Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
These verses are part of the account of Moses meeting God in the burning bush. As I read the interaction between God and Moses, the asking of God’s Name brought to mind an earlier passage in the book. Moses had just killed an Egyptian in order to stop the Egyptian from beating an Israelite. The next day, Moses sees a pair of Israelites fighting and tries to break it up. Exodus 2:31-14: [Moses] went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, “Why are you striking your companion?” But [the Hebrew] said, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said, “Surely the matter has become known.”
In the earlier instance, an Israelite asks Moses who made him their leader. Now that God Himself is sending Moses in as the leader, Moses stops to ask for God’s Name so that he (Moses) can answer if anyone asks Who sent him. And God answers Moses’ question.
There is a tremendous difference between trying to do God’s work in my own strength and doing it how and when God has commissioned me to do it. Moses was right about what God wanted him to do, but Moses’ timing and methods were all wrong. At that juncture, he was not acting in the Name of God; not doing God’s work in God’s way at God’s time so as to preserve God’s glory. He was doing Moses’ work. And his own name; his own reputation was not sufficient to grant him genuine authority over the Israelites. He was just another oppressor. Moses had to come to know God and be commissioned by God in order to receive the authority to do the work of God.
Likewise, in my own life, I cannot do God’s work unless I know Him and have been commissioned by Him to do it. Sure, I could try to pastor a church, but it would be a frustrating and futile experience, at the least. I have not been commissioned to pastor a church. I could try to be an evangelist and stand on a street corner preaching the gospel. While God might use that, it is not the thing to which he has called me. Moses was commissioned to liberate God’s people from Egypt and the commission came with God’s authority in the form of His Name as well as power to accomplish the task. The work for which God has commissioned me is the place where I will have His authority to act and will also see His power doing the work.
Let me take the time to know God and to wait on His commission before stepping out into a work.
Father, thank You for this pair of passages that remind me that Your work must be done in Your time and in Your way. Moses tried to do the right work at the wrong time and in the wrong way and it backfired catastrophically. While the results may not be as terrible, it is no benefit to me or to You for me to do Your work in the wrong way or at the wrong time. Please open my eyes that I might see the timing and the methods that You would have me employ. Keep me mindful that it is in Your Name that the work will be done.