Michael Youssef - Treasure That Lasts - Part 4
You know, 100 years from now, if the Lord has not returned meanwhile, when history books are written about our time and our generation, I think they're gonna say that our generation perfected the art of excuse-making. Now, to be sure, making excuses rather than taking responsibility, is as old as the Garden of Eden. Placing the blame on someone else and avoiding taking responsibility is not new. But our generation has perfected this into a art form. Since Eve said, "The devil made me do it," and Adam says, "Eve made me do it," humanity has been repeating this refrain to a point, as I said, now it's become acceptable. When God appeared to Moses for the first time ever, in the desert, Moses had at least four excuses as to why he could not go back and rescue the people of God from the slavery of Egypt: four.
Why he couldn't do what God is asking him to do. I don't want you to miss the irony here, okay? I don't want you to miss the irony. Forty years earlier, Moses thought that he is the guy who was gonna deliver them from the slavery of Egypt, remember? But during those 40 years with the Midianites, with all these Bedouins in the desert, Moses lost his self-confidence. Now, 40 years later, his self-confidence hit rock bottom. So listen carefully to what I'm gonna tell you. We have a great God and a God who is the best bottom-fisher that there is. God specializes in rescuing those who hit rock bottom. God loves to lift up those who hit rock bottom. God does not despise the brokenhearted.
As a matter of fact, David tells us that, "a broken and contrite heart, God will not despise". But if you are visiting with us, we're learning about how Moses gave up the world's gold for God's glory. But that did not happen overnight. There was a process and that's why I wanted to encourage you and I want to show you how God dealt with him and how God deals with every one of us and he deals with every one of us differently. I can tell you Moses had a sensitive spirit. He had a... I'm gonna show you. For 40 years in the desert, with the Midianites, he was brooding. He was brooding over his rejection by his own people. Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that Moses is God's man. He was God's man without a doubt, but he had to learn that he had to serve God God's way, above all in God's timing.
And so, for 40 years, dear old Moses wandered as a shepherd of the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro, with all his Bedouins in the land of Midian. Most likely, by now, 40 years later, Moses began to overcome his emotional pain. I'm gonna show it to you from the Scripture. There can be no doubt that in the land of Midian Moses's life during those 40 years probably alternated between depression and hope, between concern for the plight of his people and a sense of hopelessness, between wanting to do something and a sense of resignation.
You say, "Michael, how do you know that"? And I'm glad you asked 'cause I wanna show you, ha, ha. In the Old Testament, the way they named their children is an indication of the mood of the person that was in at that time. Poor kids, ha, ha, ha. I'm gonna show you from the Scripture. If you're in a jovial mood, you're gonna give your kids very jovial names, upbeat names. If you're down and discouraged and depressed, you're gonna give them sad names.
Let me illustrate this. Do you remember Eli the priest in the temple where Samuel came and served and ministered with him? Do you remember that? Eli's daughter-in-law was expecting a baby. She was in labor, and she was about to deliver her baby when somebody came with bad news. They said, "Your husband is killed in the battle, his brother was killed in the battle, and Israel lost the war against the Philistines". And she was totally depressed so she named her son, "Ichabod," the glory of the Lord has departed.
So this happens here with Moses, same thing. When Moses was feeling depressed, after he fleed out of Egypt, he named his first son, Gershom, which means "alien, stranger, foreigner in a foreign land". But then later, as he began to experience emotional healing in his life, as he became to experience all kinds of healing from that past negative experience that was horrible experience in Egypt, he named his second son, Eliezer, which means, "the Lord delivered me". And he began to trust in the sovereignty of God again. Talking of course, delivering him from the sword of Pharaoh. So, during those 40 years of Moses going through God's school in the desert, and I know some of you may be going through that desert right now. You're going through a dry time right now, and you're thirsting for God right now.
The good news is that the school of the desert has only one teacher and his name is Yahweh. And he is the best teacher. In the desert school, there are no sun worshipers like in Egypt. In the desert school, there are no nature worshipers like in Egypt. But there he meets and confronts and sees the very God who created the sun and the moon and the stars. There he meets the God who is the Creator of nature. What was God saying to Moses? He was preparing Moses to put up with the most cantankerous, murmuring, complaining people on the face of the earth. He would never have leaned that in the pampered palace of Egypt. No, sir. Only by working with dumb sheep could he learn how to lead these people out of Egypt.
Turn with me to Exodus chapters 3 and 4. When we come here at chapter 3 of the book of Exodus, we basically see Moses about to overcome and about to experience some healing from past hurts. And just as this was happening in his life, lo and behold, God shows up. And he doesn't show up just to say, "Hey, Moses, how you doing, buddy"? No, he said to him, he said, "Moses, I'm sending you back to Egypt". "Egypt! I've just barely got over hearing the term 'Egypt' without shivering," ha, ha, ha. In the burning bush, Moses sees burning but it's not burnt out. And there, God confronts him with his past. God showed up. God shows up in the middle of the burning bush and says to Moses, "Go back to Egypt," and he says, "Whoo, any place but that". "I wanted you to deliver my people. This time, I'm doing it, not you. This time, it's gonna be done in my name and in my power and in my timing".
It's not surprising unless you are super-spiritual and you may be a super-spiritual. I can tell you right now, I am not. And therefore, it's not surprising that Moses immediately came up with four different excuses as to why he shouldn't go there. So read them with me. Four different excuses, one after the other. What is he saying to God? Here's a Youssef translation, okay? You're not gonna find it in your Bible. A Youssef translation: "Lord, I blew it once; I don't wanna blow it again". "Lord, I misunderstood your will once; I don't wanna misunderstand it again". By the way, Moses did not misunderstand God's will, he misunderstood God's timing.
