Archive for the ‘Exodus’ Category

Song for the Savior

Posted: November 15, 2018 in Exodus, Uncategorized

Exodus 15, “Song for the Savior”

How wonderful it is to sing! There are certain emotions captured by music that cannot be expressed in other ways. Even reading the lyrics to songs falls short of those same words expressed through singing. Sometimes it’s full-throated excitement – other times, it’s soft tenderness – whatever song is in one’s heart, to sing it is to give voice to the emotion behind it. And it’s not dependent on skill – even those of us without formal training in voice know the joys of singing (even if it’s only in the shower!).

Many examples could be pulled from the radio or everyday life, but surely the best examples of song are found in the Bible. Be it songs of praise or laments of mourning, the Biblical writers knew the power of music. So much so, that we have at least three full songbooks in the Bible itself: Psalms, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations. Yet we don’t have to wait until the days of David to find a song in Scripture; the very first (recorded) song in the Bible is found in Exodus 15, written by none other than Moses himself.

Although we cannot know the tune until we get to heaven, we can rejoice with Israel as they celebrated their freedom from slavery, and God’s total victory over Pharaoh & the Egyptian army. And a celebration it was! It had taken 400 years to get to this point, what God had done was nothing less than miraculous.

The Hebrew people had basically given up hope by the time of Moses’ arrival. First, they had been forced into slavery, only later to experience mass persecution with the murder of Hebrew newborn boys. It was in the midst of all of this that God gave Moses, who (after his own experiences as both Egyptian royalty and a Hebrew fugitive) came with the power and message of God commanding Pharaoh to let the people go. From this came nine supernatural plagues, each growing in intensity & demonstrating a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. Egypt was being systematically dismantled and defeated by YHWH God (the I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), though Pharaoh stubbornly hardened his heart against the Lord. Finally, God personally passed through the land in the 10th plague, passing over the homes covered with the blood of faith-filled sacrifice, and killing the firstborn in all of the other homes in the land. At this point, Pharaoh acknowledged his defeat & released the Hebrews.

That was a banner day among the children of Israel – something to be remembered for all time…but it wasn’t over. After the Hebrews left, Pharaoh soon regretted his decision and gathered his army in hot pursuit. At the edge of some branch of what was known as the Red Sea (Yam Suph), Israel found themselves trapped: the waters before them & Egypt behind them. That’s when God acted in His power once again, parting the waters. The Hebrews walked across on dry land while the Egyptians were drowned as the walls of water collapsed upon them. If God had purchased the Hebrews’ freedom the night of Passover, that freedom was confirmed at the Red Sea. His people were truly delivered!

So what now? Now it was time for celebration – it was time for song! The enemies of Israel had been soundly defeated, and their years of slavery were over. Moses and the rest could (and did) sing their praises to God for His deliverance.

Yet there was more to it. Israel not only needed deliverance from Egypt; they needed deliverance from themselves! Their tendency towards unbelief is seen immediately after God’s greatest victory over their enemies, and it foreshadows many more times of faithlessness to come. Even so, God was gracious, providing for them everything they needed to trust Him & rest in His deliverance. When they heard God and obeyed Him, they could praise Him for salvation.

It is little different with us. Likewise, we need deliverance from the slavery of sin and we also need to be saved from ourselves and our own tendencies towards unbelief & faithlessness. What can we do? Rest in the work of our Deliverer! Jesus is our Mighty Savior, and when we hear Him & heed Him, it frees us to give Him our praise!

Exodus 15

  • Moses’ song (1-19) – Sing to the Lord!

1 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: “I will sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!

  1. We’re not told how much time elapsed between the Red Sea and Moses’ song, though surely it took some time to compose and teach to the nation of Israel. Even it wasn’t immediate, it was entirely appropriate. They had just been totally & finally delivered from Egyptian slavery, and the right response to God’s deliverance is praise! Objection: “What about all of the dead soldiers, chariot horses, and firstborn children in Egypt? What happened was massive death – how could that be praiseworthy?” Death isn’t praiseworthy; victory is. We need to be careful not to look at this through 21st century eyes. In 1440BC, life was much different – warfare was much different. When enemy armies attacked, they attacked with the full intent of destroying every living thing in their ways. The Hebrew women & children were in just as much danger of death as the Hebrew men were, if the Egyptians had reached them on the seabed floor. What God did was simply act as the single Warrior on Israel’s behalf, and what He did was more than enough. Not one of the 2 million+ people among the party of Israel died at the Red Sea – a truly amazing accomplishment when one considers the human odds they faced. So yes, God was worthy of praise! All those who lived had much reason to praise God! YHWH (I AM) had demonstrated His amazing power, overthrowing the enemy by tossing them into the sea. The most powerful of military weaponry at the time (Egyptian chariots) were no match for Almighty God; He is infinitely more powerful than any enemy we face.
    1. He still is! There is nothing we can endure that our God cannot take us through. There is no trial from which He cannot save – there is no sin He cannot forgive. Whatever it is to which we have been enslaved, our God can overcome! Horses & riders are thrown into the sea – addictions are destroyed – guilt is washed away – fits of rage melt into nothingness. How so? By the power of our God!
    2. So yes, we sing praises! There is a reason our worship services begin with song. Music is not the only way to worship God, but it is a wonderful way to worship Him. It is effective & powerful, and prepares our hearts to hear His word and to dwell on Him more richly. We sing praises to our Deliverer in order that we can know more of His deliverance.
  2. How did Moses begin? He sang of the exaltation of the Lord: “He has triumphed gloriously.” The Hebrew construction actually repeats the same word for “triumph/exaltation” (inf abs, גָּאָה) as a way of adding intended emphasis. Moses basically declared that God had “risen-risen” – He rose to vast new heights. YHWH is lifted high – He has risen up in triumph!
    1. When we praise God, we exalt His name. We lift up His reputation, for God is already lifted on high. We cannot add to His glory, but we add to the chorus that sings of it!

2 The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

  1. Who is YHWH? Many things!
    1. My strength”: Our might is found in Him. Any power available to us over the enemy is power that is given us by God. We have no hope apart from Jesus, but through Jesus and the Holy Spirit we have all the power we could ever need!
    2. My “song”: God is our praise, and our reason for singing. He is our joy, our grand desire. He is our Creator, so our hearts are complete when we are reconciled to Him through Jesus, giving glory to His name. There is a reason worship endures forever in heaven: in Jesus, we always have reason to sing!
    3. My salvation”: This is literally who Jesus is, as this is His name. יְשׁוּעָה = Joshua = Jesus. When we receive Jesus as our Lord & Savior, we receive the salvation of God that is inherent in Him. Jesus is our hope of glory, for Jesus saves!
    4. My God”: There is none else we worship apart from the Creator God, YHWH / I AM of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. No job can take His place, no person (parent, friend, spouse, child), no hobby or passion. He alone is our God and we serve no one else but Him.
    5. My father’s God”: For Israel, this hearkened back to the patriarchs as they remembered they served the God of Abraham, and were included in the promises that God made to Abraham. They had relationship with God because of the covenant & relationship their forefathers had with God. For us, this tells us we serve the God of the Bible. You may be the first born-again Christian in your family tree, but if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you are a child of Abraham (Gal 3:7). You have been brought into the inheritance of Jesus, becoming His joint-heir (Rom 8:17). You are set apart from the rest of the world because of the God you serve.
  2. Notice the use of 1st person singular: “my” (4x). Because Moses taught this song to Israel, we might expect the 1st person plural “we,” but that’s not what is written. Why? Perhaps to emphasize the need for personal praise. Corporate (group) praise is important, but it is meaningless without a personal relationship with Almighty God. Yes, the Hebrews were to worship God together as a nation, and He served as their King, but they still needed personal individual faith in Him.
    1. So do we! It’s good to worship in & around the church, but it isn’t enough to worship only because of the church. You aren’t even part of the church without personal individual faith in Christ Jesus.

3 The LORD is a man of war; The LORD is His name.

  1. YHWH is a warrior! This was seen powerfully during Passover and the Red Sea (which will be described again in a moment). God rose up as a warrior on behalf of His people, and vanquished the enemy. Objection: Isn’t God a God of love & peace? Yes, but that doesn’t mean He is not also a “man of war.” God is indeed love (1 Jn 4:8), and Paul repeatedly describes God as the “God of peace” (Rom 15:33, 16:20, Phil 4:9, etc.) – but that is not mutually exclusive from God waging war on His enemies. The Bible often shows God going to war (sometimes against His own people! e., the Babylonian conquest & captivity), and when He does, He does so in an overwhelming fashion. But that does not mean He does not love nor grant peace. God is all of these things, for this is what He must be. Sin requires an answer of wrath and judgment, while God still gives grace to the humble and those brokenhearted over their sin.
    1. Sometimes people get a false idea of God, as if there is a God of the Old Testament & a God of the New Testament. They can’t see how God can both express His wrath and pour out His love. Yet the Bible shows God loving His people in the Old Testament (treating Abraham & Moses as friends, graciously & repeatedly appealing to His rebellious people to repent, etc.), and it also shows God pouring out His wrath in the New Testament (the book of Revelation). These attributes of God do not cancel out one another. Just like we can love our family & desire judgment on our enemies, so does God – to the infinite degree!
    2. This is good news! To what extent will God judge sin? To the utmost! To what degree will God defeat the devil? Infinite, throughout eternity! We want God to judge sin; we just don’t want God to judge sin in us. Thankfully, He has delivered us from that through Jesus!

4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. 5 The depths have covered them; They sank to the bottom like a stone.

  1. Repeated mention of the Red Sea. It will be described in various ways throughout the song. … Figurative descriptions of literal event. The Egyptians were not literal stones, but they were literally drowned. Be careful not to write off every description of the Red Sea as mere symbolism. If there’s one thing certain about the Bible’s description of God’s victory over the Egyptians, it is that they were drowned between two walls of water that miraculously stood upright. The language describing it may often be poetic (though not always!), but the event it repeatedly referred to as historical and literal.
  2. Some events are cornerstone, foundational events. For the Hebrews, it was the Red Sea, which is why it is repeated so often through this song & in future songs in the Bible. For us, it is the cross. That is when life changed, where our relationship with our Creator God and our eternal futures were forever altered. It’s no wonder we sing of it so often!
    1. Individually for us, it was the moment we received Jesus as Savior and Lord. Do you remember the time? Even if you don’t remember the exact calendar date, think back to the time, and relive it in your mind. Remember that joy of your first taste of forgiveness – the time when you knew beyond doubt that Jesus is alive & He is God, your God. And then praise God! 

6 “Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces. 7 And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; It consumed them like stubble. 8 And with the blast of Your nostrils The waters were gathered together; The floods stood upright like a heap; The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.

  1. The song continues on in these themes of praising God’s character & power. That God is “glorious” = majestic, noble. Of His “excellence,” it speaks of exaltation & majesty. If earlier, Moses described God as the Warrior, he now describes God as the Noble King. Of course, kings of the day were warriors, as they personally led their armies to battle. At the Red Sea, YHWH the King led His army away from battle (as He led Israel through the sea), but He Himself still went to war and won it in a singular moment. God’s power & wrath is overwhelming! All He needed to do was breathe, and the waters served as His weapon of mass destruction.
  2. Once again, the Red Sea is described. The waters “congealed” as if they were a wall. Many ways of describing the same miraculous event.

9 The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, My hand shall destroy them.’ 10 You blew with Your wind, The sea covered them; They sank like lead in the mighty waters.

  1. This was the doomed plan of Pharaoh (14:23). After everything he and the Egyptians endured during the 9 plagues + Passover, Pharaoh actually believed he could win! How foolish, yet how typical! This is what happens when people consciously reject God. They lie to themselves despite the evidence, and they pay a terrible price.
  2. Ultimately, Pharaoh was destroyed by the “wind” of God, as the waters gathered up with the great wind & crashed down upon the Egyptian army. Interestingly, this could also be translated as the “spirit” of God. (רוּחַ) Exodus 14:21 describes a “strong east wind” that blew all night as the waters stood on end, but there’s no doubt the Lord was in the wind all night. It was not the wind nor the waters that defeated Pharaoh; it was Almighty God!

11 “Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?

  1. Who is like YHWH, worthy to be feared? Who can do the glorious wonders God does? He alone!
    1. What is your response to these things? What is your response to Him? Praise Him – worship Him – sing Him your songs of deliverance!
  2. Question: are there any other gods, but God? Then why does Moses sing of them? It’s an acknowledgment of the cultural idea. People do worship other gods, but it doesn’t mean that those other gods exist. Some people worship demons posing as gods, and others worship things or people that they have elevated to the position of gods. Even so, there is only one God, and He alone is to be praised.

