Exodus 3: Are You Listening?
Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in rebellion during the time of testing in desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said their hearts are always going astray and they have not known my ways. So I declared on oath in my anger , they shall never enter my rest. ( Psalms 97)
As we ended last weeks lesson, God had spoken to Moses through the burning bush and called Moses to go to the Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt . Rather than agreeing with God, Moses began to protest he was not qualified to take on such a task.
Gods reply was: I will be with you. This should be all any of us should need to know in order to do what God has called us to do.
What are we to make of Moses reluctance to take on the task God has given him? Is Moses reluctance a sign of true humility? True humility when it comes to our relationship with God is not thinking poorly of ourselves, but not thinking of ourselves at all. Our thoughts should be centered on Gods all sufficiency, on Gods will and Gods glory- not our perceived inadequacy. Have you ever known someone who when asked to do something- professed they were not qualified? Sometimes it is a convenient excuse for laziness. Other times, it is a thinly veiled guise to solicit compliments and praise as the person seeks to have others tell them how qualified they are, how talented, etc.,.
Notice in verse 12, God does not begin reassuring Moses he is qualified, or intelligent, or wise. God simply tells Moses- I will be with you. What else could Moses need or want, when God Himself has promised His presence? God is ever present in the life of each believer. Our confidence is not in our abilities, but in Gods.
Faithful is He that calls you, Who will also perform it. (I Thess. 5:24)
What is true for Moses is true for each believer. But as we shall see, Moses is a what if type of person. Have you ever played the what if game? Satan loves to throw those what-if darts at our mind. And when we allow him to play this dart game with our mind, we must remember not who we are- for we are all insufficient, weak and unqualified in our own strength. We must remember who God is. Paul knew what it was to allow the enemy to fire those darts at his mind, and he tells us what we must do in 2 Corinthians 10: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension (imaginations) that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Do you ever go out into the future and imagine negative what-if situations? Hope is always in the future. Faith is always in the present. There is only one way to bring future hope in Gods promises into your present- by faith. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
It almost seems as we listen to Moses list of what-ifs that he was not listening at all to God when God told Moses: I will be with you. And this will be a sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt you will worship God on this mountain. Our Heavenly Father sees the end from the beginning and here He is telling Moses beforehand, when Moses had brought the people out of Egypt, he would come here to this mountain and worship Him. Have you ever been guilty of not listening to someone and thinking ahead of what you wanted to say or ask and missed what the other person said?
This is the case with Moses, who is already so busy thinking ahead of all those what-if questions, he evidently missed what God had just told him he would bring the people out of Egypt. The enemy gets real busy firing those what-if darts when God is trying to speak to you.
I want to say to Moses, if I could, are you not listening, Moses? Did you not just hear Almighty God just tell you, assure you He would be with you and you would bring the people out of Egypt? Yet as we look at Moses and wonder what is wrong with you, Moses? Have you not read the Lord Jesus told us not to worry about our life? Yet, we worry dont we?
Many of us will recognize ourselves in Moses, the What-if Worrier, as he begins his list of worries and what-ifs. In fact, as we just observed, he was so busy worrying and conjuring up future- what if situations, he missed entirely the assurance of Gods promise to be with him.
Here is Moses first what if situation: Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you and they ask me, what is His name? Then what shall I tell them? Moses is worried what others will think of him. He is thinking, imagining the different future situations and all the problems he will encounter. We must consider the possible problems we will encounter, but we must never leave God out of the equation when solving the problem. It might be a cliché, but it is certainly true we do not know what tomorrow holds, but we know the One who holds tomorrow.
Here is one thing Moses is doing right that we must learn to do also. Moses is turning his thoughts into a conversation with God, which is exactly what prayer is. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Let us learn from Moses, the What-If Worrier- to turn our thoughts into discussions with God. Let worries be like the warning light on your cars dashboard, to check engine- maintenance required. The Lord knew we would worry, so He gave us these instructions what to do when we worried. When worries cause the warning lights on your minds dashboard to flash- what do you do to maintain peace? Take it to the Lord in prayer.
The power of the mind is awesome. It is the control tower of character, conduct and conversation. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. So it stands to reason, if our minds and the thoughts we think are that powerful and influence our behavior that much, we must not consider it strange the enemy would launch at all out attack on our minds. This is why we are told to transform our minds, and replace the wrong type of thinking with the right kind of thinking.
Now let us consider the answer God gives to Moses regarding what His name is. God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. This is what your are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you. God also said to Moses, Say to the Israelites, the Lord, the 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, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. (Exodus 3: 14,15)
The phrase- I AM in Hebrew is closely related to Gods personal name- Yahweh. Jesus used this phrase several times including in John 8- when he proclaimed: Before Abraham was I AM. And the timelessness of this name is referred to in Revelation 1:4- from Him which is and which was, and which is to come. And in Hebrews 13:8- Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Couple of questions: Did God not have a name known by the people before? Yes. God had been known as Jehovah for centuries, the patriarchs, God just named, knew this name for God. What did Moses want to know when he asked God what shall I tell them when they ask what is your name? Names had meaning and told something about the person. For example: Moses meant drawn from the water. Moses named his first son, Gershon which means- a stranger in a strange land. Perhaps one of the most meaningful name given to a man was the name- Methuselah, which meant- when he dies, it shall come, referring to the flood.
