Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Does God Have Your Attention?

Episode Resources

Watch Nancy teach this series.

Leslie Basham: Do you know you’ve been invited to an important meeting today? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth tells you more about it.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: God wants to meet with us. He wants to meet with you, in your ordinary world, and in unexpected places and ways.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of Seeking Him, for January 30, 2019.

Nancy’s beginning a two-day series called “The Great I AM.” You’re going to learn how to get to know the Lord more deeply so you can better understand your own identity. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Okay, if you’re in a place where you have a Bible nearby, or maybe you have a Bible app on your phone that you can scroll to—now, don’t do this if you’re driving. But if you’re not, or you can stop, I want to encourage you to open your Bible—or scroll in your Bible—to the book of Exodus chapter 3. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus . . .

Exodus chapter 3 is a really important foundational passage in God’s Word. I don’t want you to just hear me talk about it. I want you to be reading it and seeing it along with me over these next couple of days. We’ll be looking at this passage—the first 14 verses of Exodus chapter 3.

And so, Lord, would You open our eyes? Would You open our ears? Would You open our hearts? And would You reveal Yourself to us through Your Word. This is the Word of the Lord, and we thank You for it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Exodus chapter 3, verse 1:

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness.

Now I’m just going to talk through this passage and make some observations as we walk through it.

So Moses is the main character here. You remember that Moses was born to a Jewish family, Jewish parents, in Egypt. The Jewish people were prisoners, slaves in Egypt. So Pharaoh was making the lives of the Israelites hard. He was oppressing them. Early in his life, Moses was adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, and he was raised in the Egyptian palace.

One day he killed an Egyptian. Pharaoh heard about it, got mad at him, and Moses had to run for his life. Now he had been gone for forty years. He had lived as a fugitive in the land of Midian. He was no longer the adopted son of the Pharaoh’s daughter, living in the palace. Now he was an obscure shepherd. You notice in this verse, he didn’t even own his own sheep. He was tending to the sheep of his father-in-law in the wilderness.

But at this point I think it’s safe to say that he felt his past was behind him, that he felt secure in this life, doing ordinary work in familiar territory, comfortable, no risks—just doing his job, day in and day out.

And I don’t know what season you’re in in your life, but maybe that’s where you are today. You’re in a safe place, you’re just going through your routine every day, nothing to write home about, nothing dramatic, nothing exciting. But you’re there, and you’re doing your job, day in and day out.

And the end of verse 1: “He came to Horeb, the mountain of God.”

The word “Horeb” probably means, according to language experts, “desert” or “desolation.” And I think that word, “desert” or “desolation,” is descriptive of this season of Moses’ life. He’s been in the wilderness. He’s been tending sheep. He doesn’t have all the glamour and the glitz and the rewards and the pomp and circumstance of the palace any longer. He’s in this desert place. He’s in this desolate place.

He’s not famous. Nobody knows or cares who he is. He’s just minding his own business, doing his own thing in this place of desert or desolation, and he comes to Horeb, the mountain of God. And in this place, at the mountain of God, his safe little world is about to change forever. The wilderness that he’s been living in for these past forty years is going to be transformed when he comes to this place.

Moses is transformed when he comes to this place. He will never be the same again. He’s going to leave this place, Horeb, the mountain of God, with a new mission, a new message, a new view of himself, and a new view of God. Horeb, the mountain of God, this place of desolation, becomes a place where he meets God.

And, by the way, this is a place geographically that’s going to figure in a significantly way later in the Old Testament account in chapter 4, the next chapter. This is going to be where his brother, whom he hasn’t seen for forty years, is going to meet him, at Horeb, the mountain of God.

And in chapter 19, Moses is going to be back at this mountain, now called Mount Sinai, with 2 million, plus or minus, Jews that he has led out of Egypt. This is where the Law of God will be given. So the next time he’s at this place, is going to be in a whole different set of circumstances.

I came across in my reading through the Old Testament recently, 1 Kings, chapter 19, and was reminded that God met His servant, His prophet, Elijah, at this very same mountain, right after the showdown with wicked King Ahab and the prophets of Baal, when Elijah was running and depressed, running from Jezebel, and discouraged, and wanting God to take his life. God met with him here at Horeb, the mountain of God.

So this is an important place in redemptive history.

Well, verse 2 of Exodus chapter 3:

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.

Now, there in the wilderness, Moses had spent many years there. He knew the wilderness. He knew the terrain. He knew these bushes. And a burning bush in the hot, arid wilderness was not an unusual sight. That’s not what captured his attention. What was extraordinary that day is that this burning bush was “not consumed.” It was burning, but it wasn’t burning up. This was not a normal, every-day experience.