12 You stretched out Your right hand; The earth swallowed them. 13 You in Your mercy have led forth The people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength To Your holy habitation.

  1. This is all about the work of God. God’s people were saved by God’s right hand of power. God’s mercy (חֶ֫סֶד) given to God’s redeemed. Whereas the power of God’s wrath was shown against the Egyptians, the power of God’s love was shown towards Israel. Both are infinite in scope as ultimate deliverance was provided away from sin as God brought His beloved people closer to Himself.
    1. Likewise with the cross! There we see the infinite power of God: total judgment upon sin & total grace towards the redeemed believer.
  2. Where is God’s “holy habitation”? Wherever God is! Part of the mercy of God included Him leading His people with His personal presence as He dwelt among them.
    1. Possibly a prophetic word anticipating the future temple…
  3. This kind of display of power is impossible to keep quiet…and indeed, it should be shouted from the rooftops. (Which is part of the reason for the song!) But it would also spread to other nations, and they would have their own reaction to the wondrous works of God. Verse 14…

14 “The people will hear and be afraid; Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia. 15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; The mighty men of Moab, Trembling will take hold of them; All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.

  1. The Gentiles would be in anguish and terror at the news of what God did to Egypt. People who had dwelt in their own lands for centuries would soon fear what God would do to them. After all, if God destroyed the superpower of Egypt without breaking a sweat, how much more would He do to the people of Canaan?
  2. How badly were they terrified? Even 40 years later, after a generation of Hebrews had died in the wilderness, the people of Canaan still feared what God would do to them at Jericho. (Josh 2:10) Sadly, the Gentiles had a greater fear & respect of the power of God than did the Hebrews!

16 Fear and dread will fall on them; By the greatness of Your arm They will be as still as a stone, Till Your people pass over, O LORD, Till the people pass over Whom You have purchased.

  1. The Canaanites feared God’s people among them, like Egypt feared God’s angel passing through their land.
  2. Reminder that the people were “purchased” – they were bought with a price.

17 You will bring them in and plant them In the mountain of Your inheritance, In the place, O LORD, which You have made For Your own dwelling, The sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands have established.

  1. Looking forward to the promised possession. Moses trusted the promises of God, knowing that God would grant Israel their homeland. This was the inheritance promised to Abraham, and Moses had no doubt that God would grant it. 
  2. Not only was there a deliverance from slavery, but there was a deliverance to a home. The salvation promised and provided by God was total! So is ours. Too often we tend to think of salvation as simply forgiveness from our sins of the past. If that were all there was to it, it would be enough & we could still give God our everlasting praise. But it’s not…there is so much more! We were delivered from sin & death, and we are delivered to a relationship with God Almighty through Christ Jesus. We are forgiven of the past, but we also have blessing in the present & promised life in future eternity. We know God in the now and we live in relationship with Him through Jesus, being empowered by His Spirit. That is total deliverance!

18 “The LORD shall reign forever and ever.”

  1. Amen! YHWH is always king! For how long will Jesus reign? Forever & ever & ever…just like Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus declares!

19 For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them. But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

  1. Summary / recap.
  • Miriam’s song (20-21) – Sing to the Lord some more!

20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. 21 And Miriam answered them: “Sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!”

  1. Remember Miriam’s background: she was the one who followed Moses in his floating cradle as God took him down the river to the house of Pharaoh’s daughter. Miriam was the one who suggested that the baby receive a Hebrew nursemaid, and who went to go fetch her mother. This is the first we’ve heard of her since Moses’ infancy, but she played an essential role in his life & in the deliverance of Israel. If it hadn’t been for Miriam, the rest of the nation might never have heard of Moses or Aaron. 
  2. Considering that Moses was 80 years old by this point, Miriam was potentially 90. What was this 90-year old woman doing? Singing & dancing her praise! She took up an ancient tambourine (timbrel = hand drum with pieces of metal for ringing) and began leading worship and a dance for the Israelite women. She sang the song her youngest brother taught the nation, using the first few lines as a refrain.
  3. In the New Testament, we don’t see dance used in worship, but in the two most famous Old Testament instances (Miriam & David), it was done to express wholehearted worship. Obviously we are to worship God decently & in order, but we are to worship Him with everything we have. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength. Many times that includes song…sometimes, it might even include a dance!

What a song! What a time of amazing national praise! The Egyptians had been defeated, and Israel had seen the power of God firsthand. God had delivered them from centuries of slavery, and more than that, God was with them in the present (the pillar of cloud/fire), and God was personally leading them to a future (the promised land). All of that should have inspired solid faith & even more praise. Yet that wasn’t exactly the case…

  • Marah’s testing (22-27) – Submit to the Lord!

22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.

  1. Don’t miss the “three days” of travel. How long did Moses originally ask of Pharaoh for the children of Israel to travel? Three days. (Exo 5:3) The nation travelled through the wilderness for the time they expected to travel, and they arrived at the place they (probably) expected to arrive. But that’s when their expectations fell. It was supposed to be a place of worship, but it was a place devoid of water. Remember that the Hebrews hadn’t had time to do much packing, but had to leave Egypt in haste. No doubt they had carried some water with them on the road, but they would need to replenish their supplies along the way. Now they went to where God had told them to go (He was personally leading them, remember), and they ended up at a place without water. To the Hebrews, something wasn’t adding up!
  2. The little water they found, was no good…

23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

  1. There is a repeated play on words re: “bitter.” Marah (מָרָה) = “bitter,” and the description of the water’s bitterness was “bitters” (מָרִ֖ים). e., “They came to Bitter and they could not drink the waters of Bitter, for they were bitter, therefore the name of it was called Bitter.” 
  2. As bad as this was, what was worse was the attitude of the people. They were as bitter as the water! Upset at what they found, they complained/murmured against Moses. Of course, it wasn’t Moses’ fault; they had all followed the presence of the Lord. In reality, when the people complained against Moses, they complained against God.
    1. Consider for a moment what happened: God had just gotten done with 9 supernatural plagues against Egypt, the 10th plague of Passover, and the parting of the Red Sea. The people had just memorized and sung a song of incredible praise to God for all of His works of power. They even had the visible presence of God right in front of them…and they still As if God hadn’t known what it was they would face, or God was somehow unable to provide for them in their distress. How quickly they forgot, and how lacking was their faith!
    2. Before we point the finger, we need to look to ourselves, for we do the same thing. How much more has God provided for us than for the Hebrews? We have something far better than freedom from Egyptian slavery; we have freedom from sin & death because of Jesus Christ! Better than the visible presence of God in front of us is the spiritual presence of God within us! (We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.) Yet what is it we so often do at our first sign of difficulty? We start murmuring and complaining against God. “Why did You do this to me? Why did You let me get to this point? Why didn’t You warn me? What am I going to do?” (As if we did anything to get us to a place of blessing at all!) Christian, stop complaining & start trusting! Stop walking in unbelief & start walking in faith. If God led you to this point, then God will get you through. He knows what it is you face, and He knows what it is you will yet face. Trust that He knows what He’s doing!
  3. Moses had a far better reaction. Though the Hebrews complained against him, Moses took his complaint to the Lord and asked for help…

25 So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. …

  1. God had a solution! There was a tree provided by the Lord, and that was all that was required to make the waters “sweet” (drinkable/potable). Note: the tree was always there; it just had to be shown to Moses by the Lord. When the children of Israel arrived in that place, God had His provision waiting for them…they simply needed to ask Him what it was and trust Him to provide it.
  2. Interestingly, the word for “showed” (יָרָה) is related to the word for “law” (torah; תּוֹרָה). The law of God is what shows us God’s will and instruction for our lives. That may have been on Moses’ mind as he wrote about the follow-up to the tree…

… There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.”

  1. Although the word “torah” is not used, a law was certainly given that day. The waters of Marah were a learning opportunity for God’s people, and that was where God “tested” them. It was a proving ground. Again, they had just come from a demonstration of God’s obvious deliverance. They had trusted God then; would they trust Him now? The Hebrews had heeded God’s word in regards to Passover, and followed His instructions when it came time to go forward through the Red Sea. How would they respond in the future? Would they continue to listen, or would they fall back into unbelief?
  2. The issue is still one of deliverance/salvation. Originally, the Hebrews needed deliverance from Egypt; now they needed deliverance from themselves. Slavery was the obvious enemy; their own tendency to unbelief and complaint was more subtle. Yet that was what they would face far more often! The Israelites needed just as much grace from God on this point as they did on the first one.
  3. This was the purpose of the statute: deliverance. How would they be saved from themselves? By heeding the word of God. Notice this was a conditional law. The condition: obey God; the result: live in safety. If the Hebrews paid attention to God & did what He commanded them, then they would be free from the various plagues on the Egyptians. Don’t misunderstand – this wasn’t a specific threat of bloody water, lice, boils, frogs, etc.; it was a warning of judgment. All of the plagues sent against Egypt were God’s judgments against Egypt due to their continued rebellion against Him. That was the warning for Israel. If they grumbled & complained against God (i.e., if they hardened their hearts against God and walked in unbelief and rebellion), then they would likewise face the judgment and discipline of God. (Which they did, historically speaking!) How would they be delivered from judgment? By walking in faith. They would need to hear God’s word, and heed it.
    1. Could it be done? Not without God’s power and grace! God’s standard is perfection, and we fall short of perfection every single day. The Hebrews would fall short time & time again…which is one of the reasons they would later receive the various laws of sacrifice, so that they could look forward in faith to the one all-sufficient sacrifice that would be made by Jesus.
    2. Where do we find deliverance from our own tendencies to sin? In Christ! There is comfort in His word, guidance in His instruction, and grace in His love & forgiveness. But there’s only one way to experience it: walking in faith. Without Christians clinging to Christ, how does anyone receive forgiveness and cleansing? Without holding fast to His promises, how do we receive comfort? We’ve got to hold to the word of God by faith, heeding it for what it says…and we need the grace of God to do even that!

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.

  1. Earlier, the people had doubted God and failed. God had a plan all along regarding their provision; they just needed to trust Him to take them to it.

Conclusion:

Praise God for His deliverance! Praise God for His provision! We need freedom from sin, and we need deliverance from our own bodies of death with our own sinful tendencies…and God gives it! Christ Jesus is our grand deliverer, and He does for us what we could never do on our own: grant us freedom. The power He demonstrated at the cross & resurrection forever proves His victory over our greatest enemies (sin & death), but it also shows us what is available to us on a daily basis.

Sometimes that’s the harder battle, is it not? When God passed through Egypt in the Passover, the people had a firm command to trust God and rest in His work. When God parted the Red Sea, it no doubt amazed the people & caused them to fear, but it was also obvious that they were to walk through it & experience God’s deliverance from their enemies. It was when Egypt was gone & they were in the wilderness that Israel struggled. It was then that they slipped so easily into doubt and unbelief. It was a sneakier enemy, but one just as dangerous.

Jesus delivers us not only from the obvious enemies of sin & death, but from the sneakier, subtler enemy of our own fleshly temptations. Trust Him! Hear His word, heed it in obedience, and rest in His provision and grace. And when you do, sing! Sing out His praise, because He is worthy to receive it! He is the warrior – the conquering King – and He is our God, our Salvation. Praise Him!

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Exodus 9-10, “The Danger of a Hardened Heart”

It’s been often said that the first rule to getting out of a hole is to stop digging. If you find yourself in trouble, stop doing what it is that caused you to get into trouble in the first place: turn the car in the opposite direction, stop spending money on wasteful things, stop engaging in harmful habits, etc. Just stop, and then figure out what comes next. 

The problem is, we don’t always want to stop. At a certain point, our pride kicks in and we think we can just push through. That might work on occasions (such as sudden pain during a race), but there are almost always consequences that follow (physical damage and prolonged healing time). Other times, it doesn’t work at all, and it can lead to dire results. (Ignore chest pain, and you might end up dead of a heart attack!)

Such was the case with Pharaoh. He got himself into a bad situation, a pretty deep hole – but instead of stopping what he was doing, he kept digging. At any moment he could have humbled himself and repented towards God; instead he doubled down on his sin and continued to lead himself and his nation to destruction.

Remember the context: After 400 years of slavery, God raised up Moses as a deliverer to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, returning them to the homeland promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Despite having the word of God given to him, and miracles of God shown to him, the Pharaoh despised Moses and the Lord God. Pharaoh not only refused to recognize YHWH as God, but he also refused to allow the people of YHWH to leave Egypt.

That’s when the plagues began. First there was the water of the Nile river turning to blood (becoming blood no matter if it was in the river, or in buckets on land). Then there were frogs – so many that they infested the ovens and beds of the people. This was followed by a massive outbreak of lice/gnats, as if the sand of the desert had come to life – and followed again by swarms of nasty, biting flies (though only on the people of Egypt; the Hebrews were spared). As time went on, the severity of each of the plagues increased, and through each event, Pharaoh hardened his heart exactly as God said that he would (7:3).

