The Word Made Fresh
1Meanwhile, Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, priest of Midian. He led the flock through the wilderness to Horeb, God’s mountain. 2It was there that he saw the angel of the LORD appearing as flames inside a bush. The bush seemed to be on fire but wasn’t being burned up. 3Moses went over to see why the bush wasn’t being consumed by the fire.
4The LORD saw Moses approaching and called out to him from the bush. “Moses! Moses!”
Moses answered, “Here I am.”
5“That’s close enough,” said God. “Now take off your shoes; you’re standing on holy ground.” 6Then God said, “I am the God of your father; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses turned his face away, afraid to look at God.
7Then the LORD said, “I have seen the situation of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out from the abuse they are suffering at the hands of their slave drivers. 8I have come to set them free from the Egyptians and bring them out of that country to a good, wide land, filled with food and other resources. I am bringing them to the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites live. 9I have heard the cry of the Israelites, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are treating them, 10and that is why I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
11But Moses said, “Why should I be the one to go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites away from Egypt?”
12God said, “I will be with you. If you want proof that I am the one who is sending you, when you lead the people out of Egypt bring them to worship at this very mountain.”
13“If I go to the Israelites,” said Moses, “and tell them, ‘the God of your ancestors sent me to you,’ they’re going to ask, ‘What is this God’s name?’ What can I tell them?”
14God said. “I AM WHO I AM. Tell the Israelites ‘I AM’ has sent you to them.” 15Then God said, “Say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever. This is who I will be for every generation. 16Now go, gather the leaders of Israel together and tell them, ‘the LORD, the God of your ancestors – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – appeared to me and said “I know all about what you are going through in Egypt. 17I am going to bring you out of your misery there and lead you the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, a land filled with food and other resources.”‘ 18They will listen to you, and you will go with their leaders to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us and we must go a three day’s journey into the wilderness to make sacrifices to the LORD our God.’”
“Now,” said the LORD, “I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless he is forced, 20so I will strike Egypt with signs and wonders until he agrees to let you go. 21Not only that, but the Egyptian people will sympathize with you and you will not leave Egypt empty-handed. 22Every Israelite woman will ask her neighbor and anyone else living in the neighbor’s house for items of silver and gold jewelry, and for clothes your children can wear. That is how you will rob the Egyptians.”
1-6: Moses becomes a shepherd like Jacob’s family who came to Egypt about 400 years before. He is keeping the flocks of his father-in-law (Jethro here, but later it is explained that Reuel and Jethro are the same person) in the Sinai wilderness. He comes to Horeb, “the mountain of God” (Israel’s God was in earliest times often thought of as a mountain deity). The angel of the Lord (remember Sodom?) appears to him in a flame of fire out of a bush. Moses sees that the bush is not consumed. Then God calls him, and he answers, “Here I am,” just as Abraham had answered when God called him to sacrifice his son Isaac. But notice that he calls Moses twice, whereas he only called Abraham once. Scholars love trying to figure out why. God identifies himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
7-12: Moses is told that God has heard the cry of the people and has come to rescue them. God will deliver them from Egypt and bring them to the land of the ”Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites,” the early peoples that lived the land of Canaan even before the time of Abraham. God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh. Moses questions God’s choice. God says, “I will be with you, and this shall be the sign.” There is no sign however, unless “this” is a reference to the burning bush. But the bush is never mentioned when Moses brings the people to Horeb later.
13-22: Moses wants to know God’s name, and God reveals what is often referred to as the “Holy Name:” “Yahweh,” or “Yahu,” or “Ya,” which are forms of the verb “I am.” God says to tell the Israelites (meaning here the descendants of Israel/Jacob) that the God of their ancestors has sent Moses, and tells him to assemble the elders, and let them know that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob appeared to him and told him to lead them out to the land of the Canaanites, etc., “a land flowing with milk and honey” (prosperous and fertile) is added here for the first time; God is selling the idea!
When they go to Pharaoh, however, they are to say that the God of the Hebrews has sent them. That is the label the Egyptians have given them. They are to ask for permission to go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to God.
God tells Moses that Pharaoh will refuse, so God will perform wonders to compel him. The Egyptians will give them jewelry and clothing and thus be plundered.
It really is a waste of time to argue against God. If you know there is something God wants you to do, you may as well go ahead and do it or you will never have any peace of mind. Or soul. Oftentimes, the things God nudges us toward turn out to be training for even more important deeds God is grooming us for in the future.