HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, May 16, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Leadership Development”
Text – Exodus 2:11-4
There is much about how God works in our lives that is simply beyond our understanding. However, that does not mean that we are without glimpses of his hand at work. There are some things we can know, and lessons we can glean from the stories of the people in the Bible. Take for instance our story today. God had a plan for the baby Moses—the timing seemed wrong, but God knew that it was perfect. Moses would be raised as a privileged son of the Egyptian princess, but would retain his connection with the Hebrew people—his people. By the age of forty, Moses is fully aware of the Hebrew’s situation as mistreated slaves and, as an unofficial ‘prince’ of the people, wants to take some action of their behalf. Unfortunately, his actions were his own and not yet directed by God. Over the course of the next forty years, we will see a dramatic change in Moses—from a self-confident member of the royal family to a humbled servant fully reliant on God’s wisdom and direction. We discover that it took until the age of eighty for Moses to finally be prepared to do the great work of God for which he was born!
But first, let’s go back forty years and see why taking matters into our hands is never a good idea…
TAKING MATTERS INTO HIS OWN HANDS – Exodus 2:11-22
“Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. 12 After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand. 13 The next day, when Moses went out to visit his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. “Why are you beating up your friend?” Moses said to the one who had started the fight. 14 The man replied, “Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” Then Moses was afraid, thinking, “Everyone knows what I did.” 15 And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened, and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian.
When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well. 16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father’s flocks. 17 But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks. 18 When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, “Why are you back so soon today?” 1 9They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. And then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.”
20 “Then where is he?” their father asked. “Why did you leave him there? Invite him to come and eat with us.” 21 Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. In time, Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife. 22 Later she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom,[a] for he explained, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.”
Moses had left the palace to visit the slaves at work. He had seen an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave and had reacted by killing the man and then trying to cover up the crime. But word spread quickly and he was forced to run for his life. His attempt to stand up for the Hebrews had entirely backfired. He ends up settling in the land of Midian—away from everything he had ever know, more Egyptian than Hebrew, a foreigner. Looking in on Moses’ story, we might be tempted to think that he has totally blown any chance he had to help his people. He is a wanted man and now must live the rest of his days banished.
But not so. In forty years time, God will show up and direct Moses to return to Egypt. We could view the forty years that Moses spends in Midian as banishment…or as a training ground. God had plans to use Moses as a leader, but he needed to undergo a life transformation before he would be ready to do so.
Moses, the prince of Egypt, must learn the lessons of a shepherd—patience, self-control and humility—before he will be ready to lead the vast nation of the Hebrews out of Egypt. God knows that the freed slaves will at times bear an incredible resemblance to an obstinate flock of sheep and Moses will be called upon to use all the skills he gains in his forty years of tending his father-in-laws flocks.
Have you ever noticed times when previous life experiences have prepared you for future life events?
Time must have felt like it was moving very slowly for Moses during those forty years in the Midianite wilderness. In the waiting, we sometimes feel like God is moving too slowly, if he’s taking any action at all. But once things have aligned themselves, God often moves swiftly, forcing us to try and catch up. Such was the case with Moses…
GOD CALLS MOSES – Exodus 3:1-10
“One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. 3 “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”
4 When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” Moses replied, “Here I am!” 5 The Lord warned Moses, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. 6 I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
7 Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. 9 Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”
God determines that the time is right. The Hebrews are desperate to escape Egypt and his chosen leader has been readied. But first God must get Moses’ attention. What does God do? [shows up as a burning bush]
I can’t help but wonder if God is taking this opportunity to introduce himself to Moses. How well does Moses actually know God at this point in his life? God shows up in a way that Moses can’t ignore. However, Moses’ curiosity turns to instant dread when God identifies himself, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Oh, and by the way, take your sandals off; you’re standing on holy ground.” God isn’t just back in Egypt with the enslaved Israelites, he’s also in this place where Moses has lived in banishment for the past forty years. And he has a job for Moses to do.
God has not been deaf to the cries of his people; he is aware of the suffering they have experienced at the hands of the Egyptians. And Moses, who had been so keen to come to their aid forty years earlier, is God's chosen servant to lead them into freedom and the land he promised their fathers so many years ago.
Forty years earlier, the self-confident ‘prince’ of Egypt might have been quick to accept the challenge. But Moses, who has been undergoing a transformation of his leadership style and character, isn’t overly eager for this opportunity at the age of eighty. He’s going to need some convincing.
MOSES NEEDS CONVINCING – Exodus 3:11-15, 4:1-17
“But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”
13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” 14 God replied to Moses, “I am who i am.[f] Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you…
But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?” 2 What is that in your hand?” the Lord asked Moses. “A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied. 3 “Throw it down on the ground,” the Lord told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back. 4 Then the Lord told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand. 5 “Perform this sign,” the Lord told him. “Then they will believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—really has appeared to you.”
