Exodus 2&3: Burned Out
In Acts 7, we read Stephens speech to the Sanhedrin. It is an amazing sermon based on Genesis and Exodus that holds the Sanhedrin spellbound as Stephen recounts the history of God and His people beginning with Abraham. In Acts 7:20, Stephen begins to tell the story of Moses and tells us this about Moses first 40 years : Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
God was preparing Moses to be the leader of the nation of Israel. To be the one God would use to deliver them out of Egypt and slavery. Egypt was a highly developed civilization at the time of Moses. Egyptians had made great strides in engineering, mathematics, and astronomy. Their study of the stars and their movements gave the world one of the first accurate calendars. Their engineering capabilities enabled them to build pyramids and buildings that are still a wonder in the world today. The priests and doctors of medicine became masters of embalming. Their leaders were proficient in organization, war and administration. All skills, Moses would need to lead over 2,000,000 stubborn people out of Egypt.
Moses knew he was a Hebrew, not an Egyptian. In Exodus 2, we read of an incident which will lead to a series of events that consume the next 40 years of Moses life. Jesus told us in John 5, His Father is always at work. Sometimes, it does not feel like it, does it? We seem to be going nowhere, maybe stuck in a dead-end job, or just caught up in the mundane, ordinary daily events of life on the back-side of nowhere. But in your quiet moments with God, you sometimes sense there is something you are supposed to be doing. There is something missing in your life that the day-to-day activity is not satisfying.
It seems Moses concern and identification with his people is leading him to become more concerned with their plight. Here in Exodus 2- we read Moses went out to where his own people were and watched them in hard labor. Seeing a fellow Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian slave master, Moses intervenes and kills the Egyptian and hides his body in the sand. Once again we look to some verses in the New Testament that reveal the restless spirit that Moses was experiencing and his thought process as described in Acts 7 and Hebrews 11. Acts 7 tells us : Moses after killing the Egyptian thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. ( Later they did not recognize Jesus was their Redeemer-Deliverer either).
Hebrews 11 tells us of the decision Moses had reached by this time as God was working in his life and creating a restless spirit that knew something was missing. We read in Hebrews 11: 24-26: By faith, Moses when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaohs daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the kings anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.
Do you see Moses as he was when he went out and killed this Egyptian? He was obviously sincere in his desire to help his people. Acts 7 reveals Moses thought this was what God had intended for him to do. He was to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. However, Moses impetuous actions shows a man who lacks patience and also a man who is depending on his abilities and thought the Israelites would recognize God was using him because of his qualifications. He was after all described as- an educated man, mighty in words and deeds. Moses believed the people would accept him as their leader because of who he was and what he knew.
Here is a clue for us in this event that would change the direction of Moses life. The KJV tells us in verse 12: he looked this way and that way, and when he saw there was no man, he slew the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Did you notice which way Moses neglected to look? He neglected to look up. It says when Moses saw no man, he slew the Egyptian. Moses was sensitive to the presence of man, but insensitive to the presence of God. He was more man-conscious; than God conscious. It is very easy to fall into the trap of seeking mans approval rather than Gods approval. Moses at this time in his walk did not possess a conscious awareness of God at all times. This was going to change.
We know that Gods ways are higher than our ways and in this story we see this clearly time and time again. Moses attempting to free his brethren from the Egyptians by killing one Egyptian and burying him in the sand. He must not have done a very good job of burying him, for he was found out almost immediately. A picture of what happens when man tries to do Gods work mans way.
On the other hand, God buried the whole Egyptian army in the Red Sea, never to be seen again. God is completely capable of taking care of His own business. Moses was being humbled. He had been a somebody for forty years. And now to prepare him to lead, God will take him to the backside of nowhere working for his father-in-law as a shepherd.
God would humble Moses on the backside of nowhere as a shepherd for the next 40 years in Midian . Did it work? Listen to this description of Moses many years later: Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. ( Numbers 12:3)
As chapter 2 of Exodus ends it tells us of our multi-tasking Heavenly Father who not only was preparing Moses, but was also preparing the Israelites. God was getting their attention as we read the Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of the slavery went up to God. We are told God heard their groaning, looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. Did you know that what concerns you- concerns God? God has used the very thing the enemy would use to destroy them, to wean their hearts of their love for Egypt and create in them a desire for the Promised Land.
As chapter three begins, a period of 40 years has passed. Moses a shepherd of his father-in-laws flocks is married to his daughter, Zipporah and has a son. One who had known Moses when he was a prince of Egypt would not have recognized this older man. He would have been written off by the in crowd as a nobody. Yet we know our Lord has told us in weakness, His power is made perfect. And God uses the foolish, the weak and the base – the nobodies to confound the things that are. Moses had become an empty glove about to be indwelt and filled with the hand of Almighty God. God more often sends us to the School of Failure to teach us our most important lesson which is- apart from God we are nothing. Moses no longer possessed the good looks and fine physique of 40 years ago. He no longer was dressed in the finery befitting a prince of Egypt. His conversations were with the sheep, his wife and family, not the intellectual and powerful movers and shakers of Egypt. Yet in Gods view, here was a man who had become in the worlds opinion a nobody- was somebody God could use.
This lesson of Moses life is a lesson to be learned by all of us. God has something for each Christian to do. God has a direction He wants to take us in and we must learn from this story how God will call us.
The call of God on your life does not depend on who you are.
The call of God on your life does not depend on what you know.
The call of God on your life does not depend on what others think of you.
