Fifth Sunday after Trinity July 12, 1998
16, 496, 403, 408
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
And the Lord said, “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Here ends our text.
In the Name of Jesus Christ, the eternal One, who was present at creation, present on the cross of Calvary, and who is present with us now, Dear Fellow Redeemed,
“Objection overruled!” You’re probably familiar with those words; especially so if you’ve been watching the sensational Simpson trial this week. That phrase, of course, is what a judge says to a lawyer when he gets a little out of line. If a lawyer doesn’t like the direction a witnesses’ testimony is going, he may stand up and offer an objection. It might be that he’s objecting for a very good reason, in which case the judge will sustain his objection. Often, though, the objection is just a way for the lawyer to get around a piece of testimony that might prove difficult or embarrassing for him. That’s when you hear the judge say sternly, “Objection overruled!”
In our text for today, Moses is given an assignment by God. It’s a big one: God has chosen him to lead the Israelite people out of Egypt, and guide them to the promised land of Canaan. Of course, it’s a tremendous honor. At the same time, though, it’s a huge responsibility—and Moses isn’t sure at all that he wants it! So he raises a few objections. And these objections are interesting, because they’re some of the same reasons we’re tempted to give when we want to duck our responsibilities as Christians. But, as the Holy Spirit shows us in our text, those objections just don’t hold water. Our theme is…
This whole account reminds me of what happened to the prophet Jonah. Do you remember? Somebody had to go preach repentance to the wicked people of Nineveh. God didn’t ask for volunteers—He sent Jonah. But Jonah objected to the assignment, so he got on the first ship that was heading in the opposite direction. Well, God often overrules our objections in a very direct way, as Jonah found out. He had three days and three nights to—reconsider his objections in the belly of the great fish!
After the people of Israel had served as slaves to the Egyptians for many years, the Lord decided to deliver them from slavery and bring them to the promised land. Well, somebody had to be the leader—If any of the Israelites themselves had asked Moses to do it, he’d have undoubtedly objected, “It’s not MY job!” But it wasn’t a human being who gave Moses this assignment—it was God Himself. The Lord said, “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” So really, Moses' first objection was answered even before he could raise it. It WAS his job! God gave him a direct command—This is your responsibility, this is what you will do.
When I was working as a motel clerk in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, there was a list on the wall of ten things we were never supposed to say to a customer. Number One was, “That’s not my job.” Every good businessman knows that rule—but it’s funny how few Christians know it! It’s amazing to me how many believers think that their only God-given duties are to come to church on Sunday, and live a relatively honest life the rest of the time. As a Christian, you’ve got other assignments as well. God has called you to be a missionary for the Gospel—you, personally, have the assignment of spreading the Good News about Jesus to people who haven’t heard it yet. “Not my job,” you say? Then who was Jesus talking to when He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” Mt 28:20. You Christian parents—the responsibility of leading your children to Jesus lies primarily with you, not with the pastor or the Sunday School teachers. Paul said, “You, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Eph 6:4.
And there are other responsibilities—supporting the work of the Gospel with your money; supporting this congregation’s current project of building a house of worship; using the talents God has given you in His service; sharing your faith with the other believers in this congregation—and yes, rebuking and correcting your fellow believers when they fall into sin—Don’t say, “It’s not my job.” That objection is overruled! If you are a Christian, then God has made it your job. He’s given you an assignment that’s just as direct and specific as Moses’ assignment to lead the Israelites out of Egypt!
In our text, Moses raised another objection. Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” “Lord, I’m all by myself.” I’m just little old Moses! How do you expect me to take on a job as big as this single-handed?
Well, we can understand the way Moses felt. The task ahead of him seemed enormous, but it was no more enormous than the Christian calling in our world of the 90’s. How can I, as a Christian, hang on to the truths of the Bible and live according to them, when the whole rest of our society is pulling me in the opposite direction? And it’s not just society, either. Even churches are moving away from God’s Word. Practically every other denomination is pushing for compromise—giving up a doctrine here, a doctrine there, for the sake of outward unity—And here we are in DuPont, Washington. Do you really think that our little church tucked back in here can stand firm in God’s truth?
Like Moses, we might start to think that we’re all by ourselves, and that we’re vastly outnumbered. And, like Moses, we’d be wrong! God told him, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” All by yourself? Certainly not, says God, I will be with you! Objection overruled!
In Geneva, Switzerland, there stands a monument to the Reformation. On that monument is a plaque inscribed with the simple sentence, “One person, with God, is a majority.” It’s a good way to remember the Reformation, isn’t it? Martin Luther was only one Christian, sinful like the rest of us. But he stood against the Pope and the whole of corrupt Roman Catholicism when he said that salvation comes to us alone by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. His courageous stand for the truth of the Gospel turned all of Europe inside out, and the world hasn’t been same since.
You are not by yourself. One person, with God, is a majority. As a confessing Christian, you may draw fire from the people around you. You may face obstacles as forbidding as the Red Sea was to Moses and the Israelites on their way out of Egypt. But God promises you the same blessing He promised Moses: “I will be with you.” In Isaiah, the Lord tells you, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” Isa 43:2.
But Moses had another objection. He foresaw a certain problem that might come up when he went to take over the reins of his new office. “Indeed,” he told the Lord, “when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” You’d understand the problem Moses was up against if you knew how many gods they had in Egypt. They worshipped Ra, the sun god; Osiris, the god of the dead; Amon, the supreme god of the universe; and all kinds of other major and minor deities to boot. There were so many gods, so many religions— It was all very confusing! What was Moses supposed to say when the Israelites asked which god had sent him to be their leader? “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”’”
Moses’ objection was based on a false assumption—that there are many different gods, of which Jehovah was only one. Objection overruled! There are not many different gods, the Lord told him, there is only one God. I AM that God! I’m the only God that IS, that truly exists. All other so-called “gods” are manmade and imaginary. They are idols. Men can fall down and worship them all they want; they have no power to help, because they simply don’t exist.
You and I still worship that one true God today. And we still meet the opposition of people who think it’s too narrow-minded to say that ours is the only God, and that no other God exists. We still hear the objection from people, “Well, just because we’re different religions doesn’t mean we can’t agree. After all, there are many different roads to the same God.” But that’s not true. Any god that isn’t the triune God of Scripture is no God at all. Any god that doesn’t include Jesus Christ is an idol, and idolatry leads not to heaven, but to hell. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by Me.” Jesus Christ is this same, eternal Jehovah—the I AM God who identified Himself to Moses there at the burning bush.
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