A Flame of Fire
January 10th, 1990 @ 7:30 PM
IN A FLAME OF FIRE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
We welcome the throngs of you who are sharing this hour tonight on radio. You are a part of our dear First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message from the first four chapters of the Book of Exodus. The message is entitled In a Flame of Fire. It is a little different approach to the life of Moses, one that I have never heard anyone refer to, but one that is so regnant and dynamic and meaningful in my own heart and I pray will be in your heart also tonight.
First we begin with the great renunciation – and I could pray we have the lights on, because I look at you when I speak – first the great renunciation. You have that mentioned in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Beginning at verse 24, the author writes:
By faith Moses, when he was come of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.
The great renunciation: Ramoses, I think that was his name; Ramoses, dedicated when Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and reared him to be the king over Egypt: she dedicated him to Ra, their great heathen god Ra. And she named him Ra-moses, Ramoses. And in keeping with this Word of the Lord, he renounced the throne of Egypt and the day of his own consecration to be the Pharaoh of the nation; loving his own people and giving himself for their welfare, and deliverance, and salvation, and benefit.
But there was a tragic result that came out of that dedication: his own brethren repudiated him. For example, I read in Acts chapter 7, beginning at verse 23:
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, killed him:
For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that by God he would deliver them: but they did not understand.
And when the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong to one another?
But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst kill the Egyptian yesterday?
Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian.
Moses, Ramoses, forsook and repudiated the throne of Egypt in order to be a brother and a deliverer to his own people, and they refused him, repudiated him. And of course, the new pharaoh, the new pharaoh who had ascended the throne consolidated his power and his kingdom by a murder charge against Moses, against Ramoses, and when that came to pass, and Ramoses saw what had developed, he fled and was a stranger in the Sinaitic peninsula.
Now what I want us to see is that God’s providence is in it all. Had Ramoses, had Moses ascended the throne in his own strength, he would have been just another mummy in the museum at Cairo. Have you ever been through that museum in Cairo? If you’re ever over there, it will impress you. They’ve even had some of those mummies here in the fall time, when they presented one of those Rameses II out there at Fair Park. Had this come to pass that Ramoses ascended the throne of Egypt, I am saying he would have been none other than just another mummy in that museum of Cairo. He needed, this Ramoses brought up in the court, he needed the discipline of what God had prepared in the forty years of his loneliness in the desert. Had he not been thus a prey to the murderous intent of the new pharaoh, he would have worked in his own strength. But as it was, he found himself alone before God.
Now, in infinite dejection, in a sense of failure, absolute despair, he threaded the mountain passes of the Sinaitic peninsula, and wearily sat on a well at the end of the way, at the end of his own strength, this Ramoses.
Incidentally, may I turn aside here to speak of the strength of that man whom we know as Moses, cutting off that Ra, that heathen god Ra? In the second chapter of Exodus, all of those shepherds come to water their flocks, and those poor daughters of the priest of Midian are helpless before all of those men, and what does the Bible say? Moses alone drove them away, drove them away [verse 17]. I’m just turning aside for a moment to point out to you the personal strength of that man. And do you remember in Deuteronomy 34:7 when he died at the age of one hundred and twenty, his eyes were not dimmed, and his natural strength was not abated. He was a tremendous man. But, I say, out of the despair of that tragedy of his own repudiation by his own brethren, he sat down on the well.
Well, when Zipporah and her sisters went back to their dad and told them what had happened, why, the priest of Midian said, "Why did you not invite him to eat bread with us?" [Exodus 2:20]. So he was there in the household of the priest of Midian for forty years.
Now, while he was there in the back side of the desert, while he is shepherding his flock, he sees a bush that is aflame, a common bush aflame. There are days in our lives that come unannounced. No angel face is seen, no heavenly voice is heard, yet we look back upon that moment and we look back upon that day as the great turning point in our lives. That is what happened to Ramoses. The sun rose and set as it had done for forty years. And the scene that he saw every morning and every evening was the same scene he’d looked upon for forty years. But suddenly there is a common bush that is aflame. He is the God of the flaming fire. "Who are You?" Moses said when God spoke to him out of the burning flame. "I am Yahweh, Adonai, Jehovah, the God of the past, the God of the present, the God of the future" [Exodus 3:1-6].
And now Ramoses’ reaction: there was in his soul the vast discouragement of forty years, forty years, of failure. The great dream of his life to be the savior and deliverer of his people, he was repudiated. In Exodus 3:11, "Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? I am nothing. I am a failure." Forty years he had lived in that discouragement. But this time, in the power of Almighty God, not in his power or in his strength, however great it was, but in the power and strength of God, Moses is given three signs. First: in Exodus 4:2-5, God says, "What is in your hand? And he replies, I have a shepherd’s crook, a shepherd’s staff." And the first sign turned into a serpent, turned back into a staff, that rod of God, not a golden scepter; a common rod, a shepherd’s crook. God and the weakest, humblest things that are in your household are absolutely omnipotent when God is in it. That rod was used to part the sea, the Red Sea; it divided under that shepherd’s staff [Exodus 14: 16, 21]. That rod was used to strike the rock, and a whole stream of living water flowed out [Exodus 17:5-6]. That rod was used to defeat Amalek in that battle in the wilderness; a rod, a common rod [Exodus 17:8-12].
Things like that are so often seen in the Bible. It was a ram’s horn, just a common ram’s horn: when it was blown, the walls of Jericho fell down [Joshua 6:20]. It was an oxgoad that Shamgar used to defeat the Philistines [Judges 3:31]. It was an earthen pitcher that was broken when Gideon overcame the Midianites [Judges 7:20]. It was a slingshot – am I not correct in all this? It was a slingshot that little David, a teenage boy, used to defeat Goliath [1 Samuel 17:-50]. The common things of life that are in our hands, God blessing them.
And of course, the other two: the leprous hand God cleansed [Exodus 4:6-7]; and the third one: the water poured out on the land, came, turned into blood [Exodus 4:9]; and no god in Egypt was able to obviate it.
So Moses is sent down to deliver his people, not in his strength as the son of Pharaoh and heir apparent to the crown. Had he done that and been received by his brethren, it would have been Moses. As it was, repudiated, defeated, for forty years in absolute dejection and failure, when he went back now he went back in the power of the Lord; and using common things, like a rod, delivering the people of the Lord.
May I close? You are omnipotent, omnipotent when you are working in the will of God. In our own strength we are nothing; but in the strength and power of the Lord, we can bring to pass the miracles that only God Himself can perform.
Thank You, Lord, for showing that to us in the life of Your servant Moses, Ramoses. God help us to devote to Thee the commonalities of our lives, and then let the strength come from God and the glory and the honor be His: not of us, but all of Him.
Fred, we’re going to sing us a stanza of a hymn. And while we sing it, a family, a somebody you, this is the night that God says you ought to come, accept the Lord as your Savior, put your life with us in our dear church, however the Lord would press the appeal, you answer, and stand by me. God bless you in the way, while we sing our song of invitation.