Now an adult and aware of his true identity, Moses kills an Egyptian guard who is beating an Israelite slave. When Pharaoh learns what has happened Moses is forced to leave Egypt and escapes to the land of Midian. He settles down to a new life as a shepherd until one day, forty years later, he encounters God in the burning bush.
Last time I told you the story of a baby boy born in the land of Egypt whose parents saved him from being thrown into the River Nile by putting him in a basket and leaving him in the river amongst the reeds where the Egyptian women went to wash. He was found there by the Princess of Egypt who decided to adopt him. The baby boy was looked after by his mother, Jochebed, until he was old enough to live in the palace and when that day came the Princess gave him a new name, she called him Moses.
So, instead of being brought up as a slave like all the other Israelites, Moses was raised as an Egyptian prince. He went to school with the other boys who lived in the palace, he learned their language and played their games, he ate Egyptian food and wore Egyptian clothes, but he always knew that he was different. He didn't look like the Egyptian boys and Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, didn't seem to like him as much as the others. Then at last one day the Princess told him the truth – she wasn't really his mother at all, he was adopted, he wasn't really an Egyptian, he was an Israelite.
Now that Moses knew the truth it changed everything – how could he sleep at night in his soft, comfy bed in the palace when his people worked all day for no pay, when they had barely enough to eat, when they had nothing at all to look forward to?
Then one day, when Moses was forty years old, he saw an Egyptian guard beating an Israelite slave and suddenly something inside him snapped. He waited until he thought nobody was watching and then he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. But somebody must have been watching because somebody told Pharaoh what Moses had done. Pharaoh ordered his guards to find Moses and arrest him. When Moses heard about it he realised that he had no choice, he had to get away from the land of Egypt, so he packed his bags and he ran.
Moses didn't stop until he reached the land of Midian. He kept himself out of sight and waited until he was sure he was safe. Then he found a job as a shepherd and settled down to a new life. Soon he was married and had children of his own and he forgot all about Egypt and the Israelites until the day, forty years later, when it happened. He was shepherding his sheep on the side of a mountain, looking for fresh grass for them to eat, when he saw smoke in the distance. Smoke meant fire, perhaps there was another shepherd working on the mountain today. Moses decided to go and say hello but as he got closer to the smoke he saw that it wasn't coming from a camp fire but from a small bush that was covered in bright flames. Then he realised that the leaves on the bush were still green, the flames weren't burning them at all. Moses was just wondering how this could possibly happen when suddenly he heard the voice.
“Take off your shoes!”
“What? Who? Who's there?” stammered Moses.
“Take off your shoes,” the voice repeated, “this is a special place, you are standing on Holy ground.”
The voice seemed to be coming from the middle of the fire, so Moses did as he was told; he bent down and took off his shoes.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I am the LORD, the God of your people the Israelites” the voice answered.
At once, Moses covered his face, afraid to keep looking at the fire.
“I have seen what's happening to my people in Egypt,” the voice continued, “I have heard their cries and now it is time to do something about it. It's time for you to go back; I'm sending you to Pharaoh, to bring my people out of Egypt.”
“Me?” Moses exclaimed, “You can't mean me? What makes you think I can do it?”
“Because I will be with you,” God reassured him.
“But I can't go to Egypt,” Moses protested, “I killed an Egyptian. Pharaoh will have me arrested.”
“That was a long time ago and there is a new Pharaoh now,” the voice told him, “he doesn't know what you did.”
“But I can't go to Egypt,” Moses insisted, “Nobody's going to believe me if I tell them that God spoke to me. ‘Oh, yes,’ they'll say, ‘so what's his name?’ What will I tell them then?”
“Tell them, I AM has sent you”
“I AM? What kind of name is that? I promise you, they're not going to listen to me!”
Suddenly the flames seemed to burn even brighter. “What's that in your hand?” the voice demanded.
Moses looked – “It's my shepherd's staff.”
“Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw down the staff and as it hit the ground it became … a snake! Moses leapt out of the way, he hated snakes!
“Now pick it up by its tail,” the voice commanded.
Moses didn't want to touch the snake but he was beginning to realise that it was no use arguing with God. He reached out and as he grabbed the tail of the snake it turned back into his shepherd's staff.
“Do you think people will believe you when they see that?” asked the voice.
“Yes,” admitted Moses, “but …”
“But I can't go to Egypt; I'm not good at talking to people. I get all nervous and I mess up my words. Don't send me, please, send someone else.”
“I'm sending you,” God replied, “but I'm not sending you alone. Your brother Aaron will go with you. He'll do the talking – I'll tell you what to say and you tell Aaron. Don't worry; we'll get through this together. Now go – take this message to Pharaoh – tell him God says, let my people go!”
And suddenly the flames were gone and Moses was all alone on the side of the mountain. He knew there wasn't a moment to lose; he went straight home, gathered his belongings and set off for the land of Egypt.