When Julius Caesar landed on the shores of Britain with his Roman legions, he took a bold and decisive step to ensure the success of his military campaign. He ordered his men to march to the edge of the Cliffs of Dover, and commanded them to look down at the water below. To soldiers’ amazement, they saw every ship in which they had crossed the channel engulfed in flames. Caesar had deliberately cut off any possibility of retreat. Now that his soldiers were unable to return to the continent, there was nothing left for them to do but to advance and conquer! And that is exactly what they did.
In more recent history;
There were fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in untold suffering for themselves and their families. Of the 56 men, five were captured by the British and tortured to death. Twelve had their homes burned. Two lost their sons in the war. Another had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six fought and died in the war. Two lost their businesses and wealth in the war later dying in poverty. Despite the danger, each man was committed to creating what we now call the United States of America.
We have an example of a leader making sure that his men were as committed to the main purpose of his campaign to conquer new land, and an example of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence who were committed to making the break from Great Britain to create a new nation.
These examples show what can be done when people are committed to a cause. Most of us would like to say that we could be committed to a cause. Here’s a question for you to consider. How committed are you really to the most important cause as Christians? How committed are you to God?
Moses presents one of the most persuasive lessons concerning commitment to God. God is not satisfied with just saints; He wants us to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 99% committed to Christ is 100% rebellion. If you are not living under the Lordship of Christ, you are in known rebellion toward God. Using Exodus 3, we’ll see 4 basic questions that every one of us must consider for ourselves.
Before we read from Exodus 3, allow me to set the scene. When we find Moses in Exodus 3, he’s spent the last 40 years of his life in the desert. At one time Moses was living in the Pharaoh’s palace; he had affluence, position, power, and prestige, but now he’s living as a sheep herder. He’s a fugitive from justice. It’s been 40 years since Moses fled Egypt for killing an Egyptian. Moses has settled into his new life; marrying and having children. He was going about his daily task when God presented him with an unusual message.
2 The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.
3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”
4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Many times God speaks to us. One of the reasons we may not hear Him is that we are just too busy doing our own thing.
We are in a rush; maybe very busy but most of us are wasting time. Even when God tries to speak with us through a unique situation, we miss it because we are in a hurry. We pass right by it. Moses was very busy watching the sheep; making sure they were safe so God had to get his attention. God used a burning bush.
We read this passage and go “WOW! A burning bush; that’s amazing!” A burning bush wasn’t all that interesting for Moses; it was a desert after all and dried up bushes would burst into flame due to the heat. The specialness of this bush was that it was not being consumed by the fire; thus Moses stopped to check it out. When Moses stops long enough from his business, God speaks.
Exodus 3 is the start of a conversation in which God calls Moses to go back to Egypt to bring the people of Israel out of the land. After a 40 year absence, Moses was being called by God to go back to Egypt; back to confront the Egyptian leadership from whom he ran away. How many of us would say yes that this assignment?
Moses’ assignment was to confront the most powerful leader of the most powerful nation of this time, and demand (not ask but demand) the freedom of 3 million plus slaves. Afterward, lead these 3 million plus people through a barren wasteland to a land that was promised to them through their forefather Abraham. Who wouldn’t say yes to this assignment? Piece of cake; right?
It was an impossible assignment in human terms. There was no way he could do it, but that was the point. We Christians are abundantly supplied with many resources, both spiritually and materially, and yet we are making no or low impact in our society. There is one pressing reason: we are not committed to the God of this Book, and what He wants of us. Why aren’t we committed?
To answer this, we must answer four questions.
Who Is God?
Who Am I?
To Whom Do I Belong?
Why Am I Here?
Let’s look at the first question – Who Is God?
Who is this God Who is challenging us to live in submission to His divine authority?
Exodus 3:5 says Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
From the get-go, God tells Moses that the ground he was standing was now holy because He was there; it was no long just a piece of desert but holy so take off your sandals.God introduces Himself to Moses; God knew that it was vital for Moses to know Him.
Exodus 3:6 says He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
One of the reasons why so many people are not committed is that they have no clue Who God is; they do not know God. We think we know Him because of children’s Sunday School lessons or through Sunday morning sermons. I think most of us don’t know the true God; we think we know Him but we believe in a counterfeit version. Some think God is a Zeus like figure who will strike you down with lighting if you step out of line. Some think God is a white bearded grandfather figure like Santa Claus giving out gifts left and right. We don’t know the God of this book (the Bible) because we haven’t read this book on our own. We must study this book in order to see Who our God truly is. Who is this God who requires final authority in our lives? God is Sovereign; He is our King and we are His subjects.
While reading about Asian history, I came about some interesting information. Before the European nations conquered and imposed national boundaries in Southeast Asia, the kings of Laos and Vietnam reached an agreement on taxation in the border areas. Those who ate short-grain rice, built their houses on stilts, and decorated their houses with Indian-style serpents were considered part of Laos. On the other hand, those who ate long-grain rice, built their houses on the ground, and decorated their houses with Chinese-style dragons were considered part of Vietnam. You see, the exact location of a person’s home was not what determined his or her nationality. Instead, each person belonged to the kingdom whose cultural values he or she exhibited.
