Moses has failed in his first attempt to be the great deliverer for the Israelites; he proceeded in his own power using the practices he learned in the Egyptian courts. He assumed an authority not appointed by God and deals with injustice by the unjust murdering of an Egyptian. Fearing Pharaoh’s wrath Moses runs as far away as he can, to Midian, where he lives for forty years. Now God calls Moses to return to Egypt in a miraculous way, but this time Moses will proceed in God’s way and in God’s timing.
Moses current occupation is tending the herd for his father-in-law the priest of Midian. He is doing this in the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, in an area called Horeb, which means desolation. Looking at the pictures of the area, it is indeed a desolate area – it doesn’t appear to have much vegetation for grazing animals. This would have a lonely job, traveling great distances to find grass and water.
This mountain will become quite significant in Israel history. This is the mountain where God will meet with Moses to give him the Ten Commandments, where the Israelites make a lasting covenant with God and it will be where Elijah meets God after escaping Ahab and Jezebel’s murderous rage.
Moses is alone on the mountain when he sees a bush that is burning but is not consumed, a strange sight, Moses approaches to get a better view. The Angel of the LORD calls Moses by name from the burning bush, Moses answers, “Here I am”. God warns Moses to not come any closer that he is standing on holy ground and he must remove his sandals.
God identifies himself to Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob”. Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a land that is both good and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the region of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.And now indeed the cry of the Israelites has come to me, and I have also seen how severely the Egyptians oppress them.So now go, and I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
Notice all the “I” statements, it is God who directing the plan and it will be God that rescues the Israelites – this is not Moses’ initiative and plan, it is God’s plan. Note too that God says, “So I have come down to rescue them”, this is divine intervention – God provides the salvation by coming to dwell with His people – God Himself comes to save and deliver us.
After stating his plan God now commands Moses to go back to Pharaoh, putting his well-ordered life in peril. Moses will not go in secret but out in the open so that the whole world will see and hear about what the God of the Israelites has done for his people. Moses understandingly is fearful, saying “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt”. God’s simple reply is “I will be with you.” The LORD God Almighty, will be with Moses through the trials and He will speak through and empower Moses to do the seemingly impossible.
Moses asks God, when I go to the Israelites and tell them God has sent me, what name shall I use so they know that it is their God. God’s reply, “I AM WHO I AM. That is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you”. God further identifies himself as the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – He is the God of the Promise, He is the eternal LORD.
Moses is directed to meet first with the elders of Israel, to deliver God’s message to Israel, then they are to go together to Pharaoh to say, “The Lord the God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God”. This encounter sets the stage for all the following confrontations with Pharaoh. Remember that Pharaoh considered himself a god, the highest and most powerful god among many gods. God states clearly that Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go to worship the LORD unless the mighty hand of God compels him. God will act; He will show the wonders that will eventually allow the Israelites to leave Egypt and to leave with vast amounts of plunder. God will reverse the years of humiliation and oppression as slaves, allowing the Israelites to leave richer and more plentiful than when they arrived in Egypt. The LORD God Almighty has the power to do what he promises and He will do what He promises to do with a mighty act.
Can you relate to the Israelites? Have you been praying for years for deliverance from trials or perhaps for God’s intervention in the lives of loved ones – the same God, who heard the cries of Israel, hears your prayers. Perhaps you feel like Moses, you have failed in your attempts under you own plans and power. Now is the time to allow the God of the Universe to fill your life and work through you, but be prepared to work in ways that are God’s plans and not your own. God’s promise to Moses applies to you as well, “I will be with you”.