In Exodus 2, we see Moses grow from a baby to a man in his prime, ready to take on the world. Although he grew up in the palace, Moses increasingly rejected his Egyptian upbringing as he embraced his true identity and heritage in the Hebrew traditions and culture.
Moses’ allegiance to his people steadily grew until the test came one day when he saw an Egyptian ruler about to kill one of the Hebrew slaves. Moses’ natural instincts kicked in and before he knew it, he had murdered the offender. Certain that no one had witnessed it, Moses buried the body along with his conscience, that is, until one day a second conflict arose, this time between two Hebrews. When Moses stepped in once again, the stronger of the two challenged him, saying, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Are you going to kill me just like you killed the Egyptian?”
Shocked that his crime was out in the open, Moses knew he had no choice but to flee Egypt immediately. This was not his timing to deliver God’s people from Egypt – he had to deliver himself first. And sure enough, as soon as Pharoah read the news, he sought to kill him, adopted son or not. This was a matter of principle and in the king’s estimation, blood was thicker than water.
Running like a fugitive, Moses ended up in Midian, a desert wilderness inhabited only by a few shepherds and nomads who wandered from place to place, seeking adequate food for themselves and their flocks. It couldn’t have been long after Moses left Egypt that he came across a certain well. Since few wells existed in the desert, they were often a place of contention as shepherds fought for first dibs on one of the desert’s few precious commodities.
On one such occasion, seven daughters of the Priest of Midian arrived at the well to water their fathers flock. Drawing water from the well was not an easy task. Someone, had carved out troughs for the animals, probably out of rock or wood to hold enough water for several animals to drink from at once. The women had just filled the troughs when along came some greedy shepherds to drive them away. But Moses, with not even a phone booth to change in, came to their rescue and saved the day.
Naturally, the women invited Moses for dinner and seeing as he had nothing else on the calendar that evening, he followed them to their father’s house. The two men hit it off immediately and since Jethro’s daughter Zipporah was available, Moses agreed to marry her and move in right away.
It wasn’t long after that Moses’ first son was born and he named him Gershon, meaning, “I have been a stranger in a strange land.” Whether Moses was referring to his upbringing in the palace or his present circumstances, both would have applied. But now it was a new season and he was finally getting settled in what he thought was his ultimate destiny.
Living in Midian wasn’t a bad existence. Moses had a wife and extended family who loved him. He had an okay job as a shepherd that gave him lots of time to think and reflect and no boss telling him what to do. But in the back of his mind, he probably wondered more than once if this were really all there was. And what about his family and the Hebrew people? Could he just forget about them that easily? What was the purpose of him being rescued from certain death as an infant and being raised in Pharoah’s palace? Was it to push sheep around the backside of the desert for the rest of his life or was it part of a bigger picture? And what about the distant memory of a Promised Land his mother had told him about as a little boy?
Moses brushed his thoughts aside as he led the sheep to yet another pasture near the mountain of God. It was just another ordinary day in the desert for Moses when something unusual caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. Every once in a while, when the season and conditions were right, a bush would ignite from the heat or perhaps lightning and catch on fire in the desert. It was that dry. But this was something different.
As Moses watched, he grew in amazement that although it was a huge fire, somehow the feeble bush had not already been burnt to a crisp. It was only when he stopped to take a closer look that out from the middle of the bush, someone called his name, “Moses, Moses.”
Even though it was highly unlikely that a bush could talk or furthermore, that if anyone were inside the bush, they would still be alive, Moses got caught up in the moment and before he knew it, he found himself answering the voice from within the fiery bush, secretly relieved that no one except the sheep were there to witness it.
To his surprise, a conversation ensued as the Angel of the Lord, better known today as Jesus, decreed that place as holy ground and instructed Moses to remove his sandals. At this point, Moses probably reasoned that the setting was right for a visitation and since he had never heard a voice like this before – especially from a burning bush – he assumed rightly that this was indeed the God his mother had told him about many times before.
So when God introduced Himself, Moses already had an inkling of Who he was dealing with. Well aware of that fact, God wasted no time in getting down to business. He had seen the affliction and heard every cry as the oppression over His people in Egypt intensified. God had a plan to set His people free and He had someone specific in mind for the job.
Wanting to debrief him on the details of his assignment, God started off by reiterating the promise given to Moses’ forefathers and described the relocation plan and the wonderful place He was taking them to. Moses was syncing with God’s plan right up until the words, “I will send you unto Pharoah…”
That’s when Moses began to panic. The last he had heard, Pharoah wanted to kill him for murdering the Egyptian. Fine-tuned by a royal upbringing, Moses voiced his objection with tact and diplomacy that would even persuade God to change His mind. After all, who was he to take on such a prominent position in God’s plan for the entire nation? And after all, wasn’t that the same question one of his own people posed to him when he tried to rescue one – yes only one of God’s people and he couldn’t even pull that off? He wasn’t really one of them after all, being pampered in the palace while the real men were out slaving in the desert sun to construct yet more pyramids for his rich “Dad?” Who would follow him, knowing all this and more?
Despite Moses’ smooth delivery, God was not so easily persuaded. In fact, God insisted that He had the right man. And not only that, but He would be with him all the way, just in case Moses screwed up. And to celebrate the victory, they would meet right back here for an enormous party when it was all over.
Moses could see that he was losing ground quickly, and since he had nothing to lose, he played along with God. Assuming that he did everything God was telling him to do and he finds himself in a meeting with the elders, what would he tell them? And after explaining that God had indeed sent him as a leader to deliver them from Pharaoh’s cruel bondage, what would he tell them if they asked, snickering, “Oh yeah? Well, what was His name, this ‘God’ that apparently spoke to you from a burning bush?”
God answered Moses in an unexpected way, revealing a new name He had never given to anyone before – I AM THAT I AM. And furthermore, God told Moses to tell them, “I AM has sent me to you.”
Before Moses could get another word in edgewise, God instructed him further, just in case there was any more confusion about who He was, to say, “The Lord God of your fathers, The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” Now that would shut some mouths even today.
With that, Moses was ordered to return to Egypt and tell them everything God said. Which should have been the end of this scene…
Have you heard God’s voice lately? What is the last thing He instructed you to do? Have you done it or are you trying to reason with God or figure out how you can get out of doing it? If you’re wrestling with this, leave a comment, find me on Twitter or Facebook and come back here for the rest of the story tomorrow.