Exodus 2:23 – 4:28. Moses withers away in obscurity for 40 years. But God’s not done with Moses…not by a long shot.
Exodus 2:23 – 4:28. Moses withers away in obscurity for 40 years. But God’s not done with Moses…not by a long shot.
“Papa’s Bible Stories” brings the Bible to life for your kids. For each episode, I pick a Bible story to talk to my very own kids about. The stories are entirely Bible-based, scripture is quoted at every opportunity, and the kids are always pointed to the Bible as the authority. And we’re not afraid of having a little fun too! It is my hope and prayer that your kids will be excited to explore God’s Word for themselves after hearing each and every episode. #bible #stories #kids #children #adventist #sda
Moses was in the desert. Moses was a shepherd, and had been one for 40 years now. He took care of his father-in-law’s sheep in Midian, and by now we was well-familiar with all the deserts, rivers, and mountains in the area. Being a shepherd was a hard job, but he’d come enjoy it. At one point, before he’d come to Midian, he might have thought being a shepherd was…a little bit below his pay grade. I mean…he’d been a prince of Egypt, one of the most power people in the whole world, educated by the smartest people in the whole world…and his poor people the Israelites were oppressed as slaves, and he was going to lead them to freedom, and…. But all that had been a long time ago. He’d been kicked out of Egypt for trying to start that rebellion, and now he was a shepherd. And as Moses lead his flock out of the desert and into the mountains, maybe he took a moment shake his head as he remembered just how arrogant he’d been…just how foolish he had been…to think that he would lead his people out of slavery. Ah…well that had been a long time ago. And having been a shepherd for 40 years now, Moses definitely had no inkling to lead anyone anywhere ever again.
And on this particular day as Moses made his way through the mountains, his eye caught sight of something off in the distance. It looked like a fire. And as he got closer, Moses could see that indeed it was a fire…a bush was on fire. Well that’s a bit strange. Ah some irresponsible camper had probably left their fire going after they left, and it had somehow caught the bush on fire. Well it would burn itself out soon enough. But as Moses kept walking by, the Bible says that the bush, “was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” (3:2) The fire just kept burning and burning and burning. Well that was strange. So a curious Moses decided to go check it out.
And as Moses approached the bush, the craziest thing happened. The bush…called his name! “Moses, Moses!”, said the bush. What kind of a bush is this?! A talking bush? And how did the bush know his name? But the bush didn’t stop with just his name…it kept talking, and said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (3:5-6) And now Moses knew what was going on. This wasn’t a burning bush at all. This was God…the God whom his parents had taught him all about…the God Moses had worshipped all these years…and God was appearing to him as a fire. Incredible. Shocked and afraid, Moses quickly took off his sandals and hid his face. What could God possibly want to talk to him about?
And God continued, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” (3:7-8) Well ok great. God was a going to finally free the Israelites. Moses had no idea how that was going to happen, but..ya know…good for them. Now…why was God telling this to him all the way out here in Midian? Well, he was about to find out. God continued, “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (3:10)
Errrr. What? Who was God sending? Him? Moses? Moses was going to bring the Israelites out of Egypt? That sounded crazy! Didn’t God know that he was just a poor shepherd in the middle of nowhere? And Moses quickly replied back to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (3:11) And God replied and said, “I will certainly be with you.” (3:12) Ok…God would be with him…but Moses certainly was not the right man for the job. And besides, he just knew that if he showed up in Egypt and told the Israelites what God had just told him…that they wouldn’t believe him. Moses’ failed rebellion was still fresh in his memory…and he knew that the Israelites were not the type of people to take a leap of faith.
And so, knowing this, Moses asked God another question, and he said, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?” (3:13). And God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM…Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ’I AM has sent me to you.’” (3:14) And then, maybe to help Moses wrap his brain around the whole thing, God laid out for him much of what was about to happen - what Moses would say to the Israelites, what Moses would say to Pharaoh, how Pharaoh would react, how God would react, and so on and so forth. And that in the end…irregardless of what anyone might say or do…the Israelites would indeed be leaving Egypt.
But Moses knew that just telling the Israelites the name of God would not be enough proof for the Israelites to pack up and leave. I mean, just imagine if someone showed up to your front door and said, “Hi there…I AM WHO I AM has sent me to take you to a far off land”, would you just pack up your stuff and head our the door? Yah…probably not. So Moses pressed God a little more, and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.'” (4:1) And God said to Moses, “What is that in your hand?” (4:2) And Moses replied, “A rod.” (4:2) And God said, “Cast it on the ground.” (4:3) So Moses threw his rod onto the ground, and…yikes his rod turned into a snake! And that must have really scared Moses, because the Bible says that Moses immediately jumped away from it. And then God said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (4:4) Take it by the tail? Anyone who knows anything about snakes knows that you never pick them up by the tail. That’s how you get bitten! But…Moses obeyed, and he reached out his hand and grabbed the snake’s tail…and…it turned back into a rod. Woh! Cool!