Pharaoh’s hardened heart would continue to get him into trouble. God had been merciful with all of the many opportunities He gave to Pharaoh to repent, but Pharaoh simply refused to do it. Pharaoh’s heart was filled with pride, being convinced he could somehow outlast the infinite God. It can’t be done! Things would get far worse for Pharaoh before he finally learned his lesson.

Don’t be too proud to stop before God! The more you resist God, the harder your heart becomes, and the more you want to resist God…all the while piling up more judgment upon yourself. All it takes is one single lasting moment of repentant faith…but that comes through brokenness; not pride. Hardened hearts are proud hearts, and pride kills.

Exodus 9

  • Plague #5: Animals diseased (9:1-7)

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them, 3 behold, the hand of the LORD will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence.

  1. Starts with the same pattern as has been seen with the other plagues: God’s name, God’s command, and God’s warning.
  2. God’s name: YHWH Elohim of the Hebrews. Remember that the Egyptians worshipped a large pantheon of false gods, Pharaoh himself being considered divine. For Moses to give a message in the name of God, Moses needed to be very specific as to which God (who is the only God). He is “I AM, Creator God of heaven and earth, the God who chose the descendants of Abraham as His own people.” With that kind of name, there could be no mistake!
    1. In our own culture, it is becoming increasingly important that we are specific about the God we serve. The word “god” is used so generically that it can refer to any higher being of any person’s imagination (if not the person himself!). We too, can (and should) use how God has revealed Himself to us to identify Him to others. How did He reveal Himself to us? Through the person of Jesus Christ! Jesus is the image of God, the firstborn of all creation (Col 1:15) – He is the Word of God (Jn 1:1) – the one who has seen Jesus as seen the Father (Jn 14:9). When you witness, be specific regarding of Whom you witness!
  3. God’s command: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” From the very beginning words to Pharaoh, this is the repeated command: the Hebrews were to be released to serve & worship God. The Hebrews did not belong to Pharaoh; they belonged to YHWH. They were His people, and He had a purpose for them.
    1. Just as we are His people today, and He has a purpose for us: to make disciples of all the nations, and to declare the praises of God!
  4. God’s warning: “if you refuse…” Anytime that Moses announced a plague to Pharaoh (which wasn’t every time), God always gave Pharaoh the opportunity to obey. None of the plagues had to come – any one (or all!) of them could have been avoided if Pharaoh had heeded the command of God. He did not, so there were consequences. It was a classic if/then statement: “Free the people, but if not, face the judgment.” Sadly, Pharaoh consistently chose to face the judgment.
    1. So do far too many people today! They have the opportunity to repent; they just don’t take it. (Don’t miss your opportunity!)
  5. The actual plague: pestilence/disease upon the livestock animals. Some have suggested that it was an outbreak of anthrax due to all of the dead decaying frogs, lice, and swarms of flies. Speculation is rather futile, and it takes away from the obvious and purposeful supernatural aspect of the plague. The fact is that this plague was sent by God, upon the livestock, and the humans were unaffected. If this were a natural (though dangerous) epidemic, why weren’t the people infected – why did only the animals die? Natural explanations fall short. This was undoubtedly a work of God.
    1. BTW: Why the animals? Why should all of the livestock of Egypt die due to the sin of Pharaoh? This is just part of the cruelty of sin. Sin always has unintended consequences…always. There’s no such thing as a “victimless” sin. What one person does always ripples out to someone else. In this case, the innocent animals of Egypt bore the brunt of the punishment due to Pharaoh. Obviously, it was better that the livestock be diseased than the people, but they were still innocent victims of Pharaoh’s sin.

4 And the LORD will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.” ’ ”

  1. As with the swarms of biting flies, there would be a distinction between the Hebrew & Egyptian livestock. This is not the case every time, but often God determined to show mercy to His people, while the fateful judgment fell upon Egypt. It would be one more factor declaring that the judgment was a supernatural work of God; not a simple (albeit devastating) natural disaster.
  2. Does God always shelter us from the judgment He pours out on the nations? Sometimes He does, but many times He does not. (Just ask born-again Christians living in persecuted lands today.) Even during the Great Tribulation although the church will be raptured away from the terrible judgments to come on the earth, there will still be men & women coming to faith during that time, and they will need to endure. Even so, does God “make a difference” between us and the rest of the world? Absolutely, yes! We are His children – we are indwelled by the Spirit – we are His ambassadors to the world. He always makes a distinction between us and the world!

5 Then the LORD appointed a set time, saying, “Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land.” 6 So the LORD did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died.

  1. Note: Even in this proclamation of judgment, God gave Pharaoh a window of opportunity to repent. Pharaoh had the time from the announcement of Moses & Aaron until the next day to make a decision. “Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing.” At any time during those hours, Pharaoh could have humbled himself and come to his senses. Sadly, he didn’t do it. He wasted his opportunity to be saved. (Don’t waste yours!)
  2. Just as God warned, there was a massive death-toll of animals the next day. Some have criticized the statement that “all the livestock of Egypt died,” considering that animals are seen in Egypt during the later plagues. There are explanations for the other animals (as we’ll see); the bigger problem is why so many people are willing to water down the word of God at the first potential difficulty. When there is a question, always give the Bible the benefit of the doubt. What God inspired to be written is not going to be mistaken. It might be misinterpreted, misapplied, etc., but it will never be incorrect. God, being God, is fully capable of diseasing every livestock animal among the ancient Egyptians, while keeping the Hebrew livestock alive and healthy. Unless there is clear reason to believe otherwise, we should believe the Bible at its word.

7 Then Pharaoh sent, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go.

  1. Pharaoh hardened his heart. He had heard the warning, and he saw the results, and it meant nothing to him. Although God clearly worked in his midst, Pharaoh was unwilling to humble himself & instead continued to harden his heart, just as he had done many times before.
  2. What does it mean to have a hard heart? It is to have a “heavy” heart. Like a stone, the hard heart sinks in selfishness, stubbornness, and sin. The word used here is the same root that in other grammatical contexts & constructions is sometimes used for “chabod,” or the weighty honor & glory of God. What’s the difference between hard stubbornness and weighty honor? It’s whether one serves oneself or serves the Living God!
    1. Serve the Lord! Get your eyes off of yourself & onto the Risen Christ Jesus! Stop resisting the conviction of the Holy Spirit in your life – stop hardening your own heart. Make the choice to humble yourself & repent!
  • Plague #6: Boils (9:8-12)

8 So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.”

  1. Notice there was no warning with this plague. This was the 3rd plague in the 2nd cycle, and every 3rd plague was a judgment. God simply gave instructions to Moses, and Moses acted in obedience.
  2. This particular judgment: boils. It may have been similar to what was experienced by Job in his suffering. Job 2:7–8, “(7) So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (8) And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.” Imagine being covered in burning blisters all over your body, like bad reactions from poison ivy that bubble up into large boils. It would have been awful for everyone who experienced it!
    1. FYI, there is also a potential parallel to the 1st bowl judgment of Revelation, the loathsome sores (Rev 16:2). What was seen and experienced in Egypt may one day be experienced again on a world-wide scale. 
  3. Note: They were to appear on “man and beast.” Question: if all of the Egyptian livestock died in the 5th plague, where did the animals come from in the 6th plague? There are varying explanations: (1) “All” the Egyptian livestock might refer to all in a certain geographic area in Egypt, or, more likely (2) The Egyptians acquired more livestock as replacements. Perhaps they purchased them from Cush/Ethiopia, or perhaps they simply took some of the Hebrew livestock for themselves. Considering that animal livestock is crucial for an agricultural economy to survive, it seems unlikely that they would have gone too long without finding some source of animals for themselves.
    1. The better question isn’t where the animals came from; it’s why the Egyptians didn’t sooner rise up to Pharaoh demanding his repentance towards God! Pharaoh may have been the absolute ruler in Egypt, worshipped as a god by his people, but every nation has a breaking point. The Egyptians waited an absurdly long time before trying to convince Pharaoh to repent.

10 Then they took ashes from the furnace and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses scattered them toward heaven. And they caused boils that break out in sores on man and beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians.

  1. Why the ashes? God didn’t “need” ashes for the miracle; this was a symbol, and a step of faith for Moses. Some have speculated that the ashes came from one of the furnaces used to bake the bricks. If so, it would have been a powerful symbol of the abusive slavery of the Hebrews by the Egyptians being turned against them.
  2. Interestingly, no distinction between Hebrew and Egyptian is listed. Perhaps there is an implied distinction in verse 11 regarding the boils being on “the magicians and on all the Egyptians.” (No Hebrews mentioned.) That the magicians were affected was significant. Earlier, they seemed to duplicate (to a lesser extent) some of the effects of the plagues, although they were unable to remove them or offer any relief. Later, they were unable to duplicate anything, and were found ineffective. Now, they were harmed by the plague of God, coming under direct attack just like all the other Egyptians. Step by step, God revealed the Egyptian magicians to be utter frauds and they were totally defeated.
    1. False gods & false religions are just that: false!

12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.

  1. For the first time in the series of the plagues, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Earlier, God said that this would be His work (Exo 7:3), but it took six of the nine primary plagues for it to happen. For five of the plagues, Pharaoh hardened his own heart; finally God is specifically spoken of doing the hardening.
  2. Does God have the right to harden? Yes, without question. (Rom 9:18-21) He is the Potter; we are the clay. He has the right to do whatever He wants with His creation. Is God unjust in His hardening? Absolutely not. Again, Pharaoh hardened his own heart five previous times (and does so again with the seventh plague). Pharaoh was responsible for his own sin & stubbornness.
    1. Although we sometimes have difficulty reconciling the sovereignty of God & the responsibility of man, the Bible has no such difficulty. We see those things as polar opposites; the Bible portrays them hand-in-hand. God cannot be blamed for our sin & lack of repentance. If someone chooses to reject Christ, he/she bears their own sin because it was his/her responsibility to repent.
    2. The point? Make the choice to repent! Stop blaming God (or Satan, or anyone else) for your bad choices – those are yours alone. The only thing stopping you from experiencing the mercy & grace of God is a refusal to repent. You’re digging your own hole…stop digging!
  • Plague #7: Hail & fire (9:13-35)

13 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me, 14 for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.

  1. The next plague starts with the same pattern, but gives a harsher warning: “I will send all My plagues to your very heart.” The severity increases, and Pharaoh will be personally affected. The extent of which, he cannot yet imagine…the final 10th plague will take his own firstborn son. Again, God was giving Pharaoh repeated opportunities to repent – Pharaoh just wouldn’t do it.
  2. God also gives part of the purpose for the plagues: so that Pharaoh would recognize YHWH as God. Remember when Moses first approached Pharaoh with God’s demand for Hebrew freedom, and Pharaoh flatly turned him down. Exodus 5:2, “And Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.”” Then, Pharaoh did not recognize the Lord; now God declares that is precisely what the plagues would force Pharaoh to do. Each one of the plagues was an additional testimony of the reality of YHWH, God of the Hebrews.
  3. The purposes continue…

15 Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. 17 As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go.

  1. The plagues were God’s mercy. God could have killed Pharaoh instantly, but He didn’t. He allowed Pharaoh to live through each and every one of these events, giving him opportunity after opportunity to repent.
  2. The plagues were God’s testimony. The whole world would see what God did in Egypt, and they would fear the God of the Hebrews. And it worked! Forty years later, when Joshua finally led the people into the Promised Land, the city of Jericho was terrified of the Hebrews, in part because of what the Lord did to the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Josh 2:10). There may not have been mass media in those days, but news of the miracles of God travelled fast!
  3. The plagues could have been temporary. The reason they continued was a direct result of Pharaoh’s pride. Pharaoh exalted himself rather than God. Not only did God use the plagues to witness to Pharaoh, but God used them to humble Pharaoh. Eventually that hardened heart would be broken, though it would take massive death and judgment before it happened.
    1. Clay can be reshaped in two ways: when it’s soft, it can be molded; after it’s fired & hardened, it must be broken. Keep your heart softened!

18 Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now. 19 Therefore send now and gather your livestock and all that you have in the field, for the hail shall come down on every man and every animal which is found in the field and is not brought home; and they shall die.” ’ ” 20 He who feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his livestock flee to the houses. 21 But he who did not regard the word of the LORD left his servants and his livestock in the field.

  1. Strict warning of imminent death
  2. Everyone had the chance to believe, and respond.

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt—on man, on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.” 23 And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.

