- Sermon Notes
God’s Answer to Fear
In Exodus chapter 4 Moses had an amazing encounter with God. He had been raised in Pharaoh’s home with education and privilege, and even tried to be Israel’s deliverer by his own power. He saw an Egyptian beating a fellow Hebrew and he struck down the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.But Pharaoh quickly found out and Moses had to run for his life. He then spent 40 years in the desert of Midian.
One day as Moses was pasturing his father-in-law’s flock he saw a burning bush. It was on fire but was not consumed.He turned aside to look, and behold, God called to him from the midst of the fire.
God called Moses to be the deliverer of Israel. “Go and gather the elders of Israel together and tell them that I am indeed concerned about them and what has been done to them in Egypt.” Then in verse 18 He said, “They will listen to what you say, though the king of Egypt will not listen except under compulsion.”
Moses was afraid and didn’t want to go so he gave God a series of excuses. And this is where the story applies to our lives. Many people do not move as God wants them to move or do what God wants them to do because of fear.
But God has an answer to fear. And when people start beating around the bush, pardon the pun, God confronts their excuses. Last chapter, Moses responded by saying, “Who am I that I should lead the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” God responded, “I will be with you.” In other words, deliverance for Israel does depend on who are, but on who I am and I will be with you.
Then Moses said, “I am going to the sons of Israel and when I say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ they will say to me, ‘What is His name?” What shall I say to them? God answered, “I am who I am, you shall say, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ This will be my memorial name to all generations.”
That is the key to what God wants us to apply to our lives as well.
I. Do What God is Asking
- Verse 1, Moses says, “What if they will not believe me, or listen to what I say?”
- What’s interesting is that God already told Moses that they would listen.But Moses is afraid and tries to cover with excuses.
A.God has a purpose for your life
- God wants to do something with your life. He gives you a life to do something with it, to have a purpose and a meaning.Many people are afraid that their lives won’t amount to anything, but they’re also afraid to do anything about it.
- There is no one who is insignificant in the kingdom of God. He has decided to use you to make a difference in other people’s lives.
- Every one of us knows people who are hurting, who are oppressed, and who need the help of God in their lives.
- Paul wrote that God has given us the privilege of reconciling people God…
2 Corinthians 5:18-19, All these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation
- Paul also wrote that the work of ministry is to be done by the body of Christ…
Ephesians 4:11-12, And He gave some as … pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Illus – I remember when I was living in Longview and volunteered to be chaplain at the hospital in the oncology unit. There was a full-time chaplain there, but do you know really made the difference? It was those who had lost someone to cancer and were now ministering to other families who had cancer.
- Many people are convinced that because there has been failure in their lives they have no value; no usefulness.
- Yet God uses you when he restores you out of your failure to give hope. Others need to know that the power of God restores and delivers people from bondage.
Illus – Last week, Darryl Strawberry spoke to the men of our community with that exact message. He was a failure and everyone had given up on him, but God rebuilt his life. God will rebuild your life also and give you hope and meaning and then will use you to rebuild and strength others in their faith.
App- Moses saw himself as a failure. His attempt to be Israel’s deliverer failed miserably and now he was just a shepherd of someone else’s flocks in the middle of no-where and he wasn’t exactly in the prime of his life.
A.The great “I Am” will be with you
- Earlier in chapter 3 when God told Moses that He was sending him to Pharaoh, Moses said, “Who am I?” In other words, “I’m nobody. I’m a failure. I can’t do it.”
- God’s answer was powerful and rings through the generations to our ears today! “I will be with you!”
- Then Moses came up with another objection when he said, “When they ask me your name, what will I tell them?”
- Tell them, “I AM has sent you!”
Illus – I read a book some years ago about string theory; a scientific theory of everything.In short, it theorizes that everything in the universe is made up of little bits of energy that vibrate like little strings.In other words, everything in the universe is made up of pure energy, but where did this energy come from?I have another theory of everything, his name is I AM!
Colossians 1:16-17, By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible… All things have been created through Him and for Him.He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
B.The Great “I Am” is the answer to fear
- The Great I Am gives meaning and purpose to your life. “I Am” — YHWH — is translated Yahweh or Jehovah.
- When Abraham offered Isaac on the altar of sacrifice, God provided a ram instead and said, “I am Jehovah Jireh; I am your provider.
- God said to the nation of Israel, “I am Jehovah Rapha; I am your healer.”
- When Moses was leading Israel against the people of Amalek in Exodus 17, He said, “I am Jehovah Nissi; I am your banner, your victory.”
- When Gideon faced the Midianite the army of 32,000 with 300 men, God said, “I am Jehovah Shalom; I am your peace.”
- When David was out in the fields as a lonely shepherd, God said, “I am Jehovah Ra-ah; I am your shepherd.”
- The Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah, “I am Jehovah Tzidkaynu; I am your righteousness.”
- The Lord said to the Prophet Ezekiel, “I am Jehovah Shama; I am always with you.”
- When Israel faced an Assyrian army of more than 144,000, God said to the prophet Isaiah, “I am Jehovah Sabaoath; captain of the armies of the host of heaven.”
