Unification Sermons and Talks
by Reverend Joy Pople
God Prepares Moses
Exodus 2:11 - 4:29
Moses went far into the wilderness and sat down by a well to rest. Near that place lived a priest of Midian, named Jethro, and he had seven daughters. They came to the well to draw water for their father's flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away. This had happened many times before, but this time Moses was there to help the sisters water their flocks.
The girls returned to their father. When he asked, "Why are you back so early?" they told him about the stranger who rescued them from the shepherds who were causing them trouble.
"Where is he?" the father asked. "Why did you leave him? Go invite him to eat with us."
When Moses came, the father said, "I am Jethro, the priest of Midian. These are my daughters." They talked, and Jethro invited Moses to live among his people and care for his flocks. The man gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, "I have become a stranger in a foreign land."
The people of Midian were descendants of Abraham and worshipped God. For 40 years Moses lived as a shepherd in the wilderness and learned about living in the desert. No longer did he wear the robes of an Egyptian prince. Instead he wore the rough clothes of a shepherd and carried a shepherd's staff. Year after year he took care of his father-in-law's sheep.
During that long time, Pharaoh died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out to God. God heard their prayers and he remembered his promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God looked at the Israelites and cared deeply about them.
While watching over for the animals, Moses must have done a lot of thinking about God and about his people. Maybe he wondered whether God had forgotten about him and the Israelites. However, during these long years Moses was learning important lessons that would help him lead the Israelites through the wilderness.
One day Moses brought the sheep to a pasture near Mount Horeb. Moses noticed a bush that seemed to be on fire but did not burn up. He was curious, so he went closer.
God called to Moses from inside the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
Moses: "Here I am."
God: "Don't come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."
It was the custom for people to remove their shoes when approaching a sacred place. Quickly Moses stooped down and unfastened his sandals. Then he hid his face, because he was afraid to look at the flame again.
God: "I have seen the misery of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their suffering. I have come to rescue them from Egypt and bring them into the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt."
Moses wondered how he could get Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave his land: "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
God: "I will be with you. When you bring the people to come to this mountain and worship me, you will know that I have been with you."
All that the Israelites knew about God were the stories told by parents to their children. Their Egyptian neighbors worshipped different kinds of gods, such as the god of the sun and the moon. Perhaps the Israelites had forgotten about the true God.
Moses: "Suppose I go to the Israelites and tell them that the God of their fathers has sent me to them and they ask me what is the name of this God. What shall I tell them?"
God: "I AM WHO I AM. I am unchanging; I am always living. Tell them that the I AM has sent you to help them. Tell them, 'The God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you. The Lord has been watching over you and has seen what has been done to you in Egypt and He will lead you into the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey.' The elders among the Israelites will listen to you. Then you and the elders should go to the Pharaoh and tell them that your God has met with you and asked you to take a three-day trip into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to Him. I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him, so I will strike the Egyptians and make terrible things happen to them until Pharaoh lets you go. You will not leave with empty hands, for the Egyptians will give you silver and gold and clothing as gifts when you leave."
Forty years earlier, Moses had had to leave Egypt because the Israelites betrayed him. Would the people trust him now?
Moses: "What if they don't believe me? What if they don't believe that God appeared to me?"
God: "What is that in your hand?"
Moses: "A staff."
God: "Throw it on the ground."
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake. Moses ran away from it.
God: "Reach out your hand and take the snake by its tail."
Moses gathered his courage and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.
God: "This will help them believe that the God of their fathers has appeared to you. Now put your hand inside your coat."
Moses put his hand inside his coat and when he took it out it was all white, like the hands of someone with leprosy, a disease which people feared very much.
God: "Now put it back inside your coat."
Moses did what God told him, and the hand was the same color as the rest of his skin.
God: "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile River and pour it on the dry ground, and it will become blood."
God had answered Moses' questions, but Moses wasn't convinced he was able to do the job.
Moses: "Oh Lord, I have never been able to speak well. I talk too slow."
God: "Who gives people their mouth? Who gives people their eyes? Is it not I? Now go. I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say."
Moses still wasn't eager to take on the job: "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."
Then God got angry: "What about your brother Aaron? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth. I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you. He will be like your mouth, and you will be like God to him. Take this staff in your hand so you can perform miracles."
With the support of God and his family, Moses felt confident to face the Israelites and Pharaoh. At last Moses was ready to obey the Lord.
So Moses went back to his father-in-law and asked his permission to return to Egypt and see if any of his people were alive. Jethro wished Moses well.
The Lord had told Moses that everyone who wanted to kill him was dead. So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and started back to Egypt. In his hand he carried the staff of God.
During the journey, the Lord told Moses to show Pharaoh all the miraculous signs the Lord had given him. The Lord warned Moses that Pharaoh would not be willing to let the Israelites leave Egypt in the beginning. The Lord told Moses he would need to say to Pharaoh: "Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you to let my son go to worship me. But since you refused to let Israel go, I will kill your firstborn son."
At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah, his wife, took a knife and circumcised their son, and Moses was safe.
The Lord told Aaron, Moses' older brother, to go into the desert to meet Moses. Aaron met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. Moses told Aaron everything the Lord told him to say and showed Aaron the miraculous signs.
When Moses and Aaron returned to Egypt they brought together the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything that the Lord had said to Moses. Moses also performed the signs the Lord had given him, and the people believed. When they heard that the Lord cared about them, they bowed down and worshipped God.
Joy Pople (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote this Bible story from the standpoint of the Divine Principle.
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