Text: Exodus 3:11

We are familiar with the golden principle for understanding theology – “Humility, Humility, Humility” (John Calvin). Spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). We will never be able to understand theology with our own feeble intellect unless God illumines and grants us the spiritual comprehension. If we seek heavenly wisdom, we must submit ourself to the Master Teacher who will show us the way.

The same golden principle applies to the service of the Lord – “Humility, Humility, Humility”. No man can serve the Lord if he thinks himself to be somebody. This principle is beautifully encapsulated in Moses’ words to God in Exodus 3:11 – Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

We saw in the earlier studies of Exodus, how Moses was woefully unprepared to lead the children of Israel at the age of 40. When he saw an Egyptian smiting one of his Hebrew brethren, he did not consult God but took matters into his own hands by killing the Egyptian. This self-will and impatience must be purged from Moses before he could lead a congregation of about two million in the wilderness. God’s work must always be done God’s way and never with the arm of flesh.

Moses soon found out that news of the murder had spread far and wide. As expected, Pharaoh sought to kill Moses, causing Moses to flee from Egypt to the land of Midian. This would be the north-western region of modern Saudi Arabia, at the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Moses’ flight to safety would be about 400 to 500 km, which is more than 10 times the length of Singapore.

While at Midian, Moses would be greeted by Jethro, who later became his father-in-law. Moses would stay in Midian for another 40 years, tending to dumb and defenceless sheep. What a fall from being a prince in Egypt to a humble shepherd. Yet this breaking down of the man was necessary to take out all pride, self-will and impatience from the man of God, before he could take on the task which would be assigned by God. The land of Midian is the Bible College for Moses.

By the time God called him to service from out of the burning bush, Moses had learnt his lesson. It is no longer “I am somebody in society” but “Who am I?” From these words, we observe the following implications.

Firstly, we must understand that we are nothing but sinners saved by grace There is therefore no merit that we can claim before the Lord. The Lord is the Master and we are the servants. Yet how often it is in the service of the Lord that those who serve, think they are doing man and God a favour! And how often do professing Christians expect to be treated as kings or given certain areas of service because they are somebody in society, or some senior member in the church. Let all accolades and titles be set aside before the Lord. They count for nothing. We are all unworthy servants, who are only made worthy in the sight of the Lord because of what Christ has done at Calvary.

It is a mistake for anybody to think that God needs us in the service of the Lord. Neither should any one of us think ourselves as indispensable. Did not God create the world by the power of His Word? It should instead fill us with all amazement that Christ should indeed choose any one of us to serve Him. This very thought should humble us to the dust before we serve Him.

Secondly, we must understand that we must never rely on our strength when we serve the Lord. There will be no blessing if we do so, and soon we will fail the Lord. Moses will soon find the task before him impossible to bear, and indeed it is, for who can lead two million people in the wilderness for forty years? Just from a logistical perspective, it will be impossible to provide food and shelter for the congregation. However, what is impossible with man is possible with God. God would be the one to provide food, shelter and water for the children of Israel. He will also grant Moses the necessary wisdom and godly courage to lead the people. All Moses needed to do was to rely on the Lord.

There is grave danger for us in this aspect when we become experienced in the service of the Lord. We can easily fall into the trap of thinking that we know exactly how to accomplish the task without praying and seeking the Lord. We can also fail to evaluate our decisions to see whether they are according to the Word of God. When we rely on our intelligence without the Lord’s help, the fall will begin.

On the other hand, it is also easy for one to focus on the burdens in the ministry and to forget to cast them to Christ. This results in much depression and sorrow. No man is able to bear the load of the ministry without the help of Christ.

Thirdly, we must never detract from the glory of God. Moses was careful to point the children of Israel to the Lord when he was serving with them in the wilderness. The people must learn that God is the only one who is worthy of all their worship. Alas, one slip came in Numbers 20:10 – “And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” And for this, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land.

It is so easy for one to desire areas of “service” in order to be seen and to have the praise of man. Is it not true that ministries and offices which place one in the limelight are often sought by men? However, when there are requirements in the background which are not plainly visible to the eyes of men, these things are often ignored and left to a few to do.
May it not be so among us.

The Apostle Paul understood the principle of the glory of God. “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (2 Cor. 10:17) This must also be the guiding principle in our service. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)

There is a great irony in the service of the Lord – when one thinks that he is ready, he is never ready. Such a man is full of self-confidence and will be an abject failure in the service of the Lord. On the other hand, the man who understands that he is nothing and God is everything, will be richly used by the Lord to glorify Christ’s name. May we as sinners saved by grace be found as fit vessels in the eyes of the Lord.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew