Moses- Riches & Rags
Today I want to take a fresh look at the life of one of the most challenging of all Biblical Characters, I want us to look at Moses and what God did with the man. In this sermon which I have entitled Moses, – Riches & Rags I want to focus on the several changes and challenges through which he was called to pass, and I know that there are valuable lessons for us all to learn from this Princely figure.
First of all let us begin by reading a few verses from Exodus 3:
(1) “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
(2) And the angel of the LORD appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
(3) And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
(4) And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
(5) And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”
Our introduction here to this one time Egyptian Prince is
that he was now keeping someone else’s sheep. This man who was destined to overthrow the Egyptian empire, who was going to lead 1½ million people into freedom, was now shovelling sheep dung. Remember though that we should “Despise not the day of small beginnings.” We know from the previous chapters in the book of Exodus that God had put Moses in a pretty
cushy situation. While the rest of the Hebrew people were trying to make bricks out of straw in the heat of the midday sun, Moses was living it up in the Palace. The Pharaohs daughter had taken pity on him, saved his life and was treating him as her own. We can imagine him studying the Egyptian empire and its superior and powerful intellectual ability – and I believe that we may justifiably conclude that Moses was fairly happy in
that situation – until God stirred it all up.
Like the Eagle who stirs her nest and makes it uncomfortable for the young Eaglets when it is time to fly, so too God sometimes stir your life or mine when he wants us to go higher in his plans and purposes. God may be moving you from where God used to be to where God is calling you to be now. Once a purpose in a place has been completed God may move you on. You need to have the liquidity of thought to transition yourself from where you once saw your future to where God wants your future to be now. In this Christian life we need to learn to hold tightly onto nothing – but to God himself.
The tragedy with some people is that they cannot see you as any differently beyond what you always were; but even more tragic is when you cannot imagine yourself as growing and maturing and moving up to a higher place in God.
What happens when thorns are coming up and the place you once lived in looks differently, you are no longer comfortable. Everything is no longer “rosy” – now thorns and thistles are coming up. Moses’ thorns and thistles were the murdering of an Egyptian man, and his people knowing it and talking about it and not letting him forget what he did.
Sometimes you have no option but to live with what you did all your life. So Moses has to flee from what he did. He had to leave the past, the palace, the marble floors and the golden columns. Leave behind the servants who bathed him, taught him and fed him … all that shuts down and he escapes into the desert, a dry barren place … yet while running from his
past he runs into his purpose.
While escaping from his past he runs into a new identity. He has an epiphany, an awakening into a new understanding of who he was and where he was going. Everything in his life changes in one moment of time. All of a sudden he does not know for sure who he really is, because his identity has always been a problem. He was a Hebrew raised with the Egyptians, yet he was too Egyptian to be a Hebrew and too Hebrew to be
an Egyptian. Is there any of you listening today who feel you don’t fit in anywhere?
Am I preaching to any “misfits” today? Moses had settled into that kind of palace lifestyle and no one was questioning his legitimate place there, but somehow he did not fit in. But I want to tell you that Moses being a misfit was all part of Gods plan. God may still want some misfits today who fit nowhere, but into HIS purposes. No Pastor or Priest wants you, no Church or Congregation want you, none of your neighbours want you, none of your friends want you, none of your family want you, but God wants you. You fit nowhere but with God.
Am I talking to you?
Now Bad has gotten worse, although he did not fit in there, although he had some identity issues, although he did not always fit in, at least back in the Palace he was fed, they did his
laundry, they kept him warm, they put shoes on his feet and clothes on his back. Be careful that you’re not always complaining about Bad – for sometimes Bad can get Worse!
Has life ever put you in a new or strange place and you didn’t know how to function there, and what was complicated then became a crises. Think about it: Moses doesn’t know how to survive desert life. He knows only the comforts and luxuries of Palace living. He knows nothing about survival in the jungle, of what plants or herbs you can eat and what are poisonous that you can‘t? He has not learned how to suck water from a cactus? Now he was in the desert and God would keep him there for 40 years.
This was a man who had money, fine jewellery, beautiful clothes and robes and a multitude of things what are no use to him now. To add to his dilemma, he meets Jethro who wants him to work with the sheep and lambs. WORK? What’s that? He didn’t work, others worked for him, he didn’t read he was read to; – his training in science and philosophy was of no use to him now. But THIS is not THAT so if you are going to survive in THIS you have to give up THAT and start learning, you must become a student again. Just because you were successful over there, does not make you a star over here.
