When God Calls

Moses-and-the-burning-bush1

Scripture Focus- Exodus 3

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The call of God is his initiative to bring people to know him through his Son Jesus and then lead them to be participants in making his glory known in the world. Moses’ story is a follow-up to the story of Joseph’s life at the end of Genesis. Joseph was one of the 12 sons of Jacob, and was the favorite son. His brothers were jealous of him and originally were going to kill him but instead sold him to a caravan of traders who took him down to Egypt and sold him as a slave.

Through a series of events, Joseph was freed from slavery and rose to the position of Prime Minister of Egypt. He prepared the people of Egypt for a famine that was coming. During the first seven years of his reign, Joseph executed a grain storage plan that prepared Egypt for a great famine that would devastate the whole region. Joseph’s family back in Canaan was affected also. The Pharaoh at the time respected Joseph for what he had done in Egypt and permitted him to bring his whole family, seventy people, to the land of Egypt. The Pharaoh told him to choose the best of the land for his family to settle on, where they could live in peace.

The Israelites were fruitful, increased rapidly, multiplied, and became extremely numerous so the land was filled with them. From a small beginning of 70 people, they became a great nation, numbering more than 2 million people probably. All Joseph had done was eventually forgotten. A new king, who had not known Joseph, came to power in Egypt. The new king was insecure about the Hebrews because they were numerous and powerful.

Plan A- The Pharaoh tried to wear them down so they would stop reproducing so quickly. Work was ruthlessly imposed on them. The Hebrews labored under hardship, but God continued to bless them.

Plan B- The Pharaoh decided to just kill all the newborn sons of Israel. But the midwives who delivered the babies were more loyal to God than to the new king. They risked their lives to save the babies. God blessed them for it.

Plan C- The king ordered every male baby of the Hebrews be thrown into the Nile River. In the midst of the chaos a baby named Moses was born around 1500 BC. His birth was a turning point in Hebrew history.

Moses’ parents hid him and guarded him for three months but the time came where they couldn’t any longer. His mother tarred a small basket and took him and set him afloat in the river among the reeds. She chose the place where Pharaoh’s daughter came regularly to bathe. The daughter of the man who had issued the death call for the Hebrew boys heard his cries, saw him and felt sorry for him.

Miriam, Moses’ sister, brought Moses’ mother who took her little boy back and nursed him and raised him for several years. She was paid to mother her own child. As a child, Moses was able to take advantage of the opportunities given him.

According to Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7- Moses was beautiful in God’s sight, was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and actions. He was handsome, had an education second to none in the pagan world, and had the speaking skills to command respect and direct and lead people.

Hebrews 11:24-26 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin. For he considered reproach for the sake of Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since he was looking ahead to the reward. He set aside the opportunity to become an heir to the throne of Egypt, he chose suffering over sin, and was willing to be rejected in order to receive the reward of God.

Time passed and one day he observed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. He killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. After this, he saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong what he was doing. The man challenged him and said, are you going to kill me like the Egyptian? Word got out and the Pharaoh found out. Moses ran for his life to the land of Midian. He married Zipporah there, the daughter of the priest. After a long time the king of Egypt died, but the people were still oppressed. For 40 years, Moses led the quiet life of a shepherd. Then God came to Moses at the Burning Bush. Moses was minding his business, shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness to Horeb the mountain of God when God appeared to him.

When God calls it is through an appointment.

V2 Then the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush.

Moses saw the bush was burning but not being consumed and he went over to take a look at it.

Deuteronomy 33:16 God Himself dwelt in the bush.

The bush revealed the power, glory, and holiness of God.

When the Lord saw Moses had gone over to look, God called to him from the bush, Moses, Moses! Here I am, he answered. God told him not to come any closer but to take his sandals off because he was standing on holy ground. The place was holy because God was there.

V6 I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

God would reveal himself to Moses more intimately than He had to any of the patriarchs. Yet it all began with God reminding Moses of the bridge of the covenant they met on. God did not neglect or forget the covenant with Israel during the 400 years of slavery. He was still at work preserving and multiplying the nation. God had come down to deliver his people out of the hand of the Egyptians and to take them to the Promised Land. God could have done it all himself but he works through people.

