Moses, Moses, Moses.
One of the most fascinating characters of the entire Bible. So fascinating in fact that Director Ridley Scott and Actor Christian Bale have decided it was worth spending almost $150 million dollars making a movie to tell his story. But before Hollywood turns it’s creative engines toward the story of Moses we thought we would take some time this fall to explore his story through the biblical lens.
No character has had as deep an impact on the shape of the Jewish scriptures as Moses. He speaks face-to-face with God, heads a revolt against the Pharaoh, leads his people out into the wilderness, and is credited by some with authoring Torah (the first five books of the Bible). And yet, somehow, Moses remains a very human character accessible to all of us.
Over the next eight weeks we will follow Moses from his ignominious beginnings as a baby in a basket through to his destiny as the leader of a fledgling nation. Hang on.
Baby Moses: Exodus 1:1-8
The Nile river that was supposed to kill baby Moses becomes the means for salvation and blessing.
Here we find that not only does God work in mysterious ways, the truth is, sometimes he works in ways that seem down right counter intuitive.
Now we can’t be simplistic or naive about this. We can’t pretend that every difficult thing we experience will eventually land on some great blessing on the other side. Life doesn’t always work that way.
But we can remember that not only is God aware of our struggle, he is somehow also actively engaged with our story, working in the midst of our struggle, acting to bring us through to where he wants us to be.
Mistakes Were Made: Exodus 1:8-2:14
Moses is impulsive and impetuous and he makes a mistake and he runs from his people. Yet God in his graciousness prepares him and shapes him and moulds him for the moment when he will come full circle and his lead his people to freedom.
Perhaps you have a sense that you were meant to contribute to God’s story but right now you’re not sure how.
Trust that God is not done with you yet.
Say My Name: Exodus 2:23-3:15
If the God of the burning bush had said to Moses, tell the people I am, the good shepherd, the father of all, the creator of the world, the source of breathe and life and all that is good, it might have sounded great, but he could have been mistaken for any number of glorious named, angry, petty, small gods, who demanded unblinking devotion all while supporting systems of slavery and
oppression just like what the Israelites were suffering under.
The beauty of what this God says, is that names are important to you, not me, because I can’t tell my name until you get to know who I am. That’s why “I am who you will discover me to be”.
The Turn Around: Exodus 4 and 5
The status quo has enormous gravity to it and it pulls everything back in line. This is why starting something new is hard. It’s why changing something that already exists is sometimes even harder. It’s why turning the trajectory of something heading in one direction toward another is almost impossible– but that does not mean it’s not worth doing if God has called you to do it because the God of resurrection is in the business of bringing what is beautiful and good out of what is broken and dark.
Change is hard but it’s part of joining God in the renewal of everything.
Hurry Up and Wait: Exodus 14:5-31
In our own faith stories we vacillate between these two tensions all the time - God is saving, yet we are required to do some acting... there is almost always cooperation required. The question we are left to wrestle with is: are we in a season of waiting for God's voice, or are we supposed to be acting and moving on our own?
God’s grace is very present in the cooperation because he understands us, he cares for us, and he wants us to know how faithful he is...
For Better or For Worse: Exodus 16:1-7
What God is looking for from us is not some unqualified gratitude that always looks on the bright side and ignores struggle, that slaps on a cheery face every morning regardless of what’s going on in our world.
Remember, God did not asking the Israelites to pretend they were full when they were hungry.
What he is looking for is an honest, open, mature relationship, where we name what’s wrong and ask for help, where we notice what is good and celebrate his generosity for what it is.
Golden Calves: Exodus 32:1-6
The real problem of the golden calf is not just about replacing God with something else, it’s about boxing him off and confining him down to very specific areas of your life.
That’s what the Israelites are doing here. God represents blessing to them, so they represent him with an image of blessing, a golden calf.
God says, No, you’re not supposed to make an image of me because I’m not interested in being one small part of your life.
In fact that’s why I already gave you my image and put it somewhere it couldn’t be ignored.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness” Genesis 1:26 NIV11
The Decalogue: Exodus 20:1-17
The 10 commandments have to come at the end of the story of Moses because they only truly make sense when we’ve already learned what it means to trust that God is for us and we only truly understand that not through his rules but when we see that he comes to save us.