This week we move into the story of Moses and the Israelites who were held captive in Egypt.
Much has happened since our readings of last week. Jacob has 12 sons, one of whom is Joseph. Joseph ends up in Egypt due to the jealousy of his brothers but is called by God to get involved with the Pharoah and helping the Egyptians through a famine. This brings Jacob and his remaining sons and family to Egypt. Generations are born and die in Egypt, and their descendants become so numerous that they are feared by the Pharaohs and those in power. The Israelites, long after the famine and death of Joseph, become slaves and are treated badly.
The baby Moses is born, hidden in the bullrushes but found by the daughter of Pharaoh and taken to be her child. He grows up in the Egyptian court with all the privilege and status that befits a member of the Pharaoh’s family. All of this is cast aside when Moses finds an Egyptian soldier beating an Israelite. Moses kills the soldier and runs away from Egypt and all he has known. He ends up in the land of Midian, becomes a shepherd and marries the daughter of Jethro. At the beginning of our reading we are told that the Israelites were groaning under their slavery and cry out to God for help. We are told that God took notice of the Israelites and Moses is called into action.
This is the passage where God names Godself. “I am who I am” is the response given to Moses’ question. This is the name that Moses is given to speak to the Israelites when they question who has sent him. Moses is commanded to go and speak to Pharaoh in order to set God’s people free. The end of our reading tells of Moses’ reluctance to follow this command, giving excuses of his lack of ability to speak. Moses states he is slow of speech and slow of tongue and could not possibility achieve what God is commanding him to do.
I think that we’ve all given this sort of excuse to God before. If not to God, then to someone who has asked us to speak to someone or for some cause. Many of us love to speak, but just as many of us don’t. But to be in relationship with each other we need to communicate, and speaking is one of the most used forms of communication.
Who are we being challenged to speak with at this time? Is it someone who is lonely, anxious, grieving, or unsure? Is it the stranger who is different to us, or perhaps someone who needs another voice to speak for them? Will we take on the command to go speak? Jay Robinson