“Moses Before the Burning Bush” by Domenico Fetti
Why did God choose Moses to rescue the children of Israel from captivity? What characteristics qualified him for this assignment? We get a clue from three events immediately preceding his calling:
- Moses saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite. Although he might have been expected to side with the Egyptian since he had been raised by one of Pharaoh’s daughters, he defended the slave and took the life of the attacking Egyptian. (See Exodus 2:11-12.)
- The following day, he saw two Israelites fighting. Instead of letting the fight go on, he approached them and asked the attacker: “Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?” (See Exodus 2:13.)
- After escaping Pharaoh’s wrath for killing the Egyptian, Moses saw a group of marauders attempting to steal sheep from seven women. Moses defended the flocks and drew water for the sheep. (See Exodus 2:16-19.) The defense of the sheep is similar to Ammon’s defense of King Lamoni’s flocks (Alma 17:27-39), and Moses’s kindness in giving water to the animals is reminiscent of his ancestor Rebekah. (See Genesis 24:15-20.)
Where did Moses learn such empathy and compassion? His adopted mother must have been a kind-hearted woman. She must have known that her father had decreed the death of all Hebrew male babies, yet when she saw Moses, she saved him and raised him as her own. (See Exodus 2:5-10.)
Although Moses was willing to fight courageously for the downtrodden, he was still terrified by the calling when it came. “Who am I?” he asked the Lord, “that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11).
God promised to help Moses know what to say, to provide helpers, and to manifest His power through signs. Moses had to trust that he was doing God’s work and that God would support him.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from the first six chapters of Exodus, with related blog posts:
- Remembering what God has done for other people can help us have faith in Him. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He introduced Himself in terms of His relationship with three of Moses’s ancestors (Exodus 3:6): Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- Moses was somewhat concerned about fulfilling his assignment alone. But God explained that he wouldn’t be alone: “Thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt” (Exodus 3:16-18): What Is an Elder?
- It’s easy to be hypercritical about our own communication skills. When Moses was called, he said, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10, italics added): “Slow of Speech”.
- The Lord responded in two ways: by promising to help him know what to say, and by giving him a spokesman—his brother, Aaron (Exodus 4:15-16, see also 2 Nephi 3:17): The Gift of Aaron.
- Moses was called to bring the children of Israel “out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:6-7). We likewise are called to lighten the burdens of other people: What Does It Mean to Bear One Another’s Burdens?