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Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!

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Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

God’s Call - November 10, 2019 - Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 27) - Text: Exodus 3:1-15

After today there are only two Sundays left in our current Church Year Calendar. In previous years this Sunday was known as the Third-last Sunday of the Church Year. As we move toward the end of one Church Year and the beginning of another our readings direct our attention, once again and as always, to the fact that our life in this world is short, especially compared to our eternal life in heaven. Thus, what is important is making sure we are ready for our real life in heaven. In the Epistle reading we have Paul’s encouragement to stand firm in our faith. In the Gospel reading we have Jesus being questioned concerning heaven and His response giving proof of the resurrection of the dead and eternal life.
 
Our text is God’s call to Moses to lead the Children of Israel out of their bondage of slavery in Egypt. We begin at verse one, “1Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6And he said, “I am the God of your 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 at God” (v. 1-6). You might remember that this Moses is the same Moses that was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, that he had killed an Egyptian and that he fled to Midian. Moses had spent the first 40 years of his life in Egypt being raised as an Egyptian. He knew what it was like in Egypt, the customs and the like. Certainly if there was a man for the job of delivering the Israelites from Egypt it was Moses.
 
At this time, Moses had now been in Midian for 40 years. He was a shepherd for his father-in-law, Jethro’s sheep. So, not only did he know the ways of the Egyptians, he also knew the ways of the desert, of raising sheep. Again, these life experiences made him well qualified for the job God was about to call him to accomplish.
 
As Moses was out keeping watch over the flock, the Lord appeared to Him in a burning bush. We are told that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. I would think it would be kind of like a fireplace with fake logs, except that this was a real bush with a real fire. This fire might be perceived as a sign of God’s judgement, fire being a symbol of purification and the justice of God.
    As Moses drew near to investigate the sight he saw, God spoke to him telling him that God is in this place and the He has made this place holy ground. Certainly God is holy and where God is He makes that place holy. Moses response, his reaction is the same as how we might react to such a situation, that is that he hid his face. Moses knew that to look on God could mean death.
 
After God gets Moses’ attention He moves on to the specifics of His calling, “7Then 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, 8and 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, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Periz-zites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12He said, “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” (v. 7-13). God has seen the affliction of His people Israel. And this does not in anyway mean that God did not know what was going on with His people, the Israelites. Certainly God is omniscient, He is all knowing and He always knows what is happening. Here we are simply reminded that He is about ready to do something for His people. God tells Moses that He will rescue His people and He will do this with Moses as their leader.
 
God lays out His plan to Moses. God will send and use Moses to bring the Children of Israel into the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses will bring them into a land that is inhabited by others, but those presently living in the land will be rooted out making room for God’s people.
 
Upon hearing such great and wonderful news Moses response is a question, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (V. 11). Moses throws up his first excuse as to why God picked the wrong man for the job. As are all our excuses, before God we have no excuse. God tells Moses that He, God Himself with be with Moses. Moses is simply to be God’s instrument.
 
But Moses is not done with his excuses and God is not done giving him His credentials including His name, “13Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14God 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.’” 15God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (v. 13-15). What Moses is asking for is a way to distinguish the Lord God, Yahweh, from the gods of Egypt. In other words, Moses is asking God, or telling God, if I go to the people and say that God has sent me, they will want to know what god. And so God gives Moses His name, “I AM”
 
God’s name is I AM. He is not I was. He is not I will be. He is I AM. God’s name is an indication of who He is, that He is a God who is outside of time. He is in the present and as a matter of fact He is in the eternal present. For God there is no yesterday nor tomorrow. For God that He is in the eternal present indicates His eternal being. God is from creation. He was there at the creation of the world where He spoke all things into being.
 
God’s name  is I AM meaning He is from everlasting. Even before the world was created God is. We might think He was, but since His name is I AM, since He is in the eternal present, indeed He is before the world began. With God there is no beginning and no end. No one created God, because if someone created Him, then that One who created Him would be God. God was not created but He is the Creator of all. God is God because He is, was and always will be. He is the prime mover.
 
And God’s name, I AM means that He  is the unchangeable, eternal God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever, speaking in human chronological ordering terms. Indeed, we find comfort in God’s name, I AM as we can rest assured that He is the One True God from everlasting to everlasting.
 
In speaking to Moses and in giving him His name, God testifies that He is the God of Israel.  God is the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These three father’s of Israel, patriarchs of the nation all Israelites knew. That God is the Father of them all means that He is the One True God. As the One True God, as the One who chose them, placed His Name on them, covenanted with them, He is the One who can and will deliver them.
 
So, what does this mean? As we come to our text we might be wondering, what was Moses relationship with God. Certainly, having been raised in Pharaoh’s home he was educated about the gods of Egypt, yet, having his mother as his nurse mother for some years and knowing his Hebrew background, certainly he knew of the God of Israel. Perhaps Jethro, his father-in-law may have educated him as well. Yet, as we get to our text we see that the first thing that happens is that God calls Moses. This calling may be God’s calling him to faith. God is the prime mover. Moses did not approach God nor call Him. God called Moses. In somewhat the same way, but not with a burning bush, God calls us to faith. For many of us God called us to faith through the means of Holy Baptism. As water and God’s name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, were spoken on us, God called us to and gave us faith. For others God called us to faith through His Holy Word. As we hear God’s Word the Holy Spirit works through that Word to give faith. And God continually strengthens us and keeps us in faith through His means of grace as well, remembering our Baptism, hearing His Word, confessing our sins and hearing His Word of forgiveness, partaking of His body and blood in His Holy Supper.
 
God calls Moses to faith and God gives Moses His authority to lead His people. We might surely understand, especially in our world that there are those who grasp and grab for power, but God is the One who gives authority. God gives Moses His authority and we see that authority as God is with Moses as He leads the Children of Israel. In much the same way God gives us authority. At His ascension, as Jesus was ready to depart this world He gave His authority to go out and share the good news with all nations. When someone asks us by what right we have to speak God’s word, we can tell them by God’s authority.
 
And God gives Moses a promise, to be with Him. God does not call Moses, give him His authority and send him out by himself. No, God’s promise is that He will be with Moses every step of the way. Even through Moses’ excuses and balking, God continues to dismantle his excuses and assures him of His presence with him. Again, in like manner, God gives us a promise, to be with us,  always, even to the end of the world. God does not send us out to make disciples by ourselves. Certainly we know that we cannot make someone believe. God’s promise is that He is with us, and that He will send the Holy Spirit to work through the Word He gives us to speak to make disciples of all nation.
 
This morning we are reminded of what a privilege it is to share the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection with others. God calls us to faith. God strengthens and keep us in faith. God gives us His authority. God gives us His Word. God gives us the very words to speak. God stirs in others to ask us about our faith as we live lives as priests in the priesthood of all believers. God gives us the courage to speak and He gives faith to those who hear. Thanks be to God.
 
Yes, we tend to be like Moses. We tend to have excuses for not sharing the good news with others. Thanks be to God that He forgives us for such excuses and that He works through us in spite of our excuses. Thanks be to God that He loves us enough to use us in spite of ourselves. And above all thanks be to God for all His good gifts and blessings. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

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