Thank you very much, Philip. Hi everybody, it's good to be with you again in Loughbrickland. Thank you for coming, I know most of you are regulars - but if you haven't been here before, you're very welcome and we're glad to see you. I want you to turn with me in your Bibles to Exodus chapter 3. Before we read we're going to pray, but you get the portion of Scripture - Exodus chapter 3. Let's pray together, and I want you to pray for yourself, that the Lord indeed will meet you, encounter you tonight, and do a mighty work.
Father, we come before You, and we thank You for the note of praise. We thank You, Lord, that You are worthy to be praised, You are holy, You are mighty, You are the transcendent God. You're far above anything that we could ever conceive or truly know, and yet we can come and call You 'Father', through the Spirit of adoption, through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, His intercessory ministry, we can come right into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus, and we can be face-to-face with God. Lord, we really - certainly, I don't know the true extent of what I should know regarding intimacy with You, but I pray tonight that all of us will have, as it were, our appetites whet as we consider what men and women of God in bygone eras, biblically speaking, how they encountered You, and how those personal encounters changed their lives - and not only changed their lives, but changed their nations and changed the world. We pray tonight, Lord, that You would cause what we celebrate in the past to become something that is present, actual, and real to us - that You will meet us individually, and that You will meet us together tonight as a group. Lord, we long to meet You, so come into our midst and minister to us now, in Jesus' name, Amen.
I think it was a week or two ago, Jim was asking me what I was going to do as a series this year, and I hadn't really much of a notion - but I do now, you'll be glad to know! Just as the screen shows you, we're going to consider 'Divine Encounters', what can happen in a moment with God. Tonight we're looking, in our first study, at 'Moses at the Burning Bush'. So we're reading verse 1 of Exodus chapter 3: "Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, 'I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn'. So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am'. Then He said, 'Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground'. Moreover 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 upon God. And the LORD said: 'I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them'" - and we will end our reading there at verse 9.
What we're going to be considering these nights, each month, are what you could call 'close encounters of the divine kind'. We're going to be looking at well-known stories of the Bible, like this one of Moses at the burning bush, but purely from a perspective of personal encounters with God. We will be isolating and analysing the moment that these men, and sometimes women, had as they encountered the Lord - we might say, as they are surprised by the Living God, as they have a brush with the Almighty, as they come face-to-face with the Divine - or, to put it another way, as they experience God. If we believe in a personal God - and we do - we must expect personal encounters with Him, yes? If we believe Christianity is primarily a relationship, rather than merely a religion, then we must welcome encounters with our God.
A life without personal experiences would be less than half a life, would you agree? So a Christian life without personal experiences of God, would be half a Christian life. A Christian life without experiences would be a very boring Christian life, just as a human life without experiences would be boring. Christianity is not boring, it's not meant to be boring, God never designed it to be so. You see, our existence as born-again Christians is that we should know God the Father, through Jesus Christ, His Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It's a relationship with the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. One Christian writer put it like this: 'There is nothing to replace personal encounter. Everyone must have their own. Just as authority comes in the commission, so power comes in the encounter'. So the authority comes to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, but the power comes through encounter with God. He goes on: 'We see it in Jesus' life, and so it is for the disciples, and it's no different for us. There is nothing that training, study, or association with the right people can do to make up for this one thing - the need to have a personal encounter with God. That is what builds our personal history'. Now listen to this statement he makes: 'We must encounter One who is bigger than we are in every possible way until He leaves a mark'. Let me repeat that: 'We must encounter One who is bigger than we are in every possible way until He leaves a mark. It is wonderful, glorious, and scary'.
Now I'm not so much preaching from having great experiences with God. I have had some, but rather I'm preaching from the position of pursuit of more Divine encounters. What I want to share with you tonight in particular from Moses and the burning bush are lessons that help us on the way to encountering God, pointers that will position us, that will give us a posture to welcome Divine experience. It says of Moses, I was reading this just yesterday, at the end of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, the very end of the book of Deuteronomy, it says of Moses in summary: 'But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face'. That's the relationship Moses had with God! I think it really started here at the burning bush.
