Last week’s sermon was like an edition of CSI: Egypt.
Moses encountered an Egyptian mistreating a Hebrew slave.
Moses killed the Egyptian.
Moses buried his body in the sand.
Pharaoh found out about it.
And Moses ran away to the hill country of Midian.
I. A Fiery Bush
40 years later…
Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law…and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (v.1)
This was Moses’ life now.
He worked for his father-in-law as a shepherd.
From the decadent palace of royalty.
To the dirty life of a shepherd.
But it was ok.
He had escaped Pharaoh.
He had escaped punishment.
He had escaped his past.
One day, Moses saw …a bush was on fire. (v.2a)
No big deal.
That’s common in desert climates.
A lack of water dries out a bush and the hot sun sets it ablaze.
Moses need only take note of where it was in relation to the sheep.
But the bush was not burning up. (v.2b)
Not in 5 minutes…
Not in 10 minutes…
Still not in 15…
Usually by that time the dry branches had given way and the bush would have collapsed on itself.
This bush was still standing.
But not burning.
So he said, “I will go over and look at this amazing sight—to find out why the bush is not burning up.” (v.3)
He got closer.
The twigs hadn’t broken.
The branches weren’t charred.
The leaves were still…
But as strange as it was that the bush didn’t burn up …
It was nothing compared to what happened next.
God called to Moses from the middle of the bush and said, “Moses!” (v.4)
Moses took a piece of cloth he usually used to clean up the sheep.
Stuck it into his ear.
There must be something in his ear.
“Moses!” the voice repeated.
“I’m here.” Moses looked around to see where the voice was coming from.
Was it Jethro?
One of the other hired hands?
That guy from the local café who always likes to pull his leg?
“Do not come any closer. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (v.5)
Moses looked down at his feet.
What he mean, “holy ground?”
This wasn’t a temple.
This wasn’t a sanctuary.
There wasn’t marble on the floor.
Or some kind of tile like design.
The voice continued, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (v.6)
Moses whipped off his sandals and fell to the ground.
This is it.
I’m done for.
All those years hiding.
God finally found me.
The jig is up.
I’m done for.
II. A Fiery Calling
But the Lord had something different in mind.
The Lord said, “I have certainly seen the misery of my people in Egypt, and I have heard their cry for help because of their slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…Come now, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” (v.7-10)
Moses must have been in shock.
He touched his body.
It wasn’t burnt to a crisp.
But the bad news?
God wanted him to go back to Egypt.
Moses said, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (v.11)
Maybe Moses thought…
I’m too old, God. 80 years old. Pushing 81. My knees don’t work the way a liberator’s knees should.
I’m too poor, God. I’m a shepherd now. Do you see my simple clothing and dirty hands? Why would royalty listen to me?
I’m too sinful, God. You remember…don’t you…if you don’t, I don’t need to tell you, but…what I did, right?
God, who am I to do such a calling?
God said, “I will certainly be with you.” (v.12)
But this led Moses to his next question:
“If 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?’ what should I say to them?” (v.13)
Because there are a lot of ‘gods’ in Egypt.
There’s the god of the sun, called Ra.
There’s the god that looks like an eagle.
The god that looks like a beetle.
These people even think cats are gods.
Cats think they are gods, too, but…
I’m not sure how seriously they will take me if I said, “I was sent here by a cat.”
God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. You will say this to the Israelites: I am has sent me to you.” (v.14)
Because I always was.
And forever will be.
I am the reason for life.
I am the reason for breath.
I am the reason for you.
I am the God of Abraham who promised him descendants as many as the stars.
I amt he God of Isaac who delivered him from a sacrifice on a mountain.
I am the God of Jacob who appeared to him in a dream with angels upon angels ascending and descending a ladder.
I am the one the Israelites have been praying to.
I am the one who heard my people in Egypt.
I am the one who will bring them out of slavery.
I am the one who will take them to the Promised land.
I am the one the elders will listen to.
I am the one that Pharaoh will not listen to.
I am the one who will perform miracles to force Pharaoh’s hand.
I am the one who will set my people free.
I am the one who will work through you.
Woah, Moses thought. That name gave him chills. Still…
What if they don’t believe me and don’t listen me, but instead say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you’?” (4:1)
So the Lord said, “Throw your stick on the ground.” (v.2)
To Moses, this seemed like a strange request, But he obliged. When he did so, instead of it making the normal thud that sticks make when they hit the ground…
The stick had become a serpent.
The Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and take it by the tail.” (v.4)
I imagine the next couple of moments involved Moses carefully and timidly dancing around the snake, avoiding its fangs while grabbing it by the tale.
It immediately became a staff again.
The Lord also said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” (v.6a)
Moses was a bit nervous.
Was there going to be a scorpion in it when he took it out?
He put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. (v.6b)
Moses’ face went almost as white.
Leprosy was contagious.
Leprosy was painful.
Leprosy was fatal.
The Lord said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand inside his cloak again, and when he took it out of his cloak, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. (v.7)
The Lord said, “If they do not believe you or do not respond to the first sign, they might believe because of the second sign. If they do not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you are to take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry land.” (v.8-9)
Moses believed God.
He was also thankful that God didn’t demonstrate the water into blood thing.
His needed a break from the excitement.
Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, either in the past or more recently or even since you started speaking to your servant, for my mouth and tongue are slow and clumsy.” (v.10)
I stutter a lot.
I uh…have…uh…these….uh…awkward pauses.
I have like, this bad like habit like or saying like “like” like all the time.
You don’t want me, God!
So the Lord said to him, “Who made a mouth for people? Or who makes someone mute or deaf, able to see or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (v.11)
And didn’t I make your mouth Moses?
And haven’t I still chosen you?
I know what I’m doing in selecting you.
And at this point, God made some good points.
Moses was out of excuses.
Finally, Moses said what was on his heart, “Please, Lord, send someone else.” (v.13)
Cause I don’t wanna…
Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses. (v.14)
I will send someone else.
I will send your brother Aaron…
But he will go with you.
Because you’re still going…
In fact, I already anticipated this and he’s on his way.
He can do most of the talking.
You will still go.
And I will be with you both.
I will be with Aaron’s words.
I will be with your words.
I will be with you in this calling.
After this reply, Moses simply said…
III. The Doctrine of Calling
That’s Moses’ origin story.
God calls Moses.
But instead of being honored to accept the job,
Moses made excuses.
Moses had some great misunderstandings about this call from God.
Since all believers have been called by God.
And all believers are human.
It’s worth examining these misconceptions in the light of the truth about calling.
The CALLER Validates the CALL.
For example, if you have a phone and you’d like someone to call you.
It doesn’t matter how much you want that phone to ring…
That phone won’t call you unless someone else dials your number.
The caller validates the call.
Or if you get a phone call from a strange number.
And you say, “Who is this?”
And they say, “Aunt Zelda.”
And you say, “Prove it.”
And they say, “I remember your four-year-old birthday when you cried because you got frosting up your nose.”
The caller validates the call.
This is important, because for Moses it seems that he, the called, was the one validating the call.
It’s why his first question after he receives the call from God is about HIS VALUE, not about GOD’S VALUE.
I wonder what would have happen if Moses thought himself worthy of such a call.
Maybe he would have said YES.
Even if it wasn’t God inside that burning bush.
Friends, you have a call.
Because all believers have a call.
A call to believe.
A call to follow Jesus.
A call to be in God’s kingdom.
A call to serve in his kingdom.
That call is valid.
Because it came from God.
Even if it didn’t come through a fiery bush.
But your call to believe is valid even if it came in some other way.
Whether it came through a pastor.
Through a Bible reading.
Through a YouTube devotion.
Through your dad.
Through your mom.
Through your grandma.
Through your grandpa.
Through your child.
If God is the caller, he validates the call.
Not the way you were called.
God’s CALL Validates the CALLED.
Do you ever feel like Moses?
Do you ever feel unworthy?
Do you ever feel unable?
Do you ever feel worthless?
Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t be part of God’s kingdom because of your past?
Or you shouldn’t be part of God’s kingdom because of your shame?
Or you shouldn’t be serving in God’s kingdom because of your low level of intelligence?
If so, you’ve got it wrong.
You don’t have to validate yourself.
God’s call validates you.
Jesus lived perfectly for you.
Jesus died innocently for you.
Jesus rose triumphantly for you.
And then, God called you through this message of Jesus to have you serve in this calling as his child!
And if you aren’t sure if God has ever called you before, then here it is right now.
Jesus died for you.
Jesus rose for you.
Be part of his kingdom.
This call is not a mistake!
It wasn’t a pocket dial.
He didn’t mean to call someone else.
God has called and is calling…
God CALLS Each Believer to Unique CALLINGS.
This is why God called Moses.
He was uniquely Egyptian and Hebrew.
And even if he didn’t think he had the speaking skills,
God had his brother Aaron already on his way to take over that unique calling.
God knows which unique believer to use for which unique calling.
It’s like eating soup.
If you were going to have a bowl of soup, what would you use to eat?
A fork? You’d probably dribble a lot.
A whisk? Nope. Not very useful.
How about a meat tenderizer? Only if you want to make a mess.
If you want to eat soup, you know to use a spoon.
If God wanted to lead his people out of Exodus, he knew to use Moses.
And if God has a specific YOU task, he knows to use YOU.
For what unique purpose has God called you?
Part of the music ministry?
Teacher at Precious Lambs?
Part of the Durham start up?
Do you serve in technology?
Do you serve in social media?
Do you serve in old school phone calls?
Do you have a family? Serve them.
Do you have friends? Serve them.
Do you have a mom? Serve her.
Do you have a dad? Serve him.
These are all unique callings that God has given to you.
God has given you the faith and the skill to serve in them.
God is with the CALLED throughout the CALLING.
Do you remember Moses’ first excuse?
He said, “Who am I?”
God never really answered that question.
Because that wasn’t the important part Moses’ calling.
The important part was what God responded with:
God said, “I will certainly be with you.” (v.12)
And who is God?
He’s a God who transforms sticks into deadly vipers.
He’s a God who infects with and heals from fatal diseases with a snap of his fingers.
He’s a God who transforms water into blood.
He’s a God who transforms unworthy into worthy.
He’s a God who turns the uncalled into called.
A god who turns you into his.
That’s the God that went with Moses.
That’s the God that goes with you.