So often we think of ourselves as the outsider. We believe we are not enough for God to be able to use. Our job, our family, our bank account, our education, even our holiness tries to persuade us that we are not enough of something. I imagine it was very much the same for Moses. And yet, and yet, Moses appears to be chosen by God as much for his worthlessness as for his worth.
God speaks to Moses and tells him why he is talking to him, which I think Moses probably appreciated. God isn’t talking to Moses because of how impressive Moses is or because God is going to do such a tremendous thing in Moses’ life. God isn’t coming to Moses to bestow upon him privilege. Moses had that once. It didn’t work out very well. God is coming to him to bestow a purpose. But it’s not even really a purpose about Moses. God is talking to Moses because of an entirely different group of people. It’s not Moses’ prayers for peace or happiness or a better life that God is responding to, it is the cries of the Israelites that is moving God. I wonder how often we hear from God and think, “Hoo Boy, I wonder what God has in store for me?” when maybe God’s plan is to show us what he has in store for someone else.
God has heard the cries of the people of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and has decided that he will deliver them from Egypt into another place. And he is sending Moses to make that happen. Moses was thrilled. Oh, wait? What? He wasn’t?
There is no part of Moses that wants to go back to Egypt. There is nothing in him that wants to face those he ran from 40 years ago. His sad, little sheepherder life looks tremendous compared to that. So he begins to negotiate with God. Question 1) Who am I to go and do this? Answer- Nobody. Nobody special or important or of such amazing talent as get something like this accomplished. But God tells him that he will be with him and that will be enough. Plenty, in fact. He even tells Moses that he we give him a sign. Now, it happens to be a pretty terrible sign by sign standards because it happen after the event will take place. I like my signs to come before I go through with something. Question 2) And just who are you to send me? Answer- “I AM”. I’ve always liked that this could be translated as “I will be who I will be” or “I am the one who is, who creates”. God is not just telling Moses a name that signifies existence but one that is meant to show the creating, providing nature of God. Question 3) What if they don’t believe that you sent me? Answer- God will show all of them signs. He will show that he is in charge of nature by changing the stick into a snake. He will show that he is in charge of our bodies by turning Moses’ hand leprous. He will show that he has power even over those things they think as deity by turning the water into blood. Question 4) Ummm, I don’t speak so good. Answer- I’m God and I created both mouths and speech, so I’ll be with you and speak for you. Question 5) Not really a question. Moses just straight up tells God he doesn’t want to go. God has kept his cool up to now but that finally makes God really angry. God will let us question him and reason with him and argue with him. He is big enough to handle that. But when we just flat-out refuse him, that’s when he starts to take it personally.
He tells Moses quite sternly, “Now pick up your staff and GO!”. And so Moses packs up his belongings and his family and heads off to Egypt.