Rev. L. Althouse
September 17, 2006
Background Scripture: Exodus 19:1-6; 24:3-8. Devotional Reading: Psalms 119:33-40.
What made Moses such a great leader? It was not his personal ambition, because clearly he didn’t want the job of leading the Israelites. Nor was he a great orator; in fact he had to rely on Aaron, his brother, to speak for him. Neither was Moses propelled by a sense of self-confidence: the people of Israel, he said, “will not believe me or listen to my voice…” (Ex. 4:1)
Moses’ greatest asset was his willingness to hear the call of God and listen to him. Seeing the mysterious burning bush, Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” And when God called from the burning bush, he answered, “Here am I.” (Ex. 3:3,4)
Later, in the wilderness, God called him again and because Moses turned aside and listened to the voice of God, the Ten Commandments were given to Israel and to the world.
I truly believe that in various ways God calls each of us so that he may reveal himself to us. But we may be so involved in ourselves, our careers, and our toys that we turn deaf ears to those calls. And, even if we stop for a moment to consider God’s call, many of us hurry on to something else. Moses’ experience in Exodus 19 and 24 is called a theophany, an appearance or manifestation of God, something God intends for each of us. It need not come in an audible voice or arresting vision, for God can and does speak to us in many ways.
People sometimes speak of their search for God, but it is God who searches for us. When we think we have “found Him,” it is God who has been able to finally get our attention. And when we believe He has been hidden or is hiding from us, it is because we have eyes that see not, ears that hear not, brains that think not and spirits that have become dull and numb.
These words by al Ghazali challenge me: “If you are never alone with God, it is not because you are too busy; it is because you don’t care for Him, don’t like Him. And you had better face the facts.” If we really cared for God, we would listen for him and to him in our daily lives.
God’s message to Moses is not for Moses alone, but for the people of Israel: “Thus you shall… tell them what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (19:3,4)
The covenant, which he offers to Israel, is based upon what they have already experienced: God’s faithfulness in bringing them out of Egypt. Unlike Moses, most of them could not see or hear God, but they saw for themselves what God did.
God is about to give Moses the Ten Commandments, 10 commands as to what they should and shouldn’t do. But God prefaces the commandments with their remembrance of what he has already done for them and with them. Because he kept his promise, now he wants them to respond by promising to live by his law. So it also with us: his commands are not imposed on us unwillingly, but as opportunities to express our thanksgiving in what he does for us. God has given us the best of deals: he gives so much to us compared to the little he asks of us.
This prayer is from the Old Sarum Primer (1558), but it speaks to us today:
God be in my head,
And in my understanding;
God be in my eyes,
And in my looking;
God be in my mouth,
And in my speaking;
God be in my heart,
And in my thinking;
God be at my end,
And at my departing.
This farm news was published in the Sept. 13, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.