For the past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about the interaction between God and Moses at the burning bush. The story is really incredible on a number of levels, but I’ve been lingering on a few words.
Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land… (Exodus 3:7-8a)
The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. (Exodus 3:9-10)
when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain. (Exodus 3:12b)
I’ve really tried to imagine this scene. I can picture the celebration and excitement of Moses when God says HE has come down to deliver Israel. Notice how quickly that celebration and excitement turns to confusion and concern when God says MOSES will deliver Israel.
God: I have heard my people’s cry.
Moses: Yes! Finally!
God: I have come to deliver them.
Moses: Yes! It’s about time! It’s been 400 years! This is what I’ve always wanted! This is AWESOME!
God: You will deliver them.
Moses: What?! You just said YOU had come down to deliver them!
God: Yes, I will use you to do it.
Moses: No! This is a terrible idea! This is HORRIBLE!
Moses is just like the rest of us. He wants God to answer his prayers and to do something great, but he does not want to be the one God uses to answer his prayer.
Like all of us, when faced with something beyond his comfort level, Moses begins to doubt himself.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
In other words, “What skills do I possess? I’m not the right guy for the job. Surely there is someone else who is better equipped!”
God’s answer seems to completely avoid Moses’ question.
He said, “I will be with you”
That’s God’s answer, or non-answer if you prefer. Look at the dialogue again.
Moses: Who am I that I should go?
God: I will be with you.
That’s God’s answer?
I will be with you.
God, you completely avoided the question. You didn’t answer anything about who I am. You said nothing about my skills or lack of skills. I’m not equipped for this.
From Moses’ perspective the issues of identity and leadership skills seem most important. From God’s perspective the fact of His presence is all that matters.
God’s perspective on life and leadership is to be our perspective. This requires that we meditate often on who Jesus is and what he promises us.
Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
“And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age.” — Jesus (Matthew 28:20b)
It’s easy to remember Jesus is Lord.
It’s easy to forget Jesus is Emmanuel.
I need to remember that as I look at my situations, at my problems, that Jesus is Emmanuel. He is God with me in my situation. He is God with me in my problems. He is God with me always.
Who am I is not the deciding factor in my situation or my problems. The deciding factor is whom I am with.