Here I am – send me: Hector’s sermon on the call of Moses

Kitchener

Hector2This morning, we were delighted to hear Hector Morrison preaching on ‘The Call of Moses.’  He read Exodus 3:1-12; 4:10-13. Here’s a report of what he went on to say.

Hector began by showing us the famous World War 1 recruiting poster, in which a solemn Lord Kitchener, the military man and statesman who was appointed Secretary of State for War, stares at us with unblinking eyes, pointing towards us and declaiming ‘Your country needs you.’

There could be no doubt, Hector said that the message was intended for the person looking at the poster. Yes, YOU!

A similar message was central to the call of Moses. Yes, says God, it’s you I’m looking for; you I’m wanting for this task; you I have my finger on.

It’s not Lord Kitchener’s eyes which follow Moses, not his finger which points at Moses, not his words Moses heard. The message comes from the creator God, the King of Kings, calling Moses to serve.

‘It’s not just your people who need you,’ said God, revealing himself as YHWH, ‘I Am’. ‘I need you. I’m calling you.’

And this is relevant to us today, Hector said, because although people’s circumstances might be different today, God remains the same. Before the coming of Jesus, God called Moses and kings and prophets and many others.  In Jesus, God called disciples. And God calls individuals today – calls us to faith, to fellowship with God and to service.

‘The call of God is on each one of us,’ Hector said. ‘The Creator, the Saviour, Jesus Christ needs YOU!’

Hector wondered whether over the last few weeks some of us may have grown increasingly conscious of being called by God. If we are in that category, then perhaps today is the day to respond in faith.

The backdrop to God’s call

In Exodus 3:7-8 we are assured that God know the pain the Israelites, held captive in Egypt are going through. God does not remain remote and distant. God says ‘I have come down to rescue them.’ (Exodus 3:7)

The first two chapters of Exodus describe the growing oppression experienced by the Israelites, enslaved by the Egyptians. Century by century, their treatment became more and more brutal and oppressive.

They groaned in anguish at their predicament, and God heard them. God remembered the covenant he had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 2:24), the covenant in which he had made many promises to Abraham’s descendants – including the promise that through them all nations would be blessed.

And so today we can be confident that just as God heard the call of the Israelites many centuries ago, so today God hears the cries of the all needy and desperate people of the world, and hearing, God is concerned, and ‘comes down.’

No doubt some the Israelite captives had nurtured a living faith in YHWH and called out to him by name while others immersed in an atmosphere of Egyptian idolatry had lost sight of the God of Abraham. And yet the cries of all of them reached God.

God hears. God comes down to rescue God’s people – God the great Rescuer comes to all those in pain whatever their nationality.

Still today, God comes down. To those in ethnic groups who cry out for help as they face violence, persecution injustice. To those who are sex slaves – some in our own country – who cry out in their brokenness.

God comes down. To those in our culture enslaved by drink, drugs or porn. To those whose lives have been broken by abusive relationships and marital unfaithfulness. God hears the cries of aborted babies. God hears the groans of a broken society.

Ever since Pentecost, Hector said, God has come down in the Holy Spirit in response to prayer.

God comes down.

And one of the ways God comes down to rescue people in pain is through us, through God’s call on our lives.

God’s call to Moses

How was God going to rescue his people, Moses might have wondered. God told him ‘Through YOU! I’m sending YOU!’

And this has always been God’s way.

Jesus said ‘I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. I must bring them also.’ (John 10:16) And how was Jesus to reach those who were not Jews?

Through his disciples. Through the church.

Now, said Hector, we’re all called to be witnesses. ‘But is someone here today sensing a specific call to gospel ministry?

For some, it might be service within the church. A call to children’s work, perhaps. Messy Church. Or to visiting housebound people. Or to a ministry of prayer.

Or to work in the community. Hector had heard of a Highland school whose head teacher is willing to have a Scripture Union Group within her school – but in the last two years no one has volunteered to lead it.

But for others, the call may be to be a preacher, a teacher of the gospel. Hector noted that during the 25 years of Duncan’s ministry a good number of people have gone out from the church into ministry. But why should there not be more?

Hector told us that there are currently 150 vacant pulpits within the Church of Scotland – some of them empty for a long time. 400 ministers are due to retire within the next 5-7 years. Yet only a dozen or so new ministers are completing their training each year. At this rate, there will be a massive deficit within a decade.

Hector mentioned his own call to the ministry 42 years ago. He had sensed a growing burden on his heart for some time, but what brought things to a head was coming across Romans 10:14, and hearing through it the voice of God calling him:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Three billion people around the world have never heard the gospel. Many people in the UK have never heard the true gospel message. Is God saying to us, Hector wondered ‘‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ (Luke 10:2)

But for some of us today, Hector went on the call may be ‘to put your trust in Christ for time and for eternity.’ We may have been drawn towards Christ in recent times, but have never taken the step of trusting, believing and going forward with Jesus as our Saviour and Master.’

Responses to God’s call

In chapter 4 of Exodus, we see Moses piling on the excuses, saying in effect ‘Who am I that I should go?’; ‘God, are you sure you have the right person?’  One thing he mentioned was his lack of eloquence. (Exodus 4:10) Many have said something similar ‘It’s not my gifting, Lord.’

Other people called by God in the Bible similarly made excuses. Gideon, for example, protested ‘How can I save Israel?’ (Judges 6:15); Jeremiah, called to be a prophet at the tender age of 16, responded ‘I’m only a child’ (Jeremiah 1:6) – in other words ‘I’m young, inexperienced’ – and yet he was God’s man.

When Moses ran out of excuses, he fell back on ‘Send someone else!’ (Exodus 4:13) But God gave him the promise of his presence. (4:12) What matters as we respond to God’s call is not who we are or what we are; not our gifts or talents; but the fact that God is with us – God’s presence, power and provision for all our needs.

None of us is called to go forward alone.

Jesus commissioned his disciples: ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’;  and he added ‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:19-20)

Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is in us, with us. Who can be against us? Jesus will fulfil his purposes with us and in us.

What’s our response?

‘Send someone else’ or ‘Here am I, send me.’ (Isaiah’s words, Isaiah 6:8)

‘It is I Lord. I have heard you calling in the night.

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