Moses' Call To the Ministry
Tim Temple

Introduction

Our text today is Exodus, chapter 3, verse 1:

Exodus 3:

1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
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.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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.
7 And the LORD said, 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;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
13 And Moses said unto God, 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?
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.
19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.
22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

We have read the chapter in its entirety because we may not have time to look at all the details, and I wanted you to get an idea of the context of the verses which we will discuss.

God's Manifest Display

We want to think about these first nine verses, which are very familiar to us, concerning the magnificence of God as it was displayed. The first thing that we want to notice is the location of this display in verse 1.

Exodus 3:

1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

The location of this display of the magnificence of God was the backside of the desert. What an odd place for God to display His glory and His magnificence. The backside of the desert is a euphemism in the Scripture for a place of quietness and simplicity, and of course it is a literal reference to the place where Moses had been. The chapter just before this closes with Moses fleeing for his life and in a very sad situation. Yet we referred to that situation as a merciful interruption because God was going to take Moses and mold him and make him a usable servant. Moses was already highly qualified. He was learned in all of the wisdom of the Egyptians and mighty in word and deed. From the human standpoint, he was highly qualified, and he thought so, too. Remember that he went out with that idea in mind, and God had to show Moses that in order to be effective for God, a man must come to the place where he realizes that whatever he has is not really his. Sometimes a man can be too qualified for God to use in an odd sort of way. God wanted to use Moses, and He had to show Moses that his qualifications were not going to be all of those human qualifications. God could use those, but his qualifications for God's service had to be things that only God could show him. To do that, God took him to the backside of the desert.

In our study of the life of Moses, we have been seeing that Luke, chapter 7, is a parallel passage that gives us some detail that Exodus does not give us. Luke, chapter 7, verse 30, tells us that Moses had been on the backside of the desert for forty years when we read about Exodus, chapter 3, verse 1. Forty years God had been training Moses on the backside of the desert, keeping the flocks for his father-in-law. I think this demonstrates the difference between God's wisdom and man's wisdom. Here is a perfect illustration of that.

I think if we were to find a man today who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and mighty in word and deed, a man who had turned down the throne of Egypt a couple of times and who had led the Egyptian army in victorious campaigns, we would immediately put him on national television. We would immediately make a famous evangelist out of him. But, here is God with a man with all those human qualifications and God socked him away to the backside of the desert for a training period. It is very important that we recognize that God's training program is not always parallel to man's training program. God made use of all these things that He had gifted Moses with through the years, and that eloquence and that activity and that learning were all part of God's provision. We will see, as we get farther over in the life of Moses, that those were things that God effectively used, but that was not all that God wanted to train him with.

As we look for God's training program in our own lives, we need to recognize that God does use education, and God does use talent and ability and position in life to which we may have been born, but never settle for the fact that those things alone make us what God wants us to be. God's training ground often includes so much more than that.

Another interesting thing to notice about this training that Moses received during these forty years is that nowhere in the Scripture are recorded the details of what took place during that forty years. We just have chapter 2 closing with Moses running for his life, going to a place and sitting down on a well and meeting a woman who became his wife. Then the scene shifts and in chapter 3 we pick it up. Acts tells us it is forty years later, and he sees the revelation of God. In forty years there, God was training him, but no details are given.

It is a fascinating thing to me, and yet I think that this is an indication of the way that God operates because the same thing is true of John the Baptist. We have John the Baptist just appearing on the scene in the New Testament, fully grown in the midst of his ministry. The Scripture, in other places, tells us that God had trained John the Baptist and had molded him and made him what He wanted him to be, but we do not know what God did to make him the great man of God that he was. We don't know what details took place in John the Baptist's wilderness training experience.

The Apostle Paul, after he became a believer, spent several years in Arabia, he says, learning at the hand of God. Again, we don't know what curriculum that training included. If we took the time to pursue most of the prophets' lives, we would find that they had long periods of training; yet, the details of that training are never recorded for us.

