The story of Moses begins with God’s hand of protection on his life from his birth. Through a series of events he grew up in the palace of the king of Egypt. But Moses’ life took a dramatic wrong turn and he had to flee Egypt. He made his home in the wilderness until one day he had an encounter with God that changed his life forever. What can we learn about our relationship with God from the call of Moses?
The Call of Moses
Where can the call of Moses be found in the Bible?
Moses’ story starts early in Israel’s history and is found in the book of Exodus. The people of Israel were living in Egypt. They had moved there temporarily to escape famine in Canaan. But, they settled there and stayed for over four hundred years!
During that time there were many changes and Israel grew from a tribe into a nation – until they were no longer welcome in Egypt. Through a series of miraculous events, Moses was brought up by Pharaoh’s daughter in the palace of the king of Egypt.
As an adult, Moses witnessed an Egyptian beating an Israelite and intervened to defend one of his own people. But he killed the Egyptian man and hid the body in the sand. What he had done became known and Moses had to flee for his life.
At the age of forty Moses left Egypt and took refuge in neighboring Midian – a dry and desolate, wilderness land. A stark contrast to the life at court that he had left behind.
Moses in Midian
Moses settled in exile in Midian. There he married into the family of Reuel, a priest – whose name means ‘friend of God’. Moses had a family of his own and worked as a shepherd for his father-in-law.
During this time, conditions for the Israelites in Egypt got considerably worse. God heard the cries of His people. He was concerned for them and remembered the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In Christ Jesus, we too are God’s children, adopted into His family and He hears the cries of our hearts. The knowledge of God’s concern can bring comfort when we are struggling. God cares for us and we are not alone. God is watching over our lives and working for our good – even when we are not aware of it.
How long was Moses in Midian?
Until the age of forty Moses’ life was spent in the royal Egyptian household. There he would have learned about leadership by absolute authority, where the king was served by his people.
Moses then spent the next forty years in Midian as a fugitive in a foreign land. There he would have learned about leadership with care and responsibility, where the shepherd was the servant of the sheep.
Two different seasons, with contrasting lifestyles, learning about leadership. Unbeknown to Moses, God was preparing him for what lay ahead. Nothing is by chance, and nothing is wasted, in God’s kingdom. There is always the opportunity for God to redeem the hard and difficult seasons of our lives. There is no situation that is too dark or too difficult for Him.
Moses, while working as a shepherd led the sheep through the wilderness to Horeb, the mountain of God. It was here that the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. This was a supernatural fire because the bush itself was not burning.
Moses was intrigued and went to look closer at this sight. He heard a voice calling him by name from within the bush. Moses was in the presence of God who spoke to him and said:
“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”Exodus 3:6
But Moses was afraid to look at God and hid his face. God spoke to Moses about the plight of the Israelites, that He had seen their misery, and heard their cries. God was concerned about their suffering and had come down to rescue them. Then Moses received a clear call and commission from God:
“I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”Exodus 3:10
Moses responded to God’s call by asking why he had been chosen to go to Pharaoh, “Who am I that I should go?” God answered indirectly by saying, “I will be with you.”
In this response God graciously corrects Moses’ perspective. The outcome of the task did not depend on Moses – it depended on God. By His mighty power God would deliver Israel from Egypt. Moses would be the instrument through which God would accomplish this. There is a reminder here that it is a privilege to serve God in whatever way we can, but the outcome of our service is in His hands.
The sign of God’s presence with Moses was confirmed with a promise. Moses would return to this mountain, with the people of Israel, to worship God.
Summary of Exodus Chapter 3
For a second time in Exodus chapter 3, Moses showed his reluctance to accept his commission. And he wanted to know how he would explain to the Israelites who had sent him:
“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you. God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” Exodus 3:14-15Exodus 3:14-15
God identified Himself to Moses, firstly, as the God of his ancestors. Moses was probably aware of other gods, Egyptian and Midianite. But God made it clear that He was the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. This reminded Moses of his origins and identity, of who he was!
God also revealed to Moses His personal name as ‘I AM’ ever-present, self-sustaining God. This is the dependable, faithful God who rescues and delivers His people. From here on this is the name by which God wants to be known by those who know and trust Him – Yahweh, LORD.
The message is clear, God had heard the cries of His people and it was time for Israel to return to Canaan. God would bring His people out of Egypt with signs and wonders on their behalf. Pharaoh would let Israel go and the Egyptians would bless them as they left!
Exodus Chapter 4 Summary
The call of Moses extends into Exodus chapter four. Three times more Moses expresses his doubts and concerns. He asks, “What if they don’t believe me?” In response, God gives him three signs, as demonstrations of His power, to convince the elders of Israel and to complete the task.
Having not only seen, but being an active participant in these miraculous signs, Moses is still unsure. His next concern is his lack of ability with words. Moses is not eloquent, and he thinks he is slow to respond in speech. God responds with the promise that He will help Moses and teach him what to say!
Finally, when Moses can think of no other excuse, he reveals what was in his heart, “Please send someone else.” Have you ever had that feeling? I know I have when it feels as if God is prompting me to do something for which I don’t feel qualified. But God always faithfully equips those whom He calls!
Here God graciously provides Aaron, Moses’ brother to assist and help him. In fact, God had already prompted Aaron to set out to meet Moses as he returned to Egypt.
There were no other arguments left. Moses returned to his Father-in-law, gathered his family, and started the journey back to Egypt. The chapter ends with Moses and Aaron meeting with the elders of Israel. They shared with them that God had heard and seen their cries and was concerned about their plight.
3 Life Lessons From the Call of Moses
God Redeems Our Mistakes
Moses had tried to take the lead in Egypt and defend his own people – and that was disastrous. But there was so much more beyond life in the palace that God wanted to teach Moses. In the wilderness years, when Moses may have thought that he was forgotten, God was working for good. He was preparing Moses to be the leader that God knew he could be!
There is hope and comfort for all of us for a second chance, another season, and a new opportunity. God is gracious and so often more gracious to us than we are to ourselves. It is possible to leave the wilderness, and our past behind, when we trust and depend on God. Is it time to step out and begin a new adventure of faith?
God Equips Those Whom He Calls
God did not begin by giving Moses all the details of how He would deliver Israel. Instead, Moses was commanded to step out in faith with what he had in his hand. As Moses was obedient and began his task then God revealed the next step, and then the next…
Sometimes we are prompted to act with what God has given us today and trust in Him for tomorrow. The task may seem beyond us – but that creates the space for God to move. When God challenges us to step out of our comfort zone into the unknown we rely on His grace. Then we are in the place of possibilities!
God is Faithful All the Time
Moses started as a reluctant leader but he grew to be a passionate intercessor, a prophet, and a mighty man of God. The man who declared that he was poor with words became a great, and prolific, writer. Moses learned to trust in God’s word and he became a friend of God!
Often it is through life’s difficult experiences that we learn to trust in God, and the promises of His word. It is in those tough times that we depend on God and His power to bring us through. God is faithful and we are never alone – He goes with us every step of the way. And our relationship with God grows as we see His hand at work in our lives, for His glory.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”Ephesians 3:20-21