In 1914, a rugged Tennessee farmer left a tavern deeply shaken. He and his best friend routinely set out on nights of drunkenness and brawling, but on this occasion, Alvin York left the bar with the body of his best friend alone with his thoughts. His best friend had been senselessly killed in a bar fight, and Alvin was now responsible with returning the body of his best friend to his family. God used the tragedy to open Alvin’s eyes to his own mortality, and York later began attending church gatherings. He responded to the Gospel and surrendered his life to Christ. From that moment on, York began living his life in obedience to Jesus. In the battle of Argonne, York’s squad leader was killed, and Alvin was forced to take charge. He maneuvered and killed 20 enemy Soldiers manning machine guns and forced over one hundred and thirty German Soldiers to surrender. For his bravery, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. But York never took credit for his success. He wrote in his report, “I noticed the bushes all around where I stood in my fight with the machine guns were all cut down. The bullets went over my head and on either side. But they never touched me. York’s general asked him, “York, how did you do it.” Sgt York replied, “Sir, it is not man power. A higher power than man power guided and watched over me and told me what to do. His general replied, “York you are right.” York concluded, “No other power under heaven could bring a man out of a place like that. Men were killed on both sides of me; and I was the biggest and the most exposed of all. Over thirty machine guns were maintaining rapid fire at me, point black from a range of about twenty-five yards.”
Alvin York experienced God’s divine protection around bushes in Argonne. Today, we read about God’s divine encounter with Moses at a burning bush that would not be consumed. This same God who guided and delivered Alvin York is the same God who revealed Himself and delivered Moses and the people of Israel from Egypt. Today, we’ll look at four key attributes of God from this passage and comprehend how God wants us to respond.
1. I AM Sees (Exodus 2:25, 3:7)
“God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”
But God sees us. And He acts. Moses was just out in the wilderness hanging with sheep. To human eyes, he looked like a washed-up former Prince of Egypt. So much potential to do good for his people—wasted. But God saw a shepherd that He could save, transform, and equip to shepherd his people Israel to freedom and lead them to the Promised land.
This is the Way of I AM. He sees and He saves. In the New Testament, Jesus saw Zacchaeus.
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. 7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
The people around Zacchaeus saw a greedy, tax collector. Jesus saw a lost, sinful man who could be found and rescued.
It’s not an accident that you’re right here in this worship service hearing this message right now. God sees you. He knows you, and He loves you unconditionally. All of us are like Zacchaeus. We are all needing to be seen and saved by Jesus. If you’ve already experienced that healing from Jesus, my question for you is, who does God want you to see around you who is lost and needs rescue?
2. I AM Sends (Exodus 3:10)
Moses responds by asking the wrong question. He says, “Who am I.” God doesn’t even answer it. God knows who Moses is. He knows. Exodus 2:25, “God knew.” God knew about Israel’s suffering. He knew about Moses’ past. When Moses asks God, “Who are You?” he begins moving in the right direction.
God discloses his name/nature – initiates personal, intimate relationship – Yahweh which means, “I AM who I AM” or “I WILL BE who I WILL BE.” Yahweh saves
Moses asks about God’s name due the practical concern he has of convincing the people of Israel to believe that he really is a messenger of hope.
To Zacchaeus, Jesus said, “Come down.” To Moses, he said “Come over.” But the command is essentially the same. To us He says, “Come, follow me.” He sends Zacchaeus on a mission of obedience and transformation to be a servant missionary.
We need to respond and begin the journey of divine discovery. Like Moses—we need to approach when God says, “Come.” Jesus, the Great I AM says issues the same invitation when he says, “Come, follow me.”
God invites us to know Him, and we experience Him by obeying Him. He aligns us with his rescue plan for the world. When we follow God, He sends us to serve others—to proclaim the Gospel to others. And He changes us thru this process of faithful obedience and service. Who is God sending you to serve—to fish for? At 1200, we’re going to have lunch and train volunteers to serve our kids. Over half of our Agape Kids volunteers have PCS.
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. When we fail to obey God and follow Him in obedience, we miss out on blessing after blessing. People are ready to respond to the Gospel. They just need someone to tell them. Will it be you?
God never sends us alone. This is important to comprehend. Before Moses can reach the people of Israel, God sends Aaron to help him. Miriam, Zipporah, Jethro, and Joshua all provide critical support to Moses. He’s not serving and leading alone.
Maybe God is calling you to serve those arriving to Korea thru Agape’s quarantine ministry. Jackie Williams has been instrumental in leading that effort with several others, but she’s PCSing soon. Is God sending you to serve and show God’s kindness?
God has sent YOU to Korea. The mission is to begin seeing those in need of rescue around you and go to them. Who does God want you to see and be sent to in your life? Neighbor, family member, or co-worker come to mind? Think about that for a moment and then ask God to show His power thru your obedience. Let’s do that right now. PRAY – God help us see as you see and remember we are a sent people. Help us be obedient and fulfill our mission.
