You know, the curious thing about Moses’ encounter with the Burning Bush is his question to God:
So Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I go to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I tell them?” – Ex. 3:13
He acknowledges that they didn’t know God. Oppressed so long, they still cried out to God – I’m sure. They still remembered the stories of some Divine Being that had sent their fathers on a journey.
Stories of triumph. Stories of defeating the odds. Stories of amazing overcoming.
A nation of people was established, birthed of a barren woman. And incredibly old father.
But, the Hebrew people had been oppressed for a long time. So long, they were actually depressed.
Being from a people who’ve been oppressed for such a long time that as a people (and many of us as individuals) are depressed, I can make some speculations about the Hebrew disposition in Egypt.
It had been hundreds of years they’d been in bondage in Egypt. They once were a glorious people, but brought extremely low by inhumane cruelty of a people who needed a repository for their frustrations.
They could be assaulted and even killed without recourse. All they could do was submit to their oppression and the dehumanizing conditions that crushed any hope of freedom. Their children were taken from them…killed at will by State-sanctioned violence.
I imagine every time some atrocity occurred, the people wailed “Oh Lord!!!” And, “Oh my God!” Or, “Lord help us!”
But after so long in Egypt, did they really believe that God heard them?
I mean, they had heard stories of this powerful God Who had made so many things happen for their ancestors. This God had even taken their ancestor Joseph from being thrown away, enslaved, and oppressed to a great seat of power and prestige.
But now, this is “powerless?”
They still cried out for God – as a way of life. A saying, much like “what’s up?” Or, “how you doing?” When no one really cares for the answer…
It’s a greeting…a saying, that through the lived experience has lost all meaning.
“Lord help us!”
It’s what we say. Because that’s what we’ve always said.
Our people have always cried out to “God.” No help ever comes…no justice. So, I don’t really believe – but I still cry out. Because that’s what we do…
That’s what it means to be a Hebrew…
Like a Cleveland Browns fan, still cheering when you know there’s no chance of victory.
“Lord send help!”
Can you imagine that the Hebrew people were not crying out to God? Do you think they were experiencing all the inhumane wickedness of the Egyptians, and were simply grumbling to themselves?
But when Moses encountered the Lord at the Burning Bush he asked the Lord, “…when I go to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I tell them?”
Moses knew – it seems – that the people would have no clue about this “God.”
“What is His name?” #SideEye
“Who is this “God?”
Moses knew how the people would respond: with suspicion. But why would they have suspicion?
Why except that they had seemed so far from God…God had seemed so far from them, that although they were “crying out to Him” they did not really believing He would or was able to save?
“Jesus come now!”
We waiting for God to come on the scene like a Jay Z track: “Allow me to reintroduce myself!”
We want – yea, need – signs and wonders like the Hebrews in Egypt to remind us that the Power of God is greater than White Power. That White Power would have no choice but crumble if we were to call on the Awesome Power of the Lord God Almighty.
The Lord finally grew tired of their faithless cries and decided to bless them by reminding them of His Power. It wasn’t that God was absent or taking His sweet time, like some Holy Sadist. It wasn’t that God was somehow unable to free His people from bondage.
If that is the case, how could God be God?
The only logical thing is that His people weren’t really calling on Him faithfully. They – like Joseph’s brothers before them – needed to be brought to repentance for choosing their way over the Way of the Lord.
Only Moses had fled that reality…running off to Ethiopia and connecting with a priest who helped open his spirit to the Lord. Yet, as the Baptist minister would ask: “Is there one? Is there one?”
And with that one, the Lord was quick to make Himself known to all…
(May the Lord bless us now, that one among us might cry out to the Lord in true faith, that we all might be delivered!)
What does it mean to cry out to the Lord in faith?
I imagine the answer is wrapped up in what happened in Moses’s heart and spirit that prepared Him to receive revelation from God. But what was that?
I don’t know if I’ll have an answer. But, that’s what I’ll be exploring on Sunday in my live sermon at 9:30AM EST on JahBread TV.
I’d love to explore it with you, if that question piques your interest.