Hope Like Moses in the Wilderness
Second in a series, “Faith, Hope, and Heart”
Exodus 2:11–3:8a // Hebrews 13:1–6 // Luke 19:1–10
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our sermon text today is from the historical book of the Exodus chapters 2-3, and our sermon theme is Hope Like Moses in the Wilderness.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today we continue a three part sermon series on our annual theme for the year – Faith, Hope, and Heart. We pulled that from our theme song for the year – Confidence by Sanctus Real. “Give me faith like Daniel in the lion’s den. Give me hope like Moses in the Wilderness. Give me a heart like David, Lord, be my defense, so I can face my giants with confidence.” What we will come to understand is that what kept Daniel faithful, gave hope to Moses, and heart to David is the understanding that God is merciful and just. They believed that their salvation was sure despite what others could or would do to them. They had confidence in God, not in others or themselves.
Today we explore the confidence that we have in Christ as we examine the kind of hope that Moses had and the circumstances that he had hope in.
So, who is hope for?
Not too far away from here is a woman in interminable pain. Nothing she does helps. Her existence seems to be one of constant torture. She never gets an answer, never gets a release, never gets relief.
Not to far away from her is a young man who is impatient, but that’s not what he would say. He would say that he likes to get things done. He doesn't like to sit around. If he’s not on the move, he’s not doing enough.
And not too far away from him is a middle-aged man who does nothing but sit around. He waits, and doesn’t even know why he’s waiting anymore. There is no goal, no purpose, no reason to go. He hasn’t done anything significant in years.
These are the people who need hope. People who are living in tension. People who are living in the uncomfortable present. People who are living in suffering.
It reminds me of the weeks that we spent in the hospital with Josiah. Not nearly as long as others, but still we worked through the same steps. The qweful realization that all is not well. The fear of the unknown as you try and understand. The challenge of the milestones they need you to hit. The distance and exhaustion when you realize that real life has to go one, and one of you can stay but the other is going home. The relief when you finally come home.
In those days, we desperately needed to cling to hope.
So, what is hope? One definition of hope comes from Romans 8: For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
To hope is to persevere, to wait eagerly for that which we do not see.
One of the Old Testament words for hope is QAVAH, which is related to the word cord. It means something held in a state of tension until that tension is released. It’s trying to describe that feeling of tension and expectation while you wait for something to happen. Give me hope like Moses in the wilderness.
We go to our text. Moses is seeing the oppression of the Israelites and he cannot wait any longer. He cannot stand idly by while an Egyptian was beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He is not able to persevere. He does what, by all rights, seems to be their Boston Tea Party moment. Their Braveheart moment, when victory is on the way, when the revolution had begun. But it doesn’t happen that way.
The Hebrews reject him, saying he’s got more in common with Egypt than with Israel. The Egyptians reject him, because he was trying to free the Hebrews. So he’s in limbo. No one to rely on. No family to speak of. Israel rejects him, so he rejects Israel.
But God doesn’t. Through the years, as Moses forgets Israel and makes a new life, God remembers. Though Moses moves past it, God dwells with his people.
And then this amazing thing happens. When Moses isn’t looking, God calls him to save his people. When Moses had forgotten about the loose ends in his life, God was busy tying them together. When Moses was beyond the suffering of the Israelites, God in a slow and quiet way, in a loud and eye-catching way, in a way of power and of weakness, brings back the hope that Moses lived in.
First, God calls us to love those with whom we have a history. The people of Israel and Moses do not have a blank slate. Pharaoh’s family and Moses do not have a blank slate. Moses has history with all of them. But often, God is calling us to minister to those we have a history with.
Second, God’s timing is often different from out own. Or, to say it in a different way, hope is recognizing that God’s timing is not my timing, hope is submitting to God’s plan above and beyond my plan. Hope is living in the tension between what we long for and what we have.
Third, sometimes, we are able to see God’s timing. Sometimes, like Moses, we can see what God has been building while wee were out in the wilderness. Sometimes, we look back and can see the way that our lives intersect with others. Sometimes, we can. Most of the time we cannot. And here is where hope and faith connect. By faith, we cling to this unseen truth: That God is working whether we see him or not, that God is working whether we know the end of it or not.
Hope is living in the tension between what God has in reality and what we can see for the moment. That’s what’s so amazing about the story of Moses. He could see so little of what the Lord would do through him, and yet we know how the rest of the story goes, how the Lord worked powerfully through him.
Fourth, and here’s the Gospel, the Christian has faith that our whole lives are wrapped up in the cross. All the loose ends of our lives are drawn together by the cross. Everything that has meaning in our lives is meaningful because Jesus ied and was raised to life. Everything that we do has significance because of the blood poured out for you and for me. And our faith causes us to hope that this Jesus who was crucified, who was raised to life, this Jesus is coming again to make all things right. He and his return is the object of our hope.
The kingdom of heaven is like a woman in pain who fixes her eyes on the author and perfecter of her faith, and she knows that he will come back to make all things right in her.
The kingdom of heaven is like a young man who learns patience, who learns kindness. He learns to be strong, to take heart, and he learns to wait for the Lord.
The kingdom of heaven is like large church in a small town full of folks that have no idea how much the Lord is working through, but they pray for him to work nonetheless. They have no idea the impact that they might have in the lives of others, but they pray that the Lord would know and that the Lord would be using every one of their days to serve their neighbor. They have no idea all that their Lord is doing now, but they do know what he did, he died and rose again for them. They do know what he will do, that he will come back to make all things right.
Amen and amen.
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