- The Entrance (verses 1-9)
- The Promising Start (verse 10)
- The Dead-End (verses 11-25)
The book of Exodus, and if you turn to chapter 2, we're not going to have an initial reading at the beginning of our meeting but we will be delving into a few Scriptures here and there within the Bible - in the New Testament and in the Old. We'll be particularly concentrating on chapters 2, 3 and 4 of the book of Exodus. Our study - apologies this evening for the lack of study sheets, if you haven't got one, I think you haven't got one. I forgot it was St Patrick's Day today and all the offices are off, so apologies for that - but if you get a piece of paper it will do the job as well, and I'll outline all the points to you this evening.
Last week we began our study 'The Maze of Moses', and if you like we looked at the early years in Moses' life, the first 40 years of his biographical history. Of course, you know that the first 40 years of his life were lived in Egypt. As a little baby he was floated up the Nile, and he was found in those bulrushes by the daughter of Pharaoh. We looked at his upbringing for the first 40 years of his life in the royal palaces of Egypt, and we saw how remarkable the early life, those early years of this great patriarch Moses were. If there is any theme - there are many themes that we could take out of the life of Moses, and I want to say that at the outset this evening: I'm not going to analyse and go into every spiritual detail and lesson out of the life of Moses, that would take a longer series than two weeks - maybe more than 20 weeks. But if there is one overarching theme in the whole of the life of Moses, and I think we could say this in every character study that we have been looking at so far in this series, it is the theme of providence - the providence of Almighty God: how our God is a sovereign God. He is a ruling God. We have looked week after week at how our God is the God who can bring all things together for good to them that love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose. How people may mean things for bad, but God can even work bad things, that men mean for bad, through for our good.
Of course we see this very obviously in the life of Moses. We saw it last week: his mother surrendered that little child, floated him up the river, yet his mother got that little child back with wages to look after the child, to be a nanny for the child! How God worked all that together for good! The reason why she floated the little boy up the river was because the Pharaoh wanted to exterminate all the little Jewish Hebrew baby boys. The slaves were getting greater in their number, and no matter how much they put the knuckle down upon them, tightened the screws, they seemed to just multiply more and more and more - and he was fearful that one day an enemy would come into Egypt, and the Hebrews would join them, and that they would throw the yoke of bondage off from them, and that they would fight with the enemies against Egypt.
Someone remarked to me even last Monday night: isn't it remarkable that this child Moses, who would be the future deliverer of the Hebrew children, of the people of God, Israel, that very child that the Pharaoh was trying to exterminate was brought up under Pharaoh's royal protection, under his nose! Isn't it wonderful? The providence of Almighty God. I'm sure that his mother, as she looked after him day after day, would have whispered in his ear and told him the old Bible stories about Abraham, about the suffering of the Hebrew people, about who he was and what his identity was. We see that through his mother's influence, probably, God was moulding his heart, God was moulding his spirit. She was a godly woman, we saw last week - but not only was his spirit and his heart being moulded, but we see that his mind and his body and his personality was being moulded. He went through the Oxford University, if you like, of Egypt. The New Testament tells us, Stephen in his sermon says that he became mighty in word and in deed. He became a statesman, he became a great soldier. Here is a young man, and God is moulding his heart and his spirit; Egypt is moulding his body, his intellect and his abilities - and God is bringing all these things together, that which is spiritual and good, and that which is perhaps worldly and carnal, He is bringing it all together for His one future purpose.
Wasn't it wonderful to study him and to look at all the opportunities that this young man Moses had, of status and of pleasure that he could enjoy. What a blessing it was for us to see in Acts chapter 7 that one day it says that it came into Moses' heart to visit his brethren. That must be an encouragement to any parents here this evening, especially parents who have not believing children, that there was a day when it came into Moses' heart to visit his brethren. Can you hold on to that? All you have whispered into your child's ear, all that you have brought to them over the years - it is not in vain, it cannot be in vain, and if you trust God and keep praying for them and trust God's providence in their life, these things will come to their remembrance!
