Summary: Second sermon in Exodus series from Chapters 3-4 deals with Moses conversation with God at the burning bush, and his call to ministry
Who am I that I should go?
CHCC: March 8, 2009
We all know that our past President from TX is now a private citizen, back in his home state. I heard that recently George W. Bush was waiting in an airport lobby when he noticed a man in a long flowing white robe with a long flowing white beard and flowing white hair. The man had a staff in one hand and some stone tablets under the other arm.
Now, George W. knows enough about the Bible to figure this one out, so he approached the man and inquired, "Aren’t you Moses?" The man ignored George W. and stared at the ceiling. George W. positioned himself more directly in the man’s view and asked again, "Aren’t you Moses?" The man continued to ignore him and look away. George W. 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 W. asked him “Why don’t you want to talk to me?” Moses replied, "The last time I spoke to a Bush I had to spend forty years in the desert.”
Last week ….at the end of Exodus 2 … we left Moses in the desert of Midian, tending sheep. Exodus 3 opens 40 years later when the LORD speaks to Moses from a burning bush. Before we get into the amazing burning bush incident, let’s think about those 40 long years in the desert.
Soon after Moses arrived in Midian, he married a young woman named Zipporah. She was daughter to a man named Jethro who was called the Priest of Midian. We don’t know exactly what it meant to be a Priest at that time. But it is likely that this Priest played some part in preserving the knowledge of God. This Priest of Midian probably collected and preserved the history that had been passed down since Creation and that would eventually become the book of Genesis.
We call the first 5 books of the Bible the books of Moses. The palace education Moses received in Egypt would have prepared him for the scholarly task of writing these 5 books. During those 40 quiet years in Midian, Moses may have used scrolls the Priest of Midian had collected to write what we now call the book of Genesis.
It’s likely that the book of Genesis was based on at least 11 eyewitness accounts, which Moses may have combined into a single scroll with his own observations inserted into them. The most distinguishing phrase repeated in the book of Genesis is “These are the generations of…” In Hebrew the word translated “the generations of” is Toledoth.
This word appears 11 times. It probably indicates that what comes before the phrase was an eyewitness account from the person named. There were 11 separate eyewitness accounts of the generations of Adam, Noah, Sons of Noah, Shem, Terah, Ishmael and Isaac, and of Esau and Jacob.
If Genesis is actually a compilation of eyewitness accounts that were recorded and preserved by successive generations … then Genesis is as reliable as any ancient historical document can possibly be.
While Moses was living in Midian for 40 years, he married and had some children, he may have composed a scroll of Hebrew History that we now call Genesis, and he certainly herded a lot of sheep.
But one thing Moses probably never planned was that he would EVER go back to Egypt. After all, he had run for his life when he left Egypt. His own Hebrew brothers had rejected his leadership, and the Pharaoh was out to kill him. His first 40 years as a Prince of Egypt must have seemed a lifetime away.
Then, one ordinary day while Moses was herding the sheep, he turned aside to check out a bush that kept burning long after it should have burned out. When Moses heard a Voice call his name, he answered “uh… here I am…” The voice instructed him to take off his sandals … and then God introduced himself: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
There is no record that Moses had ever heard God’s voice before. But God had a lot to say to Moses now. He told Moses how deeply concerned He was about the misery of His people in Egypt and how He had decided that NOW was the time to rescue them. And then God concluded with this command: “So now, GO! I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt!”
Stop and think how exciting this was for God! He had waited for over 400 years for this moment to arrive. And now, at last, the time had come to act. God had to be enthused! But Moses’ response was kind of a downer.