Summary: Paul wrote the book of Ephesians to encourage the church and to define the purpose of the church. So during these next few weeks, I would encourage you to do a study of Ephesians during your daily Bible reading.
A Study of Exodus 4:1-5
An Introduction to the series
THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH
I goggled “The purpose of the church.” There were only 22,600,000 results. Here is one I liked.
“It has been taught that the purpose of the church can be broken up into the three E’s—evangelization of the lost, exaltation of God and the edification of the believer. There needs to be a balance between these three areas. For example, if a church places all of its emphasis on evangelizing non-believers, then it will become a body of immature believers because there isn’t the edification of believers. Likewise, if a church focuses all of its energy on the worship of God, then it will become a shallow assembly and will be prey for false teachers. Finally, if a church places all of its emphasis on edification of the saints, it will quickly become a stagnant and lukewarm body, since new believers bring enthusiasm and life into the church.” Today is just an introduction to this series. Much of what we will study and learn over the next weeks will be from Ephesians.
Paul wrote the book of Ephesians to encourage the church and to define the purpose of the church. So during these next few weeks, I would encourage you to do a study of Ephesians during your daily Bible reading. We have only this Sunday and next Sunday before our planning meeting. We need to really pray and ask God to direct us so we will be on the path that He has chosen for our church. We need to fulfill the purpose that God has given White Stone Chapel. Eph. 4:12 gives a short message of the purpose of the church; “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” Our journey however will begin in the Old Testament.
Let’s read Ex. 4:1-5 together.
1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"
2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
"A staff," he replied.
3 The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground. Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake and he ran from it.
4 Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.
5 "This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob--has appeared to you." Ex 4:1-5 (NIV)
Exodus is a fascinating book. I read through Exodus a couple of months ago and I am always awed by the way God works. As you may know the chapters previous to our text, tell the Moses story of how he was saved from death, raised for the Pharos’s daughter by his own mother, grew up, killed an Egyptian in defense of a Jew and ended up running away. He was taken in by Jethro and married one of his daughters. He took care of Jethro’s flocks and I am sure had a comfortable life. But God had other plans for Moses.
Cue the burning bush. Moses had a choice when the bush was burning. He did not have to go and see the bush, although how many people can ignore a fire. I remember as a youth we would hear the siren wail off in the distance from the volunteer fire department and my mother would have us get in the car and we would search out the fire. Fire fascinates people. Even sometimes when I would be with the scouts or men’s group camping we would sit around that campfire and you would almost go into a trance looking into the fire. It could make you reflective on your life.
Adam Clark says: “Fire was, not only among the Hebrews but also among many other ancient nations, a very significant emblem of the Deity.” -A Commentary and Critical Notes.
Any way Moses had a one on one with God. We read in Ex 3:4-5 (NIV)
4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
And Moses said, "Here I am."
5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."
Imagine the moment. Here is this Egyptian trained Israelite having his first one on one with God.
I got chills during the writing of this message when I reflected on the statement, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."