Moses was a Hebrew raised in Egyptian privilege through God’s providence and Pharaoh’s cruel folly. A clumsy attempt at trying to intervene by Moses results in a dead Egyptian and Moses fleeing to hide in Midian. Moses gets married and tends the flocks in Midian safely removed from Pharaoh’s court and the suffering of his Hebrew kin. Then one day he sees a curious sight, a bush on fire that is not burning up. When Moses draws closer to the burning bush he then hears a voice saying his name.
The Lord, the God of Moses’ ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had seen the suffering of his people and was coming to deliver them from slavery and oppression. The Lord tells Moses to go tell Pharaoh what God commands and to lead the people out of Egypt. The rest of chapters 3 and 4 in Exodus is Moses arguing with God about how hard the request God has made of him is, how it may not work out and how Moses may not be the right person for the job. I have to remind myself that Moses is questioning a voice coming from a flaming bush that knows his name and the story of his people when he asks:
Who am I (to do such a thing)?…Who shall I say sent me?…What if they don’t believe me?…I am not an eloquent speaker…please send someone else.
God responds that he will go with Moses, that the “I am” sends him, that the Lord will make them believe, and that as the maker of Moses' tongue God felt confident they could work out the speaking parts. At Moses' final pleading God declares well, ok, take your brother Aaron with you.
God is right there inviting him to be a part of the divine work of redemption and Moses is stuck on his lack of credentials. God promises signs and wonders and Moses worries the people he is sent to will not believe him. The Lord is speaking through the flames of burning bush and Moses is concerned about his speech impediment (maybe Moses gets excited and talks too fast).
From a certain angle, the story is amusing, I might even be tempted to laugh at Moses if the Holy Spirit didn’t turn this text into a mirror, challenging me to see myself. Like Moses, I am tempted to measure the probability of success in following God’s command in light of my abilities. God didn’t call Moses and say I need you to fix this, the Lord says, “I have come down to deliver.”
Even now, God is delivering. He sends us to tell and share of his providence and provision. “Send somebody else,” we may say. But, God will only multiply the blessings by telling us to take our brother or sister along with us.
I have not grown beyond the temptation to argue with a burning bush but I have learned enough to be grateful for the brothers and sisters of University that God sends with me on the journey. As we attempt to live out God’s calling for our community the question is not whether we can or cannot overcome all that is before us - rather, this is a story of a God who has, who is, and who will.
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