He never answered the question. God had called to him, but God didn’t answer him, at least not directly. The one thing Moses wants to know about the mission God has ordained for him, and God leaves him hanging. Or does He? Maybe the best way God could have replied to Moses’, “Who am I?” was with, “Who I AM.”
The time had come. Over the centuries (yes centuries) God had, in great measure, fulfilled His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their seed had multiplied. “The people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that [Egypt] was filled with them” (Ex. 1:7). And while taking a census of them might not yet have been like trying to number the stars of heaven or trying to count the sand on the seashore (Gen. 22:17), they had become too many for the Egyptians to comfortably live alongside.
And so they were oppressed. The promised descendants of Abraham were forced into servitude by Egypt (best defense, thought Pharaoh, is an offense). “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves” (Ex. 1:12-13). And so the people of God cried out for deliverance. And so, determines the Almighty Sovereign God, the time had come for the people promised of God to head back to the land promised by God.
Born of God-fearing Levite stock. Raised in the courts of Egyptian royalty. In exile for “choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25). Nevertheless living the good life–for decades content to love his family and work for his father-in-law. And then came the call.
God had seen the affliction of His people. He had heard their cry because of their taskmasters. He knew their suffering. And He had determined to “come down to deliver them” (Ex. 3:7-8). But though God had said He would come down, it was actually Moses who would go in.
“And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
(Exodus 3:9-11 ESV)
“Who am I?” Kind of a legitimate question, if you ask me. No longer a spring chicken. Not exactly tuned into the Egyptian way any longer. In fact, quite likely still on Egypt’s “Most Wanted” list. And he’s going to be the one who waltzes into Pharaoh’s courts and says, “Hey Phar . . . we’re going home. Say good-bye to your workforce?”
And while God accepts Moses’ question. He doesn’t answer it specifically. Because it’s not about “who am I”, but about who I AM.
It was the I AM who cannot lie who had spoken the promise of a great nation inhabiting an amazing land. It was the I AM who ordains all things who had called Abraham, who had empowered a barren Sarah to conceive Isaac, and who had richly blessed Jacob.
The I AM who said to Moses, I have seen, I have heard, I have known, and I will come down. The I AM who said, “I will send you.” The I AM who also said, “But, I will be with you” (3:12).
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”
(Exodus 3:14 ESV)
Moses was called. And so are we. And it will never be about “who am I?” but always about who I AM.
That our God might make known the greatness of His all-enabling power and the abundance of His all-sufficient grace, all for the glory of His eternal Name.