6 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out again, his hand was white as snow with a severe skin disease. 7 “Now put your hand back into your cloak,” the Lord said. So Moses put his hand back in, and when he took it out again, it was as healthy as the rest of his body. 8 The Lord said to Moses, “If they do not believe you and are not convinced by the first miraculous sign, they will be convinced by the second sign. 9 And if they don’t believe you or listen to you even after these two signs, then take some water from the Nile River and pour it out on the dry ground. When you do, the water from the Nile will turn to blood on the ground.”
10 But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” 11 Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
13 But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” 14 Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. 15 Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. 16 Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. 17 And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.”
How much evidence does one man need? It is abundantly clear, that Moses did not want this assignment! Five times he protests and even pleads with God to choose someone else…anyone else! After Moses’ first objection, God makes a promise to bring him and all the Israelites back to Mount Sinai where they will worship God.
But that isn’t enough for Moses; he protests again. “Who will I say sent me?” What is Gods’ answer? [“I AM” has sent you; the God of your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob]
Again, Moses protests, “What if they refuse to believe that you sent me?” What miracles does God demonstrate and tell Moses to use? [staff turns into a snake and then back again; hand is made leprous then healthy; water from the Nile poured on the ground will turn to blood]
God has shown himself capable, but Moses doubts God’s ability to work through him. “I can’t speak…I’m no good at putting the words together!” What does God remind Moses of? [it is God who gives the ability to speak, to hear, to see] What promises does God make to Moses? [“I will be with you and I will give you the words to speak”]
But Moses is still desperate not to be chosen for this task and pleads with God to send someone else…anyone but him! And it’s at this point that we see another side of God. Moses’ unwillingness to acknowledge that God is sufficient to help him with this task causes God to show an entirely different emotion. How does he now respond to Moses’ refusal? [he gets angry; God relents and allows Moses a partner, but because God knows Aaron’s heart he refuses to give him equal responsibility and authority with Moses]
We find God going from calmly reassuring to perturbed…Moses is testing his patience! But rather than letting him off the hook, God offers to supply Moses with a helper—his brother Aaron. This brings a measure of relief to Moses and he finally relents, but for those of us who know the story, I can’t help but wonder if there may have come a time when Moses regretted Aaron’s help—like when he made the golden calf or when he and Miriam became jealous of Moses’ position. Definitely a reminder for all of us to be careful what we wish for!
What can we take from this biblical narrative from the life of Moses?
· God is not blind to our struggles, just as he was not blind to the Israelites’ enslavement, but often his timing is beyond our understanding – One thing we can know for certain is that he sees, he hears and he’s working all things together to fulfill his plans
· Our own solutions to problems often fall short and/or fail miserably – Moses was initially eager to help his people and he even killed for them; but his ill-planned intervention resulted in his needing to run for his life
· God is capable of redeeming our mistakes – Moses was forced to flee Egypt and landed in Midian where he would complete his training for his future position of leadership
· View your life circumstances as God’s training arena – In Pharaoh’s palace, Moses learned much about how to lead; but it was in the lands of Midian as a shepherd that Moses learned the lessons of patience, self-control and humility
· Rely on God not your own abilities – Moses went from being overly confident in his own ability to solve problems to recognizing his complete inability…and doubting that he was fit for the job at all. God had to convince him that, while he was incapable on his own, with God’s help anything was possible.
· God often directs us to complete tasks that go beyond our own limitations so that we recognize who should get the credit…so that he receives the glory – God was choosing to work through Moses, a man who had settled into the life of a shepherd and told him to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt—an entirely impossible task without the help of God; but because it was impossible for Moses, he was God’s perfect pick—the Hebrews would have to acknowledge that it was God who had done the impossible
· When God calls us to do a task, he will supply what we need – Moses knew he didn’t have the skills or confidence to do the job God wanted to accomplish through him and it made him reluctant; God promised, however, to provide Moses with the ability to do miracles and would give him the words to speak. Moses’ lack was not an issue for God…and could even be viewed as an asset. An entirely confident and competent person may not have relied on God the way that Moses did
· Be careful about trying to set the parameters within which you will serve God – Moses wanted another human companion to help him in the task God was giving to him, but what he didn’t know was that Aaron would end up causing him grief on a sizable scale more than once during the next forty years. How might things have turned out differently, if Moses had fully trusted God right from the beginning?
Sunday, May 23, 2021- “Saying ‘NO!’ to God” (Exodus 5-11,12:31-42,14) - ONLINE Only
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!