One of my favorite new movies is Moana. It’s beautifully done, with captivating scenery, an inspiring plot, and just enough humor. In it, Moana is chosen to find the demi-god Maui, and with his help, restore the heart of Te Fiti (too simply, Mother Earth).
She has never gone past the reef of her island because of the fear all of her people carry about what is beyond. As she goes along, she recites this chant, over and over to give her strength to keep to the task, even when she is afraid:
“I am Moana of Motunui. You will board my boat and restore the heart to Te Fiti.”
I won’t go in to any more of the story, you need to go watch for yourselves. But as I read the beginning chapters of Exodus, God starts putting his plans into motion. He calls on a man who feels insignificant to the task. God gives him a battle cry, if you will. It’s one that we can use when we face circumstances of impossible difficulty. Read on, friends.
S – Scripture: Exodus 1-3
- 1:8-12 – “Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He said to his people, ‘Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.’ So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.”
- 1:16-17 – “‘When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.’ But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too.”
- 1:22 – “Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: ‘Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.'”
- 2:3 – “But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River.”
- 2:9-10 – “‘Take this baby and nurse him for me,’ the princess told the baby’s mother. ‘I will pay you for your help.’ So the woman took her baby home and nursed him. Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, ‘I lifted him out of the water.'”
- 2:15 – “And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened, and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian. When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well.”
- 2:23-25 – “Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.”
- 3:2 – “There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up.”
- 3:4-6 – “When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ ‘Here I am!’ Moses replied. ‘Do not come any closer,’ the LORD warned. ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.”
- 3:10-12 – “‘Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.’ But Moses protested to God, ‘Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?’ God answered, ‘I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.'”
- 3:14 – “God replied to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.'”
- 3:19 – “‘But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him. So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go.'”
O – Observation:
- A new king came to power and didn’t know anything about the Israelites or how they came to be in Egypt. They were great in number and appeared to be a threat. No matter how much the Egyptians oppressed the Israelites, they still grew in number.
- They became so great, that Pharaoh had all of the boys that were born killed. So the story of Moses begins with his mother keeping him in secret and then sending him down a river in a basket.
- The basket makes its way to Pharaoh’s daughter, who takes Moses as her own. Due to the quick thinking of his older sister, Moses is taken back to their mother to be nursed. She gets the early years of his life, what a blessing.
- Moses kills an Egyptian man and flees the wrath of Pharaoh to Midian. He becomes a shepherd and meets his wife and starts a family there.
- The King of Egypt dies, but the oppression of the Israelites continues and they cry out the God. He sees and hears their suffering and starts to act.
- He introduces himself personally to Moses by way of a burning bush and commissions Moses to go and rescue his people.
- Moses questions, “Who am I” to lead these people and do this task? God assures that he will be with him and do amazing miracles through him. He also warns him that it won’t be an easy task. The new Pharaoh will be resistant. But in the end, the Israelites will be released from their slavery and worship God on the very mountain that they are meeting at now.
- “I Am who I Am” is also translated into “I will Be what I will Be.” It’s like he is saying that he does exist. He will make himself known again in a powerful way. He isn’t just some god who the Israelites ancestors believed in. He is real. He listens and sees what is happening.
A – Application:
What I get from this text is that God has been working behind the scenes in Israel, Egypt, and Moses. Now is the time to act! The Israelites have been under Egyptian oppression for a long time and it’s only gotten worse. There cries have reached God. Egypt is a powerful nation and will take any measure (even killing baby boys) to maintain that power. Moses, a Hebrew, grew up in Pharaoh’s court. He has ties to both, which God can work with to make his plans about.
God has been in the works, waiting for just the right circumstances to bring his people out of Egypt. It’s time to introduce himself personally to Moses, the vessel he is going to use to save the Israelites.
I believe this introduction is extremely important. It is setting the stage for, not only the task immediately ahead, but a lifelong journey of leadership that Moses is being called to. God immediately makes his holiness and awesomeness known by the burning bush and stating that Moses was on “holy ground.” He was in the presence of someone to be feared and respected.
Would Moses submit to power of God? Would he surrender for God to work through him and do amazing and impossible things? Like rescuing millions of people from the bondage or a mighty king and leading them to a Promised Land.
Moses responds, “Here I am.” Intrigued, Moses stays. God continues by introducing himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The One his ancestors talked about and his family cries out to. At this, Moses becomes afraid. He may remember the stories told to him by his mother about this awesome God who was great and mighty.
God reveals his plan of extraction and we see Moses has his doubts by asking, “who am I?” Why would you choose me? What skills do I possibly have that are capable for this mission? I am content with life here. I am just a lowly shepherd, cast out from the family of Pharaoh. But God reassures Moses that he will do all of the heavy work. Moses only needs to go.
How often do we say:
I have failed too many times, who am I?
I am so broken from these hurts, who am I?
My life is such a mess right now, who am I?
Someone else is better, strong, or smarter than I am, who am I?
I don’t have all of the pieces together, I’m not ready, who am I?
I’m too shy, quiet, or reserved, who am I?
I am too old or too young, who am I?
I don’t have enough influence, who am I?
And so the list can go on! Who am I that God would choose me? But God says,
“I AM who I AM!”
And that is what matters. It’s not about we can do, but what he can do. He has been working a lot longer to prepare you for this moment than you have. The things he has brought together can be trusted to work, even when we don’t trust ourselves to be able to fulfill what he is asking.
He IS and he will BE all that we need him to be to work out the purposes he has asked us to accomplish. He will fill all of the gaps we think we have in order to do what needs to be done. God is more than we can imagine. His being is beyond what we can comprehend. We limit his power and the power he can give us when we try to cram him into our little box of thinking.
He also won’t leave us because our purpose (when we are in connection with him) are his purposes too! God will never stop until the mission is over. We can trust that he is all that he says he is and is faithful to do all that he says he will do.
What if, when you come to an seemingly impossible situation you said, “I AM sent me!” It’s an internal posture of surrender that you may not have it all together, but the God you serve does. But it is also a battle cry of power! You have the backing of the most powerful being in all of the universe! The Creator of the universe!
I am going to start saying that. No longer will I back down from what God is calling me to do. I can’t sit back anymore and wallow in my excuses of “who am I.”
I am the child of I AM! I am the one God has called and he has given me great power to overcome.
Who’s with me?!
P – Prayer:
I AM, thank you for who you are! Thank you for constantly working behind the scenes to prepare the way for my desires and your purpose to collide. Keep preparing me for what you need me to do. Give me the courage to say, “I AM sent me!” when I feel like I’m facing the impossible. You fill in all of my weak places. You are my source. Amen.
*I’d love to hear how this changes your attitude in the future. Please share!