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Author:Rev. Joe Poppe
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Congregation:Redeemer Canadian Reformed Church
 Winnipeg, Manitoba
Title:The LORD calls Moses to be a deliverer of His people
Text:Exodus 3:10-12a (View)
Occasion:Ordination (Elder/Deacon)

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Confession of Dependence and Divine Greeting


Ten words of the covenant


Prayer of confession and illumination


Ministry of the Word

Reading: Exo.3:1-4:17


Text: Exo.3:10-12a

The LORD calls Moses to be a deliverer of His people.  We’ll see that:

1.      The LORD calls Moses to his task.

2.      The LORD equips Moses for his task.



Ordination of elders and deacons


Prayer of intercessions




Divine blessing

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Joe Poppe, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

            This morning we will witness the ordination of four new office-bearers.  So it is appropriate that in our sermon this morning we give some attention to this special event in congregational life.  This morning we will pay attention to the calling to office.  When you read through the form for the ordination of elders and deacons, it is striking to note that it is the LORD God Himself who calls people to office.  He called Moses at the burning bush.  Christ called the apostles to be the foundation of His catholic church.  Also today, it is the LORD who calls office-bearers to serve in His church.

            The first question that our newly elected office-bearers will have to answer is, “Do you feel in your hearts that God Himself, through His congregation, has called you to these offices?”  That is the question on which we will focus considerable attention this morning.  You see beloved, today the idea of office being a calling from the LORD is not always clearly understood.  Sometimes office-bearers who have been elected, feel overwhelmed by the call to office.  They wonder if they have the gifts necessary to fulfil the office to which they have been called.  They question their capability to serve.  In our churches we see it happening more and more that elected office-bearers also ask to be relieved.  Some times there are good reasons for that.  But, other times you wonder if the call to office is still really seen as a calling from God.

            This morning we will focus our attention on the LORD’s calling of Moses.  The LORD appeared to Moses in a miraculous way in the desert by Mt. Horeb.  There the LORD called Moses to be the deliverer of His people Israel.  The LORD told Moses that He had seen the oppression of His people and had heard their cry.  He called Moses to bring them out of Egypt, to the land of Canaan.  Moses did not respond very favourably to this calling.  He came up with all kinds of excuses.  He certainly did not understand what a calling from God is all about.  Yet the LORD sent Him to go and do His will.  The LORD promised Moses that He would be with him.  He assured Moses that He would help him fulfil his task.  I preach to you the Word of God under the following theme:

The LORD calls Moses to be a deliverer of His people.  We’ll see that:

1.      The LORD calls Moses to his task.

2.      The LORD equips Moses for his task.

The Scriptures reveal to us quite a bit about the life of Moses, the servant of God.  Moses was born of Hebrew parents in the days when Pharaoh had passed an edict that all male children had to be cast into the river.  Most of us are familiar with the story about how Moses’ mother made an ark of bulrushes, and hid him in it.  Moses was found by the daughter of Pharaoh, when she bathed herself at the Nile.  She had compassion on him, and resolved to keep him.  Moses’ mother was hired on as his nurse, and when the child grew she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son.

Thus aside from the time when his mother nursed him, Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s house.  He had a privileged background.  Living in the royal household, he would have been given a full Egyptian education.  Stephen writes in Acts 7:22, “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.”  God prepared a man through whom to deliver his people from out of bondage in Egypt.  Yet Moses had to wait for God’s call, before he provided deliverance for God’s people.

Moses did not immediately realise this.  “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites.  He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian.” (Acts 7:23-24).  Stephen writes that “Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.” (Acts 7:25).  This became clear in the response of one of the Israelites when Moses interfered in their dispute.  He said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Exo.2:14).

While the Israelite who asked this question was wrong in oppressing his brother, this does not take away from his question.  While his intent in asking this question was wrong, it does not take away from the fact that his question was right on.  Who made Moses a prince and judge over the people of Israel?  Had he received a calling from the LORD?  Acts 7:25 says that “Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.”  But was this a right supposition?  A key principle is at stake here, beloved.  It is that no man can take an office upon himself.  To serve God in a particular office requires a calling from the LORD.  In Hebrews 5, the author of Hebrews speaks about the appointment of the high priest, saying, “No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God.”

We might think that Moses was a perfect man for the job.  He had been brought up in Pharaoh’s house.  He had received an Egyptian education.  Because he was considered to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he had an inside ear in Pharaoh’s court.  If there was ever a man who could bring the people of Israel out of Egypt – then it was Moses.  Yet however true all these things may be, Moses lacked one thing.  He lacked a calling from God.  Thus his attempts to be a deliverer of his people failed.  They backfired on Moses.  He was forced to flee from Egypt, because Pharaoh heard about the death of the Egyptian, and sought to kill him.  Moses fled from Pharaoh, and went to dwell in the land of Midian.

