The family of Israel had moved to Egypt and was enjoying the blessings God had given Joseph. Years passed, and Israel’s family multiplied so quickly they began to fill Egypt! Soon a new king ruled Egypt who didn’t remember how Joseph had saved them from the great famine. This king, called Pharaoh, told his people:
“The Israelites are becoming a threat to us. There are too many of them! If we don’t stop them now, they could join our enemies and fight against us.”
The Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves and treated them horribly. Pharaoh even gave an order to have every newborn son of the Israelites killed by drowning them in the Nile River.
One Hebrew family put their baby son in a basket and floated him down the Nile in hopes of saving his life. Pharaoh’s daughter discovered this baby crying in the basket and felt sorry for him. Moses’ sister, who followed the basket from a distance, offered to help Pharaoh’s daughter find a mother to nurse the baby.
Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, but she didn’t know she was hiring Moses’ own mother to take care of him! The princess took the baby home to raise him in the king’s palace and named him Moses (which means “to draw out”) because she drew him out of the water.
Many years later, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them being forced to work as slaves. He witnessed an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrews. Moses looked around to see if anyone was watching, killed the Egyptian, and buried him in the sand.
When Pharaoh heard about this he tried to have Moses killed, but Moses escaped to the wilderness and started a new life as a shepherd.
Several years later a new Pharaoh came into power and continued to punish the Israelites in slavery. The people of Israel cried out to God for help and deliverance. God heard their cries and felt deep concern for them. He did not forget the covenant promise He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
One day while Moses was tending sheep he noticed a bush that was on fire, but it wasn’t burning up. He said to himself, “That’s amazing! I’ve got to go over and see this.”
God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Yes, here I am!” Moses answered.
“Don’t come any closer,” God told him. “Take off your sandals because you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face in his hands because he was afraid to look at God.
Then God told him, “I have heard my people’s cries for deliverance, and I have come down to rescue them. I have chosen you to meet with Pharaoh and lead my people out of Egypt.”
Moses begged God to send someone else, saying, “Who am I? I’m not a good speaker. I’m clumsy with my words.”
God said, “Who created mouths? Who gives people the ability to speak, hear, and see? I will help you speak clearly, and I will tell you what to say. Be prepared, though—Pharaoh is stubborn and will not listen.” God also told Moses he could bring his brother Aaron with him to help him speak to Pharaoh.
Then Moses asked, “Who should I tell them has sent me?”
God replied, “I AM WHO I AM. Tell them that I AM has sent you—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is my name for every generation.”
Then Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the God of Israel says: ‘Let my people go!’”
You won’t believe what happened next…