The Calling of Moses
Minister: Revd Dr. Ian Tutton
‘God called to him out of the bush’ (Exodus 3,4b)
“Let me tell you the one thing I have against Moses. He took us forty years into the desert in order to bring us to the one place in the Middle East that has no oil!” (Golda Meir)
A person’s CV tells you a lot about them. Imagine reading this about a prospective employee – Political activist, Firebrand, Rabble-rouser, Urban Terrorist, Murderer, Fugitive from Justice – and yet this is the person God chose; this is Moses. So often we fast forward from the bay in the bulrushes to the encounter at the Burning Bush, yet those intervening years were crucial to the formation of Moses’ character; without having done what he had done Moses would not have been the person for the task for which God was to call him.
When somebody is appointed – is it the ‘best person’, or is it, ‘the best person for the job’? – Well, in this instance, Moses was ‘the best person for the task at hand’’ at least as far as God was concerned.
For Moses it was altogether different; all of a sudden he wasn’t half the man his back story suggested he was; all of a sudden he began to make all manner of excuses, each of which in turn God rebutted; it didn’t matter how Moses perceived himself, it was the perception God had of him that was far more important. It’s strange how for many people it’s all to do with talking themselves out of something, not so much to do with talking themselves into something. To go back to the way people get to be ‘appointed’ to a particular position; head-hunting is a common method of recruiting particularly to top positions, but even at a more trivial level it happens – sometimes the minister comes up to you and suggests that you might be the ideal person for this or that task within the life of the church, In such situations, what is your default position, to just say yes, or to immediately to begin to search for reasons, excuses, why it should not be you. ‘I can relate to Moses’ response to God’s call. He didn’t jump up with excitement and glee; his reaction to God’s call to go to Egypt was reluctant, sceptical, and even scared. He made up excuses for why he wasn’t the man for the job and even tried abdicating his job responsibilities.’ And Moses would prove to be difficult man to handle throughout the whole of the rest of his life, the end of which carries with it a sense of the bitter-sweetness that punctuated the whole of his working relationship with God. Having been disobedient to God, denying God’s promise, and defying God’s will, Moses was himself denied the opportunity to experience at first-hand his finest achievement; in the face of unbelievably difficult circumstances spanning near enough half a century, the wandering people of God arrived at the threshold of the Promised Land, and God took Moses up to the mountain to show him what lay ahead for the people, but he, himself was not to enter; he had to be content with the view from afar. And for many of us this will be our service for God, our experience in life; to go so far but no further, yet at the same time knowing that whilst we have come as far as we can, for those who journey through life with us, for those who will come after us, those who will go on ahead of us, who will achieve that of which we could only dream, their achievements will be built upon our efforts; the legacy which will be ours to bequeath is a future which is already taking shape according to our present efforts.
All that God requires of us in response of His claim upon our lives is that we stay faithful; no more, no less – we will be tempted and tested, accepted and rejected, affirmed and denied, welcomed and ignored, loved and hated; the whole panoply of life’s emotions will assail us – and all God asks of us is that we stay faithful because if we do not then the consequences both for us and for others is too awful to contemplate: ‘We all stand poised, every moment of time, on the cusp of these two faces of reality.
At every juncture of our lives we face a choice: Do we surrender to the anti-truth of happenstance? Or do we embrace the divine calling of meaningful life?’
But back to Moses, and the lessons we might learn from the story surrounding his being called by God. God sought out Moses, knowing the man he was, precisely because the man he had became made him the right man for the job. He was a man who had desired in his way to affect the liberation of his fellow Hebrews, enslaved as they were to the Egyptians. His way was not the way, but what he wished for revealed him to be somebody whom God could use. Today, many young men have misguidedly been seduced by an alien philosophy which purports to liberate an otherwise enslaved people when the reality is an altogether more barbaric enslavement. Even such as these God can use for good. It is beholden on the Christian Church to reach out to those who find themselves otherwise fatally compromised by what they are being taught that they too might hear the voice of God, not out of a burning bush, but in the person of Jesus. When Jesus speaks, no one is out of earshot, when Jesus calls, none can be deaf to His voice, when Jesus confronts us with a choice, we all have to choose. Those who ears to hear, let them hear…