I love personality tests. Ask anyone. Some of the first questions I ask a person I am getting to know are what is your Myers-Briggs personality type? What animal are you? What color describes who you are? And so on. I think the results tell me a lot about a person and help me to understand him/her a little better (I am an INFP, golden-retriever, blue personality type in case you were wondering). In a world where we now have movies like the Divergent series and The Hunger Games, we are constantly trying to figure out our own categories, our factions, and our districts. Except none of us can really and fully fit into a category. And it’s because of the uniqueness God has created in each one of us.
Moses’ first personal encounter with God at the burning bush reminds us of this uniqueness God has given to each of us. In Exodus 2, starting in verse 11, Moses has grown up. But we know where he started: when he was born, Pharaoh out of fear of being overthrown ordered all Hebrew baby boys to be killed. His mother saved his life by placing him in the Nile River to escape. Pharaoh’s daughter found him and raised him herself. One day, Moses killed a man out of anger for the man’s unjust killing of a Hebrew slave. Moses then fled, but years later was confronted by God who appeared in a burning bush to deliver him his fate. He was to go back and save his people, the Jews, from the unfair treatment and slavery. To do so, he had to identify with them in suffering. In this passage, we will see that the identity God gives us far exceeds the ones we give ourselves, and in the end our identity is ultimately to magnify His own identity—the Great I Am.
God Gives Us a Name
One of my favorite things about God is His sovereignty in our names and how he knows our names before the foundation of the world and is so intimately connected with us that even our names have significance. I immediately think of Abram and how in God’s covenant promise with him, He changes his name to Abraham and his wife Sarai’s name to Sarah. I also think of His miraculous transformation of Saul in the New Testament. When God changed Saul’s heart, He also changed his name to Paul. In Exodus 2 at the beginning of Moses’ story, God sovereignly names Moses through Pharoah’s daughter. She says she will name him Moses because she “drew him out of the water” (verse 10). It is derived from the Egyptian word meaning water.
Do you have any nicknames? Anything unique and endearing that only your family or friends call you? A name that reminds you of the intimate relationships you have in your life? My close family and friends call me Ash. It’s such a small thing, but it’s something that makes me feel known and loved. Think of God calling you by the name you most adore. This is how intimately He knows and loves you. He has given you a specific name for a specific purpose.
God Gives Us a Purpose
Before God even gives us our purpose, He shows us His majesty. In this particular passage, He shows up in a burning object. Can you imagine being Moses in this moment? The Lord of Lords is not only appearing to him, but He is doing it in such a mighty and spectacular way. I bet being there in that moment was a surreal feeling. He also gives us an identity before he gives us our purpose—the name He has chosen and the unique characteristics He has plotted in us are given before He reveals His purpose for us. We are His own before we are given a mission by Him. In Exodus 3, it is clear that God is revealing Himself to Moses before He sets him out on His divine plan. He has a huge plan for Moses to save and restore His people by going back to them and identifying in their suffering.
Even if God does not appear to us in a burning bush these days, He does reveal Himself through His Word. He has given all of His children a purpose explained by the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20. He also sets specific and unique desires, goals, dreams, and ambitions in each of us in order to accomplish His will. Starting my freshman year of college, the Lord began grafting in my heart a desire to play a bigger role in girls ministry, specifically in the area of counseling. As He did this, He led me to many different avenues to use this gifting and desire. The summer after my freshman and sophomore years of college, He led me to go to the Philippines and work at a home for girls who had been rescued out of abuse, teaching and discipling them. Now He has me in a girls ministry position at a church, discipling girls and pursuing a Masters degree in Counseling so that I can be better equipped to do these things. I can see the Lord’s hand guiding me through all of this and cultivating joy in my heart from the passions He has given me.
God Gives Us a Future Hope
God says to Moses in this passage, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites…a land flowing with milk and honey.” God has given Moses a name and a purpose, and He is now promising Moses a future Hope.
We often hear about our need to understand our identity in Christ…how we are chosen by God and given a purpose in the body of Christ. While this is extremely important to understand, I think sometimes we miss the most important part about our identity. Plot twist: the importance of our identity is not so we can feel good about ourselves. The importance of knowing our identity and purpose in Christ is to reflect the God of the universe. God uses Moses to point to our eternity with Him. God’s calling of Moses to help free His people from slavery and oppression is only a tiny foreshadowing of our eternal hope of being set free from sin and death. God’s promise to Moses here is to take him and His people to a better land. It was an exciting promise! However, it pales in comparison to the promise God has given His children of the eternity we have with Him in heaven. Our uniqueness as individual children of God and the significance of our identity is only important because it glorifies the most unique Being in the universe. Just like Moses’ greatest purpose was to glorify God in following His plan to take His people from slavery to the Promised Land, God’s purpose for us is to enjoy Him and serve Him here on earth and to look forward to the eternal Kingdom set before us.
Do you understand your importance in the Kingdom of Heaven? That you have been given a name, a purpose, and a hope? Think about the gifts, qualities, and uniqueness of who God has created you to be. Meditate on the fact that as a child of God, He has given you a new name and identity, a purpose for His Kingdom, and a hope to enjoy Him forever in eternity. Rejoice in the fact that your eternal treasure is to be in His presence and to glorify His name. This joy will shape every decision and moment for the rest of your life.
Father, I know Your eternal purposes for me are so much greater than my own self-identity. I long to honor You with my identity in order to magnify You and the uniqueness that You are.
1 Corinthians 6:17
1 Peter 2:9
1 John 3:1-2