The Calling of Moses

M’s picture has the whole story in it: King, sister, baby, God as angel, burning bush, even the sheep.

On Sunday, August 31, 2014, I shared the story of the calling of Moses with the kids of the parish. They were invited to draw pictures as they listened. I loved their drawings so much that I decided to make a post of the story and the art, together. The text is my interpretation of Exodus chapters 1 – 3. The art is courtesy of the kids of St. Dunstan’s Church. You are welcome to adapt this lesson and use it! 

Rev. Miranda


Chapter 1: The Fearful King & the Brave Midwives

Draw a picture of a king. Is he wearing a crown? Does he look happy because he is a king and has everything he wants? Or does he look worried or afraid because he thinks other people might not like it that he’s in charge?…

Once upon a time, God’s people were living in Egypt as slaves. God had mercy on them so there were many of them, and they were strong in spite of the Egyptians’ mistreatment. Now, a new king arose in Egypt. The king of Egypt is called Pharaoh. This Pharaoh feared the Israelites, God’s people. He said, There are so many of them, more than us; what if they rise up and take the power from us?Or join our enemies in a war? Or run away and refuse to serve us anymore? We have to make life harder for them.


So the Egyptians made the Israelites work harder and harder, but God’s people were still OK, because God helped them. The Egyptians were more and more afraid. Then Pharaoh had a terrible, terrible idea. He thought, we have to kill some of them, and we have to kill them when they’re weak.  We have to kill the babies.

So the king called the midwives. A midwife is a woman who helps another woman have a baby. These were the midwives who helped the Israelite women have babies. They were Egyptians, and their names were Shifra and Pua. And Pharaoh told them, when you help an Israelite woman have a baby, if it’s a boy, kill him.

But the midwives didn’t want to do it. They honored life. So they wouldn’t kill the babies. When Pharaoh the King called them back to question them,  they said, The Hebrew women are so strong they give birth before we even get there! God blessed the midwives because they were brave and compassionate.


Chapter 2:  A Clever Big Sister

Now, draw a big sister. How does she look? Clever? Brave? Brave and also scared? If you want you can draw her baby brother too.

So Pharaoh the King was more and more afraid. And he told his people, When you see a Hebrew baby boy, throw him into the Nile river to drown!  (Why do you think just the boys? … )

The King and the Sister.
The King and the Sister.

Now, there was a Hebrew family, part of the people Israel, God’s people. They had a daughter, and then a few years later, they had a son. And they didn’t want their baby son to die. So they hid him. Think about what it would be like to hide a baby! Babies are small… but they’re also kind of loud!

The baby’s family managed to hide him for three months. But then he got too big and too loud. They knew that an Egyptian would see or hear him soon, and he would be killed. So his mama thought, How can I give him a chance, at least? I will take a basket and fill in all the tiny holes with tar, kind of like the stuff they make roads from, so it will float; and I’ll put the baby in it, and put it in the river, the Great River, the Nile. And maybe he will float downstream to a place where there is freedom, where somebody can rescue him and raise him in safety.

So that’s what she did. And then she walked away, because it was so hard and so sad. But the baby’s big sister didn’t walk away. Her name was Miriam. And she stayed and watched. She walked along the bank, as the basket floated along. She wanted to see what would happen to her baby brother.

Clever sister has an idea!
Clever sister has an idea!

And this is what happened: A little ways along, the basket got caught in some reeds. And some women were coming down to the bank of the river, to walk and look at its beauty. And OH! These were not just ANY women. This was the Princess of Egypt, King Pharaoh’s daughter, and her ladies-in-waiting. And the princess saw the basket, and sent her maid to get it for her.  She opened it, and there was the baby, crying because he was alone and unhappy. The Princess said, This must be one of the children of our slaves, the Israelites. He is handsome boy. I think I will keep him and raise him as my own, and make him a proper Egyptians.

And Miriam, the clever big sister, went up to the princess and said, Would you like me to find a Hebrew slave woman to take care of the baby for you? Give it milk and change its diapers and all that stuff And the Princess said, Yes, that would be great.

So Miriam ran away and got her own mother, the baby’s own mother, to come and take care of him for the princess. Wasn’t that clever!!! So Moses had a new home, and two mothers, a slave and a princess. And the princess named him Moses, from the Egyptian words that mean, I drew him out of the river.

Chapter 3: The Angry Young Man

Now I want you to draw an angry picture. It could have people or things in it,  or it could just be colors and shapes that look angry to you.


