Summary: The question "Who am I?" represents an inner need that many of us develop through the discouraging and difficult experiences of life. The traumatic experiences of all of our lives take their toll on our confidence and self-esteem.
“Who Am I?” Exodus 3:11-12
Sermon by Don Emmitte
While we have been looking at the Ten Commandments the last few weeks today I want us to go back a bit and see the beginning of Moses’ journey.
Before God could use Moses to lead the people of Israel to their freedom, there were many things that would change in his life. Remember that he began as the favored son of the pharaoh. Because of the miraculous way God saved him from death at his birth, he was given the finest of education and physical training of the day. However, that would not change how he began to feel about himself.
As a result of his zeal to deliver the Israelites, he had misjudged God’s timing. He took matters into his own hands and suffered not from doing something wrong, but doing something right at the wrong time. He murdered one of the Egyptian slave masters. This began his long journey running from the pharaoh and from himself. He had nowhere to turn except the wilderness. During this time he led a quiet life as a shepherd. It was a time of healing and renewal. When the time was right, God spoke to him at the burning bush. Here he begins to a very important question: Who Am I?
TAKE YOUR BIBLES, PLEASE…
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:11-13 ESV).
NOTE: Before we dig deeper in this passage, we need to understand the motivation for Moses’ first question, “Who am I?” It represents an inner need that many of us develop through the discouraging and difficult experiences of life. The traumatic experiences of all of our lives, including Moses, take their toll on our confidence and self-esteem. That shouldn’t be a surprise. Any form of failure or rejection wears away our ability to “bounce back.” We begin to second guess all of our decisions and feel as though we are not capable of success at all. This was Moses when God appeared to him. It may be you today.
MOSES OFFERS FOUR EXCUSES THAT ARE VERY REVEALING…
The First Excuse: “Who Am I?” (v. 11).
Picture the event with me. Moses, once second only to the great Pharaoh of Egypt, now tends his father-in-law’s sheep in Midian. As he leads them from one small area of grazing to another in this desolate place, he sees an unusual sight. A bush is engulfed in flames, but not burning. He is curious and approaches the bush. He must have thought it very odd that the bush was not being consumed by the flames as he had seen in that dry, arid region before; but, when he heard the voice of God from within the bush speaking his name, he must have been terrified. God calls him to go back to Egypt and be the instrument of Israel’s freedom.
Here he reveals his inferiority complex and feelings of inadequacy and asks, Who am I? “Who am I?” is the central question in life.
We do define ourselves with the answer to this question. Many times our answer reveals a truth about ourselves indicating our spiritual understanding. There are five typical answers:
We may answer the question by saying, “I am (my name).” - We may define ourselves with a simple label. A name is important, however, it is not completely who we are.
We may answer the question by saying, “I am (my work position, social status, or position).” For example, I might say something like, “I’m a pastor.” Certainly that’s an honorable position, but it doesn’t adequately define who I am. It’s merely the role I am playing at this time in life’s journey.
We may answer by saying, “I am (my life’s experience).” Some are so invested in their experiences they come to believe they are the sum of them. For example, some may come to believe that since they were abused as a child they are incapable of building a healthy relationship. They may believe their nationality, or culture, or heritage is the defining aspect of their life.
We may answer by saying, “I am (my thoughts, or intellect).” There are many people who have been deceived by this belief. It results in a denial of the soul.