The Encounter

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “This is what you shall say to the sons of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” - Exodus 3:14

We recently had a great time together, during our Sunday service, speaking about Encountering God. Moses was a case study for us as we looked on to what it meant to encounter the Living God in a burning bush and how that impacted the life of Moses. When we are introduced to Moses in the beginning of Exodus we are are introduced to a beautiful baby who survived the edict of a powerful king who was fearful for the future of his kingdom because there was a foreign group of people growing rapidly and strengthening under his watch.

When we open up Exodus, we find the people of God, namely the Israelites (Children of Israel), who are living in captivity in Egypt. There arose a king (Pharaoh) who did not know Joseph. This was a problem, because while Joseph, during his day, was a prominent leader in Egypt and helped bring the Israelites to Egypt just before a massive famine would hit the region, the current Pharaoh didn’t know Joseph and was beginning to operate by fear because of the growing Israelite nation.

Moses survived the edict of the king, which was to eliminate the male children being born to the Hebrews. The parents of Moses, kept him for three months and his mother put him in a basket, covered it with papyrus and floated him down the Nile river. Moses was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who found him to be beautiful, so she raised him as her own son, so Moses grew up in the royal palace. Moses, however, ended up running from Egypt after he murdered an Egyptian soldier who was mistreating a Hebrew slave.

Moses fled to Midian, met his wife there and lived in the estate of his father-in-law, Jethro. One day, while Moses was tending the flock of Jethro when he saw a rather extraordinary sight, a burning bush coming from the mountain. This wasn’t any ordinary burning bush, it was on fire but not being consumed. When he came near to the bush, the Lord spoke to him and he had an encounter with the Lord that he wasn’t expecting. The bush was on fire but not being consumed by the fire. That wasn’t the only thing that happened; God called to Moses from the midst of the bush, by name.

Moses, the unsuspecting shepherd of his father-in-laws flock suddenly finds himself in the presence of the Holy God of the universe. God instructs Moses to remove his sandals because he was on holy ground. Moses didn’t look directly into the presence of God, he looked away, quite in fear and awe of God. This encounter with the living God changed the life of Moses as God proceeded to speak to Moses and announce that the cries of the children of Israel were heard by God and God was going to deliver His people.

Moses, feeling rather inadequate, conversed with God as to why God would choose him. It is here that we even find out the name of God, I AM THAT I AM, or I AM. Moses inquired of God His name to be able to tell the people so that they might believe that Moses was actually a messenger from God.

How often have we felt utterly inadequate for the things God is calling us to? That is exactly when God shows Himself strong through us. God chooses to work through us, human vessels, as imperfect as we are. Moses was likely afraid, especially that he had fled Egypt for murder, even though a considerable amount of time had passed, I am sure Moses wasn’t too happy to revisit the land he had fled, the land of his birth, but he was obedient to God and demonstrated his faith in God.

Therefore I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in difficulties, in behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:10

Had Moses not been paying attention to the burning bush or the voice calling his name, he would have never had the most profound encounter of his life, an encounter with the Living God. I wonder how many times I have dodged an encounter with God for fear missed something incredible that God was looking to do through my life. Moses would go on to journey with the Lord a few million Israelites, out of Egypt and through the desert where he would experience the miracles of God and deal with an entire nation marching towards the promised land.

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he persevered, as though seeing Him who is unseen. - Hebrews 11:27

Moses, prepared by God, went and was built up in faith. When he left Egypt the scriptures record, in Hebrews 11:27; “…he persevered, as though seeing Him who is unseen.” This encourages us not to be afraid of man, whether peers, authorities, or even kings; but to follow firmly in what God has clearly called us into. If we follow where the Holy Spirit is leading us, we won’t be disappointed, we will instead see the glory of God, experience His power, and dwell in His presence.

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