And so, excuse number one, verse 11, chapter 3, Exodus: "Who am I"? This is a Hebrew way of saying, "You got the wrong man". You got the wrong man. Who am I? Oh, what happened to Mr. Egypt? What happened to Mr. Fix-It? What happened to Pharaoh's adopted grandson? What happened to the general who led the wars and was victorious for the greatest army on the face of the earth at the time? Ah, all of that has been stripped of Moses. But that's not bad. That's not bad because he got God, right? And that's everything. Hear me right, please. Right now, some of you are feeling inadequate about what God is asking you to do. Some of you are feeling incapable of doing what you believe God wants you to do. The good news is, God is announcing to you the same good news that he announced to Moses.
Look at it with me in the Scripture: verse 12 of Exodus 3. "I will be with you". I must confess to you as I'm preparing throughout the week, every time I came to that part of the verse, I teared up. "I will be with you". When he's with you, you've got everything. I know I'm speaking to someone here today and probably somebody watching around the world, right now. I'm speaking to someone who is feeling brokenness, who is feeling failure, and allowing that brokenness and failure to paralyze you.
You have ceased to live for Christ, you have ceased to give of yourself. You have ceased to witness for Christ. You have ceased to do anything great for God. You have become spiritually paralyzed. You keep on holding back. You keep on rehearsing your excuses in your head. You keep on rehearsing the past. You keep on being chained to your present and God wants you to move with the future. Excuse number one: "Who am I? You got the wrong man? I'm nothing, I'm nobody". Excuse number two: "Who will I tell them sent me"?
Now, you know this. In the Middle East, names are very important. Oh, extremely important. It's who you know and who your family name is and your family name is very important. It really is. Remember this: Moses had a big name in Egypt. He used to. His name opened doors. His name caused people to salute. His name was Powerhouse. His name made things happened. His name carried enormous clout. Ha, ha, aww, but that was 40 years ago, before he'd been to the school of God. When his people rejected him, when his cousin Pharaoh wanted to kill him, he went from the White House to the jailhouse. So he needed a name bigger than his own. He needed a name more powerful than his own. He needed a name that could make people sit up and take notice.
God so lovingly, so gently, he tells him, "My name is I Am". What is God saying to Moses? He's telling Moses, "I Am the eternal God of your forefathers. I am the God of the past. I'm the God of the present. I'm the God of the future. I am the God who bears and hears the cries of my broken people". Had God said to Moses, "I was the God of Abraham, that would have made him only the God of the past". Had he said to Moses, "My name is 'I can,'" that would make him the God of the present.
If he said to Moses, "My name is 'I will,'" that would have made him only the God of the future, but when he said, "I am," means that I am the God of the past, I am the God of the present, I am the God of the future. I am the only God. No wonder when Jesus identified himself to his fellow Jews, his name was "I Am". I Am the bread of life. I Am the door to eternal life. I Am the Resurrection and the Life. I am the way, the truth and the way to eternal life. I am, I am, I am. I am the same one who introduced himself to Moses those many years ago.
Now, I'm in the flesh. Without him, there can be no salvation. Without him, there can be no forgiveness of sins. Without him, there can't be no eternal life. I Am, I Am. Excuse number one: "Who am I"? Excuse number two: "Who are you"? Excuse number three: "What if they don't believe me"? Look at it, verse 1 of chapter 4, Exodus. "What if they don't believe me"? And here is Moses's root problem. "Lord, I once thought that I could do this, but I was rejected". Don't miss God's response, okay? Here's what God said to Moses: "Moses, stop wallowing in your emotional pain and get on with it". Can you find it? God bless you. "Stop eating worms and get over it". That's not my God. That's not in the Bible.
Verses 2 to 9 of chapter 4 God ever so gently, ever so lovingly, ever so thoughtfully, he gives Moses three dramatic signs to authenticate his mission on which he's sending Moses. "Your staff will become a snake and then back to a staff again. Your hand will be filled with leprosy, but then it will become healed again. The river Nile of Egypt will become into blood and then it will go back again". Not just one sign but three signs. What a great God we worship.
And finally, Moses reserved his last and biggest excuse to the end. Verse 10 of chapter 4, excuse number four. Moses said to the Lord: "Lord, I am slow of speech," wow. Obviously, though, his emotional pain, his emotional shock, 40 years earlier caused him to stutter. Beloved, emotional pain can cause physical pain and sometimes, until you deal with that, your healing is waiting. C'mon now, and what does God do? "Moses, who gave man his tongue? Did I? Moses, who gave man his eyesight? Now go; but this time do it in my name and in my power and in my timing. I will tell you what to say and then have your brother Aaron help you".
And after all of this loving, gentle, kind answers to all of Moses's objection, Moses was still reluctant. God then had to shake him up. If you have not experienced God shaking you up, you're not listening. God was compassionate with his fears. God was compassionate with his anxiety. God was compassionate with his physical and emotional pain. But then he saw Moses's continuous reluctance as an affront to God. And finally, Moses had to obey.
My beloved friends, I don't know what God promised you. I don't know what excuse you're hanging onto and you're making. I don't know what is keeping you from obedience. I don't know. You do. You do. I don't know the reason for your reluctance. I don't know. You do. Let me appeal to you. Stop making excuses. Start trusting God for his name is I Am. Say it with me. His name is... It's the same one who said to Moses, "I will be with you," is saying to everyone who loves him and everyone who put their trust in him, "I will be with you". But there may be one person here today who never really placed their faith in Jesus, never received his forgiveness of sin, never confessed their sin, never took him as a Savior and Lord. That's your first step, and you can do that today.