Any time that you step into a new arena with God you have to humble yourself and become a student again. Here he is the prince of Egypt being asked to shovel sheep dung. It would be a test of Pride … can you do what you’ve got to do where the Lord had placed you today, so that you can move up one level tomorrow to the next? Oh and incidentally – if you don’t pass the test this time, you may have to do it over and over again as
Moses had to for the next 40 years. He was going to be in a schoolroom for 40 years …. Talk about learning difficulties?
I expect the Devil must have been asking him “Where is your God now”? all you are going through is desert survival techniques. You Moses are to be called the King of the Sheep? Every so often you will go through a period in your life when you are feeling like you are living beneath your privileges, living below the abilities and gifts you possess, living without any real recognition, and if you are not careful and prayerful you may see yourself as a Failure. Now Moses has an epiphany. Without any expectation of change, He just walks up on it, it just blew his mind. Let me remind you that God is a master of “suddenly”! Sometimes your life will suddenly take a turn for the better, it won’t be any gradual process, but suddenly out of nowhere, one phone call, one meeting, one person, everything about the next stage of your life will change so you need to be ready.
Moses has been walking and working through this desert now for 40 years, and at 80 years of age, he finally gets to figure out who he is. 80 years of identity crisis; 80 years of not being secure and not being sure; 80 years of uncertainty, and not quite fitting in. He couldn’t bond with the Midianites, the Hebrews or the Egyptians, he was acquainted with all but connected to none. God comes down to a personal encounter with this misfit.
If you’re one of those listening today, you need to understand that God never intended you to fit. If you would fit in, you cannot easily leave or move on. As long as the eaglet fits comfortably in the nest it will never fly, and wait all day every day on its Mother feeding it. Its time to walk on, move on.
God says “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”
(Psalm 37:23) and it may be time now to take a new step… so Moses sees the bush.
If I expose you to something and you keep on walking its not for you. But once you are exposed to something that is for you and it draws you – then its for you. Even if you tried to walk away from it, something will make you turn aside to see. Listen to what the text says.
“And when the LORD saw that Moses turned aside to see, God called unto him …”
God did not speak to him when he saw or was exposed to the bush, but when the Lord saw that Moses was attracted to what he was exposed to – then God could speak to him, when he turned aside. Do you want Gods will and way bad enough to turn aside and look at it again.
Moses knew that some kind of way his destiny was tied to this bush. Like Moses you too will discover that Your Destiny is in the FIRE. If you run from the fire you will run from your destiny. It’s in the fire, it’s in the storm, it’s in the fight and in the problems. Once he turned aside, then God called unto him MOSES. Have you got something calling you that you don’t understand, pulling at you that you cannot put your finger on, and challenging you. If its something you can’t ignore, then don’t ignore!
Notice what God says to Moses from the Bush.
“… put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”
I can just hear Moses respond …
I’ve been standing on this ground for 40 years. What’s holy about it, it wasn’t holy yesterday, it wasn’t holy last week or last
Month – what makes it holy now? God was saying “Its holy because I’m here” What I want to try to help you understand today is that – every place, every stage of your life is holy because God was in it. You may never have recognised that God was in your days and your ways, but he was. So why are you worshipping and waiting at the last stage, why are you not discovering God in this present stage of the life you are in now, rather than wishing for the stage you were once in, or waiting for the stage you are going to be in, why are you not happy with where you are? This is HOLY ground.
Now it did not look like holy ground, it was full of roots and weeds, thorns and thistles, snakes and sheep dung, how was this holy? But God had said: “Take off your shoes!” There may be little about your journey to date that looks anything like HOLY, in fact it may look more Hellish than Holy. But if you curse the way God has led you, you will not reach the places he is taking you to.
Now God was showing him why he took him the way he took him, why he walked such a difficult and dark path, and its helpful for you and I to ponder these things too. I hear God say to “Moses – 40 years ago, You were trying to lead the children of Israel somewhere you had not been to yourself. Yet I let you go to and though the wilderness first so that now when you get ready to lead others, you will have credibility through the things you have suffered – that you can help them. I allowed you to suffer and scrimp and save and struggle and cry and do without and make it on a shoe string. It never meant that I wasn’t going to bless you- it meant that I was going to help you to be able to say to others, that the same God that brought me out of MY situation will bring you out. Its not wasted, none of it is wasted .
