“God turned up” Meditations: 5 : To Moses
Ex 3:1-3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.”
I don’t know if you have realised something very important about God and the way He works? Paul saw it: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Cor 1:27-29) This is exactly the opposite to the way the world works. That is seen day in, day out as people go for interviews and present CV’s that are boosted up to make them look better than the next person. The strongest and the brainiest and the most beautiful is who we choose – but not God; He chooses the weak, the lowly and the despised, and then moves through them to do incredible things.
That, I suggest, is why He chose Moses. Moses is an absolute failure. By strange circumstances he had been brought up in Pharaoh’s palace, a privileged place where he would have received a very superior upbringing. Yet he was still an Israelite and so, when he was forty he was out and about in the country and saw his biological people being mistreated as slaves. He stepped in to help and a man was dead. To cut a long story short the word got out and Pharaoh felt very angry about it and so Moses fled. Eventually he ended up in the desert of Midian, possible a couple of hundred miles away, and there he ends up working as a shepherd for a priest in Midian. For forty years he looks after sheep on the backside of the desert, a nobody, a failure. How are the mighty fallen! One minute a Prince of Egypt, the next a scruffy shepherd in the desert. Year followed year and the past becomes a blurred memory. He is now a nobody, going nowhere, just living out his life. He’s eighty years old. He can’t have much longer to go. No future left, and then God turned up!
So there he is minding his own business in the quiet of the desert and suddenly he sees a nearby bush on fire, except it is not being burned up. It is God getting his attention. So why should the Lord get his attention in this way? Perhaps because He knows that Moses is a nowhere man with such low self-esteem that it will need something quite spectacular to get his attention. There may be other reasons, but we just aren’t told. Moses goes over to the bush and we are told that an angel of the Lord speaks to him from the midst of the flames. There ensues the longest conversation with the Lord recorded in the Bible, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What is the most remarkable thing about all this? It’s as I’ve hinted at above, that God chooses a nobody, a failure, a shepherd with no future. Jesus taught it: “blessed are the poor in spirit for there is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3). You probably can’t get any poorer in spirit that Moses! Are you feeling pretty low, weak, inadequate, a failure? Hmmmm! Sounds like you could be near the top of the list for a visit from the Lord! He’s looking for people like you.
You think you’re rubbish? So did Moses. In a hasty moment he’d thrown away a comfortable, affluent life. Yes, he’d had the best of intentions but that didn’t stop him getting it wrong. There is a sense that it doesn’t mater how we’ve got it wrong in the past. If we are truly sorry about it and are willing to put ourselves totally in God’s hands, we can still have a future that is meaningful and fruitful. If you are feeling strong and self-confident – oh dear! Don’t get me wrong, God doesn’t demand idiots, just willingness to acknowledge that without Him we’re nothing. The apostle Paul was arguably (next to Jesus of course) one of the best brains in the New Testament, but it wasn’t that that made him great. No, it was his willingness to submit to the Lord and let Him do what He will with him. Do you need a crisis to realise your weakness? How much better to just acknowledge your weakness to the Lord, and give yourself over to Him?
Oh, you say, but I’m no use, God couldn’t use me; I couldn’t do the great things that Moses did! Why not; it wasn’t Moses doing the great things; it was the Lord through Him. All Moses had to do was do as God said and then the miracles happened. Time after time, as he led the Children of Israel, he came to the end of himself and fell on his face before the Lord, seeking Him to turn up (see Num 14:5, 16:4,22,45) and act. Oh no, it’s not about how strong I am, but about how strong He is. Of course at the burning bush Moses didn’t realise that. He just thought he was a nobody with no future. In fact he had another forty years of service to go! And you?