But God wasn’t done with the miracles. And God said to Moses, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” (4:6) And Moses, probably wondering just exactly what God was about to do to his hand, obeyed and put his hand into his shirt. And when he took it out…his hand was as white. His hand had leprosy…really bad! “Ahhh…my hand!”, Moses probably thought to himself. But then God calmly said, “Put your hand in your bosom again.” (3:7) And Moses, probably thinking to himself, “please go back to normal…please go back to normal…please go back to normal”, put his hand back into his shirt and then pulled it out and…his hand was back to normal. Whew!! Let’s not do that again! And then God said, “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign.” (3:8) So God was saying to Moses that he would be able to do these two miracles whenever he wanted so that he could prove to the Israelites that he was indeed there because God had sent him.
But despite being given these amazing miracles to prove that God had sent him, Moses knew that the Israelites were still going to need some convincing to actually leave Egypt. If Moses’ failed rebellion had taught him anything…it was that many of the Israelites did not want to leave Egypt, and those who did…well they did not want to actually do anything to be free. So they would need to be convinced. And this was a job for a great orator…someone who knew how to speak up front and give those rousing sermons and motivational speeches that we hear all the time. And that wasn’t Moses. And he said to God, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (3:10) But God replied to him, “Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? (12) Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (3:11-12)
And at this point, God seemed to have dealt with each obstacle and every excuse that Moses could think of. Who was Moses that he should go? Don’t worry, I will be with you. How will the Israelites believe Moses? Don’t worry, tell them My name and here’s some miracles to show them. Moses wasn’t a good speaker? Don’t worry, I will teach you what to say. God had even told him much of what was going to happen. And with all the obstacles dealt with and all the excuses addressed, there was really only one thing left to do…obey. But…Moses’ mind just couldn’t make the leap. He just couldn’t imagine himself doing what he’d been asked to do. He felt completely overwhelmed. It just seemed impossible. And in one last ditch attempt to get out out of it, he plead with God, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” (4:13) So basically, please…send someone else!
And then the Bible says that, “the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses…” (4:14) That’s right kidzos, God was getting a little fed up with Moses’ hesitation. God had patiently answered every question, had dealt with every obstacle, and had promised to get Moses through all of it. So any hesitation now basically meant that Moses wasn’t just doubting himself…but that he was doubting God too. But even though God was angry, He still helped Moses out. For sure, God knew that Moses was feeling overwhelmed and didn’t feel up to the job. And so…God gave Moses a partner. Sometimes if we don’t feel up to doing something on our own, that’s what we need…a partner. Someone who wants the do the same thing that you want to do, and who’s gonna work with you to get it done. And who did God give to Moses as a partner? Well, Moses’ brother – Aaron. And God said to Moses, “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do. So he shall be your spokesman to the people.” (3:14-16) So God sets Moses up with a partner, and even tells Moses how the partnership is going to work – God would tell Moses what to do, Moses would tell Aaron what needed to be said, and Aaron would do all the talking. It was a match made in heaven…literally.
And with this, even though Moses probably still didn’t understand how it was all going to work out, even though he had no idea how he was going to do what God was asking him to do, Moses trusted God…and obeyed. Once Moses accepted his mission, he put all his heart and soul into it. Right away Moses went home, packed up his stuff, and headed out to meet up with Aaron. And after that, he’d start the long journey to Egypt. Freedom was on its way…for real this time.
You know kidzos, this story reminds Papa of a saying – “God does not call the qualified, God qualifies the called.” When God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he had no power, he had no money, he had no influence – he was just an old shepherd in the middle of nowhere. But that’s not what God saw. What God saw was a man who had learned the hard way not to trust in his own abilities. He saw a man who had learned to patiently endure the hard life of a simple shepherd. He saw a man who would trust Him and follow Him wherever he was asked to go, no matter what. And from this starting point, God could teach Moses the rest of what he needed to know. And God would teach Moses the rest of what he needed to know, to the point where…spoiler alert…Moses would become one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. God did not call Moses because he was qualified, he called Moses…and then qualified him.
And one day kidzos, just like Moses, God is going to call you to do something. And that something might not be what you’re expecting. Maybe God will call you to be a doctor, and you will think to yourself…but God, I’m not very good in school. Maybe God will call you to be a pastor, and you will think to yourself…but God, I get nervous speaking up front. Maybe God will call you to be a missionary in…I don’t know…China, and you will think to yourself, but God, I don’t speak Mandarin. Whatever God calls you to do…you might feel like it’s impossible…you might feel like it’s crazy. But when you get that feeling, just remember…God’s not calling you because you are qualified. He’s calling you…and He will qualify you. Just like Moses.