Reuel father of the shepherdesses Moses had befriended, asked why his daughters were back home so early from their work. He was told that a stranger, an Egyptian, had drawn water for their flocks in return for something to drink. "I would like to meet this man," Reuel said. "Invite him to eat with us." It didn't take Reuel long to find that the stranger was intelligent and educated. He offered Moses work as a shepherd. He didn't expect him to accept, but Moses did, feeling that it was safer to stay there than continue traveling on roads where he might be recognized. In Reuel's out-the-way pastures, he would have the opportunity to think and put his thoughts into words. He liked the solitude, and he had long wanted to be a writer. He couldn't even imagine that his writings would become part of the world's most famous book, the Bible. As time passed, Moses became very fond of Zipporah, one of Reuel's daughters. They were married and had two sons. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, conditions were becoming worse for the Israelites. The pharaoh had died whose daughter had adopted Moses. The kings who succeeded him were even crueler. Suffering Israelites begged God to free them from the Egyptians. Soon God was to help them.
God Calls Moses
Moses had been in Midian about forty years when one day on a mountain he saw a strange sight. A bush was afire, and though it continued to burn like a torch, no part of it was burned up. As he approached the spectacle, Moses was startled by a strong voice from the bush. "Don't come any closer, Moses!" he was told. "You are standing on holy ground. Remove your shoes and listen to what I, your God, have to say!" (Ex. 3:5-6.) Moses was so awed that he hid his face with his jacket. When he heard what God had to say, he cringed and wanted to hide completely. "I am going to deliver the suffering Israelites from the Egyptians," the voice continued. "I want you to go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let your people leave his country!" "Why do you choose ME to do that?" Moses finally stammered. "Why would Pharaoh listen to a stranger like myself?" Although God told him, through the voice of an angel, that he should contact the king of Egypt and the leaders of Israel in a move to lead the Israelites to freedom, Moses couldn't believe that a sheep herder would be chosen for such a task. He was on the verge of arguing with God, who patiently repeated His request. "Don't worry about your people leaving where they are in a state of poverty," God added. "I will cause the Egyptians to contribute liberally to them at their departure." (Exodus 3:21-22.)
God Shows His Power
When Moses asked how he could prove that he had been sent to help his people gain their freedom, God patiently, to Moses' horror, displayed how Moses could appear to perform startlingly gruesome miracles. Despite this, Moses felt that he shouldn't be sent because he didn't speak Egyptian very well. Furthermore, he was far from an expert with his native language, Hebrew. When God reminded him that his Creator could give him the ability to speak well, Moses still thought that the task was too much for him.
Moses Tries to Run Away from God's Calling
"Please find someone else for such responsible work," he begged God. God was still patient. He told Moses that He would send Aaron, his brother, to do most of the speaking for him. This was pleasing to Moses, who knew that Aaron was much more articulate. Nevertheless, Moses wanted to bring up a last excuse by reminding God that he, Moses, was wanted in Egypt for murder. God spoiled that final effort by informing him that the Egyptian authorities who had sought him had all died. Moses returned home with his flocks to surprise his father-in-law with the news that he planned to return to Egypt to visit his relatives. Just before he left with his family, he was warned by a message from God that Pharaoh would at first refuse to free the Israelites. He was told that if Pharaoh continued to refuse, God would bring some terrible things on the Egyptians, including taking the life of the Egyptian king's first-born son. (Ex. 4:23.)
On burros, Moses and his family set out for Egypt northward along the east side of the Red Sea. Before they had gone very far, Zipporah became angry with Moses because of a family matter. Moses sent his wife and sons back home. Quite likely God caused this to happen so that Moses could better apply himself to what he was to do in Egypt. About the same time, in Egypt, Moses' brother, Aaron, was told by an angel to go down the east side of the Red Sea, and that he would meet the brother who had been missing for forty years. The brothers were thus brought together for a happy reunion. Moses told Aaron what God expected them to do. Together they went to Goshen, where most of the Israelite leaders lived. There Aaron gathered them together to explain what God, through Moses, intended to do. Most of the leaders were excited and pleased. A few started to cause trouble.