Summary: Moses, is called by God, he experiences that powerful presence and is moved to do great things in his name.
In our readings this afternoon we have a very strong and powerful message. We read about Moses, a man who was a reluctant leader of God’s people, a man who thought he was a bad speaker and a man who doubted himself to do the job that God wanted him to do.
Yet despite his own feelings about his abilities he listened to God, accepted the calling he had been given and stepped out in faith. Moses had many strengths and also weaknesses. But amongst all of his qualities he was a man of action. Where something needed righting Moses was there.
In his life he was at his best and his worst when he was reacting to situations. He was a man who would see something and go to investigate it. A perfect example was the burning bush. God had whetted his appetite with this miraculous burning bush and Moses just had to go over to have a look.
Today, in good Methodist tradition, I would like to spend a little time considering three things from this passage.
God shapes us
The powerful presence of God
Let God be seen through our good deeds
God shape us
We have heard that when God first called Moses to do his work, Moses had many feelings of hesitation and doubt concerning his ability. Here God was asking a man who had been a shepherd for 40 years to suddenly change occupations and go from being a shepherd looking after sheep to being a shepherd looking after people. He was quite used to rearing lambs, treating the sheep if they went lame or shearing them. But how was he to shape up when it came to shepherding people, when he had to deal with people’s differences and the various life crisis that they had? Well quite surprisingly he was rather good at it. If we look back to the time when he was a prince in Egypt he stepped in to break up a quarrel between one of his own people and an Egyptian guard. So strongly did he defend the Hebrew that he killed the guard and had to flee to escape with his life. He was indeed a man of action and he must also have been a man of great determination. Some may have looked at Moses and seen a man with many faults but God looked at Moses and saw the potential that he had. He always reacted and he never stopped reacting but what Moses did do was to learn how to react properly. In many ways Moses was a go between for God and his people.
In the shaping of Moses we also see how God gives to him powers to perform miraculous acts. In Moses we see an outstanding personality, which God has shaped. But we must be careful to understand what God did with and through Moses. He did not change who or what Moses was.
Instead he took Moses’ characteristics, moulded them until they were suited to his purpose and then used him to do his work.
Moses knew that alone and in his own ability there was no possibility of him leading any nation. He recognised that he needed God’s help. So he asked for it. He also asked to see God’s greatness in order to reassure himself and so he was allowed to see God passing by. Here we have one of the rare occasions where God is actually seen. As we speak about Moses I am reminded of a story:
George W. Bush, was in an airport departure lounge when he noticed a man in a long flowing white robe with a long white beard and white hair. The man had a staff in one hand and some stone tablets under the other arm. George approached the man and inquired, "Aren't you Moses?"
The man ignored George and stared at the ceiling. George positioned himself more directly in the man's view and asked again, "Aren't you Moses?" The man continued to look at the ceiling. George tugged at the man's sleeve and asked once again, "Aren't you Moses?"
The man finally responded in an irritated voice, "Yes I am." George asked him why he was so uppity and the man replied, “The last time I spoke to a Bush I had to spend forty years in the desert!"
Today we have Richard, Barry and Laura who are here to assess me. They are not assessing me as a Lay Preacher but they are assessing the potential that I have to become a presbyter. I received the call to the ministry just over a year ago and Rachael was the first person that I went to in order to discuss this calling. Like Moses I too had many feelings of apprehension, unworthiness and inability to do God’s work. But all along in the process of Candidating I heard the words “It is what God can see in you and the talents you have and how he can use you and mould you.” God uses many people to further his Kingdom, even me a simple son of a farmer. He may use us in preaching, others in playing the organ, others sing, others clean the chapel, others wash up and others sweep the steps and others may give pastoral care, and the list goes on. Whatever it is that you do I want you to believe and understand that God is moulding you in your own ministry and that he has called you to that particular ministry.