11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3:11-12)
The scene of God appearing to Moses at the burning bush is one of the most significant moments in the entire biblical record. After 40 years of tending sheep in the wilderness, the 80 year old Moses turns aside to marvel at the bush that is burning but not consumed. God assures his servant that He is aware of the suffering of His people in Egypt. Notice all the pronouns. God says,
- “I have seen their affliction… and [I] have heard their cry” (v. 7)
- “I know their sufferings” (v. 7)
- “I have come down to deliver them” (v. 8)
- “[and I will] bring them up out of that land” (v. 8)
- “the cry of the people has come to Me” (v. 9)
- “I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.”
Up to this point, Moses is saying, “Yes! Get ‘em, God! Sic ‘em!” I’ll bet Moses can’t wait to watch God kick some Egyptian butt.
Then, in verse 10, God throws Moses a curve: “Therefore, I am sending you.”
Wait, what? All this time Moses is getting pumped about how God is going to work, only to have everything come crashing down when he realizes God’s plan is to work through Moses. In Exodus 4, we will look at all the excuses Moses makes for why God’s got the wrong guy. But the first two are significant:
- Who am I? (verse 11)
- Who are You? (verse 13)
Moses may have thought to himself, “God, if you were going to use me, why didn’t you do this forty years ago, when I was a prince of Egypt? Why now, when I’m a fugitive octogenarian?”
God’s answer is not “Moses, you’re awesome! Moses, you can do it!” God doesn’t give Moses a self-esteem pep talk. He simply says, “I will be with you.”
Who are you? You’re the one that I, the Lord, will be with.”
Then God answers the question Moses hasn’t asked yet. He says, “and here’s how you know that I have sent you. When you’ve brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship Me on this mountain.”
Talk about delayed gratification! Moses will not worship God on that mountain again until he receives the law in Exodus 20. After the ten plagues. After the Red Sea. After manna and quail and water from the rock. When all is said and done, Moses will look back and realize God was with him the whole time.
We may not have the assurance that God is with us until after we begin to obey Him. But when we do obey Him, we begin to realize that who we are doesn’t matter at all. Who God is makes all the difference in the world.