Fire in the Scriptures is often a symbol of God’s presence. And what Moses is about to realize is this is no ordinary bush. This is no ordinary place. This is no ordinary day. God is here, and that is going to change everything.

So Moses says, verse 3:

I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.

So, ordinarily, if you saw a bush catch fire in the wilderness, it would just burn up, and that would be the end of the bush. But the bush was not being consumed. And so Moses sees this extraordinary sight, and he stops what he’s doing to see what’s going on.

Now, just a reminder—for those of us who are not living in the book of Exodus—that God wants to meet with us. He wants to meet with you, in your ordinary world, and in unexpected places and ways. God is always at work. God was working back then. God is working here. He’s working today. He’s working in this place. He’s working in your life. He’s working in your life circumstances.

The question is:

  • Will you turn aside to see what God’s doing?
  • Will you turn aside to listen?
  • Will you turn aside to respond to God?
  • Or are you just going to keep going, keep doing life as usual?

Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight.”

Now, he had no idea what he was going to experience, and you have no idea what you’re going to experience when you turn aside to see. There’s something extraordinary going on here. And not to just say, “Oh, this is a fluke. Oh, this is chance. This is interesting, or what an amazing thing.” But to stop and lift your eyes up and see God is at work in this place. Will you turn aside to see?

Well, in verses 4–6, Moses has this astounding encounter with God. Verse 4:

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”

Now, back in verse 2, we’re told that the “angel of the Lord” appeared to him in a flame of fire. Now in verse 4 it says, “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush.” So which is it? Is it the angel of the Lord, or is it the Lord? Who is in the bush? Who is speaking?

The answer is: Yes. (laughter) The Lord is appearing in this scene as an angel, a messenger from God. And as you through Scripture, who do you know who is God and is also a messenger sent from God—that’s what the word “angel” means—“messenger.” Who do we know? Jesus. This is, I believe, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Himself in this flame, the presence of God. This is God Himself; it’s Christ.

And God, the pre-incarnate Christ, calls Moses by name. Moses was used to being living a solitary life out there in the wilderness. And now someone, someone he doesn’t know, someone he’s never experienced before, someone he’s never encountered is calling him by name.

And, again, a reminder that God knows your name. He knows your story. He knows where you’re coming from. He knows your past. He knows your present. He knows your future. And he wants to talk with you about it.

So Moses says in response to God calling his name, Moses said, “Here I am.”

I mean, it’s as if . . . what do you say? “Nancy, Nancy!”

“Here I am.”

“Ruth, Ruth!”

“Here I am.”

Somebody calls you, you say, “Here.” Moses is raising his hand. It’s like God’s calling attendance. “Moses, Moses!” There’s nobody else in this class named Moses. (laughter) “Here. I’m here. Here I am.”

Moses is saying, “God, You’ve got my attention. I’m listening.”

I think his response at this point had to be a mixture of awe and wonder. But also, don’t you think, perhaps some confusion and some fear as well? “What in the world is going on here? I’ve never experienced anything like this.”

Now, you may feel that, God never speaks to you. He speaks to other people. Other people have encounters with God, but you don’t. Here’s one question I would ask:

  • Does God have your attention?
  • Have you said, “Here I am. I’m listening”?
  • Are you listening to Him?
  • Are you responding to Him?

Once God had Moses’ full, undivided attention, He spoke to him. Verse 5:

Then God said, “Do not come near.”

“Do not come near.” Now, if somebody calls you, and you say, “Here I am.” You think it’s, like, “Come over here.” Right? So Moses says, “Here I am.” And God says next, “Don’t come near.” I think that’s an oddity. It’s an unusual way to start a conversation. God says, “Don’t come near”—don’t come close.

“Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

God is saying, “You can’t come near because I am holy. I’m here in this place, and you are not holy.”

So this ordinary place, this ordinary bush in the wilderness is made holy by God’s presence. The ground is made holy by the presence of God.

And this conversation anticipates, in some ways, the incarnation, the presence of Christ here on earth where He walks, where He is. Whether here on this earth incarnate or here by the presence of His Holy Spirit, it makes all ground holy ground.

We’re reminded that because God is holy and we are not, we cannot come near to God. We dare not come near to God apart from having received the holiness of God through the saving work of His Holy Son, Jesus Christ.

So, verse 6, God says to Moses,

“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

Now, whoa! There’s some names that Moses hadn’t heard in a while. Remember, he was in exile from Egypt. He had been separated from his family for decades, actually since the time he was a very small child when he left his Jewish home, had been sent to be raised in the palace. And here is the God of history speaking to Moses.

