Passage: Exodus 3:1-22
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Coming Home – A Journey Through Exodus
Learning God’s Name
Sometimes God’s promises feel unrealistic. Compared to the staggering nature of God’s promises, we can grow disillusioned by the often mundane and frustrating facets of our lives. After reading God’s promises to the patriarchs of a land, offspring like the sand on the seashore, and blessing from God, the opening chapters of Exodus detail the oppression of God’s people and the flight of Moses to Midian. Exodus 2:23–25 concludes that God heard the groaning of the people of Israel and knew. So how will the extraordinary nature of God’s promises be fulfilled in light of the bleak nature of our problems? Exodus 3 begins to answer that question, as God interrupts his people with his presence (3:1–6) to reveal his purpose (3:7–11) and sustain them with his promise (3:12–22). Interruption is the key word here.
First, God interrupts his people with his presence(Exod 3:1–6). Exodus begins in the wilderness of Midian. Moses gone from the comforts of Pharaoh’s palace to the lowly work of shepherding in a far off place in Midian. Often God uses the wilderness to prune us of our self-reliance, the self-reliance that led Moses to murder an Egyptian (Exod 2:12) and be exiled to Midian (2:15). And in this wilderness Moses learns to be faithful with little, “keeping the flock of his father-in law” (3:1), a disdained role. Yet it in this forgotten place, God interrupts Moses with a sign of his presence, and Moses takes the time to slow down and respond. He is not too busy with his agenda to move forward, but he responds simply, “Here I am” (3:4). And God invites him onto holy ground. Similarly we must not be too busy with our agenda but allow God to interrupt up us with his presence in the wilderness. Often the wilderness is the place where God allures us and brings us to greater intimacy with himself (cf. Hosea 2:14–15). Yet why does God interrupt us with his presence? .
God interrupts his people with his presence to reveal his purpose(3:7–11). God is the primary actor in this story. He sees the affliction of his people, hears their cry, knows their suffering, and has come down to deliver them from the Egyptians (3:7–8). God enters into the suffering of his people. So what does he do? He commissions Moses: “Come I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (4:10). God meets Moses to reveal his purpose to them. God chooses to work in the world through his people; He could do it alone, but He does not do it alone. He works through people. But what do we do when the scope of God’s purposes are greater than the capacity of our ability?
God interrupts his people with his presence to reveal his purpose and sustain us with his promise(3:12–22). When Moses hears God’s plan, he doubts his own ability, wondering, “Who am I?” Yet God assures him, “I will be with you” (Exod 3:12). And God reveals his name, “I AM WHO I AM” (3:14). And this I AM is the One who will sustain and strengthen his people to fulfill his purposes; he says, “I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt” (3:17). Similarly when we feel too small to fulfill God’s purpose, we must be sustained by God’s own promise — the promise of his presence. Jesus is the great I AM, and He promises his presence to this followers until the end of the age (Matt 28:20).
So what? Even as God interrupts his people with his presence to reveal his purpose and sustain us with his presence, we must still respond. When we find ourselves in the wilderness and are interrupted by God’s presence, we can respond with Moses, “Here I am” (Exod 3:4). When we see the scope of God’s purposes and realize our own inadequacy, we can respond with Moses, “Who am I?” (Exod 3:11). And when we feel keenly our own inadequacy but see the promise of God’s presence, we press in deeper and say, “What is his name?” (Exod 3:13). May we respond to the interruptions that God brings into our lives.