By Brooke Holt
"These are the Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said: 'Bring out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt by their hosts.' It was they who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the people of Israel from Egypt, this Moses and this Aaron. On the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am the Lord; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.’ But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?’” Exodus 6:26-30 (“The Great ‘I AM’” Study Reading: Exodus 6:14-30)
We named our firstborn son Charles after both of his grandfathers and his daddy, admittedly an easy call. His middle name, and those of my other two children, are also drawn from our collective family tree. For centuries, many European cultures prescribed a specific order in which children were named after relatives. And to this day, an Icelandic child’s last name is a combination of the father’s first name and “son” or “daughter” (for example: Jonsson or Jonsdottir). These traditions remind us of our origins and those who came before, placing our lives in a larger context.
The Israelites also valued family lineage, but they relied on oral tradition, teaching each new generation to recite the name of their ancestors. Every Israelite identified with one of twelve tribes named for the sons of Jacob. Moses and Aaron descended from Levi. As the nation of Israel developed, God would call the Levites to serve as priests or mediators between God and his people. In other words, they would continue the work Moses and Aaron were already doing.
Even with all this knowledge, the genealogy in Exodus 6 seems incomplete and out of place. Why does it end with Levi, leaving us to wonder about the other nine sons and their families? And why does it pop up in the middle of a conversation between God and Moses? I suspect both questions have the same answer: Moses needed God to remind him of who he was and who God is.
Being rejected by the Israelites had shattered Moses’ confidence, and now God wanted him to go back to Pharaoh. Seriously? If he couldn’t convince his own people, what chance did he have with the leader of the land? Twice, he told the Lord, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips” (Exodus 6:26). I admit, it’s a perplexing argument, until you learn the context. Just as ancestral names tie us to a particular family, circumcision of the males identified the Hebrew people as God’s children. Both are external symbols of an internal truth. Essentially, Moses was saying he had tried to embrace God’s calling in his heart; the Lord was supposed to provide the outward eloquence and persuasiveness. So far, they were not exactly wowing audiences.
What we see as a long list of random people would have evoked stories and memories for Moses. The genealogy began with Abraham, thereby recalling God’s initial covenant with his people. It named, for the first time in Exodus, the Levite couple who placed Moses in a basket on the Nile and set him on his current path. It introduced Aaron’s sons and their sons, a reminder of the ongoing nature of the chronicle. In short, it reminded Moses (and us) God is, always has been, and always will be present and active in our lives.
Like Moses, God knew, loved, and called each of us long before we were born. And, like him, we sometimes feel afraid and inadequate when the Lord’s plan exceeds our capabilities or demands great sacrifice. In those moments, he calls us to trust in the very best of our genealogy – Jesus Christ. Through him, we are redeemed and equipped for every good work he has given us to do. The time has come for us to stop arguing with God and start surrendering to the call. One of my favorite songs includes the lyric “Here I am Lord – send me!”. How God longs for each of us to speak those words!
Where do you look for the confidence to fulfill God's calling? Can you recognize the people God has placed in your life to lead you where you are today? Take a few minutes to thank the Lord for your physical and spiritual genealogy. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Want to learn more about the Book of Exodus? Check out "The Great 'I AM'" study written by Brooke and Charlie Holt below. Accompanying teaching videos included.
Come explore the grand story of God as the one who knows and loves his people. In one of the greatest love stories ever told, The Book of Exodus reveals God as Yahweh, the Great “I AM.” He is the transcendent, all-powerful creator of all things who defeated the greatest powers of the earth. This same God would have his people know and love him in an intimate and personal way. The Great “I AM” – A Study of the Book of Exodus is a 9-week study consisting of a small group study guide combined with weekly video teachings. Come and meet The Great “I AM”.
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