Read Exodus 2 and 3
As prince of Egypt, Moses likely felt untouchable when he hashed out the idea to try to spring the Israelites out of bondage himself, killing the Egyptian man. He must have been shocked, his world flipped completely upside down when it was not the Egyptians who first sought to punish him, but the Israelites. The people who were his family, the ones whom he was seeking to avenge, turned against him in scorn, asking if he would kill them next. When Pharaoh finally caught word of what Moses had done, being his adopted grandson was no longer enough for impunity. Moses felt the only way to preserve his life was to flee to the mountains and begin life as a shepherd.
The doubt that must have flooded Moses’ mind! Here he had planned out a way to make the Israelites love him. He left the palace that day and “looked on their burdens.” Maybe this was the first time he had truly seen the bondage of Israel, but since Pharaoh’s daughter had asked his own mother to raise him, he was likely not only aware but a witness to the situation his entire life. Maybe there was already tension between him and his fellow people because of this, for he and his family likely were exempt from the slavery and bondage that the rest of Israel experienced because of the princess who had pulled him out of the bullrushes. While all of the other boys and young men in Israel were beaten down by the heat in the fields each day, Moses spent the hours of his childhood being educated and pampered in royalty.
In a time of prosperity, Moses depended on his own strength. Never in the account of Moses’ young adulthood and even childhood is it mentioned that he turned to God. He was raised by a godly mother, one who had faith that He would preserve her son, refusing to throw him to the river to drown and be eaten by the crocodiles. Yet Moses, just like many children of God in times of prosperity, forgot to trust in God and not lean on his own understanding. It was not yet God’s time to relieve His people of the burden of bondage, and yet Moses attempted to place God’s plan on his time instead.
In his life as the adopted son of the princess of Egypt, it was probably quite unlikely that Moses would have ever imagined himself as a shepherd, a lowly and lonely occupation. It would have been completely humbling to leave a life where everything was done for him and enter a new life where he had to fend for himself. However, all this time God was preparing Moses, and when God decided it was time, appearing to Moses in the burning bush, suddenly he doubted. The Moses who was confident on his own in Egypt, ready to lead the charge, no longer felt fit to do so. He stumbled through questions and excuses, likely rooted in the doubts of the past, following his first attempt. “The people will not follow me,” he tried to argue. “Pharaoh will never listen.” But God gave Moses the comfort that lasts forever, the comfort He gives to all of His people today, in this time of uncertainty, the same uncertainty that Moses faced.
Only months ago, life was full. There seemed to be little to worry about in the world, and maybe we, like Moses, struggled to turn to God and rely on Him. When finances and food were not a daily question, and we too lived like princes, the temptation to rely on our own strength instead of resting under the covert of our Father’s wings was overwhelming. Since then, the United States and Iran increased tensions, Australia burned, Northern Africa was ravaged by locusts, and COVID-19 has rampaged, leaving the world uncertain for the future. The world turns and points fingers, trying to find someone to blame or someone who will step up, a doctor or scientist to create a vaccine for life to return to “normal.” Are we caught up in the frenzy? Are you worried about where your next meal will come from or how you’ll pay next month’s rent? As a college student, are you afraid that, now left without a job for the foreseeable future, you will not be able to afford your education? Will the schools have to close down because there is no funding? Is this swirl of anxieties your own?
Moses stood before the bush with anxieties. The pampered, luxurious life was far behind him, and now he stood as a lowly shepherd, among the poorest, working to make ends meet and fend for himself and his new wife. The Israelites who scorned Moses the last time he was among them are now the people God is calling him to lead from bondage. In Moses’ mind, this is impossible. They hated him then; they’ll never listen to him now.
Our time of luxurious living is in the past now too. Many have lost their jobs or are working odd jobs to, like Moses, make ends meet. The future is uncertain and the damage seems impossible to recover from. Maybe we, in sin, have joined in the throngs, lashing out in anger over what has been taken away. May God give us the contentment of Job, so that we too may say, “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
God’s comfort to Moses is the same comfort He gave to Job and the same comfort He gives to us: His name. Jehovah, I AM THAT I AM. He is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. Even when we fall, relying on our own strength, even when we doubt, He is our God. He will provide. We have no reason to fear. We have no reason to doubt. This world is not our home. The gifts and luxury in times of prosperity were given by His gracious hand, and in times of poverty and instability, when His gracious hand takes those away, He still provides. He is unchanging in His promises to us.
Moses took comfort and confidence. Maybe in that moment, when God told Him to tell the people of Israel that I AM THAT I AM had sent him, everything in his past flashed before his eyes and he truly saw. The God with him now was not only with him all along but directed him to be the perfect leader for His people. He was not ready yet when he tried to take that into his own hands. By being raised an Egyptian royal, Moses was educated and knew the ways of diplomacy. As a shepherd, he learned how to direct and protect a flock, and now, with the strength of I AM, he was prepared.
The God who was with us in prosperity is still with us now, and we do not need to fear. He will use this, just as he used the events that shook Moses’ world and shook Job’s world, to shake and shape our lives. And when we come out on the other side, we, like Moses, can go forth in our calling with confidence. The events in our lives will change us, molding us into the person God has created us to be. But Jehovah is our God; because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, because He is the I AM THAT I AM, though situations will change, nations will rise and fall, people are born and people die, yet He will remain the same.