3. I AM Shows (Exodus 3:8, 14, 19-20)
I AM shows his character. He is compassionate and loving– have come down to rescue Israel from slavery (v. 8)
“I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Emmanuel – God with us to rescue and save us from the greatest bondage – separation from God (Luke 19:10)
“Knowing God is more than knowing about him: it is a matter of dealing with him as he opens up to you…Knowing about him is a necessary precondition of trusting in him…but the width of our knowledge about him is no gauge of the depth of our knowledge of him.” – J.I. Packer
Some of you know about my wife Bethany. If I listed a bunch of amazing things about her–she’s beautiful, smart, high school valedictorian, presidential scholar in college, a nurse, a loving mother of four kids, a homeschool mom, gracious, compassionate, etc. If you saw that list, you’d say, wow, she sounds terrific. You would know things about her. But I know her, because I’ve been blessed to be her husband for nearly 17 years. I know her by experience. Some of you know her too–you’ve developed a relationship and friendship by serving in Agape Kids or maybe thru our missional community.
What was God inviting Moses to do? To know Him. To do so, we must make a faith decision to obey Him–invest time trusting Him and acting on His desires. We begin serving Him as an act of worship. Moses began to know God, by obediently going to the people of Israel and delivering a message from God. God changed Moses as He began leading the people of Israel by shepherding and serving them.
How does Zacchaeus begin to know Jesus? By coming down from the tree in obedience and serving Jesus and others thru hospitality.
See Moses was asking God who He was, He was asking with the Egyptian understanding that god had certain characteristics and limitations? Are you the sun god? Are you the fertility god? God’s answer reveals he has no limitations and limitless power and authority. Jesus says in Revelation, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.” I have no limitations-that’s why He is the eternal God and deliverer.
Jesus revealed himself as I AM during his earthly ministry.
57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58-59
I AM shows his power. God systematically crushes the false gods and goddesses of Egypt. Each plague exposed the utter helplessness and impotence of the Egyptian false gods and goddesses to stand against the true God of Israel.
What false gods does God need to crush in your life? Power, control, comfort, approval? These are the four source idols we worship.
I suspect Moses worshipped the approval and comfort gods. He feared he would not gain the approval of Israel’s elders. That’s why he instantly asked God, “Who am I?” He had become comfortable in Midian herding sheep. If we choose comfort idol, we miss out on how God would stretch us and increase our faith.
I suspect Zacchaeus worshipped the power and control idols. He abandoned those gods when He committed to repaying those he had cheated. He put his trust in Jesus to overcome those idols in his life.
The miracle of the bush leads to the miracle of the exodus. These were supernatural events that proved divine power and strength.
The miracle of the virgin birth leads to the miracle of the cross and resurrection, the defeat of sin and death. Again, I AM’s power is on display.
God protected Alvin York to reveal His power and strength. York survived, because He humbly acknowledged God’s power of protection. God wants to show His compassion, His love, and His power through me and you! Will we be obedient and go to that family member, neighbor, or co-worker and be the messenger of hope that He is calling you to be? He wants us to be servant missionaries and instruments of grace to show people His unconditional love. Are there false gods of comfort, power, control, or approval that you need to turn away from and move forward in faith?
4. I AM Saves (Exodus 3:8; 12; 19-22)
Moses was the Prince of Egypt—if anyone was well-positioned to save His people—it was Moses. But he blew it. He let his anger/temper get the best of him, and after killing an Egyptian taskmaster, he fled Egypt as a fugitive. Moses probably wondered if his life had any purpose or meaning.
Some of you today may be wondering the same thing. You’ve messed up. You’ve fractured relationships. You struggle with secret sin. Let me tell you. We’ve all blown it. We ALL need a Savior. And the beauty of the Gospel is that God loves us and forgives us. He forgave Moses. This same God, Jesus, on the cross-dying for you and me asked God the Father to forgive those crucifying him. Moses didn’t suddenly pull it together in the wilderness. He doesn’t do the Disney thing and believe in himself. No, instead, he suddenly experienced God. And he believes.
God told Moses—I will be with you. When I AM is with you, He begins changing you. The DNA of sin is selfishness. When I AM saves us, He begins uprooting sin and begins making us more selfless. He transformed Moses. In Numbers, we read that Moses became the most humble man on the face of the earth. Why? Because he experienced the changing power of God and followed Him in obedience. He does the same in us when He saves us from our sin.
Some of you are hearing God press into you and like Jesus said to Zacchaeus, He’s saying, “Today is the day of salvation. It’s time to come over and follow me.” Jesus name means, “I AM–Yahweh–saves.”
Moses faced a faith decision. Would he obey? Would he go? Would He trust God? He stepped forward in faith. The rest is history. God delivered the people of Israel from slavery to freedom. God wants to deliver us and everyone around us from the slavery of sin and death. You and I have a choice to make. Will we obey? Will we go? Will we trust I AM?
Some of you listening today might be saying, “Who am I?” I can’t do what God is telling me. You need to be thinking about who God is and praying, “God, please help me trust that you’ll work thru me like you did Moses.”
We need to be obedient and believe the words of Jesus—I AM with you always (Matthew 28:19-20)
What area of your life do you need to trust that God will show His power? What step of faith do you need to take to rely on His strength?
Who is God sending you to be a messenger of hope? Is it a friend, a relative, a neighbor, co-worker? What step this week will you take to deliver the message?
Be careful about the “Yeah, but…” That was Moses’ initial response. But God, who am I? Remember, it’s not about You. I AM is with you. It’s His power that will work thru your faith and obedience.
Some of you listening are hearing an invitation from I AM to, “Come.” “Will you come today?” Will you become part of God’s forever story?