Being a Christian is like being a Ninja, its not what you know but what you can do that counts. This principle is so important for us who live in the technological age of information. Today you can listen to sermons from the best preachers worldwide instantly, two at a time if you want – podcasts, vodcast, live streaming and DVD! However, the down side to this rapid information system is that information must be put into practice before it can bring transformation, it must be applied to our lives, digested and sometimes grappled with. Most of us receive so much information and at such a rapid rate that we are unable to consider it deeply, practice it and master it. Moses finds himself in a similar place in the Exodus story.
1. Saved by Grace for works of service
1 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket[a] for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,[b] saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
Moses was raised up to be a mighty leader. All this is made possible because God is weaving the story of Moses’ life together with his redemptive plan for Israel. Before Moses had done anything good or bad God had saved Moses and set him apart for a specific work.
In the same way you and I are saved by grace through faith. Hallelujah! He has done it all. He lived a perfect life and gave it up for you and me.
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourself it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
But then the very next verse he adds:
For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
In other words because God has done it all, because he sent Jesus, because he gave up everything for you, out of a thankful heart, go and do good works. You are not saved by what you do, Moses wasn’t saved by what he did, he was saved by grace. But some will say immediately, “But I’m not a Moses. Moses was righteous and holy and I am not”. But was Moses saved because he was good? No. He was murder and he lived a double life. But God had saved him by grace. Was Noah a good guy? No, he was the guy who got drunk and passed out naked in front of his kids. Was David a good guy? No, he was an adulterer, murderer and a bad father. Was Paul, the guy who wrote the verse we just read a good guy? No, ‘of sinners the worst’. But all of these people understood that it is God’s grace that saves. We are saved by grace through faith so that we may fulfill a certain function in God’s plan. What has God laid on your heart to do? (Eph. 2:10) What has he created you to do?
2. Works Matter
1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7 The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Moses had become a Shepard. He decided to follow God, he tried to be a hero in his own strength without a commission from God and ended up murdering someone, he got rejected by his own people, he fled to the dessert and spent the next couple of years looking after sheep. That’s not a great job if you’re wondering. Sheep are not very engaging animals. But all of a sudden God calls him to lead this exceedingly numerous people out of Egypt. And Moses’ response is ‘what me? No, you have the wrong guy, I’m not good enough, I don’t speak well, I’m not very confident, choose someone else’. The rest of the chapter Moses complains to God saying the people wont believe me, please send someone else.
Perhaps you feel like Moses, you tried to do something for God once before and it didn’t work for you. Consider this; each and every one of us has been created in a specific way, in a unique way, designed in a very special way to fulfill a function that only you can fulfill. Do you know that no one else can do what you are created to do? And this is not just a once off work, this is what God has for you this year, and this week, and this day. Every day, a whole life of service he prepared in advance for you. It doesn’t matter if you have had a bad experience in the past. Perhaps you tried to do something good for God and you failed. You are still important to him and not just a number. No, he formed you in your mother’s womb and he has called you by name. Your personality, your character, the funny piece of hair that doesn’t go down no matter how much you GHD it, your passions, it all matters very much to God. You were created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared.
And it’s so important to God that each and every single person who has ever lived will appear before the judgment seat of God and you and I will kneel there along with Moses and give an account for what we have done. Don’t bury your talents for God will expect an account (Romans 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10)
This judgment is the second judgment. Not for unbelievers, but for believers. He will replay our entire lives before us and question us about our actions. What will that be like for you? Change must start at home. However we will only achieve what God has for us if we start at home.
3. It starts at Home
Mosses married a non Israelite; Zipporah a Midian. And in Exodus 4 God sends Moses to Pharaoh to tell him to release the Israelites. Moses eventually obeys God, after getting over all his insecurities and he goes to Pharaoh and on his way something very strange happens.
At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses[b] and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it.[c] “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
Moses started to understand that he had a purpose and a great destiny, a great work of God awaited him, but he forgot that this thing starts at home. And God is about to kill Moses because Moses has been rebellious. It’s clear that Zipporah doesn’t want their son to be circumcised. Moses not wanting to make the Mrs Mosses unhappy doesn’t circumcise his son. They all knew that God said circumcise every male as an external sign of the covenant. Which explains why when Moses is about to die, Zipporrah gets a knife and circumcises their son and angrily says to Mosses ‘you bridegroom of blood’. And God doesn’t punish Moses.
Moses wanted to be something publically that he wasn’t privately. Moses didn’t want to upset people at home. ‘I don’t want to cause a stir. I’m not going to change things, surely it’s not that big a deal, it’s circumcision after all’ he must have thought. ‘What’s the point anyway?’ ‘I’m not hurting anybody.’
That is Pharisaic. That’s what Jesus came to challenge. What happens in public must be consistent with what happens in private, otherwise it’s fake. Moses is leading a double life and this makes growth impossible. Because you only truly know something when you are doing it. Doing good deeds is not for God’s good, it’s for my good. God is sovereign and he doesn’t need me, but he wants what is best for me. Jesus said that if you only listen but never do you fool yourself into thinking you are strong, when in fact you have a failed foundation. Its like building your house on sand, it’s a matter of time before you crash (Matthew 7:24). Its only when we do what God has for us to do that we truly learn, everything up until that point is speculation.
4. Where’s your heart?
Ultimately it is not the works, it is the heart that God is after. Said another way it is not only what you are doing or not doing but it’s the reason/ motivation behind the action. I believe this experience with God changes the heart of Moses:
Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
At the beginning of the story Moses doesn’t have the heart to speak to the people, he complains to God what if they don’t believe me (4:1), oh send someone else, I tried and it didn’t work for me. But Now he leads courageously from the heart and he gathers them together and leads them in worship. He has the right heart for ministry now. Listen to what Paul says in 1 Cor 3:10.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
1 Corinthians 3:10
Paul says that our works will be tested with fire to reveal the quality or the heart behind it. When we appear before the judgment seat, during that conversation with our Lord Jesus he will test our works by fire.
Terry Virgo explains it best something like this…So the widow who gave all she had albeit a few cents to the church, her cents will be thrown onto the altar and the fire will come and consume her sacrifice, after the smoke settles, Jesus will look at what’s left. Wow, gold, pure solid gold weighty gold. Then the rich man will come who gave R10 000 to the church will place his sacrifice on the alter, and the fire will consume it and Jesus will check to see what left… wow ash, your sacrifice was straw and stubble. And they will receive their rewards for their sacrifices. But how? The rich man wants to know. She gave less and her reward is so great? You cannot compare works. Its about obedience to what God places in your heart. This day, this week, this year. And your sacrifice is not gone unnoticed. This is about the heart friends. Many religious people do lots of big public good things but they do it with the wrong motives. If your motives are wrong, ungodly, all we have given is straw and stubble. Paul goes on:
15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
It’s not the size of your sacrifice, it’s the quality of your heart. We cannot compare ourselves to others. The Day, when Jesus returns will bring incredible vindication to some. Many people silently without any public praise struggle and fight for righteousness. The single mom’s who keep praying, the young man who severs his internet connection to keep away from temptation, the old ladies who keep praying for revival in their churches. They have stored up great reward in heaven, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20) and “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12). What is stirring in your heart?