Tony Evans - The Dominion of a Man
Far too many of us have a relationship with God that is more like a flicker of a candle than the brilliance of a noonday sun. We have church. We have Christianese when what we really need is a fresh encounter and experience with the Most High God. One of the most famous encounters in Scripture is the encounter with God by Moses at a burning bush. Some backstory will help us to appreciate qualifying for an encounter. Moses is pasturing a flock of his father-in-law's sheep in a wilderness.
This is the same Moses who grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was picked up out of the Nile River by Pharaoh's daughter, brought in to Pharaoh's house, raised as Pharaoh's son, and was an heir to Pharaoh's throne. But at 40 years old, he had a misstep. At 40 years old, even though he had made a commitment to God, he blew it. He decided to go independently of God to take matters into his own hands and to depend on his own expertise and self-sufficiency to accomplish the program of God of delivering his people.
And out of that miscalculation he committed murder, a sin that you really can't recover from because the person that the sin is against is gone. His murderous act was discovered, reported on, and he had to run for his life. When we find Moses in chapter 3, he's 80 years old. There is a 40-year gap between his misstep and his encounter. There's 40 years between his failure and him running smack dab into God. During these 40 years, he's in a wilderness leading sheep.
I wonder whether there's anyone here today who are leading sheep. And by that, I simply mean life is not working out like you had hoped it would. Something happened years ago, and you still wandering with sheep now. If you could go back and redo it, rehash it, correct it, you would if you could, but you can't. And so, you're just trying to make it. You're just leading sheep. You're just doin' the best you can with what you got, and you're trying to make it life, and it's been going on a long time. Moses has gone on for 40 years, from the time of his infraction to the time of his encounter.
So I wanna start off by giving you some good news, particularly if you're in a wilderness with some sheep. If you're in a dry place, if life has become dull and dreary as you perform your routine, day-to-day task. The good news is that even though there's a 40-year gap, God had not forgotten Moses. So if you're still here, that means there's still hope for a fresh encounter with God. And the reason we wanna look at this encounter is because I wanted to inform your encounter that we're praying that God gives you and me and us. First of all, notice where Moses is. According to verse 1, he's on the west side of the wilderness, and he came to Horeb the mountain of God.
Now, the mountain of God, or Horeb, is Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai is the mountain where the Ten Commandments were given, where God's presence would be manifested in a miraculous way a few chapters from now. But it's called, "The mountain of God". So before he ever experiences an encounter, he's in God's vicinity. He's in the mountain of God. See, a lot of people want an experience with God who don't wanna hang out with where he's located. If you want an encounter with God, you gotta hang out where he is. The mountain of God was his location. The pursuit of God's person must mean you're willing to go into God's presence. The mountain of God, you've gotta... it says, "He went to the mountain". He came to the mountain of God. He did not get the encounter until he reached the location.
So, as long as we insist on a long-distance relationship, that is precisely the relationship we'll have. It will be absent of an encounter. Now, Moses is, to use New Testament terminology, he is a believer. He is what we would call today a "Christian," but he's one without an encounter. He's one just going through the routine. But now that he enters into the vicinity of the mountain of God, God's location, he has positioned himself for an encounter. We're told that the angel of the Lord appears to him.
Now, this goes on to tell us that the Angel of the Lord is, in fact, God 'cause it says, "And God said to him". So the Angel of the Lord is equated with God. Or to put it another way, the Angel of the Lord, when equated with God, is Jesus Christ operating in the Old Testament. He is the manifestation of the second person of the Trinity who is the spokesperson for the Father. The Angel of the Lord appears to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush. Now, Moses is in the wilderness. He's seen plenty of bushes on fire in the dry atmosphere of a wilderness. Brushfires happen all the time. But this particular fire was unusual because the fire was burning and the bush was not being consumed.
Let me say that again. He saw a fire. That is not what caught his attention. What caught his attention was the fire wasn't doing what fires normally do, which is consume that which is burning. Let me say this another way. What he saw was a contradiction. He saw something taking place outside of the norm. One of the ways you know you're on the precipice of an encounter with God is when he presents you a contradictory situation. Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up". He didn't skip it. He investigate it further. He said, "I've gotta understand what's going on now 'cause this doesn't make sense".
Many of us have missed an encounter with God because we ignored the contradiction. So he turns aside. I love verse 4: "When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called him". God did not call him until he responded to the contradiction. There's a biblical principle that is stated in the New Testament that simply says, "When you respond to what God has done, he will give you more". "He that hath, more will be given. He does not have, that which he has will be taken away". Which is another way of saying when God shows up, don't ignore it. Respond to it, and he will give you more, for God is not about to waste his glory.
When God saw him turn aside, it says, "He called him from the midst of the bush". And then God speaks to him and says, "Moses, Moses". We call that a Rhema Word. This is when God calls your name. This is when you know he's talking to you. Perhaps you've been in service, and the sermon was for everybody, but you heard it for you. It was though you were the only person there, and you knew God was talking to you in your circumstance. That's a Rhema Word. It's an utterance with your name on it. The question is, do you hear it for you? Do you hear God calling your name in the situation you're in, in the wilderness that has been an extended place for you because there is a contradiction that does not make sense?
He says, "Moses, Moses". If you are seeking a personal word from God this year in your personal wilderness, in your personal circumstance, then you must be in his presence, you must respond to the things that don't make sense until you hear him call your name. To be his presence and prayer and the Word positions you in the mountain of God. Moses says, "Here I am. You called me, and I'm not runnin' from ya. I'm runnin' to ya. I'm here". And now the Lord gives him more information because he responds to his name being called. "Do not come near here; remove your sandals," verse 5, "from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground".
Now, if you'll read this too fast, it'll be easy to miss something. God is speaking from the bush. Moses is standing on the ground. Moses is told, "Don't come to the bush. Take off your shoes where you are because you in my territory right now. You in my vicinity". So, the holy ground, he wasn't a bush. The holy ground was the place he was standing, which wasn't the bush. I'm not going to let you get this close to the fire with your shoes on. So let me make something inextricably clear. You cannot have an encounter with God if you're unwilling to deal with sin. If you're unwilling to acknowledge it, repent of it, if you're unwilling, you can't get to the bush. 'Cause before you ever get to the bush, you gotta be willing to take off your shoes, the accumulated dirt. Because this is holy ground.
"Holy" means "to separate". It's something that's sacredly separated. "I wanna separate you from your sin so that I can give you an encounter with the holy one". He spoke to Moses in a contradictory situation using an ordinary object. See, the bush was already there. It's an ordinary bush that's been invaded by a supernatural presence. So I don't know how God is gonna meet you, but any ol' bush will do. He can use the most ordinary thing and set fire to it to create the most ingenious contradictions in order to manifest himself. God identifies himself, "Moses, I am the God of your fathers. I have seen the affliction," verse 7, "of my people. I have come down to deliver them".
Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute, what's goin' on here? Well, remember, this whole thing started 80 years ago. Moses knew he was supposed to be used of God to deliver the people. He knew God had a hand on his life. He just didn't do it God's way. There may be those of us who knew way back somewhere, "God was gonna do something with my life," but nothing has happened. It's not happening yet, and we've been wandering in the wilderness. God says, "I did not forget what I planned for you. I did not forget what I planned for my people, but the problem back then is that you wanted to do it your way. So I had to bring you down to earth. You had too much Egypt in you".
And often we have too much world in us. So God can't do what he wants to do at the time we think it oughta be done because we've been too Egyptianized. Now, he doesn't tell him the program until Moses has an encounter with the person. See, a lot of folk wanna know the program who don't want the person. He gives him a big job. "I want you to go to Pharaoh and I want you tell this monster man to let my people go". That's a big job. Let me tell you a secret when you have an encounter with God. If there's nothing in your life that only God can do, you'll forever be tending sheep. He didn't know, but God was usin' this humbling of sheep to prepare him for the leading of people.
