The Life of Moses – Moses And The Burning Bush

Lesson 6

Last time we took a look at how Moses ran ahead of God and tried to serve in his own power in his own timing. Instead of seeking God’s direction and timing. Moses was still full of himself from being trained for the royal palace. He had much to learn. Someone said that Moses spent 40 years learning to be somebody, and then 40 years learning to be nobody, and 40 years learning that it is really God who is everything. He spent 40 years learning he had power, then 40 years learning he had none, then 40 years learning that it is God who has all power.

When we read the Bible it looks like Moses messed up, ran to the desert, and nothing happened except tending some sheep until the burning bush. But that is not true. God and time was working on Moses for 40 years. The pride was being drained away. Moses was getting over the being mighty in words and deeds in the royal house of Pharaoh. His self-sufficient, I can get this done now attitude is gone. Moses still has much to learn, as we will see but the time in the desert has done its work and Moses is now at a point where God can start to mold Moses into a great servant of God.

There can be many times during a life where God deals with a man in a special way. It usually starts with getting saved, then we are given time to adjust to that, then comes the conviction to put God first, and then even later comes the call to service. That is not always the case. Sometimes God does it all at once. In the case of Paul, salvation and the call to service came at the same time. Sometimes the conviction to put God first and the call to service come together.

There was a lost man named Tom Malone. He lived in Michigan. Tom Malone was called to preach the same night he got saved. He did not have any money but he knew that God wanted him to go to Bible College. He borrowed 5.00 from a lady who lived near the church for the train ride to Chattanooga, Tennessee and the bus ticket on to Cleveland. He arrived on campus with 1.25 in his pocket and no idea how he would pay the school. But God had it all worked out. In Tom’s case the conviction to be saved, to put God first, and the call to service all came at once.

So as we look at the life of Moses, don’t think that it always works with a long delay between the conviction to put God first and the call to service. God works with each person individually. In the case of Moses we see the call come 40 years after Moses decided to put God first.

The Call

This day was like any other. The call was not on the calendar.

Exo 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

The silence of the desert was the same as it had been for 40 years. Moses was doing the same job, taking the same sheep to find food in the same desert. The only thing moving was the occasional bird or insect. Nothing was different that morning. There was no warning that God was going to speak to him. No advanced notice.  And this is the way it works. God calls a man to do something in His perfect timing. God does not send a note saying, next January I will call you, so get your house in order and get those things you want to do first out of the way. Instead God’s call is sudden and unexpected.

That is the way Jesus called many men.
Mar 1:16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Mar 1:17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
Mar 1:18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
Mar 1:19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.
Mar 1:20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

And they are not the only example. Jesus also called a tax collector that way. And to all of their credit, they all obeyed the call immediately. All of these calls to service were sudden and without notice.
Same with Moses. He is just tending the sheep and one day he sees a burning bush. An event that will change his life forever.
Exo 3:2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Exo 3:3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
Exo 3:4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
Exo 3:5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
Exo 3:6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Exo 3:7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
Exo 3:8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Exo 3:9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
Exo 3:10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Verse 10 really defines what a call is. God sends a man to do a job for Him.

God Uses a Man.

Exo 3:10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

God has all power. He is the one who just spoke everything into existence. God is not limited that he has to use a man. God could just speak and the children of Israel could walk out of Egypt. God does not need to use a man.

God chooses to use a man. God still does the work. Moses could not bring forth the Israelites out of Egypt. God is going to bring the plagues. God is going to work in the circumstances. God is the one who will deal with Pharaoh’s heart and the other Egyptians hearts to actually push the people out and give them gold and jewels as well.

But God is going to do much of it by using a man. Moses will be used in praying, Moses will be used in giving declarations to Pharaoh. Moses will be used to communicate God’s word to the people.

When God wants to work, He most often uses a man. I know God also uses creation. He used hornets, and bears, and earthquakes, and wind, and so on. But when God wants a message delivered, He uses a man. When He wants a church started, He uses a man. When He wants music led, or a Sunday school taught or a bus route ran. He does not send the angels to do that.

In this age God has decreed that He will not stuff envelopes, He will not just speak and all the sudden there is a pile of envelopes with the gospel in them, addressed and sealed and with stamps on them. He has all power to do that. But in this age He absolutely refuses to do it. And He refuses to send an angel from heaven to do it.

You can pray all day every day for God to just speak and there be a John and Romans with a gospel tract in every driveway. He has the power but He will not do it.  O’ He wants it done. He wants to have the gospel delivered to everyone. He wants to see people come to Him and get saved. He is not willing that any should perish.

Right before Jesus ascended He gave His followers that were standing there and every follower that would come after some commands. He commanded Go and teach and the command was to go everywhere and to all people.

He told us to do it. He also said that He has all power and that He is with us. But He will not do what He commanded our part is. Ours is the simple part.  So He will put it on the heart of a person to go do a job for Him.
When that burden comes, that is God calling you to run some errands for Him.

Some people get the false idea that God only calls to be a preacher. That is not the only errand He wants done. God burdens people to do all kinds of work. The New Testament teaches that God gives each one talents. God has 5 talent jobs and He has 1 talent jobs. And He will burden people’s hearts to do the one talent jobs just like He does for the 5 talent jobs.

What a privilege it is to be asked by God to do anything. We are just to obey and then watch God do His part. He will open the eyes, He will bring the conviction, He will draw men unto Himself. That is all on Him. We just deliver His word and pray.

God has the power, God works in the circumstances of life, God is the one with the plan. And His plan is to send men to do jobs for Him. His plan is to use our hands and our feet and our voices.  This is the way God works. He works this way today and this is how He worked in Moses’ day.

God asks difficult things.

Exo 3:10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

This was not going to be easy. Moses had to leave his comfortable job. He had to leave the peace and slow pace and almost stress free living he had enjoyed. He had to go confront the most powerful ruler in the world. He had to go lead a people who had rejected his leadership 40 years before. I don’t think the expression taking you out of your comfort zone adequately describes it.

God does ask people to do difficult things. He asked Elijah to confront Ahab and the prophets of Baal. He asked Jeremiah to preach a lifetime to people He said would not listen.
He asked Ezekiel to spend all night digging thru the wall to get out of the city instead of using the gate. Just to make a point.
He asked Hosea to marry a wife of whoredoms.
Hos 1:2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.

He asked Gideon to fight a massive army with only 300 men armed with lamps and pitchers.
God asks men and women to leave their jobs, go to school, and sometimes go to a land that is strange to them, learn a new language and then have him preach many years with very little results visible results.

O’ you better believe it! God does ask people to do hard difficult things. And you never hear God apologize for it. The fact is that He is worthy of service. He is worthy of doing the hard things for. He saved our souls. No matter what hard thing He asks, it is not asking too much.  Some people don’t get that. They think God surely would not ask anything difficult of me and especially anything that would make me feel uncomfortable. Like leading music, or …. On the list goes. O yes He would.

God does ask difficult things, like what He is asking Moses to do here.

The Reaction

Exo 3:11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
Moses responds to the call with excuses. Now before we are too hard on Moses it would be good to remember that Moses’ reaction is actually fairly normal. There are many preachers who will tell you that at first they fought the call of God.
The Pastor of Baptist Temple in Colorado was a faithful pastor for over 40 years. He would tell of how he went to the navy and learned to be an electrician. When he got out of the navy he used that skill to find work. One of the jobs he had was rewiring main panels. He felt the call of God to preach and told God no. One day he was working on a panel, a job he had done many times before. Everything was in order, he did nothing wrong. But that panel exploded in his face. Knocked him for a loop. He knew it was God and he submitted right there.

A man who had a cushy well-paying job felt the call to go into evangelism. He did not want to and told God if you want me in Evangelism, then you are just going to have to make me. Out of the blue on the very next day he lost his job. He submitted and answered the call.

I would dare say that a great portion of those that God calls struggle to varying degrees on submitting.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time on all of Moses’ excuses. Much has been made of all of that over the years. Moses makes an excuse and God tells of how He will provide. God promises to be with Moses. And Moses will make another excuse. God then reassures Moses. God allowed for it. God understands the initial reaction. It was only after multiple excuses that God got angry.
After hearing of all of God’s promises, not submitting is then sin. It is sin because of many reasons. Just some of them are a failure to Believe God’s promises of support and provision. A lack of trust in God’s judgment of choosing you, and a lack of obeying.

