I AM Lesson Five I Was

Lesson Five

“I Was”

Key Passages:

Acts 7  
“And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.”
Exodus 2: 21-22
Welcome back!

 By this point, you have a whole new perspective on biblical beauty from the first four lessons. I pray what you have learned of God’s idea of loveliness is something you will hold on to day after day when the enemy attempts to use the mirror to tear you down. Can we resolve ahead of time to instead turn that mirror back on him? In doing this, you will remind him of a divine paradox. He used to be the most lovely of God’s creation but Sin made him repulsive. We were once repulsive in our Sin however, by faith in Jesus Christ, God has made us beautiful. Satan is the ugly one, dear! Do not let him assign his fate to you!

We have come to the place in our study of Moses where we find him fleeing the wrath of Pharaoh because of his killing the Egyptian on behalf of a Hebrew. We are told in the New Testament book of Hebrews that he fled Egypt ‘in faith’. Can I suggest to you that sometimes we can be ‘in faith’ yet be totally bewildered, downcast, confused, and downright demoralized when things do not turn out like we planned? Are there any hands to raise? Moses flight led him to Midian which was located across the Sinai peninsula. (Midian is modern-day Saudi Arabia) The inhabitants there were descendants of Abraham and his wife Keturah, yet they were not devoted worshippers of the One True God.

Can you fathom Moses’ run across the desert? Envision his stumbling into the area of the Midian well distorted from the heat rising from the scorching sand. There is no doubt he caused quite a stir among the shepherds as he defended the Midianite women in his sweaty, Egyptian finery. The noble gesture earned him a place at the dinner table of Jethro, the priest of Midian, and Jethro’s daughter Zipporah as a wife to boot.

Do not be confused into thinking that Moses limped out of the desert and straight into happily ever after. Let’s break down our key verse and learn a bit more about Moses state of mind when he agreed to become a part of Jethro’s family.

“And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.” Exodus 2:21 (KJV)

The word ‘content’ in this context is very interesting. It is the Hebrew word “ya’al” (Strong’s 2974) and means “to be willing, to show willingness, to be determined, to undertake to do, to make a beginning. It is making up one’s mind to commence a given activity. Today we use terms such as ‘initiative’, or ‘motivation’. The word has the nuance of determination and resolve.” Now, in comparison to this meaning of ‘content’, consider another definition NOT used here. It is simply, “to breathe after”.

Can you feel the difference? Moses’ contentedness was a determined decision to be happy in this new situation. He was a man with no family, no home. This opportunity was all he had going for him so he resolved to pull himself up by his fancy sandal straps and make a new life for himself. The other ‘content’ in my mind is much more dreamy and romantic. It is the steady rhythm of one who is not holding her breath in anxiety. It is the happiness of a mother watching her husband and children play together. It is the young couple without a penny to their name but rich in love. It is the college student who embraces God’s future for her life. It is the deep exhale of bliss.

And so Moses’ new life began. He became a shepherd, a detestable vocation to any Egyptian, much less one raised as an Egyptian prince. Hebrews tells us that Moses chose to be mistreated with his own people instead of enjoying his life of luxury, but something tells me he did not envision how far the mighty would fall. The next verse in our Key does not seem earth-shattering at first glance, but I am fascinated by the implications of the wording in it. Let’s take a deeper look.

“And she bare him a son, and called his name Gershom; for he said, ‘I have been a stranger in a strange land.”

In considering this verse, we will be setting the stage for perhaps the greatest encounter in the Old Testament between God and man – Moses and the Burning Bush. You have no idea how anxious I am to present it to you and how inadequate I feel to do it. If God has taught me nothing else through this study, it is that He is ENOUGH. I trust Him to complete His work and even if I say it wrong, He will have you read it right. I’m praying for a visual Pentecost!

Look with me at the definition for the name ‘Gershom’. Remember how significant the naming of a child was to the ancients. You can literally look at a child’s name and know the heart of the parent. Moses had become an alien in a strange land. Here was the birth of the concept of being far from our heavenly home, of living somewhere we do not belong. Moses was a City Boy who had found himself in the backside of the desert. What a terrifying, lonely feeling.

What I want to focus on right now is not so much Gershom’s name but with the verb Moses used before it, ‘have been’. There is yet some time to pass before Moses will meet God in the Bush, but you already know the name by which God will introduce Himself to Moses – I AM. I get the shivers just typing it! Here is the really fascinating part. The Hebrew verb translated ‘I AM’ (hay ah – Strong’s 1961) is the exact same verb translated in Moses’ naming of his son as ‘I have been’. When God says, “I AM ever-existent, I AM ever-present, I AM ever capable”, Moses will reply, “I Was. I was in the position to save the Egyptians. I was going to be their deliverer. I was going to do mighty things for You, God. I really was.”

Have you ever found yourself floundering in a desert? Unsure of your next step? Feeling like a ‘has been’? There have been seasons in my life when my situation was so barren that I could do nothing but look back on brighter days and think, “then I could have done something great for God. Then my faith was deeper, my relationship with God stronger, my circumstances more blessed.” I used to be so heartbroken over what I believed were wasted years of ineffectiveness when now I understand God used some very painful circumstances to demonstrate His power to heal. They were not wasted days at all. They were days of faith, days of preparation, days of strength. His strength, not mine. He wanted me to know Him so when it was time to spread His fame, I would have an intimate knowledge of the Person of whom I spoke. It is hard to convince someone of God’s goodness when you have never actually tasted it. It would be like trying to describe the view from the top of Everest when you have never climbed it. He and I have climbed together and the summit is amazing, Dear Sister! He’ll take you too, if you let Him.

Let’s discuss what we’ve learned today.

Discussion Questions:
1. Have you ever found yourself ‘in faith’ yet bewildered or demoralized?

2. Do you consider yourself content? Would you describe it as Decidedly Content or Dreamily Content?

3. If you are not content, are there circumstances that keep you from this feeling?
4. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you looked back on a period of your Christian walk and believed a great opportunity passed you by?

5. Do you ever believe your faith was stronger in an earlier time in your Christianity and find yourself floundering now?

6. How can this season be one of great preparation instead of a period of “I Was”?


In our study together next week we will continue with this line of thinking as we meet Jehovah God. I can not wait to show you how God can make the great exchange of our “I Was” for his ‘I AM’