Why do you think that is? You may have another idea, but I think that God does not include the details of that training program because His training program is different and varied for each of us. As we have said over and over again, God has a position for each of us to fill. God has a ministry for each of us, and God knows exactly what training we need for that ministry. Your training may be different from my training, and my training may be different from someone else's, and someone else's may be different from Moses' training. Moses' training was different from Jeremiah's, and Jeremiah's was different from John the Baptist's because all of us have different things to do. But don't be surprised if God, in addition to the secular or human opportunities that you have had for training, also puts you through some spiritual education.

Sometimes that training ground is parallel to and intermingled with other aspects of our lives. God doesn't always set us aside for forty years as He did Moses. Many times that training is right alongside the human training we are receiving. Many times that training is interwoven with that ministry He has given us to do, but God trains His servants. It is a principle of the Word of God, and He tailors that training program according to the needs and the abilities and the plans that God has for each person.

With that in mind, we should be very careful that we never get distracted by what God is doing for somebody else or what God is not doing for somebody else. One person has an opportunity for training; another person goes through a great period of testing. One person has a great period of advancement; another person seems to stand still, and yet both are committed men of God. Don't get distracted if you seem to have more opportunities than someone else, or if you don't have as many. Remember, God is training you, and God's program is uniquely tailored and suited for you. Someone else's training program may last a lot longer, and your training may not last as long, but don't get distracted by what God is doing or not doing for somebody else. Just concentrate on what God wants to do for you. Submit to God's training program for you.

Notice another thing about the location of this display. Not only was he on the backside of the desert, but we read in verse 1 that he was keeping the flock of his father-in-law. I think that is designed to indicate to us the humility that was involved in this training program. We need to recognize that God's training program may include a humbling time. God's training program may be a humbling experience.

Our tendency is to look at this with a human viewpoint, and we tend to look at someone's status in life and think, “My, he must be a great man of God. Look at the position he has.” We look at someone else and we say, “My, he must not be all that he should be spiritually because look at the little bit that he is getting to do for God.”

Most of you have heard of H.A. Ironside. He was a great expositor of the Scripture, pastor for many years of the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago. A little known fact about H.A. Ironside is that he was thirty years into his ministry before he ever went to Moody Church. He began the ministry for which he is famous after thirty years of quiet training in God's vineyard. Nobody had ever heard of him outside of a select, small circle of people before he went to Moody, that place where God was able to use him in a worldwide ministry. That was very impressive to me the first time I came across it, and it is not often pointed out as far as I know.

God's training program may be a quiet, behind-the-scenes, humbling kind of experience. Again, don't become distracted by it and don't judge a messenger of God on the basis of the seeming smallness or the humility of his service. Moses, the man who had already turned down the opportunity to be the Pharaoh of Egypt, spent forty years as a shepherd on the backside of the desert, keeping the flock of his father-in-law.

Motivation by Means of the Display

This location of the display was a unique and unusual location for the display of the magnificence of God, but then in verses 2-3 we want to notice the motivation that took place because of this display—the motivation by means of the display. In verse 2, we read:

Exodus 3:

2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

Here we have in verse 2 a specific reference to the angel of the LORD . What we have here is the Lord Jesus Christ appearing to Moses. Let me just mention that this is always an indispensable element in God's training program. God's training program, no matter what else it may include, always includes a personal encounter with and identification with Jesus Christ, even in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament times, an encounter with Jesus Christ was not by means of salvation from the standpoint that we think of it in the New Testament. Moses, Abraham, and all of the other Old Testament men were saved by the blood of Jesus Christ just as you and I were, but the technicalities of that were different. Old or New Testament believers, any man who has been used of God, has had an encounter with Jesus Christ. You cannot expect to be a person used by God if you do not know Jesus Christ as personal Savior. All this talk about the Man upstairs or Somebody up there likes me , or trying to do good for humanity—all those things may be noble ideas. They may be clever ideas, but no work for God is ever done without a person's coming to personal faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Even in the Old Testament, God specified that with the appearance of the Angel of the LORD to these men of God that He used in the Old Testament. Other illustrations of this are Isaiah, in Isaiah, chapter 6, or Jeremiah, in Jeremiah, chapter 1, or Paul, in Acts, chapter 9. We could go on and on, and even those for whom it is not recorded, it is always true. You cannot expect to be used of God without having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That should be so obvious that there is no need to mention it, but it is significant that the Scripture records it here. So this is the motivation by means of the display. Moses was motivated by having a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the Angel of the LORD. He saw God Himself.

