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*Listening to the Voice of God*
*Exodus 3:1-4:17 February 7, 1999*
My great grandfather was hard of hearing, or so it was supposed.
He was well into his 80’s as I remember him growing up as a young child.
His name was John Will Glover.
If I could have thrown in another middle name before the “Will”, it would have been “Iron”.
He migrated west after the Civil War and homesteaded the farm I grew up on.
He had quite a reputation as a horse trader.
He lost that place, Cedar Grove Stock Farm, during the depression, but was able to keep another farm he had purchased nearby.
My father told me lots of stories about his determination.
By the time I knew him, he had retired to a house in the little hometown of Lawton where I went to school.
Many times he would watch my brother and I after school.
Our family even lived next door for a year or two.
When my brother or I would talk to him directly, we would have to yell or repeat what we said several times.
But when my brother and I were planning mischief, grandpa could hear through walls.
It made me wonder if he really wanted to hear what I would say to him.
But then, on the other hand, I wonder if grandpa thought we didn’t want to hear what he had to say because we seldom minded very well.
Listening is a two-way street observed by following signs.
There are many mitigating human circumstances, but we can generally tell how well someone is listening by observing how well they pay attention or respond to what we are saying.
Listening is an art that can be developed.
Listening to God is an art that must be developed.
God had to prepare Moses about how to listen if he was to be used by God to deliver his people, Israel.
In 2:11, Moses began a search for his identity.
Notice he was now 40 years old (Acts 7:23) by the time the Bible calls him “grown up”.
Now, perhaps he had been grown up for awhile, but it is interesting that he is now 40 years old before he steps over the line in identifying with his people.
This middle age seems to be a common time when most of us begin to take stock of our lives.
We wonder just where the time has gone.
We wonder just where it is that we are going.
We begin to look back and see patterns that weren’t clear when we were younger.
We have a desperate need to confirm our identity that is now in a crisis state.
Moses knew he wasn’t Egyptian.
The blood of the covenant was in his veins.
It must now become his by personal experience – like his fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob experienced before they could be used by God.
Now perhaps Moses, schooled in Pharaoh’s court, thought himself the ruler type.
He had taken zealous vengeance on the Egyptian slave driver, but when he tries to lord his advice over his own people in 2:14, he is unaccepted.
Not only was his crime observed by his own people, but his own people whom he was trying to identify with didn’t want to identify with him and probably tattled on him as he feared.
His fear was justified since we are told that Pharaoh tried to kill Moses.
Sin does find us out, and wrong methods hardly ever work for very long.
His fear drove him into the schoolhouse of God’s desert for the next 40 years.
This was a necessary action on God’s part because the enslaved Israelites were not yet in enough pain to accept God’s deliverance, and Moses was not yet focused enough on God to be used by God to do it.
God is not slow as some count slowness (2Pet.
Have you ever noticed God is not in a hurry?
We are the ones who are always in a hurry but slow in learning to listen.
Both Moses and the Israelites had to come to grips with their identity crisis.
They had to learn to listen.
And the flip side of listening is obeying.
Those next 40 years saw the death of the Egyptian king, and a great increase in the cry of the Israelites to God about their slavery, and the unique and marvelous preparation of Moses whom God called to deliver them.
The Israelites had to want to leave their slavery instead of being a kept people, but the period of their slavery taught them much about the skills of civilization in preparation for their establishment in the Promised Land - remember they came as shepherds.
And 40 years of herding hungry, thirsty, stubborn and needy sheep helped make Moses the leader he imagined himself to be when he was younger and searching for his identity.
The timeless desert makes one patient.
The harsh desert makes one humble.
Perhaps you also have been made to search the desert for the waters of patience and the winds of humility.
At the age of 80 or so, God began to speak to Moses.
Moses’ responses still revealed the ongoing crisis of identity, but at least he was able to work through it with God’s help now.
Five times, Moses finds excuses and needs additional prompting and persuasion.
But this is after Moses’ curiosity is set on fire.
Imagine – there you are on the far side of the desert.
Perhaps your tongue is on fire for water.
Unknown to you, you have stumbled on to a holy place, the mountain of God.
But he wants to set your soul on fire.
What would you do if you saw a burning bush that was not consumed?
You may think you have become delusional.
You would check it out to see if it was real – to see if you were real.
God wanted Moses to see that he was real.
So did this suitor want his beloved to see that he was real:
*/Title: A Hunk-a Hunk-a Burnin' Bush/*
/I worked my way through Bible college by running a small printing business.
Fellow students provided steady work ordering wedding invitations.
/One day I was surprised when Jill Ann ordered invitations.
She had long maintained that God would have to speak to her out of a burning bush before she would marry.
/ "Why did you finally accept Allen's proposal?"
/ Jill Ann explained that, one day, as she left the dormitory, she saw an old, dead shrub in flames.
From a hiding place nearby, in a slow, deep voice, Allen called, "Jill Ann! Jill Ann!
I want you to marry Allen!" /
/-- John D. Wild, Portland, Ore. Christian Reader, "Rolling Down the Aisle."
This burning bush is quite symbolic.
God manifests himself, but we must have enough desire for the truth to come the rest of the way to him.
How has God revealed himself to you? Have you written him off as an aberration, a fluke, a chance imagination?
Do we want to see his revelation and hear what he has to say? Now notice that when Moses didn’t write it off and went over, God called his name.
Certainly God is a consuming fire.
We are to be consumed with him, but he does not consume us.
We shall be preserved, but there is one stipulation.
The place where we meet God is holy ground – wherever that is.
God deserves better than the dirt of the street and the heel prints of our shoes.
The honor of his appearing demands the light tread of intimate respect.
It is a sole to soul contact with the Almighty.
When God calls, you listen.
When God speaks, you obey.
Moses had to wait until he was 80 years old to hear God.
I think that most of us here have heard him much earlier.
The question is whether we heeded what we heard.
Will we say, “Here I am Lord”?
*/Title: Honoring God for Our Own Sake/*
/We pay God honor and reverence, not for his sake (because he is of himself full of glory to which no creature can add anything), but for our own sake.
/Thomas Aquinas, medieval theologian.
Men of Integrity, Vol.1, no. 1. /
When we obey, God reveals himself further.
He told Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
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