Which god should I fellowship with? (Exodus 3:13)
Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Ex 3:13)
As you were reading the Scripture today, it probably felt as if we didn’t finish reading but stopped in the middle. What Moses asked was, “What should I say to them when they ask me which god had sent me to them?”
After the end of World War 2, the people of Israel that were scattered around the world gathered to the Palestinian region. That area was already occupied by other nations but incredibly, the Israelites came back to the land which they had lost thousands of years ago and restored their nation. It was remarkable. Something which can hardly happen in any other region had occurred.
But a similar event took place about 3500 years ago. When the people of Israel were living in Egypt, they were slaves. At that time, God sent a man named Moses to bring the people of Israel out and lead them to the Palestinian region. So, this has now happened on two occasions.
And the verse we just read is what Moses said when God was sending him to Egypt. Moses had never encountered God before and it was the first time that he met God when God told him this.
We use the word “God” and you probably hear it often at church. However, the capital “G” in God in the Bible was used as a special term when Christians translated the Bible. The word “god” is used widely all over the world. In general, people use another word to represent “gods” in their language. For example, Koreans say “Haneunim”, and the Jews use a word for god which is “Elohim.”
Do you think there are many gods in the world or few? There are very many. Probably people who don’t believe in Jesus know this very well. There are countless gods in the world. So which of them am I going to meet? This is a very important point. Even if one was to say, “I don’t want any encounters with a god. I only want to meet people”, that is impossible. Every god is different in personality and nature; some respect us while others don’t.
It is impossible for man to live completely isolated from gods. We are bound to have some contact with gods. Even the god who appeared to Moses was a god. A certain god appeared, but Moses did not know which god it was. He simply saw a bush on fire but noticed the bush didn’t burn up. He thought it was strange and went up close to have a look, and from the bush came a voice that told him, “Take the sandals off your feet. The land on which you are standing is holy ground!” So, he took off his sandals and stood there trembling as the voice commanded him.
“Go to Egypt and bring my people out!” Moses who was trembling was unsure and therefore asked that god, “Who are you that you are sending me? Even though I honor you, wouldn’t the people speak against me when they hear what I say? Wouldn’t they ask, ‘Who are you that we should follow you out of here? Who is this god that sent you?’ And what should I answer them?”
For us in the present time, we believe that Moses had met God. However, from Moses’ standpoint at that time, he had met a certain god. So, when he asked, “What kind of god are you? How should I introduce you?”, the god introduced himself. And what the spirit said is very important. He said, “I AM WHO I AM”. I AM WHO I AM.
No creature in this world can exist on its own as far as we know. We also have our existence due to other things. The reason I can stand here is because there is land beneath me; I was born because I have parents; I can breathe and live because there is oxygen, and so on. We cannot self-exist. However, this god introduced himself as “I AM WHO I AM”. And he went further saying, “I am the god who appeared to your forefathers of long ago, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and promised them! My name is Jehovah! You will call me Jehovah!”
For us, the way we introduce ourselves differs depending on the context. For example, I met a little boy and he asked me, “Who are you?” Then I may answer, “I’m your dad’s friend”. On another occasion, I may introduce myself saying, “I am Pastor Ki-Taek Lee”. In a different context, I may say, “I am this man’s son”. So, each time it’s different. What would be the best way to introduce myself? The shorter the time you have, the more thought you need to put in before introducing yourself, right?
When Moses asked, that god answered, “I AM WHO I AM!” At the moment we are not focusing on the answer from the god that spoke to Moses, but on Moses’ question. “Who is this god that sent you? Who is this god that you have fellowship with right now?” And I would like to ask this question to all of you today. When you have thought about this, you may not have had any contact with any gods until now, or you may have had some contact with certain gods already. If you have been in contact with a certain god until now, who is that god? By coming here, you are also trying to meet a particular god.
Then when you come to church, the question you need to be asking is, “Who is this god that Christians – the people in the church – believe in?” Because the church is a gathering of people that worship this god. Therefore, we must not encounter just any god. Our encounter with a god is very important, but if we meet the wrong one, we will be in trouble. That is why we have to pay attention as to what god it is.
I am currently leading the Chinese service, and the Chinese people who are working in Korea come and attend that service. On one Tuesday when it was raining, a Chinese brother came to see me in my office. Usually, Chinese people work during the week and it’s not easy for them to visit on a weekday. But he came even when the rain was pouring. So I gladly welcomed him in. I asked how he was and he said that he came because his friend had told him to come. At first, I wondered what he was talking about. I asked, “Why did your friend tell you to go to church?” “I don’t know. He just told me to go to church and I came”. “Where is this friend of yours? Who is he?” And he answered, “He came with me”. So, I said, “Please tell him to come inside!” And then he said, “He is right next to me”. “Next to you?” “Yes, he is sitting right next to me!” So, the one he was referring to as a friend was a god. He was listening to the voice of a certain god and it was communing with him”. He said that when he woke up in the morning, the god told him to go to church and that was why he came.
I quickly became aware of what was going on and said, “Oh really? Are you close to this god? Are you close to this person?” I just used the pronoun “him” at that time. “Are you close to him?” And he said he was. “Do you like him?” He said he did very much. Then I asked, “Why do you like him?” “He is of great help to me”. “Since when did you know him?” “Since I was very young, we pretty much grew up together!” “Oh, is that so? But why do you like him? How does he help you?” “When I don’t know what to do, I listen to what my friend says and everything goes well. So even today, I thought something good would happen if I listened to him and came to church”. That was why he had come in the pouring rain.
