Exodus 3:14 | Authority Proven

Authority is an interesting concept. If I make truth claims about something then I must back up my claim by some kind of authority. For example, I could claim to be the best artist in the world. In order to prove that claim people would want to see my work. If I don’t have any works to show them then they may laugh and tell me I have no authority to make that claim. But if my art has been sold or used in some famous well known way then I might have some authority to make that claim. If I claim to be an authority on species of birds, I might be able to point to college degrees and past peer reviewed publications to back up my claim to authority. A fascinating down side to authority in our lawsuit crazed society is that if I put on a white coat, earn degrees, and then as a doctor someone gets hurt because I was wrong then my authority that was worked so hard for becomes a snare. For example this NBC News Report. In Italy there was an earthquake that killed hundreds. The experts on earthquakes made authoritative claims that the chance of an earthquake was low. Should these experts be held accountable for being wrong? Here is the main quote from the article.

“an Italian court convicted seven scientists and experts of manslaughter Monday for failing to adequately warn residents before a temblor struck central Italy in 2009 and killed more than 300 people.”

In the aftermath of the convictions other scientists resigned from disaster prediction boards and groups because they do not want to accept the downside of the authority they had claimed. And this is completely reasonable because they claimed an authority to predict earthquakes that is not yet settled. Scientists and “experts” go on broadcast media to make definitive claims that they can’t possibly know for sure all to puff up their credentials, egos, and wallets. I know it may seem shocking but a court finding them liable for not living up to those claims is a reasonable outcome if we accept that their authority is as definitive as they willingly lead the public to believe.

One of the most famous events of the Bible is the moment God speaks to Moses from a burning bush. God asks Moses to go to Egypt and free the Hebrew people. Moses rightfully objects because he has no authority with the Hebrew people. How will he as an outsider walk in and say to everyone come with me? How will he have any authority to speak to the king of Egypt and ask for the Hebrew people to be freed? It is an overwhelming and impossible task to ask of Moses.

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” Exodus 3:13 ESV

Moses asks God by what name will I come to them? By what authority will I go and make this revolution? Moses rightfully knows that this is not his ambition or his place. He will only be a messenger sent by God.

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14 ESV

There is no greater claim of authority ever in the history of the world than God’s response to Moses in this moment. God tells Moses to tell the people that “I AM” has sent him. God makes the claim that he exists.  God also tells us in this name that he has no beginning and that he is beyond the constraints of the start and end of time. What is more God then backs up his claim to being the ultimate authority by delivering the Hebrews out of Egypt through some of the most amazing miracles recorded in all of the Bible. 

19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go. Exodus 3:19-20 ESV

God told Moses that he exists and God backed up his claim of authority by doing everything he told Moses that he would do to free the Hebrews. But this is not all, there is one more claim of authority that goes along with this burning bush event. Fast forward to the New Testament where the religious Hebrews constantly challenge Jesus because they did not want to accept the authority he claimed (and backed up through miracles). In one of the debates Jesus tells them that the father of faith and the father of all Hebrews Abraham looked forward to the time when God would send Jesus to save the world.

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!” 58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:57-58 ESV

Jesus responds to their childish mockery by doubling down. Before Abraham was even born “I am!”. The parallel between God telling Moses that he is “I am” and Jesus now telling everyone that he is “I am” even before the birth of Abraham is a shocking claim of authority. Jesus is claiming to be the same God that spoke to Moses from the burning bush. If there are any doubts to the meaning of what Jesus said look at how the Jews respond to Jesus after he said this.

59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. John 8:59 ESV

Moses was called by God out of a burning push. God’s authority is unquestioned in freeing the Jewish people out of Egypt. Jesus calls out to you dear reader with an authority that no expert, no scientist, no guru, no crystal, and no medium can ever claim. Jesus is God with us. Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus came to die, to be buried, and to be resurrected so that God and his creation might be restored to fellowship. How will we respond to such an ultimate authority? Now is the time to trust and have faith in, Jesus, the authority that will never fail.

Exodus 3:4 | God Changes Outcomes

The family and the community we are raised in makes an impact on our world view and our outlook on life. Yet we could be raised in the most wonderful family and still grow to become a horrible person. Or we could be raised in a dysfunctional family and grow to become a wonderful person. Our past is not the final decider of our future. We are each unique individuals to God and when he speaks the real decider of our future is our willingness to listen and respond.

Moses was raised in the household of the king of Egypt and had every privilege in the world. But he knew and most likely everyone he was raised with knew he was not Egyptian. So, on one hand he was raised with the shrewd evil as a prince of Egypt and on the other hand he was also raised as an outsider which eventually lead to his desire to murder an Egyptian in order to help one of his own people. Because of this family dynamic it seems inevitable that his life would follow this path of murder against his own adopted family. And because of his arrogance he was found out and forced to flee Egypt.  

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Proverbs 16:2 ESV

Our actions are an overflow of what is in our hearts. Our actions are a reflection of our spiritual condition. If you constantly lie to get what you want then in your spirit you are an evil liar. If like Moses you harbor hate in your heart and it spills out into murder then you are an evil murder. Even if my hate has never spilled out into an action of murder that does not mean I am not a murder in my spirit. God knows the state of our spirit. Moses murdered for what was a noble reason in his own mind but it was out of hate and it was wrong.

After a lifetime on the run Moses who once had ambitions to rule like a king of Egypt has lived his life humbly in the wilderness tending flocks and raising a family. He is no longer the murder he once was. It is at this point that God weighs his spirit again. God makes the move to introduce himself to Moses completing the transformation from shrewd prince of Egypt to child and servant of the one true king.

4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:4 ESV

Moses was not ready early in life for what God planned for him. Moses would not have listened to any council from God. Murders never listen they charge forward in a pseudo-righteous anger living as they see fit. But now a life time removed from Egypt Moses is ready to not only hear from God but to recognize the authority of God.

By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. Proverbs 16:6 ESV

We do not control how we are raised and how we are raised is not the final decider of how we live. Moses had to leave the privilege life of his youth and to live humbly in the wilderness. He had three options in this new life. First, he could have planned and plotted his return to power in Egypt. Murder would have only been the beginning of evil if he had lived this life. Second, he could have despaired all that he lost when he left Egypt. He could have become depressed to the point of uselessness. This too would have been an evil because being created in the image of God he has made us for so much more than despair. God made us to live and enjoy him. Finally, the path forward that Moses embraced was a quite life content with anonymity away from the riches and evil of Egypt. It is was from this place that God was able to speak to Moses and he was able to respond “Here I am”.

The worst evil of all would have been if Moses had stayed in Egypt living a worldly life of riches and evil. That is the most fearful place I could imagine. Could anyone hear God speak in such a circumstance? Moses by God’s grace has been prepared for this moment to hear God clearly. And God clearly introduces himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What an amazing moment a lifetime in the making.

5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:5-6 ESV

Dear reader where is your life standing at this moment? Is God calling your name and would you dare turn aside from your current course to pause and hear what he has to say? When I was young God called my name and I was compelled to listen. I am so thankful for being in a place and in a moment where a response to God’s calling turned me away from a life of evil. Jesus is calling would you like Moses respond “Here I am”?