  1. Massive hail & fire rained down on Egypt.
  2. For all the various speculations of how some of the previous plagues could have come about through natural means, there is no natural explanation of this possible. Hail, perhaps…but not fire. Likewise, there’s no foundation to write off the “fire” as mere lightning that accompanied a violent storm (as both the NIV & HCSB translates it). There is a difference between the Hebrew words for “lightning,” (בָּרָק) and “fire,” (אֵשׁ) and it is the word for “fire” used here.
    1. Beware of those who try to write off the supernatural in the Scripture! Were it not for the supernatural interaction of Almighty God, none of us would be saved!
  3. Unique in Egypt. Unique in history. Not unique in the future! Revelation 8:7, “The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.” It will happen again, but on a scale heretofore unseen by the world!

25 And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.

  1. Again, massive death toll. Anyone (human or animal) in the open, died.
  2. Again, a distinction was made between the Hebrews and Egyptians.

27 And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time. The LORD is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. 28 Entreat the LORD, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”

  1. Pharaoh actually admitted some sin, but only some. “I have sinned this time.” What about all the other times?! His hard heart prevented him from seeing the full scope of his sins. He confessed God’s righteousness and begged for mercy, but he wasn’t surrendering himself into God’s hand. Thus, this wasn’t a change of heart for Pharaoh. Although it seemed that he humbled his heart, he didn’t. Even as he begged for mercy from God, Pharaoh lied (and Moses knew it).

29 So Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the LORD; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, that you may know that the earth is the LORD’s. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the LORD God.”

  1. Moses agreed to act, knowing that even the cessation of the hail was a witness to God.
  2. Even so, he knew the truth of Pharaoh’s heart, that Pharaoh was lying. Pharaoh did “not yet fear the LORD God.

31 Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the head and the flax was in bud. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.

  1. Spring crops destroyed; fall crops unaffected.

33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and spread out his hands to the LORD; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth. 34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the LORD had spoken by Moses.

  1. True to his word, Moses acted in faith, and God’s power was evident in the relief from the plague.
  2. Sadly, it made no impact on Pharaoh. Once out of danger, “he hardened his heart” and changed his mind. And it wasn’t just Pharaoh. Even his servants hardened their hearts!
    1. Just like faith can be contagious, so can rebellion. Be mindful of the influence you have on others!

Exodus 10

  • Plague #8: Locusts (10:1-20)

1 Now the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

  1. Question: Who did the work of hardening Pharaoh’s heart: Pharaoh or the Lord God? Both! Here, God spoke of His own work – and it wasn’t just with Pharaoh, but with Pharaoh’s servants. They were in a similar position as their king, first hardening their heart and then God confirming their terrible choice.
  2. God also gave another reason for Pharaoh’s hardened heart and the plagues: as signs to Israel. In Exodus 9:14, God said the plagues were witnesses to Pharaoh – in 9:16, God said the plagues were witnesses to the world; in 10:2, God says that the plagues are witnesses to the Hebrews. The Hebrews needed to know the power of God – they needed to understand His holy justice & His might – they needed to know to what extent God would go to keep His promises. All of that can be seen in the plagues.
    1. Look around and see the work of God! How far will He go? To the cross & resurrection!

3 So Moses and Aaron came in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? …

  1. However Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, the ultimate issue was pride. He consistently refused to humble himself before God.

… Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 4 Or else, if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. 5 And they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one will be able to see the earth; and they shall eat the residue of what is left, which remains to you from the hail, and they shall eat every tree which grows up for you out of the field. 6 They shall fill your houses, the houses of all your servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians—which neither your fathers nor your fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were on the earth to this day.’ ” And he turned and went out from Pharaoh.

  1. This was Pharaoh’s last chance before the locusts came. Egypt’s agricultural economy was already devastated – this would be a knockout blow. The locusts would destroy anything remaining. How bad would it be? The locusts would be unavoidable and undeniable.
  2. There’s an interesting change/addition to this particular plague account: a little extra note at the end of verse 6 that Moses gave God’s warning, and left. The implication is that Moses didn’t stick around waiting for an answer. He already knew what Pharaoh’s response would be, so he left.
    1. Notice that didn’t stop Moses from delivering the message! Even though he knew Pharaoh’s heart was hard – even though he knew Pharaoh was a liar deserving of God’s judgment – Moses was still faithful, delivering the message from God exactly as God instructed him to do.

7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?”

  1. Even the servants begged Pharaoh to relent! They saw what Pharaoh refused to see – what his hard heart had blinded it from. 
  2. And Pharaoh listened! At least partly, as he called for Moses and Aaron to return. 

8 So Moses and Aaron were brought again to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God. Who are the ones that are going?” 9 And Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to the LORD.” 10 Then he said to them, “The LORD had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you. 11 Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the LORD, for that is what you desired.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

  1. Although Moses’ request was reasonable, Pharaoh denied it, insulting Moses in the process. He questioned Moses’ manhood & ejected he & Aaron from the Egyptian court.
  2. This is the danger of pride! Pharaoh was so close to experiencing peace and relief from the plagues, but his pride wouldn’t allow him to admit defeat.

12 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land—all that the hail has left.” 13 So Moses stretched out his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind on the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt and rested on all the territory of Egypt. They were very severe; previously there had been no such locusts as they, nor shall there be such after them. 15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every herb of the land and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left. So there remained nothing green on the trees or on the plants of the field throughout all the land of Egypt.

  1. Pharaoh’s last encounter with Moses had sealed his judgment from God, and it came forth strong! A supernatural swarm of locusts totally destroyed the land. Nothing like this had ever happened before. The Egyptians had seen locust swarms in the past, but this was unnaturally thick.
  2. How bad was it? Verse 14 said that “They were very severe,” the word “severe” being the same word used earlier to refer to Pharaoh’s hard heart. It might be translated, “They were very heavy / very weighty.” What a response to Pharaoh! As hard has his heart was, so was the severity of the swarm of locusts upon his land!

16 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste, and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. 17 Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and entreat the LORD your God, that He may take away from me this death only.”

  1. Was Pharaoh ready to admit defeat? His response was similar to that with the fiery hail. On the surface, he seems as if he’s ready to be humble, but upon a closer look, he wasn’t. Notice that Pharaoh was blinded to the extent of his sin. He wanted forgiveness “this once,” and to have “this death only” taken away – as if he had only sinned the one time.
  2. True confession is utter openness with God. It’s agreeing that our sin is truly sinful, separating us from Him in rebellion. It’s no excuses, no holds-barred, no conditions. If we’re not willing to do that, then we’re still holding onto pride. 

18 So he went out from Pharaoh and entreated the LORD.

  1. Notice how Moses was merciful every time Pharaoh asked. Moses was under no obligation to pray on Pharaoh’s behalf. He had been commissioned to speak for God; not Pharaoh. Yet he did it anyway. Moses was an intercessor to someone who didn’t deserve intercession.

19 And the LORD turned a very strong west wind, which took the locusts away and blew them into the Red Sea. There remained not one locust in all the territory of Egypt. 20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go.

  1. More hardening…this time it was the Lord God who did it to Pharaoh. Once again, God confirmed the choices Pharaoh made for himself already.
  • Plague #9: Darkness (10:21-29)

21 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

  1. This was the final plague of the final cycle of plagues, thus it was a judgment plague given without warning. “This plague is comparable to the silence in heaven, just prior to the last and terrible plague (Rev 8:1),” (NET Bible).
  2. Darkness might not seem so bad. But consider the extent of the darkness. How bad must it have been, for the thick darkness to be “felt”? Have you ever been in a cavern when the lights are turned out & it become pitch-dark? It’s a scary thing when you can’t see your hand right in front of your face, and you know your eyes will not adjust. That’s a darkness you can feel – perhaps not physically, but viscerally. That was what came upon the land of Egypt (though not upon the land of Goshen). God gave palpable darkness to the Egyptians, while He gave light to the children of Israel.
  3. Ultimately, this was a direct hit on the most revered false god of Egypt: Ra, the sun god. This was the chief god in their pantheon, and he was shown to be powerless in the face of YHWH. God is the only God!

24 Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, “Go, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you.” 25 But Moses said, “You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. 26 Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some of them to serve the LORD our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there.”

  1. At first glance, it seems that Pharaoh is ready to admit defeat. He gave limited permission to Israel.
  2. Moses didn’t accept it. Why not? He knew better! He knew what God had commanded of him, and what to expect. He wasn’t about to settle for less.

27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. 28 Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!” 29 So Moses said, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again.”

  1. God may have hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but Pharaoh’s anger was his own. Every word Pharaoh spoke, and every reaction he had was his own choice. He made some very poor choices along the way! (Just like us!)
  2. Sadly, Pharaoh was closing himself off from any opportunity to hear of God’s mercy & grace, cutting himself off from every opportunity to repent. He demanded Moses leave and never see his face – but Moses was the only one who could intercede to God on his behalf. Like the man or woman who turns away from Jesus (our only hope), so did Pharaoh turn away from Moses (his only hope). People need a Mediator between us & God, and there is only one Mediator offered to us today: Jesus! Don’t turn away from Him!

Conclusion:

Hardened hearts are dangerous! Hearts become hard due to proud rebellion against God, and pride kills. It’s always been that way. Satan became proud, and desired to be in the place of God, only to be cast down out of heaven. Adam and Eve were tempted through their pride to know as much as God, only to fall from grace and be cast out of the Garden of Eden. Pride is not only the downfall of obviously sinful people like Pharaoh; it’s the downfall of all of us.

For Christians, it can be difficult to see how the pride of Pharaoh relates to us. It shouldn’t be! In the first place, at one point we were all like Pharaoh, exalting ourselves above God, rebelling against His every command. Though He graciously gave us many opportunities to repent, we didn’t. Instead, we dug in our heels against Him, and He had to bring us to the point of breaking or to some other point where He could no longer be denied. (Some of you might still be at that point today!) The good news is that once we did humble ourselves before Jesus, repenting of our sin & believing upon Him, that’s when He saved us by His grace. Thus, we can look on Pharaoh & thank God that He saved us out of that place!

At the same time, pride isn’t something that only affects the reprobate. Each one of us, even as born-again Christians, can sink into the quicksand of proud, hardened hearts. Yes, we initially repented & placed our faith in Christ, but we found other areas of our lives that we weren’t ready to surrender to God. We had things pop up along the way that we kept for our own, being unwilling to give to Jesus – being unwilling to obey what the Scripture tells us to do with them. We’ve nursed our grudges, neglected to serve others, made ourselves our priority, etc. By refusing to give those things over to the Lord, we’ve opened the door to hardened hearts. Beware! That won’t lead to ultimate judgment, but it will lead to God’s firm discipline. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble,” (Jas 4:6) That truth never changes, even for believers in Christ.

The Plagues Begin

Posted: October 18, 2018 in Exodus, Uncategorized

Exodus 7-8, “The Plagues Begin”

Parents are familiar with giving out multiple chances. Our kids disobey (or don’t listen), and we give them several opportunities to get right, with escalating potential consequences. “I’m going to count to three! 1…2…” Kids usually push their luck. It’d be so much better if they just listened the first time, but they never learn.

It’s not limited to children! That’s something many adults rarely grow past. We want to do things our own way, every time – don’t tell me different, and don’t make me obey someone else. That includes our families, our bosses, and even our God. We want to be our own self-rulers, and don’t easily obey God when He first instructs us…no matter how much easier it would be on us if we did. Praise God that He is merciful! He so often gives us multiple chance to do what’s right…although it usually means experiencing some pretty tough consequences along the way.

In a nutshell, that describes much of what we see between Moses, Pharaoh, and the Lord God as Pharaoh refuses to free the Hebrews from Egypt. Moses had been sent into Egypt by God, commissioned on Mt. Sinai as God revealed His holy name and His perfect plan for Hebrew freedom. God had heard the cries of His people, and the time had come for the covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be fulfilled. Although God knew Pharaoh would not easily release the children of Israel, God still sent Moses as His representative, empowered to work miraculous signs and speak in the name of the Living God.

Because of Moses’ hesitancy, God allowed his brother Aaron to help, and together they went to the Hebrews, performed the signs God originally gave Moses, and the nation was excited to see what would come next. Sadly, they were sorely disappointed. Although God had been clear to Moses about Pharaoh’s resistance, the Hebrew people expected immediate results. What they received was immediate hardship. Moses and Aaron met with Pharaoh, the first time bringing only the word of God, and Pharaoh did not listen (just as God foretold). Not only was Pharaoh unwilling to hear the command of YHWH for His people to be released, Pharaoh became indignant at having to answer a God he refused to recognize. In response, he punished the Hebrews, demanding that they continue to maintain their quota of brick-making, but denying them the materials needed to make the bricks. The Hebrews were greatly upset, and Moses had to be reassured by God that this was indeed part of His plan (and it was!).