Now, don't panic, but I'm going to give you ten pointers from this story on how to position yourself to have a Divine encounter. It would be good if you could note them down, otherwise get the CD later on. The first is: a wilderness preceded Moses' Divine encounter. A wilderness preceded it. You know the story, don't you? When he is forty years of age he takes it upon himself, with the arm of flesh, to bring deliverance to the Israelites. He slays the Egyptian, buries him, and then he flees into the Midianite wilderness. So at that moment, he knew he was going to be God's deliverer - but now he faces disappointment. It's as if this man has missed his call, the call of God upon his life. I believe his mother was whispering in his ear - remember she was like a nanny to him, she was looking after him for Pharaoh's daughter - I believe she was telling him what his true identity was, and that God had called him, preserved him as a child, and he was going to be the deliverer. But in the attitude of flesh, he tried to execute the will of God, and here he is: disappointed, dejected, he's missed his call, he feels like a failure - but it was this wilderness that paved the way for his Divine encounter. Is that not encouraging, wherever you find yourself tonight? For forty years, that happened when he was forty, now he's eighty; for forty years he was nowhere, backside of the desert - a nobody nowhere - but do you know what all that was? That forty years was preparation for the forty years he would lead God's people through their wilderness. He's eighty years of age, I don't know if there's anybody that age here tonight, I'm not asking you to tell us, but many a person, when they had that number, would think: 'There isn't anything I could do for God now!' - but isn't it wonderful that the promise of Pentecost from Joel 2 received in Acts chapter 2 is that young men will see visions, and old men will dream dreams. God is a non-respecter of age groups. When the Holy Spirit is poured out, His Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh.
So, I'm telling you tonight, whatever you've gone through in your wilderness experience, it has not been wasted time - far from it. Because God, as we see here, God can ignite your wilderness experience. In fact, like Moses, you'll be able to minister to those who have been through your own journey. Forty years in his personal wilderness, to prepare him to lead God's people through forty years of their wilderness. So, be encouraged tonight: a wilderness preceded Moses' Divine encounter - and that might be exactly where you find yourself tonight, but that can all change in a moment.
The second thing is, as we find Moses here in verse 1, he was faithful in little things, faithful in little things. If you look at verse 1, it says: 'He was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law', so it appears that he hadn't even a flock of his own. At eighty years of age, that's something, isn't it? He seems to have been content, maybe we might say humble enough, to just look after his father-in-law's flock without having to have anything of his own. It would also indicate, perhaps, that he was submissive to Jethro as his father-in-law. Or, to put it another way, he had become, he had learned to be submissive to another's vision - that's an interesting thing. To put it another way, he was learning to be a son before he would graduate as a father of the nation. Do you know that leaders have to learn to serve before they can lead? Now, there should be a thing called 'servant-leadership', when you're a leader you should always be serving anyway - but you understand, we've got to be able to be submissive to someone else's vision who is leading for God, before we can take it on ourselves. Sometimes people who feel the calling of leadership can't do that, they want to get at it right away - it's interesting, isn't it? This was part of the road that paved the way to Moses' Divine encounter. It was incredible, it was a low road, a wilderness road, a road of humility, a road of submission.
But see something else: he was obviously about his daily business, wasn't he? He was faithful in the little things of everyday duties. I don't know what you think, but when I read the Bible, as far as I can see, God never calls lazy people. I'm thinking of Elisha, do you remember Elijah came down and put the mantle upon Elisha and anointed him as the next prophet, but what was he doing when he found him? He was out ploughing the field, he was busy. The call of God was on his life, but he was at work. I was reading today about Joshua, who came right after Moses to lead God's people into the promised land, but Joshua served Moses faithfully, by his side for years. That qualified him to lead God's people. You see, being faithful in what you do to today gets you ready for what God is preparing for you tomorrow. Have you ever heard the saying: 'If you want to get someone to do something, get someone who is busy'? Well, that's the way God thinks too. Luke chapter 16 verse 10: 'He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much'. Matthew 25:21: 'You were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord'.
