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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Exodus 3:16, 1015; 4:1012comment (0)

November 3, 2011

By Eric Mathis

Related Scripture: Exodus 3:16, 1015; 4:1012


Bible Studies for Life
Instructor of Church Music and Worship Leadership, School of the Arts, Samford University

Accept the Call
Exodus 3:1–6, 10–15; 4:10–12

This month’s Bible study, titled “Make Your Life Count,” is a four-week study centered in the Old Testament story of Moses. We will find perspective on how to make a difference in the world around us. Moses’ life will challenge us to accept the call God has placed on our life, stand for the Lord in all circumstances, respond to difficult situations and adopt the right perspective on the world around us.

This week we consider what it means to have a call from God. Too often, we mistakenly believe only “professional ministers” are called by God and see our vocational calling as insignificant. This week’s lesson encourages us to hear that call upon our lives and depend on God’s power to pursue the tasks He might be asking us to complete.

Encounter God’s Presence (3:1–6)
Moses was the caretaker of his father-in-law’s flock beyond Horeb (1). Though this seems ordinary, we quickly learn this passage’s storyline is anything but ordinary. Moses is characterized as a simple human, but the passage quickly describes unusual things: the appearance of an angel, a bush that is on fire but does not burn and, finally, the voice of the Lord (2–4). These unusual happenings confirm that God’s holiness is not to be taken too casually. When we encounter God’s presence, significant events occur.

Moses’ encounter with the Lord in this passage represents the first time God’s presence is visible in Exodus. Here God’s presence and voice are used to get Moses’ attention. Interestingly God rather than Moses initiates this encounter, and this enforces that God does, in fact, initiate encounters with humanity. Moreover it is God who summons our attention. God calls Moses not once but twice, and Moses responds, “Here I am” (4). God then instructs Moses to be still and remove his shoes, presumably an act of submission to the transforming power of His holiness.  

Finally God provides identification rooted in the Genesis narrative: The God talking to Moses is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (6). Though God’s personality is revealed, Moses cannot look at Him (6). Thus, when we encounter God’s presence, we encounter His holiness, and each of these has the potential to transform our surroundings and lives.

Understand God’s Name (3:10–15)
God grabs Moses’ attention, describes the misery of the Israelites in Egypt and makes a promise to deliver them (7–9). After making the promise, God commands Moses to “Come” (some translations say, “Go”), indicating that His promise also includes human obligation (10). God will work to deliver, but Moses also has a responsibility in His work. However, Moses makes the first of five statements in Exodus 3–4 expressing his disbelief and doubt (11), and God responds, assuring Moses that he will not be alone (12).

While God promises deliverance, Moses expresses his doubt a second time (13). Again God responds, though this time, the response is longer and includes more details. God reveals an identity and tells Moses how to respond to questions from the Israelites (14). God then echoes the Genesis identity given in Exodus 3:6, though this time, it has a futuristic claim that His name will last forever throughout all generations (15).  

Depend on God’s Power (4:10–12)
Moses does not readily trust God’s identity, and we encounter yet another of his excuses. Moses protests that he cannot speak well, and the Lord responds with near agitation this time. Moses is commanded to “Go” in God’s power with the assurance that his actions will actually be God’s actions.  

In spite of his petty excuses and lack of confidence, the identity God revealed eventually becomes enough for Moses to act on His behalf. God’s identity should be enough for any of us to act. Once we understand who God is, we learn to trust that we can trust His presence when we serve in the Lord’s name. More importantly, we are reminded that though we fear our limitations, God always works through our weaknesses to help us fulfill all we are called to do in the Lord’s name.

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