In A Flame Of Fire

Acts

In A Flame Of Fire

April 10th, 1979 @ 12:00 PM

Acts 7

Then said the high priest, Are these things so? And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
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IN A FLAME OF FIRE

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Acts 7,

4-10-79    12:00 p.m.

 

 

The background of these days when Israel and Egypt are hammering out a peace treaty between them brought to my heart the subject of the pre-Easter services for this week.  They concern Israel and the land of Egypt; and taking the subject of "Moses, the Mighty Man of God": yesterday, The Renunciation, leaving the throne of the pharaohs to cast his lot with the oppressed people of God; then tomorrow, The Great Non-Compromiser; and Thursday at high noon, The Birthday of the People of God; and Friday, the day our Lord was crucified, The Blood of the Passover Lamb; and today, In a Flame of Fire.

This Moses, that I think in the court was known as Ramoses, in tribute to the great sun god Ra, and because of the antipathy of the Jewish people to idolatry, they cut off the Ra, and he came to be known through all history that followed after as Moses, but almost certainly, practically, certainly, in the court of the pharaohs, as the crown prince of the house, and heir apparent to the throne, he was known as Ramoses.  And when he came of age, he made the great decision to cast his life and lot with the people of the Lord, despised, enslaved, as they were.  But the offer on his part to be a deliverer and a savior was rejected and repudiated by his own people.  And I can imagine it was an infinite and indescribable surprise to Ramoses, when offering to be their savior and their champion and their deliverer, they rejected him.  The seventh chapter of the Book of Acts writes of that rejection like this:

 

And when Moses was full forty years old. . .he visited his brethren. . .and seeing them suffer, he defended the oppressed, and smote the Egyptian taskmaster: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would have delivered them: but they understood not.  And when he sought to intervene in an altercation between his own people, they thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?  Will you kill us, as you did the Egyptian yesterday?

[Acts 7:23-28]

 

And that leads to the second part of the infinite despair of Ramoses.  Not only did his people refuse him and thrust him away, saying, "Who made you a prince over us?" [Exodus 2:14; Acts 7:27], but apparently there was a change in the kingdom, and a new pharaoh came into the land [Exodus 1:8], and he consolidated his hold upon the throne of Egypt by pointing to Moses as a murderer who had cast his life and lot with the people of God, those hated and despised and enslaved Hebrews, and had himself murdered with his own hand an Egyptian officer.  Therefore, in dejection and despair and defeat, Ramoses fled from the land, crossed the desert, threaded his way through the passes of the rugged Sinaitic Peninsula, and weary, undone, in absolute despair, sat down, weary, by a well [Exodus 2:11-15].

I might comment here, incidentally, how the providences of God always work mightily and wonderfully.  Had Ramoses succeeded to the throne of the pharaohs, he would have been just another mummy, cataloged with a certain number that you could go visit in a museum in Cairo; "God having some greater and better thing for him," as God’s providences always do for us [Hebrews 11:40].

Seated weary by the well, you have here an instance of the tremendous personal strength and power of Ramoses.  While he was seated there, there came the seven daughters of Reuel, that’s his name; it means "friend of God," Reuel; Jethro is his title as the high priest of Midian.  Seated there by the well, in despair and dejection, there came the seven daughters of the priest of Midian, Reuel, Jethro, to water their flocks [Exodus 2:15-16].  And as has been the custom in the dismal past, as those seven daughters drew water for their flocks, other shepherds came and drove the girls away, and took the water they had drawn to quench the thirst of their own sheep.  And when Moses saw that, and as you know, he had a volative spirit – it was because of the violence of the internal spirit of Moses that he finally was precluded from entering the Promised Land [Numbers 20:10-12] – when Moses saw that, he arose, just this one man himself, and he cast out all of those shepherds, all of them, threw them out; and then helped those seven daughters water their flocks [Exodus 2:17].  And when they returned home to Jethro, to Reuel, their father, they told him about that unusual Egyptian [Exodus 2:18-19].  Think of the strength of that man: with the power of his hand he slew that taskmaster in Egypt [Exodus 2:12].  You remember what Deuteronomy 34 says about him?  When God said time for him to be translated, to die, a hundred twenty years of age, his eye was not dim, nor was his natural force abated; this Ramoses of Egypt [Deuteronomy 34:7].  So Jethro says, "Where is he?"  And their father says, "I cannot imagine your leaving him in the desert.  Fetch him" [Exodus 2:18-20].  So Moses comes, and he becomes the son-in-law of Jethro [Exodus 2:21].  And for forty years, for forty years, for forty interminable years, he lives the life of a humble shepherd [Acts 7:29-30].  The golden scepter that was in his grasp has been exchanged for a shepherd’s crook.  And the man who once had an empire in his grasp is now nursing and caring for little lambs, for forty years; God having prepared some mightier and better thing for Ramoses.