My friend Brendan Jones down in Enniskillen has a picture on his kitchen wall with a saying on it, and it says: 'Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you will look back and realise they were the big things'. I love that. Enjoy the little things in life, because you'll look back one day and discover those were the big things. Well, you see, in the kingdom of God the little things are the big things! When God was looking for a man who He could show up before and call to be a deliverer for His people, He looked for someone that was busy about doing something, faithful in the little things. But I don't want you to misunderstand what I'm saying tonight, because though he was busy - and this is the third thing - he dwelt in solitude. He learned to quieten his soul. Now, it may have been involuntary - in other words, he had to flee into the Midianite wilderness, it probably wouldn't have been his choice, living forty years out there in the desert - but, nevertheless, it was part of God's plan to get him into a place where he was ready for God to reveal Himself in this manner.
External and internal quiet are not the same, don't misunderstand me. Just because he was in a wilderness doesn't mean he was internally quiet before God, yet sometimes it is the case that outward quietness can creep into our soul, it can invade our hearts. The idea of solitude is that there comes a suspension of all the distractions that surround us: distractions of the body, the mind, the soul. When those distractions are suspended, then we become more responsive to a deep work of God, to the voice of God in our hearts. You see it with David, a shepherd as well, most of the Psalms, or many of them anyway that we get, I believe we got them from his time when he was out as a shepherd. One thing you can do to position yourself to experience God in a life-changing way is to de-clutter your life. Now I'm not contradicting myself - a few moments ago I talked about God not calling lazy people, and to be about your business, and to be faithful in little things - this is not a contradiction. What I'm saying is: you've got to get on with life's responsibility, but leave always an opening for God to speak to your heart - do you understand? It's not either or, it's both and.
You see, our fear of being alone drives us to noise and crowds, doesn't it? Have you heard of 'FOMO'? Text language apparently, 'Fear Of Missing Out'. We've all got that, when we withdraw from the crowd into solitude before God, we're afraid of missing something. We are maybe afraid of our own company, or the Lord's company, I don't know. But when we look at our Lord Jesus Christ, we see that this was His pattern, He went into the desert, He went into the hill country, He went into the mountains, He went a great while before day, He spent all night in that place. After healing and preaching, the disciples were called by the Lord Jesus in Mark 6 verse 31, He said to them: 'Come away by yourselves to a lonely place'. He was teaching them that there had to come into their life, diet, their calendar experience of ministry before God, a moment where they are free from the bondage of people and ministry - solitude.
Moses learned to quieten his soul. A great old saint of God once said: 'Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life'. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:6: 'But you, when you pray, go into your room', or closet, 'and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly'. Closet, secret, open reward - that's the pattern. You see, some of us want great encounters with God, but we're not prepared to be alone with God. It's not going to work, I'm sorry. God sometimes does show up and surprise people, but that is the exception rather than the rule. If you want to position yourself into a posture where God is - and I say this reverently, but I know what I'm saying - where you're setting God up for a meeting, you need to learn to quieten your soul. You need to have a closet.
The fourth thing is that he went to a place marked by God. So wilderness preceded it, he was faithful in the little things, he had learned to quieten his soul, but he went to a place marked by God. Look at verse 1: 'He came to Horeb, the mountain of God'. Now Horeb, that's Mount Sinai, same place. It's called 'the mountain of God', now I grant you that that is probably in hindsight that it is called 'the mountain of God', because Sinai would become a place of great significance where Moses would have many encounters with God, as well as the Israelites. But I just wonder, while Moses was wandering around the desert, had he already started talking to God in that place? Had it become a trysting place? Can I encourage you not to be legalistic about this, but it is good to have a time and place where you meet with God. One thing is absolutely certain: when God showed up with this Divine encounter in the burning bush, this place became holy ground - isn't that right? Didn't the Lord tell him: 'Take your shoes off your feet'? This mountain became sanctified in that Divine moment, and it's incredible to me that God's presence actually changes ground!
