But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
He answered, “I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you: when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain.”
Have you ever spoken the words, “Prove it”?
Has anyone ever demanded it of you?
What answers were acceptable in that situation? Usually, when someone challenges you to prove something, you have to produce evidence. History. Documentation. Indisputable logic.
According to Merriam-Webster, proof is “the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact” or maybe “something that induces certainty or establishes validity.” An older use of the word is “the quality or state of having been tested or tried.”
In Geometry, a proof takes you step by step from a given statement to a new discovery. In physical science, proof is the result of testing, a meaning that we still retain for things like alcoholic content, which is known only by the test it undergoes.
Always, always the word carries a meaning of demonstration through evidence.
Now let’s look at that passage in Exodus again. When I read this recently, those words from God jumped out at me, and I couldn’t quite square them. Moses questions whether he can do the task assigned to him, and God’s answer is “I’ll be with you. And I’ll prove it to you–you’ll come back here and worship me.”
Now, if anyone but God had said this, I’d frown and say, “Yeah, um, that’s not proof.” It contains no reasoning. No logic. No step-by-step deduction. At best, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy–of course Moses would bring them back to Horeb (aka Sinai) to worship, because God just said he would. Right?
Clearly I was missing something. And the question hounded me all day. Answers flitted into and out of my mind as I went about my tasks; first I’d think, “Oh, of course!” and then an hour later I’d go, “What was that again? I’ve lost it.” I’m still not sure what I thought I’d come up with at the time…but as I continued to contemplate the question over the next several days, something settled in my heart.
God swears only by Himself, because there is no greater thing in the universe to swear by. God will occasionally appease us when we ask for proof, yes, but a wet or dry fleece is a pretty silly little thing, right? When He’s telling us to do something, when He’s inviting us to walk beside Him into our destiny, to change the course of a nation, of history, or just of our own lives, He can offer visible, logical proof.
But sometimes…often…He offers something far better. Something far bigger. Something far less easily comprehended by our finite minds.
He offers Himself.
The proof, my friends, is the promise.
When God is speaking to Moses this first time, the ultimate proof He gives is the very promise it follows: I will be with you. I will lead you. And you’ll know it, because I’m going to lead you right back to where you started. You’ll know it because I’m not just calling my people to freedom. I’m calling them to worship.
That was the promise–that was the proof. When asked for evidence, the best, biggest, and deepest form of it is worship.
Maybe that makes little sense to us, but think about it in context. The Israelites had been living in Egypt for hundreds of years. We know from other Scripture passages that most Israelites worshiped the gods of Egypt, and if a few remembered the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it was an imperfect knowledge. Few, if any, understood what that meant. What He demanded. How to serve Him. It’s no coincidence that all the Laws handed down had the common theme of setting yourselves apart. No mixing. No blending. Purity must saturate their lives, inside and out. Necessary instruction because it WASN’T how they were living.
Hundreds of thousands of people serving Egypt, its gods, and themselves…hundreds of thousands of people that had no knowledge or respect of Moses…hundreds of thousands of people that ached for freedom as much as they feared it.
To those people, through that unknown man, God promised something unheard of. You will all worship me here, in one place. How? Because I am with you.
Gods weren’t known for walking by humanity’s side in the ancient days. Gods were capricious. Demanding. Fickle. Cruel. Gods promised success to those who worshipped them right without knowing the rules.
The Lord showed Himself to be different. He promised worship through the rules because He loves us and is moved by our cries.
This isn’t geometric. It isn’t logical. It isn’t evidentiary.
It’s something better. It’s God coming down. Igniting a fire without burning us up. Calling out to us where we least expect Him, when we’re just going about our work. Charging us with a task we know we can’t do, and promising that we will do it, because He is with us. And we’ll know it’s true, because He’ll meet us there.
His proof isn’t just what has come before–it’s what will come when we obey.
His proof is His promise. And we learn it only by obeying the call.