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Biblical/Doctrinal Studies:
Desert of Discipline Series

Take Your Shoes Off!
(Exodus 3:1-4:16)
by Ed Vasicek

For 40 years, Moses was living a life consistent with the Dull Men’s Club. And he had no intention of leaving that life. But God knew that Moses, though comfortable there, did not belong there!

Main Idea: All of God's servants are human beings with quirks and hidden agendas. God often uses us not because of who we are, but in spite of who we are.

  1. Moses Gets Drafted

    1. Begins with curiosity (1-3)

      Horeb is also called Mt. Sinai.

      1. "Says  R. Eliezer*, from the day the heavens and the earth were created, the name of this mountain was called Horeb; but after the holy blessed God appeared to Moses out of the midst of the bush, from the name of the bush '(Seneh)', Horeb was called Sinai.'' [*Pirke Eliezer, c. 41. Aben Ezra in Exod. iii. 2. quoted by John Gill]

      2. One ancient Rabbi sees the Bush's burning as both symbolic of God's holiness and God's awareness of the Hebrew' plight: Aben Ezra has this note on (Exodus 3:2):

        "the enemy is compared to fire, and Israel to the bush, wherefore it was not burnt."

      3. Walter Kaiser writes:

        “What took place was a 'strange sight' (v. 3) to Moses. Therefore, to explain what happened here as a temporary mirage of reflected sunlight on some red leaves or a campfire of some Bedouin...is to substitute our experience for Moses' forty years in that area and his estimate that it was indeed unusual. The burning bush was not consumed; that was the miracle. Notice how miracle is used here, as it so typically is in Scripture, to accredit God's message (or messenger). Miracles are not circus side shows intended to entertain; rather they accredit the Word of God given to his special messengers." (from Expositor’s Bible Commentary)

    2. Moses hears the bush's call. (4)

      Angel of the Lord is the Lord, as most of the Rabbis understood.

      Years later, just before his death, Moses blesses each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Of Joseph, he said, "About Joseph he said: 'May the LORD bless his land...with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush." Deuteronomy 33:13-16 passim)

    3. Moses rightly respects God's Holiness. (5-6)

      1. Remove sandals

        1. To teach Moses respect for the God of Israel.

        2. To instruct Moses that God is Holy.

      2. God identifies Himself.

      3. Moses is afraid to look. (Wouldn’t you be?)

        What does He see, an angel or a vision of the Lord?

    4. God expresses His concern.

      1. He has come down.

      2. He has an extraction plan. (8a)

      3. He has a settlement plan. (8b)

      4. He has a right timing. (9)

      5. He has the leader. (10)

    Main Idea: All of God's servants are human beings with quirks and hidden agendas. God often uses us not because of who we are, but in spite of who we are.

  2. Moses Tries To Resist the Draft.

    1. He just did not want to do it.

      1. Moses does not represent the shy person who has rarely tried to do anything because he is afraid of failure or rejection; Moses represents the bold person who tried to accomplish the impossible and failed. He is the broken person who has given up his dreams. He is the disheartened, broken-spirited person who would rather live an uneventful life than risk failure again.

      2. In my opinion, Moses felt like he had trusted God, and God dropped the ball. The idea that trying to do God’s work involves doing God’s work God’s way. (The end does not justify the means; the process is as important as the result.)

      3. Moses wants to stay in the desert. I know many Christians who want to do the same. They are afraid to do anything different, afraid to jump in with both feet, afraid to really get serious about God. They want to stay in that desert.

    2. Some people ask questions but do not want answers.

      1. Many times questions are objections, not inquiries.

      2. Many times questions are statements (cowardly assertions – I hate that approach.).

      3. Example: Don’t you think God made the universe well enough so that miracles are not necessary?  (Translation: God has never worked miracles, if He exists.)

      4. Example: Don’t you think God wants us to use sense to determine what is right and wrong? Don’t you think the Bible only addressed issues of that era? (Translation: The Bible is irrelevant to life today.)

    3. If one is unwilling, logic cannot persuade him.

      Some Christians are under the delusion that if they answer a lost person’s questions and take away his or her excuses, that person will have no choice but to be saved...nonsense!

      Remember Vasicek’s law: Because people can be logical does not mean they respond to logic - or typically operate on a logical basis; most people do what they want to do and believe what they want to believe.