I believe that this mountain, whether it was in hindsight that it was called 'the mountain of God', was marked out by God to meet Moses there not only this time, but many times thereafter. Can I say that there is a principle here: there are certain places and there are certain people who are marked by God, and if you want to have Divine encounters, I would encourage you to seek them out - places and people marked by God. This is a trend throughout revival, you know. I remember years ago preaching on the 1859 revival, and I remember saying that (and it was a dig, by the way, at modern revival movements), I basically said that they didn't run to America to get the blessing, whatever the blessing was, they went straight to God and got it. Can I tell you, I was wrong? Because in 1859, what many people don't know is that what precipitated the Ulster revival was a revival that was already taking place in the United States and in other places in the UK. One significant aspect in the States was a prayer meeting of 12,000 businessmen in New York City, 'Fulton Street Prayer Meeting' it was called, and they were praying for a move of God across the world. Two men from Ulster, Dr William Gibson, some of you may have heard of him - he wrote the book 'The Year of Grace', the history of the Ulster revival - he, who became the moderator of the Presbyterian Church later, and the Rev William McClure, both of them visited that prayer meeting. It is reported that when they came back and gave the account of what was going on there, that their testimony ignited something in the hearers and the move of God was beginning. Can I tell you: that has been the way revival has moved. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. You look at the 1859 revival around Ulster, and you will find that it did not move by the clergy, it didn't primarily move by the evangelists, it moved by the new converts as they took the testimony of what God had done in their hometown or their church to the next village. Sometimes we need to go places God is at work and go to people He is working through. Often when people heard of a move of God, they went to see, they caught something and they carried it back with them.
Moses went to a place that had been marked out by God for him. Fifthly, I want you to see: angelic ministry was involved. Verse 2: 'The Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush' - the Angel of the LORD. Now we have got to - this is a fact - acknowledge that sometimes Divine encounters with God come via angels. Hebrews chapter 1 and verse 14 says that angels are 'ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation'. Now I know here that it's capital 'A', and this is most likely a pre-incarnate appearance of the Word of God, the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, our Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, He's appearing as an Angel. All of a sudden we panic, because we don't want to get into New Age Angelology, and we don't want to be worshipping angels, and we don't want to be talking to angels or anything like that. I'm with you on that, but you've got to understand that when God is doing things, often He sends angels to do His bidding. If you're closed to that, you're going to be closed to an awful lot of what God does. This is not exact, but there are around 270 mentions of angels or the angelic within the whole of Scripture - because these are the forms, the beings that He sends to do His work. Hebrews says they are the ones who minister to us - so if you're shut down to receiving angels or angelic help, you're shutting yourself down to a great degree of Divine encounters.
The angelic was involved with Moses' encounter at the burning bush. Then sixthly: this Divine encounter was mysterious in nature. It doesn't make sense, does it? Look at it, verse 2: 'the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed'. Now, Christians have an irrepressible need to explain everything, don't they? Especially with the Bible, they want to be able to explain everything with the Bible. Some of them have a list of biblical experiences that we can have - are you one of those people? 'Oh, I don't see any experience like that in the Bible'. Well, can I challenge you first of all, before I say anything else about the mysterious nature of Moses' encounter with God here, can I ask you: do you truly believe the possibility of having those same encounters today that you find in your biblical list? Do you really? Dr Michael Brown, a theologian and preacher and radio host, a pastor said to him: 'If it's not in the Bible, I don't believe it'. Dr Brown retorted back to him: 'Well, my position is a wee bit different: if it is in the Bible, I do believe it'. Do you see what he was getting at? There was a lot that that pastor actually didn't believe that was already in the Scriptures. But I ask you further: is God confined to the list of biblical experience that you have in this book? Now you think: 'Oh, well you're getting on dangerous ground now'. I'm asking you it again: is God confined only to the biblical experiences that you read about in this book? The burning bush never happened before Exodus 3, and it never happened after. In fact, you look at the Divine encounters that we have, and the ones we're going to look at month after month, and you will find that they are unique, they are original, why? Because that's the way God is - He tends to do things unique and original.
