International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday September 5, 2010
Purpose: To recognize that the holy God desires a loving relationship with God's people and expects a response in kind.
Scripture Text: Exodus 3:1-6, 13-15 (NRSV)
(1)Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (2)There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. (3)Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” (4)When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” (5)Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (6)He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Exodus 3: 13-15
(13)But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (14)God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ (15)God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
For the next four weeks we will be looking at the Book of Exodus. This week our text is “The Call of Moses” portion of Exodus. Our text takes place about forty years after Moses fled Egypt for killing an Egyptian out of rage. He has become a slave and servant of his father-in-law Jethro. The exact location of Mount Horeb mentioned in the text has never been definitively established.
Moses at the time of his calling was neither a priest nor a prophet; he was just another member of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of both his father and mother. In case you missed how Moses was raised by royalty, you should know he spent forty years in the house of Pharaoh and was considered a prince until he killed an Egyptian and had to flee Egypt.
Moses went as far away as he could from Egypt and ended up in the land of Midian, where he married a wife and was in servitude to her father Jethro. He was a humble shepherd doing a mundane job of tending sheep. One day his mundane life would be transformed, and he would have an encounter with the great I AM.
This encounter with God is called a theophany (appearance of God) and it consisted of two parts. First was the visible element, followed by a voice. The visible element was in the form of fire, a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. Just the sight of such a phenomenon was enough to catch Moses attention. The sight of fire was one that Moses was going to see several times before his journey would end. As Moses started to investigate this burning bush God called to him, not once but twice, “Moses, Moses.”
Moses’ answer to God was similar to what Samuel would say many years later, “Here I am.” God then makes it known that Moses was on holy ground, and identifies himself as the “God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
It seems quite likely that Moses, after learning that he was a Hebrew, spent more and more time with his own people back in Egypt, before he killed the Egyptian he caught beating a fellow Hebrew. God knew that he was familiar with the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses knew enough that he realized he was in the presence of a Holy God and hid his face out of respect and fear.
In the verses that are left out of our lesson, God explains to Moses that He has seen the oppression of His people who are in Egypt and knowing their sorrow He would like to deliver them out their bondage. God wants to take them to a land that is flowing with milk and honey, the land of Canaan, but God needs a leader to go and make that request to Pharaoh, to let His people go.
I think Moses asks a legitimate question of God, when he asked, “What shall I say your name is?” Moses had spent enough time with his Hebrew brothers to know they were not about follow just anybody; they needed an assurance that the God of their ancestors was the one calling for them to leave Egypt.
God proclaims to Moses who He is and what He is, I AM WHO I AM, the Uncaused Cause, the Beginning and the End, an eternal God that was not created, He just was, and He is the creator of everything else that exists. Translators have labored for centuries about the best way to say what the original Hebrew says, I like the UNCAUSED CAUSE. Although it is common today, for years the pious Jews would never say the name of YAHWEH, they referred instead to Adonai (Lord) for fear of breaking the first commandment.
I think the compassion shown by God is a standard that we should follow, where injustice and brutality exist we should listen to the cries of those being abused and are unable to escape and we must answer the call for help and lead people out of that mire.
How can you respond to that call on your life? God promises to us just as much help as He gave Moses, think about it.