Old Testament V.I.P.’s: Moses

But to be faithful you need faith.  Faith makes you faithful: Moses’ faith in everything is what made him faithful in everything

Booker T. Washington describes meeting an ex-slave from Virginia in his book Up From Slavery : “I found that this man had made a contract with his master, two or three years previous to the Emancipation Proclamation, to the effect that the slave was to be permitted to buy himself, by paying so much per year for his body; and while he was paying for himself, he was to be permitted to labor where and for whom he pleased.

“Finding that he could secure better wages in Ohio, he went there. When freedom came, he was still in debt to his master some three hundred dollars. Notwithstanding that the Emancipation Proclamation freed him from any obligation to his master, this black man walked the greater portion of the distance back to where his old master lived in Virginia, and placed the last dollar, with interest, in his hands.

In talking to me about this, the man told me that he knew that he did not have to pay his debt, but that he had given his word to his master, and his word he had never broken. He felt that he could not enjoy his freedom till he had fulfilled his promise.”

 

What are we to make of a man made up of such character?  That kind of integrity is rare, and, demands respect. It so impresses us, as it ought anyone with a shred of moral sensitivity.  I can’t think of a better segue into our message today where the faithfulness of God to His promise is painted all over our text.  Today we come to the Call of Moses – the man who led Israel out of Egypt. But the career of Moses only ever arises in history because of God’s promise to Abraham, hundreds of years before.  

 

Moses and the Abrahamic Covenant.

Read Exodus 2:23-25.  The Call of Moses has to do with something theologians call the Abrahamic Covenant.  So, in order for us to understand why Moses is approached by God, and the plans God has for Moses and the Israelites, we have to have a grasp of the Abrahamic Covenant

 

The Abrahamic Covenant is simply the list of promises that God made to the man Abraham, whom we studied last week.  Those promises included things like many descendants, the land of Canaan, a famous and respected name throughout history, protection and prosperity.  Now, in Genesis 15:13-14 God formalizes the covenant and then says this to Abraham: “……”

 

Fast forward and Abraham has a son, Isaac, who has a son, Jacob.  Jacob’s name is changed by God to Israel. The man Israel, formerly known as Jacob, then has 12 sons, and they become the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

The Israelites are in Egypt at the end of the book of Genesis, and at the beginning of the book of Exodus.  For a little while they enjoyed great relations with Pharoah and the Egyptians, but, then as they grew to great numbers the Egyyptians enslaed the Israelites and oppressed them:  forced hard labor, forced infanticide (Exodus 1)

 

They cried out to God for deliverance, and, God heard their cries, and saw their oppression.  This picks up in Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7, 9)

 

So, the time has come for God to rescue the oppressed descendants of Abraham, just like He promised to Abraham.  The way God was going to do it was to use the man Moses.

 

Applications:  1) God is faithful, 2) God cares for His people, 3) God’s timing, not ours

 

Moses: the Unlikely Candidate

Moses was not exactly the guy you would look to first.  

  • Criminal Record:  Murder (2:12)
  • Class Difference:  Grew up in Egyptian royalty (2:10; Heb. 11:24-27)
  • Career:  Shepherd (3:1)
  • Clumsy Speaker:  not eloquent of speech (4:10)
  • Character:  Controlling his Anger (2:12; Nu. 20:9-11)

 

Moses’ faith in God is why God used him.  Moses got off to a rough start, as chapter 4 details, but, Moses’ whole career was characterised by trusting God.

 

Moses was faithful in everything:  Hebrews 3:2, 5

 

But to be faithful you need faith.  Faith makes you faithful: Moses’ faith in everything is what made him faithful in everything: Hebrews 11:24-29.

 

Faith is what God is looking for, its the only thing that pleases Him, its what moves Him, and its what makes you useful to Him

 

Applications:  God doesn’t use people because they have what it takes to get the job done.  He uses people whose faith is fully in Him as the One who can get it done. “Brothers,” 1 Cor 1:26 says, “think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were influential;

 

Do you trust fully in God?  “We don’t know what to do O God, but, our eyes are on You” -2 Chr. 20:12

 

Moses and the Character of God

This introduction Moses had with the LORD is revealing much of God to us.  All Scripture study ought to lead us into a deeper understanding of the LORD.  It is His Revelation of Himself to us.

 

Holy:  Flames, burning bush, fire….“take off your sandals” (3:5)  He is a consuming fire, holy and terrifying. The Righteousness of the LORD makes us squirm.  We’re struck through our very beings when we get a glimpse of His holiness. His holiness means we don’t approach Him like we approach anyone or anything else, “Get your sandals off Moses”.  Why? We might ask…its because Moses was

 

Faithful:  “remembered His covenant” (2:24), “I have come down to rescue” (3:8), “I have watched over you…I have promised…” (3:16-17), God is the covenant-keeping God, faithful to do all He promised in His covenant with Abraham.

Israelites “plunder” Egyptians (3:21-22 AND Gen. 15:14)

 

Compassionate: “concerned about them” (2:25), “concerned about their suffering” (3:7),

Might:  3:19-20, “mighty hand”

 

His Name:  I AM WHO I AM (3:14)……….The LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (3:15)

 

Conclusion:

God said that Moses would return later with the Israelites to the very mountain they were at in that moment, and, they would worship God there.  The Hebrew word for worship is the same word for “to be a slave”. Their freedom from Egypt would be their enslavement to God. No longer would Egypt be their Master, but, now, I AM would be their Master.  

 

How can this be good?  Shouldn’t they have been set free to be totally liberated from the authority and control of anyone but themselves?  That would be a very 21st century American question indeed. But notice that in this exchange of Masters, it is a very advantageous switch for the Israelites.  For while slavery in Egypt meant compulsory hard labor, the killing of their boys, struggle and oppression, slavery with God would be different.

 

the fact is, no one is totally, utterly free.  Only God is free in that way. No one is above Him, no one is His authority, He is obligated to no one and nothing.  He needs nothing and no one. He is entirely free, entirely independent in the most absolute sense. To desire to be like that ourselves is actually idolatry, trying to be like God in that way that the creature could never be.  


But, we are in fact slaves.  While not to Egyptians, Jesus said we are slaves to sin.  And just like God saw the Israelites suffering under their oppressors, so too Jesus saw us in our bondage to sin and had compassion.  He came down, just like the LORD did in Egypt, to deliver us from slavery. “If the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”

Not too long ago I brought my Ford into a Honda dealership to get something fixed.  The lady checked me in and showed me where to park it inside the building.  On my way to get the truck I said over my shoulder, you sure you want to let a Ford in this place?  She said humorously, “We have ‘H’ stickers we’ll slap over the Ford emblem and everything will be fine!”  Now, an illustration comes to my mind, so indulge me in our closing:  A ford had no business being in that establishment.  But, what was embarrassing – the Ford symbol – could be covered up with something, something that would be placed over top of it.  The new sticker would go over top of it, and, would then give the vehicle a proper identity in that place.  You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?  We are sinners trying to get into God’s heaven.  But, we need something to cover up our sin, something to overlay our unrighteousness and give us a better image.  Enter Jesus Christ.  When we believe in Him for salvation the Bible says that His righteousness covers us, so then God no longer sees our sin, but, the righteousness of His perfect Son.  

 

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