The appointment of God is the call to salvation.

John 6:44-47 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, and they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to me not that anyone has seen the Father except the One who is from God. He has seen the Father. I assure you: anyone who believes has eternal life.

The appointment of God is the call to sanctification.

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

The appointment of God is the call to service.

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

The appointment of God is the call to a special purpose.

I have observed two extremes. One is to think the call of God is only for a particular group like vocational ministers or missionaries. The other is to deny there is a call of God at all.

History is full of examples of God calling ordinary people to serve him to do extraordinary things. Fanny Crosby was a Methodist born in 1820 who became blind when she was six weeks old. The regular doctor was away and a man pretending to be a certified doctor treated her with hot mustard poultices. Her illness went away but the treatment left her blind. A few months later her father died and Fanny was mostly raised by her Christian grandmother. Her grandmother introduced her to the Bible. With the encouragement of a woman named Mrs. Hawley with whom they lived, Fanny began memorizing passages from the Bible and the poetry in the book spoke to her. She memorized five chapters a week. She began to write hymns and was gifted by God to write more than 9,000 hymns by the time of her death at the age of 95.

A call is unique for every person, but every call shares certain characteristics. A call is always personal and tailored to fit a person’s soul. It builds on one’s spiritual gifts; it usually feels urgent and persistent. A call is a response to a summons. It is a kind of surrendering. It is a challenge and a joy. Author C. S. Lewis wrote, “To follow the vocation does not mean happiness, but once it has been heard, there is no happiness for those who do not follow.”

A call is bigger than what we do for a living. It defines God’s intentions for our lives. Our job is a way of pursuing our call, but so are our hobbies, the things we do in our churches and communities, and the ways we interact with the world. It is not uncommon for people to resist their call. Moses did; most people do.

Moses was called to salvation, sanctification, service, and sent for a special purpose.

When God calls it is by an announcement.

V7 I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings, v8 and I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and to bring them from that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

God said I have observed, heard and know.

God had not forgotten his people. He was coming down to deliver them. We often think of a call as what we will do for God. But the Bible speaks more to our calling to God, so that we can serve God.

The announcement of the call comes through God’s Word.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

This passage inspires us with a vision for the world and our role in it. Because judgment is coming the love of Jesus compels us to make known his glory. Jesus died for sinners. We are made alive to God in him and called to live for others.

We need to be sure the call we follow is consistent with God’s Word and indeed from him. A young farmer was standing in his field, observing a particular cloud formation. The clouds formed the letters G, P, and C, and he thinks them a call from God: Go, Preach, Christ! The farmer rushed to the deacons of the church and insisted he had been called to preach. They invited him to fill the pulpit. That Sunday the sermon was long, tedious, and incoherent. The leaders sat in silence. Finally, one the deacons said, seems to me the clouds were saying go plant corn.

The announcement of the call originates from God. He called Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and Amos to name a few. Jesus called twelve disciples to be with him and then sent them to the nations. The Holy Spirit called Saul and Barnabas. Nobody in the Bible appointed themselves.

The announcement of the call is unpredictable and requires faith. Saul of Tarsus said, I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.

The announcement of the call is often to the seemingly impossible. Noah- build a boat. Gideon- reduce your warriors and go into battle. Elijah- face down a wicked king and his representatives. Paul- preach to the Gentiles.

The announcement of the call of God is unique. The circumstances, nature and expectations of the call are all unique.

God calls by announcement by directing us through His Word and by His Spirit and expects us to answer.

When God calls it is to an assignment. 

V10 Therefore go. I am sending you to Pharaoh so that you may lead my people, the Israelites out of Egypt. 11 But Moses asked God, Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?

Excuse #1 I have no ability. Who am I? God said, I will certainly be with you.

