After God used Joseph to save all of Egypt and the surrounding areas, Israel and his entire clan moved to Egypt. Enjoying the benefits of being related to the man who was second in command (Joseph), the Israelites now grew in number and were known to be very strong. This continued for four hundred years. While it is wonderful that God’s people began to grow strong and numerous, we must remember that this was not God’s plan for the Israelites. The promise for the Israelites was for them to have their own homeland in the land of Canaan in which they would be a great nation and blessing to the world. Even though God blessed the suffering of Joseph, we see the result of the sin of the brothers’ jealousy of Joseph is that Israel and his sons lose their homeland. But as usual, God has a plan to bring them back. 

As is rampant throughout human history, when God’s people are given worldly comforts over a period of time and attach themselves to worldly powers, eventually they will be persecuted. When a new Pharaoh was crowned in Egypt (possibly a new dynasty had forcefully taken over), he was very suspicious of the Israelites. He looked to diminish their numbers so that they might not overthrow the kingdom one day. As a result, he enslaved them by forcing them to build cities. Yet, the Israelite people continued to grow.

When enslaving the Israelites failed to diminish them, Egypt (already a contraceptive culture) decided to kill all the Hebrew male children as they were born. This was to be done through the midwives, yet they did not. They lied to Pharaoh and told him the boys came too quickly, before they could get there. So Pharaoh told every Egyptian to throw Isrealite baby boys into the Nile. Israel begins to cry out to God in their persecution. 

This brings us to Moses who was born of the tribe of Levi. His mother saved him by floating him down the Nile in a basket until by God’s providence, Pharaoh’s own daughter drew him out. She decided to keep Moses as her own and Moses’ own mother is the woman who nursed him for Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses grew up in the palace of Pharaoh, but when he was older he ventured out to see his enslaved people. Filled with anger at their treatment, Moses kills an Egyptian taskmaster. He thought he had done so secretly, but he finds out that his action has become known. As a result, Moses flees to the land of Midian where he marries, has children, and starts a new life as a shepherd. 

One day when Moses is out with his flocks, he spies a bush that is burning, but not consumed by the fire on the mountain of God. God reveals himself to Moses, gives His name, and tells Moses that he has heard the cry of His enslaved people in Egypt. He instructs Moses to go deliver them and bring them back to the land promised to Abraham. Moses questions how he could do this. God tells him that He will be with Moses. Moses is still skeptical. He does not think the Israelites will believe him, so God shows Moses the signs that He will perform through Moses’ staff. Moses objects yet again that he cannot speak well, to which God becomes angry and suggests that Moses’ brother Aaron be his mouthpiece. Finally, Moses accepts his call from the Lord and heads to Egypt. 

We can learn many things from this interaction at the burning bush. First, reverence is necessary when we are in the presence of God. God instructs Moses to remove his shoes and Moses hides his face on his own accord. God is something completely other than us, and that other is greater. When God reveals himself to us, we recognize this. Next, God does not call people based on their own merit. Moses was a murder (even if it was righteous anger). He is aware of his own unworthiness as he tells God. Yet, when Moses questions why God chose him, God does not affirm anything Moses has done to deserve the call. Rather, God says I will be with you. God works, we are his instruments. As long as we are willing, God can work through anyone. 

Yet, despite all of this, Moses still questions God. This can be very relatable. Whenever we receive personal calls in our heart that call us out of our comfort zone, we often try to rationalize any excuse not to follow. Yet God always has an answer to our protests. If it is His will, He will enable us to do it. 

Finally, lack of faith can call God to righteous anger. We see this happen with Moses, and it often happens that in the Gospels Jesus complains or rebukes a people’s or person’s lack of faith. This is righteous anger meant to push us toward trust in God. Just as a parent’s righteous anger teaches discipline to their children, so does God bring His children into trust of him, even through righteous anger. 

This all points to the fact that life is a journey of purification. We end this story with Moses beginning to understand how to have faith in God. Yet, as we will see, trusting God at the call is just the beginning. God will continue to call Moses and His people to trust in Him before their journey is complete. As a result, He will perform action far greater than a burning bush.