The submission

After God got a little hot with Moses, Moses starts obeying and according to custom, and out of respect asks his father in law permission to go.
Exo 4:18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.
Exo 4:19 And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.
Exo 4:20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.
Now you would think all is well and God can really work now. Moses is no longer making excuses and he is on the way to Egypt in obedience to God’s command.

But all is not well. There is still a problem.

Exo 4:24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

The Lord met Moses and sought to kill Moses. This is very serious. We don’t know exactly how the Lord was threating to kill Moses. Some think it was an illness, others speculate that an angel is involved. We don’t know for sure.
We do know several things. Moses was not obedient to one of God’s commands. And it was a deadly serious infraction. We also know exactly what command Moses did not obey from his wife’s reaction.

Exo 4:25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
Exo 4:26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

This involved circumcision. Moses had not obeyed the command to circumcise his son. Circumcision was given as a sign to the Israelites. A sign that they were His people and that He was their God. It was the sign of the covenant that God had with Israel. To not perform circumcision in those days was in a way refusing the covenant.  And it was the man’s job to do the circumcision. Zipporah doing it is the reason that many think that Moses was so sick that he could not do it.

The heart of the problem here is God does not want partial obedience in His servants. His commands are not like a pot luck dinner line. I will take this but none of that. I will have a helping of telling Pharaoh what to do, but I will skip the circumcision business.
Partial submission to God was not going to work.

Before God could really work, the vessel He was going to work thru needed to be submitted. I mean really submitted. Not partially. Not like so many we see today. Submitted on Sunday, but not the rest of the week. That kind of half way thinking and picking and choosing will not work with God.

You cannot say I will obey the great commission but not if they live in an apartment. Or I will obey the great commission but not if it takes a lot of money. I will spend this tiny amount on it and tell myself that I am in total obedience. You might fool yourself but not God.

Moses said I submit. I will go to Egypt and confront Pharaoh. But I refuse to submit in all things. I will go do the work of God but I refuse to accept the covenant of circumcision.

You cannot pick and choose and really please the Lord. The work was not going to progress until Moses wholly submitted. He did not do that at the burning bush.  I think it is fairly obvious that Moses told his wife to circumcise the boy. She obviously did not want to do it. I also think this because of what happened after the boy was circumcised. The crisis is over just like that. The Lord is no longer seeking to kill Moses. And the work gets moving forward once again.

And think about this. Moses was about to go and tell people to follow the Lord and Moses was not following the Lord in the area of the covenant of circumcision. There is a term for this. It is called hypocrisy. It is called do as I say and not as I do. The Lord is not happy with this. This is a law of first mention situation. This is the first time that a called man of God set out to do the work of God in hypocrisy. And as you find in many of the first mention situations of a sin, God shows forth what judgment would look like without mercy. It takes away any thoughts of, well this sin is not so bad. The Lord was going to kill Moses. That shows how bad the sin of serving in hypocrisy is. Once the picture is shown, you do not see it again. Never again in the Bible does the Lord do this again. Because showing the picture once is enough. If God continued to do this to preachers today, there would be dead men all over. Once is enough to teach the lesson of what judgment would look like without mercy. After showing what cold hard justice would look like in a first mention situation, you see the Lord dealing in mercy.

Here is a lesson for us. God is not going to bless whatever your area of service is, if you are picking and choosing what to obey and what command to ignore. Our purpose and our heart should be to please the Lord and to serve Him the way He wants and not in hypocrisy. But in sincerity and in truth.
God is not going to be able to work thru a half committed servant.
And God wants to work. He loves people. Hell is a real place and God does not want anyone to go there.  He is just looking for people who will be willing to be used. People who will not pick and choose on what to obey. He also wants us to help the poor and love our neighbor and at the same time work to get His word out. And to everyone.
He wants simple faith and simple obedience.
We will see that now with Moses, and we will see that God then steps in with all the power, and how God has all the plan, and how it is really God who delivers them from Egypt.

All God needed was someone who would go and do what God said to do.
Faith cannot be grown if not exercised. Faith takes what God says and acts upon it. Faith and obedience have a definite connection.
Moses is now moving forward for God and in submission to Him. Now God can do a great work. Both in delivering Israel, but also a great work in growing Moses’ faith. Faith in action is faith that can grow by leaps and bounds. And that is our topic for next time we look at Moses.

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