So, Moses has a question. He has a question. Moses has a question he wants to know. "Now, you want me to go to Pharaoh, where they already have threatened my life and I've been hidin' for 40 years? Not only do I have a Pharaoh problem, I got an Israel problem 'cause they the ones who told on me". In fact, the Bible says when he killed the Egyptian who was beatin' up the Israelites, he looked in every direction to make sure nobody was seein' him. He kills the Egyptian. It gets reported to Pharaoh that one of his soldiers has been killed by his adopted son, Moses.
How did Pharaoh get this information if there was nobody to be seen? There's only two options. One is there was somebody looking that Moses didn't see. That's one option. But let's say Moses was accurate, that nobody saw him. That mean his own brother told on him. So, "I got a problem even with my peeps 'cause I'm gonna go back and tell them, lookin' like a fool, 'God told me to tell y'all that I'm supposed to lead y'all out of here.' You actually want me to go tell them that? I've been in absentia for 40 years, and you want me to go back and tell? Do I have this correct, God? Well, they're gonna ask a question, and the question they're gonna ask is, 'What's his name?' They're going to want to know, 'What's his name?'" God says to him... "But Moses said to God," verse 11, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh"? "I'm nobody".
Boy, that's a change over 40 years 'cause he was somebody 40 years ago. He was the man. "'That I should bring the people out?' He says, 'I'm gonna be with you.' Moses said, 'Behold, I'm going to the sons of Israel, I will say to them,'" verse 13, "'The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is his name?' 'WHO I AM; then you will say,'" verse 14, "to the sons of Israel, 'I AM have sent you.'" What kinda name is that? He says, "Who shall I tell them sent me"? "You tell them my name, and my name is I AM THAT I AM. Not only am I I AM, I AM THAT I AM. I define myself by me".
There's only one independent person in the universe, and that is God because he exists because he exists. And he does not need anything outside of himself to be himself, because he's not dependent upon anything outside of himself. You are all, I am, we are all dependent on him. Well, why does he want Moses to know this name? Because of this encounter. He wants to know him to know that name because when he runs into this next problem that he's gettin' ready to run into named Pharaoh, see, encounter with God doesn't mean you're not runnin' into no new problems.
He's runnin' into another problem from an old foe, and he says: When you run into this problem, Pharaoh is the big man on campus. He's the ace boon coon. He's the number-one man. He's the man. He's gonna threaten you. He's gonna challenge you. He's gonna scare you. But I want you to know I AM THAT I AM. And the reason you need to know this is when you face Pharaoh, big and bad Pharaoh, you're gonna have to know somebody who is so self-sufficient that he can be whatever you need when you run up against Pharaoh. "So I AM gonna be your Power. I AM gonna be your Deliverer. I AM gonna be your Sustainer. I AM gonna be your Victory. I AM THAT I AM so I won't need help to be me for you".
Which goes back to a theme that we've gone over and over again, and that is you only have one Source. You only have one Source, "I AM THAT I AM". So, you ain't, but he is. 'Cause, "I AM THAT I AM. I AM the Sufficient one, but I am personal, therefore relational". Many people want his provision who don't want his person. They want Elohim, his power, but not Yahweh, his I AM-ness. But if you desire an encounter with God this year, I invite you to pursue the mountain of God, to get in his presence. I encourage you to not ignore the contradictory things that he allowed you to see or experience and to move closer to him when they occur. I invite you to listen to the sound of his voice calling your name, and then the assignment that he attaches to the call.
You know, a catch-22, or when you're between a rock and a hard place, that's a great spot to encounter God. That's exactly what happened to the children of Israel when they were caught between the Red Sea and Pharaoh's army. They couldn't go back. They couldn't go forward. It looked like they were trapped. But guess what? It was a trap set up by God himself so that God could give his people a fresh encounter with who he is and what his power is like when it gets manifested. So, if God's got you trapped, you don't know which way to go, and every direction you look in, there is no place to go, look up because God is preparing you to run smack-dab into his greatness, his power, and his deliverance. He's preparing you for a divine encounter. At your Red Sea, or if you're being chased by Pharaoh, God wants to let you see what it looks like when he opens up a way out of no way.