- God said to Gabriel, “Tell Joseph and Mary that I am Jehovah Shua; I am your salvation.”
App – “I Am” is not restricted by your resources, your needs, or by the brokeness of our nation. I am everything you need God would say to each of us.
II. Give God What’s in Your Hand
- When Moses raised his objection in verse one, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?” God responded, “What is that in your hand?” Moses responded, “A staff.”
- “Throw it down on the ground,” God said. Moses is about to learn one of the greatest lessons of faith anyone can learn.
A It’s God who makes it something
- “What is in your hand?” A symbol of failure.
- “I know this rod very well,” Moses could have said. “I once held the scepter of riches and power, but now I hold this old stick of wood, a symbol of mediocrity. I’m just a shepherd out here in the desert, noticed by no one. It’s just an old wooden staff, it’s nothing.”
- The problem was that Moses was interpreting the staff in light of who he was. God was showing him to interpret the staff in light of who God is.
- If only he could have remembered what God had just told him, that God was the Great I Am.
- “What’s that in your hand?” “Throw it down before me and I will give it life,” God was saying.
Illus – What is that in your hand?
A ram’s horn, — it’s nothing. “Throw it down before me, Joshua, and the walls of Jericho will fall to the ground.”
A slingshot – it’s nothing. “Throw it down before me, David, and the course of the nation will be changed when you take down the enemy that defies the God of Israel.”
3 loaves and 2 fish – it’s nothing considering the need. “Throw it down before me and 5,000 will be fed.
Two mites – it’s nothing. “Throw it down before me and a widow will give more than all the wealthy men of Israel and the world will be blessed by your generosity.”
A pile of wash – it’s nothing, I’m stuck here raising this child and it’s so hard. “Give it to me and I make something from that life that will make an eternal difference in many lives.
My business, my life….
- He is the One who takes what is nothing and makes it something. If we would just interpret life in the light of who God is.
John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Illus – Joni – Erickson Tada once gave her testimony at a Billy Graham crusade and said, “You see I am in this wheelchair and you may say that I am disabled. But God has made this wheelchair into a platform to impact millions, to strengthen their faith and give glory to God. My eyes have seen His glory; my ears have heard the wonderful news of His coming. My body awaits the day when I will dance before God in heaven.
But I say that you here in this stadium have many disabilities. You have eyes, but cannot see. You have ears, but cannot hear. You have a mind, but cannot understand. Give who you are to God and watch what He can do.
- God is the One who takes nothing and makes it something.
A.“Lord, send me”
- The Lord then demonstrated that He has power greater than the gods of Egypt.
- The serpent was a symbol of power in Egypt.In fact, the royal crown included a coiled cobra.It was a symbol of Egypt’s ability to strike down their enemies.
Illus – Jordi and I were in central Oregon visiting friends and we went for a hike near Smith Rock. As we walked the path we came upon a young snake, coiled and ready to strike. Though it was young, it was completely unafraid. Later I found out it was a rattlesnake. Snakes strike fear in people, it’s therefore a powerful symbol.
Illus – A few years ago, Jordi snuck up behind me and tried to put a snake down the back of my shirt, but it turned and bit her. Let’s just say she didn’t calmly shake it off. But I’m no better, one time I saw a baby water moccasin and I wasn’t exactly calm either.
- The healing of the leprous hand showed that God can do what the gods of Egypt could not do.They were powerless over leprosy and it was greatly feared throughout the Middle East.
- The blood was a symbol of life and death.Moses would of course turn the Nile River into blood.The Egyptians worshipped the river itself as the source of life.
- Moses then gave one more excuse, saying that he was slow of speech.Some believe Moses may have had a speech impediment, but I’m not sure we can say that because Stephen wrote…
Acts 7:22, “Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.”
- I think it is more likely that he thought he would have to be the one to persuade the sons of Israel by the power and eloquence of his speech, not realizing that his eloquence had nothing to do with it.
- “Who made man’s mouth?” God responded. “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to say.”
- Finally, Moses gave one final objection, “Send anyone other than me!”
- Now this was straight-up resistance. Moses simply had run out of objections and the truth comes out, he just doesn’t want to do it.
- God’s anger burns against Moses, yet He allows Aaron to be the mouthpiece for Moses. He will now have his brother to help him. But this is less than God’s best.
- Moses then returns to his father-in-law and asks to return to Egypt.
- But God wants him to remember the moment he had an encounter with God, the moment he came to realize that God is the One who transforms. He is the One who takes nothing and makes it something.
Exodus 4:1-17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Moses Given Powers
4 Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen [a]to what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” 3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his [b]hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
6 The Lord furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you or [c]heed the [d]witness of the first sign, they may believe the [e]witness of the last sign. 9 But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been [f]eloquent, neither [g]recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am [h]slow of speech and [i]slow of tongue.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” 13 But he said, “Please, Lord, now [j]send the message by whomever You will.”
Aaron to Be Moses’ Mouthpiece
14 Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that [k]he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16 Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. 17 You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”