March 24, 2019

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit



Epistle Lesson; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Gospel Lesson; Luke 13:1-9

Sermon Text; Exodus 3:1-8

                       Exodus 3:10-15


So, this morning, a little bit of history before getting into an application of our text.  Kind of the back story is this.  Exodus is the second book of the Bible.  Genesis is the first book of the Bible.  It is good for us to recall and remember there are about three hundred years that transpire between the end of Genesis, and the beginning of Exodus.  And so, from the time of Joseph's death, until the time of Moses' birth about three hundred years goes by.  God is silent, during this time.  And so, God is not speaking to Abraham, Issac, or Jacob anymore.  He is not speaking to Joseph.  God is just in this moment of silence.  Keep that three hundred years in mind.

Now, let's just recall what happens right before this, from our text, from the beginning of the book of Exodus.

Exodus, chapter one tells us God's people were in slavery.  The Pharaoh who was in charge when Joseph was living, was no longer in charge, anymore.  A new power had come into position.  A new Pharaoh.  That Pharaoh didn't know Joseph.  That Pharaoh didn't like the Israelites.  That Pharaoh didn't like the fact that they were increasing in number, and wanted to put them to hard work, and wanted to enslave them.  So, he made them work really hard. 

As he saw that they were becoming numerous, he told the midwives that were helping to deliver the babies for the Israelites, “If it is a boy, I want you to put those baby boys to death.”

But, a number of those midwives feared God and didn't want to do that.  Here is the excuse they gave to Pharaoh.  They said, “When the Israelites are giving birth, and they are giving birth to boys, those women are vigorous.  They give birth to those children, even before we get there, so we don't have a chance to put them to death.” 

I love that word 'vigorous'.  Think about that, when you are having a baby. 

Then, Pharaoh said, “I want you to take every baby boy who is born to a Hebrew, and I want you to throw that baby into the Nile River.”  You see, Pharaoh didn't want the Israelites to increase in power, because he was afraid of them.  

Well, Moses' parents had Moses.  They kept him at home for three months, and then they didn't think they could keep him 'under wraps' anymore.  So, Moses' mom made a basket out of Papyrus Reed, coated it with pitch and tar, and when Moses was three months old, she placed him in that basket.  Then, she placed him in The Nile River. 

That is when Pharaoh's daughter found Moses.  She wanted to raise this child as her own.  It was Moses' older sister who was standing off in a distance.  She came running on to the scene, and asked, “Can I go get somebody to nurse this baby for you?” 

Then, Moses' older sister went, and got her mom.  And, Moses' own mom was able to nurse her own son, until he was old enough. 

Then, Moses went, and lived with the Egyptians.  He lived in Pharaoh's house. 

So, here he was an Israelite by birth, but now he is an Egyptian by culture, and an Egyptian by education, as well.

Now, go forward forty years.  When Moses was forty years old, he saw an Egyptian picking on one of his people, one of the Israelites.  Moses looked to the right, and then he looked to the left, and then he killed the Egyptian.  He buried the Egyptian in the sand. 

Just a short time after that, he saw two of his own people, the Israelites, bickering with one another.  He went to the person who was at fault, and he pointed out his wrong.  “What you are doing is wrong.” 

The man looked at Moses, and said, “Are you going to kill me too?  I heard about what you did to that Egyptian.  Are you going to kill me, too?”

That is when Moses was filled with terror.  That is when word got to  Pharaoh, and Pharaoh wanted to take Moses' life.  And so, Moses fled for his life.  God's Word tells us he went to Midian.  Just to help us out, I have this map here, just to see the distance Moses traveled from Egypt to Midian

So, he got out of there, because he wanted to save his own life.  It was when he came to Midian that he met a man by the name of Jethro, who had seven daughters.  Jethro was a shepherd.  His daughters took care of his sheep.  Moses came on to the scene, and watered all of the sheep.  The daughters came home, and explained to their dad, “Hey, there was this nice guy at the well today, and he watered our sheep.”  

He said to his daughters, “Where is he?  You have to bring him to our house.” 

In time, Jethro gave one of his daughters to Moses in marriage.  Her name was Ziporrah. 

And so, now for forty years, Moses was a shepherd.  He was a shepherd for his father-in-law in Midian. 

God was using this as training ground for Moses.  God was using this to show humility to him, but also to show leadership skills to him.

So now, we come to the time of our text, at least the main portion of our text for today.  Moses is eighty years old, now.  (Just keep this in mind.  It has been about four hundred years since God has spoken to Joseph.  Four hundred years of silence.)  Moses is out tending the sheep, just like he has done for the last forty years, when he sees something strange, off in the distance. 

Now, what do you do, when you see something strange?  This last week, I don't know if you saw them, but there were a number of beautiful sunrises here in the Madison, Wisconsin area.  And, as I am coming to Holy Cross, for the last little bit, I am driving to the east, so I see sunrises.  It was Tuesday morning, as I was coming to Holy Cross, when I saw on the left hand side of the sun a small, little rainbow. 

Did anybody see it?  Oh, no.  Nobody saw it.  I am not crazy.  I got here to Holy Cross, and I talked about it to one of our secretaries, and she saw it, too.  It was just this small, little thing on the left side of the sun.  It was a beautiful rainbow.  And, it reminded me, when it is super cold outside, that you see Sundogs.  Well, it looked like a Sundog, but it was only on the left hand side of the sun, and it wasn't on the right hand side of the sun.  It was just on the left. 