What a joy it was for us to see in Hebrews chapter 11, that great chapter, that 'By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible'. What a triumphant note! You would be forgiven for standing back at that great epitaph of faith of this man and saying: 'What a man Moses was'. What a man he was, he was probably the greatest, indisputably, the greatest man in the whole of the Old Testament. Yet God's providence in Moses' life was not without its problems. You will find that in life, and as you embark upon the life of faith in Christ, you will find that God's providence does not mean a bed of roses and an easy ride, but God's providences often have those clouds that break in blessing upon our heads - but they are clouds! Providence has its problems. The maze of life that we are in - you remember we likened the Christian life to a maze at times, you don't know where you're going, you're walking in faith. Of course you know the final destiny, and you've all the promises of God - but sometimes you hit dead ends, you don't know whether to turn right or left, or go forward or back, you don't know where to go, and you just need someone standing on a hill instructing you as they look down on the maze, where to go and how to travel.
Even after major spiritual conquests there can be major spiritual crises. In Hebrews 11 we see that by faith Moses came to his mother, his adopted mother, in Egypt and he renounced and reneged upon all of the blessings and all of the heritage that he would have in Egypt - he probably would have went to the throne, yet he turned his back on it all and he did that by faith. But right after he does that we see that that spiritual mountaintop went into a spiritual valley - why? I can't give you an accurate answer why, but I can sum it up in the title of our series: man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upwards.
Your first point is this: that Moses met a dead end. In this maze of life - you remember we looked last week at how he had an entrance into this maze, and how he had a promising start as he went on his way - but now we find that Moses meets a dead end. I don't know about you, but as I read through biblical biographies there's one thing I love about it - and I read quite a bit, and I like reading Christian biographies, and I hope that you do too and you'll learn a great deal from them. But Christian biographies tend to put a good light on every man that they write about, but the biographies that we find within the Scriptures have these men, warts and all. Their spiritual mountaintop experiences, their great ability and prowess as men of God, but they also show them as realistic sinners, as men of like passions as we are. That encourages me and it ought to encourage you.
Like Abraham that we studied recently, like Abraham before him and many after him, Moses made one mistake in the life of faith that is a critical mistake - and it would be crucial for you tonight to understand what that mistake is, and for you to avoid it within your spiritual life. It is this: Moses renounced Egypt, Moses did not fear Pharaoh, he renounced the pleasures of the world and he followed God by faith, but what he had begun in faith he tried to accomplish in the flesh. What he began by faith he tried to accomplish in the flesh. He tried to do in the flesh what God had only promised in the Spirit. When he stepped down from the road to the throne as he did, it wasn't long before his Hebrew blood began to boil. Turn with me to Acts chapter 7, this is a tremendous sermon of Stephen's, and here we read an account of this, how Moses met his dead end, Acts 7 and verse 24. In verse 23 we read that it was put into his heart after 40 years to 'visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not'. It was in his heart, and it was put in his heart by God through his mother's influence and through the influence of the Spirit of God I believe. What was put in his heart through the promises of God and the word of God, Moses tried to accomplish through the flesh, and it didn't work!
Now keep your finger there and turn with me to Galatians chapter 3 for a moment. Galatians chapter 3 is a parallel of the flesh and spirit - it is many things, but one thing it is is a parallel between the flesh and the spirit. There were Judaisers came to the church at Galatia and said: 'Yes, Christ has died and faith in Christ's cross is essential, but there is more to it than that. You've got to keep the law, you've got to be circumcised, you've got to adhere to the food laws and so on. It's got to be faith and a little bit of religion mixed into it' - faith and the flesh if you like. Now here's what Paul says, and this is a tremendous commentary on this incident in Moses' life, Galatians 3 verse 3: 'Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?'. We have been saved by the Spirit, Romans 8 tells us that; we have been made free from the law of sin and death, and incidentally that is the law of God that only brought death to us because we couldn't keep it. We've been made free from the law of sin and death, and we have been given a new message which is the law of the Spirit and life in Christ Jesus which has set us free.
Now here's the thing where many of us fall down: we start in the Spirit and we carry on in the flesh. Paul says, and Moses' life testifies, don't be so foolish! Having begun in the Spirit, you'll not be made perfect by the flesh. Now remember, let's go back to Moses' father here, Abraham way in the past. Remember his incident with Hagar? What was it? A promise that was given in the Spirit that he tried to accomplish in the flesh. He took Hagar, he slept with her, he brought up Ishmael to his name - it was a son, but it was not the promised son of faith, it was a son of the flesh. You can see how today, even in our news bulletins, how Abraham is still suffering today because of what was carried on in the flesh and not in the Spirit. We must do God's will in God's way. It's not just about knowing His will, it's not even about doing His will - it's more than that: it's doing God's will in God's way.
