This is the next post in a year-long study of posts based on questions in the Bible. For the introduction to the series, click here.
Exodus chapter 3 relates the story of a man named Moses who is working as a shepherd tending his father-in-law’s flocks out in the middle of nowhere. As he and the sheep are walking, Moses sees a bush engulfed in flames. And he thinks…
…nothing about it whatsoever. This is the desert where it is hot, dry, and these types of bushes burst in to flames all the time. There’s nothing weird about this. Until Moses notices that this bush’s branches are not being consumed by the flames. He goes to the bush for a closer look, and from the bush hears:
And unlike my response, which might be to turn around and run away as fast possible, -sheep or no sheep- Moses talks back to the bush. It turns out the voice from the bush is the Angel of the Lord giving Moses the task of being His instrument to go back to Moses’s home country of Egypt and lead the Israelites to a new place. And then Moses asks a very important question:
“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And Moses has a point in asking this question, because the direct answer to the question is: Nobody. If we look back over Exodus chapters 1 and 2, we can give a more specific answer though. Moses is an Israelite who is adopted as a baby by the Egyptian royal family, develops a temper, becomes a murder who has been a fugitive in hiding for 40 years, and is now a lowly shepherd for his father-in-law (causing him to lose two man cards because he is: 1) Doing a job with a negative stigma attached to it; and 2) Working for his father-in-law).
But that’s not what God sees. To hold to an appropriate idea of God means to let go of the idea that God sees time in a linear fashion like humanity does. While Moses sees his own past which has led to his present circumstances, God sees that and Moses’s future PLUS that of all those who will be impacted by him. Simultaneously.
To steal a phrase Rob Bell likes to use:
This has profound implications for our present reality.
1. My past may define my present, but only my present defines my future. The first words of Exodus 3 are, “One day…”. All it takes is one day to change everything. And since life is an endless series of one days, all of my yesterdays do not have as much of an impact on my tomorrow as my today does.
2. Everyone has the chance to make a long-lasting impact on the rest of existence. If Moses had not stepped up to the challenge of being a liberator for the Israelites, the next 3,500 years of Jewish history (culture, conquer, being conquered, *gasp* The Holocaust) would not have happened. We do not know the impact our lives will hold far down the line, but we should realize that what we do today is going to affect someone or something later on.
3. Having an appropriate identity of self is critical. Romans 12:3 states that “No one should think more highly of themselves than they should, but rather to use clear-minded judgment.” If Moses had approached this task with pride, things would have fallen apart. If he had demonstrated too much cowardice, things would have not happened to begin with. Likewise, we should accept that we are not great and that there is only one Reason to boast (1 Corinthians 1:31).
Tune in next week when we discuss what happens with Moses after he finally gets the Israelites out of Egypt.