Summary: Exodus 3& 4 are all about an amazing encounter with a persistent, awesome miracle-working God. But just what can we learn about this God?
“Treasuring God’s Miracles”
One of our Hope Church members said something to me a few days ago that was significant and wonderful. She was commenting on how over the last couple of years the General Fund giving was going down, but that it was amazing how expenses also went down and the checkbook balance remains steady; yet still we’ve done so many extra things – like completing projects for finishing the addition and special offerings for missions. Then she said, “It’s almost like Jesus multiplying the loaves!” I love that! And I agree! She has seen the kind of miracle God does when His people are faithful. She treasures God’s miracles.
Exodus 3 & 4 are all about God’s miracles. The call to Moses is an amazing encounter with a persistent, awesome, miracle-working God. Most often these verses lead to analyzing Moses’ excuses and discovering how they are ours as well – and that’s a fruitful exercise. But this morning I want to look at this scene from the perspective of what we can learn about this miracle-working God.
In verses 1-4 of chapter 3, Moses – while tending his sheep – sees a bush that is burning but is not being consumed. So he goes over to it to check it out. And there God speaks to him. WHEN GOD WANTS OUR ATTENTION, HE PROVIDES AN ATTENTION GETTER. The key is to see it and check it out. There’s a great old play called Harvey, by Mary Chase. This play is about Elwood P. Dowd, an eccentric drinking man whose closest friend is an enormous rabbit called Harvey (who is invisible for the most part to anyone but Elwood). In fact, because Harvey is unseen, yet so real to Elwood, his family hires Dr. Chumley, a psychiatrist, to cure Elwood and rid the family of Harvey’s embarrassing presence. Being a good psychiatrist, and therefore open, Dr. Chumley has a spectacular conversion; not a Christian conversion, but a good conversion nonetheless. In one scene, Dr. Chumley says, “Flyspecks. I’ve been spending my life among flyspecks while miracles have been leaning on lampposts on Eighteenth and Fairfax.” (Eighteenth and Fairfax is where Elwood had originally met Harvey the rabbit.) Then later, after talking further with Elwood, the doctor bursts out in a magnificent crescendo of joy, exclaiming: “I’ve got to have that rabbit.” The dull-minded, unimaginative, dead-spirited will immediately conclude that the psychiatrist was as sick as the patient, that both had lost touch with reality. But maybe, just maybe, you and I are a lot like Dr. Chumley—living among flyspecks when there are miracles leaning against lampposts right on our own corners. (1)
That’s a big part of the meaning of the story of the burning bush: there are miracles where we have been seeing flyspecks—or whatever matter-of-fact, routine part of our lives we have given in to. (2) THERE ARE MIRACLES ALL AROUND US – WE JUST NEED TO SEE THEM. Edmund Burke, the eighteenth-century political philosopher, turned a marvelous phrase: “History is full of momentous trifles.” “Momentous trifles”—ordinary events shot through with extraordinary meaning. (3) But we often fail to see beyond the ordinary.
GOD OFTEN USES THE COMMONPLACE IN UNCOMMON WAYS.(4) We think of ‘miracle’ as a transcending, suspension or reversal of the natural order. But the Hebrew thought of miracles as a marvelous use of the natural order, by the God who created it and controls it. In one sense, therefore, the Hebrew did not distinguish between the ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’, for all was God’s work. So God uses many commonplaces to get our attention. God uses the birth of children, the onset of good fortune, the entrance of tragedy, or even the occurrence of roadblocks to get our attention. Think for a moment what He’s done for us here at Hope Church in recent years. He grew our children and youth ministries to a point where we had no room. He built a desire in a number of people to reach out through worship to a different group of people – and He did both at the same time. So we launched an expansion project – and wondered where the money would come from. And our first campaign totaled a higher pledge amount than most of us thought possible – and we took in over 90% of the pledge – significantly above the 80% average. But the economy turned south and we wondered how we could ever gather enough pledges and funds for the second campaign – yet just enough was pledged to cover the mortgage; and then we took in around 120% of the pledged amount and even more beyond that to start completing the leftover projects. God used commonplace events – a scary indebtedness and a sour economy – to gain our attention. Let’s not fail to see that. THE IMPOSSIBLE BECOMES POSSIBLE ONLY WHEN WE PRAYERFULLY LOOK AT THE COMMONPLACE EVENTS OF LIFE. Then, when God gets your attention, pay attention.