Sunday, April 26, 2009

Exodus 4 - There's no good reason to believe in God? (part 1)

The weird thing about Christians isn’t that we love one another. It’s that we believe in God. Christians – may as well believe in fairies and the flying spaghetti monster – neither are more likely to be real than God, right There were days when I’d go into my job in a high street bank and find myself thinking am I just stupid and quaint to be a Christian, surrounded by those who aren’t Christians. Surely, faith is: believing without evidence, right? Why should anyone believe that God is really among us this morning (1 Cor 14v25)? Why should anyone take seriously our claims to know Jesus, personally, relationally?

We find Moses at the famous burning bush, meeting with God. He believes because he’s meeting with God. And the disciples of Jesus believed he had risen from the dead because they met with him. But, what about when Moses goes back to Israel, or what about the people we meet in Exeter? Is this church thing just Narnia? Real for us, but then we go back out through the wardrobe into the real world where no-one really believes this stuff anymore? When all is said and done, “There’s no good reason to believe God, right?”

Moses says “They wont believe me” (4v1) Why should they? Last they saw Moses he was fleeing, and that was 40 years ago. He’s hardly credible. Though, look at 4v14, his brother in a Levite. Which means Moses is a Levite – and they’re God’s priests, they’re the ones who get to meet with God. If anyone might have met God they he might. When the media wants God’s take they ask Archbishops and Theologians right?
Still, wouldn’t Moses be better to plead the Blair defence: “We don’t do God” and get on with the business at hand. Going to war against a foreign dictator in the name of God – sounds like some crazed fundamentalism… The LORD listens and then speaks. Don’t focus on Moses’ wriggling – in the Bible it’s always about God revealing himself.

The LORD gives Moses Wonders, or signs. Two or even three witnesses to make his testimony credible. v2-4 a staff that turns into a snake. v6-7 a leprous/healing hand. v8-9 turning the Nile to blood. Biblically it’s always two or three witnesses to make things secure. Two or three to convict a criminal in Deuteronomy 17 and 19, Two or three tongues , two or three prophecies in 1 Corinthians 14. Two or three witnesses in church discipline in 2 Corinthians 13 and Matthew 18. These wonders are signs. Signs of what? v5  “so that they will believe the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has appeared to Moses” – the LORD who – 2v24 – remembers his promises to his people. Zachary means The LORD remembers. He remembers his promise to save. Now, as promised (Gen 15), 400 years after Abraham, at just the right time, the LORD comes to his people. 

There are wonders for Moses and Words. But, 4v10 “I’m not eloquent”. Though, neither was Paul as he preached the good news about the crucifixion of Jesus.We see in 4v11-16 that: - Moses mouth will be the LORD’s mouth - Aaron’s mouth will be Moses’ mouth - What the LORD says, Moses will say to Aaron and Aaron will say to the people - What Aaron says, the LORD says. - In the same way that, what Scripture says, through Moses and others, the LORD says. This is God’s word. - And may it be so in our preaching, may the preached word be the word of God to us – a gospel word of God’s promises , his appearing, his coming, his rescue, Christ coming in his word to offer himself to us week by week. Not by our eloquence but in the Spirit's power.

And so Moses goes to Israel. He has his wonders and his gospel words. Moses things, 4v1, they wont believe. What happens? Look at 4v31: “The people believed!” Believed what? That the LORD had visited. Bible words have Bible meanings: Visit means save (Ruth 1v6, Luke 1v68). They believe God’s rescue.

Still some say having faith is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute, and people say “I wish I had your faith” but they really mean “I’m just not stupid enough to believe when there’s no evidence”. Others say, but we have to rule out miracles and divine words, they just don’t happen. And, if there is no god then that’s fair enough, but that’s presuming the answer in advance. And people say, you’ve had time to prove your case. But I say, there is evidence that has not been considered. Contemplate the possibility that there is a God who wants to save people for himself, a God who might do what most of us do to make himself known – by speaking, and who might write himself into his world to save us. I tell you he has. He has in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

...Yet, true isn’t enough. There are a pile of insurance papers sitting in our house, unread. They’re authentic – I know from the company logo, from the date they got delivered and from the corresponding debit from our bank account. It’ll take more than being intellectually robust to move me to read them. Plenty of true stuff in this world is ignored. True things have to be eye-catching, breath-taking, and existentially satisfying enough to raise our heart-rate, and interrupt our busy lives. And so, we cannot just stop this morning with true. Yes, there is good reason to believe God. Look at the wonders. Listen to the words. In Exodus. Today. In Jesus.

Yet, come further up and further in... (to be continued)

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