February 9

Smooth Stone #5 – God and Moses (Response)

Daniel Watts

One of the wonderful characteristics of children is their ability to act without fear or hesitation.

Once they understand something or get an idea into their head, they are likely to act on it. This is one of the most refreshing and inspiring qualities of children.

However, sometimes it can cause problems as was the case with my son.

He was a preschooler and followed us everywhere around our house in Poland. One morning he grabbed a footstool to stand next to me and watch me shave. He was clearly enthralled.

That evening at dinner I was sitting across from him and noticed something not quite right. At first, I couldn’t make out what was different, but something was most certainly awry.

After a moment of observation, I finally noticed the new look. He had SHAVED OFF HIS EYEBROWS!

I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know if you have ever seen a four-year-old boy with shaved eyebrows. It is not a pretty sight.

Naturally, a conversation ensued regarding razors, shaving etc. at the age of four. He had gotten the idea of shaving into his mind and had done something about it!

The ability of a child to take action and respond is one of the joys of children’s ministry. Unfortunately, as we get older, we lose that zeal.

Adults need to be motivated by convincing explanations. This was certainly the case with Moses, which leads us to our last Smooth Stone in our series--Response.

Over the last four weeks we have looked at Exodus 3-4, observing how God used four of the Five Smooth Stones that we discovered in Deuteronomy 6:4-9--Relationship, Experience, Truth, and Discussion

This week we will see how throughout both chapters, God is focused on Moses’ response to His calling. If we view this passage as a lesson, with God as the teacher and Moses as the student, we see that from the beginning the entire lesson is geared towards a response.

God's Focus On Response

God's Focus On Response

At the very beginning of the “lesson” God establishes some relational foundation with Moses (Exodus 3:6) and then reveals the truth regarding His commitment to keeping His promise to Abraham, particularly regarding their suffering and a new land (vs. 7).

Then God gives Moses the call to go back to Egypt and bring the people out (vs. 10). This is the response that God is seeking from Moses.

Understandably Moses is reluctant and God brings into the “lesson” a series of experiential activities (Exodus 4:1-9) and a discussion of Moses’ concerns.

In fact, Moses provides a list of concerns and questions that God addresses with care and compassion (see last week’s blog).

As God addresses Moses concerns, He is slowly moving Moses to respond to the calling. Moses’ continued reluctance and near belligerence (4:13) finally brings God to a point of burning anger (vs.14).

"Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses and he said, 'What of your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, his heart will be glad. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you what you shall do. He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him. Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.'" (Exodus 4:14–17)

But even then, God assures Moses by calling Aaron to serve with Moses as a spokesperson. Moses finally gives in to the calling and responds in obedience. (4:18)

"Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, 'Please let me go back to my kindred in Egypt and see whether they are still living.' And Jethro said to Moses, 'Go in peace.' The LORD said to Moses in Midian, 'Go back to Egypt; for all those who were seeking your life are dead.' So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses carried the staff of God in his hand." (Exodus 4:18-20)

And even in that moment God reassures Moses that those who sought Moses’ death in Egypt have themselves died (4:18).

This overview of the “lesson” taught by God to His student Moses shows how the entire lesson was working to move Moses toward a response. 

There is no indication that Moses could not have ultimately rejected the calling. There is no sense that Moses is coerced or manipulated to respond. It does appear, however, that God’s focus was on the response from the very beginning of the lesson, and throughout.

This focus contrasts with children’s ministry work that is aimed at imparting knowledge and understanding of the truth as the focal point of the lesson. It also contrasts with the children’s ministry that makes “fun” the focus of the ministry.

In the former, many children’s workers view the building of the truth as the most important aim, so they guide the children through relationship and experience activities and then lead a discussion of the truth and solicit a response to the truth.

The Truth section is the apex, the highlight or core of the ministry. The focus of the lesson is not on the response of the child, but rather on the child acquiring knowledge and understanding of the truth. This is not to say that the truth is unimportant.

Teaching the truth is critical, as without it, there is no basis for a response. However, knowledge of the truth cannot be an end in itself.

Closing Thoughts

God and Response

Our brief study of Exodus 3-4 should cause us to think much more about how we teach children.

Boys and girls might benefit from a ministry approach that places more emphasis on helping children respond to God. Since the response is the last segment of the Bible lesson, time often runs out before leaders get to it.

This coming weekend, think about how children can respond to your teaching of God’s Word. Think deeply about how the children in your ministry can respond to God’s Word in their real lives.

Then, spend as much time on creating a response activity as you do the other elements of your lesson. Make sure that you save enough minutes for children participate in the response activity before you send them out the door.

And finally, encourage your children to continue responding to God in their daily lives during the week.

Remember the words of Jesus:

"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them." (Jn. 14:21 NIV)

To find out more about creating and leading response activities go to our website.

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