Pastor Luis continues his study of Moses.
We are continuing our series called Heroes Of Faith. Each time I get to share, we will take a look at the early portion of Moses’ life. I was able to share about two weeks ago. The thing I’ve come to understand about the scriptures that I appreciate is the more we investigate different people or characters that are elevated as Heroes Of Faith, the more we start to discover how imperfect they are. I don’t know about you, but for me, that ends up giving me great comfort. You might think, “Wow, their flaws give you comfort.” That’s a little twisted. What I’ve discovered as we explore the Scriptures, is that what their flaws, weaknesses, and contradictions illuminate is just how gracious God is with those who are open to Him and long to activate their lives with Him. He is extremely patient. He is extremely generous in mercy and love. He’s slow to anger. “He does not snuff out,” Jesus says, “A withering flame.” He doesn’t break a bruised reed. He is incredible with us.
What we start to discover is when we get a sense of what God might be asking us to do for an assignment or task, we tend to pursue it with efficiency as the number one priority. We think speed is the best way. What we come to discover is that God’s timing is radically different. You may have noticed we’re not calling this message, Right Call, Wrong Time. It could also be said Wrong Time, Wrong Method. Much of the time we behave this way. When we have an impulse, especially if we have a conviction that it is right, we think, “Well, clearly then, the time is now to act on it.” It could get a little confusing. I remember when I was young and had started coming to a place of faith with Jesus. I was starting to explore His Scriptures, The Gospels primarily. I remember I was around 16, 17 years old. I was going to a community college locally here in the Bay Area. I was reading through The Gospels. There were these moments in The Gospels that just captured my imagination.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had that? For example, there would be a moment where Jesus would come up to the shore of the sea of Galilee and say two words, “Follow me.” With those two words, grown men, sailors, and fishermen would drop their nets and follow him. Jesus spoke, God called, and they moved on it. I remember thinking what it must have been like. There is no explanation. There’s no, “And here’s what we’re going to do.” No, Jesus would come up and say, “Follow me.” I remember thinking to myself in my youth, “Man, the music must have just started. Angels started thundering the clouds. This is the moment in the movie where everything gets silent and slow motion begins.”
“Follow me.” Those words are deposited within these men, and they said, “Yes.” They dropped their nets. “Peter, where are you going? What are you doing?” “I’m following Him.” That’s how it played out in my mind. At the time, I remember being impacted by this desire to give my life to God and wanting to do something that I thought was way more meaningful than the coursework I was taking at community college. It moved my soul. I remember just feeling, “Man, that’s me. Jesus, you’re talking to me. You’re asking me to follow you. Man, I got to drop my nets.” I was, at the time, going to one of the classes here. We had Bibles intensives and next step things. One of the teachers gave me their number and we were just talking. It was in the middle of the day. I was sitting in the library at school having a tough time. I wanted to get motivated for my schoolwork. I was reading this, and it just hit me, “Follow me.”
I called my teacher. I figured, “Okay, I’m going to draw my nets. I’m going to do this.” I might as well double-check because I’ve felt, “Okay, God’s asking me.” So I called him and said, “Hey, can we connect?” He said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I guess I sounded a little fleshed out. He said, “Let me call you back a little bit.” He called me back and he said, “What’s going on? Are you okay? You all right?” I said, “Yeah, I’m dropping out of school.” He said, “What?” I said, “Well, I think God’s asking me to give Him my life. I don’t have time for this. He wants me to tell others about Him. I have a lot of friends that need to know about Him.” The thing is, I was sincere. You’re thinking, “Why is he the one up on stage? I don’t know if that’s a good idea. That seems a little out there.” The truth is, I was sincere in it. I thought, “Man, I need more time to do what I think God’s asking me to do. I need to drop my nets and go.” My teacher sat there on the phone, I could hear silence. It felt like, “When Jesus said, ‘Follow me,’ they dropped their nets. My nets are my schooling, so I need to walk away from that and do what He’s asking of me. I’m just more just letting you know, not checking in.”
He ended up having a conversation with me that for each word that came out of his mouth, it tempered my zeal. He started to explain some things that I still find myself having to learn. “Listen, just because God is asking you, it doesn’t mean this is the right way. It doesn’t mean this is the right time. That’s not how exactly this always works.” That was in the late ’90s, early 2000s. If that was the case back then, do we understand the cultural pressure we are under? Where speed has become a commodity and a delay of any kind is seen as worse and second class? When we become somewhat awakened in our soul for something, I don’t think I’m alone, but we desire it now, like now.
