Moses - a great father of the faith, a man with a legacy a mile wide, whose place in Biblical history is unquestioned. Even people whose only Biblical exposure has come via a smattering of Sunday School stories are familiar with the highlights of his journey - the ten plagues and "Let my people go!", the parting of the Red Sea, the burning bush. Moses is well known.
And despite this, or maybe because of this, I think we sometimes fail to consider, really truly consider, how remarkable his story is. Here are some thoughts I was struck with when last reading Exodus 3.
We find Moses shepherding his father-in-law's flocks in the opening verses, and I've always immediately pictured him among family. How comfortably I imagine the scene. But think, for a moment, what Moses' family history is, and how that may have shaped how he experienced his life.
He does not know his birth parents.
He has been raised among a people, heritage, and culture that are distinctly not his own, no matter how hard he may have tried to fit in.
He is intimately familiar with any number of gods and deities that would have been esteemed in Egypt among royal families at the time. He has probably worshiped some of these gods himself, as a child, or even as a man.
He has fled everything that he has known, has no real land, possessions, or money of his own, and is now taking care of his father-in-law's sheep. (I think of David, the youngest son of so many brothers, relegated to care for sheep and passed by when Samuel came searching for a man to name king. It was not a position of honor. I think of my own husband, how he might feel if our marriage resulted in him living in my parent's backyard, caring for their sheep, nothing of his own to offer or establish himself with. I think perhaps that would have been a difficult situation, no matter how wonderful your in-laws are.)
I think of the echoing Hebrew voice, jeeringly crying, "Who made you our ruler and judge"?; that stinging reminder that he was not really one of them.
I wonder what kind of internal pain Moses experienced, and I understand that our experiences can profoundly impact our experience of God.
And here is God, in verses 2-3, arriving in the midst of the burning bush. And I've always thought that was the miracle, the part that would have astounded Moses, because that would certainly have astounded me.
But now I wonder - I wonder if Moses found the power and miracle here, in these words:
"Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God."
A man without a heritage, isolated in a wilderness with nothing of his own, who has lost the history of not only his birth culture, but the culture that raised him, finally receives a personal encounter with the GOD of his people.
And that God calls him by name and ushers him into the heritage of the Hebrew people. There is no question, there is no cold shoulder, there is no fumbling through a confused tangle of who is who - there is a claim, an acceptance, a history.
And THIS is when Moses hid his face.
I think perhaps the burning bush was an attention-getter, but it was never meant to overwhelm the plot of the story the way it often has in modern re-tellings.
God's message spoke to Moses' condition, to his heart, to his need, and it set the groundwork for the more powerful work that He later accomplishes in and through Moses.
Listen today - see what God has to speak to your condition, to your heart, to your need.
He knows your history.
He knows your name.
He is there in your wilderness, making His claim.
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