Moses has been cooling his heels in the backside of the desert, and is probably about 80 years old by now. If you have never read the book, A Shepherd looks at the 23rd Psalm you may want to check it out. The shepherd who wrote the book shows us what our savior is like, showing what skills a shepherd needs to lead his flock, whether or not they are people or sheep. I think that often God tends to take his people into desert places before He begins to use them. I think it tempers us and makes us ready for the challenges of leadership.
Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (another name for Horeb is Sinai, and we will see that this mountain plays a big part in Moses’ life).
We will see an Angel of the LORD – that is a pre-incarnate Jesus.
Exodus 3:2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire, from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
God sure knows how to get attention- a bush that burns with fire but isn’t consumed, and an an Angel of the LORD within. I love this image, for it applies to us. We have the flame of fire of the Holy Spirit within us, and we are not consumed – although we are changed and energized by that fire within.
Exodus 3:3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”
God got Moses’ attention and Moses made the choice to turn aside and see this sight. He could have chosen to keep walking, to focus on the task of tending his sheep, or ignored it completely. So often there are moments when God is apparent and we just walk on by. We need to be aware of God moments – many of them are the still small voice types, but even burning bushes we could rationalize if we wanted to. I pray that none of us miss these important moments with God.
I love the next verse, it shows just how respectful God is of us, never pushing Himself on us, but waiting for us to turn and notice Him.
Exodus 3:4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
This calls to mind the little boy, Samuel who heard God call, and the priest instructed him to say “Here I am.” I hope when God calls me that I too say, “Here I am.” But so often, just like Moses, I make excuses for why I feel unqualified to do what God is calling me to do. Simple obedience is so tough for us, at least at times it is for me.
Exodus 3:5 And He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”
I think this is an important thing to keep in mind. Today I hear some pastors talking about God is my buddy, we are pals, he is my homebody, and even one person who subscribes to my site called God a swear word (he is not a Christian, but feels he can treat God lightly). It is true that God loves us, that He is our Father, that He cares about us, that we are family, but that is no cause for disrespect. Just like many respect their parents, we need to respect God. He is sovereign, He is above and beyond anything we can conceive of with our feeble minds. Yes, we can come boldly into the throne room of grace, but at the same time there needs to be a reverence and an awe. God is God, and we are not. He deserves our respect, worship, awe and love. We do not need to be afraid of Him, but we also need to give Him the honor due.
Exodus 3:6 Moreover 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 upon God.
This is a threefold God, and it is the first time that God mentions this name. Moses understood that to look upon God was to die to self. God’s glory must have shown brightly in that desert place. It is funny, but this image of hiding one’s face from God I can so relate to. I used to be so afraid to have God notice me – I really feared that if He noticed I had squeaked by into salvation, He would have kicked me out of His kingdom. I literally slunk around in corners trying not to draw attention to myself. I was afraid of God – that is not the fear of God that God desires. I love that song where the singer sings, “I can only imagine..” and describes her meeting with God. I don’t know what I will do when I meet God face-to-face. I imagine I will drop to my knees and not be able to look up, but I also think He will raise my head to look at Him. See, we are covered by the shed blood of Jesus, so when God looks at us, He sees His son. He loves us, and I imagine He will make sure that we feel that love and acceptance. The shame that we sometimes carry with us for our past actions is not His intention for us, for He has separated us from our sins as far as the east is from the west, and He will remember them no more.
Exodus 3:7 And the LORD said, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.”
Oh this is such an important concept to get under our belts. God is aware of any oppression we face. He has heard our cry. Just because God is not acting on our situation immediately does not mean that He is oblivious to our situation. I know that a few years ago I would have been asking the “WHY” questions – why would God be aware of a situation and NOT act, didn’t God care? What was happening for me with those questions was that I was only focusing on the situation from MY perspective – and while the why question is valid from my perspective – God is not just focusing on my limited vision. He has the WHOLE picture. Not only was God concerned about MY salvation, but the salvation of MY PARENTS, and those who hurt me so badly. It isn’t just about me (although there are times when I wish it was just about me) but I know that God has things covered in ways that I can’t even imagine. In fact, some of those why questions are now being answered in ways that surprise even me.
Exodus 3:8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.
The Ites have it right now, but soon the People of Israel will replace them. This will be an adventure of epic proportions, perhaps a movie can be made about it (sorry, couldn’t resist). But in reality, God will deliver the people completely. This is a prophesy which truly came to pass. But the process will not be instantaneous, it will take 40 years in the wilderness, it will take great courage to fight the “ites” and God will use the time between this prophesy and the fulfillment of it to ready His people for this adventure. I have noticed that sometimes someone speaks a word of prophesy over us and we think that means that it will instantly happen. So often there is a long time period between the prophesy and the fulfillment of that prophesy. Just because we know what is to happen, doesn’t mean that it is immediately God’s perfect time for it to happen. God will let it happen when it is the right time. In the meanwhile, God will use the intervening time to ready us for the fulfillment of the prophesy.
