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All Bible references are to the Anglicised New International Version (NIV-UK)


By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.

Hebrews 11: 24, 25


ONCE A PRINCE IN EGYPT, Moses had got himself into serious trouble and had fled for his life to Midian. Born to Hebrew parents, but adopted at three months old by the Pharaoh’s daughter, he had lived in great luxury and had been educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. Now as a fugitive in the land of Midian, life was very different, but Moses found contentment in the supervision of the stock-rearing business of Jethro, whose eldest daughter had become his wife.


As the years passed it seemed most unlikely that Moses would ever return to Egypt, though he may not have been altogether cut off from his own family. He and Zipporah had two sons, and he had become more a Midianite than a Hebrew, a rugged herdsman rather than a cultivated city dweller. The details of his former princely life became like a distant dream, though he would sometimes learn of events and activities back in Egypt, as passing traders would bring news and perhaps carry letters from friends and family. Moses would then be reminded of the suffering of his native Hebrew people as slaves of the Egyptian Pharaoh. That cruel mistreatment continued, and while as a prince he might have been able to put a stop to the abuse, as a disgraced exile he was powerless to intervene.


But God had plans for Moses which would shatter his peaceful existence and lay upon him such challenges as would call for immense courage, faith and determination.


The Burning Bush

Have you ever seen a bush fire? In parched areas in the intense heat of summer, a bush fire can be a terrifying sight as it races along in a dry wind, leaving devastation behind it.


But what Moses witnessed was something very different (Exodus 3: 1-6). One day when he had led his flocks of sheep and goats to fresh pasture in the wilderness of Sinai, Moses looked up and saw a bush that seemed to be on fire. He watched anxiously, in case the fire should spread, but although the bush appeared to be alight with flames, it remained unharmed. Intrigued, Moses went closer to satisfy his curiosity. Then, already half-prepared for something extraordinary, he heard a voice calling from the midst of the bush, and at once he knew it was the voice of God.


Had Moses witnessed a miracle? The Bible does not refer to the event as a miracle something contrary to the established laws of nature. Some have reasoned that what Moses saw was in fact a rare natural phenomenon, which the Lord used to impress Moses as to the seriousness of His purpose. Exceptional weather conditions can create electrical storms, producing spectacular visual effects such as the appearance of glowing lights or fire, which leave no trace and do no harm.


Whatever it was that Moses witnessed, God had gained the urgent attention of the man who was to be His servant in the great project of rescuing the Hebrew people from slavery in the land of Egypt.


Moses! Moses!’

With pounding heart and trembling lips, Moses answered: ‘Here I am.’

‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ Then he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’


Moses stood barefoot and covered his face with his cloak as the Lord set before him an amazing commission (Exodus 3: 7, 8, 10).


‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. . . . So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.



O Lord! Not Me! Not Me!

Moses could scarcely believe that the Lord should ask him to confront the king of Egypt with such a demand. Forty years of exile as a simple herdsman had left him with no pretensions of authority over other men, and the Pharaoh was a man to be feared. And would Moses’ fellow Hebrews take him seriously? They might be reluctant to trust a man who had once been a royal prince of Pharaoh’s household.


Of course Moses still grieved at the plight of his own people, but surely there must be somebody better qualified to be their leader in the mass migration the Lord had planned?


Another objection came to mind. He was not eloquent, but hesitant of speech, a man of few words. How could he be expected to influence anybody? It was as if the Lord was losing patience with His chosen ambassador when He replied: ‘Who gave man his mouth? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’ And still with shaking voice Moses pleaded: ‘O Lord, please send someone else to do it’ (Exodus 4: 11–13).


It is Moses who tells the story, honest as to his own lack of courage, claiming no credit for himself, but glorifying his God, who could achieve His purposes through even the weakest human instruments. And Moses did as the Lord commanded, comforted a little by the promise of a companion in the task before him. The commission to deliver Israel would be shared with his brother Aaron. God would speak to Moses, but Aaron should be the spokesman to the people and to Pharaoh (Exodus 7: 1, 2).


The glowing radiance of the bush died away. The voice was silent. Moses stirred himself and was once again aware of the bleating of the sheep and goats and the rustling of the breeze through the acacias. This peaceful life was over, and with mounting resolve the servant of God faced a challenging future of labour, sacrifice and hardship, the outcome of which would be according to the Lord’s will His chosen people would be rescued from their slavery and would reach their promised land.



Copyright August 2010 by

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