January 24, 2021

Accept God’s Call

Passage: Exodus 3:1-22

Isabel Kuhn, who served as a missionary in China compiled biographies of men and women who gave up the normal life and in many cases extraordinary careers, to go to other countries to tell people about Jesus.  One of the biographies is of a man named Fraser, who was a brilliant musician.  He was able to memorize whole symphonies and concertos, yet he gave up all thought of fame and fortune on the concert stage.  He was compelled by the love of Jesus Christ in preaching the Gospel to the people of China.  To Fraser God's call was the clearest experience of his life and a thought came into his heart, “When God calls you, you have to respond.”   In Exodus 3 we see that Moses received a clear calling from God.  God was sure that Moses was the man He wanted to send to Pharaoh, but Moses wasn’t sure about the prospect.  Moses was like many of us.  Quite often we are filled with self-doubt, we are so easily filled with fear and we develop a sense of inadequacy.  But, as with Moses, God brings all His children to the place where He wants them to be.  And then they are effective with the call they received from Him.

From Exodus 3 we first see that 1 Israel’s Need Was God’s Concern.  One day when Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep near Mount Horeb, he saw a remarkable thing.  Over on the side of the mountain was a bush that burned, but it kept on burning.  It was like the flames couldn’t consume the bush.  As Moses was curious to investigate like any other person would have, he learned why the bush kept on burning – God was present in the burning bush.  He wanted to give an extraordinary sign to Moses before speaking to him.  He wanted His servant to know that it wasn’t going to be a conversation like any other.  No, the God of heaven and earth was going to commission him for a task.  In the 40 years Moses had been living out in Sinai desert since he left Egypt, things had gotten unbearable for God’s children.  At the end of chapter 2 we see that the Israelites had been groaning under the yoke of slavery and that God remembered the covenant He made with their ancestors – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God had seen their suffering and was concerned about them.  He was going to do something about the situation and someone was going to become His instrument.  In so many times from the beginning of time until our present time, God had seen the suffering in the world and the lost state of people and He decided to act.  Then ordinary people became His instruments – Gideon who felt incompetent went out in God’s name, a young boy went out in a time when the Israelites feared a giant named Goliath.  Later prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah went out in the name of God.  They too experienced human doubts, until God touched their lives.  My friends, at this moment God comes to you and me and He says, “I am concerned about the state of the world.  As much as people are focused on a world pandemic and to get residents of each country vaccinated, my concerns go far deeper.  There is spiritual poverty far more than ever before. To many, people's rights have become more prominent than my precepts.”  You know my friends, it's just like what Isaiah felt in his heart when he saw God in the temple – “Woe to me!”, I cried.  “I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips...”  That realization came to Isaiah without God telling him how wrong he and the people of his time were.  Just the presence of God was so overwhelming that he felt doomed.  God's holiness was like a bright light that blinded his eyes – a light that shone on everything that was unholy in his life.  You know my friends, there are so many who don't share in the concerns Isaiah had about an unclean generation.  They go about their business as if everything is perfect; they don't feel accountable to God for anything.  But then, God in His holiness, sees the world for what it is.  Can you hear Him say? – “Open your eyes and see the spiritual ruins around you.  See the idols people have put up to replace me.  I am calling you in this time many see as the age of man.”  Just as God said to Moses in verse 7, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt…” He says to us, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in the world in 2021.  The misery that sin caused.”    

From Exodus 3 we see a very common human symptom – 2 Self-doubt.  When God told Moses that He was going to rescue His people, Moses must have thoughts of, “Wonderful, how great that at last redemption from Egypt has come. God has come to rescue His people.  I’m going to see those I left behind in Egypt.  I can’t wait to see them.  God is faithful.”  But then came words in verse 10 Moses didn’t expect, “So now, go.  I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”  Moses must have had thoughts of “Mission Impossible.  How can I go back to a place where people are still after my blood?  How can I go after I failed so miserably the last time?”  You see, self-doubt immediately entered Moses' heart.  He responded, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  My friends, let's try for a moment to comprehend what Moses must have felt like when called called him to go to Egypt.  To me it's not much different from when you have someone knocking at your door and say, “You were selected to go and talk to Kin Young-Un in North Korea.  Go tell him that the God of heaven and earth wants all oppression to stop, to let prisoners go free and for all people to have freedom.  No Christian missionaries will be persecuted.”  How would you respond?  I think many of us would say, “You have the wrong address.  It's the house on the right you have to go to.”  Can you appreciate with me how self-doubt came into the hearts of people from the beginning when God called people?  Gideon had very much the same response as Moses when he was called.  He said, “I am the least of my people.”  My friends, let's be honest – self-doubt is a reality in the church of Jesus Christ in the time we live.  More and more Jesus' followers feel intimidated in a secular world and say, “How can I make a difference when things of the world is like a tsunami taking away all principles we stand for?”  Has the call of Jesus become Mission Impossible?

But then the conviction by the Holy Spirit is very clear – Accept God's Call.  There is an answer to every self-doubter.  We see that in verse 12, “And God said, “I will be with you.  And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”  3 God Is Always With His People – that was the affirmation Moses received that day at the burning bush.  Wherever he would go, Almighty God was going to accompany Him.  And there was another promise to Moses – “I, the God and heaven and earth will bring my people out of Egypt and here on Mount Horeb you all will worship me.”  O my friends, there were so many times when God told His servants, “I am with you.”  And they all lived in the moment when God's promise came into fulfillment – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David and all the prophets.  And later it came into fulfillment in the Person of Jesus when He became Emmanuel, God with us.  And when Jesus ascended into heaven He left His disciples with the words, “And surely, I am with you till the end of the age.”  Matthew 28: 20.  What our Lord meant by that was that He always would be a presence in the lives of His followers.  But then...the question has been asked over time, “How can I know that God will always be with me?”  It's said that fourteenth-century philosopher and theologian Catherine of Siena once asked the Lord why He seemed so present to His people in the time of the Scriptures, but so absent in her own time.  God’s answer is as true today as it was then: “I seemed present to people in biblical times, because they came to me as faithful servants to await my inspiration, allowing themselves to be fashioned like gold in the crucible and letting me write the law of love in their hearts. Christians of your time act as if I can't see or hear them, and they want to do and say everything by themselves, keeping themselves so busy and restless that they wouldn't allow me to work in them.”  Can you agree with me, my friends, the moment when we take our eyes off Jesus, we are destined for failure.  But, when we keep Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith before us, we will be more than conquerors in any situation.

There is a clear word from our Heavenly Father this morning, “What will you do with the call I place before you?  Will you accept it again, unconditionally?  Like Moses I'm sending you, but remember, 'I will be with you.”

Amen.

________________________________________                                                                                 Rev. Willem H. van de Wall