The Revelation in the Display

That is developed more specifically in verses 4-9, as we think about the revelation in this display. There are two things that are revealed in this display of God's holiness. First, it was a display of God's holiness. This is described for us in verses 4-6. Notice a very significant statement in verse 4:

Exodus 3:

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.

I want us to specify clearly the time of this revelation of God's holiness. You notice how that is worded in verse 4: “…when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see…” The burning bush was there. It was burning, and yet not consumed. I think what was taking place there, on the basis of what I have read of men who are familiar with that part of the world, was something like we would experience in our part of the country of a tumbleweed that was ignited by spontaneous combustion. It was something that was fairly common, something that was not unheard of that Moses had undoubtedly seen before, and yet this particular burning bush had something special about it. It burned and was not consumed. Probably, as Moses walked up to it from a distance, he realized, having seen this thing before, there had been plenty of time for it to have been burned up completely, and yet it kept on burning. As he got closer to it, he saw that the material of the bush was no smaller and the fire kept burning. He knew that there was something special about this. Even though it occurred in the mundane affairs of life, in that humble experience through which he was going, this was something special. Notice how God responded to that: …“when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see…”

I believe that there are many people whom God is not able to use because they do not turn aside to see when God wants to reveal Himself to them. They are going along, their eyes are so much on their mundane experience—perhaps it is a feeling of bitterness; perhaps it is a feeling of boredom, or whatever it is—that they are not looking for God, and they do not see Him when He appears. God uses men who are looking for Him. When God saw that Moses turned aside to see, then He spoke to Him.

I wonder, are you caught up in the frustration of your existence? Are you caught up in the mundane and the ordinary, and are you wondering why God even has you here? Could it be that you are so caught up in the mundane and the ordinary that you don't even turn aside to see as the Lord speaks to you? God wants men and women who will walk through life with an open eye and with an expectant ear, even in the mundane and ordinary affairs of life.

When God saw that he turned aside to see, He spoke to him. Then, in verse 5, notice not only the time of the revelation, but notice the truth in the revelation:

Exodus 3:

5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

Moses was going to be the friend of God. Moses was going to be the man with whom God talked face-to-face. As we progress through our study of the life of Moses, we are going to see that in a unique sense, Moses communicated with God and Moses knew God in a way that other men never knew Him. Other men knew Him intimately and personally, and God has provided for us to know Him intimately and personally, but Moses was a man who knew God. Perhaps because of God's plan for Moses and perhaps because God knew that Moses was going to know Him so well because God knew that Moses was going to respond to the opportunities that God gave him, God wants to make it clear to Moses right from the beginning that even though he is going to know God intimately, God is still a holy God.

I am troubled from time-to-time by the tendency that we have in our day to bring God down to our level. In our praying and in our talking, and sometimes even in our music we think of God as a good ole boy , or as a buddy who runs through life with us. It is a wonderful truth that we can know God personally. He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. He is the One who has told us to cast all of our cares upon Him for He cares for us. Those are undeniable truths, and they are wonderful truths. They are thrilling truths, but at the same time, God wants us to remember, as He wanted Moses to remember: “Take your shoes off. This is holy ground. Moses, you are in the presence of Almighty God. Don't take it lightly.” You are going to be in the presence of Almighty God. Never take it lightly.

In verse 6, there is some tradition in the revelation concerning God's holiness:

Exodus 3:

6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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 saw the point, you see. By the end of verse 6, he knew clearly that this was God, and he responded properly. He hid his face. He recognized the holiness of God.