The call of God on your life does not depend on what you can do.
The call of God on your life does not depend on what you can see.
And obviously based on the story of Moses who is 80 years old at this time, the call of God on your life does not depend on how old or young you are.
The call of God on your life depends on your taking time to turn aside and see. What did Jesus first say to John and Andrew on the day they first met him after John the Baptist pointed Jesus out as the Lamb of God. He said to them- Come and see. He said to his first disciples he called- Follow me and I will make you fisher of men.
Moses saw a bush, an ordinary old bush that was on fire, but not consumed. He said: I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why this bush is not burnt.(Exodus 3:3 KJV) God did not say a word until Moses turned aside. Then God called him by name. God called.
God may allow some events in your life that you do not find necessarily pleasant. Sickness, failure(by the worlds standards), adversity, heartache are not the things we want to encounter, are they? We would like to be Joseph the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt, but do we want to go through the Joseph years of being cast in an empty well, sold into slavery, accused of sexual assault and end up in prison??
If you are a child of God, then the story of Joseph, the story of Moses reveal that whatever is happening in your life is what God has decided is best. It may take years to see the results. And some of those are seemingly years spent on the backside of nowhere. And if we do not believe God has a plan for our life, we will not be looking for where He is working. We will not be conscious of God at all times and we will not look at the ordinary events that might actually be extraordinary events, we will not spend time enough with God to hear His still, small voice. And as a result we will not turn aside and sadly miss an opportunity to experience God.
Did you ever have a thought come into your mind, you needed to do something? Something simple like, go over and talk to someone; go by and see an old friend; write a note or encourage someone, or ask someone about their relationship with God. Joseph took the time to turn aside when he saw the dejected look on the faces of the baker and the cupbearer who had been thrown in prison. He asked them why they were so sad. And he took the time to listen to their dreams. Sometimes when we take time to turn aside- it becomes a turning point in our lives.
Gods delays are not evidence of unconcern. These delays are a time of preparation.
Moses turns aside and God calls him by name- Moses, Moses. What a life changing moment. Do you know that you know that Almighty God knows your name?
Did you know one of the Psalms is credited as being the prayer of Moses? Psalm 90 is titled : A prayer of Moses the man of God. Psalm 90: 10 states : The length of our days is seventy years- or eighty if we have strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow , for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Then in verse 12, Moses writes: Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom. When we were young, we had no thoughts about mortality and thus we were not as accountable to God were we? We were not interested in accomplishing things for God, but for ourselves.
Do not think God does not still have something for you to do regardless of your age, or background. In the life of Moses, God gets his attention with a burning bush. Do you see the significance? Not only is Moses 80 years old and written off by everyone, including himself as a life that has no significance. A life of missed opportunities, of bad decisions and wrong turns, a life that did not and does not count.
You know what- Moses viewed his life like that bush. Like the bush Moses was just existing in a deserted land on the backside of nowhere as insignificant as this lowly bush. Yet when God ignited this bush which did not burn out, it got Moses attention. Moses said I will now turn aside and see this great sight, a bush that does not burn out. God is about to ignite Moses life with a fire that cannot be extinguished. And God can and will do the same thing in the life of each of us. God is an empowering fire. God can use a bush; He can use an 80 year-old fugitive, and God can use and empower you and me.
You know what else I like about the story of Moses? God is going to call Moses and Moses is going to have a readymade list of excuses why he cannot go. Beginning with- who am I to go before the Pharaoh? In other words, Moses said I am a nobody. You need to pick someone else. Someone more qualified.
Gods answer to Moses is the only answer we need when it comes to answering Gods clear call on our lives. God told Moses : I will be with you.
If God is for us- who or what can be against us?
Do you see what has happened to Moses in this story so far? In his first forty years, Moses was learned in all the wisdom of Egypt and the Egyptians, mighty in word and deed. When he decided he was going to do to free Gods people in his own wisdom and his own strength- the fire of self accomplishment burned out rather quickly didnt it? He burned out in 24 hours and now for 40 years had been a heap of ashes.
If the bush Moses turned aside to see had been dependent of its own substance to sustain the flame, it would have burned out quickly. But it was not the bush that sustained the flame, it was God in the bush that sustained the flame.
Notice also that Gods presence turns anything He is present in- to Holy Ground. That is why we must learn our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our hearts are His Holy of Holies. The fire in our hearts is sustained not by our substance but by the presence of Gods glory.
If you are born again, all you need is what you have- Christ in you. Nothing less and nothing more. You are already victorious. You have everything you need.
Every day, you can take time to turn aside and present your body a living sacrifice for God to use for His glory.
Are you burned out? Going through motions- same old same old. Guess what? You have been trying to use your own resources- and you have burned out and are a heap of ashes. But the Lord can make your heart burn within you again- ignite your life and nothing can extinguish the fire of Gods presence in your life as you turn aside to see. Did not our hearts burn within us while He walked with us and talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us? (Luke 24)
Every morning when you arise, you have the opportunity to turn aside to spend time with the Lord. He will walk with us and talk with us in His Word. He can ignite the fire within our hearts. He can also keep it from being extinguished.
Every day God the Father has a plan and agenda for your life. He is the One who delights to order your steps.
We also have God the Son, the Lord Jesus who communicates the Fathers agenda to us through His Word and His life. He is after all the way, the truth and the life.
Finally we have the Holy Spirit who indwells us. His task is implementation. He works in us the desire and the power to do Gods will.