“But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, until there arose another king over Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph. It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’ But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us? ‘You do not mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’ At this remark, Moses fled and became an alien in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. But the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. ‘I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.’” (Acts 7:17-34).
God patiently and consistently works to redeem His people. He ordained Egypt to enslave Israel precisely to reveal His power to save them by His grace alone. He led Israel into a desert where He showed them His power to supply their every need every day by His grace alone. Then, He gave them His law to teach them who He is and why salvation is by His grace alone.
Much is often made about Moses acting in his own strength when he killed the Egyptian and then tried to break up two fighting Jews. True, we shouldn’t seek to fulfill God’s will in our strength and wisdom, but the point here is that God was setting Moses apart unto Himself for His purpose long before Moses knew the Lord.
Has your heart ever stirred with an agitation that you couldn’t quite reach? It may have been your own conscience, or even a chili dog, but God moves and motivates His people in ways we often can’t see or comprehend. When God calls someone to Himself, there’s often an internal disquiet and an external tension from others who can’t understand. Not everyone shares the same discernment as the one God calls. Pharaoh’s injustice toward the Jews – and the Jews’ toward each other – troubled Moses greatly. No one knew what God was working into his heart, and he had to wait 40 more years for clarity to come – but it did come.
I used to work with people who were considering serving in international missions. Often, people would sense an indescribable anxiety. In time, clarity would come as they understood more of God’s providence. Finally, they’d have a definite sense of God’s purpose and go after Him.
In my own life, I’ve known the tension between the affirmation of those who recognized God’s leadership and the apathy, or even opposition, of those who didn’t get it. It’s an uncomfortable place to be in, but if God’s calling, clarity will come.
Minding His own business on the backside of the Midian desert, Moses met God, heard God, and understood God’s calling. God revealed Himself (“I AM”), His purpose (“I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them”), and His plan for Moses (“and I will send you to Egypt”).
Moses questioned God’s call, confessing his own limitations: “Who am I?” (Ex. 3:11). God answered Moses by confessing His own sufficiency: “Certainly I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12).
God depends on no one but Himself to accomplish His purpose. That reality should take the pressure off when God calls us to do something we’ve never done and are unqualified to do. The task may be difficult, even impossible for us, but God is able to do mighty things that we could never do on our own. Moses went, but God worked. Paul confessed, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6).
Faith works in God’s grace. Faith rests in God’s sufficiency. Faith is content in God’s supply.