Yet some of us are confining God to the experiences that He uniquely gave other people in the world. Now, why are we doing that? The reason why some of you are thinking 'Oh, you're on dangerous ground now', fear, panic! What we need to realise - you see, all of these manifestations, the burning bush or whatever else we're going to look at these nights; these manifestations do not contain God, they reveal God, but they don't contain Him. They are not God. They show that God is around - there is a word for that, 'Shekinah' glory. It comes from the root Hebrew word for 'dwelling', and it's often manifest, the dwelling of God, His presence is manifest as He tabernacles among us through fire, through light, through smoke, cloud, darkness, a voice - we could go on with various figures of His presence. But God is not the pillar of fire, God is not the pillar of cloud, God is not a burning bush - though He was in the burning bush - it reveals His presence. So God cannot be confined to any of these things. I say it, and I believe it with all my heart, God cannot be confined to the Bible. I know some people would just go nuts at me saying that. He will never contradict what is in the Bible, of course He won't, but if you confine God to His own book, you have eradicated the majority of the things that happened in historical revivals - because a lot of things you'll not find in the Bible.
God is the God of the new thing, even the Bible doesn't confine God. You know I believe the Bible, and I preach the Bible, and I live by the Bible, and I study this book every day of my life - but I don't worship the Bible. I don't worship Father, Son, and Holy Scriptures - beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord. My spirit pants for Thee, the Living Word. I read a quote today of Andrew Murray, he said: 'Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do'. Not just limiting God by unbelief, but fancying that you know what He can do. God help us, some of us have become policemen for God: telling God what He can and He cannot do - isn't that incredible?
It was mysterious in nature, and if you're going to have a God-encounter, can I encourage you: don't try to work it all out. Somebody said, and I'll pay for this, 'You can't kiss your girl and think about it at the same time!'. Do you understand what I mean? When you're having an experience, it's not about the brain, it's about the heart.
Seventh: his curiosity drew God. Now, look at this, verse 2 says the fire was coming: 'from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed'. Verse 3, 'Then Moses said, 'I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn''. His curiosity drew God. So, he see something, he's now having his Divine encounter, it's mysterious, and his brain is trying to work out what's happening here - but it's a God thing, so it doesn't make sense. Fire burns, doesn't it? This fire didn't burn. So when you try to make sense of God, you try to make sense of what God does, you're on a road to nothing! But he actually starts now to study the supernatural mystery of God. Can I encourage you to do that? Study the supernatural mysteries of God - not to understand them, but in order to be in awe and wonder, love and praise at what a great God we have. You know, the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know - does anybody else feel like that? The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know, especially when I study the mysteries of the supernatural works of God. People say: 'Oh, be careful, this is very dangerous - it's real dangerous, this tonight. Deuteronomy 29:29, oh be careful, the secret things belong unto our God' - yes! Quote the rest! 'But that which is revealed is to us, to our children's children' - study what is revealed of the mysterious encounters of men and women with God. Look at it! Learn from it! 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those that love Him' - so close the book and forget about it, we can never know anything? Read on! 'But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God'. The natural man does not perceive the things of the Spirit, but God reveals them to us.
Do you know what you need? You need to have a curiosity. I'm very curious about things, sometimes I've been curious about the wrong things - but if we would turn our curiosity toward God, we would find God would turn toward us, because that's exactly what happens here. You look at it, verse 4, look at this: 'So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!''. Do you see it? What if he hadn't turned aside? I'll tell you, I believe if he hadn't turned aside, God would not have turned toward him, and God would not have called 'Moses, Moses!'. He wouldn't have got the call. To put it in my terms: if you're not looking for it, or looking into it, it's unlikely that you'll end up looking at it. Did you get that? If you're not looking into it, or looking for it, it's unlikely that one day you'll be looking at it. So people go along their merry way, their daily business, totally oblivious to any thought of God, or they're not seeking God, they're not yearning after God, they're not quieting their soul to hear God or to see God, they're not going to places that have been marked by God, they're not searching out men and women marked by God - but they expect God to just show up some day in a burning bush. It could happen, but it's very unlikely that will happen - there is a posturing and a positioning. His curiosity drew God. Can I encourage you to be curious about the things of God?
Number eight: he possessed the fear of the LORD. Look at verse 5, 'Then [the LORD] said, 'Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground'. Moreover 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 upon God'. Moses takes his shoes off, he hides his face, afraid to look - do you know what he was doing? He was reverencing God when there was no one else around - do you do that? Now I'm a firm believer in 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name'. So, not doing it in the flesh, but in the spirit, if you want to raise your hands, if you want to fall on your belly, if you want to get down on your knees, I think it would be good for us to practice that more often - but sometimes we do that in a public space, but we don't do it at home when it's just you and me and God. Do we reverence God when it's only us and no one else is looking?
