Suddenly, in today’s passage, the pace slows. In the previous two chapters we’ve covered years; in today’s chapter and a half we just have Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush.
Last time, we saw how God “saw” the plight of the Israelites, and today we begin to see how this concern (2.25) begins to translate into action. We start to see that all along, God has been preparing Moses for this point, and that Moses is indeed God’s chosen agent for bringing about the change that the Israelites have, for so long, been pleading for.
Moses does not initially share God’s perspective; in fact, the reason this passage is so long is that he spends considerable time and energy trying to resist God’s call. God persists, though, and finally, Moses agrees to take on the mission.
Moses’ reluctance is understandable. God is asking him to return to a place from which he fled for his life; a quick review of that earlier episode (2.11-15) reveals that Moses had won favour with neither the Egyptians nor the Israelites. It’s not hard to see why Moses didn’t want to go back!
It’s also interesting to note, in particular, the first ‘sign’ that God promises Moses (3.12). This, unlike some of the subsequent signs that God gives him (staff to snake, and back, and leprous hand, 4.1-7) is different in that it is a sign that Moses will see after he has completed the mission, in other words, when he has led the people out they will worship on the mountain. We might conclude that it’s not much of a sign!
In fact, it’s a sign that needs a step of faith. Sometimes, we can ask for a sign that will be our proof that God wants us to spring into action. The sign becomes a guarantee that we look back to for encouragement when things get tough. This sign is different; it’s one that Moses would have to look forward to as a future hope to sustain him through the difficulties. With such a sign, all we can do is lean on God and trust him, and keep repeating back to him and to ourselves that that is what he promised. In such circumstances, imagine the joy when the sign materializes, and we remember the promise and see its fulfilment.
Let’s ask God for such signs and keep looking to him for their fulfilment.
Father God, thank you that you are always faithful. Thank you for the things you’ve said to me for the future. Please help me to continue to trust you, even when things are difficult. Amen.