Last Sunday we reflected on God's call of Moses to liberate the people of Israel. God spoke to Moses in the wilderness as he tended the flock of his father-in-law. He had fled Egypt under a cloud (to say the least), decades previously. He was a wanted fugitive of a major superpower and now God was asking him to go back there, some 40 years later. It seems like God is putting everything into Moses' lap to do all the rescuing. No wonder this put Moses on the back foot a little (ever felt that with God?) ... "Who am I ...?" he asks God.
God's response is to say, "I will be with you". Later God will reveal Himself to Moses as I Am (who I am). "I am" and "I will be" are the same word in Hebrew, so there is a little play on words in the text here. "I am" is going to be with Moses, so Moses' slight panic about not being up for the task may be justifiable, but it is beside the point. He is not going to be doing the saving. Moses says, "I cannot do this" and Yahweh responds, "You're not, I am!" Here again, we see some of the interplay between man's free will and God's sovereignty.
God then seeks to bring some reassurance to Moses by saying that the "sign" that God is in this will only be visible "after the event"! When you've led the people to freedom Moses, I will bring you back here to worship me, here at this mountain. How true it is that quite often (most of the time?), God's "signs" - his intervention in our lives and the lives of others - only become clearly visible to us in retrospect, just like in the old "footprints" image.
When we look back over the story of our lives, it can be easier to see how God has moved and led us, whereas when we're in the midst of things, especially painful, confusing and uncertain things, God can seem strangely absent and all we can rely upon are his promises to us. Perhaps this is something of what is meant when we're told that we can only see God from the back (Exodus 33:23), only after an event can we then see God's hand in it.
Today, this same promise of God's presence is constantly fulfilled through the indwelling Holy Spirit. He is the one who affirms our identity of beloved children of God and through whom we abide in Christ by keeping Jesus' commandments.
We will not have time to read through all the text of the book of Exodus, but can I encourage you to read through this most power story in between time.
With love and prayers,