That’s the way of tokens. Chuck E Cheese, for instance, provides tokens for its games. So much more than the penny they resemble, these copper colored coins spell fun, excitement, and prizes to the eager child. A ring accompanied by the words, “Will you marry me?” proclaims undying love, a far more valuable treasure than the single band topped with a diamond or two. A tiny sea shell retrieved from the ocean’s edge bespeaks of grander adventures than its perch on a shelf portrays. Tokens are smaller than what they signify. They stand in the place of much larger conditions and loftier sensibilities. A token is what God offered when He asked Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt.
“Who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Moses asked in Exodus 3: 11.
God responded with “just a little something” to counter Moses’ self-doubt. From the burning bush, God replied, “Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.” God went straight to the heart of the matter, deflecting what was apparent and honing in on what was real.
Moses was afraid. Amid the God-encounter, he saw his ambiguous identity. Hebrew by birth, Egyptian by adoption, Midianite by marriage, he had no self-actualization to build upon, no accolades to prop him up, no accomplishments to pave the way for future success. Life had not turned out as he expected, and he’d put aside his righteous indignation, his sense of justice, and his ambitious dreams in favor of a life dictated by circumstances. Gone were the days of personal vision. Even the flock he shepherded belonged to his father-in-law. Yet, God had shown up unexpectedly and commissioned him with a mission. Being asked by God to fulfill what had been foretold to Abraham left his mouth dry and his heart pounding. How could he possibly complete such an undertaking now that he was a nobody? Self-doubt gathered around his fear. “Who does God think I am?” he must have wondered as he silently counted his failures, adding, “I don’t even know who I am.” So, he’d voiced the surface question balancing on his inner orb of fear. “Who am I…?” Accustomed to patriarchal name changes accompanying divine encounters, Moses likely expected a replacement of his Egyptian name with a God-given one that would grant him the identity that’d eluded him his whole life. Instead, God circumnavigates Moses’ question, and points out something far greater: Moses’ identity doesn’t matter. Only God’s identity does.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob promised to accompany Moses every step of the way. As proof, He offered Moses a token: the promise that Israel would worship on the same holy ground where he stood barefoot before the Almighty. Just as the burning bush was a small flame in comparison to the fire through which God would descend upon the mountain to speak to His people, God’s promise to Moses was a modest reminder of greater things ahead. The promise is always smaller than its fulfillment. Though intangible, it offers something to grasp until the tangible is manifest. It is the sparkling diamond signifying a future reality.
In light of the token, Moses asked God to reveal His identity. “God said unto Moses. I AM THAT I AM…this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” The promise was proof that Moses would lead Israel to a future that was full and free. It symbolized proof that the God of the burning bush would be ever-present. God’s name underscored this token. Two small words representing much greater. I AM. God’s presence and His name were all the authority Moses needed to accomplish the job he’d been asked to do. Personal identity was irrelevant because he had a promise rooted in the greater identity of God.
The same is true for us. Like appreciation in giftwrap, or dreams in a Chuck E Cheese cup, God’s tokens grace our lives, offering us reminders of the better, the bigger, the untold, the unseen. Fulfillment of His promises can be held in certainty because God’s word cannot be separated from His identity. Our present hope is anchored in His token, The Promise, which Ephesians 1 calls the earnest of our inheritance. We have the abiding Spirit of God, the encapsulation of God’s name and His presence, dwelling in us. Therefore, we have all that truly matters to fulfill this mission called life and all we need to prepare us for the future of uninhibited worship that lies ahead. We have glimpsed the glory in God’s gift, and it is enough.
Tip/Tidbit: Put aside awareness of personal limitations and trust the One whose presence and name confirm He is enough.