Look at chapter 20, keep your finger there in our passage, look at chapter 20. Moses possessed the true fear of the LORD, chapter 20 is where he comes to Sinai again and the Law is given, 'The Ten Commandments' we call it. Look at verse 20 of chapter 20: 'Moses said to the people, 'Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin''. Now is that not a contradiction? 'Do not fear; for God has come to test you, to see that His fear is before you'. Well, they are two different types of fear. One is the wrong fear, fleshly fear, the fear of God in a wrong sense, to be afraid of Him; and then the second fear is a true fear of God. You can actually see this, because the wrong kind of fear that the Israelites possessed caused them to hide from God. God wanted to speak to them, God wanted to draw them near, but they were afraid because of the thunder and lightning - this was a test. God wasn't trying to drive them away, God was trying to sift out those who truly wanted to hear His voice and were prepared to die out and go through with God, even if it meant losing their lives. It was only Moses understood the heart of God, because he had a true fear of God in purity and reverence to draw near to the LORD. It was the fireworks on the mountain that exposed the fact that Moses was the only one who understood and possessed the true fear of the Lord.
Listen: I believe he possessed it at the burning bush. He took his shoes from off his feet, I know God told him to do it, but he hid his face - afraid to look upon God. If we would have the fear of the LORD like that, I'm not talking about moving around with long faces and afraid to say 'Boo' to anybody. I'm not talking about that, I'm not talking about a fuddy-duddy legalism or an old stuffy religiosity, I'm not talking about that. I'm not talking about putting the fear of God into people or into our children, I'm talking about a true, devoted, loving respect for our God. He had it, and that's what set him up for his encounter.
Number nine: this encounter brought a fresh revelation of God. Look at verse 6 of chapter 3, we've seen it, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and then look down, we didn't read these verses - the same chapter, verse 13: 'Then Moses said to God, 'Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you', and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?'. And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM'. And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you''. Moreover God said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD 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 this is My memorial to all generations'''. They had never known the name of God like this before, never! True learning comes in experience, do you know that? You can read all the books in the world about anything, a trade, or a profession, a practice, but true learning only comes from experience. Tragically many stop short of Divine encounter because they're satisfied with good theology, good doctrine, good teaching, or good church practice. But in every Divine encounter there will be brought a fresh revelation of God, who God is, what God is like, what is in God's heart towards His people - 'I have heard the oppression of My people, I have seen it, heard their cries, and I have come down'. There will be a prophetic revelation of what God is doing on the earth when we have a Divine encounter. You will know God better, you will know God in a way that you never knew Him before, you'll know something about Him that you never knew before.
That brings us to the final point: this Divine encounter effected the deliverance of a nation. It effected the deliverance of a nation - Divine encounters are not for your selfish indulgence. So here in this message, and this series, you know, the objective is not that you go away and - whilst I want you to be curious and pursuing this - it's not for your own gratification to be able to say: 'Oh, I had a wonderful touchy-feely experience with God'. Whilst that can be good in and of itself, that is not the end result. This is not a charismatic collector's item, having a Divine encounter with God - encounters are to equip us to be something for God! Divine encounters have a redemptive purpose. This encounter of Moses at the burning bush, it effected the deliverance of a nation: 'I have seen the oppression of My people, I have heard their cries, I have come down to deliver them - it's time for Me to do something new on the earth'. Can I say, that is always the reason for Divine encounter: God is going to do something new. Acts chapter 1 verse 8: 'You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the world'. The Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost not just to give us thrills and spills, and we might get those on the way, but there is a purpose: to evangelise the world.
