The Calling of Moses
After weaning her son, the Hebrew mother Jochebed takes her child to the Princess of Egypt to raise as her own. It is here in the court of Pharaoh that Moses learns the ways of the Egyptians. He will learn to speak, read and write the language. He will learn about the operations of the court and all things Egyptian.
As an infant and small child, Moses was taught the ways of the Hebrew culture from his natural mother. He is taught about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God will bring these teachings back to his memory over and over until Moses comes face to face with The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the great “I AM’ on Mt. Horeb many years later.
Listen to a reading of Exodus 2: 11-4: 31
At the beginning of this lesson in Exodus 2: 11-15, Moses who was born a Hebrew and raised an Egyptian will experience a struggle of divided loyalties. He is put in a dangerous situation in which he must choose between the two. Moses must have struggled off and on through the years until one day he can no longer ignore his true identity.
At the age of forty, Moses sees an Egyptian slave master beating a Hebrew slave and he decided to step in and take action. Moses kills the Egyptian and buries him in the sand after first looking both ways to make sure no one saw him.
Like most crimes, the crime Moses committed is “found out” and Pharaoh determines to kill him. At this point Moses flees into the desert where he will stay for forty years.
Moses first encounter in the desert is with a group of seven daughters who were forced away from the watering troughs by shepherds. Moses comes to their rescue and soon meets the father of the girls who is the priest of Midian. Moses married one of the daughters named Zipporah who then gives birth to a son named Gershom which means “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” Moses would learn many things about living in the desert that would be valuable to him later as he leads the children of Israel through the desert.
Back in Egypt the people of Israel are suffering severely under the hand of the Egyptian slave masters. God hears their groans and remembers the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is now time for the fulfillment of prophecy to take place. God would lead them back to the Promised Land using Moses as their leader. A job Moses is not so certain he is qualified to do. Is God asking you to do something you don’t think you are qualified to accomplish?
The Calling of Moses
Exodus 3: 1-4: 23
Moses goes about his business of tending the flocks for his father-in-law Jethro, priest of Midian and travels to the west of the wilderness near Mt Horeb also called the ”mountain of God”. It is here that Moses receives his call for a task God had been preparing him for long before Moses heard the “voice of God”.
As Moses winds through the desert floor and up on the side of the mountain, he discovers an odd curiosity. At first, he spots a bush burning brightly. he didn’t think much about it until he noticed the bush wasn’t burning up. Moses decides to take a closer look and as he drew closer, a voice called his name, “Moses, Moses”. Moses replied, “Here I am.” and then Moses discovers he is speaking to God. The God of Moses’ father, and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
After Moses conversation with God, it becomes clear what God was calling him to do. That is God expected Moses to go back to Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites leave Egypt where they had lived and worked and become slaves. All of this in order to return to the Promised Land, a place from which they came over 400 years before.
Remembering the death threat from Pharaoh and his own lack of eloquent speech, Moses is reluctant to agree with God about what he should do, after all the Hebrew people didn’t seem that excited about his attempt to help the first time.
God explains to Moses Who He Is, and with what great power He works, giving Moses a first hand demonstration of turning a stick into a snake and back again and turning Moses hand into the hand of a leper. But in spite of such power, Moses whines to God there is no way he can speak before men because he’s not good at it!
God’s patience grows a little thin but he allows Aaron, Moses brother, the privilege of being Moses traveling companion and spokesman to Pharaoh.
Moses like most of us, feel inadequate for God-given tasks. God knew exactly what Moses was capable of doing and God had also told Moses that He would take care of him and put words in his mouth. Moses problem was a lack of faith, which is also what our problem is when we too are reluctant to believe God’s words. Even after God showed him the power of the staff and explained how to use it, He was still reluctant.
Exodus 4: 11-12 Yahweh said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.”
God expects complete obedience. Step out one step at a time, trusting the promises He has made to provide for us and helping us to accomplish the task ahead.
