Moses was working for Jethro as a shepherd while he was in hiding for killing an Egyptian. It was good training for the job God was about to assign him from the burning bush. I can see him there with his shepherd’s staff.
Maybe a little lamb had fallen off a cliff down to a ledge and I see Moses reaching down with the shepherd’s staff to lift the little animal up. I see him holding the lamb close to his bosom, whispering comfort into the little fuzzy ear before returning it to the flock. Or, perhaps a bossy ewe didn’t want to stay with the flock and wandered off to a little green patch of her choosing. I see Moses going over to the ewe and goosing her with his staff to urge her back into the fold.
I can also imagine Moses using the staff as a weapon against predators, lifting the stick high in the air and striking with blows that meant business. Late in the day, in my mind’s eye, I see Moses leaning on the staff as if it were a crutch, humming softly as he calms the flock, settling them in for the night. Then he sees it.
The burning bush. He thought he was alone on God’s mountain. Who could have started that fire? He watched it burn but not burn up. He felt the steady warmth even from a great distance. Looking around for the person who might have lit the bush, he crept stealthily towards it. Then the voice came: “Take off your shoes, you are on holy ground.”
Moses’ immediate compliance brought on a conversation with the presence in the bush. God wanted him to shepherd people, not sheep. He tried to argue his way out of returning to Egypt to confront Pharaoh demanding the release of the Hebrews he had left behind, but, how can you argue with a burning bush?
He really needed to know with whom he was talking. When he asked the name or, better stated, the authority he could cite as the one who sent him, the voice replied, “I AM. TELL THEM I AM SENT YOU.” Moses did and the rest is history. He was a good shepherd to his people for many years.
I remember in Greek mythology that when the Cyclops asked Odysseus his name, the cunning hero said, “Nobody, my name is Nobody.” So, after Odysseus and his men stuck a hot poker in the Cyclops’s one and only eye and his fierce brothers asked him who did it, he replied, “Nobody did it. Nobody put my eye out.”
There is power in names. Adam’s first job was to name the animals and, thereby, have dominion over them. If you know my name, you have power over me to some degree. If you do something in my name, that means I have given you authority to do it. If you stop in the name of the law, you stop because you realize the authority the law holds over you. I AM is the ultimate authority and nobody is a nobody to Him.
Daniel G. Ford, Ph. D.