Topic: Calling & Responding
Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
Genesis 46:3-4. This promise finds its fulfillment in Exodus.
*Please read Exodus 1:1-2:25.
For our purposes, here is a brief summary.
The population explosion was enough to scare the leader of the world’s (then) superpower. The first course of action to deter this growth was to enslave the Israelites. The text tells us that this plan backfired, yielding even greater reproduction from the Israelites (1:12).
The second course of action was to kill the males born to the Israelites (1:16). Because the Hebrew midwives reverenced YHWH, they ignored Pharaoh’s command (1:17-21). A third course of action was decreed: every Hebrew son that was born should be cast into the Nile (1:22).
Moses’ mother ignored this command, hiding him for 3 months. Finally, she let him go in the Nile in a basket (2:1-3). Pharaoh’s daughter came across the child, with the child crying (drawing her sympathies, no doubt), and she took him as her own (2:5-6). Moses’ birth mother was retrieved to nurse the child, getting paid to do so (2:7-9). Moses grew up educated in the best schools and trained in the realm of royalty. There is no indication that his heritage had been hidden from him.
One day, Moses came across a violent scene of oppression between an Egyptian and a Hebrew slave. Moses killed the Egyptian, hiding his body in the sand (2:11-12). When Pharaoh learned of this, he sought Moses’ life, causing him to flee to the desert in the east at the age of 40 (2:15). As a refugee in Midian, he marries and tends sheep for 40 years.
Exodus 3:1-3. Moses had taken up the very occupation that Egyptians found so detestable, identifying with his people (Gen 46:34). He was poor, tending to his father-in-law’s sheep rather than shepherding a fold of his own. This was humbling since he once had countless riches at his disposal. “The Angel of the Lord” is the “Messenger of YHWH,” being the Lord Jesus Christ who appears in a small thorny shrub that is burning, and yet, the shrub is unaffected. This is called a “theophany.”
Exodus 3:4-6. God’s introduction to Moses is telling. First, He is the God of Moses’ father, meaning that He was previously known. Second, the patriarchs are mentioned, which would immediately bring the Abrahamic Covenant to Moses’ mind. Third, Moses is facing deity! This last fact causes him to humble himself before the revelation of God.
Exodus 3:7-9. In v.7, YHWH states that the Israelites are “My people.” His self-revelation to Moses is to deal with the oppression of the Jews. YHWH is compassionate, loving, and concerned! He is also a liberator! The word “deliver” in v.8 could easily be translated “save” or “rescue.” YHWH also draws Moses’ attention to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, listing out the peoples of the land of Canaan (Gen 15:18-21).
*In the next lesson we will deal with the question of suffering and God’s response, involvement, and reasons.
Exodus 3:10-15. YHWH reveals why He has invaded Moses’ routine. Moses will go to Pharaoh so that God’s people can be liberated. This brings about a series of objections from Moses about why he cannot do what God has called him to do. Interestingly enough, these objections are painfully relevant whenever we are called to minister for the Lord.
Moses’ 1st objection to his calling: “Who am I? I am a nobody, a shepherd in the desert. I have no special skills or credentials.” We often think that we are nobody special, but this is God’s specialty: He delights in loving and using nobodys for His divine purposes!
God answers in stating that God will be with Moses, moving the events along and supplying all that is needed. One day, Moses would worship with the Israelites at the base of the very mountain that he stood upon. This was to be “a sign” for Moses that God had done what He had said.
Moses’ 2nd objection to his calling: “Where is my authorization? Who am I representing? Why should they listen to what I say?” Is moving forward in the Name of the Lord enough? Yes, for there is no greater power!
God answers by revealing His personal name: YHWH. This name means “to be” and can be understood in the present tense meaning “I am the One who is, the self-existent One.” YHWH is God’s personal name, showing an intimate relationship with His people. This would be shocking for the Israelites in Egypt because this name had largely passed off of the scene. Jacob last used it in Genesis 32:9 and 49:10, but there is no record of his sons using it at any time. After 400 years, this powerful name had once again resurfaced!
Exodus 3:16-18. YHWH will send Moses to the leadership of Israel. Leaders are to do one thing: LEAD. YHWH tells Moses to speak to them about who He is (referencing His Name: YHWH, and the patriarchs’ names which point to the Abrahamic Covenant), and where He will take them showing His desire to fulfill the Land Promise (Gen 15:18-21). The request that will be made by Moses and the elders of Israel is that YHWH has revealed Himself and that they must go and worship for three days. This would, no doubt, fulfill the “sign” to Moses from 3:12.
Exodus 3:19-22. YHWH tells Moses that Pharaoh will not let the people go without hard persuasion. Many have read into this passage, stating that YHWH made it impossible for Pharaoh to let the people go when he first encounters Moses and his request. But that is not what the text says. God is demonstrating His foreknowledge of a situation. Just because God foreknows that something will happen does not mean that He has foreordained for it to happen. This would make God a contradiction, seeing that the command is to let the people go, and yet, God would be working against His own command by causing Pharaoh to withhold the people. No, what we have is YHWH mentally preparing Moses so that he does not shrink in defeat when his request is rejected. Revealing the answer beforehand would serve to strengthen Moses’ confidence in YHWH and the mission that he has been called to.
Exodus 4:1-9. Moses’ 3rd objection to his calling: “What if no one believes me? What about the skeptics?” Opposition is constant. We shouldn’t be surprised. However, these situations are exactly the type of opportunities that God uses in miraculous ways! Those who are skeptical are exactly the ones that YHWH wants to believe!
YHWH provides Moses with three signs. First, Moses’ staff could become a snake. YHWH gives the reason for this sign in v.5, stating that it was so they would “believe that YHWH, the Elohim of their fathers, the Covenant-keeping God has appeared to Moses.”
The second sign involved Moses’ hand being turned leprous and then made whole again. It is stated that if they would not believe the first sign, they might believe the second. Let’s ponder this for a moment. YHWH considered that the responses of those in Egypt could go either way. YHWH is not ignorant of the future, so how do we make sense of this statement? YHWH doesn’t just know the future, but He knows every possibility that could occur in the future and He is fully prepared for every possible free choice that could be made. Those in Egypt could believe from the first sign, but they may not.
The third sign, which will be necessary if the people do not believe Moses and do not heed what he says, calls for him to take water from the Nile and to pour it on the dry ground where it will become blood.
Notice that the focus on each sign involves belief and unbelief.
Exodus 4:10-12. Moses’ 4th objection to his calling: “I’m not that good with words. My speech is slow. I have a history of verbal failures.” Our lack of education and etiquette does not equal a lack of the Lord’s ability in us. This looks to self rather than looking to God. He is our ability!
YHWH reminds Moses who the Creator of man’s mouth is. Moses need not lack confidence because YHWH would be using Moses’ mouth for His purposes.
Exodus 4:13-17. Moses’ 5th objection to his calling: “Lord, send someone else. I can’t do it! Anyone but me!!!” God’s answer is that we don’t do ministry alone! One of the great pictures of the church is that of a Body with many parts, but serving together as a unified whole!
At this the Lord became angry. His answer- to partner Moses with his brother. Moses would not be doing ministry alone! And on top of that, God will be teaching him and will be with his mouth to give him what he should say to properly represent Him. In other words, God would be supplying all that is necessary for him to successfully do all of the work!
Just as YHWH uses a process to fulfill His promises, He also uses people to accomplish His purposes. This means that no one is exempt from being used for YHWH’s purposes! Moses was an impoverished shepherd who had previously murdered a man and had to flee the country.
Yet, YHWH used him greatly for His glory!
Are you being used for YHWH’s glory? If not, what is stopping you?