Because of the answer God gave to Moses, we can infer Moses question really meant- what does your name mean, God? What kind of God are You? You see, our knowledge of God is progressive. It was progressive in the Bible and our knowledge of who He is is progressive in the life of each believer. Even the disciples who spent three years with the Lord Jesus, who was God in flesh, wanted to see God the Father. And Jesus told them He and the Father were one, if they had seen Him they had seen the Father. You come to know God as you experience God. And it is God who initiates contact and invites you to join Him, just as He contacted Moses that day long ago. Moses was not looking for God- God came looking for Moses.
I AM WHO I AM denotes who God is: He is self-existent, has always existed, was never created. He is self existent , independent with no dependence on any other and as such is all sufficient. He is eternal and unchanging.
But this names also means to His people I AM everything you will ever need. Later Jesus would tell us: I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the true vine. God would be to the Israelites : their supply of bread, meat, and water. He would be their guide who would lead them with a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. He would their rear guard, their protector and their commander-in chief. He would be their everything. He was trying to prepare them to live in the Promised Land, by learning to trust His promises. Life in the Promised Land is not eternal life in heaven. It is life here and now with all its problems. We must learn to live life by faith in God and His Promises, just like the Israelites had to learn. We learn to trust God as we experience God as a Promise Keeper who is always faithful. To not live in the Promised Land is to wander in the wilderness.
Jesus said of himself: the Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his father is doing John 5. Learning to lean on and trust the Lord with all our heart and not lean on our own understanding is a difficult lesson to learn.
God continues in Exodus 3:16 &17: Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them: The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob- appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivities and Jebusites- a land flowing with milk and honey.
God then tells Moses the elders of Israel will listen to you.
One of the many lessons we will learn or see portrayed for us in the story of Moses and the Exodus is how God deals with us and speaks to us individually. Jesus came to show us the way, although throughout the Bible are stories of men and women learning to follow the Lord, to listen to His voice, to develop a relationship with the True and Living God. From Noah who when warned about things not seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family; to Abraham who went out not knowing where he was going to Moses who wanted to make real sure it was God who was speaking to him, and giving him directions.
HOW GOD SPEAKS TO US
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. ( Hebrews 1) God spoke in various ways in the past: angels, dreams, visions, small, still voice, miracles etc. Today He speaks to us through the Bible, Gods Word, prayer, circumstances and the Church.
Here are some things we must remember:
God initiates contact. We did not seek Him, He sought us. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. No one comes to the Lord of their own initiative, they come as a result of being drawn to the Lord Jesus by the Father. ( No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.. John 6)
Jesus said in John 5, His Father was always at work, to this very day and I, too, am working. Then Jesus who lived his life as a man, even though He was God in flesh, said: the son can do nothing by himself, he can only do what he sees his Father doing Jesus never operated independently of the Father. The temptations of Satan in the wilderness were temptations to operate independently of the Father. The enemy tempts us to do the same today.
Now let us observe what God, the Father is doing, let us see where God is working in this story. At the end of Exodus 2- we see the Israelites groaning in their slavery and they cried out and their cry went up to God. God was working in the lives of His children, the Israelites. How was He working? He was causing their lives to be bitter with hard labor. He was causing them to become sick and tired of Egypt- the world and its false offer of sin as fulfilling. This was God working in their lives. What the enemy would use to destroy you, God will use to deliver you.
At the same time, God was working in the life of Moses and was inviting Moses to join Him in this work of freeing His people. In his study, Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby explains this is Gods mode of operation. God is always at work. He shows us where He is working and invites us to join Him. It will call for an adjustment in our lives, a sacrifice. He asked the disciples, John, James, Andrew and Peter to leave their lives and businesses as fishermen and follow Him and He would make them fishermen of men. He asked Abraham to leave his family and his country to go to a place He, God would show him.
He spoke to Moses through a burning bush. How God spoke to Moses is not as important as the fact God spoke to Moses. Since our Lord is the same today, as He was yesterday as He will be forever- we can be assured He can and will speak to us today. He can and will show us where he is working. He can and will invite us to join Him in the work.
Here are some very sobering verses:
Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles: Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers. ( Matthew 7)
He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God. ( John 8:47)
The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. ( John 10)
God called Moses by his name. His call to Moses was unique.
Moses made sure it was Gods voice he did not want to be deceived
Moses would come to know exactly what God was telling him to do. He did not have to guess. Neither did Noah or Abraham. But they did have to respond by faith, as will Moses. ( So will you and I.)
When you read Scripture do you personalize it? Do you place your name there in the Scripture?
We experience God when He shows us where He is working and invites us to join Him. Can you imagine, a very important person, inviting you to work with him on a project that is near and dear to him. It will be the beginning of a relationship. Can you imagine what this experience will do to your life? Can you imagine how you will proudly tell others how you worked with this important person on this important project? How you developed a relationship with this important, even powerful person who now knows your name and calls you a friend?
Now can you imagine you have the opportunity to come alongside the Creator of the Universe who wants you to join Him in a work near and dear to His heart. He wants to show you where He is working because He loves you. He knows your name- He calls you His friend. He loves to spend time with you. What an experience awaited Moses, Abraham, Noah and the disciples. And no less experience awaits us.
Jesus talked a lot about hearing his words and believing them. He talked about even the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. A lesson and truth clearly portrayed in the restoration to life of Lazarus- who even though he was dead and buried over 3 days, heard the voice of the Son of God and came back to life.
Our God is a God who speaks and acts. One of the most convincing ways to tell others about Him is to describe what he has done in and through your life. To talk about what God has done for you and for other people you know.
And when you do- God says they will listen to you, for He will open their ears. Not all will hear, and that is profoundly sad. They have seen the light and prefer darkness. Our job is to shine the light, to tell what God has done and is doing.
God is still speaking- the question is: are you still listening?Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14