Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Sep 10rd)

Pastor's Summary of Exodus 3:1-15

Moses has been forced to flee Egypt because his murder of an Egyptian slave-master became known. He fled to the Sinai Peninsula ("Midian"), and married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro. Back in Egypt, the Pharoah has died, and those under the yoke of slavery have become restive.

Moses is shepherding "beyond the wilderness": a mysterious place. Near Mount Sinai ("Horeb") a messenger from God (or God himself) appears to him in the form of fire-a symbol implying passion, purity, light, mystery and (here) not extinguishable.  Moses is curious (v. 3) and leaves Jethro's sheep. What follows is the archetype for the calling of a prophet. God appears to the person and urges him to return to his people and serve as his spokesman, despite any opposition he may encounter, and his own shortcomings. As we find with other prophets (e.g. Jeremiah, Jonah), Moses is reluctant: in fact, he refuses four times! He has reason for not returning to Egypt, and yet he does return, because he believes that he is sent by God. Moses, like Abraham and Samuel, acknowledges God's call by saying "Here I am" *v. 4). Removing one's footwear (v. 5) was a common form of respect in the ancient Near East. God identifies himself as the God of the patriarchs, to whom he made promises of protection in return for loyalty (v. 6). God is compassionate, he has come to intervene, to "deliver" (v. 8) "my people" (v. 7) from the Egyptians, to bring them to Canaan. (The people in v. 8 were indigenous to Palestine at the time. ) God gives Moses his commission (v. 10) but Moses presents an excuse: "who am I" (v. 11) to do this? God answers: "I will be with you" (v. 12); you will all worship me here. Moses raises another objection: what do I tell people your name is? (v. 13) To know someone's name was to have power over him, or at least understand his very being. God's answer is enigmatic and the Hebrew is unclear: it can be translated He who causes to be what comes into existence or it may indicate presence, and be intentionally vague. (No one has power over God.) Moses is commanded to tell the Israelites that his title is YHWH or Yahweh (in Hebrew), or "LORD (v. 15).