Notice in the beginning of verse 6 the tradition that God stresses. He said, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…” Throughout the Old Testament, we find references like that, and because we find them often, we tend to overlook them, but God includes those references often to remind us of His tradition of faithfulness. Aren't you thankful for the tradition of God's faithfulness? One of the things I enjoy about the way we worship the Lord at Abilene Bible Church is that little time of prayer that we have each Sunday morning. It adds to the length of the service, and we could cut that out, but I am not in favor of cutting it out. I don't think that we would get a very good response if we did cut it out because after you have been here a few weeks, you begin to see that tradition of God's faithfulness that develops.

Tradition can be a bad thing, and tradition of men is something that Scripture tells us to avoid, but isn't it wonderful to look back on the tradition of God's faithfulness? My family and I are in a time of real testing right now. At a time like this, when it comes down to our personal lives, I am sure you have found the same thing when you faced a time of testing in your own family, isn't it wonderful to remember the tradition of God's faithfulness? God was going to put Moses through some difficult days. Moses was going to face terrible rejection and terrible frustration and terrible difficulty; and again, before he began, God wanted Moses to remember, “I am the God of your father. I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” The holiness of God is wrapped up in the tradition of God's faithfulness, and God wants us to remember that too.

Not only was this a revelation of holiness, but it was also a revelation of helpfulness. This is recorded for us in verses 7-8. It is an interesting thing to notice, and I think that this has only recently occurred to me. I am a little thick, so it took longer for it to occur to me than it does for some other people, but almost invariably when we find a revelation of the holiness of God in the Scripture, we also find in the same context the revelation of the helpfulness of God. God's power, God's activity is always related to His holiness. In the Scripture, most of the time when we have references to His holiness, we also find references to His helpfulness. When we find references to His holiness, we also find references to His power, to His activity.

That, too, is a wonderful realization. Aren't you thankful that God, the God of infinite power is at the same time a God of holiness? Aren't you glad that a God of infinite holiness is at the same time a God of helpfulness? What if Moses had seen the holiness of God, and God had closed the sentence in this in which He said, “Take off your shoes,for you are on holy ground,” and Moses would have never been able to approach that holiness? What if Moses had to keep his face hidden as he had it hidden at the end of verse 6? Even though God wants us to know His indescribable holiness, He also wants us to know of His helpfulness. We find this in verse 7-8. Notice in verse 7, the completeness of God's knowledge:

Exodus 3:

7 And the LORD said, 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;

The first chapters of Exodus, particularly the first chapter, have details for us of the sorrows of the Israelites in Egyptian captivity. They have detailed for us the problems that the Israelites were going through, and they have detailed for us the cries to God that the Israelites had been making. Notice what God says to Moses:

Exodus 3:

7 And the LORD said, 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;

This is the completeness of God's knowledge. I am sure that those Israelites wondered if God did know, and I am sure that they wondered if God did hear, but God reassures Moses, “I have seen and I have heard and I know…”—the completeness of His knowledge.

The Confidence of His Deliverance

Notice in verse 8, the confidence of His deliverance:

Exodus 3:

8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

Not only did He know their needs, but He had a plan to meet those needs. It was going to be years before God's plan was fulfilled. God wasn't saying, “I am going to do this by tomorrow afternoon or by dark tomorrow night.” It was going to be years before it was all fulfilled because God had to work with the rebelliousness of men. God had to allow them to play out their plans before He could put His plan into effect and, for a number of other reasons, God's plan was long-ranged. But God said, “I know their needs and I will do something about it. I am come down to deliver them.”

God has manifested Himself to us just as clearly in His Word, and the promises in His Word are just as confident for you and me.

