Moses was an ordinary man, but when he met God, he became extraordinary. While living his ordinary life, God met him during an ordinary day while he was doing an ordinary activity, ‘tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian’ (Exodus 3:1). But this one ordinary day was about to be extraordinary, because he somehow, ‘led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God’ (v1). Of course at this point, Moses did not know whether he had gone to the mountain of God, or if the mountain of God had come to him- but he was about to find out. When he saw that a bush nearby ‘was on fire but it did not burn up’ (v3), he thought to himself, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight- why the bush does not burn up’ (v3). But ‘when the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, ‘God called to him from within the bush, Moses! Moses! . . . Do not come any closer’ (v4,5). This is because seeing God is not determined by how many steps one takes in approaching Him, but how one submits (taking off sandals), when God appears to them.
When God then spoke to Moses saying, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the Jacob’ (v6), scared is the word Moses could use. Because, ‘at this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God’ (v6). This is because hearing about God is a whole lot different compared to encountering Him. When one encounters God and then beholds His glory, majesty, splendour, and holiness like Moses, one becomes afraid then humbled. ‘Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ (v11). But when God chooses someone, it is not about who they are, but who is with them- for God responds, ‘I will be with you’ (v12).
After being humbled to be given such a task, doubt creeps in and Moses asks, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you?’’ (4:v1). However, when God has spoken over one’s life, His Word is final and the opinions of others become insignificant. God like to Jeremiah asks those He chooses, ‘If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?’ (Jeremiah 12:5). Or like to Ezekiel, God says, ‘And you son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions . . . You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious’ (Ezekiel 2:6,7).
Doubt in Moses finally gave way to insecurity and he asks God, ‘O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue’ (Exodus 4:10). God responds, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and teach you what to say’ (v11). When one encounters God, He redirects their focus from their deficiencies and to Himself, who is all sufficient. Because His ‘strength is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9), and ‘faithful is he that called you, who also will do it’ (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
At this point, Moses is catching up and realizing that God is not asking him to do this great thing, but wants to do this great thing through him. Still, Moses does not understand what God requires of him. He was walking with God, but walking in ignorance for he did not know God’s laws and statutes and what He required of him. And so ‘At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses’s son and was about to kill him’ (Exodus 4:24). Moses somehow failed to take note of the Covenant of Circumcision God made to Abraham years back that stated, ‘Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant’ (Genesis 17:14). Luckily, his wife knew of God’s statutes and so ‘Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses with it’ (Exodus 4:25). At this, his son’s life was spared. Similarly, it is well possible for one to call themselves a Christian by the merit that they believe in Jesus, but miss the mark because they do not know the ordinances of God. They are too complacent to search the Scriptures to know that, ‘circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code’ (Romans 2:29). It is to such who God says ‘my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge’ (Hosea 4:6).
This lack of knowledge made Moses faint at the first sight of trouble. When he had spoken God’s Word to Pharaoh and nothing happened, he ‘returned to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all’ (Exodus 5:22-23). If only Moses would have known that God says, ‘my word that goes out from my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper the thing whereto I sent it’ (Isaiah 55:11). When the Word of God was finally accomplished through Moses, and the Israelites were free from Pharaoh’s yoke, Moses then came to an understanding of God. He declares, ‘Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you- majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?’ (Exodus 15:11).
Now seeing and encountering who God truly is, Moses metamorphosises and becomes like God. After he had been with God up the mountain for forty days and walked with Him for many years, Moses now knew all God’s requirements for he was taught by God. He began seeing how God sees and even hate what God hates. For instance, when he saw that the Israelites were worshipping idols ‘his anger burned . . . And he took the calf they had made and burned it in fire’ (Exodus 32:19,20). When one encounters God, sin becomes intolerable and one feels how God feels about it. For instance, when the Spirit of God came upon Ezekiel, he records, ‘I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong and of the Lord upon me’ (Ezekiel 3:14).
This change in Moses from walking with God made him different, he became separate from all the others so that God told the seventy elders of Israel, ‘You are to worship at a distance, but Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him’ (Exodus 24:1-2). Likewise, followers of Christ live in the world but are not of the world, and so we ‘do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed to the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2). Often times this may mean one is to ‘sit alone in silence’ (Lamentations 3:28) because like to Ezekiel, in such a life, God commands, ‘Go shut yourself inside your house’ (Ezekiel 3:24). As Evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman once said, ‘The consecrated life is a lonely life’, and it was true for Moses. After experiencing God’s glory, Moses shut himself out from the world and the rest of the people. And so, ‘The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend’ (Exodus 33:11). No one in their right mind would trade that for friendship with the world!