Parish Church - Scotland
Parish Church - Scotland
Exodus 4: 1-17
1 Corinthians 2: 3-13
Yes, but... Words that are said during dialogues, to us and by us, when a point is made; when we're trying to convince someone, but also, unknown to others of course, when we're having a dialogue with ourselves, quietly, not heard by anyone else, at times when our hidden conflicts play up.our dilemmas. In our Old Testament passage, it's Moses who says, 'Yes, but'...to God.
Why? What's going on here? Resistance...that's what's going on here. A dialogue between God and Moses and Moses is not happy with what God says to him. The story of the baby boy Moses in the basket, is known by many, by people who believe in Moses's God and who don't believe in Him. The baby boy Moses didn't drown in the water, from which that vulnerable child was separated, only by the thin wall of the basket. No, the baby was saved by the daughter of the person who wanted to kill this baby, with all the other babies that were killed.
And now, we have come to the point in Moses's life, where it becomes clear, why he had been saved. The until then hidden purpose..., God's purpose is revealed to Moses, and through Moses to us, as we are drawn into the conversation that Moses and God are having.
Presenting Himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, God tells Moses to go back to Egypt, where His people are suffering from the agony of oppression. 'You, Moses, are going to lead them away from that oppression. You are going to be their leader.'
So, here we have it...that baby boy, that was floating on the water, was saved to save.
To Moses that is not good news. He thinks of himself as a bad choice. He thinks that God is making a bad choice. 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?' Moses says.
God's response is that He Himself will go with him, and He gives Moses a sign. That sign is that right there, where their conversation is taking place, Moses will, together with the people of Israel, worship God. That means that Moses's mission will not fail.
But there is of course the bit between now, the conversation they are having now, and the fulfilment of that promise, then.
And while God has given His own presence as Moses's guarantee now, that guarantee doesn't come with trust in God straightaway. That is not how it works, with trust. Trust needs to grow.and that takes time.
Moses thinks, 'It's all very well to say to the people of Israel, that the God of their fathers has sent me to them.' Then he comes with another question to God, 'What do I say when they ask for Your Name...?
Moses asks God to be more specific. He asks for God's Name. In the Bible the meaning of a person's name is reflected in the person's personality, character, the person's being. So, by asking for God's Name, Moses asks God to reveal His true being.
And what is God's true being? God's true being is His mystery. And you can sense that mystery when God gives His Name, 'Tell them Moses, that My Name is, I am who I am'.
The mystery of God's Name lies in the solid promise that He will be with you...how...? You will find out, when you believe in His promise that He is with you, and will be with you, and then you will see His mysterious ways unfold.emerge.
First things first. And that first thing is...faith.
So, we've had two attempts from Moses to make God see that it's a bad choice, to give the mission of leadership to Moses.
But here he comes again, with a third one.
'Yes, but what if they don't believe me?'
So, Moses has moved from, 'Who am I that I should go?' from his own incapability, his unworthiness..., to asking for God's Name... and now he comes with the issue of unbelief... Moses presents it as the unbelief of the Israelites, but of course...it's Moses' own unbelief; his own lack of faith. But he lets it appear as Israel's lack of faith.
That is what Moses is doing... But not just Moses... It's what people do, when they are afraid.That is what fear does to people.It triggers distancing. distancing from what is feared...Distancing from God-given purposes.
God thinks..., and comes back to Moses's first question. "You say, Moses, 'Who am I that I should go.?' as if you have nothing..., but what is that, what do you have in your hand? A staff. A simple piece of wood that you can hold on to, on difficult journeys... Just a piece of wood, that can bend but doesn't break, to lean on. If that piece of wood can function in that way, what about yourself then, Moses? Is there life, a beating heart in you, that can be used? Throw the staff on the ground...'
When Moses does, the staff becomes a snake. You see, it's dangerous to let go of your staff, you shouldn't, so run... 'Moses, put out your hand, and take it by its tail'. Its tail! Well, if you want to die, then the tail of a snake is exactly where you need to pick it up.
Yes, but...this is an exercise in trusting God. And when Moses does pick up the snake by its tail; when he lets that what God wants be stronger than his fear, the snake becomes his staff again.
Then another exercise. God wants Moses to do something, again, with his hand.This time He says, 'Put your hand inside your cloak'. Moses does and when he takes it out, the hand has become leprous, white as snow. 'Put your hand back inside your cloak, Moses'. When he does and takes it out, his hand is healed. 'Pull up your sleeves Moses. If they don't believe you, give them these signs, and if they still don't believe you, if they still don't believe these signs, take some water from the Nile, pour it on the dry ground and it will turn into blood.
So while God gives to Moses, in addition to the guarantee that He will be with him, these signs, and so equips Moses to do what He has to do...Moses keeps resisting, keeps trying to get rid of the God-given purpose...keeps coming with excuses..
As people do..., as we do when God puts His finger on the dilemmas, on the conflicts, the struggles within ourselves.to make us move...move towards Him, turn to Him, in trust.
Is Moses convinced?
No, now he comes with his inability to speak...He says that he is slow of speech and of tongue...he's not eloquent.
'Moses', God says, 'There's nothing wrong with your mouth. I gave you the mouth that you have, and I will be with your mouth, and will let you know, what to say, so go.'
But Moses says, 'Please send someone else...'
Now God's had it with all the excuses. He now gets angry with Mr Resistance. 'Aaron, your brother speaks well, he will speak for you, I will be with both your mouths and will teach you both what to do.Take your staff, with which you will do the signs, and go.
End of the dialogue. End of the stream of excuses, with which Moses resisted God. There was place for all Moses's refusals; for the excuses Moses came up with. Each one had been taken seriously by God and had been addressed by Him.
There is time and understanding from God for our hesitation, our opposition...He does address, in His way, all the things that come with our fear, just as He did with Moses...
However, it is also Him who determines when the conflicts, prolongation, procrastination come to an end.when the fear within us gets weakened, releasing the strength within us, given by God, to do what we have to do.
So, just as Moses, after dragging his feet; after the difficult dialogue with God, difficult for both Moses and God.
Just as Moses is told by God to take what he has been given by God Himself: the guarantee of God's presence, the things with which He has equipped Moses.and you, the mouth with which Moses and you will say what needs to be said... you too, are told by God...'Take what I have given you, and use it, with Me, for the purpose that I have for you...'