God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God
Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; 9-February-2014; Exodus 3:1-15
8 February 2014Posted by on
Scriptures for this Sunday are: Exodus 3:1-15
You can read these Scriptures here: NIV2010
This is a second sermon in a series. Here is a link to Sermon # 1
Have you ever been confused and frustrated? Moses must have been one confused and frustrated man.
Have you ever been scared? Have you ever stepped out in spite of your fears and did something that defied your instincts? Moses was a brave man; he had guts.
Let us look at Moses’ early life and unpack all that.
Last week we heard that when he was born, Hyksos Pharaoh (a Pharaoh who did not have any history with the Hebrews – Exodus 1:9) ordered that all male Hebrew children must be killed at birth. Moses’ mother, Joshebed (her name is recorded in Exodus 6:20), protected him as long as she could, and then she made a basket, waterproofed it, put Moses in it and let it float down the Nile with the hope that her child would be saved. Pharaoh’s daughter found the baby in the Nile and adopted him.
A few years went by. Moses was all grown up, reared in the Hyksos Pharaoh’s court, and probably educated with the children of nobility, undoubtedly trained to fight and to govern as well as to read, write and count.
All that time he knew that he was one of the Hebrews. He knew that because Hebrews circumcised male children, and had done so since the times of Abraham (Genesis 17:10); all he had to do was look. He was also nursed by a Hebrew woman and probably played with other Hebrew children as a toddler. Moses definitely had a “Hebrew” side/identity.
On the other hand, Pharaoh’s daughter “took him and he became her son” (Exodus 2:10). He became a part of Pharaoh’s family; he went to Egyptian school, made friends with other Egyptian boys and girls, probably fell in love once or twice with girls at court just like every other red-blooded teenage boy would. Moses definitely had an “Egyptian” side/identity.
In Exodus 2:11-14 we hear,
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known” (NIV2010).
Acting out of the “Hebrew” half of his identity, Moses helped a poor wretch. In the fistfight, he killed the Egyptian overseer and hid his body. I think that he did this because he was pretty sure that he could get away with it. He was, after all, part of the royal family.
Murdering another human being must have bothered him because he returned to the scene of the crime. That time he saw two Hebrews fighting each other and when he tried to stop them, he learned that everybody knew what he had done. In addition, the Hebrews were not as accepting of him as he would have hoped.
Moses had no recourse but to run away. All of a sudden he was an outlaw among Egyptians, and an outsider among the Hebrews. Moses had no choice but to run into exile. The Bible tells us that he fled to the region of Midian.
In Exodus 2:15-17 we hear,
15 … [Moses] went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock (NIV2010).
Moses was strong enough and skilled enough in battle that he was able to drive away several other shepherds (Exo 2:17). Midian is where Moses settled down, sprouted new roots, got married to one of the shepherd girls (Zipporah) and himself became a shepherd. We know that he had two sons: Gershom and Eliezer.
During that period of his life, while tending flocks, Moses had a lot of time to think. He had time to think about his life, he had an opportunity to put some distance between the anger and insecurity that stemmed from an uncertain identity. He had a chance to do what we call “clear his head.” He had a chance to develop an identity of his own; as opposed to one that was given to him in infancy. All of us do it at one time or another: rites of passage, marriage, birth of a child, death of a loved one…
When we do that, we do not throw our personal history away, we do not throw “who we were” away; instead we integrate “who we were” into “who we are becoming.”
When Moses was ready; after he had time to reconcile his internal struggles and to figure out who he really was, that is when the “Burning Bush” happened. The reality of God became stronger than the reality of Moses’ internal struggles.
We all have seen a burning bush.
The vision that Moses saw triggered an experience of God. In that period of his life, the reality and the realness of God became stronger than the reality of everything else around him. Moses understood that he was a Hebrew, AND an Egyptian, AND a Midianite, AND a child of God, and all these parts of who he was became the new “Moses”; the only man able to stand up to the most powerful man around (the Pharaoh), to negotiate with his Egyptian neighbors and to lead his Hebrew compatriots out of slavery.
Working with God, this otherwise unremarkable man was able to integrate “who he was” (Hebrew, Egyptian, Midianite, Husband to Zipporah, Father of two, Shepherd) up to this point into “who he was becoming” in the future (the “Moses.”) That transformation was so significant and so dramatic that it resulted in Exodus, and we still talk about it. To this day it is remembered during Passover and during Easter.
I don’t want to leave you thinking that once we work out our internal struggles with God, things will be just fine. Every relationship has give and take; every relationship has disagreements; every relationship takes work. Our relationship with God is not that different. In Exodus 4:24-26 we hear that Moses was arguing and struggling with God.
NIV2010 Exodus 4: 24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
We don’t know what they were arguing about; but we know that Zipporah, Moses’ wife, had to intervene because Moses was being stubborn about something. What we see from these verses is that God was still working on Moses, challenging him and preparing him to face Pharaoh.
What we learn from these verses (Exodus 4:25-26) is that when we dwell in the emotional highs of the past, we miss the real lessons that God is teaching in the present and we need a “Zipporah” (or a loving church community) to do something drastic to bring our focus us back to God.
So what’s in it for us.
Whole life of Moses is the story of BECOMING. Up to this point in his life we saw Moses himself BECOMING something new. In order to become something new, Moses had to understand and to accept his past, and then allow God build something new out of the ashes of that past.
That transformation was not easy or painless.
In order to become something new, Moses first had to go into exile in Midian, the place where he did not want to go originally. It is in Midian, that Moses had a chance to come into his own and to spread his wings.
What are the periods of your life when you had to rebuild and reinvent yourselves? How was God present in your lives? What was your “Burning Bush”? How did you spread your wings and build your own identity out of identities that were given to you by the accident of birth?