Summary: Giving answers for what to do when you hear God’s voice.
Moses: Encountering God Face-To-Face 8-6-06
Video Clip – Close Encounters
Intro. In 1977 everybody was talking about “Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind”. Spielberg’s movie was a run-a-way hit because it seemed to answer a question that we all ask sooner or later. The question is, “are we all alone here on planet earth or is there somebody up there?” Close Encounters speculated that the “somebody up there” was aliens, but according to Scripture that “somebody” is actually God. And the good news is, “He wants to have a close encounter with you.” Now let’s just suppose that God really is serious about this close encounter with you and me…what would it look like? How would we know if it’s really God? What should we do if we come face-to-face with God? I think the only way we can adequately answer these questions is by looking at a biblical example of a close encounter with God and then drawing some practical applications for our lives today. The example we’re going to look at this morning is when Moses came face-to-face with God’s presence in the burning bush.
Read Ex. 3:1-5
In chapters 3 and 4 Moses has a close encounter with God and this encounter not only changes Moses, but it changes history. Now before we look at this close encounter I want you to write this statement down. My personal encounter with God has the potential to not only change me but also change the eternal destinies of those around me.
I. God initiates the encounter.
I think one of the most exciting truths in all of Scripture is the fact that God is the primary mover behind every relationship He has with mankind. Now it’s true that we sometimes describe our friends who might be far from God as “seekers”. We watch them as they look for satisfaction in all kinds of things and we intuitively know that what they are looking for is a relationship with God. But what we often forget is the fact that they really aren’t the seekers in this eternal drama…God is! His love for people like you and me and for those who might be far from God is so powerful that He’s willing to take the first step. Jesus said it this way in John 15 – “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you”.
In Ex.3 Moses was doing the same thing he had done for 40 yrs. He was a shepherd and this day was like every other day in his ho-hum existence. It was business as usual, that is until God made His presence known. I think it’s important for us to notice how God chose to reveal Himself. The bible says that Moses noticed a bush that was burning, but it wasn’t consumed. There was probably nothing new about seeing a scrub bush burning in the desert. The unusual thing, the supernatural thing about this bush was the fact that it burned w/o burning up. Do you see what God did? He took an ordinary bush and then by adding his presence to it, he got Moses’ attention. There was nothing spectacular about this bush. The fact that it burned w/o being consumed was because God chose to use it for his own purposes. In the same way, God often uses our most ordinary circumstances to reveal some of his most extra-ordinary truths. A close encounter with God may come through the loss of a job or an illness. God may speak to you through a new friendship or maybe even something we would call a “coincidence.” What we need to remember is that God wants us to be attentive to “burning bushes” in our lives. Don’t get so caught up in your “business as usual” lifestyle that you miss hearing the voice of God.
Look at v.4 and notice the personal nature of this call. God knew Moses’ name. He didn’t say, “Hey buddy, the guy with all the sheep, come over here.” NO. God knew Moses personally. He knew who he was, what he did for a living, what he had done in the past and what he was going to do in the future. God is omniscient – he knows everything about everything. Think about that for a moment. If God knew about Moses’ past then he knew that Moses was a murderer. So why didn’t God call him like this? Hey murderer, loser, failure! Do you know why God didn’t use those names? Because God specializes in restructuring, reconditioning and restoring broken lives. It amazes me how often we believe the lie that God only uses those people who have their lives squared away. Imagine how boring the bible would be if God only worked through successful and godly people? We wouldn’t have any stories about Abraham since he was a pagan and a pretty good liar. Your kids would have never heard about the man who survived in the belly of a whale since Jonah was a coward and a bigot. If God only used the good and the successful, then we’d have to tear out of our bibles the stories about Samson, David, Solomon and Rahab since every one of them had a moral failure. This encounter with Moses teaches us one of the most important lessons of our faith. We serve a God who forgives and forgets our past in order to do extraordinary things in our future.