At this point, the plagues begin – a series of nine total supernatural judgments that eventually leads to the night of Passover and Pharaoh’s final defeat. Chapters 7-8 start with hard, but relatively minor judgments, and things only continue to escalate as Pharaoh continues to harden his heart. God would give many chances, but Pharaoh would refuse them all.

Before we begin, all of this begs the question: Why did God send so many plagues upon Egypt? Surely God could have freed the Hebrews with one mighty blow. It’s not as if God had to work His way to a gradual defeat of Pharaoh; He could have done it in an instant. Especially considering that God had always known of Pharaoh’s stubbornness, why give Pharaoh so many opportunities to resist God?

Three suggested answers (among other possibilities):

  1. God was merciful to Pharaoh. Though God knew the man’s stubbornness, God still gave him the opportunity to humble himself and repent. By the time it was all over, there was no way that Pharaoh could claim that God hadn’t been fair with him. Pharaoh had just as much opportunity as anyone to humble himself in faith; he tragically chose not to do it.
  2. God was merciful to the Egyptians. The more God acted, the more Egyptians there were who came to know & fear YHWH as God. So many in fact, that a great multitude left Egypt along with the Hebrews, following them all the way to Mt. Sinai and the Promised Land. The many judgments of God on Egypt were also many merciful outreaches to (Just like God acts towards many people today!)
  3. God was merciful to the Hebrews. Although the children of Israel believed in the Lord God (mostly!), they were fickle. This was already demonstrated in their initial response to Moses. When Moses first arrived, they thanked God & worshipped; after Pharaoh punished them, they cursed Moses and demanded God’s judgment upon him. All the various plagues went a long way to establish them in their faith. God gave them repeated opportunities to see Him in action, and for them to be grounded in their faith. And it wasn’t only the general population – it was Moses, too! The more Moses saw God work, the more Moses himself grew in his faith and maturity. Not that any of them were perfectly mature in their faith, but they certainly weren’t the same leaving Egypt as when Moses first arrived.

The bottom line: God had His own reasons for the many plagues, and they all led to His glory!

Our God is all-powerful, and ever-merciful. There’s nothing He cannot do, and He is great in His compassions and outreach toward us. See the Lord for who He is! Worship and obey Him the first time, as soon as you get the opportunity!

Exodus 7

  • God prepares His people (7:1-7)

1 So the LORD said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land.

  1. Recall the end of Exodus 6 – the final few verses (28-30) lead directly into Chapter 7. God had been reassuring Moses of His plan for deliverance, when there was a brief break to give some family background to Moses and Aaron. Verses 28-30 picked up where things left off, even repeating some of the information that had come before. Although God commanded Moses to speak to Pharaoh as God’s own spokesman, Moses wondered why Pharaoh (or anyone) would listen to him, seeing as he had “uncircumcised lips.” Moses believed he had failed in his initial encounter, and even his own people were rejecting him at this point. On what authority would Moses be able to speak with the king of Egypt? The answer? Upon God’s authority! God had commissioned Moses for this task, and God was about to tell Moses exactly how he was to do it.
  2. Unlike Moses, God saw the 1st visit as a success! Moses had done everything God commanded him, and Pharaoh had responded exactly the way God knew that he would. God didn’t blame Moses for Pharaoh’s outburst – why would He? Pharaoh’s sin belonged to Pharaoh; not Moses. Moses had been faithful, and that’s all God asked of him.
    1. It’s no different with us. We cannot control the words or actions of anyone else; we can only control our own. If we are in Christ, belonging to Him by faith, as long as we’re faithful to God, we can trust God is not angry nor disappointed with us.
  3. There was another difference between the way Moses and God viewed that first meeting. Moses believed it to be the end; God knew it was just the beginning. God sent Moses and Aaron to speak once, and that was what He continued to send them to do. The brothers were to return to Pharaoh and speak the things God commanded. No matter what Pharaoh did in response, they were to be conduits of the commands and words of God. Moses and Aaron were messengers, and God wanted them to continue to give the message.
    1. That is evangelism! We are messengers, and we are not to become weary with the message. The world needs to hear of the good news of Jesus, in order that they can repent and place their faith in Him. Thus we don’t shy away. We continue to speak all that God has commanded us.

3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.

  1. God hardens. Although it’s sometimes difficult for us to conceive of God sovereignly hardening the heart of someone, that is exactly what the Scripture declares God did with Pharaoh. That’s not an act for us to judge; it is simply one to hear and believe. As Almighty God, God has the right to do what He wants with His creation. This is the point Paul makes to the Romans. [ROMANS 9:14-21] If God wants to show mercy to someone, it is His right to do so. After all, none of us deserve any mercy whatsoever…any act of mercy is a wonderful gift. Yet if we can affirm that, then surely the opposite is true as well: God has the right to harden whomever He wishes, without any accusation against Him. We are His creation (His clay) and as the Potter, God can do what He wants. If He does it, it is just, because the very definition of justice is God Himself.
    1. That said, we cannot use God’s hardening of Pharaoh as an example of the lack of freewill, simply because that is not what the Bible demonstrates. Although God clearly claims to harden Pharaoh’s heart, during the first several plagues the Bible specifically shows Pharaoh’s heart being hardened by itself or by Pharaoh personally. Pharaoh chose to have a stubborn, hardened heart towards God. God chose to confirm what had already been done.
    2. The key is not to become obsessed over whom God might harden, or worry if God has hardened our hearts beyond hope. (If He had, you wouldn’t be worried about it!) The key is to concentrate on God’s mercy! God chose to extend mercy to people who didn’t deserve it…even to Pharaoh! Pharaoh’s heart may have been hard (either through Pharaoh or the Lord God), but Pharaoh’s words were never forced. At any point, Pharaoh could have submitted himself into the hands of God; he simply didn’t. At any point, God could have smote Pharaoh to death (and would have been justified in doing so!); God didn’t. Instead, God chose to extend chance after merciful chance. Pharaoh’s downfall was entirely his own fault. 
  2. God works. Not only would God harden the heart of Pharaoh, but God would “multiply” His miracles all around the land of Egypt. Moses would instruct Aaron, Aaron would speak the words and raise the staff, but it was God who would do the work. The success of the mission did not depend on Moses nor Aaron; it depended upon God…which guaranteed success!
    1. Again, this is so important to remember in terms of evangelism. We share the word, but God brings conversion. We plant the seed, but God causes the growth. Beware that you don’t take responsibility for that which belongs to God. We neither need the pressure, nor should we ever receive the glory.
  3. God judges. All of the signs and wonders were ultimately judgments upon Pharaoh and the land of Egypt. For 400 years, the Hebrews had been oppressed and enslaved, and God had not been blind. There was judgment due to sin, and Moses and Aaron would declare the judgment to come. But again, they would only declare it; God would bring it.
    1. Judgment of sin is a necessary part of the message of the gospel. It needs to be declared, but it ought to be declared with love and compassion. After all, apart from Jesus we are just as much deserving of God’s judgment as anyone else!
  4. God frees. He promised (stated as a matter of fact, without question of whether it would happen) to bring out His people. Note: the Hebrews were God’s army. God did not need an army to fight Pharaoh, but the Hebrews were an army nevertheless. They just needed to learn how to walk in obedience and faithfulness (go through basic training!) – something that they would learn during their time in the wilderness.
  5. Again, don’t miss the main point: Moses & Aaron were responsible to speak; God did everything else. God did all the work…He always does!

5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”

  1. The result of all of this work? Even the Egyptians will know YHWH! There would be many who came to faith, and many who did not…but none among them could deny the fact that YHWH existed and that He is the Living God! The plagues, as terrible as they were, were God’s merciful outreach to a pagan nation so that they might be saved. They dare not waste their opportunity!
    1. As a nonbeliever, did you ever consider the possibility when you were in the midst of trials and tragedies, that it was your opportunity to know the mercies of God? For all the people who get angry at God and turn away from Him in the hospital, there are others who reach out in faith. Sometimes the harshest events in our lives are exactly what is required to drive us to our knees. If that’s what causes you to look to Jesus, then praise God for the trial! 
    2. It isn’t just the nonbeliever. Believers, too, have our faith strengthened in trial. Paul could affirm in his own life that it was when he was at his weakest that he knew the strength of Christ (2 Cor 12:10). That’s when he knew that Jesus’ grace was sufficient for him. 

6 Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the LORD commanded them, so they did. 7 And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

  1. Brief update/summary. Brothers were 80/83 years old. At that age, many of us are well-past retirement. For Moses & Aaron, they were just getting started! (Don’t let retirement mean the end of productivity; let it be a new start to productive ministry unto God!)
  • God’s initial warning (7:8-13)

8 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 9 “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Show a miracle for yourselves,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and cast it before Pharaoh, and let it become a serpent.’ ” 10 So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the LORD commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.

  1. God knew Pharaoh would want proof. (Even if Pharaoh would ignore the proof for which he asked!) Moses was hesitant because of his “uncircumcised lips,” but God wasn’t sending him in without help. God was with Moses, and would empower Moses to say & do what needed to be done. (God is with us, too!)
  2. God started with a place of familiarity. This was the first sign He gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, originally intended for the children of Israel. (Exo 4:3) Moses had already performed the sign in front of the Hebrews, and they believed (Exo 4:31), at least initially. God shows great mercy and compassion upon Moses in how Moses was introduced to this role. 
  3. One minor difference: Aaron performed the sign; not Moses. Interestingly, the word translated “serpent” is different here, than it was on Mt. Sinai. It may have been a different type of serpent, or it may have just been a different word used for variety. Either way, the overall miracle was the same: a wooden stick supernaturally transformed into a snake. No doubt, that got Pharaoh’s attention!

11 But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

  1. Did Pharaoh’s men actually work magic? Scholars differ. Some believe this to be a form of trickery or illusion (perhaps a distraction behind some flash-flames produced by the sorcerers), which is certainly possible…it’s just not the clear implication of the text. The natural reading is that the Egyptians wise men and sorcerers performed some kind of supernatural act. And this would indeed be possible, if they were demonically empowered. Jesus spoke about deceptive signs & wonders being done in the end-times (Mt 24:24), and Paul wrote of signs and lying wonders (2 Ths 2:9). It’s quite possible Egypt’s sorcerers did the same thing, empowered by the same demons that hate God and His people.
  2. Whatever it was they did, it was no match for God. Pharaoh’s sorcerers were defeated when “Aaron’s rod swallowed up” the rods of the sorcerers. We can imagine how their smugness turned to queasiness when they saw what they believed was their answer get eaten up by Aaron’s rod. And it wasn’t just one; it was many – all the rods were devoured. (That’s one hungry staff-snake!)
  3. Even so, the sign fell on deaf ears/blinded eyes.

13 And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.

  1. Hard hearts don’t heed God. Again, Pharaoh still had a choice, but it became far more difficult. His stubbornness had already begun to set, and it would lead to his downfall.

From this point, the plagues begin – each following a general pattern. There is a warning (on the 1st & 2nd of each series), the supernatural plague, sometimes an acknowledgement of defeat, the relief of the plague, and the continued hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Some scholars see parallels between each of the plagues and the various false gods/goddesses of Egypt. Although it can be difficult to see a one-to-one pattern, there can be little doubt that at least some of the false gods are shown as powerless in light of the true God. The major downfall of a false god is that of Pharaoh himself! The deified Pharaoh is demonstrated as totally impotent compared with YHWH. There simply is no contest.

  • Plague #1: Blood (7:14-25)

14 So the LORD said to Moses: “Pharaoh’s heart is hard; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning, when he goes out to the water, and you shall stand by the river’s bank to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent you shall take in your hand. 16 And you shall say to him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness”; but indeed, until now you would not hear!

  1. God knew what was in Pharaoh’s heart – it was still hard & stubborn. Pharaoh still refused to relent, but it didn’t slow God in the slightest. He still had a plan. Moses & the others would have to trust God as He led them though the time.
  2. God’s identification was full: He is “YHWH God of the Hebrews.” There would be no mistaking who was acting.
  3. God’s command was clear. His people were to be free to worship. Nothing is said about the length of time and extent of freedom, but nothing more needed to be said at this point. If Pharaoh was refusing to do this much, he would refuse anything else.

17 Thus says the LORD: “By this you shall know that I am the LORD. Behold, I will strike the waters which are in the river with the rod that is in my hand, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, the river shall stink, and the Egyptians will loathe to drink the water of the river.” ’ ”

  1. God first struck the most important item within Egypt: the river. This was the life of the nation, the means by which their crops flourished or wilted. The Nile was represented by several gods in the Egyptian pantheon, sometimes worshipped itself. The fact that Pharaoh went down to the river in the morning may even indicate a religious ritual that Moses interrupted. But this river would turn from blessing to blood. The very heart of Egypt would be struck by Almighty God.
  2. Even this was a warning! Until Aaron raised his rod, Pharaoh could have repented. 