You've seen already in these character studies that as we run the race of faith we are to strive to master and to be experts in excellence in our life of faith; but we will not be crowned, Paul says, except we strive lawfully. We are to run the race, but as we run the race we are to keep the rules. Now that should really make us analyse our lives, our thoughts, the work that we do for the Lord, simply because it is possible to do right things in wrong ways, to do the will of God in a wrong way. But what is so blessed to us and should really thrill us this evening and make us praise God, is to see that Moses moved from this point in his life - there was hope for Moses - and later one day God would lead His own people out of Egypt through the same hand of Moses that smote the Egyptian and buried him under the sand. One day 'Moses the murder' would be called 'Moses the meekest of all men' - yet we must learn this lesson tonight, let's not scour over Moses, let's not see him with a halo and forget where he came from to be what we know him to be.
How and why did he meet the dead end? Well first of all he let his passion take over. There's no doubt about it, we need believers with a bit of feeling and a bit of fire in these days, but we cannot let our passion take over. There are times when our heart ought not to rule our heads. The second thing he did was he acted prematurely. It was not God's time. He thought he was doing God's will, he thought he was delivering one of his people, but it was not God's time to do what he did. He had more to learn, God had to bring him through 40 years of the school of the Midian wilderness as a shepherd. He wasn't going to do this until he was 80, but 40 years premature he moved too quickly.
I don't know whether you feel that this applies to your life, but I feel it must - it certainly applies to mine. At times we get into difficulties, we don't know what to do, and we are waiting on God but we can't wait long enough for God, and we devise our own way out of the situation rather than wait any longer for God. Remember the story of King Saul in his backsliding and spiritual decline? He was facing the Philistine invasion and he was forced, he felt, to make for himself an offering and a sacrifice to God before they went into battle. Just as he made that sacrifice, and he wasn't legalised to make the sacrifice, it wasn't for him to do it was for Samuel, but just after he felt forced into doing it he lifted his head and he saw Samuel coming across the mountain. He had acted prematurely, he hadn't waited on God's time.
When you're doing God's will first make sure you're passion doesn't overrule your mind. Secondly, make sure that you don't act prematurely doing God's will. Wait on the Lord - how many times do we read that in the word of God? But is there a harder thing to do in the life of faith than to wait on God in the instant society where we can get everything at the push of a button - to wait on God? One whom we cannot see, we cannot hear, we cannot know, touch, feel or sense - to wait on Him? That's why the Psalmist exhorts us so often: 'Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord'. Proverbs 20: 'Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD', don't take the law into your own hands, 'and he shall save thee'.
Now turn with me to Hebrews chapter 10 again. There's one theme right throughout the whole book of Hebrews that is noteworthy, and that is the theme of reward, you find it right throughout the whole book of Hebrews: reward. You remember in Hebrews 11, if you look at it just briefly, you'll see that Moses 'esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward'. He saw the reward by faith, not the reward of the gold of Egypt and the wine, and all of the luscious food, and the leek and the garlic, but he saw something that was invisible - he saw God, he saw a reward that was by promise and by faith. Now here is what Hebrews 10 says on the same theme, verses 35 and 36: 'Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward' - there is that statement again - 'For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise'. There it is.
Now I know that one thing I have need of in my life with regards to this walk of faith is patience. Don't we all need it? We act too quickly, we react to situations rather than waiting on God, and waiting nearly until - I describe it like this - until God almost pushes us into the situation, until we are 110%, if we can ever be, sure that that is where God wants us to be. F.B. Meyer says: 'One blow struck when the time is fulfilled is worth a thousand struck in premature eagerness'. He struck the blow against the Egyptian, and it was worth nothing, it was a sin against God, it was done in passion, it was done prematurely. If he had struck the blow in God's time, it would have been worth a thousand more premature strikes.
Passion, prematurity, and thirdly there was his pride. I think that this was maybe the hardest lesson for Moses to learn, and I know personally it's the hardest lesson for me to learn in my life - pride. Hannah prayed the prayer - and remember we saw last week she was looking for a deliverer too - and she testified in her song of praise when God gave her Samuel: 'For by strength shall no man prevail'. Here you have this opposite antithesis of the Spirit and the flesh, and Hannah had to learn in her life of faith that by the flesh, by the strength of man, shall no-one prevail. It is not by might, but by my Spirit saith the Lord.
