Exodus 3:1-15
I Send You

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1. In the biblical setting for today, God shows himself to Moses. And as we read it the Bible makes plain to us thru the details of the story what kind of being this Lord God is whom Moses had met. What kind of [person] is this God in whom we believe and worship, that is, this God who revealed himself to Moses, this God of Israel, this God the Father of Jesus Christ?

God Lying In Wait

2.

"Moses fed the flocks of sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro, a priest of Midian, then one day, he was chasing the flock deep into the middle of the wilderness and he came to God's mountain, Horeb," (verse one).

3. Moses had fled to the land of Midian and then forty years time had passed by. He had already turned eighty. Once in his younger days, he had resolved to help his Hebrew country men and women. Because his heart burned hot in seeking after righteousness and in spurning unrighteousness, he struck an Egyptian down dead. That was the initiation of his battle against the Egyptian authorities who had been unjustly oppressing the Hebrews. But, in the end, his actions where he had taken a stand and thrown it all away were not accepted by his compatriots. With that, Moses came to feel a great frustration. As a fugitive burdened with his guilt as a murderer, he escaped to the land of Midian. Under the priest Jethro whom he had met there [in Midian] he started to make his living as an inexperienced shepherd. Chasing sheep day after day for forty years, then probably not noticing it, the fires that used to burn in his younger days were no longer there. The Moses we see in this scene is one who has lost the zeal he once had, a spent man.

4. Of course, we can live that way too. There was a peaceful life between him and his family. That was enough for him. His Hebrew compatriots had surely been living gasping for air in Egypt even at this very moment. Even after the old pharaoh had died, the circumstances involving the people of slavery had not changed. But, right now Egypt was a far away world for him. The suffering people were people in a far away world. He was able to live without staying focused on their suffering. He only had to think about his family and the sheep. As long as that's the way it was, both he and his family were in peace.

5. But, God did not let Moses stay in his little peaceful [world]. God came in to Moses' every day life, he anticipated to where Moses would be looking, and waited for him there. Entirely unaware of this, Moses went on with his day and with the flock of sheep. While driving the sheep in search of pasture, he came to Mt. Horeb. There he witnessed a marvelous sight to behold. Some brush was burning. But, the brush did not consume in the fire. Moses, a burned out man, was looking right before him at a blazing fire of God that would not burn out.

6. From the blazing fire God lifted his voice to Moses, "Moses, Moses!" Moses wasn't looking for God and didn't know him. God knew Moses. So he said, "Do not come closer. Remove your footwear from your feet; for, the place where you are standing is holy ground," (verse five).

7. Moses had not in fact come there to meet God. He came to Mt. Horeb by leading the sheep in search of pasture. That place was only an extension of the places within his routine life. As for his plans, he was supposed to feed the sheep like he always did and then shortly thereafter go back to his usual place. But, in wait for his man and coming into that man's daily life, God took up the right spot in the right place in Moses' routine. God pointed to the place where Moses was standing so ignorantly and said, "The place where you are standing is holy ground."

8. God commanded Moses to "remove your footwear." When a person knows he or she is before God's presence, he or she can't help but stop one's feet which had been walking continuously in one's own selfish way until that moment, and can't help but remove his or her footwear [as a sign of one's respect for the Holy One]. Then after that, when we put our shoes on, we don't wear them to continue our own selfish walk as we pleased. We will have come to put on our shoes to begin a walk as persons sent out by God. The meeting between Moses and God was that kind of encounter. And also, God will meet with us and position himself in our daily life somewhere.

I Am Here, I Surely Am

9. The Lord spoke further on to Moses upon the removal of his footwear as the Lord had commanded. Moses realized through the message the reason for whom the blaze was burning. God's all was being directed on the suffering and sighing people, the people whom Moses had long forgotten and the people whom he was fully bent on forgetting. This is what God said to Moses, "I have seen again and again the suffering of my people who are in Egypt and have heard the cries of those crying because of those slave drivers, and I know their pain. Therefore, I am coming down and I will begin to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and I will lead them up from this country to a wide and wonderful land, a land flowing with milk and honey, the place where the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites live," (verse seven and eight).

10. This is the picture of the God Moses met and the [same] God who is speaking to us. It is a picture of [our] God who watches over our own human pains and suffering. He is a God who bends his ear to our voices sighing out and crying out to him. He is a God who knows all the different pains in this world. He is not [some god] in a far off heavenly height, but is a God who saves us by coming down to the lowlands where we live creeping and crawling around.

11. God put his name like this, "I am. I am the one called I am," (verse fourteen). This word is one that can be translated in various ways. I'd also say that it is a word with a wide expanse of rich meaning. But, in thinking about what we've already seen, it is not likely that it refers to "absolute being" in a mere philosophical sense. Dr. Kiyoshi Sakon, an Old Testament scholar and my respected teacher, translated this as "I am here, I surely am." What a powerful name he has! God watches over, bends to listen, and has come down and is surely with the suffering people. He is with people who are suffering and sighing out their pain as they have been under various ruling powers under various godless authorities and as they have ultimately been under the authority of sin and death. He is a God who was descended to the lowest of depths, is with humanity, and declares, "I am here. I surely am."

I Send You

12. So, this God who comes down makes use of the people who are down there in order to make salvation a reality. To do the work of deliverance, the Lord uses those who remove their shoes in his presence, [that is, those who respect him as a holy God]. The Lord said to Moses, "Look, the crying voices of the Israelites have now come unto me. And I have seen their condition in which the Egyptians are oppressing them. Now, go. I send you to pharaoh. I will bring my people Israel out of Egypt," (verses nine and ten).

13. Moses resisted this message. It would have been good enough for Moses just to keep on being a shepherd with his own little quiet world. He didn't want any more than that. The days were long gone when he used to think of Israel's deliverance. The flames of those days were no longer around. He says, "Who am I? How am I supposed to go to pharaoh or even lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?," (verse eleven). But, the Lord wouldn't even reply back to this question from Moses. He just gave him a single promise, "I will always be with you. This very thing is the sign that I am sending you."

14. To the Lord it really didn't matter to him whether or not Moses still had any zeal left in him or even if he had any strength. To the Lord, it was not a problem of "Who am I?" [as] Moses [had doubted about himself]; for, that which comes from humanity will soon run out to nothing. Moses should have already seen that. All that was left was what the inconsumable God could do. He was like the burning bush! Therefore, God says to Moses, "I will always be with you." The main thing for Moses was not the question of "Who am I?," but that the Lord would be there with him. Therefore, the best thing for him to do was to live with God as a man once in the presence of God with his shoes removed. Because for anyone who has been sent and used by God, God is the one they call the "I am."

15. So, when we read this passage, what becomes important for us is the picture of the disciples that were sent out by the Lord Jesus. The risen Christ re-gathered his disciples who had once experienced such a deep frustration and told them, "I hold all the authority of heaven and of earth. Therefore, as you go, make all peoples into my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to keep all that which I have commanded you. I will always be with you until the end of the world," (Matthew 28:18-20). Here we have the disciples here who were surely in the presence of the God who had descended down and the God who had descended down unto the depths of the cross. And this God who has descended below has sent his disciples to do his work of salvation in this world. He has sent them with the promise that "I will be with you until the end of the world."

16. The work of the church has not gone on because of human zeal or endeavor. The only work that remains and will continue to remain on is that done in the passion of the One who keeps his eye on suffering humanity, and bends his ear to their cries, and comes down to deliver them. For this reason, the first thing we ought to do is the same as what Moses did. First of all in the presence of the Lord we are to remove those shoes in which we have walked around till now so selfishly doing our own thing.

 
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