I wonder when Moses will get that uh-oh feeling, when He realizes that God is not just informing him of this great thing that will happen, but that Moses will play a part in the adventure. Sometimes we want others to do what we see is about to happen, and not realizing that it is us that God wants to use to bring about the fulfillment of the prophesy.
Exodus 3:9-10 Now, therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
I wish I could have been privy to the thoughts that must have cascaded through Moses’s mind once he heard these words from God. You want me?????? Hey, I barely escaped with my life after killing that Egyptian????? Why me????? Can’t you find someone better????? How can I do this great task???? And a million other questions. I bet he swallowed hard before saying the next few words.
Exodus 3:11 Then Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Moses is now going to give God all the reasons why God chose wrong. Haven’t we done that too? I know that there are times when God has prompted me to speak to someone and I debate whether or not the inclination is from God or not, only to find out that I missed an opportunity. I know that many times I let MY perceptions of me and MY limitations get in the way of my doing what God wants me to do. I see myself as inferior and not worthy of doing the things God shows me. What I forget in my ego is that it isn’t about ME doing, it is GOD doing through me, if I would just get out of the way and let Him do what He can do so well. If God is giving us a task, it is logical that He will also give us the ability to do the task. All our doubts are basically unbelief that God can do what God is fully able to do. What I so love about God in the following verses is how lovingly God answers Moses’ fears and doubts, and doesn’t say – ok Moses you have argued too much, just forget I even asked you, I’ll find someone else. God really wanted Moses to work with Him, and as we know, Moses had the right heart for the task – a love for a sin-filled nation of Israel. God doesn’t give up on us, but He also can at some point use another person to do what we refuse to do. But God wants the best for us. I pray that as I grow more in Him, that I miss fewer and fewer opportunities to do God’s will.
Exodus 3:12 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this Mountain.”
OH WOW! I never saw this before – but where did Moses go for so long – up to Mt. Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments. He spent 40 days in the mountain spending time with God. He truly served God in this mountain – I wonder if Moses remembered this conversation when He was up in the Mountain! Notice something else, it is not who we are, but who is with us that matters. If we have God with us, nothing can be against us. God has it covered.
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?” And God said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”
This is such an important question – and later we will see Jesus say “I AM” and the scribes and Pharisees will get up in arms because of what that “I AM” implied. God gave Moses a name, which means a relationship. Once we know a person’s name, it helps us to communicate with them. It becomes personal, and God is pointing out to Moses that He wants a relationship. Whenever God reveals a new name to His people, it reveals something about God, and helps the people to know more about Him. Because God is so far beyond anything we can see or imagine, His names give us tiny glimpses of Him.
And one other interesting thing that I noticed is that Moses did what I tend to do – to rehearse in his mind what might happen. When I say this, they will ask what is the name of God. What is funny is that we will see that the people never asked that question once. So God revealed Himself to Moses and answered His question even though God knew that the people would never have asked the question. God could have as easily said, “I don’t need to give you a name, they won’t ask the question.” But God didn’t do that. I think He wanted that relationship with Moses. I know one thing, Moses and God had some pretty awesome conversations, and a strong relationship that reflected on Moses’ face. I pray that God and I have a strong relationship, one that is as personal and loving.
This name of God, I AM THAT I AM is known as the Tetragrammaton – and was considered so sacred that the Israelites never pronounced the name and wrote it YHWH. In fact, when the scribes would write the sacred name of God, it was considered so holy that they would first wash, put on a clean outfit, write the name with a new pen, and pray. It was never taken lightly.
Also notice that I AM THAT I AM is present tense – it is not I was that I was, our I will be that I will be. God is HERE, NOW. Always has been and always will be. It is an eternal present name. He is as much I AM THAT I AM now as He was when He gave that name to Moses.
Exodus 3:16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, “The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me saying, “I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt: and I have said I will bring you out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”
When God uses us, He gives us the words to say and tells us what to do. I think it is important to realize that once the Israelites made it to the promised land, they never fully conquered the whole of the land that God gave them. And unfortunately today they are still giving away land that God gave them. No matter what the World says, this land that God gave the Israelites belongs to the Israelites.
God is going to give Moses further instructions regarding this adventure in the rest of Chapter 3, but I think I want to savor the wonderful relationship that God has for us. His ever-present help in trouble. That He is the I AM. He is so much to us, in fact He is our all-in-all. He is worthy to be praised.
Have a blessed day!
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