And since we are Christians, we are part of God’s Kingdom and thus subject to His authority in our lives
Four times in verse 6 God identifies Himself to Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. . .” After God identifies Himself, God tells Moses the reason He is speaking to him.
Exodus 3:10 says “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”
You can almost see it. After God tells Moses of the mission He has for him, you could hear a pin drop in the desert. Here’s a guy who has been hiding in the desert for 40 years for killing a man in the place God wants him to go. Put yourself in Moses’ position. What would you be thinking? Let’s see how Moses responds;
Exodus 3:11 says But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” Then in verse 13;Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” Moses asked a good question.
You see, it’s been over the 400 years that the children of Israel had lived in Egypt; they had fallen into idolatry. God’s answer was specific in verse 14, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” Then God tells Moses again who He is in verse 15, God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons 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 this is My memorial-name to all generations.
In using “I am,” God wanted Moses to absorb the extreme importance and value of His name. The word God in verse 15 is Elohim; this is the name God uses in Genesis 1:1. Elohim stands for infinite power and absolute faithfulness. Our God has infinite power and is absolutely faithful to His people; to us.
Moses knew who he was talking with at the end of this conversation. God gave Him assures and help to do this task; and it was a huge task. Real commitment does not have a limit. By the way we live our lives, many Christians are telling God, “I’ll give You only so much, but I’m not going beyond this point.” We try to bargain with God.
Reading beyond Exodus 3, you’ll see that God freed the Israelites through Moses. Moses did not free his brothers and sisters; God freed them. Moses was only a tool; but God was the hand.
Let’s look at the second question; Who am I?
I have found most people ask this question sometime in their life.
We humans long to have answers to questions and for most of us we have no clue of who we truly are. In my early 20’s I read books seeking to found who I am as a person. I read books dealing with birth order and books on personality. One book dealing with personalities laid out 4 different personality traits and says everyone is a combo of two. This book also shows what person of the Bible had the same combination and I was hoping for David (the poet) but I got Simon Peter. So I can put my foot in my mouth from time to time. I’m not very subtle; I tend to use a slough hammer to drive in a penny nail.
As Christians, we must ask “who am I?” in the shadow of the cross. When you read the Bible, you’ll see that the people in this book are a lot like us. We’ll see that Moses asked this same question. Exodus 3:11 says, But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” God didn’t answer, “Look, Moses, you are one of them.” In verse 12, God did answer saying . . . “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”
God never told Moses who he was but God directed it back to Himself because Moses’ identity wasn’t in his race but in whom he belonged; he belonged to God. You will never understand who you are until you are able to identify yourself with the Person of Jesus Christ; with the God Who created you.
There are several emotions which plague us Americans. Two of these are emptiness and sense of meaninglessness. Many people feel that they are no body; that they have no value. This is why some people abuse sex, drugs, and alcohol trying to fill the void. The suicide rate has risen 40% in the last 17 years due to the sense of emptiness and meaninglessness. When people feel that they have no hope, there is no sense of moving forward so they quit.
There is a relationship which makes life complete. Without that relationship, there is a void, a vacuum in life. Many people, even those who are well-known, can attest to that void. The literary genius Thoreau once said, “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” Ralph Barton, one of the top cartoonists of the nations, left this note pinned to his pillow before committing suicide: “I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from wife to wife, from house to house, visited great countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up twenty-four hours of the day.” I remember a video I saw once of a young Tom Brady. In an interview shortly after his first Super Bowl win. The interviewer asked him if he felt fulfilled because of the win and his answer was chilling. He said that he was looking for fulfilment and he didn’t think winning football games was enough to fill the void.
People have no clue of who they are or more importantly who God truly is. We, Christians, are complete only because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. True Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship. We have a relationship with the God of the universe because of what Christ did on the cross. Deep inside the Holy Spirit affirms who we are.
We are God’s children through Jesus Christ. He is our God, and we are “adopted into the family.” So, Who are you? Some here may reply, “I am a Christian, I am a believer, I am a Christ-follower.” Others may answer, “I’m a doubter, I’m a skeptic, or I’m an agnostic.” Today, maybe the spirit has shown you that you are lost and need Christ.
Here’s some great news for you; if you have ever placed your trust in Jesus Christ and accepted what He did on the cross, you are a coheir to heaven; you are royalty. 1 Peter 2:9 says; “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”
The King James Version uses the phrase “a peculiar people” to describe us. The term “peculiar” is taken from the Old Testament. When the nation of Israel conquered the land, and over took a town they would put the best plunder (clothes, jeweler, silver/gold, animals, etc.) and set it aside to be put in the tabernacle (later the temple) for God. Peculiar basically is the best of the best; the most valuable. We are set a part and are the most valuable to God. That’s who you are.
You see why no Christian has the right to live his own life and do his own thing. If the God of this Book is your God, he has the final authority over your life. Christ paid the sin debt for you and me; He bought us, we are His servants. If I know who I am, and if I know who God is, then my so-called rights in life are ruled over by the Person of Jesus Christ. He is Lord of our lives; and whatever and whenever, I have no cause to try to bargain with Him or put up an argument. “Who are we?” We are God’s children.
This leads to the third question, To Whom do I Belong?
In chapter 4, Moses uses one excuse after another in a hope of trying to get out of this assignment. What if they don’t believe me? (Ex. 4:1) I’m not a good speaker; I have a speech problem. (Ex. 4:10)
Moses sounds a lot like us, when God calls us to do something. Moses was making excuses. We make excuses. We all inherited this from our parents; Adam and Eve. When they first sinned and God asked them why, Adam pointed to Eve; in turn, Eve pointed to the snake.
So many times, God challenges us, and we protest; “I can’t lead a small group or teach a SS class.” “I can’t teach children.” “I can’t witness to my family or co-workers.” The first reaction is, “You have the wrong person.” Does He really; seriously? He is omniscient so He knows everything. He is not making a mistake when He calls you. God knows what we are capable of through His power. If God is perfect (and He is), He doesn’t make mistakes. If He is all-knowing (and He is), He makes no errors.
To whom did Moses belong? Who brought Moses into this world? God. Who saved Moses’ life as a baby when he was found in the river by Pharaoh’s daughter? God. God saw fit to have Moses grow up healthy and strong in Pharaoh’s household. God equipped him, gifted him, blessed him, and made him ready for the call that God would issue. To whom did Moses belong? God first and foremost.
To whom do you belong? It’s simple; if you are the purchased possession of the Lord Jesus Christ, you do not belong to yourself. You honestly have no choice other to obey; God is the final authority.
1 Corinthians 6:19 says, . . . do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
You are not your own; you are Jesus’ servant. You and I have no right to tell God what we will do, where we will go, and what we will think, and what we will give. Some might say; wait one minute. Doesn’t the Bible say something about God giving us our heart’s desire? Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
This passage basically says, when we delight in God and follow Him we have fulfillment. You see, as you read your Bible, pray, and grow in your faith walk God’s desires for us become our desires for us.
The final question we need to ask is, Why am I here?
Why am I here; what’s my goal in life or my purpose? A purpose or goal in life is basically just a target to aim for, but if we don’t know what to aim for we’ll miss the target every time.
A Christian who doesn’t know their purpose is like Alice in the fairy tale Alice in Wonderland. In a conversation between her and the Cheshire Cat, Alice asked, “Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” said the cat. “I don’t much care where,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the cat.
So why was Moses there; what was his purpose; what was his goal? God had created Moses specifically for the assignment He called him to do. Moses was raised and trained in Pharaoh’s house. Some scholars believe that Moses was actually in line to be the next Pharaoh when he ran for his live. God sent Moses to the desert for 40 years to sift him, mold him, and make him into the man God could use. God had to knock off some of that pride of being raised in a palace.
Do you ever wonder why you have those dry spells in your life when nothing seems to go right? Maybe you are the backside of the spiritual desert. God is readying you for future service, if only you will trust in Him. God wants you humble to the extent that you will cry, “Lord, I will do whatever you call me to do. I will go anywhere; I will do anything.”
Moses spent 40 years in Egypt, another 40 years in the desert, and he had 40 more years left. Moses was 80 years old when God called him to the job that God had designed him to do; to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and to the Promised Land.
No matter how old you are, you ought to understand why you are here. Why are you here as a single person? Why are you here as a married person? Why are you here as a parent? Why are you here at 8, 18, or even 80? You are here as a child of God to bring Him glory; period.
Romans 15:6 says, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We glorify God by “Our Works.” We glorify God by “Our Voices.”
How truly committed are you to the cause of Christ today? Have you drawn a line in the sand and told God I’ll follow you but only to this point? God doesn’t want us to just do the status quo. He wants all of us; every part of our being. After all if you are a Christ-follower, He owns you lock stock and barrel. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Moses was confronted by the God of his forefathers; the God whom his mother told him about. God told him His name; “I Am.” God told Moses who he was in the eyes of God. God told Moses that He would complete the task He was giving him to do. Finally, God revealed to Moses who he was in the grand scheme of history.
This was a call for Moses to commit to something bigger than himself. God is calling us to be committed to something bigger than us. We should always put God’s plan for us before our plans. His plans for our life are so much better than we could ever imagine. We should daily commit our days to Him to do with what He wants; not what we want. What God might have planned for you could be overwhelming at first but He is the One who will be completing the job He is calling you to do.
Take a moment and ask God to show you what you are holding back and for Him to take that today. Take a moment to ask yourself; Who Am I?; To Whom To I Belong?; Why Am I Here? When we settle these questions, then our commitment issue should be determined forever.