That’s not too different from Moses’ early life. We explored his early life a little bit. He was adopted into the courts of Pharaoh. He was born in a very troublesome time in Israel’s history. In Acts 7:22 we’re told, “Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. He was mighty in his words and deeds. He was well learned and was also proven militarily.” That’s what that’s telling us. Historians have come to understand that any member of the Royal Court had to prove his ability to be strategic militarily. Moses did that. He was brought up in the Scholastic system of Egypt when it was at the height of the intellectual class of the world. He was trained in the best schools the world had to offer. He was well learned.
We know he was also good with letters or writing because the first five books of the scriptures are attributed to him as the author. So he had training, intellectual capacity, and physical might. He could be strategic. This is what we’re told. Let’s continue with this passage. Stephen is the one who is known as the church’s first martyr. He’s telling us about the early years of Moses. In verse 23, he says “When he was 40 years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers.” When told that the children of Israel were his brothers and seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian.”
Stephen is so succinct with his words. 40 years and he captures it with one sentence. He doesn’t tell us how he was feeling. He doesn’t tell us what was going on with Moses. We do know is that Moses was raised in a foreign home. In the very house of Pharaoh who had ordered his demise. We explored in depth a couple of weeks ago. Moses always knew that his ethnic people were at the very least oppressed, at the worst enslaved. It came into Moses’ heart to want to go see how his people were doing. This is what we’re told. At the age of 40, he decided to go venture out. Stephen says that when he went out, he saw one man oppressing the other, wronging the other. The man that was wronging the other was an Egyptian man. Oppressing a Hebrew man to very different people groups and Moses ends up intervening. We don’t know what occurred, but what we do know is it’s almost as if Moses felt that the injustice he had been accustomed to seeing was too much to bear now.
For whatever reason, this became the moment he decided he was going to act. It says that he ends up defending the oppressed man. He avenged him by striking the Egyptian. It’s Stephen’s way of saying he put him down. We’re told in verse 25 that Moses supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand. But they did not understand. Moses had concluded that he realized his people needed freedom. He concluded that he was the man to provide it and his assignment was to provide freedom for his people. We know he was right. This is the right call, but the wrong time and certainly the wrong method. It ends up coming to light. In verse 26 we’re told, “on the following day, he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’” Here two Hebrew men were quarreling. They were fighting. They were in a heated argument if you will. Moses tries to intervene and he says, “Guys, why are you fighting? Don’t you know you are of the same? You’re the same clan, same people. Don’t do this.”
Verse 27 tells us, “the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler in a judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptians yesterday? Is that the way? Is that your justice? Is that what you’re going to do here? You’re going to kill me just like you did that man. You think nobody noticed?’” We’re told in verse 29 that at this retort, Moses fled and became an exile on the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. Stephen captured an enormous amount of time in Moses’ life with just one sentence. What we know is that Moses had assumed that because this was the conclusion he came to, “God is asking me to be the liberator of my people.” He had the power and the wherewithal. He had the knowledge and the skill that this was the time to act. Some would say in his anger, he behaved, he acted.
What ended up happening is the reverse. What he thought was the beginning of his ascent, was the bottom of his failure. We don’t know what his mental state was when he ran out of Egypt to Median, a nearby land outside of Egypt. We do know he most likely ran with disappointment, misunderstanding, pain, and confusion. He most likely ran with any hope of fulfilling what he senses God had asked him to do. We know this because 40 years later, God would have to convince him kicking and screaming to free his people. This was his assignment. He came to the conclusion and any hopes he had of doing what he sensed he was supposed to do were shattered.
By Moses’ own pen, we get a little bit fuller picture of what this must have been like for him. He writes his own account. If Stephen swats over things, minor details, Moses makes sure they are not forgotten. I find this fascinating and thought it would be good for us to read through this. In Exodus, two were told that one day after Moses grew up, he went out to his people, looked on their burdens, and saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. It’s almost as if Stephen is trying to cover things up a little bit and sanitize it. Moses says, “No, no. Let’s not make any mistake. This was the most terrible thing. There is no voice condoning this. Even in the way Moses looked everywhere. He did it. Then he hid it. Hoping no one would notice. Moses is saying, “Oh, this is my past. I don’t want to hide it. This is it.”
Moses says, “When he went out the next day and beheld two Hebrews struggling together.” He said to the man, “In the wrong, why do you strike your companion?” There was a fight physically. He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” Which is exactly what Stephen said. “Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid. Immediately at that moment, he was afraid and thought, surely this thing is known. It’s almost as if that man was saying to Moses, “You think as you hit him, nobody is aware? Everyone knows. Is that what you’re going to do to me?” Immediately, Moses realizes the reality of his failing, the reality of what he had committed. All of a sudden, he imagined being exposed. At the sense of being petrified, afraid, and paralyzed, he comes to the conclusion that everyone knows.