19 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.’ ” 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the LORD commanded. So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

  1. All water everywhere was affected. Even water outside of the river stored up in wood and stone was turned to blood. Question: Was this natural or supernatural? Was it real blood or (as some suggest) red algae that made it appear as blood? Technically, as long as it was recognized to have supernaturally come by the command of God, either are possible interpretations of the text. However, there’s little reason to imagine naturalistic explanations for this & the other following miracles. The whole of Christianity is based on a miracle (the resurrection), so supernatural explanations ought not to be discarded. Besides, if the water in the buckets and pitchers also turned red, that’s difficult to explain from algae or red clay flowing in the Nile. More importantly, there’s no reason to read the text any other way than literal. Water will turn to blood during the Great Tribulation (Rev 8:8,16:3-4), so there’s no reason to assume that it did not do so in Egypt.
  2. Whatever it was (real blood!), the water became toxic. It wasn’t just in one place, but all “throughout the land of Egypt.” This was something the whole nation saw. Remember that God was testifying of Himself to the entire land of Egypt, and this began from the first plague onward.
  3. Note verse 20: “And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the LORD commanded.” This is something that will be seen throughout the account of the plagues, just as it was seen in verse 10 with the rod turning to a serpent. Moses and Aaron were consistently faithful to God’s commands. Although Moses’ walk with the Lord started off on a shaky footing, hesitant to obey and be used by the Lord (and having been unfaithful to the covenant sign of circumcision), all that changed. Moses & his older brother developed a pattern of habitual obedience unto the Lord. 

22 Then the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments; and Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. Neither was his heart moved by this.

  1. More duplication, although the text doesn’t describe exactly what the magicians did. Whatever it was, it was unhelpful. They may have imitated the act of turning water to blood, but they couldn’t reverse what it was Aaron had done by the Lord, nor bring any relief to the people. The magicians of Egypt were totally ineffective.
  2. Amazingly, Pharaoh didn’t care! (Beware apathy, especially towards the things of God!)

24 So all the Egyptians dug all around the river for water to drink, because they could not drink the water of the river. 25 And seven days passed after the LORD had struck the river.

  1. Although no one was initially injured by the plague, this was still awful upon the land. 7 days without their normal drinking water is a long time! They had to dig wells and find natural springs for drinking water. No doubt the people were fatigued, thirsty, and ready to admit defeat. Too bad their king was not.

Exodus 8

  • Plague #2: Frogs (8:1-15)

1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs. 3 So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. 4 And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants.” ’ ”

  1. The command is repeated, and the cycle of the plagues continue. This time, it was to be frogs, and those frogs were to be everywhere. With the river turning to blood, the effects couldn’t be avoided, but at least people could stop looking at the river or in their buckets. This time, the plague would follow them into their houses, disturbing everything they did. No moment of peace would come while the frogs were present.
  2. Note the progression: in the first plague, the river was attacked; in the second plague, the attack was from the river. God is chipping away at all the security of Egypt, showing His almighty power through these gradual steps. 

5 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.’ ” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.

  1. Aaron obeyed, and the frogs came. Again the magicians duplicated the sign (in some form of imitation), but they were unable to bring relief. What good was their miracle (or illusion) if it only brought more frogs? For that matter, who’s to say that the magicians did not simply redirect the frogs that were already brought by God? The Egyptian magicians were losing their credibility by the day.
    1. Whatever Satan does, it’s (at best) a pale imitation of God. The devil is powerful, but he isn’t all The devil is a limited created being; only God is limitless and the Creator!

8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Entreat the LORD that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the LORD.” 9 And Moses said to Pharaoh, “Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only.”

  1. Although Pharaoh was apathetic with the water turning to blood, and basically ignored the sign of the staff, the plague of the frogs was something he could not avoid. This became Pharaoh’s 1st request for mercy (there would be others to follow). Initially, he promised freedom. No limits are mentioned, and judging from his later actions it might indicate he had no intent on following through with his promise in the first place.
  2. Whatever were Pharaoh’s intentions, God knew what they were – and Moses knew that God knew. Moses agreed to intercede. He tried to Pharaoh not to take it for granted. It was a great honor to have the request of a pagan rebellious king taken to the Almighty God.
    1. It is an honor to have an intercessor & mediator! The Spirit intercedes for us in prayer (Rom 8:27) – Jesus intercedes for us (Heb 7:25) – Jesus is our one Mediator (1 Tim 2:4). We don’t have just any intercessor; we have God as our intercessor! 

10 So he said, “Tomorrow.” And he said, “Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 And the frogs shall depart from you, from your houses, from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only.”

  1. Pharaoh’s response is so interesting: “” Why wait?! Even if it was late in the day, why not plead for the frogs to be removed immediately? Why suffer one more night in bed with the wretched things crawling all over you? It’s impossible to know what motivated Pharaoh to say what he did, but it’s sadly indicative of what too many people do with God. They feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they understand the truth of the gospel, they know their need to repent…they just aren’t quite ready. So it becomes “tomorrow,” “next time,” “later,” and it rarely comes. When is the best time to respond to Jesus? At the moment you understand He needs a response! Not tomorrow; immediately!
    1. Again, this is just as much for the believer as the unbeliever. The unbeliever needs to immediately respond to the gospel; the believer needs to immediately respond in obedience. Has Jesus called you to pray? Then pray! Are you led to share His gospel? Share it! Has He convicted you of a sin? Then repent! Don’t wait on these things – don’t push it off for a “better” time. There is no better time. Take the time He has given you, and respond in the moment!
  2. BTW: Both the arrival of the frogs and their removal were testimonies unto God. The frogs came in at a specific command, and they were removed at a specific command. It was plain that this was no natural phenomenon; the frogs were the amphibious army of God!

12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh. And Moses cried out to the LORD concerning the frogs which He had brought against Pharaoh. 13 So the LORD did according to the word of Moses. And the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courtyards, and out of the fields. 14 They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank.

  1. Moses prayed, and God answered. Everything went according to how God said it would go. Moses was speaking according to God’s word & will, and God was working according to His word & will.
  2. The frogs were removed, but there was still a massive reminder left behind! (We can experience mercy and still endure consequences!)

15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said.

  1. Once again, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. Notice that this was specifically Pharaoh’s doing: “he hardened his heart.” Was it God’s will? Yes, but it did not override Pharaoh’s freewill.
  • Plague #3: Lice (8:16-19)

16 So the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’ ” 17 And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

  1. Notice this time Moses is not told by God to go to Pharaoh, but rather directly to Aaron for the third plague. Of the nine plagues leading up to Passover, the cycle is always: two with warnings, one without. All were judgments of God upon Egypt, but the third in each cycle is a direct judgment for Pharaoh’s continued disobedience.
  2. This time it was lice/gnats, as if the dust of the Sahara came to life. As with the frogs, the lice/gnats would have followed the Egyptians everywhere they went, with no escape. 

18 Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had said.

  1. Finally, the magicians encountered a sign they could not imitate. From this point forward, the sorcerers acknowledge their own weakness. Yet even though the magicians recognized the work of God, Pharaoh did not. Stubbornness of heart made him refuse to admit defeat. It would take the harshest of blows to his personal family before he saw the obvious, and by then it was too late. 
  • Plague #4: Swarms of flies (8:20-32)

20 And the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21 Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.

  1. Repeated command, as the warnings begin again.
  2. Literally, the term is just “swarms” – the flies are implied. These were noxious, biting insects of some sort. Where as the gnats/lice were a terrible nuisance, the swarms of flies were painful. Imagine swarms of mosquitoes or deerflies – insects that won’t leave you alone, but constantly attack. Again, there is a progression in the plagues. What was once dramatic and terrifying but only annoying, is now personally harmful. People felt the effects of this plague. (And no doubt, Pharaoh heard about it from his subjects!)

22 And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land. 23 I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.” ’ ” 24 And the LORD did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies.

  1. For the first time, there was to be a difference between the Hebrews and the Egyptians. Guess what? There had always been a difference between the Hebrews & Egyptians! Even while the Hebrews had to deal with the blood, the frogs, and the gnats, they were still His covenant people. God was still acting on their behalf. God had a special relationship with them that the Egyptians did not enjoy, because they were not in covenant with God. Now that covenant difference was demonstrated as the Hebrews witnessed the plague of swarms, but did not personally experience it.
    1. Is there a difference between us and the world? Yes! Although we endure the trials that come with living in this world, we still have a special relationship with God through Jesus Christ!
  2. How many flies were there? There was no escaping the swarms! Imagine not being able to walk through your home without staring through a cloud of insects. Imagine trying to sleep at night with these biting insects gnawing at you the whole time. The Egyptians had no mosquito netting, nor any protection from the swarms. It would have been utterly miserable. Once again, Pharaoh asked Moses for help.

25 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.” 26 And Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us? 27 We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He will command us.”

  1. Pharaoh granted limited permission to leave. The Hebrews could sacrifice to the Lord, but they had to do so within the confines of Egypt. It didn’t necessarily have to be Goshen, but it did need to be in the realm of Pharaoh.
  2. It sounds like progress, but Moses refused. Why? It “would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians.” Other translations say “abominable to the Egyptians” (ESV, NASB). Apparently the blood sacrifices of bulls and goats were considered taboo among the Egyptians (perhaps because they considered sheep and shepherds unclean), and Moses refused on the basis that the Egyptians themselves would reject this compromise. 
  3. Ultimately Pharaoh’s compromise was wrong because it wasn’t according to God’s command. Originally, God had commanded Pharaoh to let the people go, “that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.” (Exo 5:1). God was not negotiating with Pharaoh & this was not an item up for discussion. God wanted His people in the wilderness for worship, so that’s where they were to go.
    1. We don’t have the right to invent how we want to worship. The Bible gives us much freedom in how we worship, but we approach God on His terms; not ours. That means we approach Him through Jesus (the one Mediator, the Way the Truth and the Life), we worship Him in spirit and truth, and we always use the Scripture as our standard in order to maintain decency and order.

28 So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.” 29 Then Moses said, “Indeed I am going out from you, and I will entreat the LORD, that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. But let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.”

  1. Pharaoh granted a bit more freedom, but not much. It was still limited. They could to go the wilderness, but they needed to stay within reach.
  2. This time, Moses agreed, but warned Pharaoh against further lying.

30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and entreated the LORD. 31 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.

  1. Another intercession
  2. Another act of mercy
  3. Another hardening of the heart.

Conclusion:

The cycle of plagues had begun, and it would only continue and escalate. Moses would warn, the judgment would come, the judgment would be removed, and Pharaoh’s heart would not change. No matter how many times he had the opportunity to humble himself before the Holy God, he refused.

Don’t blind yourself to the mercies of God! Don’t harden your heart against Him. Heart-hardening is just as much a danger for the nonbeliever as it is the Christian. After all, it was to the Jews that the Psalmist appealed that they would come worship & bow down, not hardening their hearts as did their ancestors in the day of rebellion (Ps 95:8). It was to the Hebrew Christians that the author of Hebrews quoted the same passage, pleading with them to hold fast to the gospel (Heb 3:6-7). We too, can harden ourselves to the merciful outreach of God – we can plug our ears to the calling of the Spirit – we can shut ourselves off from the truth of His word. Don’t do it! The more you harden your heart, the easier it becomes.

What’s the answer to hardening? Humbling. You can either humble yourself, or you can have God do it through His judgment and discipline. Far better the former than the latter! God gives us multiple opportunities to respond in repentance and humility, but at some point, He will act.

Who Failed?

Posted: October 11, 2018 in Exodus, Uncategorized

Exodus 5-6, “Who Failed?

At what point is failure, actually failure? To read business and motivational books, failure is a necessary step on the way to success. If you never fail, you never learn – you never change – you never try something different or put extra effort into something that drives a person to succeed. Sounds great in terms of a motivational poster to hang on the wall, but not so much when it comes to medical function. Throw around the terms “heart failure,” or “kidney failure,” and these are not desired nor necessary at all! Not all “failure” is considered equal.

Yet when we think of failure, we typically think of falling short of the goal. We have a plan for ourselves, don’t reach it, and declare it failed. But even then, that’s not always the case. In a race, the person who starts off first doesn’t necessarily end first. Marathons are known for leaders falling off after 20-21 miles, when someone makes a move and surges out in front. It doesn’t matter what time you crossed at 5K or 13.1 miles; it matters what you cross at 26.2. You have to know what you’re racing before you can determine failure…you might be calling the final far too soon.

