Who Are You?
Growing up as a prince of Egypt had its benefits. The young Moses had been raised with every asset the household of Pharaoh could supply. But Moses could not ignore the growing sense that he was an imposter. His birthmother had told him stories that rung true. Moses was not an Egyptian. He dressed like one, he was raised like one, but he knew deep down he was not one.
As he daily saw the overt cruelty of the Egyptian taskmasters toward the Hebrew slaves, Moses felt increasing angst. If he was descended from the Hebrew patriarch Abraham, how long could he stand by and watch his people—the people of the true God—being mistreated?
“By faith,” summarizes the author of Hebrews 11, “Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the kings’ anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).
Moses’ identity underwent a massive paradigm shift sometime in his early adulthood. His self-awareness as a prince of Egypt, entitled to all Egypt’s treasures, power and benefits, was as secure as the shifting sands of the Nile River delta at flood-time. Moses knew something had to change. So he did what any deep-thinking, ethically-conscious responsible person would do: he ran and hid.
For forty years he hid in the hills where no one—neither Egyptian nor Hebrew—could find him. For forty years he asked himself questions like, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘How could God be letting this happen to me?’ For forty years he heard nothing but silence.
Our lives can be like Moses’. Our identities fluctuate with every passing wind of social, emotional, and even political influence. ‘Who are we deep inside?’ we wonder. And who is God who allows life’s twists and traumas to occur?
Finally Moses’ heart was ready, and God spoke to him. Moses listened, but his first reply exposed the deep ache of his lifelong question.
“Who am I…?” cried Moses, prostrate and barefoot before the strange fiery epiphany of the LORD God.
God answered simply, “I will be with you.”
Then Moses countered, “Who are you?”
“I AM WHO I AM.” Period.
God’s replies to Moses’ bold questions were bedrock answers. God knows every person’s identity is satisfied only in Him. God is the inexhaustible identity from which we must gain our own. More than that, He promises to be with us. His presence, when fully appreciated by us, meets the broad spectrum of our needs. His presence enables us to know who we are because of who He is; to both accept God’s rescue and to rescue others; to rest without angst and to work wholeheartedly and with maximum impact; to live with God in the present and to live with Him for eternity.
Moses did not become perfect. But Moses became usable. He walked back into Egypt, confronted both Pharaoh and his own Hebrew people with God’s instructions, and watched the results. To the extent that Moses obeyed God implicitly throughout the final forty years of his life, Moses more and more realized and recognized who he was, and who God is.
That’s why the author of Hebrews 11 lists Moses among those who heard God’s call and stepped out in faith. Moses recognized God. That is the invitation for each of us who find ourselves asking the same questions, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Who are you, God?’
God’s answer to us is the same as it was to Moses.
“I will be with you,” and “I AM WHO I AM.”
(Photo Credit: By LBM1948 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons