Out of the Box and Into the Fire Lesson #3: An Unexpected Meeting

Posted: December 4, 2014 by keystoneyouth in Out of the Box and Into the Fire
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An Unexpected Meeting

Opening Activity: Dancing Videos from Thanksgiving

Background:

  • We are in a series titled “Out of the Box and Into the Fire.” In this series we are looking at the beginning of Exodus. The series is titled as such because the primary event of the part of Exodus that we are looking at is Moses encounter at the burning bush. I also gave the series this title for two other reasons: #1 We can’t control God and #2 God is in many respects mysterious to us.
  • Two weeks ago we looked at Exodus chapter 1 and talked about how God rules over the good and the bad. We talked specifically about God’s sovereignty and how even though we may not always know why things happen in our life, we can know who is allowing those things to happen and can trust him in the midst of any of life’s circumstances.
  • Last week we looked at Exodus chapter 2 and talked about how God is unchanging in who he is, his plans and purposes for us, and his promises to us. We looked at how Moses’ failure does not cause God to cast him aside and look for a new person to work through and we ended by talking about how prayer moves on unchanging God to change things.
  • This week we come to one of the most well-known parts of the Bible – the account of Moses and the burning bush. In this account we see how God still plans to use Moses to save the Israelites and his purpose for Moses is simply that Moses will obey and trust God. We also see how God is responding to the prayers of the Israelites. Since we have already covered these parts of the story in the previous weeks, we will look new character of God this passage reveals: His holiness

Purpose: To look at how God reveals himself in the first four chapters of Exodus. To show that God is far greater than our minds can comprehend and to combat the desire that we have to fit God into a neat box.

Big Idea: Encountering God alters our lives.

Main Points:

  • The mundane parts of our lives are not wasted
  • God is separate from this world… and yet he acts in this world
  • Encountering a holy God changes us

Read Exodus 3:1-10

The Truman Show

  • In 1998 a movie called The Truman Show premiered starring Jim Carry
  • This movie tells the story of a man named Truman Burbank.
  • Truman is part of a reality show and he doesn’t realize it.
  • He is 29 years old and has lived every single moment of his life under the lens of a camera without even realizing it.
  • Not only that, but everything in his life has been someway controlled by the directors of the reality show. Everyone he comes into contact with is an actor, including his best friend and even his wife.
  • The movie tells the story of how Truman begins to discover that something is not quite right about his life and world.
  • It all builds up to the moment when Truman attempts to escape from the world that he has been created in. He ends up in a boat trying to find a way out and the creators of the show are doing everything they can to keep in him this world.
  • Thunder, lightning, waves – they get to the verge of killing Truman until they decide to let him choose if he wants to stay or not.
  • Truman is able to find the door that leads outside – all of his life has been leading up till this point – all of the movie has been leading up till this point – this is the climax. What happens here will in some way alter the course of his life.
  • The story of Moses and the Israelites that we have been looking at over the past couple weeks has all led up to a climax. The Israelites have been in slavery. Moses failed to help them and runs away. God hears their cry and remembers his promises. It’s all leading up to a climax. And the climax happens in tonight’s passage.

Big Idea: Encountering God alters our lives.

The mundane parts of our lives are not wasted

  • Moses has been a shepherd for 40 years according to acts 7:30.
    • There are not many jobs that are more boring then being a shepherd.
    • Everyday, the shepherd takes his sheep out to find grazing. Everyday, he makes sure that all the sheep are present, that none of them are injured, that all of them being fed well.
    • About the only interesting part is when an attacker comes.
    • Ex. I think of it like being a nighttime security guard. Nothing is ever interesting until there is potential danger.
  • We realize that God is using this time, not as punishment, but as preparation. God is preparing Moses to lead the Israelites through the wilderness.
  • Think about all the patience, endurance, and gentleness Moses would have gained from these years.
    • He would have gained patience from dealing with dumb sheep.
    • He would have gained endurance from the many days in the outdoor conditions, searching for pastures and water.
    • He would have gained gentleness from binding up sheep’s wounds, pulling thorns out of sheep’s feet.
  • Point: God is not wasting our lives even when they may seem boring or mundane. He using those parts of our lives to change us, make us more like Christ, and or train us and prepare us for something further along in our lives.
  • Working at Friendship – I worked there during college and I remember often feeling how frustrating or mundane the job was. Yet I know God was making me a more patient person and a more understanding person through my time there. There will be times in your lives when you feel like certain parts of your life (work, home, friends) are mundane and frustrating. But, it is important to remember in these times that God is using those things to shape and change you.
  • For You:
    • High School is not a waste – even if you can’t wait to get out and move on to college or a job.
    • Your job is not a waste – even if its boring and doesn’t pay well
    • When you get out of college and you don’t find the job that you were expecting or looking for – College was not a waste and your job that you may end up working is not a waste
    • Not every part of your life will be exciting – in fact many parts of your life will seem rather mundane – God uses the mundane in our lives to accomplish his purposes in and through us.