In verse 15 Pharaoh hears of it. He sought to kill Moses. Moses fled from Pharaoh, stayed in the land of Midian, and sat by a well. In no uncertain terms. Did he sit by that well dejected? Did he sit by that well completely disappointed, filled with anxiety? I think of this and certainly, most of us cannot identify with the degree, gravity, and intensity of what Moses did. We can certainly identify with what it might be like to sit in Midian at a well. Having been convinced this was the right thing to do. This is what I’m supposed to step into and all of a sudden frustration, disappointment, and misunderstandings happen. Things don’t pan out quite the way he wanted. To be at the well would be exactly what Moses thought it was. It was no more. This is the end.
We know Moses ends up going from the Royal courts of Pharaoh, having tremendous wealth, power, acumen, and influence. All of that is set aside. He flees to this land where he becomes a shepherd. 40 years later the story continues. If that well in Midian was the end of the story, that would be nothing but a tragedy and an extremely sad story. It seems as though for Moses, God wasn’t done with him. We know 40 years down the line Moses ends up becoming the man he always thought he was supposed to be. He ends up being the man who indeed delivers his people. He ends up becoming the instrument God uses to set his captive people free. He becomes the patriarch of the birthing of a nation. He moved into a place where they end up defining and identifying Moses as the prophet. The prophet whom they said, “if anyone ever looks like him, then that man will be called Messiah.”
That man will be called Messiah. So high was Moses sent from this bottom of the barrel place that his shadow stretched to the very feet of Jesus. Jesus stepped onto the scene being the true deliver. Moses becomes the author of the most significant literature in history. It truly has impacted worldwide. It is felt. Moses fulfilled a tremendously high calling. There was a time in Moses’ life when it all seemed lost. It all seemed gone. There was a time when he indeed had the right call. He exercised the wrong method at the wrong time. I was thinking of this because there’s much for us to glean, unpack, and consider for our own lives, wherever we might be. Firstly, what does this teach us? What does this remind us of? It shows us that our faith will challenge us to discern our assignment from the Lord. This is something Moses wrestled with. He came to a place of discerning, clarifying what the assignment was. When we speak of assignment, we speak of this word, “calling.” Oftentimes it refers to this idea of having a purpose and a degree of stewardship over our lives. It reflects the understanding that we have been created on purpose, to fulfill a purpose that we uniquely are meant to step into.
The reality of the matter just set some givens aside, is if we ever come to a point of embracing Jesus as the one we call Messiah our savior. Well, the scriptures say, anyone who calls on His name in that way is called or assigned to be an active participant of their local church community. It’s a general given that we are invited, indeed encouraged to serve, and give of our time and energy to the local expression of His body wherever we call home so none of us are immune from that. We go a step further and say some of us get to do that for a living. For most of us, that’s not the case. Many of you say, “What do you do during the week?” That’s a different conversation, but there’s much to do. Many of us get to do that for a living. We think if that’s the case, calling or assignment, it’s for professional Christians. They always have to smile. They’re always nice and kind. You want prayer at any time, you get it. They’re the ones.
The scriptures say, “No, no, we all have an assignment.” We all have something that God has created us to fulfill. Our faith will challenge us to discern ‘what is that? What does that look like? What was that created for?’ Tim Keller who is a pastor and author on the east coast of New York wrote an article that I found very helpful. I illuminated a little bit of what he was saying. He says, “We find our assignment when we find the intersection of three different factors; affinity, ability, and opportunity.” When we discover a place and the question we might want to ask is, where do we have an affinity with a need that exists in the world? Where is there a place in our world, whether it be in our community, church community, workplace, home, neighborhood, or family, where do we see a need that our heart feels burdened? It resonates with it. It gives us a clue as to what our assignment is. We see this, by the way in the profile, we just saw Jay has a tremendous affinity towards a childlike heart. Look at the intersection of that. It’s something that comes alive.
If we ask, where do we have an affinity with a need that exists in the world? Then ask what ability, skills, or challenges do we have? Do we possess it to meet those needs? Where is it that we have in our possession can step into that need? Moses ended up stepping into becoming the leader of a nation, but he was uniquely prepared for it. He had been trained in the highest Scholastic systems of the world for his day. He was trained strategically and militarily. He understood things. He was learned in a variety of different disciplines. What are the abilities, talents, and skills that we need? Let us never diminish what we can contribute to a need. We know God never does.