When Moses came to Midian he helped some girls to water their flocks at the well.  In this way he got to know Jethro, the priest of Midian.  Moses lived with this priest, got married to one of his daughters, and had two sons there.  Moses became a shepherd, caring for the sheep of his father-in-law.  Exodus 2:21 tells us that Moses was content to live there.  Yet he did not completely forget about his life in Egypt.  When his first son was born, Moses named him Gershom, which means “stranger there.”  For he said, “I have become an alien in a foreign land.” (Exo.2:22).  This shows us that Moses still considered himself to be part of the people of Israel.  Yet his sojourn in Midian lasted for many years.  Acts 7:30 indicates that forty years passed before Moses received a calling from the LORD.

In the LORD’s time He did extend a call to Moses.  It happened at a time when Moses no longer expected it.  It happened in a special way.  Moses was tending the flocks of Jethro his father-in –law.  He led them to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  The Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.  Moses turned aside to see what was happening with this bush.  He was amazed to see that it was burning with fire but was not consumed.  When he turned aside to look, God called him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses.”

Moses responded, “Here I am.”  The LORD commanded him to take off his sandals, because the place where he stood was holy.  Then he revealed Himself to Moses.  He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” (Exo.3:6).  The LORD also revealed His purpose in appearing to Moses.  He said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.  So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians.” (Exo.3:7-8).  The LORD promises to give His people the land of the Canaanites.

After explaining who He was, and what He planned to do, the LORD called Moses.  He said, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”  Whereas forty years earlier Moses had no calling to deliver the people of Israel from out of the hand of Pharaoh, now he did.  Then Moses had acted on his own initiative.  And it had failed.  But now the LORD calls Moses to be a deliverer of His covenant people.  Now He was sending Moses to Pharaoh, to tell him to let His people go.

Moses was given a special task among the covenant people of God.  He was to be their deliverer.  He was to rescue them from their slavery to the Egyptians, to give them freedom from their bondage.  The LORD appointed Moses to lead his people out of Egypt to the land He had formerly promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The LORD charged Moses with the task of being the leader of His covenant people.  Moses received a direct calling from God.

In the Scriptures we see that it happens more often that men receive a direct calling from the LORD.  Think of Gideon, who was called to deliver the people of God from the hand of the Midianites (Jdg.6:12).  Or of Samuel who was called to reveal the word of the LORD to his people in the time when the ark was at Shiloh (1Sam.3).  Or of Saul, later called Paul, to whom the Lord appeared on the road to Damascus (Act.9).  Yet it also happens that the LORD calls men to His service through other means.  Through Moses the LORD called seventy of the elders of Israel to bear the burden of the people with him (Num.11:16-17).  Through the apostles, the LORD also appointed elders in every church (Act.14:23).

Even the Lord Jesus Christ received a calling from God.  Our Lord knew that He had come to earth to serve in a special way.  By a studying of the Scriptures He knew that Moses’ words written in Deuteronomy 18:15 applied to Him.  Near the end of his life Moses had said, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers.”  Christ knew that He was that man.  Yet He waited until His appointment to office, before He began His public ministry.  Luke reveals to us that it was not until after His baptism that Christ began His ministry at about thirty years of age (Luk.3:21-23).

The fact that Jesus Christ was appointed to office by God is made very clear to us in the Book of Hebrews.  Hebrews 1:9 records the words God spoke to His Son.  He said, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”  Hebrews 3:1-2 confirms this.  It says, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.  He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house.”  Hebrews 5:5 says that “Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest.”  The author of Hebrews makes it clear that it was God who called Him to serve as priest according to the order of Melchizedek.  Thus we see that even our Lord Jesus Christ received a calling to office.

Today the Lord also calls men to serve in the offices of the church.  This calling comes through the election of the congregation.  Yet the fact that the congregation participates in the election of office-bearers, in no way diminishes the fact that it is the Lord who calls office-bearers to serve in His church.  That is why these brothers have to answer the question, “Do you feel in your hearts that God Himself, through His congregation, has called you to these offices?”  In article 3 our Church Order makes the point very plainly.  It says, “No one shall take any office upon himself without having been lawfully called thereto.”  Thus it should be clear to us that it is God Himself who has called the brothers Gortemaker, Toet, Nobel, and Raap to serve as elders and deacons in His church in Winnipeg Redeemer.

In our first point we’ve seen that the LORD called Moses to his task.  In our second point we’ll see that the LORD equips Moses for His task.  In verse 11 of our text we see Moses’ response to God’s call.  Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  Moses is not all that sure that he is the right man for the job.  He questions God’s wisdom in calling him.  He doubts his ability to do the task to which the LORD has called him.