Since Tuesday morning, I have been looking, researching, and trying to find a meteorological explanation for it.  Unfortunately, I could not find anybody talking about it. 

When you see something strange, what do you do?  When you hear something strange, or unique, what do you do?  When you smell something strange, or unique, what do you do?  You go to investigate it.  That is what Moses did.  He saw something strange.  He saw something unique.  It was a bush that was on fire, but it wasn't being consumed.  So, he went over to it. 

Now, here is what you have to keep in mind, it has been four hundred years since God has spoken to His people.  And now, how is God choosing to speak?  He is speaking to a shepherd in Midian.  He is speaking to that shepherd in Midian from a burning bush.  That is awesome.  That is amazing.  It is strange, and yet, it is unique.  Here God calls Moses by name.  It was no coincidence.  He says, “Moses!  Moses!” 

Moses is afraid, and I would be too.  Moses says, “Who am I that you should be calling me?   Who am I that you should be asking me to do what you are asking me to do?”

So, those forty years of being a shepherd had been proving ground for Moses.  They truly were forty years of humility in which God was preparing Moses to be a leader, and lead His people out of Egypt.

But, as Moses questioned what God was saying to him, God gave Moses a promise.  That promise was, “I will be with you.  I will be with you as you go about doing this task.”

Now, setting aside the history lesson, there, let's look at the application of our text for us.  Forty years before this, Moses had done something he should not have done.  He killed.  He murdered.  As we look at God's Word, God's Word opens our heart, and opens our souls to reveal to us the things we should not do.  Scripture says,

“Anyone who hates his brother

is a murderer.” 

It reminds us we are no better than Moses.

Or, think of our Epistle Lesson for today.  Just think of some of the things our Epistle Lesson brought out.  It said,

“Do not become idolaters...” 

Anytime we place something in front of God, we have become an idolater.

“Let us not commit sexual immorality...”

So, anytime we have impure thoughts, words, or deeds about somebody other than our husband, or wife, we are committing sexual immorality.

“Let us not put Christ to the test...” 

Anytime we put God to the test, we are not doing what we should be doing. 

And, as our Epistle Lesson for today says,

“...do not grumble...” 

How often I find myself, and how oftentimes we find ourselves grumbling, and complaining against others, and against God. 

Oftentimes, as the bulletins are getting set out each week, one of the things I love to do is to look at the children's bulletin that is set out for each given Sunday.  I know a number of our kids out there have the children's bulletin today.  It is always relevant to the text for the day.  The one for today was a little striking to me in keeping with this.  On the back side it simply asks the child to do this.  So, I ask us to do it, as well.  It says, “In the space below, print or draw something you have done wrong this past week.” 

So, it is an opportunity for them to write, print, or draw something. 

Then it says, “Then, tell Jesus you are sorry, and ask Him to forgive you.”

That is a beautiful, simple, little exercise to confess our sin, but also to ask God to forgive us, that Jesus would forgive us of the sins we have committed this past week.

A pastor once said this about our text, with “taking off our sandals”.  He wrote, “As we hear these words of our text, we too should take off our sandals.  We are about to approach the manifestation of God, which is one of the most revealing passages in all of scripture.  With holy awe, we stand before God's presence, a God who promises to do great things, and to do wondrous things.”

God called Moses to deliver His people from slavery in Egypt.  It is God who has given you a deliverer.  And, it is God who has given me a deliverer.  In our text for today (and I am going to skip over a few words, but you are going to catch on to this, as soon as I say this), God said to Moses, “I have come down to deliver them, and to bring them up.” 

“I have come down to deliver them,

and to bring them up.” 

God's Word there is referring to Jesus.  God sent Jesus to be your deliverer.  God has sent Jesus to be my deliverer.  God sent Jesus to rescue us from the slavery of our sins so that we could be brought up to The Promised Land of eternal life in Heaven.  As the New Testament says in Colossians, chapter one,

“God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness,

and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son,

in whom we have redemption,

the forgiveness of sins.”

Who was it that sent Moses?  And, who was it that sent Jesus?  Well, it is the great I Am. 

“I am who I am.”  

In Hebrew, this is the word Yahweh.  Anytime you are reading scripture in our English Bibles it is translated LORD, with four capital letters, L O R D, all capital.  It is the great I Am, the Yahweh, whom God sent to deliver His people.  It is the great God, the great I Am, who has sent His Son, Jesus, to deliver us and to rescue us through His life, through His death, and through His resurrection, so we have The Promised Land of eternal life in Heaven. 

After a four hundred year period of silence, God spoke to Moses, through a burning bush.  How is it that God speaks to us today? 

Just a quick little side story.  My son, when he was younger, (he still loves God's Word, but he really loved it, when he was young), his imagination was big.  Outside of his bedroom window there was a burning bush.  He wanted to light that bush on fire, because he wanted God to speak to him.  Katie was quick to hide the matches!

How does God speak to us today?  He doesn't speak to us through a burning bush.  He speaks to us through His Word.  He speaks to us in His Word, the Bible.  And so, every time we gather together for worship, we get to hear God speaking to us, as He sends a deliverer, as He sends somebody to rescue us from our sin, so that we have eternal life in Heaven. 

God called Moses to do that work for Him.  As you hear God's Word today, what is God calling you to do?  Is God calling you into a closer relationship with Him?  Is God calling you to trust Him more?  Is God preparing you for leadership?  Whatever God is calling you to do, we have this promise.  It is the same promise He gave to Moses. 

I will be with you, wherever you go.