We all know this story- the Pharaoh that was hundreds of years after Joseph was of a totally different people and enslaves the Israelites from fear of their size. All the male babies are to be killed, Moses is hidden then sent down the Nile by his mother who trusts in God to protect her son. He is found by a daughter of Pharaoh, raised for the first years of his life by his mother, then returned to the Princess to be adopted into the royal family. Years later, as an adult, Moses sees one of his countrymen being beaten by an Egyptian (his mother had taught him about the God of Israel and his heritage), loses it and kills the Egyptian, then runs for his life. He goes to Midian, marries and becomes a shepherd. Years later he sees the burning bush, and is told by God that he will be God’s spokesman in order to get Pharaoh to free the people.
NOTE: If you feel you don’t know what your calling from God is, just be patient: Moses was 80 years of age before he found out.
He goes back to Egypt, faces Pharaoh and declares to Pharaoh, “Let my people go.”
Pharaoh doesn’t take too well to this, and orders that the Israelites are to now make bricks without being provided the straw, so instead of going home at sundown to rest they had to glean the fields all night. That didn’t make them very happy at all, and the Parashah ends with Moses about to get stoned by the people for making their lives even more miserable than before he came to free them.
I want to take one little line, just a few words from this Parashah, and talk about them today. They are found in Chapter 3, verse 14, when God tells Moses His name. The exact translation is: Ehyeh asher ehyeh– I am that I am.
This seems to be a simple statement, but it is in reality, vast. Popeye the Sailor says, “I yam what I yam, and that’s all that I yam…”and in his case, his statement is simple. Popeye is his own man, he is a modest and simple person who doesn’t profess to be anything other than what we see.
However, when God says “I am that I am” He means that He is now what He is, He has always been what He is, and He will always be what He is. Popeye is Popeye only during his lifetime, but God is God, God has been God, and God will always be God- there is no timeline for God.
When we try to put a timeline on God we end up upset and disappointed with Him. But how can we ever expect God to be constrained to our parameters of time and space? He is beyond physics, He is beyond restrictions, He is beyond understanding.
I can count to a Million, but can I really understand what a Million is? I can know who God is, but can I understand Him? Not a chance. He is beyond human understanding; as such, we must trust in His knowledge and timing, and ability to do that which He says He will do. Such was the lesson Moses was learning when he first went to Pharaoh. He had the staff that turned into a snake and the hand-leprosy trick: to Moses that must have seemed like more than enough to get Pharaoh’s attention. When it failed, and failed miserably, I am sure Moses was having second thoughts. In fact, we read how he asks God, essentially, what’s the story? Why isn’t this working as you said it would?
That’s because God had more planned to happen then Moses was aware of, and God kept it that way. God told Moses what He was going to do, but didn’t spell out every step of the procedure. He didn’t need to because He is (after all) God, and Moses didn’t have a “Need to Know” at that time. Faith is walking in complete darkness and trusting God to tell you where to step. Moses needed to develop that level of trust, which is why (in my opinion) God took Moses step by step through the Plagues, telling Moses only that which he needed to know, and only when he needed to know it.
We should be walking as Moses did (once he caught on), trusting in God to tell us where to step and where to avoid stepping. Moses was the most blessed of people in that he got to speak with God, face-to-face, but what we have is the very next best thing- we have the in-dwelling Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, to be our spiritual GPS, leading us in the way God wants us to walk. The hard part, for us, is to listen to it.
Well, maybe not for you, maybe you can hear and obey the Ruach, but I confess it is very hard for me to continually be led by the Spirit. Even my language is hard to control (we could do an entire year of lessons on the difficulty of controlling the tongue), so you can imagine how much more difficult is it for me to control my actions. I am happy to report that I am making progress, slow as molasses going uphill against the wind in February, but still, it is progress. Three steps forward and two steps backsliding is still one step closer to God, and that is all we can hope for- getting closer to God, day by day, step by step.
When you feel that God isn’t doing as you thought He should, or you are getting impatient waiting for a prayer to be fulfilled, remember that God is eternal and we are mortal- apples and oranges- and it is unfair to God (and to us) to expect that we will be able to understand what is happening in our lives as God directs us. Work on following God’s instructions, remembering and trusting in the fact that He is what He was, and He will always be that which He is. That’s a really difficult concept to wrap your head around, but don’t worry about understanding it. You don’t need to.
Understanding what God is going to do is not necessary to accomplishing what God is calling you to do: all you need to do is trust Him and follow His lead.