Today the Moses narrative begins. We will follow him all around Egypt and through the wilderness as he leads the Israelites to the promised land. But as with Abraham and Joseph, we will see front and center the character of God. Moses was tending the sheep of his father-in-law Jethro when God called him. God calls people who are already busy it seems. Gideon was threshing grain, Samuel was serving in the tabernacle, David was tending sheep, Elisha was plowing, four of the disciples were managing their fishing business and Matthew was collecting taxes.
Here in todays reading we see the story of the burning bush. And we see God. He took an ordinary bush and turned it into a miracle. He needed to get Moses attention. Some scholars look at the burning bush and see the nation of Israel. They are God’s light in the world, persecuted but not consumed. But the burning bush is also a picture of Moses. He was the weak bush and God was the empowering fire. And, with God’s help Moses could accomplish anything. The same is true for each of us.
We also see here Moses being very human, just like us. God called Moses to be the one to bring His people out of slavery in Egypt. God would do the heavy lifting, but Moses would be the boots on the ground along with his brother Aaron. Moses was sure God had made a mistake in choosing him. And how many of us have felt that way at one time or another. Once Moses got over the initial shock of the burning bush God spoke to him. God reminded Moses who he was…the God of his ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is history here and Moses knew about his ancestors thanks to his mother being allowed to raise him for a period of time.
You would think being called by God for a special purpose would bring excitement. But for Moses it was daunting, and he did not want to do this job. After God introduced Himself, He told Moses He had heard His people crying out under their burden of slavery. He was going to rescue His people and He was going to send Moses. And like many of us, Moses had several good excuses why he could not go, one of which was I don’t even know your name. God said to Moses, I AM. Or I AM who I AM. He is God who is and who was and who will come again. He has always been. In John’s gospel we see Jesus take on the name I AM and complete it. I AM the bread of life, the way, truth, and life, the good shepherd. There was a point where God got angry with Moses and said GO! I will send your brother to help you. And once again God reiterated His promise of land for His people…the promised land flowing with milk and honey. That means they will have an abundance of everything they need.
Leading God’s people out of Egypt would mean Moses and his family would have to leave Midian and travel back to Egypt. Little did Moses know that much of the land they traveled on their way back to Egypt, he would spend time wandering on with the Israelites. It is on the journey back that we see a strange event happen. In 4:24-26 we see what appears to be a random story about circumcision and God wanting to kill Moses. So here are some thoughts about this. Circumcision is a physical sign of the covenant promise God made with Abraham. And if you were not circumcised you were considered outside of God. The Lord met up with Moses and his family because Moses had not circumcised his second son. It seems that his wife was appalled by the ceremony when the first son was circumcised and may have resisted having the second one circumcised. Or Moses may have not done it to appease the Midianite family. The Midianites did practice circumcision, but it was done on the grooms wedding day as part of the ceremony. Not circumcising his second son was a disobedience to God on Moses part, a crime punishable by death. Moses could not lead God’s people if he were disobedient to one of the fundamental commands of the Lord. Genesis 17:10-14. This speaks to the need for obedience to God by a leader. And it shows just how serious God is about that obedience.
Once Moses and Aaron met up, they headed to Egypt. Meeting with Pharaoh proved to be just as God had told them. Pharaoh didn’t listen to them and instead punished the Israelites even more by forcing them to work harder and with less materials. This set the tone for Moses relationship with God’s people Israel. They hated Moses because they perceived he was the reason things were not going well. It was Moses fault they had to work harder with less materials. Just as it would be Moses fault when there was no water or food while they were wandering. Moses was now 80 years old and the most challenging part of his life stretched before him. He had no idea what awaited him, only that God had promised to go with Him.
Today’s reading finished with the family record for Moses and Aaron. This is not there by accident. This is God’s way of reminding those who read His word that God had prepared Moses and Aaron for their ministry in Egypt. Their arrival in Jacob’s family was part of God’s providence. The story of God interacting with His people continues, even to today as God still interacts in our lives.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W