Exodus 3:1-10 – Called to Bring Out


Exodus 3:1-10


God’s first action upon acknowledging the groans of Israel is to call Moses to bring Israel out of Egypt, a call to which Moses objects, but God persists.


The call of Moses, delayed by his flight from Egypt, is God’s first act after noticing Israel’s plight. The narration of the call follows a pattern that is typical of call narratives. Moses is doing what he does on most days now that he has settled into life away from Egypt. He is tending the flock of his father-in-law when God disrupts his routine with a burning bush. Two connections are forged with prior narratives. First, a connection to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is made. Second, the plight of Israel enslaved in Egypt is reiterated. Then, two moves are announced. First, God intents to deliver Israel from its plight and, second, will bring these liberated slaves into a good land flowing with milk and honey. The second move once again loops the action in the book of Exodus back to promises made in Genesis.

Moses is commissioned to carry out these intentions of God. In the classic pattern of call narratives, Moses objects. God does not back off from the commissioning. God commits to accompany the chosen leader, but does not alter the assignment given to Moses. In subsequent narratives,  Moses raises repeated objections to his commissioning, and in each case God responds to the objections without relenting on the intention for which Moses is commissioned. The net effect of Moses’ objections is the portrait of a leader that is not a mere puppet of God; Moses can speak back. On the other hand, the repeated objections show that the idea of delivering Israel was not Moses’ idea in any way. The commission does not grow out of any inner quest for a vocation; it is not a matter of Moses being true to himself. The call is disruptive; God is the initiator and God will be the sustainer.