Big Idea: Introducing our God and Saviour.
On Tuesday we will be observing ANZAC Day. Commemorating the ANZAC’s ordeal and sacrifice during the First World War military campaign on the peninsula of Gallipoli, Turkey from Feb 19, 1915 to January 9, 1916. Over time our April 25 observance has come to be a time when we honour servicemen and women from other theatres of war as well. It has been noted that the emphasis our nation places on ANZAC Day has actually grown in significance over the last few decades. We are not sure what to do with January 26. But we are agreed (for the most part) on April 25. The ANZAC spirit plays a big role in how we would like to see ourselves as a people and a nation. The ANZAC event at Gallipoli birthed a national identity.
In the history of Israel, the Exodus event served in a similar way.It is the Exodus event that forms and shapes the identity of the people of God through the rest of the Old Testament.It is the Exodus event that prepares us and informs us as the people of God today with respect to the saving work of Jesus – which we will remember as we celebrate communion in just a bit.But what we see in our passage today is that the Exodus event also serves to introduce us to God our Saviour. The God who redeems. To come to terms with his identity.So from this passage today I want to concentrate on answering the question:
I want to highlight three things which this passage tells us about God our Saviour.
Moses may have fled from the jurisdiction of Pharaoh but he is not beyond the reach of God.While he is shepherding his father-in-law’s flock out in the middle of the wilderness (v1) in the back blocks of Midian God appears to him.Read v2a
And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.
That’s the famous or f(l)amous burning bush that doesn’t actually burn (v3)Moses says to himself, I’m going to check this out, why the bush is not burned.”And then in v4 we read that
God called to him out of the bush
This, ‘angel of the Lord’ phenomenon is known as a
God appearing to humans in human physical form. There is the form of a man, a messenger (with flames) in the bush, but it is God who is speaking out of the bush to Moses.And what we learn during this encounter is that God is ABOVE. By that I mean He is holy.There is a song about that …God is a holy God,we can’t be friends because of our sin.
v5 “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
Moses you are not free to presume to approach God. This is holy ground and you, a human are not holy.And it is Holy because God is there.
v6b When Moses realises whom he is encountering he hid his face for he was afraid to look at God.
When confronted by the holiness of God Moses is aware of just how unworthy he is.God will tell Moses later in Exodus that no one can see the face of God and live.I once had a lady tell me that God had some explaining to do and that when they met face to face, she was going to give him a piece of her mind.Anyone who thinks that has a very big surprise coming.When sinners are confronted by the Holy God there is only one response, that is not backchat or excuses but fear and trembling.We cannot stand before his glory,our sinful stain is laid bare in all its foul dimensions under the glare of his holiness andwe will be cut to the heart by our unworthiness; we will cry out with Isaiah
Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
Eclipse – don’t look at the Sun unaided/shielded. Throughout the Bible we read that God’s glory outshines the sun.We have no hope before a holy God.If God turned up today unless we were shielded (Moses through keeping his distance; us through faith in Jesus) we would all be doomed.
Everything would not work out all right in the end; there would be condemnation and eternal punishment.Because apart from his mercy and grace there is no hope, no cure, no escape.Do you believe that?It’s not for God’s benefit that you should believe. He is God quite apart from your opinion.But your eternity rests on your response to him.If we would truly grasp the holiness of God, then we would hate our sin and its prevalence in our lives.We would feel at least some of the weight of the condemnation we deserve.We would exhort each other to holiness and call each other to repentance.We would be gripped by gospel urgency knowing that apart from God’s forgiveness through faith in the Lord Jesus, there is no hope.He is our shield. His right standing before God is credited to us so that we can be declared right with him.We would call on God for mercy and grace so that he would open the eyes of the lost so that they too might turn and be saved.
As we will see in a bit the right response to God is faith and worship.And we can do this with confidence and assurance because this holy God is God our Saviour.He is not only ABOVE but …
God’s appearing to and talking with Moses from the burning bush is a vivid example of God among people.But what God tells Moses in their conversation is that even if unseen God is among his people.Read v7
Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings …
The people might have felt alone.They may have wondered if God would ever show up.But the truth is he never left.
I have seen, I have heard, I know; my people (Again in v9).The language of intimate association.The plight of my people is close to my heart and at the centre of my purposes.