Philippians 4: 13 “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Names in the ancient Middle East meant something. They often represented a parents hopes and dreams concerning their child’s character. Sometimes they commemorated a historical or religious event. In other situations such as with Moses, a messenger would take a message to someone on behalf of the person sending the message by authority of the king or by authority of God as in the case of a prophet.
Moses knew he could not appear before the people of Israel in his own authority. To the Israelites, he was a traitor and a murderer. In Exodus 3: 13, Moses asks God, by whose authority shall I tell them I am giving this information?
Exodus 3: 13-15 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 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.”
God reveals Himself to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM”. Several Biblical translations use different phrases to describe what God called Himself such as “I SHALL BE WHAT I SHALL BE”; “I AM BECAUSE I AM”; and “I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE”. These words are used by God to describe Himself in Himself.
“I AM” denotes “I AM WHAT I AM at present, I AM WHAT I HAVE BEEN, I AM WHAT I SHALL BE, I SHALL BE WHAT I AM.” God is eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. One name can not describe God mainly because it is not in our human capacity to understand God.
- God is self-existent. He is eternal and unchangeable. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He has His being of Himself. He is the Alpha and Omega.
- God in incomprehensible. We can not understand or comprehend all He is.
- God is faithful and true to all His promises. He remembers His children and the covenant He has made with them.
- There is no one besides Him. Everything and everyone has their being in Him. We came from God and are totally dependent on Him.
The Hebrews had several names for God. For the meaning and correct pronunciation of these words go to this website: Hebrew4Christians.com Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the image of a speaker to hear each word.
Hebrew names of God:
The English word “Jehovah” is the Hebrew word for “Yahweh” YHWH meaning “to be”. The Hebrews did not use vowels and thought God’s name was too holy to write. Other examples of the names of God are El, Elohim, Eloah, Elohai, Shaddai, Tzevot, and Adonai.
Listen to this beautiful song of the “Names of God”. You can’t help but worship when you think of all He is and who He is. The great and might “I AM”.
Moses was now empowered by God Himself to make use of and to declare His Name to Egypt and to the children of Israel. He has a message from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and he must deliver it. Moses will be the one to lead God’s people out of Egypt back to the Promised Land, whether he feels capable of doing so or not.
Journey to Egypt
Exodus 4: 24-31
Moses makes a quick trip home to get permission from Jethro to make a return trip to Egypt and pick up his wife and child. He soon will meet up with his brother Aaron as he heads toward Egypt but first he has another encounter with God. This time however, God is angry at Moses and intends to kill him.
If not for Zipporah, Moses would have died in the desert. Wise woman that she was, she recognized that her son had not be circumcised according to the covenant of Abraham as commanded by God and she performs the circumcision herself. God expected Moses to obey to the covenant conditions just as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had done.
Genesis 17: 9-14 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Moses and Aaron have an audience before the Hebrew leaders and they are convinced that Moses indeed did speak with God. When they told the group that God had heard their cries of dispare, they fell to their knees and worshiped God, the Great I AM.
Take the quiz and see how much you know about these chapters in Exodus.
1. Living in the palace of Pharaoh, what do you suppose Moses might have learned? Would it include any attitudes toward Pharaoh and what would that have looked like?
2. Why did Moses kill the slave master?
3. Who is “I AM WHO I AM”? Explain why God would use this terminology.
4. Why was Moses hesitant to acknowledge he would be obedient to God’s calling?
5. Has God asked you to do something you don’t think you are qualified to do? How has that affected the decision you made to do as He asked?
6. Why was God angry with Moses in verse 4:14? What did God say to Moses? How does this apply to you?
7. God is angry with Moses once again in Exodus 4:24. Why? What lesson can we learn from this?
8. Moses spent 40 years in Pharaoh’s palace and 40 years in the desert. Moses was 80 years old when God called him for a task that God was preparing him to do. How does this apply to us?