Sermon Notes – November 10, 2019

God of the Living – Exodus 3:14-15

   [Henry Gunther, the last soldier to die in World War I, was killed one minute before the Armistice began. The official record states, “Almost as he fell, the gunfire died away and an appalling silence prevailed.”[1]]

   If you could ask God any question what would that question be? What if you could step into the shoes of Moses, for “the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend”? (Ex 33:11) In their first conversation at the burning bush Moses was “afraid to look at God” but was comfortable enough to ask God questions. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Answer: “You are my chosen one and I will be with you.” (Ex 3:11-12) “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of our fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” (v 13) God’s answer is our text for today, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you…I AM, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’” (vv 14-15)

   God giving His name (Yahweh, I AM) is a significant event in the history of the God’s people. His name asserts His constant presence among us. It assures us that the omnipresent God (present everywhere) is present all the time (i.e., eternally, the One “who is and who was and who is to come,” Rev 1:4). “[I AM] is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (v 15) His name not only tells us something important about Him, it also tells us something important about us, His people. He is the God of the living!

   Jesus, the most authoritative commentator of all, uses our text for today to answer a question (a smarty-pants question) of the Sadducees (the priestly ruling class). They present a hypothetical question about a woman who sequentially marries seven brothers according to the Law of Moses. As each husband dies she marries the next in line until all seven brothers are dead. Then the woman dies. The Sadducees ask, “In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” (Luke 20:33) They think they’ve outsmarted Jesus.

   To revel completely in Jesus’ answer we need to remember three things about the Sadducees. Even though they were among the religious leaders of the day, they (1) did not believe in the resurrection of the dead; (2) they did not believe in angels; and, (3) they only accepted the first five books of the Bible, the books of Moses, as authoritative Scripture. With their smarty-pants question they thought they were poking holes in the truth of the resurrection of the dead. With His answer, Jesus upheld the truth about the resurrection and angels and poked holes in their arrogant foolishness. He did so based on Moses’ first encounter with Yahweh, the great I AM.

   Jesus first makes clear the woman in the hypothetical wouldn’t be wife to any of the seven men because those resurrected “from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.” (v 35) In heaven we are not fruitful and multiplying. We don’t have to have children to carry on our name and legacy. The things that are important for human beings on earth are different from the things that are important for human beings in heaven who “cannot die anymore.” (v 36) Second, Jesus tells them that resurrected human beings are “equal to angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” (v 36) So, angels do exist and we, like angels, will get to see the face of God. (Matt 18:10) Third, Jesus proclaims, “But that the dead are raised, even Moses [the Sadducees’ preferred author] showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to Him.” (vv 37-38)

   The Sadducees were too foolish to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah, the Chosen One, the One in whose face we see “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” (2 Cor 4:6) They didn’t know enough to be afraid of Him, but they should have. They didn’t know enough to trust Him, but they could have. When C. S. Lewis was a young man he left the Christian faith. He thought he knew better. He did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, in angels, or in the authority of the Scriptures. When he was brought back to faith it was in part because of his own careful reading of the Gospels. He began to learn that he should be afraid of Christ while also trusting Christ. “Nowhere else outside the New Testament have I found terror and comfort so intertwined.”[2] [This insight is reflected in his presentation of Aslan the Lion, the great Christ-figure in The Chronicles of Narnia]

   Moses declared, “I AM, your God, will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to Him you shall listen.” (Dt 18:15) That prophet is the Christ, the only begotten Son of God. He deserves our “fear, love and trust” as He fulfills God’s plan for our salvation, our resurrection and our eternal home with Him. [Yigdal: “By the End of Days [God] will send our Messiah to redeem those longing for His final salvation; God will revive the dead in His abundant kindness.”]

[1] Joseph Loconte, A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and a Great War, Thomas Nelson, ©2015, p. 185.

[2] Ibid., p. 195.


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