So, if you're not prepared to be anything for God, or do anything for God, don't expect a life changing encounter with God. God wanted to change a nation, and He did in His moment with this man. After the burning bush, God's relationship with Moses surpasses all other prophets. God knew him, as we saw from Deuteronomy 34 at the beginning, God knew him face-to-face - and actually God's glory rested upon his face. Moses was not focused on personal success, but on the God who could be known. Do you remember he said in Exodus 33:15: 'If Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here'? He preferred to be in the wilderness with God, than in the promised land without Him. It all started with his Divine encounter at the burning bush: when a wilderness preceded and paved the way; when God found him faithful in the little things; when he had learned to quieten his soul; when he tarried at a place was marked by God; when he was open to this angelic visitation; he marvelled at the mysteriousness of the ways of God; and he was curious, curious in a way that drew God to him, to turn towards him; he possessed the fear of the LORD, and it brought a unique revelation of God to him, and it changed a nation and delivered a people - and eventually it brought us a Saviour.
I was reading today, and with this I close, how Moses passed the baton on to Joshua - do you remember? Do you know what God said to Joshua in Joshua 1: 'No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you'. I ringed in my Bible those two phrases 'as I was with Moses', 'I will be with you'. Moses' experience can be our experience - not exactly, God's unique, but you can have your encounter with Him if you want it. Let's pray.
Let's take a moment or two in God's presence to still our hearts. What can happen in a moment with God can happen now, in this moment with God. I haven't mentioned sin really tonight, that's an obvious one: if sin is in the way, we need to repent; or unforgiveness, we need to forgive. Maybe God has spoken to you about your posture, your positioning before the Lord. You're not there, you've not shown to the Lord - what does He say? 'Those that seek Me will find Me, when they search for Me with all their heart'. 'The LORD said, 'Seek My face', and I said, 'Your face, O LORD, will I seek''. It's two-way, you see. Will you say to the Lord tonight - and don't say it if you don't mean it, OK, that would be worse than not saying it - so, is there something you need to do or say to God? I'm going to confess something to you tonight, OK? Stay in the attitude of prayer, I didn't know whether to share this or not - it's amazing where God speaks to you, you could be praying all day, and you're taking a shower and God speaks to you. I thought I may have to say this tonight, and one of the lines in the chorus we sang confirmed it. A month or two ago I was in church, some of you know that I have gone through a journey over many years - not least over the last 10 years - regarding the things of the Spirit in particular. There are things about God I never knew or experienced, that I have only experienced in the last 10 years - but God came to me in church. The preacher wasn't talking about this, it was the Holy Spirit came to me, and He said to me: 'You've lost your first love'. It wasn't so much that, it was: 'Do the things you loved at first', 'Do the things you did at first'. Do you know what God was saying to me? 'You've come into a newness about the things of the Spirit, and that's what I wanted for you etc etc, but you've lost some of your discipline, you've lost some of your tenacity, you've lost some of your perseverance'.
Is the Lord maybe coming to you and saying: 'Start doing the things you did at first, but do it with the anointing of God upon it, not in the flesh - do it with the anointing of God upon it'. That will be explosive.
Father, I thank You for this word. I hardly know what to say, or how to pray. It's Your word, and I just leave it, I've delivered it, Lord, and I just leave it with You and with these folk. I thank You for them, and, Lord, I just pray that You will do what You want to do in their lives - whoever is listening to this recording, that You will do whatever You want to do. But, Lord, O God, my God, earnestly I seek You as in a dry and a thirsty land, where there is no water. O God, when shall I come and appear before God, the Living God? O, to see You in the sanctuary; O, to see You face-to-face. O Lord, we thank You for the gifts, we thank You for the anointing, but O for Your glory, O for Your manifest presence, O for Your Shekinah manifest presence. Lord, we long that You would show up in our lives, in our gatherings, in our communities. We declare that You are the same, Lord, as You have always been - but it's us that has changed. Lord, I repent, forgive us, Lord, and help us, give us grace to pursue You as the deer pants after the water brooks - that our soul may pant after You, O God. Thank You for Your word, apply it to all our hearts, Lord. We pray that You will continue with us tonight, Lord, let the seed of Your word not be lost, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
Don't miss Part 2 of 'Divine Encounters': "Jacob At Jabbok"...
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This sermon was delivered at Loughbrickland Mission Hall in Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the second recording in his Divine Encounters series, titled "Moses At The Burning Bush" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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