who had revealed Himself to the patriarchs of Israel, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This was not the sun god or the river god, the bird or crocodile god of Egypt. This was the God who was known and worshiped by the very men from whom the nation of Israel descended. And He tells Moses to let the Israelites know that this God has not forgotten His people, and is concerned for them and ready to bring them up from Egypt and into the land He promised to His people. You see, He is pointing them back to how God had already revealed Himself in the past. Therefore, God says with confidence and authority, “They will pay heed to what you say.” Even Pharaoh will become convinced after he witnesses the actions of the mighty hand of God performing miracles of judgment and deliverance in his midst. Even the neighbors of the Israelites will be so convinced that God is with them that they will hand over their riches to them just for the asking.

Moses’ excuses go on: “What if they do not believe me? What am I going to say? Why don’t you just send someone else?” But to every one of Moses’ excuses, God has an answer, and the answer always points back to Himself. It is not Moses’ ability that will get the job done. It is the unlimited and infinite ability of the God who promises to be with Moses and to confirm Himself to Moses, to Israel and to Egypt. When God calls us to serve Him, we will come up with many excuses why we cannot do it. And left to ourselves, our excuses are probably valid. But, praise God, in the work of His kingdom, we are never left to ourselves. We have the promise of the presence and power of the very same God who has revealed Himself powerfully throughout history in mighty ways. He will be with us as we serve Him, just as He was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and yes, even with Moses. Our confidence, therefore, is not in our ability, but in His.

V. The call to serve God comes with the resources to follow it (4:1-17).

I don’t know what kind of answer Moses might have expected when he asked the Lord, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?” I can only imagine that he did not expect the answer he received. The Lord responded to his question with a question of His own: “What is that in your hand?” And Moses said, “A staff.” It was not that the Lord was unfamiliar with a staff or needed information or explanation. He simply wanted Moses to recognize that what he already possessed could be used by God in ways he never imagined to accomplish the work to which God had called him.

A staff, you say? Well, then, “throw it on the ground.” And when Moses did, he was quite surprised to see that what was just a stick in his hand was something altogether different when God put it to work for Himself. It became a serpent, and Moses demonstrates his intelligence here by fleeing from it! And then the Lord said, “Now grasp it by the tail.” You have to understand, I am not a snake handling preacher. I don’t think Moses was either. But I know two things about grabbing snakes. One is, “Don’t do it!” But, if one must grab a snake, one must not grab it by the tail. You grab it by the neck so that it cannot wind back around and bite you. But God was showing Moses that human understanding must be transformed, even as this staff was transformed. God may call us to do things that are risky and dangerous, but if and when He does, we need not fear obeying Him. Moses snatched the serpent by the tail, and it became a staff once again.

He gave Moses two more signs. He could put his hand into his garments and draw it out again, and behold, it was like he had leprosy! But if he put it back in again, it was healed! He could take some water from the Nile and pour it on the ground, and it would turn to blood. What is the point of all these signs? There are many speculative theories, and surely some of them are more accurate than others. Likely, they all had to do with demonstrating God’s authority over Pharaoh, whose symbol of power was the cobra; over life and death, illustrated by the transformation of Moses’ hand; and over all the false gods of Egypt, chief of whom was the Nile river itself. But let us not miss this simple observation. Moses didn’t think he had what it would take to follow God’s call. God assured him that he did. He didn’t have much. But he had a staff, he had a hand, and he had the ability to draw water from the Nile. That will do. God can use all of those things to accomplish His purposes. Just as the little boy on the hillside offered to Jesus his lunch of five loaves and two fishes and watched Jesus multiply it into a meal that fed multitudes, God may ask of us, “What is in your hand? In fact, do you have a hand? And what is around you that I can make use of for My glory?” Whatever we have, if we allow God to use it, it becomes a tool for following His call.

But Moses’ calling was not to just go in and do parlor tricks to gain a following. He had to speak up and say something, and that was the thing that terrified him most. Notice in 4:10, he says, “Please  Lord, I have never been eloquent,” for he says, “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Does this mean he had a speech impediment? Or was it just a fear of public speaking, or a fear of speaking for God? We do not know. But we know how the Lord responded – again with a question of His own: “Who has made man’s mouth?” In other words, “Moses, do you think I don’t know how the mouth works? I made the mouth, the ears, and the eyes! I can make the mute to speak, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and vice-versa!” And lest Moses think he has to be eloquent or some kind of wordsmith, the Lord says, “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to say.” God is never at a loss for words, and He has the ability to put those words into any mouth He chooses to use. He used Balaam’s donkey to speak His words, so it is no stretch to think that He can also put words in Moses’ mouth, or mine, or yours. Jesus said that when we are thrust into a moment when we must speak for Him, we need not worry about finding the words, for the Holy Spirit will give us the words (Mk 13:11).

So, God promises Moses that He can use what Moses already has, including his hands, his staff, and his mouth. And then Moses says, “Please Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.” In other words, “Send someone else!” Couldn’t Moses see, God was sending the message by whomever He willed, and his name was MOSES! God doesn’t have backup plans. His patience wore thin with Moses at this point and the Bible says that His anger burned against Moses. That is an important point to remember when we see what comes next. God says, “I will give you a helper – Aaron, your brother.” Aaron was not “Plan B.” Aaron was a “consequence,” if you will, of Moses’ reluctance to accept “Plan A.” God says to Moses, “Look, if you don’t think you can deliver my message, just tell Aaron what to say. I will tell you, you tell him, and he will speak for you.” Now, as we read through Exodus, I hope you will pay close attention to how many times this happens. OK, I will give you a spoiler – not very often! In fact, Aaron will actually become more of a hindrance than a help to Moses in time – a reminder to him that if he would have just accepted God’s call willingly in the first place, he wouldn’t have to deal with the problems that arose because of Aaron!

Nevertheless, in God’s promise concerning Aaron, we have a very valuable illustration of how God imparts His word to and through us today. God says, “I speak to you, you speak to him, and he will speak for you. I will put the words in your mouth, and he will be a mouth for you, and you will be as God to him.” This is precisely how the Bible functions for us today. God has spoken His word to apostles and prophets, who have recorded those words under divine inspiration, providing for us an infallible and inerrant text of God’s Word. When we read the Bible, God is speaking to us. And when we proclaim what the Bible says to others, God is speaking through us. As we take it in, He is putting words in our mouth, and when we open our mouths, His words are what should come forth.

So, the call of God comes with all the resources we need to follow that call. He is able to use what we have. He is able to give us His word to speak on His behalf, and He has done so in the pages of the Bible. So we, like Moses, are left with no excuses not to follow the call that God sovereignly places on all of our lives to serve Him.

God has a calling for you, just as He did for Moses. How can you know what it is? Well, start by getting busy! Do something, do anything – shepherd sheep in the desert if you must. And in the course of so doing, God will confront you with how He intends to use you for His glory. But first He will call you into an intimate personal relationship with Himself. That relationship is possible because Jesus Christ has come down to deliver us from our sin, just as He came down to deliver Israel from bondage in Egypt. He will cleanse us and draw us into the fellowship of His holiness, even as He did for Moses. And from that relationship of intimacy with Him, He will send us forth to serve Him. We do not go because of what is stirring in our hearts, but because of what is stirring in His heart. Our work for God is rooted in the heart of God for a lost and dying world. And it is not carried out in our abilities, but in His. He has promised us His presence and His power, and every resource we need to be completely obedient to His calling.

[1] Alec Motyer, The Message of Exodus (The Bible Speaks Today; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2005), 51.

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