You see dear Friend, what you went though – how you suffered, lay in that hospital bed, was wheeled about in that awful chair, cried yourself to sleep, suffered injustice, went through a divorce, raised your children by yourself, were lied about, were misrepresented, lost your business lost your investments, had to work two jobs, but its not wasted. None of it is wasted. Its all Holy Ground. Glory to God.
Like many of you listening today, I grew up not knowing that we were poor. Unlike most, we had a business, and a farm. But we had many, too many who owed us money and still do. So some days we had jam sandwiches, and nothing else. Yet there were others who had even less. It wasn’t good and I’m happy to have left those days behind, but it was part of a greater plan for which I can thank God now – and its not wasted.
God has a way of taking all those disconnected pieces of life that make no sense and they look like delays but nothing that you went through will be wasted. Like Moses discovered, both Rags and Riches are only instruments in the Hands of God to fulfil his purposes. You are not lying on a bed, or sitting in a chair to waste or pass your time. Not one tear that you’ve shed; Not one soul who left you or walked out on you, can impoverish you. No affliction can separate you from the Love of God in Christ Jesus – for you its only a Problem, to God its all a Plan! A plan to get you ready for what God is about to do in your life now.
So God says to Moses:
“Go and tell the Pharaoh, to let my people go” Moses was the only Man that God could use who spoke the language of the Palace, knew the protocol, the procedures and the correct channels through which one had to pass in order to speak
directly with any authority to the Pharaoh. Now, and not any earlier, He knew what it was like to serve so that he could relate to the Hebrew’s in a way that he could not do before. Moses with his brother Aaron goes in and boldly declares Gods Command; but the Pharaoh sends for his magicians who throw their rods downs and they immediately turned into snakes. This surely would frighten off the men of God. But not now! Moses says that’s nothing and Aaron threw his rod down and it turned into an even greater snake which devoured all the rest right in front of the Pharaoh. Exod 7:12
Can you see that Moses had to have been in the desert to have learned that. You only learn some things in hardship and struggle. You learned how to do that when you were working 2 jobs, or raising your children alone, or rotating your car tyres when you did not have the cash to replace them To make 2 potatoes last a week because you had no money to buy more. You learned the lessons in the “fire” for the destiny is in the fire”. You may have had riches and you now have rags but there are lessons in both as Moses had discovered.
Moses was able to bring them out because he had been out! You cannot bring people where you have not been. I cannot lead you to a place I am wishing for, we are just two wishers, – but if one has been there before, they may take another there. In the desert Moses could say “don’t drink that water it’s bitter” How do you know that …“I’ve been here before“. He could say “Wrap up warm, its going to be a cold night“. How do you know. “I’ve been here before“. Or when asked: “Moses I’ve been bitten by a snake what will I do?“ Moses knew about things that no other man alive could know about – and so do you for there is no other alive just like you or just like me. Nothing that Moses had been through was wasted.
Was it Cambridge or Oxford, Queens or Harvard or Yale, NO – but from the university of the Sheep Dung with a major in Survival and a minor in Miracles he was now prepared to lead the Children of Israel because it was all practise and preparation for this God assigned destiny. Because “Moses led the sheep in the wilderness” he could “lead Gods people through the wilderness.”
The next dimension of your life and mine, is not a new dimension – it’s a higher dimension. Now you know what Romans 8:28 “All things work together for Good” is all about. God does not wait till he crowned you when he called you. He’s been preparing you for what you are about to do all of your life. And nothing that you’ve been through shall be wasted.
The Rags and the Riches are all in His hand, all in his plan.
He broke your arrogance through your weakness, humbled you in the wilderness so that he could exult you in the city, and so that you would not be arrogant in the high place, and so that you would remember that it was God who has done it. What you thought was a battle was only a training exercise.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
When their Brother Lazarus died, Mary & Martha complained to Jesus saying “Lord if you had been here our Brother would not have died” John 11:21 But Jesus needed him to die so that Divine strength could be made perfect in Human weakness. Jesus too has waited for your bad to get worse so that there would be no doubt whatever as to who brought you out of your pain and into your palace, out of your desert and into your destiny. May Almighty God himself write these precious things on all our hearts for ever.
God Bless You. Amen