Then upon a day – and how many times is this true in our lives? – upon a day, nothing especial about that day, it was like any other ordinary day.  There were no angel faces seen, there were no heavenly voices heard; the sun rose as it had every other day for forty interminable years.  But that day – and we’re like that; there are days in our lives, they come unannounced, unheralded, but in the after years when we look back upon them, we say, "That was the great turning point in my life."  So this day the sun rose and fell upon the jagged rocks of the peninsula.  And as always, the flocks, seeking food in scanty herbage, and little lambs lying close under the shadow of the great boulders, but that day, as Moses cared for the flock on the back side of the desert, he passed a common bush aflame.  Many a man would have just seen it burning and passed on by; Moses, astute, paused.  The bush was unconsumed [Exodus 3:1-2].  And as he paused before its flame, an Angel of the Lord spoke to him and said, "Take off your shoes; the ground on which ye stand is holy ground" [Exodus 3:5].  And Moses asked, "Who are You?  And what is Your name?"  And the voice out of the flame of fire replies, "My name is I AM That I AM, Yahweh," a form of the Hebrew verb "to be."  We add to it the vowel pointing of Adonai, the Hebrew word for "Lord," and it comes out Jehovah.  "I AM That I AM, that is My name" [Exodus 3:13-14].  And it appears in His speaking to Moses out of the flaming fire.  "I am the God of thy father, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" [Exodus 3:6], the God of the past; the next verse, "And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people" [Exodus 3:7], He is the God of the present; and the next verse, "Come now, I will send thee unto Pharaoh that thou mayest bring My people out of the land of Egypt" [Exodus 3:10], the great mighty omnipotent God, His name is "I AM" [Exodus 3:14], yesterday, today, and unchangeable forever [Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8].

And this Moses, forty years had not blunted the despair of his life.  And Moses replied, Moses said unto God, "Who am I?  Who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? [Exodus 3:11].  In zealous order I tried it once, and I was repudiated and rejected by my own people [Exodus 2:14-15].  And as a hunted and hounded murderer, defending my people, I fled from the land, and now You ask me, You call me to go back?  No.  No."

Forty years had not in anywise changed the hurt and the tragic disappointment in his soul.  But God says, "This time, this time, I will go with you.  It will not be as it was before in the arm of the flesh, in your own strength; but this time I will go with you" [Exodus 3:12].  And God said to Moses, "What is that in thine hand?"  And Moses replied, "I have a shepherd’s staff; I have a rod" [Exodus 4:2].  And God said, "Cast it to the ground."  And he cast it, and it became a serpent, so viciously violent Moses fled from before it [Exodus 4:3].  And God said, "Put your hand on it."  And he seized it by the tail, and it became a rod in his hand [Exodus 4:4].  And God says, "This is a sign of My omnipotent power and presence with you."  Think of that rod, the shepherd’s staff.  He held it over the waters of the Red Sea and they parted on either side [Exodus 14:16, 21-22].  He held it over the armies of Amalek, and Amalek was defeated [Exodus 17:9-13].  He struck with it the rock, and waters of river, rivers of water gushed out [Exodus 17:6] – just a rod.

Isn’t that like the Lord God?  The common things in life always are those He uses to glorify Himself.  It will be a ram’s horn, the blowing of a ram’s horn, and the walls of Jericho fall down [Joshua 6:20].  It will be an ox goad in the hand of Shamgar, and the people are delivered from the Philistines [Judges 3:31].  It will be an earthen pitcher in the three hundred of Gideon, and God gives the victory [Judges 7:19-22].  It’ll be a sling in the hands of little David, and the giant Goliath falls to the ground [1 Samuel 17:].  That’s God!  It’ll be a sawdust trail under Billy Sunday.  It’ll be some humble instrument that the Lord glorifies with His omnipotent power.  "What is in your hand?" "The rod" [Exodus 4:2].

Then He gave him the second sign, "Put your hand in your bosom."  He drew it out and it was leprous.  "Put it back."  He drew it out, and it was whole again [Exodus 4:6-7]; God’s ableness to cleanse and to forgive.  And then a third one: "See this water, pour it on the land.  It became blood" [Exodus 4:9].  "Thus will I judge all of the gods of the Nile" [Exodus 4:6-9].  And Ramoses, in the power of an omnipotent God, returns to the land of Egypt [Exodus 4:19-20].  What a difference the call of God, and the will of God, and the presence of God, and the power of God can make in a man’s life.  He himself is omnipotent doing God’s will.  He himself is immortal until God’s work is done.  And thereafter the story of Moses: out of the solid rock, He brings forth streams in the desert [Exodus 17:6]; out of the Dead Sea, God calls through him the fruits and flowers of a great nation; and in his hands, the Lord deposits the freedom, the exodus of his people chained in slavery in the land of Egypt [Exodus 3:9-10].  That’s God!  And what a difference, doing the will of God, answering the call of God, what a difference does it make in a man’s life.

So Lord, may each one of us find God’s will for each one of us.  And then doing it, may the power of the Lord rest upon us.  And may we find victory and achievement in answering God’s call, to the glory of Thy blessed, blessed Son and our Savior, the Lord Jesus, amen [2 Peter 3:18].

IN A FLAME OF FIRE
Dr. W. A. Criswell

Exodus 3:1-22

4-10-79

 

I.              Flight from Pharoah

II.            God’s providence in it

III.           Human strength vs God

IV.          Call in the desert

V.           Forty years in the desert – preparation, humility

VI.          Excuses

1.    Who sends me?  I AM

2.    Power?  Leprous hand

3.    Proof of authority? Water to blood on dry land

4.    Eloquence; Aaron