Connections 08.30.2020: Hindsight Assurance, Foresight Faith

Exodus 3:1-2, 6-15

We can imagine how awe-inspiring God’s revelation at the burning bush must have been for Moses. We might also be fascinated at the way Moses falls into a conversation with God during this awe-inspiring experience. As God and Moses converse, Moses raises some very reasonable questions in response to God’s telling him that God wants him to go back to Egypt to lead the Hebrews out of captivity.

Take Moses’ first question: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” God responds, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

Let’s examine God’s response in two parts. First, God tells Moses that it’s about who God is, not about who Moses is. Moses asked, “Who am I that I should attempt this challenging task?” We can relate to Moses’ doubt. We also wonder if we can do what God wants us to do. God doesn’t tell Moses that Moses is good enough and strong enough. God rather tells him that God will be with him. God wants us to hear the same truth.

God tells Moses that God will be with him. The issue isn’t who Moses is and what he can do; it is who God is and what God can do. Now, this doesn’t mean that Moses’ identity, experiences, character, and abilities aren’t important. Moses’ dual citizenship in the Hebrew and Egyptian cultures and his leadership abilities no doubt uniquely equip him to lead the people out of Egypt. But what matters most is that God has chosen Moses to fill this important role and that God will be with Moses to empower him.

We each have unique experiences and gifts that position us to do what God wants us to do. And what God wants us to do won’t get done if we don’t go do it. But when we are doing what God wants us to do, God works through us to accomplish God’s purposes.

In the second part of God’s response to Moses, God gives him a sign to assure him that God has sent him. And what a sign it is: “This shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” We might paraphrase God’s assurance this way: “Moses, go do what I’ve told you to do, and after you do it, you’ll know that I sent you.”

In other words, Moses would receive a hindsight sign. I’m impressed that he didn’t say, “What kind of sign is that?” But isn’t this how faith usually works? Don’t we usually just have to go ahead and do what we feel God leading us to do, trusting that God is with us to guide, encourage, and strengthen us? Then, after we’ve gone way down the road of obedient service, can’t we look back and say, “Yes, God was indeed with me”?

Hindsight assurance comes from looking back from the place we arrive after we’ve done what we’re supposed to do.

Foresight faith is doing what we’re supposed to do, knowing that one of these days, we’ll be able to look back and see how God was with us.

Discussion

  • Do you think it was coincidence how Moses came to “the mountain of God” (v. 1)? Why or why not? If you don’t think it was coincidence, how might we explain it?
  • What is significant about the way God first introduces God’s self to Moses (v. 6) and later expands on that introduction (vv. 14-15)? How has God introduced God’s self to us?
  • Why do you think God chose to work through Moses to bring the people out of Egypt? Why do you think God seems usually to work through people to accomplish God’s will?
  • Have you ever had an experience when you were sure God was speaking to you? What was it like? How did you respond?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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