Last week, God called Moses to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt.
If you’re wondering…
Moses left the mountain to begin to his new calling as leader of Israel.
But before he begins, God prepares him for his calling.
Friends, if you are a called into God’s kingdom…
And if you are a believer, you are called into his kingdom…
Then, you are also called to serve in his kingdom.
This sermon on how God prepares people to serve in his kingdom is for you.
I. The Importance of Family
Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.” (v.18)
Put yourself in the place of Jethro.
This was his employee!
The shepherd of his flock.
A well-trained employee who had been on the job for 40 years.
If he leaves, how will your sheep react to a new shepherd?
Where will Jethro find such reliable shepherding?
Is there some kind of 15 century B.C. version of LinkedIn?
Perhaps more important, Moses was his son-in-law.
He’s been with Jethro for 40 years.
Jethro loves him.
Worse! If he leaves, he will be taking his wife.
And his grandkids.
How do you think Jethro will react?
Over my dead body?
Jethro said, “Go and I wish you well.”. (v.1)
That’s not the only family member that Moses needed to convince.
He still had to talk to his lovely wife Zipporah.
Hi honey! Great to see you.
What’s that? How was my day?
I led the sheep to pasture.
One of them got caught in a thicket.
I took a nap under an oak.
I talked to a burning bush.
Actually, it was the LORD.
He turned my stick into a snake.
And made my hand leprous.
You can’t see any of it now.
It looks pretty normal.
God wants me to go hundreds of miles to Egypt.
Leave our nice life here.
Switch our kids’ school.
Upend you from your family.
Notice Zipporah’s response:
Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. (v.20)
At least, no recorded fighting.
Just helping her husband to follow God’s call.
And what about his kids?
There’s no account of them throwing a fit.
There’s no account of one of them running away.
There’s no account of one of them starting a Snap Story entitled, “Why my dad Moses is the worst.”
They simply support their dad in his new calling.
God gives us “FAMILIES” for support.
Talk about a truth for Mother’s Day weekend.
God gave Moses a supportive father-in-law.
God gave Moses supportive children.
God gave Moses a supportive mother of those children.
For his trip into his new calling.
God did the same for me!
It’s Mother’s Day, so let me talk about my mom.
She taught me so much.
My impeccable fashion sense.
To have good table manners.
To eat some vegetable with your Doritos.
To keep a clean home.
To cherish time with family.
To work hard.
She taught me about my Savior.
She taught me that Jesus loved me.
She taught me the importance of surrounding yourself with people that would teach you that.
When I was in high school and I said to my mom, “I think I want to be a pastor. Go to school far away from you. And then, take a call to pastor somewhere…well…wherever God sends me.”
She encouraged me.
Part of the reason I am here is because of my mom and her support.
Thank you, mom.
Thank you, God.
And you’ll notice that in this truth, I put the word “family” into quotation marks.
Because the reality is that some people called to lead don’t have excellent family lives.
You might not know your mom.
Your dad might have been abusive.
You might be single.
You might be estranged.
God sends you “family”.
A caring aunt.
A God-fearing uncle.
If you have supportive family of any variety, praise God!
If you are that supportive church family, thank God!
You know the old saying:
Blood is thicker than water?
But Jesus’ blood is the eternally thickest.
So, support your family.
Call mom today and maybe tomorrow.
Give your kids a hug.
Call up a church friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Text someone that has acted as your family to say thanks.
Support one another.
Because “family is a gift God gives to support each other.
II. A Powerful Weapon
Moses and his family take off.
They begin their journey.
Immediately, one of Moses’ kids asks, “Are we there yet?”
But then God has something to say to Moses.
The Lord said, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. (v.21)
That’s a scary verse in Scripture.
We’ll spend an entire sermon on that in later in this series.
For now, it’s important to know that Pharoah’s heart was not originally hardened.
After hearing God’s Word, Pharoah would choose to harden it.
And only then, would God harden it.
But after his heart was God-hardened and it would look like Pharoah would never budge on releasing the Israelite slaves…
…say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: “Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’” (v.21-23)
I will eventually perform a final, terrifying miracle.
I will get Pharoah back for all his bloodshed.
And shed the blood of his firstborn son.
Then, he will listen.
Once my Word has hardened his heart,
The only thing that will unharden his heart hardened
…is my Word.
God arms us with his WORD.
There is no more powerful weapon than God’s Word.
God’s Word describes itself as:
“Sharper than any double-edged sword...”
“Penetrating even to soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” (Hebrews 4:12)
“The rain and snow coming down from heaven…watering the earth and not returning empty.” (Is. 55:10-11)
“…the full armor of God.” (Ephesians 6:11)
God’s Word is powerful.
Arm yourself with it.
If you’re an elder calling up church friend you haven’t seen in a while, arm yourself with God’s Word.
If you’re a teacher trying to set your kids on God’s path, arm yourself with God’s Word.
If you’re a mom about to tuck your kid into bed, arm yourself with God’s Word.
If you’re a dad with a teenager who’s struggling with their identity, arm yourself with God’s Word.
If you’re a girlfriend trying to lead your boyfriend to Jesus, arm yourself with God’s Word.
If you’re a husband trying to uplift your exhausted wife, arm yourself with God’s Word.
If you’re a grandson about to video call your dying grandpa, arm yourself with God’s Word.
And if you’re feeling nervous, consider this…
The way that God told Moses about how he would use his powerful Word against Pharoah.
Was by using his Word.
Arming Moses with confidence in the process.
Use God’s Word.
God is with you.
III. The Strange Part
The next part is the strange part.
But God’s Word is powerful.
Bear with me.
At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the Lord let him alone. (v.24-26)
Here’s my best take.
Moses begins his journey for the LORD.
He stops to rest.
God almost kills him.
I don’t know if God appeared to Moses in some way.
Or if Moses just got super sick.
But it became apparent that God was going to kill him.
Why would God do that after he had just gone through the trouble of calling Moses to do this task?
It centers around circumcision. Circumcision wasn’t very common in the Ancient world. But in Genesis 17, God had appeared to the patriarch of Israelite society (a guy named Abraham) and commanded him to circumcise himself and all males in his family.
It was meant to be a sign of God’s covenant to be with the Israelites.
God was so serious about this that he threatened, “Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” (Genesis 17:14)
This word of God was orally passed down.
Likely, Moses would have been circumcised by his Hebrew mother as a baby.
Likely, Moses knew this covenant.
But apparently Moses hadn’t done it for one of his sons.
So God threatened to cut him off.
If it wasn’t for his wife Zipporah, who completes the task, maybe even angrily (the word “touched” can also mean “threw”; as in she “threw the foreskin at his feet”), Moses would have died.
What’s the point of all this?
Moses would be the leader of the Israelites. Since the Israelites were in covenant with God, it was imperative that Moses keep that covenant himself.
Since Moses hadn’t, God rebuked him.
Now God does not demand New Testament Christians to follow this Old Testament covenant.
That’s not the WHAT NOW.
We have a new covenant in the Gospel of Jesus.
But a truth can still be gleaned from this strange Old Testament account.
God REBUKES Us.
That isn’t a negative.
Because those God rebukes, he loves.
Just like when a mother rebukes her kids and tells them…
Stop watching so much YouTube. It’ll rot your brain.
You have to eat more than Doritos. It’s not healthy.
Look both ways when you cross the street so you don’t get smushed!
Rebuking is a loving thing.
And God rebukes his people.
Out of love.
Maybe it’s through a family member.
A personal Bible reading.
God rebukes his people because he loves them.
Has God been rebuking you?
Maybe you did a sin for the 10th time and felt a tinge of guilt from what you remember the Bible saying about that sin.
Then, you watched a devotional on the sin.
Then, you read a Facebook post on that sin.
Then, a friend who brought up that sin up.
Finally, the sermon kinda, sorta touched on the sin.
How does the pastor know?
Be like Zipporah.
Turn from your sins.
Return to God’s covenant.
Because it is, literally, a matter of life or death.
And the amazing part?
Upon repentance…You live.
Because God forgives.
He lived perfectly.
He died innocently.
He rose triumphantly.
Jesus was cut off from his heavenly Father that you might not be cut off from him.
Jesus brings forgiveness for whatever that sin he is rebuking you for.
Accept the rebuke.
And thank God for it.
One more way God prepared Moses.
The LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the desert to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mount of God and kissed him. Then Moses told him everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform. (v.27-28)
If you remember, this is what God had promised Moses when he was nervous. God had said that his brother Aaron would meet with him and help him with his calling.
In this verse, Aaron arrives and, unlike Moses, Aaron does not complain about the job.
And upon seeing Aaron, Moses didn’t even complain either. “
What do they do instead?
Go to work.
Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed.” (v.29-30)
God sends us CO-LABORERS.
For Moses it was Aaron.
And God’s a good boss.
He doesn’t just hire 16 guys who are good at the deep frier.
He hires one guy to work register.
A lady to flip the burgers.
And someone who is an excellent manager.
So it is with God.
Aaron was the perfect complement to Moses.
He did the speaking.
Moses did the stoic miracle performing.
Friends, God has made us to complement each other.
Perfectly put together by our Savior.
I realized the other day that I am about to get to the 10th year of being here in Raleigh.
Some of you I have known all of those 10 years.
Others I have known for 10 months.
Others for 10 days.
Regardless, you are my co-laborer.
If there’s anything I’ve learned over this year.
It’s that there’s plenty of work left to do.
People are scared.
People are lonely.
People are depressed.
People feel sad.
People feel terrified.
People feel guilty.
We have the One who helps with all of those things.
Friends, God has been preparing us.
God is preparing us.
Friends, let’s go to work. Amen.