as told by Popcorn.
My name's Popcorn and I want to tell you about a man who was a shepherd
I'll tell you a secret, I don't think he was very good at being a shepherd actually. Oh, he was kind, and stood for no nonsense, but he didn't have the same way about him that other shepherds had - those who had been doing it for a long time. And that's because there was a rumour that this man had in fact once been a prince in Egypt.
The king of Egypt was called a Pharaoh. There had been lots of Pharaohs in Egypt; some were good and some were bad. This one was very bad. He made all the Hebrew people work hard as his slaves. I think he was scared of them actually, because there were more and more of them being born, and he was worried in case they formed an army and tried to fight him. He couldn't stop women from having babies, but he did something even worse - he gave an order that all baby boys should be killed.
Anyway one day, a Hebrew woman gave birth to a baby boy. She was scared that the soldiers might come to kill him, so she hid him for 3 months. As the baby grew bigger it became more and more difficult to hide him - babies sometimes cry, you know. So she decided to make a basket, put the baby inside and put it on the river. The basket was like a little boat; it didn't sink and the baby was safe inside. The woman was still worried and didn't know what was going to happen, but she decided to pray and trust God to look after her son.
Well, the basket floated down the river and was discovered by a young lady who was actually Pharaoh's daughter! But she wasn't bad, like her dad, she was kind. The one thing she really wanted more than anything, was a baby, and now she had one. So she called this baby Moses, and brought him up as her own son.
Just think of that; the man who wanted all Hebrew boys killed, now had a Hebrew grandson!
So Moses grew up as an Egyptian prince. But somehow, he found out that he had been born a Hebrew and had a different Mum and dad - which was probably a bit of a shock for him.
Anyway, one day he saw an Egyptian fighting with a Hebrew. It might not have worried him before, but now he was on the side of the Hebrews, so he killed the Egyptian and then had to run away before he could be killed himself.
And that is how he found himself in the desert. He was taken in by a man called Jethro, looked after his sheep for him, later married one of his daughters and they had children of their own.
Then one day, while Moses was looking after these sheep, a rather strange thing happened. He saw a bush that he thought was on fire, but when he went over to have a look, and try to put the fire out, he found that it wasn't on fire at all. And that was when God spoke to him. The God who had kept him safe when he was a baby had a special job that he wanted Moses to do. It was special, but it was also very hard, because Moses was told to go back to Egypt. He was told to go to Pharaoh and tell him that God wanted him to set all his Hebrew slaves free! Well, Moses argued a little - yes, with God; I couldn't believe it either. But then he did just as he had been asked. It wasn't easy, Pharaoh wanted to keep all his slaves, so he sent Moses packing. But Moses kept asking, saying "this is what God wants", and eventually, Pharaoh had no choice.
So the whole group of Hebrew slaves left Egypt. There were thousands of them, together with their children and all their animals.
I'd like to be able to say that they were so pleased that they didn't have to be slaves any more, that they all gave thanks to God, believed in him and did everything that he told them. It wasn't quite that easy, and they had many adventures, problems and hard times before they really began to trust God.
But you know, God didn't give up with the Hebrew people while they were getting to know him and learning to trust him. He was with them in all the hard times.
When Prince Moses ran away from Egypt into the desert, he had to learn how to be a shepherd and care for his sheep, and the sheep had to learn to trust him. Maybe it was the same for the Hebrew people. Maybe they had to learn that God was with them and would lead them and care for them, just as he had for their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Many, many years later, these people, who were, by then, called Jews, would learn that God himself was their shepherd. But that's another story.
I wonder if you have ever thought that maybe God has a special job that he wants you to do for him?
I wonder if you know that he is with you, that he wants to help you in the bad times and wants you to get to know him?