No Short Cuts
Friday of Advent 4
23 December 2016
There are no humanly-devised short cuts to God. God must reveal Himself to us if we are to know him. "No revelation. No Christ. Know revelation. Know Christ." There is only the humble and quiet listening for God's speaking in His incarnate Word. The writer to the Hebrews emphasized this when he rejoices that "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son" (Heb 1:1-2). This Son is the full revelation of God in the world.
The best education in the mysteries of philosophy, science, or law, can never reveal God's nature to us. God the only begotten has revealed Him to us (Jn 1:18). Even the simplest child can know this God. Because to know Him is a gift from Him; never our attainment. This is why Jesus tells us that we must become like a little child if we are to be saved. Never once does the Bible advise us to become "adults of God." The children of God can only receive from Him. It is a gift.
Moses is the Old Testament's quintessential example of tremendous human attainment. He is a prince of Egypt. He was adopted as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He had received the best education the palace could provide a future ruler and member of the royal house. He was the palace wonder boy. Above all that He had a heart for the suffering of His own people and burning desire to see justice done. While not discounting the Spirit's role in his work, the Pentateuch alone is evidence of his towering literary genius. However, his supreme earthly attainments did not introduce Him to the mystery of the divine self-revelation. Only when the Lord, who would reveal Himself to Him, humbled Him by driving Him into the wilderness of Sinai, turning Him into a lowly shepherd was Moses ready to hear the voice of God. This voice He heard not at the zenith of his power with all his deep philosophical insight. No, only surrounded by signs of his fall from power, stinking sheep and a barren wilderness, did God open Himself to Moses' gaze and reveal Himself as the great "I AM;" the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This is the God who became incarnate of Mary and, as Moses once did, also received His leadership of the people of God under the signs of humiliation and weakness. He too would be the Shepherd of His people. His mission would reveal God to the people whom He would save. But Christ born of Mary would be Himself the living revelation of God and thus be a fulfillment of the promise of Moses by being one greater than Moses (Dt 18:15; Hb 3:3).

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
"Human judgment must not pass its sentence upon God. Our nature is not such that it can lift itself by its own forces to the contemplation of heavenly things. We must learn from God what we are to think of God. We have no source of knowledge but Himself. You may be as carefully trained as you want in secular philosophy; you may have lived a life of righteousness. All this will contribute to your mental satisfaction, but it will not help you to know God.
"Moses was adopted as the son of the queen, and instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. He had, moreover, out of loyalty to his race avenged the wrong of the Hebrew by slaying the Egyptian, and yet he knew not the God who had blessed his fathers. For when he left Egypt through fear of the discovery of his deed, and was living as a shepherd in the land of Midian, he saw a fire in the bush, and the bush unconsumed. Then it was that he heard the voice of God, and asked His name, and learned His nature. Of all this he could have known nothing except through God Himself. And we, in like manner, must confine ourselves, in whatever we say of God, to the terms in which He has spoken to our understanding concerning Himself.
"It is the Angel of God who appeared in the fire from the bush (Ex 3:2); and it is God who spoke from the bush amid the fire. He is manifested as Angel; that is His office, not His nature. The name which expresses His nature is given as God; for the Angel of God is God. But perhaps He is not true God. Is then the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, not true God? For the Angel who speaks from the bush is their God eternally. And, lest you insinuate that the name is His only by adoption, it is the absolute God who speaks to Moses. These are His words: "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And he said, 'Say this to the people of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you"'" (Ex 3:14). God's discourse began as the speech of the Angel, in order to reveal the mystery of human salvation in the Son. Next He appears as the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, that we may know the name which is His by nature. Finally, it is the God who sends Moses to Israel, that we may have full assurance that in the absolute sense He is God."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 5.21-22
Exodus 3:1-14

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, "I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned." When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" He said, "But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."
Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (ESV)
Lord Christ, once You revealed Yourself in the burning bush to Moses. Now in these last days You have spoken to us by becoming incarnate of Mary. Let us be humbled that Your divine foolishness would become all our wisdom. Amen.
For the family of Bill Heine as they experience Christian funeral services this day, that they might grieve as those who have hope in the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come
For all pastors in Christ, that they would uphold the incarnate Lord Jesus to a world dying of spiritual ignorance
For all persecuted Christians, especially Christian leaders, that they might confess faithfully that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and the only true revelation of God
For those who need to know of God's eternal mercy in Christ, who came to offer Himself as a ransom for many, that their hearts might be set at rest by Him
Art: VASARI, Giorgio Annunciation (1564-67)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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