You remember he slew the Egyptian, and what does it say he did? It says: 'He looked this way and he looked that way', to see if anyone saw what he had done. Then he buried the body in the sand. He was looking to see who was there, if anyone saw him. Perhaps he was looking to see what men thought, maybe he was looking for the praise of his own Hebrew brothers - 'Oh, you're a great deliverer Moses! You come and lead us and bring us out of Egypt'. Let me say this: if Moses knew that he was doing the will of God in the way of God, if he was sure that he was in God's plan and sovereign purpose, he wouldn't have cared who saw him, he wouldn't have cared what men thought - for it was God's plan. He looked this way and he looked that way, and you know what that means: he was walking by sight and not by faith! Do you see it? Here was his dead end! What had been germinating in this young man of God's heart by the Spirit and by the promises of God was beginning to be mutated into something that was above and beyond anything that God stamps His divine seal of approval on, it was becoming the flesh.
That is why the Saviour called us in the Sermon on the Mount to be single-eyed, single-eyed. Was not He Himself single-eyed when He said: 'I do always the things that please Him'. This life that we have entered is a life of faith, you must grasp that. It is a life that is walked in the Spirit, and navigated not by what we see and what our intellect and our wisdom and our common sense tell us, but it is to be navigated and guided by faith in God. You know the story better than I do, that when it reached the ears of Pharaoh what Moses had done, Pharaoh sought to slay him. It says that Moses feared, and he got up and he fled into the desert - he ran away! Now look again with me at Hebrews 11, because here is a supposed contradiction you would nearly think. Verse 27 of Hebrews 11, it says that: 'By faith Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king'. Yet it says in Exodus, chapter 3 I think it is, that Moses fled fearing Pharaoh.
Is that a contradiction? Of course it's not a contradiction, there are no contradictions in the infallible word of God. But it says here in Hebrews 11 that he didn't fear the King, it says in Exodus that he did fear the King, so how do we work it out? Well let me give you this idea - it's my own, and I don't know whether you'll agree with it or not, but I think in the context of everything that we have been considering this evening already this is the only answer. Could it be that the fearlessness of a pure vision given by God that was not executed by God's will in God's way was mutated into a godless fear? Do you see it? Something that was put in Moses' heart by the very Spirit of God, and that was pure, and that was according to the sovereign will and providence and purposes of God, because he didn't execute that by faith it turned into fear.
You know, an aspiration in any of our hearts that is born in the Spirit can be executed in the flesh, isn't that right? It was by faith that he forsook Egypt, it was by faith that he went into his adopted mother and renounced everything, it was by faith that within his heart there welled up this passion and fire to denounce Egypt, and to go and help his brethren - but he executed it in the flesh. It was not by faith, like Hebrews 11 says, he buried the body and he ran. We read in Exodus that the reaction of the men around him, when he saw two Hebrews fighting together, they said: 'Are you going to slay us like you slew the Egyptian?'. Everything around this was not testifying the will of God, he was looking to the eyes of men rather than to the eyes of God - and we read that the fear of man bringeth a snare.
He reaches a dead end in his life, it's a desert dead end, but here we're brought back very gradually to this overarching theme again - what is it? The providence of God. Don't ask me to work this out, there's a number of things that I cannot work out. You might think you can work them out, but you can't. You can't work them out. I'll tell you one of them: the triune God, three in one - can you work that out? You can't work it out, don't try and work it out, you can't work it out - just believe it, that's what faith is! The evidence of things not seen, or not understood. I'll tell you another thing you can't work out: the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. You're responsible for your own soul, deciding for Christ, but God is working in you. God's Spirit is actually saving you and bringing light into your heart - I can't reconcile those two things, but I believe those two things. There are many other things within the word of God, and here is another thing that is very hard to understand in the whole providential working of God. What is it? God in His providential sovereignty can even work our failures into His sovereign plan. He can work failures together for our good. If you like, He can draw a straight line with a crooked stick. He can do His will through us, and in the life of Moses - although it was not the sovereign choice, if you like, of God to make Moses sin and not have faith, that's not what we're talking about - but what was in His plan was that it was necessary for Moses to go through this school, it was necessary for him to reach a dead end in his life, it was necessary for him to go out and run into the desert and spend 40 years as a shepherd in the wilderness in obscurity - it was necessary.
