Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb.
The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn't burn up.
Moses said, "What's going on here? I can't believe this! Amazing! Why doesn't the bush burn up?"
God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, "Moses! Moses!" He said, "Yes? I'm right here!"
God said, "Don't come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You're standing on holy ground."
Then he said, "I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob." Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.
God said, "I've taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I've heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain.
And now I have come down to help them, pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey, the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
"The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I've seen for myself how cruelly they're being treated by the Egyptians.
It's time for you to go back: I'm sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt."
Moses answered God, "But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?"
"I'll be with you," God said. "And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain."
Then Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, 'The God of your fathers sent me to you'; and they ask me, 'What is his name?' What do I tell them?"
God said to Moses, "I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, 'I-AM sent me to you.'"
God continued with Moses: "This is what you're to say to the Israelites: 'God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob sent me to you.' This has always been my name, and this is how I always will be known.
"Now be on your way. Gather the leaders of Israel. Tell them, 'God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, appeared to me, saying, "I've looked into what's being done to you in Egypt,
and I've determined to get you out of the affliction of Egypt and take you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, a land brimming over with milk and honey."'
"Believe me, they will listen to you. Then you and the leaders of Israel will go to the king of Egypt and say to him: 'God, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness where we will worship God - our God.'
"I know that the king of Egypt won't let you go unless forced to,
so I'll intervene and hit Egypt where it hurts - oh, my miracles will send them reeling! - after which they'll be glad to send you off.
I'll see to it that this people get a hearty send-off by the Egyptians - when you leave, you won't leave empty-handed!
Each woman will ask her neighbor and any guests in her house for objects of silver and gold, for jewelry and extra clothes; you'll put them on your sons and daughters. Oh, you'll clean the Egyptians out!"
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)