God is separate from this world… and yet he acts in this world

  • One day, Moses gets an excitement that is not induced by an attacker.
  • He sees a bush that is on fire, but is not burning. He turns aside to get a closer look at this phenomenon.
    • I wonder if he had the same reaction initially that hunter’s often have after they’ve been sitting in the woods for several hours. Did he think his eyes were playing a trick on him?
  • The bush speaks to Moses!
  • Although that is what it would have appeared to be to Moses, we are told that it was actually God speaking to Moses from the bush.
  • God tells Moses that he is standing on holy ground.
  • The ground and the surrounding area are made holy because a holy God is present
  • Moses learns that he is encountering a holy God 

What do we mean when we talk about God as holy?

  • One of the things we say about God is that God is Holy.
  • What does this passage teach us about holiness?
  • Holiness as separateness
    • One of the common ways the bible uses the word holy is to say that something is set apart.
    • It is different – it is separate.
    • “Moses stay back – don’t come any closer” helps us to see that holiness means separation.
    • Example: My suit and tie are set apart for special occasions.
    • It carries with this the meaning that it is a “cut above.”
    • Example: Bacon is a cut above pig’s feet. They are both pork, but one is far greater than the other.
    • Both of these are descriptions still mean that what is “holy” is of the same stuff as what is not holy.
    • My suit and tie are still clothes.
    • Bacon is still pork.
    • When the bible speaks of God as holy it must mean more than this.
  • Holiness as transcendence
    • Definition: existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level
      • “climb across” ; “exceeding usual limits”
    • Example: Interstellar – They seek to transcend time and space. If they can figure out a way to do these things, then they are able to use time and gravity for their purposes.
    • Example: When you fly in a plane you are able to transcend the laws of driving – you don’t have to follow a specific road – you don’t have a speed limit that you must obey (Imperfect example).
  • When the bible calls God Holy – it means primarily that God is transcendently separate – He is so far above and beyond us that he seems most totally foreign to us.
  • God is outside of creation – he is not part of the created world. He cannot be blinded by the sun, blown by a hurricane, chilled by a polar vortex. God does not orbit according to the pattern of the planets. God does not run out of fuel an stop burning as the stars do. God is not made up of matter or held together by gravitational forces. God exists apart from the entire universe. He would continue to exist if the world were to end tomorrow and he would continue to exist if the universe ceased to exist a week from now.
  • But, God acts in this world. He reveals himself to us (as he did to Moses through the burning bush) and he carries out his plans and purposes in the world as he does by sending Moses to save the Israelites from Pharaoh.
  • God is separate from the world and yet acts in the world…
  • As such, he can do what is contrary to nature
    • This is why he can appear as a flame in the bush and yet the bush is not actually on fire or burning up
    • He can turn the Nile River into Blood
    • He can spread water into two walls
    • He can save the Israelites from the most powerful man in the world
    • He can save humans from sin.
    • He can overcome death itself.

 

Encountering a holy God changes us

  • We respond to God’s holiness with awe.
  • Or, in other words, we respond with reverence mixed with fear and wonder.
  • When we experience a new culture – new customs, new smells, new food. We may experience a combination of fear and excitement. A fear at encountering things that are completely new to us, and at the same time an excitement at trying those things.
  • When we encounter God this is feeling is greatly multiplied. It’s not just a new custom, new language, new foods, new smells and sights, but it is coming in contact with a completely different being.
  • How does Moses respond
    • Wonder – What is this?
    • Reverence – Take off your shoes and don’t come any closer
    • Fear – he covers his face when he realizes who he’s looking at.
  • When we come into contact with a holy God – we see God for who he is and we see ourselves for who we are
    • God is the creator
    • We are creatures
    • God is pure and without sin
    • We are impure sinners
  • If we have truly come to know God there should be times of awe. There should be feelings of wonder and reverence and fear.
  • How does encountering a holy God changes us?
  • Moses removes his sandals, covers his face, and is sent on a mission.
  • Some people say the first two represent Moses’ conversion experience.
  • Every time we encounter a holy God we should realize how small and desperate we are. We should realize how sinful we are. AND we should realize how great and wonderful God is. We should see how able he is to save us from our sin.
  • Encountering a holy God also sets us on a mission.
  • For Moses, he was set on the mission to save the Israelites.
  • If Moses serves a God who is holy than that God is capable of accomplishing the impossible.
  • For us, we get set on a mission to serve God and proclaim the gospel. If we serve a God who is holy then he is capable of accomplishing the impossible through us.
  • If our mission is not to serve God and proclaim the gospel then we may need a fresh encounter with the holiness of God.

Conclusion

  • Coming in contact with a holy God changes us. It leads us to see that we can’t control God. It leads us to respond to God with awe. We see ourselves as we are and we see God as he is. A holy God ultimately shows us our need for Christ and keeps us dependent on Christ and God’s grace extended to us in Christ.
  • How do we come in contact with a Holy God?
  • Through Christ – Christ is the holy God who has come to save us. He makes it possible for us to approach God and know him.
  • Example: The Truman show was all about how Truman was going to find his way out of his world into another. The story of the Bible is all about how God has come into our world to save us and save the world through Christ.
  • Through his word – the Bible
  • Through asking him to show us his holiness.

So What?

  • God uses even the most boring parts of our lives to prepare us and change us.
  • Seeing God as holy helps us to understand who he is and who we are.
  • We get changed by coming into contact with a holy God.
  • We get set apart by God for a mission.

 

 

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