Christians experience a similar problem when it comes to our own struggles against sin, and against spiritual attacks. We experience a few bumps in the road, and think ourselves as having failed, when we’ve really only gotten started. That’s what happened with Moses and Aaron at the first encounter with Pharaoh. Things didn’t go the way they expected, and they believed they came up short. The Hebrew people certainly believed that Moses had failed! But he hadn’t failed at all – he had been faithful with what God had called him to do. The Hebrews were looking for a 5K; God was working a marathon. God had a plan at work that would not fail, and it didn’t matter that the Hebrews didn’t understand it or believe it, God’s word and promise was still true.

Remember what brought Moses to this point. The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, having been oppressed for the last several generations with things getting worse as their numbers grew in size. The Pharaoh (likely Thutmose III) persecuted the Hebrews, ordering that all their male newborn children be destroyed, and the Hebrew people cried out to God for deliverance. God answered with the birth of Moses. Moses was miraculously saved from death, brought up in the house of Pharaoh’s daughter. Once an adult, Moses attempted to act on behalf of the Hebrews, but did so outside of the timing & calling of God & actually did fail, and was forced to flee as a fugitive to Midian.

Time passed (40 years!), and Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro when God miraculously appeared in a burning bush, calling Moses to be His mouthpiece and deliverer. God spoke to Moses His name (YHWH), and affirmed that the time had come for Him to keep the covenant that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From the start, God knew that the new Pharaoh (Amenhotep II) would not let the people go, so God would strike Egypt with His signs and wonders until the point that Pharaoh finally accepted defeat (Exo 3:19-20).

Despite God’s assurances, Moses hesitated. He didn’t know why Pharaoh would listen to this castaway shepherd with difficulty speaking. God gave Moses signs, and ultimately had to chastise him for his disobedience – but was also gracious to him, providing Aaron to speak on his behalf. Finally, Moses was obedient. He left for Egypt (and had to be disciplined along the way for his lack of faithfulness to the covenant), met Aaron, and demonstrated his God-given signs to the Hebrews. At that point, their reaction was good: Exodus 4:31, “So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.”

It wouldn’t stay that way! The Hebrews’ initial faith would turn to doubt and disbelief when Moses experienced (what they believed was) his first defeat at the hands of Pharaoh. But God had not failed! (Nor had Moses.) This was only the first step on a long road that led to their redemption. God knew what would happen, even when the people didn’t understand or believe.

Christian: trust the plans and word of God! He does not fail! He sees what we cannot, and He knows where our roads will lead. Trust Him to take you there.

Exodus 5 – Failure with Pharaoh?

  • The first meeting (1-9)

1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’ ” 2 And Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.”

  1. The first command of God to Pharaoh, delivered by Moses, spoken by Aaron. Moses and Aaron did exactly what they were supposed to do, themselves faithful to God’s command. Right off the bat, we can know they were not failures, because they were faithful to God.
    1. This is important to keep in mind regarding evangelism. Often Christians think they’ve failed when someone rejects the gospel. Not so! God didn’t call us to convert anyone (that isn’t in our power!); He called us to witness to them. When you testify of Jesus, you’ve been faithful. The only failure is when we fail to speak His name!
  2. What did God say? (1) His name. (2) His claim to His people. (3) His command for His people to be free to worship. He was identified clearly to Pharaoh as YHWH, the God known to & worshipped by the nation of Israel. He was clear that Israel was His people – the Hebrews belonged to YHWH; not Pharaoh. Finally, it was made known that His people were to worship Him in holy faithfulness. The Hebrews did not serve the gods of Egypt; they served YHWH alone. It was a short message to be delivered, but it told Pharaoh everything he needed to know.
    1. Likewise, we know the name of our God: Jesus. We know we have been made His people, a royal priesthood of God. And we know that we are to worship and serve Him alone. We fear the Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and none other!
  3. Pharaoh’s response: refusal. Remember that the Egyptians believed their kings to be divine, and the kings were all too happy to agree with the false religion. And as a “god,” Pharaoh did not know this other God, and refused to give YHWH His request. Egyptians were polytheists, but this YHWH was not recognized within their religion, so the “god” Pharaoh didn’t care what the Hebrew God commanded.

3 So they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go three days’ journey into the desert and sacrifice to the LORD our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”

  1. Moses and Aaron tried again, appealing to what they hoped would be Pharaoh’s better nature – his compassion. If the Hebrews were not allowed to go, there would be dire consequences. Surely Pharaoh would not want his servants to experience disease or death, right? Wrong – Pharaoh didn’t care (as we’ll see in a moment).
  2. There was an implied threat as well: if God fell upon the Hebrews “with pestilence or with the sword,” then it meant God would fall upon Egypt with those things. After all, where were the Hebrews? In Egypt. Who was responsible for keeping the Hebrews in Egypt? It wasn’t so much that the Hebrews were in danger of pestilence and violence; the Egyptians were. This was a bit of a preview of the plagues. Soon, all kinds of disease would fall on Egypt, and when fiery hailstones fell from the sky and the Angel of the LORD slew the firstborn of Egypt, it no doubt seemed as if the “sword” had come to them. This was Pharaoh’s chance to be free of this future – he was clearly warned of the judgment soon to come.
    1. So are we! When we preach the gospel, we preach the bad news along with the good news. The wonderful news of forgiveness and eternal life doesn’t make sense without the bad news of judgment and death. After all, we need to know why we need forgiveness if we’re ever to seek it in the first place. Our sin has left us condemned, facing the eternal judgment of God when sinners are cast into hell. It’s terribly bad news! But the good news is that we can be forgiven, rescued, and redeemed from that fate! We can be reconciled with God, and made His children…all through faith in Jesus Christ. Good news indeed! (And knowing the bad news makes the good news even better!)
  3. Question: Was this all deception on the part of Moses & Aaron (and thus, God)? The ultimate plan was not for Israel to travel three days into the wilderness, hold a feast unto the Lord, and then head back home to Goshen in Egypt; it was for total & utter freedom – to proceed back to the land of Canaan which was their centuries’ old promise from God. Yet the implication from Moses & Aaron seems to be otherwise, as if they were asking for a temporary leave-of-absence. Answer: No, this was not deception; it was an opportunity for Pharaoh to respond to the righteous command of God. God may have known how Pharaoh would reject Him, but that didn’t mean God would refuse to give Pharaoh an opportunity for mercy. Pharaoh had a choice, and he made it to his own destruction. 

4 Then the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people from their work? Get back to your labor.” 5 And Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are many now, and you make them rest from their labor!”

  1. If Moses and Aaron appealed to Pharaoh’s compassion, there was none to be found. Pharaoh soon tired of this conversation with the Hebrew prophets, and he accused them of inciting their people to laziness.
  2. As if just to prove that Pharaoh had no fear of YHWH or regard for Him, Pharaoh decided to pronounce a punishment upon the people…

6 So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their officers, saying, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 And you shall lay on them the quota of bricks which they made before. You shall not reduce it. For they are idle; therefore they cry out, saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let more work be laid on the men, that they may labor in it, and let them not regard false words.”

  1. Extra burden! No supplies (straw) given for their task of brick-making. They had already been builders in the land of Egypt (having built two cities – Exo 1:11), but lately they had been forced to make their own bricks, combining clay & straw for their materials. Now the straw would be removed from them, and they would be forced to find it on their own. Brick making is laborious enough, still used today as basic enslavement. In Pakistan, people make an average of $3 per day per person making bricks, so it’s not uncommon for young children to be working alongside their parents just struggling to make enough per day in order to eat. (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pakistan-girls-brick-kilns_us_588b74f2e4b0303c07534ac9) It’s hard work, crouched on the ground all day long, slapping clay mud into molds, setting it aside to dry before taking it to a kiln for firing. When workers have to take a loan from their employer for medical expenses, it can easily force them into basic lifetime slavery for repayment.
  2. With that in mind, put yourself in the place of an ancient Hebrew slave. Things had already been bad enough. It just got drastically worse! How would you react? Who would you blame? Who should you blame? God hadn’t done this to them, nor had Moses made Pharaoh act this way. This was all Pharaoh’s fault.
    1. We need to stop blaming God for the acts of the enemy!
  3. Why did Pharaoh do it? He wanted to take away hope that was found in “false words.” To the ears of Pharaoh, any idea of freedom (be it freedom of worship or freedom from slavery) was deception and fraudulent. His punishment was meant to push this hope as far away from the Hebrews as possible. He wanted them discouraged because he didn’t want them looking to Moses or to the God Moses preached.
    1. Don’t let the enemy steal your hope! 
  • Pharaoh’s further oppression (10-19)

10 And the taskmasters of the people and their officers went out and spoke to the people, saying, “Thus says Pharaoh: ‘I will not give you straw. 11 Go, get yourselves straw where you can find it; yet none of your work will be reduced.’ ” 12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.

  1. Order relayed by the taskmasters. The Hebrews had to gather what they could find. Apparently they had little to no access to the Egyptian fields, but now had “to gather stubble instead of straw.” They were forced to gather up the chaff that was leftover from the Egyptian grain. So not only were they not given straw, they had to gather up far more chaff in a much more labor-intensive way to compensate for the lack of straw. Their job wasn’t made simply inconvenient; it was made virtually impossible.

13 And the taskmasters forced them to hurry, saying, “Fulfill your work, your daily quota, as when there was straw.” 14 Also the officers of the children of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and today, as before?”

  1. The Hebrews experienced harassment and beatings for their reduced output. Obviously this wasn’t their fault; the Egyptians were purposefully antagonistic toward them. They wanted to make it as hard upon the Hebrews as possible.
    1. The enemy will often try to antagonize us. 

15 Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, “Why are you dealing thus with your servants? 16 There is no straw given to your servants, and they say to us, ‘Make brick!’ And indeed your servants are beaten, but the fault is in your own people.”

  1. Hebrew representatives appealed to Pharaoh. What Pharaoh had commanded of them was unreasonable and illogical. Why should they be punished for failing to complete an impossible task?

17 But he said, “You are idle! Idle! Therefore you say, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.’ 18 Therefore go now and work; for no straw shall be given you, yet you shall deliver the quota of bricks.” 19 And the officers of the children of Israel saw that they were in trouble after it was said, “You shall not reduce any bricks from your daily quota.”

  1. Pharaoh passed the buck to Moses, quoting Moses’ and Aaron’s own words back to them. He implied that if Moses and Aaron had come to him, wasting his time with this request to leave, that none of this would have happened. The Hebrews (he said) had stopped their labor in order to listen to the words of Moses, so if they had time to listen to this prophet then they had time to go gather their own straw.
  2. It was a blatant lie, even when he quoted Moses correctly. Moses said the words, but it was Pharaoh who rejected God and oppressed the Hebrews.
    1. The enemy will lie about the word of God.
  • Complaints (20-23)

20 Then, as they came out from Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. 21 And they said to them, “Let the LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

  1. The Hebrew officers/representatives took their leave of Pharaoh, and apparently Moses and Aaron were waiting for them at the door (or at least at their homes). Sadly, even though the Hebrews knew they were mistreated by Pharaoh, they still bought into the lie of Pharaoh, and they blamed Moses. They believed Moses had instigated Pharaoh to be cruel, so they took the blame off of the person it should have been on, and placed it right on Moses & Aaron who had spoken on their behalf. Earlier (chapter 4), they were amazed by the signs of God, and believed that Moses had been sent by God, thanking God that He had heard their prayers. All that previous faith went out the window as they blamed Moses as a rabble-rouser.
  2. Interestingly, the Hebrews wanted God to serve as a judge in this instance; they didn’t want or trust God’s plan. They were all to happy to see Moses struck down for their troubles by divine judgment, but they weren’t willing to trust the divine will. It goes to show that they didn’t really trust God at all.
    1. How quickly we lose faith! Like Peter walking on water, we believe for a moment, but then we see the raging sea instead of our loving Savior, and we forget. We sink into despair, confusion, and anger. The Hebrews saw their troubles and believed they were on their own, when it was really just the beginning. They need to hold on to hope – hold on to the God of their Fathers, the great I AM who promised them deliverance. If they would just look to Him, then they would find the strength to endure the rage of Pharaoh. 