God's Messenger Delegated

We want to notice in this chapter God's messenger delegated, in verses 10-14. Notice the power behind the delegation:

Exodus 3:

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Notice what God says in the first part of verse 10: “I will send thee unto Pharaoh…” The emphasis is on God's power: “I will send thee…” The same emphasis is back in verses 8-9: “I am come down to deliver them…” “I will bring them into the land…” Again, it is reassuring to know that God is going to deliver.

Why do you suppose God is putting this emphasis on I ? In our last lesson concerning the life of Moses, remember what happened when Moses went out and tried to do it himself? Moses had to flee for his life. God wants Moses to know, “Look, Moses, you tried and you failed. Now I am going to deliver.” This is the power behind the delegation.

Notice in the second part of verse 10 that not only was there power behind the delegation, but there was a person in the delegation. Notice again:

Exodus 3:

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Here is another fascinating thing. It is an old truth and one that probably most of us know. It is repetition and review, but notice the power of God working through people. God could have chosen many ways to deliver the Israelites out of their Egyptian bondage. He could have sent a band of angels to just destroy the Egyptian civilization, or He could have appeared personally and led them out of their bondage, but He delegated a man: “I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people,” and for whatever reason, this is always God's method. Someone said one time, “If God ever made a mistake, this was probably it—delegating His work to men.” But God, in His wisdom, to His own praise and glory, has chosen to use men to express His power.

Psalm 19, verse 1, says, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” but in spite of this, God has chosen men to declare the glory. Many other ways He could have done it, but He chose to do it this way. There was God's power in the delegation, but there was a person in the delegation also.

In verses 11-12, notice that Moses, being the man in the situation, brings up a problem in the delegation, and this is always where the problems come in. Notice in verse 11:

Exodus 3:

11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

There is a problem in the delegation. This is an interesting thing, isn't it? You see, in this passage God has been saying, “I am going to do this,” and I am going to do this. I am going to use you, but I am going to do it,” and in the face of that, Moses says, “Who am I that you should use me?”

This actually shows us how well Moses has learned his lessons there in the desert. In our next study in the life of Moses, we are going to see that Moses tended to carry this too far. God had to really bear down on him. It is good to a certain extent to recognize that the power is God's. When Moses was dependent on himself, as we saw in our last study, he didn't see any difficulty. Acts, chapter 7, and Exodus, chapter 2, tell us that he went out to see about his brethren and to start delivering them, just supposing that it was he who would deliver them from their bondage. He didn't see any problems at all, and he immediately ran into problems. But now Moses is a mature man of God. Now Moses is aware that if it is ever going to be done, God is going to have to do it. “Who am I, God? I can't do this.” Do you see the difference? The mature man of God recognizes the problem. The mature man of God doesn't let those problems get him down, but he recognizes that there are problems there. He is willing to say, “God, You are going to have to do this. I can't. If this is going to be done, it is going to have to be Your power.”

That was Moses' maturity. God can really use the man who recognizes that fact. God uses men who recognize that they are only usable as God uses them God uses men who are not dependent on their own ability and background and training.

Notice with the problem comes a promise. Moses sees the problem in verse 11, but notice the promise in verse 12:

Exodus 3:

12 …Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

Note especially: “I will be with thee…” Jeremiah had the same problem back in Jeremiah, chapter 1. Jeremiah said, “But, God I am a child. I can't speak to these people for you.” God said to Jeremiah in verse 7:

Jeremiah 1:

7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.

Jeremiah was a child. He was a young man at the time. God didn't say, “Jeremiah, don't say that. You are too old to talk that way.” God didn't deny that he was a child. God just said, “Jeremiah, don't say that because I will be with thee.” God has spent forty years getting Moses to say, “Who am I,” so God doesn't say, “Moses don't talk that way. You are a grown man.” God says, “Moses, don't talk that way because I will be with you.” It is good to see our shortcomings. It is a great thing when we recognize that we are unable to do what God wants us to do, but God doesn't want us to dwell on that. God wants us to recognize “I will be with you.”