So, I explained to him. He also knew that this was a god. I said, “This god seems to have given you a lot of help until now. But that help is not going to stay with you forever. It can help you for a short time. But even that god is a created being. That god can’t even look after itself. That god can’t live on its own. It won’t do you good if you stay close to that god. And don’t you already come to church and worship a different god? You already have fellowship with the god we introduced to you, and our god does not want you to have a close relationship with another god!”
Out of the commandments that God gave the people of Israel through Moses, one of them said, “You shall have no other gods before Me!” Some people misinterpret this as, “There is no other god but Me!” And from there they go on to think that there is no other god but God in this world. However, that is not true. There are many gods in this world. Because there are so many, God gave that commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me!” When I was getting married, I said to my wife, “Please do not let any other man into your life”. And then I married her. I said that because there are so many men in this world. In the same way, there are many gods in this world, and our god said, “You shall have no other gods before Me!” He does not want us to mingle with any other gods. This is the god we worship in our church.
I said to that man, “Our god is the God who created heaven and earth. And only He can give you eternal life and true happiness! And the god that has been with you will ultimately make you perish! So, make a decision!” And while he was listening, the god that was inside him manifested. And that god began to talk, trembling in fear and crying. It revealed its identity and even said, “Ever since I was little, I grew up with this man!” I prayed for the man and he fell down as though he was asleep. Then when he woke up, he said, “Why am I here?” The man had been completely dominated by this god since that morning and was brought all the way to church. He couldn’t even remember how he got here. He had been moving about under the control of that god and he didn’t even realize why he was here.
This god would control this man and move him even if this man didn’t want to. This god was of a completely different nature than the God our church is introducing you to. Every god is different in character, and our god truly respects your personality. He will not intrude upon your personal boundaries if you are unwilling. Parents that respect their children will not force something upon their children no matter how good it might be for them. They are not going to forcefully put something into their mouths just because it’s good for them if their children do not want it.
In the same way, our god also has many good things to give us but He will never force anything upon us. That is why He asks. If we are willing, He introduces Himself to us, otherwise He waits. When we are willing, that’s when He will offer what He has. That was the god I met. The god that all the people in our church have met is such a god. And there are many stories in the Bible of people who met god. This is our god.
If I was to introduce Him in simple words, what kind of god is He? There are many ways I can describe Him but Moses introduced this god to Israel in this way: “The god who sent me is the self-existing god!” When I asked different people in the church, “How would you describe your god?” Some answered, “He is the god who is full of love!” Others said the same as Moses saying, “He is the self-existing god”. Others answered in various ways, “He is the god full of life!” “He is the god who created the universe!” “He is the god who created me!” And we could go on like this all day. We would have to read the whole Bible to know all the ways.
But since I have only 1 minute or so left, if I ask you in those 1-2 minutes, “Who is your god?” what would be the most accurate and comprehensive way to answer? Sometimes we prick our finger when we have indigestion, don’t we? And when we do, how many times do we prick? We have to prick it right the first time. It will be really annoying if we have to prick four or five times. We have to prick it right the first time and let the blood out. In the same way we should be able to give a clear and satisfactory answer when asked, “Who is your god?” And I’ll tell you.
The god whom you must meet in our church is…you’ve all heard about Jesus? Jesus! He came to the land of Israel 2000 years ago and did many good works. Nevertheless, people who were considered great were filled with fury against him and asked for him to be put to death. In the end, he was tried in the Roman court and was crucified and died brutally. That man who was from Nazareth died. But it was the people that killed him. All of his water and blood was poured out when he died. But that Jesus rose again to life. On the third day after his death, people went to his tomb to find the tomb empty. Later on, Jesus who had risen appeared to his disciples. It was remarkable. If that Jesus had died, how did he come to life? If he died, that means he can do nothing. So, there was One who raised him from the dead. He didn’t come to life by himself. Death means one can do nothing. But in such a state, there was One who had raised him to life. That was not done by a man but a certain god.
The god whom we believe in is the god who had raised Jesus from the dead to be resurrected. What that god promised us is, “I will raise anyone who believes in Jesus just as I raised Jesus to life!” And He is the One that also promised saying, “Just as I have prepared every good thing for Jesus and gave him the spiritual glory of heaven, I will grant all those things to those that believe in Jesus!” The god I believe in is the god who sent Jesus, that is, His beloved One, to keep His word to the end. And by doing so, He wants these good things to be given to more and more people. If there is anything good, He does not seek to have it for Himself, but wants to share it with us. He even wants those who may be evil to Him also share in these things. He has a nature that is incomprehensible for man. This is the god whom we are serving. This god raised Jesus from the dead. He who did this 2000 years ago is with us even now.
Some gods in this world don’t have a lot of time left on the earth. Some are here for a short time and then cannot be found, but this god has been at work amongst mankind for thousands of years already. Even now He keeps His promises. I bless you all in Jesus’ name that you will meet this god.
Also, you must not let yourself encounter just any god. If you say, “I don’t care who you are, but just come and help me!”, some random god may come and bring harm or curses upon you. That is why you must not come in contact with just any god. In Jesus’ name I bless you that truly meet the god who has been verified over thousand years, the god who has revealed all of His nature, the god who has spoken of what He does and kept His words, and the god who did not spare even His own Son but gave us Him to show His love and save us. I bless you in Jesus’ name that you may meet this god who has been confirmed, acknowledged and praised by many people. I’ll pray for you.
God our Father, though there are many gods in this world, I thank you that we have come to meet and serve and call as our Father the God who created all things, rules over all things as the Creator and who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Help everyone gathered here to have this same experience. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center