Summary: It doesn’t matter who YOU are, what matters is who GOD is. Thankfully, he is the great "I AM"...
Can you solve these riddles? “I have no eyes. I have no legs. But I help move the earth. Who am I?” (A worm.) “I can run but never walk. I have a mouth but never talk. I have a bed but never sleep. Who am I?” (A river.) If you wrote such a riddle about yourself or about God, what would it say? How would you describe yourself? How would you describe God? The burning bush, which Moses witnessed, sheds light on the age-old questions: “Who am I?” and “Who is God?” Let’s find out what Moses learned.
“Who am I?” I dare say that was a question Moses was used to asking himself. “Am I Jew or Egyptian? Am I slave or royalty?” The cause of confusion was that, although Moses had been born to Jewish slaves, he had been adopted by the princess of Egypt when she found him floating in that basket in the Nile River. Although he grew up in the palace as Pharaoh’s grandson, Moses never managed to shake his humble Jewish roots. But by the time he turned 40, however, Moses believed he had the answer to the age-old question of who he was. He thought he was to be the leader, dare I say savior of his people the Israelites. He made his bid as Israelite leader when he killed one of the many Egyptian slave drivers who were making life miserable for his people. But while Moses was certain of who he was, the Israelites, whom he had hoped to rescue, were not. When Moses later tried intervening between two quarrelling Israelites they turned on him and challenged: “Who are you? Are you going to kill us like you killed that Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14)
Terrified that his secret was out, Moses fled to the wilderness of Midian where he lived as a shepherd for the next 40 years. You can be sure that during that time the age-old question came back to haunt Moses: “Who am I?” Now a few not-so-flattering descriptions seemed to fit. Who was Moses? He was a political failure, a murderer, and now a loner.
An encounter with a burning bush, however, would challenge these perceptions. With his father-in-law’s sheep in tow, Moses ascended the highlands of Horeb to look for green pasture. What he found was a bush fire. The fact that a bush was on fire in the middle of the wilderness didn’t seem to faze Moses. What caught his attention, however, was that the bush didn’t seem to disintegrate in the flames. When Moses moved closer to investigate, a voice spoke from within the fire. “Moses! Stop right there and take off your sandals. You’re on holy ground. I am the God of your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Exodus 3:3, 5). Upon hearing the voice of God, Moses thought he had at least one more answer to the age-old question: “Who am I?” As he averted his gaze afraid to look at God, Moses thought: “I’m a dead man! God has finally caught up with me to punish me for the murder I committed in Egypt!”
But God had not come to destroy Moses. Instead God announced: “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10b).
“You want ME to do WHAT?!?” exclaimed Moses. “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11) In addition to being a political failure, a murderer, and a loner, Moses may have figured he was over-the-hill and well past the prime of his life for such an endeavor. Seriously, what kind of confidence could an 80-year-old shepherd instill in the Israelites when he announced to them that he had been handpicked by God to be their leader? If you were caught in a house fire, would you want your 80-year-old neighbor to attempt your rescue, or a younger, fit firefighter dressed in all his gear? The answer is obvious, isn’t it? And so wouldn’t God have done better to find a strapping young warrior-type and equipping him with an army for the rescue of his people from Egypt, than calling Moses?
God obviously didn’t think so. And here is the crux of our devotion. It didn’t matter who Moses was. Moses could have been a cripple. He could have been blind. He could have been a child. What was important is who God is. God explained as much when he said to Moses: “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12).
“That’s great, God” Moses seemed to think, “But who are you?” Yes, who is God? What is he like? God tells us when he proclaimed from that burning bush: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14a). Hmm. Do you wish God would have described himself as something more exciting like the “Dominator,” or the “Enforcer”? What kind of name is “I AM”? How was that revelation to give Moses any confidence for his mission? Well let’s think about this name for a moment. When God calls himself the “I AM,” he first reveals that he is a personal being, not a nebulous force like electricity or magnetism that has great power but has no feelings. God has feelings. He had heard the cries of the Israelites. He had seen their misery and was moved to do something about it. The great I AM hears your cries and prayers too. He knows what misery you’re undergoing, AND he cares.