Our Scripture reading from Exodus 4 makes it clear that Moses in no way feels that he is able to fulfil the task God has given him.  Moses says, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?” (Exo.4:1).  Moses reaction is understandable.  Who would believe him if he told the people that the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush that did not burn up?  The LORD counters this objection by giving Moses signs to show that the LORD has appeared to him.  His rod became a serpent when cast on the ground, and his hand became leprous when put into his cloak.  The LORD also told him that at his command water from the Nile would be changed into blood.

Moses still is not prepared to go.  He claims that he is not eloquent, but slow of speech and tongue.  The LORD tells him that He has made man’s mouth, and promises him, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exo.4:12).  Yet Moses still does not want to go.  He tells the LORD to please send someone else.  At this the LORD became angry with Moses.  He told him that Aaron his brother would go with him, and be his spokesman.  So the LORD impresses on Moses that he must go, because God Himself has called him to be His servant.

Now brothers and sisters, we have to be careful in evaluating Moses’ reluctance to heed God’s call.  Numbers 12:3 indicates that Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.  Hebrews 3 also makes it clear that Moses was faithful in his service in God’s house.  Yet Moses reluctance to heed God’s call involved more than just humility.  It also involved sin.  The basic problem was that Moses looked at himself.  Our text indicates that very plainly.  Moses asked, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?  Notice the focus on I, I, I.

Also office-bearers today can be overwhelmed with the task that the LORD calls them to fulfil in His church.  They can question their ability to fulfil the task to which God has called them.  Do I have enough wisdom to visit such and such family, when their problems are so great?  What am I going to say to brother so and so, who needs to be admonished because of his sin?  Lord, how am I going to fulfil all the commitments that stand before me?  Yes, also office-bearers today can struggle with the Lord’s call to serve in His church.

Yet our text gives us direction also in this.  Notice that the LORD takes all the focus away from Moses.  He puts that focus on Himself.  In our text God says, “I will be with you.”  Moses had asked, “who am I?”  Yet God’s answer makes it very clear that “who Moses is” is beside the point.  The point is that The LORD has revelaed Himself to Moses as I AM WHO I AM, the faithful covenant God..  The LORD promises Moses that He will certainly be with him.  Moses does not need to look to himself.  He does not need to depend on himself.  The LORD has sent him.  It is the LORD who will go with him, and give him everything he needs to fulfil his office.

This is the comfort of anyone who has been called to office by the Lord.  God not only calls to office.  He also equips us for our office.  We see this very clearly in how God equipped the Lord Jesus to fulfil His office as our Saviour.  In our first point we noted that Christ did not begin his public ministry until after his baptism.  What is noteworthy about this is that the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ at His baptism.  This is very significant.  For it is through the anointing of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is equipped to fulfil His ministry.  Jesus makes it clear in Luke 4:18f, that He has been anointed by the Spirit of the Lord so that He could preach the gospel to the poor and provide deliverance for all those in need.  Thus God equips those whom He calls to serve with the grace of His Holy Spirit.

Office-bearers today may struggle with some of the same concerns that Moses had.  They may wonder about how well they will be accepted, when they begin to do their work in the congregation.  Yet they may know that they go out to do their work in the name of the Lord.  Just as the LORD appointed Moses to lead the people of Israel, so Christ appoints office-bearers today to shepherd His flock.

Woe to us as congregation members, if we do not receive our office-bearers as ambassadors of Christ.  Brothers and sisters, accept these men as being sent by God Himself.  Respect and honour them, not because of who they are, but because it is God who sends them to you.  As the author of Hebrews said, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Heb.13:17).

            Just like Moses, office-bearers today may struggle with the fact that they don’t communicate all that well.  They may think that they don’t have enough wisdom or experience to deal with the task to which they have been called.  Again the answer is that they do not go to make visits on their own.  It is the Lord who goes with them.  God grants the grace of His Holy Spirit to those whom He has called to office.  He allows office-bearers to visit with His Word.  In the end it is not the office-bearers words that comfort and encourage, or exhort and admonish.  It is the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit, which reaches the hearts of God’s people.

            Therefore, brothers Gortemaker, Toet, Nobel, and Raap, you may know that the Lord has called you to serve as office-bearers in His church.  You may be assured of the fact that He will also grant you all you need to fulfil your task as shepherds of the flock.  God will give you His grace and Spirit to enable you to fulfil your respective offices.  He will go with you in all the visits that you make; He will put the words you need to say into your mouths.  Our God is faithful.  When He calls to office, He also equips us to fulfil our office.  May He also grant you a rich blessing in your task as shepherds of the flock here in the Redeemer congregation.  Amen.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Joe Poppe, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2008, Rev. Joe Poppe

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