I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey
I will rescue, I am God the Saviour.Up out of the land of slavery and into a good and spacious place.The great Aussie dream – a quarter-acre block with a fruit tree and a (hill’s hoist) clothesline.Not just removed from oppression, but deliver to a safe place.Not just rescue them from the rule of a cruel taskmaster, but establish them in God’s place as God’s people under God’s rule.Freedom is not an absence of responsibility but having the capacity to meet our responsibilities.
God is not about to rescue his people and leave them without a leader or without purpose or direction.It is the same for the people of God today.Through faith in Jesus, God come to earth as a man to save us, we are rescued from slavery to sin. We have been set free.But it is not an absence of responsibility or direction.Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we have a new heart, a new will, and a new capacity to walk in relationship and fellowship with God.We are not saved to nothing.We do not become our own masters, but we have a heart that longs to serve and please the Lord Jesus. That’s why we call him Lord.God among us, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and us living in life-giving fellowship with the Risen Lord Jesus.But there is another aspect to God being among us.
Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt
God says, I will deliver my people out of slavery AND I will do it through you Moses.As this conversation unfolds Moses comes up with four excuses why he can’t do it.The last one is simply – I don’t want to!But look at Read v11.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Not a great argument.From a human POV Moses is the perfect person. Spent the first 40 years of his life in the Egyptian palace. He knows the language, culture, customs, the vibe.For the last 40 years, he has shepherded someone else’s flock through the wilderness. The similarities with his new mission are hardly a coincidence.But look at what God says,
“But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
I will be with you and because I am with you your mission will succeed, it’s a given.This is a good thing to remember as we read on and witness Pharaoh’s extended stubbornness. Patience and perseverance.But in a few months, there will be a couple of million people standing in this very place worshipping – it’s a given because it’s God’s plan.I can’t help but be reminded of a group of God’s people worshipping on another mountain and being given a commission along with the promise that, “I will be with you always, even to the very end of the age.”The Great Commission – from Jesus to his church Go into all the world and tell people about Jesus and teach them to follow him.
Take the gospel to all the world. You will succeed.
Not because of who you are, but because of who I am and I am with you.
Confidence in our co-mission with the God who saves. God is among us and
It’s nice to have company on a journey but our confidence in God being with us in our co-mission is his unparalleled might. He is Lord Almighty.This is expressed in a number of ways in Exodus 3-4.
I am who I am.
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
The personal name of God… YHWH … the LORD The full effect of this name is lost in translation. There is a real sense of past, present and future expressed in this name. God’s eternity.
There is also a claim of self-existence and the source of all things.My RI kids and I were discussing this during the week. They always ask that question. It’s so hard to get your head around.But how can a created being know in full the complexities of the one who made us?
God has revealed himself as the Almighty, the Lord of Hosts, it’s in His name.
He claims the right of worship above all else.Read v18b
‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’
This request is made a number of times by Moses to Pharaoh and it sounds so dishonest. Sounds like Moses is promising to come back after their worshipping. When we know differently.But this is a claim to absolute divinity.
Pharaoh thought he was a god.Yahweh is saying submit to my Lordship by allowing my people to go and worship me.There is no way Pharaoh will allow this.And God knows this Read v19
But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go.
As we will see in the next few weeks, God will show his power, he will win the battle and his people will plunder the enemy
Read v22b So you shall plunder the Egyptians.
It will be by God’s mighty power that Israel will be rescued.400 years of slavery – they could not free themselves. They needed a God who saves.
God’s goal is that he will be glorified.His actions through Exodus will show that he is the Lord and there is no other.
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son, [identity] 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.'”
This will happen in Exodus 12 because Pharaoh will not submit to God, even after nine separate displays of his power.But take a look at v24-26. Moses is obediently even if not enthusiastically on the way back to Egypt.
At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.
There is a lot of stuff we don’t know about in this seemingly random story.But this gist. Moses (presumably) youngest son is not circumcised – the covenant sign of belonging to
God. God is about to cut him off. Until Moses’ wife realises and takes action.I think it is similar to the angel with a sword talking to Joshua. Joshua asks, whose side are you on, us or them?The angel says, God’s.Here.Apart from obedience and submission to God’s authority for his glory, there will be death.No exceptions. God is impartial.He rightly does all things that he may be glorified.
Israel’s response at the end of Exodus 4 is very encouraging.v31 They believe and worship.How about you?ANZAC Day 2021 … lockdown. Bugle at sunrise – ringing out with piercing clarity. Goosebumps. A familiar and stirring reminder.Remember that the God who is above us, stooped down to be among us and used his power to save us for his glory and honour and praise.A part of our praise and obedience is to remember by observing communion…