No ability is too small. If we ask, what are the ability, skills, and talents that we possess to meet that need, then we start to ask, what opportunities do I have in my sphere of influence to do that? We start to penetrate a little deeper into three questions: Where does my heart resonate? What abilities do I have to contribute? What opportunities do I have? The intersection of these three ends up awakening our soul. We start to be able to define. Our faith becomes vibrant and our relationship with God becomes a little bit beyond our world. We start to see that our lives directly impact those around us and that leads to a life living on the edge of our seat. Fully awake, wanting to step in, and grateful. Grateful for God. Thank you, I get to do this.
If that’s the case, we also see that we may discern our assignment or calling if you will. Timing and method are just as important as the assignment we are given. Timing and method are just as important. This is what we see here. We see the reality that Moses in his anger and passion was derailed. Timing is one of those crucial things. We start to ask the question, when do you want me to act? Timing is incredibly important. This shows up the most relationally. We might have an idea of what needs to happen, be discussed, or be addressed. But timing? We are still in the process of learning timing because it’s in the closest relationships where I have discovered this the most. I speak of my marriage. There have been moments, perhaps more often than I’d like, where I may be right, which I think I mostly am, but because I didn’t step into it at the right time, I’m wrong. Certainly, if that’s the case, if the timing is way off and the conversation no longer is about what I thought needed to be, now it becomes about timing. Then the wrong method certainly undermines the right call.
This requires us to learn how to wait on God. It is far more art than science. Psalm 27 opens up declaring that David is finding himself amid uncertainty. He doesn’t know what’s going on around him. He feels threatened. At the end of Psalm 27 is the reassurance of coming into the house of God being inquiring, him being risen to a place of stability. David makes this charge, “Wait for the Lord, be strong in your waiting and let your heart take courage.” He says it again, “Wait for the Lord, wait for the Lord.” There might be times in our lives where we sense something is supposed to, we’re supposed to move into it, or we might see it. It’s frustration or something we are witnessing. It’s getting to a point where we just don’t know what to do. David says, “Okay. Yeah, in that, wait on Him. Don’t take it into your own hands. Wait on Him.” If it asks us to wait, it also questions the method. The method seems to be equally important if not more. We see justice in the hands of Moses becomes injustice. It becomes an act of vengeance filled with anger, passion, and pain. We start to ask the question. God, what is your method? We see justice in the hands of God. Justice in the hands of God looks like the most loving act ever done in human history. Justice looks like all of what is wrong, all of that needs to be penalized, and all that requires justice is laid on the shoulders of the one who is more innocent, pure, and holy than any other that has ever walked among us. God lays on Him the cross, Jesus giving His life sacrificially.
That is the picture of God’s justice. Anyone who would call on His name receives not just rewards, but mercy, grace, and forgiveness flowing from His heart to ours and that translates into our own lives. Being able to extend the forgiveness that we have received. His methods for stepping into something and addressing something are radically different and far more life-giving. Moses also reminds us that if we ever get to a place where we start to wonder why things are being delayed, sometimes the delay of God’s timing leads to the formation of our character. Sometimes it’s because it’s our choice. Moses had to decide how he was going to embrace the next four decades. He didn’t know it. He thought it was the rest of his life, but he ends up moving from a place of extraordinary power and height to a place of he’s taking care of sheep, animals that are defenseless. It’s extremely hard to shepherd. They go their own way constantly and get stuck in things. Sheep are needy and cry a lot. It’s there Moses ends up being formed. Moses didn’t lack skill, ability, or know-how. He had it all. It seems as though God said, ‘You lack character.”
Character is what was formed later when Moses steps back in. He didn’t know it was a possibility. When he steps back in, God said about Moses, “There is not a man more humble than he.” Such depth was created within this man. Such depth can be created within us. When he is allowed to chisel, move, mold, and shape us, the question becomes, “Lord, what are you forming in me in this delay?” One thing we can be assured of is, delay with God is not denial. It’s formation. Delay is not denial. It’s formation. When we get to the place of saying, “Okay, I want what you want. I surrender. Do what you want to do with me. Form my inner man, form my ability to be slow to anger, to be patient, to be loving, to be kind, to be gentle, to be long-suffering, and to endure.” When we get to that place, I want what you want. We position ourselves to be the hero He’s calling us to be.
In a moment the bands come back and we’re going to share in a closing song and have our time of giving. I’d love to t pray and ask for His blessing. Lord, we thank you that you are the author of what is deposited within our soul. That reflects your beauty. That reflects your passion. That reflects all that is good in your heart. I thank you because that means you’re the one who ensures its fruition. It’s coming to pass. We pray that you would help us wait on you. We pray that you would help us discern our assignment. We pray that would help us learn your methods and we pray God that you would form us. You would form us into men and women who are able to live a heroic faith. We ask for this God, we ask for your blessing. We pray for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.