Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moshe: Tranfered from Sunday

As we approach Peshach or Passover and Easter, it is a good thing to consider Moshe Rabeinu (1393?-1273? BC), more well known to us westerners as Moses. There is still speculation about the exact years in which he lived. According to the Rabbis, Moses was born and died on the 7th of Adar. Moses lived in Egypt for 40 years, towards the end of which, he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating one of the Habiru (Hebrew) people. Moshe then spent the next forty years taking care of sheep in the desert. The end of this period he has his encounter with the burning bush. His last forty years he spent combating Pharaoh and leading the Hebrews to freedom.

We can look at this in a different way. During Moshe’s first forty years he attempted to save his people through his own efforts. His second forty years were spent learning to depend on God. His last forty years were spent in allowing God to use him to save his people.

Forty is an important number in the Bible. Forty is a number which symbolises trials, temptations and preparations. Moses spends forty years getting to know God in the desert. The children of Israel spend forty years in the desert to prepare to enter the promised land. Yeshua (Jesus) spent forty days in the desert to prepare for his ministry, and of course we have forty days of Lent.

Moses, when he encounters the burning bush approaches to see this strange sight. God instructs him to remove his sandals and come no closer because he is standing on holy ground. Today, the Cohen (Jewish priest) removes his shoes before giving the Aaronic blessing. In both the Coptic and Assyrian churches, the congregation remove their shoes in memory of this verse, and that their church is holy ground. I myself usually remove my shoes before entering the church, or at the least before approaching the alter, in memory of this verse.

Moses does not jump at the opportunity to save his people. Perhaps the memory of the slain Egyptian gives him doubts. Perhaps he did not want to confront the Pharaoh, of whom the Midrash and Talmud suggest grew up with Moses, perhaps he has finally realised that he is not worthy. But God is not concerned with our worthiness. He is concerned with our brokenness and our willingness to be used by him. Moses was a murderer, yet God used him. Samson was a philanderer, yet God used him. You and I are sinners (or were before we accepted Jesus, but now we are saints, we’ll save that for another day). Moses was broken when he fled Egypt, Sampson when his eyes were removed. Are we broken? Have we come to the point that we realise that we are not worthy, nor will we ever be ready for God’s gift of eternal life to us? Do we really appreciate what a wonderful gift this is?

When we are truly broken, and realise that we have no power to help ourselves, nor do those things that God wants us to do, then we are ready to be used by God. “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up.” (James 3:16) His strength and power are truly manifest in our weakness.

But Moshe hesitates. He tells Adonai YHWH that he is slow of speech. (An aside on this, according to the Talmud, Moshe was a very intelligent child, so intelligent in fact that the Pharaoh became worried that Moshe would supplant his son. Pharaoh’s counsellors suggested that they test Moshe by putting a piece of gold and a burning ember in the crib. If Moshe took the gold, they would know there was danger. Moshe began to reach for the gold, but an angel of YHWH (blessed be the name) pushed Moshe’s hand to the ember which he took and put in his mouth burning his tongue). Anyway, the Lord reminds Moshe that it was the Lord YHWH who created Moshe and gave him his mouth, and of course arranges for Aaron to speak for Moshe. The point that we need to take is that if YHWH calls us to do something, he will give us the power to do it. The Lord sent me to Honduras. It took me a year to learn Spanish, but I was preaching in my first week of travel in Mexico. I was sent to the Miskito Coast. In six months the language was learned. Brothers and sisters, this was not me, it was the Lord. When he gives us a job, he gives us the ability to complete it. This is not just a job in missions or ministry. This is in holiness as well. God calls us to be holy as he is holy.

Friends, I am deeply disappointed by seeing all the smokers rush to the door of their church (close by our house) so they can get that cigarette. I am appalled by gluttony that I see in Christian brothers (and myself, but I am in battle, 22 pounds down and 42 to go). I am disgusted that George Barna’s statistics show that Christian youth are more likely to be involved in sex than non-church attendees. Oh Lord, forgive us, have we done such a sorry job teaching our children.

There are two problems. One, we have lost the power of self-discipline. When I was in high school, contraception methods were pretty primitive. The birth control pill had not yet been invented, yet one girl in four years in a class of 900 plus got pregnant. Times they have changed. My first year in a regular public high school, fourteen of about 200 students that I had were pregnant. People tell me times are changed we cannot go back. My response is balderdash. First we need to remember that sex is a gift for use in marriage only. Secondly we need to know that God will give us the power to overcome any sin in our life. Any sin. Sexual sin, addiction, any sin.

When I gave up my snuff, I had been using it fourteen years. The good Lord showed me that it was messing up my witness with the youth group with which I worked. I was reminded on Christian radio that God was bigger than my tobacco habit. I laid my can of tobacco on the altar, asked the Lord to take away my desire and have been free ever since (twenty-three years now).

Brothers and sisters, God is calling you to personal holiness. You know where if you are listening to him. He will give you the power to conquer sin in your life. God is also calling you to work for him. I do not know where, but you do. Have no doubts. God will give you the power. Twenty-two years ago I left Conroe, Texas on my motorcycle with $90.00 in my pocket. About 10 weeks later I arrived in Honduras still with money in my pocket. God had cleared a way for me miraculously to make it all the way to Honduras. A week after I showed up at the Episcopal School in Tela, the teacher had to leave on an emergency trip because her father was dying. It is amazing how God moves.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t argue with God. Don’t tell him you cannot do it. Be like Samuel and tell him, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Tell him, “I cannot do it on my own, but with you at my side all things are possible.

Moshe Rabeinu, (once he got going) displayed faith. Note, before each of those miracles, except the food ones, Moshe had to obey God, and trust God to do the rest. Let us all go out and do the same.

Readings: Exodus 3:1-14

Collect: Yahweh Shabbaoth, you raised up your prophet Moshe to free the Hebrew people and to talk to you face to face. Grant that we freed from our sins by the blood of Yeshuah would know the liberty of truly being your friends and children as Moshe was. This we ask through Yeshua haMoshiach, who lives and reins with you and Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)

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