By Brooke Holt
"’And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?' [God] said, 'But I will be with you…'" Exodus 3:9-12a, ("The Great “I AM’" Study Reading: Exodus 3: 1-22)
In yesterday’s reading, the Hebrew slaves asked Moses who he was to interfere in their affairs. Today, we learn the answer. God had chosen Moses to lead his people out of bondage and into the land he had promised to Abraham four hundred years earlier. All Moses had to do was convince Pharaoh to free his slaves and then persuade the Israelites to pack up and follow him to a country none of them had ever seen. Sounds simple, right?
Moses had several rational reasons for not wanting to return to Egypt. He had a comfortable life in Midian , surrounded by open pastures and a loving family. Returning to Pharoah’s court was dangerous. And, although the old pharaoh had died, someone might remember his crime and demand justice. If he went unrecognized, he would be a foreigner asking a king to free the slaves on which his realm depended. Pharaohs were not known for their even tempers; the ruling Pharaoh could imprison or execute Moses on the spot. And he faced a high probability the Israelites would reject him as a stranger who had never shared their slavery and suffering.
Despite those very real possibilities, Moses’ reluctance stemmed from a much deeper fear - he believed himself unworthy and incapable. In his mind, he saw himself as a murderer, a fugitive, and a man who abandoned his people for 40 years and built a new life on a lie. God, not blind to those surface truths, saw beyond them to the man Moses had become and the man he was born to be. What’s more, he used the good, the bad, and the ugly from Moses’ past to forge him for the future. The fierce passion and sense of justice that once elicited murder, the kindness and strength that rescued Ruel’s daughters, and the patience and forgiveness demanded by fatherhood would combine to make Moses a great leader. He could not see it yet, but God knew it to be true.
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (verse 11). We all likely ask a version of this question when God calls us to do something far beyond our capabilities. Thankfully, the Lord’s always has the same answer: “I will be with you” (verse 12). Those five words are both a promise and a call to faith. God did not expect Moses to sway Pharaoh or lead the Israelites on his own but, rather, to allow the Lord to work through him. Moses was the instrument; God was the power and the glory behind it.
Like Moses, we sometimes define ourselves by past sins and failures. We worry our shortcomings disqualify us from serving God’s purpose or, worse, that we could derail his plan altogether. But the Lord assures us this is not possible. He promises to forgive and redeem all of our mistakes and to use them for good as he molds us for the future. He promises to be with us in every endeavor, to achieve what we cannot. Will you trust him to be faithful?
How do you feel about God knowing and redeeming every mistake you’ve ever made? How does he want to use you because of your previous failures, not despite them? Are you willing to let go of your pain, your guilt, your shame, and your earthly plans to embrace God’s big plan? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Want more content about the book of Exodus? Check out "The Great 'I AM'" study written by Charlie and Brooke Holt below.
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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