Who He IS!
Text: Exodus 3:1-15
Proper 27, C
1But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” You know the story of Moses and the burning bush. But who is this Moses? Who is he really? We are told as the text opens that he is a shepherd. 1Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. A man of the land, used to hard work and harsh conditions. Leading stubborn charges to food and water. Protecting the weak and vulnerable.
But it wasn’t always so, this Moses was once the son of a King. Pampered and prepared by the household of Pharaoh himself. Wealth and power beyond imagining. Such a thing can easily go to a man’s head. Make a person believe that the world answers to your wishes. Moses was the man once so full of himself that he once killed another man in cold blood, mostly because he thought he had the right to. But he didn’t have that right, not even to defend a slave.
A slave like Moses had himself once been. A Hebrew born to Hebrews. Marked for death by the very Pharaoh who would later raise him. Saved in a reed basket. Adopted by royalty, but raised and taught by his slave mother. Raised to understand his humble roots. Is it any wonder this shepherd, king, slave is confused about himself and his place in God’s plans? Who is He that God should call him to such an important task, bless him with such a heavenly vision, comfort him with divine promises?
But then we may just as well ask “Who are we” here reading this story? We too know humble roots, and the desperation of being a slave. Only our slavery is to sin. And it is a master that will be the death of us all. We are selfish and violent, petty and greedy, lazy and duplicitous. We kill others in our hearts, we judge others as less. We expect this world to bend itself to our desires. We run and hide from our duties with every kind of excuse we can think of.
But that is not all we are is it? Not any more. For we are similarly called by God, maybe not through a fiery bush but a watery font. And now we are royalty. Saints in Christ. Forgiven, free, better, wiser, kinder, more loving. And while we do not demand it, we know that this world does answer to us ... for Christ. It is all here to serve us as we serve Him.
For that is what we are isn’t it? A servant? One who follows the will and wishes of God, by serving Him and those around us. Proclaiming God and His greatness to those who will listen AND those who will not. Protecting and providing, feeding and caring, sheltering and guiding even the most stubborn. Bearing up under the hardest of work with the littlest of thanks. And yet we do it, because He first did it for us. We do it all, not because we are so good, but because God is.
But then, Who is this God who calls from the burning bush, and commissions from the Baptismal font? He is the great Deliverer! 7Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, God is the one who keeps His promise to deliver Israel from their slavery in Egypt and take them to a new home of abundance and plenty. The bones of Joseph had long awaited this day of promised return. And God still delivers His people today, but now through Christ. Freeing us from all our slavery to satan and sin and death; leading us to the new heavens and new earth. He is your great Deliverer!
But this God is not just the God of nations and peoples. God is the Lord of the Individual! 15God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is the God of the individual! Mark the one-to-one relationship between God and Moses, and God and Abraham, God and Isaac, God and Jacob. He was their God, each and every single one of them. He is the God of personal revelation (burning bush) and personal promises, no matter how unworthy the individual is. He comes, He calls, He meets, He promises, He sticks with each and every one of us. In Baptism He called you by your name and gave you His name, Holy Scriptures are His words for you, and in Holy Communion He says take and eat this is given for YOU. He is your personal God and Saviour!
But this God is also the Great I AM! 14God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” … This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” The great I Am! His name is Himself – His deeds. He is, He was, He always will be. He is the one who causes all things to be in turn. What other name could He bear? Even when He comes in the Son. 2And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. In the Old Testament the angel of the Lord who is also the Lord is the pre-incarnate Son, the second person of the trinity. And so this name I AM is His also. Just as He will one day be named Jesus for what He will do – that is save His people from their sins! He is the Good Shepherd (even more good than Moses) He is the Living water. He is the Word made flesh. He is the bread of life. He is the Way and the Truth and the Life!
And because He is, so are we. Because Jesus gave up His rightful kingship and became a servant to shepherd His people, we are blessed with forgiveness life and salvation. That’s who He is. And in Him we are no longer slaves to sin, but kings and queens in the kingdom of heaven, and just like Jesus, willing and loving servants of all. That’s who we are!