“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” This is the God of Moses’ history, the God of his father, taking him back to his past, the past that maybe he had tried to forget about, tried to put behind him, tried to not think about all these years. God is saying, “No, I’m the God of your history. I’m the God of your family. I’m the God of your story.” God is reuniting him with relationships that he thought were long gone, behind him, never to be resurrected.

And Moses [the Scripture says] hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God (v. 6).

Moses is being forced to face things that he hasn’t thought about for a long time—his heritage, his father, the God of his father.

This response reminds me of another man and his wife in the earliest chapters of the Bible in the Garden of Eden. After they sinned, they were ashamed. And Adam says to God, “I was afraid, so I hid.” I was afraid, so I hid. You see, sin separates us from God.

Moses is afraid in the presence of God and in the presence of holiness, and this God who knows his past and knows his father and his father’s father and his father—knows all the way back—knows his whole story, knows his whole history. Moses is afraid, so he hides his face. He’s afraid to look at God.

Well, that’s why I love this next paragraph, beginning in verse 7, as we see the compassion and the purpose of God.

And the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings.”

Look at verse 9:

“And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.”

Now, first of all, notice that God talks about the Israelites and calls them “My people”—My people. God’s concern is based on a covenant relationship that He has with His people.

Now, His people must feel that God has forgotten them, He has abandoned them, He has forsaken them. If He hadn’t, why would they be in this condition in Egypt. And Moses, he had been separated from those people for forty years.

But God comes back to this nucleus, this body of people, and He calls them, “My people.” He has not neglected them. He has not forsaken them. He has not abandoned them. He is here to tend to their needs. God knows His people. He knows their circumstances. He knows what they’re going through. He knows it intimately.

God says, “I have seen their affliction. I haven’t had my eyes closed. I haven’t been asleep. I didn’t die. I’ve heard their cry. I’ve seen their oppression. I know what they’re going through, and I care, and I’m going to do something about it.” That’s what God says.

First, He says, “I’m holy; you’re not. Take off your shoes.”

Moses hides his face. He’s afraid.

And then God says, “But I’m here to meet with you. I’m here to help you. I’m here because I’ve seen; I know what’s going on. Things you’ve forgotten or you wish you could forget, I know all about it, and I care.”

So go back to verse 8. God talks about His purpose and His intention for making Himself known at this period in His people’s history. He says: “I’ve come down to deliver.”

God has come down. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas. God has come down.

God says, “I’ve come down for a reason. I’ve seen. I know. I’ve heard. I know what they’re going through, but I have come down to deliver them. I’ve come down to save them. I’ve come down to rescue them.”

This is the good news of all of the Scripture: God has come down to deliver, to rescue, to save His people from their oppression.

“I’ve come down to deliver them out of the land 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, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites” (v. 8).

So God reveals to Moses, “I have a purpose, a plan for My people. I’ve come down to deliver them out of Egypt, out of their bondage, out of their slavery, and I’ve come to bring them into a good land.”

God doesn’t just save us out of our sin. He doesn’t just save us out of the domain of darkness. He wants to take us to a good land, the land of light, the land of graced, the land of His mercy.

God lets Moses know something He’s going to need to remember not long after: That there are going to be dangers and enemies in this land—it’s all of those “ites”—the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites. There are going to be enemies in this good land, but God is going to go with them. He’s going to be with them. He’s not going to forsake them.

Now, God’s people had been in Egypt, by this point, for 400 years. This deliverance had been long-awaited. I think it’s likely that most of the Jews, every one of whom had now been born a slave to parents who had been born slaves of parents who had been born slaves. They didn’t know anything else. And most of them had probably given up on their circumstances ever changing. They may have felt that God didn’t see them, that God didn’t care, and maybe that God didn’t even exist.

But the fact is, God heard. God saw. God knew what they were going through all along. And He came down to deliver them at just the right time. And when was that? The right time was whenever God knew that He would get the most glory, that His grace would be magnified.

Now, God could have gone directly down to Egypt and just wiped out Pharaoh and the Egyptians and set His people free. He could have just transported them to this good and Promised Land. He didn’t have to go through all this stuff about the plagues and all the people dying and the swarms of locusts and all that. He didn’t have to go through this dead-end at the Red Sea. God didn’t have to go through all this drama. He could have just supernaturally set His people free in a moment.

But God had come to this wilderness in Midian and reached out to Moses, looking for someone that He could use to accomplish His purposes and His plan. God normally works through people. Yes, God could just rescue that marriage. God could rescue that prodigal. Yes, God could, in a moment speak peace into your life circumstances. But maybe He wants to use you as part of that process

So we have in verse 10 the call, the commissioning of Moses. God says in verse 10:

“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

God says, “I’m looking for a person. I want to use you. But, Moses, you’re going to have to be willing to get up from this safe, anonymous place, and go back to the place that you ran from forty years ago.”