There was a problem. Moses was not capable of doing what God was asking him to do, but there was a wonderful promise: God would be with him as he went about doing it. The same thing is true of the disciples in Matthew, chapter 28. Jesus said, as He closed the Gospel of Matthew, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” God is with us in whatever He has called us to do. God never promises that there will be no problems, but He always promises that He will be with us in the midst of the problems.

Then notice also the positive identification that God makes in this delegation of authority. In verse 13, we read:

Exodus 3:

13 And Moses said unto God, 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?
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Notice in verse 13 Moses' request for identification: “When I go to the children of Israel and say that God has sent me to them and they are going to ask me what is His name, what shall I say?”

Verse 14 is probably one of the best known verses in the Bible, but think with me for just a minute about the irony of this. Here is Moses at it again. If you were to go back through the text and underline the various places where God says something, you would find that “He said,” in verse 5, “He said,” in verse 6, “The Lord said,” in verse 7, “He said,” in verse 12.” God has been talking again and again and again to Moses. You see what Moses' reaction is: “Now, Lord, it is all right for You to be saying all of this, but when I go to the people and they say, ‘What is His name?'…, what shall I say?” Isn't that typical? God Himself speaks to us and reassures us, and we are just like Moses so many times. “What are people going to say, God?” Can you imagine that? God has been saying all these things, and Moses is worried about what they are going to say.

It is just as foolish for us, isn't it? God's promises are to us. God speaks to us. God promises to be with us, and we are worried about what people will say. God gives him the identification, anyway, in verse 14. He said, “I AM THAT I AM.” I think the implication here is the tense. “I AM. I AM the One who always has been. I AM the One who is now, and I AM the One who always will be.”

Look back at verses 6-8 of this chapter as God was telling Moses about how He knew their problems. Here is a good illustration of I AM. In verse 6, He said, “I AM the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I AM the God of the past.” Then in verse 7, the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry.” He is the God of the present. “I am the God of your fathers. I also am the God of those of you who are crying out right now.” Then in verse 8: “I have come to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land. I am the God of the future. Moses, I took care of your fathers. I have heard the cry of you and your people right now, and in the future I am still going to be the God who delivers you out of these problems.” He is the God of the past, the present and the future. That is all you need to say. “I AM that I AM.”

God's Mission Described

In verses 15-22, we said that God's mission is described. We are not going to take the time to look at those verses in detail. That is one of the reasons that we took the time to read the entire chapter so that you would at least be basically familiar with those verses. In those verses, God simply tells Moses what He is going to have him do. He tells him how He is going to have him approach the captives. He tells them that Pharaoh is not going to let them go. He gives him an idea of what he faces. Here again is something that is typical of the Word of God. God never pulls any punches. When God outlines something for us to do, even though He may not outline it all in a scope like He did for Moses in the beginning. He may outline it only a step at a time, but if it is going to be difficult, God never misleads us about that. Sometimes God has difficult work for us to do. God never promises that it is going to be easy. God never misleads us. He outlined it for Moses and He said, “Moses, Pharaoh is not going to let them go.” But His reassurance is wonderful down in verse 20:

Exodus 3:

20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.

Then notice verse 21:

Exodus 3:

21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.

Then the last line of the chapter:

Exodus 3:

22 …and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

“Moses, there are some rough days ahead, but I am going to bring you through. I am going to bring the victory.” This is Moses' call to the ministry. “It's all God's doing, Moses, but you are the man I want to use.”

Conclusion

This step in the life of Moses was completely from God. God got his attention with the burning bush. God identified Himself to Moses. God gave the promises to Moses, and that is always the way God's call is. You don't need to be seeking and searching for God's call. If you will have your eyes open and your heart attentive, God will call you. God will speak to you even in the mundane circumstances in which you live. The calling of Moses took place at the end of and as the result of a long program of training, but don't get discouraged if God is training you and you don't yet know for what. Moses had forty years to get discouraged if he was going to get discouraged, but God called him when the proper time came. While you are undergoing your training, be on the alert for that burning bush out of which God wants to speak to you about the ministry He is going to do through you.


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