Moses had two mothers: a slave and a princess. An Israelite and an Egyptian. And Moses grew up being kind of this, and kind of that. He knew that his parents and his sister  and all his people were slaves, working hard, so poor. But he was growing up in the palace, among the Egyptians, with everything he wanted. It must have been confusing. It must have been hard. It must have made him angry.

One day when he was a young man, he was visiting his people, the Israelites, the slaves. And he saw how badly the Egyptians treated them. And he saw an Egyptian beating  one of his cousins, somebody from his family. And he got SO angry that he waited until nobody was looking,  and then he attacked the Egyptian,  and he killed him, and he buried his body in the sand of the desert.

He thought nobody knew. He thought he was safe.

The next day he was out with the Israelites again, and he saw two men fighting, and he tried them to stop them. And one of them said to him, What, are you going to kill me like you killed that Egyptian?

And Moses realized people knew! His secret wasn’t a secret, and he was in danger, because if Pharaoh found out Moses had killed an Egyptian, Moses would go to prison forever…  or maybe be killed himself. So what did he do? What would you do?

He ran away.  He ran and ran till he came to another country, a country called Midian.  And he sat down by a well, tired and thirsty. Some young women came to the well to get water for their sheep. They were seven sisters,  the daughters of Jethro, who was a leader in the town nearby. Some shepherds tried to boss the girls around and make trouble for them, but Moses made them stop, and helped the girls get water.

They went home and their father Jethro said, That was faster than usual; what happened?  Where were the shepherds that usually make trouble for you?  And the girls said, A young Egyptian helped us! And Jethro said, Well, where is he? Why didn’t you invite him home?

So they invited Moses to their home, and he stayed with them and became a son to Jethro, who had no sons.  And in time he married Jethro’s daughter Zipporah. And they had a son, named Gershom, which means Stranger or Traveller. For Moses said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

Chapter 4: The Burning Bush

The story of Moses has a LOT more chapters, but only one more that we’ll tell today. Who’s seen The Prince of Egypt? That tells more of the story…

Okay, the last chapter for today is about the Burning Bush. For this last one, I want you to draw a picture of God.

Moses was living with Jethro and his family in Midian. But back in Egypt,  the Israelites, God’s people, were still slaves and were still suffering. Things were terrible for them, and they cried out to God for help, and God heard them.

One day Moses was out in the country taking care of Jethro’s sheep. And he came to a mountain where he hadn’t been before. Now, it was a holy mountain, a place of God.

Moses was tending the sheep and he saw something strange: a bush on fire. Now, it wasn’t so strange to see a fire – it was a hot, dry land, and sometimes lightning would start a fire somewhere. But this bush was on fire,  but it wasn’t burning up. It just kept on burning. So Moses went closer to take a look.

“Moses, Moses, take off your sandals, blah blah blah, come on!”

And when he came closer, a Voice spoke to him from the fire. It said, Moses! Moses! Who do you think that voice was? Yes, it was the voice of God. How do you think Moses felt? …

Moses said, Here I am! And the Voice said, Moses, take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.  I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.

And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

And the Voice of God said,  My people are suffering in Egypt, and I have heard their cry and seen how the Egyptians mistreat them. I am going to save them from the Egyptians, and bring them into their own land,  a good land where they can live and be happy. So come, Moses: I am sending you to Pharaoh, the King, to bring my people out of Egypt.

And Moses said,  Who am I to go to Pharaoh? Who am I to lead my people? Who am I to bring them out of bondage in Egypt?

And God said, I will be with you. You will bring them out; and you will worship me with them, on this very mountain.

And Moses said to God, If the people Israel say to me, What God is this who has sent you to us? then what should I say? How should I name you, God?

And the Voice of God said, I am who I am. Tell your people,  I AM the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca. I AM the God who calls you into freedom. My name is I AM, and I have heard your cries,  and I AM going to bring you out of slavery and into a land of your own.

And Moses said, What if they don’t believe me? And the Voice of God said, Take that walking stick in your hand, and throw it on the ground.  And Moses did that.  And the stick turned into a snake!

And the Voice of God said,  Grab it by the tail. Moses didn’t want to do that very much!  But he did it – and the snake turned back into a walking stick.

And God said, You can do this, and many other wonders besides,to convince the people that you speak for Me, and that My power is with you. Now, take your walking stick, and set out  to lead your people to freedom.

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