As I read this, I’m reminded that approximately 1500 years later, 2,000 years ago, God would send another Man—His Son Jesus—to deliver His people from their sin. So the commissioning, the sending of Moses foretells, it foreshadows God’s sending His own Son to this fallen earth to rescue and redeem His people.

Well, Moses’ head is spinning—shall we say? And as we look at verse 11–13, we see that he had some strenuous objections. (He wasn’t quite there yet.)

“But Moses said to God . . .” God says, “I’m sending you,” but Moses said to God. Here’s his first objection.

“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (v. 11).

Moses is saying, “Who am I to do this job?”

God says in verse 12—here’s the answer:

“I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve [or worship] God on this mountain.”

God is saying, “It doesn’t really matter who you are. What matters is who I am.” (We’re going to look more closely at that tomorrow.) “I will be with you.”

And then God gives Moses a sign, a promise that would validate that he had been sent from God. God is saying, “My power will enable you to fulfill your calling.”

And your calling, at times, seems: “But God, who am I?”

I have felt that way ever since day one of starting this Revive Our Hearts ministry. “Lord, who am I? I feel so inadequate, so unable to do this.” And over and over again God’s Word assures me, “It’s not who you are. It’s who I am.”

God has been faithful to keep His promises. He has gone with me. He goes with you. His presence, His power, His promises are what sustain and strength and enable us to do whatever He has called us to do, no matter how unbelievably difficult or impossible it may seem.

Well, Moses isn’t done objecting. Verse 13: “Then Moses said to God”—he has a comeback, a pushback:

“If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

So first Moses says, “Who am I to do this job?” And now Moses goes, “But who are You? When the people want to know who You are, what am I supposed to tell them? My name isn’t going to convince them. They’re not going to believe me. They need to know who You are. What is Your name?”

The Lord sent His Son to rescue us, to deliver you and me from our sins. He came to bring us into a good land. And He wants to use you to help others find deliverance and rescue in Christ. And we do, we feel inadequate. We feel ill-prepared. We feel, This is a bigger job than I could possibly do.

And that job for you right now may be raising two toddlers, or two teens—and some days they feel like about the same. (laughter) It may be trying to hold down a job as a single mom and be present with your kids as a mom and be in their lives while they’re going through some difficult challenges.

It may be a situation at work where you’re going against the flow, and you want to represent Christ there, but you say, “Who am I?”

God says, “It’s not, ‘Who you are? It’s who am I.” And the Great I AM is who we’re going to look at tomorrow. He will be with you.

So tomorrow we’re going to find out the answer to that question Moses asked God: “What is Your name?” And the answer to that question makes all the difference to you and to me every day in whatever God has called us to do.

Leslie: If you feel inadequate, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has shown you why it’s so important to connect with God and get to know Him. When you discover who He is, it will help you know who you are.

Nancy will be right back to pray.

Do you appreciate hearing this kind of teaching day by day? I sure do. And I’d like to thank a special group of people who’ve stepped up in a big way to make it possible for us to listen. It’s the Monthly Partner Team, and they’ve committed to pray for Revive Our Hearts. They share the message with others, and they give at least $30 a month. This provides consistent support to Revive Our Hearts when other listener donations may fluctuate.

Our Ministry Partners are closely tied in to the mission of Revive Our Hearts. They stay connected with us, and we stay connected with them. For example, our Partners receive a devotional booklet each month that we call “Daily Reflections.” They also receive one complimentary registration to a conference each year. That means, this year our Partners can attend Revive ’19, the conference we’ll be hosting in the fall, at no charge for the registration.

If you’ve found Revive Our Hearts to be a help and a blessing in your life, would you ask the Lord if He wants you to be a member of our Monthly Partner Team? Get all the details on how to do that by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

How would you describe yourself to someone else? Nancy says you can’t really know who you are until you know who God is. She’ll be back tomorrow to show you how to better understand your own identity. Please join us again for Revive Our Hearts.

Now, here’s Nancy to pray.

Nancy: So, Father, thank You that You come and meet with us in places of desert and desolation, places where we’re just thinking it’s an ordinary day, ordinary circumstances. We’re not expecting much. And then You show up. Thank You that You do.

Thank You that You show up through Your Word, through circumstances, through Your people. Help us to see, to recognize, and to turn aside to listen to what You’re saying, to see what You’re doing in our world this day.

May we see Your hand. May we trust You. And may we be responsive to Your call. When You call our name, help us to say, “Here. Here I am.” And then to trust Your promises. You are with us, and You will do this work in and through us for Your glory. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you draw closer to the Lord. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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