He would become a shepherd in the open spaces of Midian. If you're familiar with the word of God you'll see what a great school the desert and the wilderness often is to men and to women of God. You remember Paul for three years went into the wilderness, to the desert of Arabia, and God revealed many of the mysteries that we have in the epistles to him. John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness, and here you have Moses and he's in Midian. I'm sure that all of what he went through, all of what his mother whispered in his ear as a child, all of the passion and the spiritual exercise in his heart to be a deliverer for the people of Israel would have seemed absolutely pointless and futile, and his life would have felt a failure. But listen tonight! It was in that desert of failure that Moses met God. Isn't that wonderful? He revealed Himself to him in chapters 3 and 4 as the great 'I AM'. He never revealed Himself in that way before to any man, but He revealed Himself to an old failure of 80 years of age in the desert as 'I AM'. It's wonderful that God can make even our failures work together for our good. Friend tonight, never forget, please don't ever forget that Moses met God in the desert as a shepherd, and not in the palace as a prince.
What a maze Moses' life is turning out to be, isn't it? It seemed from his entrance that he had a promising start, but as with all of God's children it is only through the crucible of pain and problems and trials that the gold of godliness can be formed, and we can be broken and moulded into the image that God would have us in. It is the way of the cross, isn't it? The way of the New Testament, the blood-stained pages that we read that our Saviour trod to purchase our redemption and our salvation - we are asked to trod that way. We are to go along the same road, whether it is the crucifixion of our fleshly lusts that war against the soul, whether it is simply the denial of our sinful self or even our good self - do you know that there is a good self that is of the flesh? That you can do good things not in God's way that are in the flesh? You can pray in the flesh, you can do charity in the flesh, you can fast in the flesh, and all of that which is not of the Spirit we are to crucify.
It is amazing, and I believe this with all my heart - you can argue with me if you like, you wouldn't be the first - I believe that God in His mysterious sovereignty allows us to hit brick walls in our life. Do you know why? Because God, perhaps above anything else, wants us to come to an end of ourselves, and He wants us to find everything in Him. Now, sometimes there's no other way of doing that than to let us crash. As it happened in Moses' life, it happens in many a life, that men have to be broken down before God can break in. Isn't it interesting that the mighty Moses had come to an end of himself, and as we see him in the next chapter that we're going to look at, chapter 3, he comes to an end of himself and he loses confidence in himself. That's why God brings us to an end of ourselves, to lose confidence in ourselves. A man who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, a man who was mighty in word and in deed, he's reduced to a trembling child in the presence of Almighty God.
Now let's look at it, Exodus 3. If you can imagine in your mind's eye a normal sunny morning in the plains of Midian, and there are sheep lying all across the desert - lazy, lying and sleeping in the morning sun. The scene has just been like that - think of it, it hasn't changed for the man Moses for 40 years as he's been a shepherd in that desert. He knows every nook and cranny of that wilderness. If it was you or I looking at him in his eightieth year, and looking at the promises that God had given him, and the upbringing that his mother and father had given him, and the great learning that God had given him in Egypt, we would assign him to absolute extinction - wouldn't we? We would relegate him as hopeless! What can God do with an old done man like that? It's too late! His day's gone! We would sing to him, 'Moses, sit down there a moment: Wasted years, wasted years, Oh how foolish'. But what an encouragement tonight that God met a failure of an old rickety man, and made him the mightiest man in the Old Testament!
Here you have it, from a burning bush God broke the divine silence in Moses' life for 40 years. Look at verse 4, Moses is out in the desert, he sees a burning bush. He says, verse 3: 'I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt' - it's burning but it is not consumed. Verse 4: 'And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I'. 'Moses, Moses', twice. Now could it be tonight, listen, I know that we - and I say this kindly - we may have an elderly congregation in the Iron Hall, but could it be that God is calling not just to the young but to those in senior years, late in life, and it may be like Moses He has to knock twice - He had to say it twice: 'Moses, Moses'. Maybe He's knocking on your door, wanting you to serve Him, and the question tonight is this: are you responding, 'Here am I'?
He reveals Himself out of that burning bush. He says: 'I AM', in verse 14: 'I AM THAT I AM'. I don't want to dazzle you - I can't dazzle you anyway! - but I don't want to confuse you any more than I'm already trying not to do, but that statement 'I AM' is a Hebrew verb. The Lord is literally taking the Hebrew verb 'to be' as His name. It's symbolising 'I AM - I am! I was, I will be, but I am! I am the real, living, existent God, and I am in the here and now' - have you got it? 'I'm the real, living God'. He speaks of the past, the present, and the future all rolled into one - and you'll see it, look at verse 6, He speaks of the past to Moses. He said: 'I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham' - that's the past. If you look at verse 7, the present: 'I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them' - the present. Then the future, He says in verse 10: 'Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh'. 'I heard My people cry', verse 10, 'and I am sending you'.
What a meeting! I'll tell you, I'm not the most patient Christian, I want to have all of God and I want to have all of Him now - I'm not always prepared to pay the price, as most of us aren't. I just want everything now, quick fix, everything now! But I think, perhaps, I would be willing to wait - I hope He doesn't keep me to this - but 80 years to have an encounter with God that this man had. Wasn't it wonderful? The eternal God revealing Himself for the first time ever as this name, this great name. It is amazing. Here's the proof, if you want any proof that Moses came to the end of himself, here's the proof: the excuses start coming.
Now this is a man that was chomping at the bit to be God's deliverer, so much so that he committed murder to do it - and now when God's time comes, in God's will and in God's way, the excuses come rolling out. It's interesting, isn't it, that one who in youth couldn't wait on God's time, tried it in the flesh in his youth, and when the time is right to free the people of God he is now reneging upon God's call. F. B. Meyer says: 'He who had once run before God in feverish impatience, he now lags faint-hearted behind Him'. Now, if you will suffer a word of exhortation from one so green behind the ears, some of you can remember a day when you were on fire for God. You can remember a day when it rose in your heart to visit your brethren. You can remember a day when God's passions burned in your heart but, for all sorts of reasons that I don't know and perhaps you're not sure of, those embers have died and the gold has grown dim. You, like Moses, have lost your vigour that you had in youth. But could it be - and here's the big question for many of us - could it be that that youthful energy was nothing only youthful energy? When the going got tough, because it was in the flesh, it's gone - could it be?
What's the answer? Well, I don't know the ABC of it, but I'll tell you this much: you need a fresh encounter with God. Isn't that what did the trick for Moses? Meeting God again! It was because of this encounter, right at the dead end of his maze of a life, right there because of this later on as he's receiving the law on Mount Sinai - and we haven't got time to go into the greatness of the mountains of Moses' life, and the great ecstasy of service for God that he went into after his 80th year - but it wasn't until after this point at old age that he became a man who was following hard after God, and who could say: 'Lord, show me Thy glory!'.
But yet there were excuses on his lips. Verse 11, the first excuse, chapter 3 verse 11: 'Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?'. What did the Lord say? He said: 'I will be with you'. 'Who am I?' - it doesn't matter who you are, 'I will be with you. I am the One who was and ever shall be, I am the One who never changes'. As one writer said, He was communicating to Moses: 'There's not an hour that you will be without My companionship. There's not a difficulty that will be without My cooperation. There is not the Red Sea that will be without My right arm. There is not a mile of a wilderness journeying without the angel of My presence'. Forget about who you are! 'I AM'.
Excuse number two in verse 13: 'Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?'. The answer: 'I AM WHO I AM'! You'd almost be forgiven for thinking that was the same answer - maybe it is. 'I AM' - I am the answer - 'I AM WHO I AM'. The point He was making was: 'I am exclusively God'. Moses was coming from the point: 'They've so many gods here in Egypt, and when I come to them and say God says let them go - they're going to say 'What's his name?''. He's saying: 'This is My name: I AM GOD, and there is none other - and whatever you need, Moses, I'll meet that need'.
His third excuse is in chapter 4 and verse 1: 'He answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, they'll not listen to my voice: for they will say, The LORD hasn't appeared to you'. We haven't got time to go into all this, but the Lord gave him three signs. He said: 'What's that in your hand?', and he had a rod, probably a shepherd's crook in his hand, and he threw it to the ground and it turned into a serpent. The serpent was an image of Egyptian worship, it was really picturing the Egyptian nation - and it says that Moses ran from the serpent, just as he had run from Egypt! But God told him to pick up the serpent, don't be afraid, and when he picked it up it turned into the rod or staff again. God is saying: 'I have power over Egypt, and I have power not only over nature, but over all that you're going to be facing'.
