There’s a plethora of interesting things one can bring out from the story of Moses. I hardly know where to begin, or when to stop! I’ll just offer whatever springs to mind and let the reader grocery shop through.
The first thing that strikes me as I read these passages is that this is the first time God entrusts anyone with His name. Until this time, He is known as Elohim, the Almighty One, not a name but a title or description. He is also known as Adonai, or Lord, also a title. But here He gives Moses His own name, the name He uses to refer to Himself: Yahweh, I AM. What an incredible privilege, for Moses to hear the personal name of God spoken by God’s own mouth. It gives me chills to think of it. The Jews considered this name to be so precious that they wouldn’t pronounce it or write it down, and we continue that tradition. Every time you see LORD spelled out in all caps in the scriptures, it was actually the name “Yahweh” in the original script. I remember when I was about ten or eleven years when I first heard the name “Yahweh”. I felt sad, even cheated, because I’d been a believer since I was five years old and had never before heard the true name of the God I worshiped. Children need to hear God’s real name.
I have taught from a number of different curricula over the years, and most of the leave a lot of Moses’ story out. The lessons might mention that Moses left Egypt but not explain why. They might explain that Moses became a shepherd, but not tell how such a turn of events came about. Most don’t even mention that Moses got married in Midian and had two sons, which would be of interest to children, I think. Why are the writers of children’s lessons afraid to tell them the truth? Moses was raised a spoiled rich brat. Moses was a murderer. Moses was a coward. Moses was used by God to perform a monumental task that changed the world. Doesn’t this give us hope? Shouldn’t this be encouraging to children who fear they aren’t good enough, strong enough, brave enough to serve God?
Most lessons do brings out the fact that Moses was terrified by the imposing task God had given him, but don’t give the reasons for his fear. Other than the natural fear of failure, Moses had a lot to be nervous about. He had not left Egypt under the best of circumstances. He had come upon an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave and had killed the Egyptian. The next day he came upon a couple of Hebrews duking it out with each other and when he tried to break them up, they sarcastically asked if he meant to kill them too! As a result of his actions, he lost all respect of his own people; and when Pharaoh heard of the murder, he tried to kill Moses and Moses had to flee for his life. One of the things God had to tell him was to reassure him: “all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.” Don’t be afraid of letting the children know the truth: Moses was wrong to kill the Egyptian, even though it may have been for an admirable reason. He may have been trying to save the Hebrew slaves’ life, but the fact that the other Hebrews did not seem thankful for his actions, but rather disdainful, suggests otherwise. But God forgave Moses and used the forty years Moses spent in the wilderness as a shepherd to teach him patience and gentleness with both sheep and people.
However, the reason Moses himself gives for his reluctance to go to Pharaoh is that he is “slow of speech and tongue.” In fact, it is an ancient Jewish tradition that Moses had a pronounced stammer. The fact that God could, and in fact insisted upon, using someone with this handicap as His spokesman is very indicative of God’s nature. In Deuteronomy we read that Moses was “the most humble man who ever lived”. How could he not be humble when he was so very aware that every word that fell freely and eloquently from his lips was directly from God, every clear sound he made a miracle. God in His kindness allowed Moses to take his brother Aaron with him to speak for him, but he does not seem to make much use of him! Why do we not emphasize Moses’ handicap to children, who could be so encouraged by this story? Why do we cover this fact up as if we were ashamed of it?
Children’s Bible stories tend to make Bible characters into some kind of super heroes, setting a standard no one could ever obtain. Rather than encouraging children to excel, these types of stories can make a child feel as if he could never measure; he could never be a Moses or a Joshua or a Joseph. God did not give us the stories of these people in order to make us all feel inferior! He tells us all about these guys, warts and all, to let us know that He can use anyone to work His will. We need to make sure we don’t leave out the warts when we teach the Bible to our kids.