Moses may have been humbled that the Lord would select him to stand before Pharaoh and to lead his people out of Israel, but he also questioned his identity and significance. God’s promise that He would go with him allowed Moses to see that this task did not depend on his own strength, but on that of the Almighty God’s. Moses didn’t need to have confidence in his self or in his abilities; He simply needed to trust in God. The same applies for us today. We don’t have to be perfect or experienced to be used by God. We just need to follow God’s lead and trust that He is able. God does not call us to an assignment without also empowering us for the task.

Excuse #2 I have no message. V13 If I go, and they ask me, What is his name? What should I tell them? God said, I AM WHO I AM.

Moses wondered how He could tell Pharaoh, who believed in pagan Egyptian gods, that the God of his ancestors had sent him. Today, we still face many people who don’t believe in God or question his authority. By saying “I AM WHO I AM” God was referring to His revered name, Yahweh. This name was sacred and revered. We can be sure that our God is above all and we can confidently follow His lead since His endorsement stands.

“I AM” is the most powerful name of God there is. He is the eternally self-existent God who is past, present, and future all at once.

Excuse #3 I have no authority. Ch 4:1 What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, The Lord did not appear to you?

In order to prove the validity of Moses’ claims, God gave him a sign. The people could see that Moses did not come based on his own power, but on God’s power. We serve that same powerful God. God doesn’t give us a purpose without giving His credibility. We can be sure that God has proven Himself time and time again, so we don’t have to worry about unbelief.

The Lord gave him the sign of the staff being thrown down and turning into a snake as authentication of his power. He also put his hand in the cloak and back out.

Excuse #4 I have no eloquence. Ch 4:10 Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent- because my mouth and my tongue are sluggish. God said, v11 Who placed a mouth on humans? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.

 Moses had a speech impediment and didn’t feel comfortable speaking in front of Pharaoh. God reminded Moses that He created mouths and everything else that humans have. It can be easy to use our weaknesses as an excuse, but God isn’t limited by our weaknesses. In fact, God’s glory is shown best through our weakness. God didn’t mind that Moses struggled with his speech. Likewise God is able to use us despite our struggles.

 Excuse #5 I have no desire to go. Ch 4:13 Please, Lord, send someone else.

This last excuse was a flat-out refusal since Moses simply didn’t want to go. Sometimes God may call us into a situation where we feel that someone else could do a better job. But God calls us for a reason and even if all odds are against us, God is greater than those odds. He sent Moses’ brother Aaron to accompany him and promised that He would give Aaron the words to say. God sometimes sends someone to help us accomplish our God-given task and always provides us with the words we need.

No matter what excuses Moses gave, God always proved that He was greater than Moses’ weaknesses. When God calls us to do something it can be easy to make excuses. Sometimes we’re afraid of stepping out in faith. Sometimes we feel comfortable right where we are and don’t want to reach for more. Our past is too dark or maybe the future too blinding. Yet, when Moses chose to quit letting excuses get in the way, God used him to save the entire Israelite nation from slavery in Egypt. Who knows what amazing plans God has for us if we would quit making excuses and start following Him in faith! God told him to go anyway! His brother Aaron would help him.

When God calls we should answer in obedience, and move forward in faith.

Tony Evans- If you want to know your calling, don’t go “calling-looking.” Go God-looking. God knows where He wants you, what He is calling you to do, when He wants you to do it, and how He wants it done. Therefore, if you want to find your calling, look for God. When you find God, His calling will find you. God’s calling for your life, then, will be experienced out of your relationship with Him. If there is no relationship, you will not come to know what your calling is all about.

Moses met God at a burning bush because he came to the mountain where God was hanging out. Now Moses didn’t know he was going to meet God that day, but he was in God’s presence. If you want to know your calling, you have to go where God is. If you never have time to go before the face of God, you won’t find your calling. If you never have time to spend in God’s Word, you won’t find your calling.

If you never have time to be around the people of God, you will never find your calling. We spend so much time doing things that may be okay within themselves but rob us of time in God’s presence. When you encounter God, He will lead you to your calling. Your calling finds you when you find God. And there is nothing more powerful in life than living out the purpose that God has ordained just for you. It is when you are doing that – that you will truly feel most alive.

1 Corinthians 1:26-27 Brothers and sisters consider your calling: Not many were wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.