What a future that rod would have! Can you cast your mind forward a little bit and see how that same rod would be stretched over the Red Sea, and the waters would part and the people would be exited out into the promised land? Do you see the rod smiting the rock and the waters miraculously coming from it? Do you see the rod causing the victory over the Amalekites in battle? What it is saying is this: a rod with God behind it is mightier than the vastest army, the vastest superpower of the world. Just an old rod, but a rod with God.
The second sign is that He told him in verse 6 to thrust his hand into his bosom, and he took it out and it was leprous. Then God told him to put it back in again and it was healed. God was telling him: 'I have power over life and death, don't be afraid of your life - I have power, and I have not only power over life and death but power to cleanse'. The third sign was that He told him to pour out waters from the Nile, and that they would turn to blood - verse 9. You know that the Egyptians worshipped the Nile, it was their life source, they lived around it - but they treated the Nile as a god. And God was declaring judgement upon all their false gods - why? Because 'I AM WHO I AM'!
The fourth excuse in verse 10 of chapter 4, this is the laughable one: 'I can't speak. I'm not eloquent. I don't know what to say'. This is the same man who Stephen says was mighty in word and in deed, who was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt, and I can't believe that he couldn't speak! I just believe that he was filled with fear and he had lockjaw! He couldn't speak, why? Because he could not believe God, and even when God told him 'I AM WHO I AM', God had to send Aaron with him - and that, I believe, was the flesh too because Aaron was a thorn in his flesh from that day since.
What excuses: 'I have no ability, I have no message, I have no authority, I have no eloquence' - and perhaps the most astounding in verse 13, he says this, look at verse 13 and we're nearly finished: 'O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt' - I have no inclination. Do you know what he's saying? 'I don't care who You send, but don't send me, I'm not going'. Now listen, friend tonight, if you don't take anything out of what I say this evening take this: God can take an old failure like that and turn him into one of the mightiest men in the Bible.
Sometimes we do everything to avoid the will of God, but eventually Moses submitted to that higher authority on the hill that was guiding him through the maze of his life. You know the plagues that came, but he listened to the voice of God shouting from the hill, and eventually what happened? The exit came in the maze of his life - exodus, the people were delivered! The moment for which he was born, bringing them into the promised land, but he could only get there by faith, seeing Him who is invisible!
Now I'm finished with one thought, please one moment. Second Timothy 2 verse 12, we read: 'If we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us'. It says in Hebrews 11 of Moses: 'Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward'. Now turn with me to Matthew 16, and with this I do finish, Matthew 16 and verse 25. You have the scene being set for the transfiguration of our Lord, and it says before He goes up the mountain He's teaching His disciples, verse 25: 'Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward' - mark that - 'he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom'. And we know that the next chapter is the Son of man, a forerunner of the Son of man coming in His kingdom, let's read it: 'After six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses'!
What is this a forerunner of again? What is it? The kingdom, the Son of man coming in His kingdom, and the Lord will reward works of men and women, works of faith, in the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ when He comes again. And because Moses denied himself, he is on the Mount of Transfiguration! What a reward!
'As a soldier who shrinks from the danger,
The joy of the soldier must lose.
So the crown of the Lord is withholden,
If the cross upon earth we refuse'.
Let's bow our heads, and as we do that in the quietness perhaps you're here - and I don't know how long you're on the road - but maybe the fire has gone out, and the gold has grown dim. Will you take heart tonight? God can take an old man like Moses and make him a mighty man of God. You're still here for a reason you know, you might be in retirement but God hasn't set you out to graze yet. There's plenty for you to do in God's work, but you must say: 'Here am I'.
Father, we thank Thee for Moses, but more we thank Thee for the Lord Jesus Christ. Moses was a man of like passions as we are, but Christ was tested as we are yet without sin. He went to Calvary and bore our sin, and we thank Thee for the life of faith that we live in and through the Spirit of God. We pray that we will not begin in the Spirit and carry on in the flesh, but that we will walk in the Spirit that we may not fulfil the lusts of the flesh - whether they be good or bad. Teach us Lord how to react when we come to these dead ends, and Lord teach us to look up and submit to the divine instructions, and then we may break down but we will break out for God. Lord we need grace and we need help, and we pray that we will be the Christians that You want us to be. Thank You for the promise 'I AM WHO I AM', Amen.
Preach The Word
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the sixth tape in his 'As Sparks Flying Upwards' series, titled "The Maze Of Moses - Part 2" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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