Summary: Christians can learn from Moses' experience in encounter with God, through preparation, understanding the purposes, the power and the promises in such encounter.
EXODUS THREE: AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD
by Sidney Yuan
We would all like to have an encounter with God. The question is how to have such an encounter. Exodus Chapter 3 is a very familiar story to most of us. God encountered with Moses in a burning bush, and asked him to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. Moses was 80 years old at that time. A lot of us think that we are too old to serve God in our 60’s, 50’s or even 40’s. Moses spent 40 years in the palace of Egypt as a prince, 40 years in Median being a shepherd, and another 40 years trying to deliver Israelites out of Egypt, into the Promised Land. By the time he accepted God’s calling to deliver the Israelites, he was already 80 years old. Let’s look at what can we learn from Moses’ encounter with God as shown in the outline of today’s sermon
A. Preparations for Encounter with God (Exodus 3:3-6, 11, 13; 4:1, 10)
B. Purposes of Encounter with God (Exodus 3:8-10, 17)
C. Power of Encounter with God (Exodus 3:17-20)
A. Preparations for Encounter with God
First of all, let’s look at the preparations for encounter with God. What kind of preparations do we need to have an encounter with God? A lot of times, we are not prepared to have an encounter with God, either we are not aware of His presence in our lives that we don’t encounter with Him, or we are not holy or pure that we cannot encounter with Him, or we have all kinds of excuses not to serve him and we are not willing to have an encounter with him.
1. Awareness of God’s Presence (Exodus 3:3)
Let’s look at the first preparation- Awareness of God’s Presence:
Moses said in Exodus 3:3, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight". What “marvelous sight was he talking about? It was the burning bush. What’s so special about a burning bush? What would we do if we see a burning bush? I think most of us will run away. Some of us might call the police. We tend to run away, for we worry that the fire might spread and consume us. But Moses actually spent time to study this sight. He noticed that though the bush was burning, it was not consumed, which was a miracle. It was then when he said to himself, “I must turn aside now to see this marvelous sight. It’s difficult to understand why Moses would pay attention to a burning bush. Is it because he knew he was on the Holy Mountain? Moses told us in Exodus 3:1 that Mount Horeb is the Mountain of God. One might say, of course Moses was alert, if I am on the Mountain of God, I’ll pay attention too. I will turn every rock and look behind every bush to look for God. However, all Christians have the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit within each one of us. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” Do we spend time to look within us to seek God? 2 Corinthians 1:22 also reminds those who belong to God, God will give us His Spirit as a proof or a seal to show that we belong to Him. God’s Spirit is constantly speaking to us, if we care to listen. To encounter with God, we should be alert and pay attention to the presence of God’s Spirit within us, just like Moses said, we must turn from whatever we are doing and pay attention.
2. Awareness of Any Unconfessed Sins (Exodus 3:5-6)
Another reason why we don’t encounter with God, has to do with the fact that we are not holy or pure. Hebrews 12:14 says, unless we are holy, no one can see God. God said to Moses, "Do not come near here, remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Then Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look at God for He was Holy. Moses knew that he was a sinful person and he dared not look at God.
Nowadays, there is a tendency for us to want to be God’s buddy, and we forget that we are sinful and God is infinitely pure or holy. A broadcaster of a Christian radio station once said, he was talking to Jesus the one day while shaving. So, he was casually shaving in front of a mirror in the bathroom and his buddy Jesus just stood there talking to him like a servant? Does this person know what happened in the Scripture when Jesus revealed himself to people around him? When the Apostle John saw Jesus in Chapter One of Revelation, he fell down as though he was dead. One might argue this was only a vision. However, when Apostle Peter saw the miracle performed by Jesus in catching all the fish in Luke 5:8, he fell down at Jesus’ knee and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” When Peter saw Jesus’ miracle, he knew Jesus was God, and immediately he realized how unclean he was compared to this infinitely pure God. Also, in the Gospel of John Chapter 18, Judas led the Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus. Jesus asked, “Whom do you seek?” The soldiers replied, “Jesus the Nazarene”. When Jesus replied, “I am He”, all the soldiers drew back and fell to the ground.