    4. Look at Moses and learn about yourself.

      1. Who am I? (unworthy)

      2. I don't even know Your Name. (Yahweh)

        1. God tells Moses his name. (v. 14a)

        2. God explains its meaning, (v. 14b) and

        3. God shows how His Name relates to past, present, and future. (v. 15)

        4. Ancient LXX translation: And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING; and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING has sent me to you.

        5. One of the Targum (Aramaic paraphrase) puts it this way: And the Lord said unto Mosheh, He who spake, and the world was; who spake, and all things were. And He said, This thou shalt say to the sons of Israel, I AM HE WHO IS, AND WHO WILL BE, hath sent me unto you.

        6. Revelation 1:8, "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

        7. By definition, God is the being Who has always been, uncreated... (Who created God? A logically ridiculous question: Who created the uncreated One?)

        8. Notes at the bottom of Your handout: the word translated LORD is Yahweh.

        9. Every believer should know God’s Name and understand the difference between a name and a title.

      3. I don't have a plan. (Assemble the elders.) (3:16-22)

        1. Start off with a reasonable request. (Let people take a 3-day journey.)

        2. Pharaoh’s stubbornness will give you a justification to up the ante.... You reneged on your promise, so this time we are asking for more.

        3. In the end, the Hebrews will be free and rich. (People will give them whatever they ask for.)

      4. What if elders do not believe me? (Staff, leprous hand, water to blood) (4:1-9)

      5. I can't speak. (I'll give you words.) (4:10-12)

        1. Could be a shy speaker on account of his broken condition.

        2. More likely: he had forgotten much of the Egyptian and Hebrew Languages; he had spoken the Midian dialect for 40 years. (You lose it if you don’t use it.)

      6. The truth comes out in verse 13.... The questions were a facade.

    5. God accomodates Moses. (4:14-16)

      1. God is angry with Moses.

        God did not say it, but I imagine Him complaining, "Am I going to have trouble with you, too?"

      2. But God negotiates a compromise.

        1. vs. 27 is fascinating: God called for Aaron before He talked to Moses.

        2. God appears to experience time with us, but He is beyond time.

        3. God’s anger at Moses was real, but well before this discussion, before He got angry and announced He would accommodate Moses, God had summoned Aaron.

        4. We call God experiencing time and events with us as though He were a mere man, "anthropapetheia" or condescension.

        5. Where did Aaron come from? Had he been that way before? My theory is that God gave him a revelation and helped him escape.

        6. He did not necessarily come up to Mt. Horeb, but could have met Moses along the way.

      3. Although God accommodated Moses, He would not let Moses beg out of serving; the believer's life is to be a life of service. For some Christians, service is a dirty word.

        Some of you need a “push” when it comes to serving the Lord. Every one of you in good health should have some sort of job or special participation in the church. Nursery, meals, teaching (Sunday School, Children’s Church, Kid’s Klub), music, work days, youth chaperone, flock group participator, AWANA listener, offering counter, usher, visiting shut-ins, women’s Bible study, setting up tables, or being a good will ambassador during greeting times, etc.

    Main Idea: All of God's servants are human beings with quirks and hidden agendas. God often uses us not because of who we are, but in spite of who we are.

  3. Lessons for Us.

    1. God's holiness should floor us.

      When Peter comprehended the holiness of Jesus after a miraculous catch of fish, his response was, "Get away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."

    2. God invites us to join in what He is doing.

      The first time around, Moses tried to set the agenda and he invited God along; the second time around, God set the agenda and invited Moses along.

    3. When God calls, He enables.

      None of us feel “worthy” or “adequate”.

    4. Excuses cannot displace truth.

      Moses had retired; he was 80 years old, part of the Over the Hill gang, and content to be a shepherd; he had no heart for any more adventures.

    5. God is a bargainer who can be patient.

      On the one hand, God can get by without us; on the other hand, he is intensely interested in developing every one of us. We can always say, "God, I messed up. But what do You want me to do from this point on" or "God, I am fully surrendered to You; but use me as You can."


All of God's servants are human beings with quirks and hidden agendas. God often uses us not because of who we are, but in spite of who we are.

So if you are not the Christian you should be, join the club. What matters is that we are growing toward becoming the Christian we should be, and we are serving.

Pastor Ed

Highland Park Church   516 W. Sycamore St. Kokomo, Indiana, 46901 USA   (765)452-1779    church@highlandpc.com    Main Service: Sun 10:30 a.m.