22 So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”

  1. Moses took the complaints of the people back to God, with some complaints of his own. Did Moses lose faith? Not really. Moses certainly forgot what it was God had told him. Back on Mount Sinai, God made it clear that Moses’ word to Pharaoh would be rejected, and that it would take a mighty work of God to bring the people out from Egypt. Exodus 3:18b–20, “(18b) … and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ (19) But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. (20) So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go.” Verses 18-19 ought to sound very familiar, because it was exactly what had happened in Chapter 5! But notice that God was sure of this, and had already told Moses what would need to happen as a result. If Moses had simply remembered and trusted God’s word, Moses wouldn’t have had a complaint (and may have been able to answer the Hebrew officials).
    1. Don’t forget God’s word! He has already told us much of what to expect in life. We can expect trials & tribulation – we can expect persecution – we can expect spiritual attacks and difficulties. Don’t let those things surprise you; let them drive you to the Lord!
  2. Even so, Moses prayed. He may have forgotten what God had told him, but he hadn’t forgotten his relationship with the Lord. The people complained to Moses, but Moses took his complaint to God. The people could have prayed – they could have told Moses & Aaron what happened, and all gotten on their knees together. Instead, they worshipped God in Chapter 4, and all but ignored God in Chapter 5. Again, they wanted God to judge Moses in punishment, but they didn’t appeal to God for help. Moses did. (Don’t stop praying!)
  3. Notice how Moses prayed. He was saying “You did this…You said that…these are Your people.” Moses put it all back onto the Lord, which (although it was spokes from confusion) it was exactly where it should have been. It was God’s plan, so it was God’s problem. (Which meant it was no problem at all!) Moses could take these things to the Lord, because it was God who would work them out for His glory.
    1. It’s not your will that needs to be done; it’s God’s will. Pray for it to be done, and surrender everything else into His hands.

Exodus 6 – God never fails!

  • God’s promises and plan (1-8)

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

  1. God had given Pharaoh a chance, but God already knew Pharaoh’s heart. He knew what Pharaoh would do in stubborn refusal. God also knew what Pharaoh would later be forced to do when faced with the judgment of God! Pharaoh’s hard heart would be broken as he stumbled across the Rock of Ages!

2 And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the LORD. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them.

  1. Had God never revealed His name to the patriarchs? What about Genesis 18:19 when Abraham appealed to the Lord (YHWH) as he interceded for Sodom? Or Genesis 22:14 when Abraham called the place of sacrifice on Mount Moriah “The Lord Will Provide,” after Isaac was saved? Or Genesis 28:16 when Jacob saw the vision of the ladder in Bethel and declared that the Lord was in that place? Obviously, the patriarchs were familiar with the covenant name of God; it just wasn’t how God was primarily known to them. The name God used most often with the patriarchs was El Shaddai, God Almighty.
  2. What’s the difference? El Shaddai speaks of God’s strength; YHWH speaks of God’s existence and faithfulness. YHWH is the name God most often uses when speaking of His covenant, thus, that was how God was revealed to Moses and to the Hebrews of that generation. YHWH (I AM) had always existed, had always known them, and would always be faithful to His word.
  3. Even so, God knew the patriarchs, just as He knew Moses and the Hebrew people of the day. This was shown in the ways God worked with them in the past.

4 I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. 5 And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.

  1. God made a promise to the patriarchs, and had every intent on keeping it. There was a homeland in which they dwelt, though never owned. But it was promised by God.
  2. God heard His people. The Israelites had cried out to God in their suffering, and He heard them. Their pleas had not fallen on deaf ears. God heard them and cared for them.
  3. God remembered His word. His covenant was not null & void. What He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob concerning their descendants would come to pass.
    1. We have promises in Christ! God hears us as His people when we pray! God remembers the covenant we have in Jesus!

What God will do in the future…

6 Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

  1. God will deliver – God will rescue – God will redeem. All synonyms basically speaking of the same act: freeing the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. Don’t miss the main point: God Himself would work! They didn’t need to fear Pharaoh or his threats, because God was working – God was on the move! The Hebrews weren’t dependent on Pharaoh – they weren’t even dependent upon Moses; they were dependent upon God, and God was active!

7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.’ ”

  1. God will have a relationship with them: He would have them, and they would know Him. When they saw God move on their behalf in mighty ways, their doubts would be dissolved and they would come to the true fear and knowledge of the Lord. That’s when God would shower them with grace and give them their inheritance in the land of promise. When they knew God in truth, they would experience the life and blessing for which they longed.
  2. How do we know the Lord in truth? By looking to Jesus in faith. Likewise, He has moved in mighty ways on our behalf. The Hebrews looked back to the Passover & the Red Sea; we look to the cross and resurrection. We find our rescue in Jesus’ act of redemption, and now we know the Lord God as our King & we are His people. Now we have relationship with the One whom before we could not know. Now we have God the Holy Spirit within us, and the promise of heaven as our heritage. What the children of Israel experienced in shadow, we experience in truth!
  3. What a wonderful word to pass on to the Hebrew people! It should have given them hope, but sadly they weren’t looking for hope.
  • God’s unwavering faithfulness (9-13)

9 So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.

  1. They didn’t believe! They were too focused on their troubles to look to the promises of God. They could have had hope, but they made the choice to live in hopelessness because of their lack of faith.
  2. Note: their lack of faith did not stop God from working. 

10 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the children of Israel go out of his land.” 12 And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying, “The children of Israel have not heeded me. How then shall Pharaoh heed me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?”

  1. Moses commanded to return to Pharaoh and basically repeat the same message. In His great mercy, God was giving Pharaoh another chance to respond before beginning the cycle of plagues that would lead to the destruction of Israel.
  2. Moses’ objection: Why would Pharaoh pay attention to him? Why should Pharaoh believe someone whom the Hebrews did not? Moses had “uncircumcised lips” – he was treated by his own people as someone who was unclean.
  3. Of course, what Moses forgot was that God knew Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to Moses, no matter how well-received Moses might have been among the Hebrew people. This wasn’t about Moses; this was about the plan of God. (It’s not about you, either!)

13 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, and gave them a command for the children of Israel and for Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

  1. Even so, God’s command did not change. Neither the Hebrews’ lack of faith nor Pharaoh’s indifference changed what God had planned. God’s will does not depend on our faith. When we don’t believe, we’re the ones that miss out; not God.
  • Break: Moses’ genealogy (14-27)

14 These are the heads of their fathers’ houses: The sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel, were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. These are the families of Reuben. 15 And the sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. These are the families of Simeon.

  1. Going through the sons of Jacob through Leah, but not comprehensively. The listing will cover Levi, but not Judah. The point isn’t a comprehensive numbering of the nation of Israel (that comes later, in the book of Numbers); it’s a general background for Moses and Aaron. Who are these people who were chosen by God to lead Israel at this time? The family history answers that question.

16 These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the years of the life of Levi were one hundred and thirty-seven. 17 The sons of Gershon were Libni and Shimi according to their families. 18 And the sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. And the years of the life of Kohath were one hundred and thirty-three. 19 The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of Levi according to their generations.

  1. The names of the sons of Levi (Gershon, Kohath, & Merari) will become important again when it comes to the Levitical duties surrounding the tabernacle. Different clans had different duties – one’s family lineage determined one’s service in ministry. (Obviously not the case for today, but it worked for the nation of Israel.)

20 Now Amram took for himself Jochebed, his father’s sister, as wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses. And the years of the life of Amram were one hundred and thirty-seven.

  1. Moses’ immediate family, though his sister (Miriam) is not named. That isn’t too unusual, as the listing only includes men, per the culture at the time. 
  2. There are some questions of a potential time-gap here. Is this Amram the same Amram who was a grandson of Levi? There were 400 years of slavery, so this would seem rather improbable. Then again, when lifespans lasted 137, 133, 137 years (Levi, Kohath, Amram), with Moses being 80 years old when starting the Exodus, there seems to be enough overlap between them to make it possible.

21 The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri. 22 And the sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Zithri.

  1. Just wrapping up that family tree.

23 Aaron took to himself Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Nahshon, as wife; and she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 24 And the sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. These are the families of the Korahites. 25 Eleazar, Aaron’s son, took for himself one of the daughters of Putiel as wife; and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites according to their families.

  1. Priestly lineage, with the sons of Korah in-between. A bit ironic, considering the sons of Korah attempted to usurp the priesthood for themselves (Num 16).
  2. Nadab, Abihu are the two eldest sons of Aaron, who were initially chosen to serve with Aaron as priests. They died on the day of their consecration due to offering “strange fire” to God in the newly assembled tabernacle (Lev 10).
  3. Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron served as high priest, having received a special blessing from the Lord because of Phinehas’ zeal for the holiness of God in the face of wild rebellion and idolatry (Num 25).

26 These are the same Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said, “Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies.” 27 These are the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt. These are the same Moses and Aaron.

  1. A brief not to state why the genealogy was included. It identified Moses and Aaron to the later readers of the book. Moses had not been some random former Egyptian ruler who imposed his will on the Israelites; he was a Levite – a child of Abraham, just like the rest of them.
  2. There’s also a good reminder to the reader: by the time he/she reads this, the Exodus had already happened. Not one of God’s promises should be in doubt, because they had already historically come to pass. The people of Israel were free (though wandering in the Promised Land); God’s word is true!
  • Recap: God’s command (28-30)

28 And it came to pass, on the day the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 that the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “I am the LORD. Speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.” 30 But Moses said before the LORD, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh heed me?”

  1. Restatement of what came before, picking up the context leading on to Chapter 7.
  2. Question remains: Why should Pharaoh listen to Moses? God was about to tell him! It wasn’t what Moses could say or offer; it was all about God’s word and power. Moses wasn’t chosen for his negotiating skills; he was chosen simply due to God’s pleasure. God’s plan was working exactly as God knew it would – Moses simply needed to take things one step at a time in obedience.

Conclusion:

Had Moses failed? No. Had God failed? Perish the thought! God knew what His plan was, even if the Hebrews did not. Keep in mind, it wasn’t as if God hadn’t warned Moses or the Hebrews of Pharaoh’s stubborn disobedience – it’s that Moses and the Hebrews hadn’t remembered (or perhaps listened). Their eyes were so consumed by their circumstances that they couldn’t see the hand of God. Thankfully, God’s will was not limited by their lack of faith – but they certainly missed out on the peace and relationship they could have had with God during this time because of their lack of faith.

The same thing happens with us. Although God has His long-term plans in motion, all we see is what’s right in front of us. We declare our trust for a time, and then as soon as things get rough, we panic & flounder & complain to God about His supposed-absence. But God hasn’t left us at all – His plans have not changed. The problem isn’t with God; it’s with us. We aren’t looking for His plans; we’re looking for ours. And that’s more than a lack of faith…that’s disobedience.

Put your eyes back upon God, and trust Him to work His plans! What He does, He does for His glory. What He begins, He will bring to completion. Trust Him to work it all the way through, because He will.

Want proof? Look at the Exodus – it’s already done. Look at the cross – it’s already finished! God has worked through His long-term plan of rescue and redemption for you, and if you’re a born-again Christian, you’ve already taken part. You’ve already experienced the work of God on your behalf, in which He has overcome impossible situations to save. The Hebrews were trapped by slavery and Pharaoh; you were trapped by sin and death. Yet Jesus saved you! God worked according to His plan, and His plan was good!

If God did that with our eternal salvation, what else is there in our lives that compares? Trust Him!

Doubt and Disobedience

Posted: September 27, 2018 in Exodus, Uncategorized

Exodus 4, “Doubt and Disobedience”

One of the unique aspects of the Bible is its inclusion of disobedient people of faith. We expect it to list off people like the Babylonians, the Pharisees, or the heretics of the Old and New Testaments; we don’t expect it to include the disobedience of people we generally deem faithful to God. Peter was shown not only denying Jesus three times, but had to be personally confronted by Paul on his ethnic snobbery (thankfully temporary). David was a man after God’s own heart, but fell into the terrible sins of adultery and murder, and on top of all of that, he often failed as a father to his children. Jonah is perhaps the most infamous of disobedient prophets, having been specifically called by God, but who ran away from his calling, literally in the opposite direction. We’ve already seen it with Abraham and Isaac, as they lied about their marriage to their wives, and of course Jacob was famous for his scheming. 

But as important as those people are, what about the one man in the Old Testament who is perhaps the singular most influential man on the religion of the Hebrews? What about Moses? Surely this man, to whom God spoke as to a friend (Exo 33:11), lived a life of exemplary obedience and faith. Yes, Moses messed up the time he struck the rock rather than speaking to it, and was thus forbidden from entering the Promised Land, but that was the only time, right? Wrong. Moses’ ministry started out not from a position of faith, but from a position of doubt. When Moses was first called by God, he didn’t initially walk in faith; he walked in unbelief.

Thankfully, it didn’t last. God showed Moses mercy and grace, and Moses eventually did walk in humble faith, providing a wonderful example for the rest of us. But how wonderful is it that we not only have an example of Moses’ faith, but Moses’ doubt? After all, if Moses’ heart can change, so can ours. All of us have moments when we doubt the Lord. All of us have instances where we question whether or not we want to be obedient, and sometimes we outrightly refuse to do what God gives us to do. Does it mean we’re finished? Does it mean we have no more future with the Lord? Thankfully, no. If Moses’ disobedience can change to obedience by the grace of God, so can ours.

God’s people are to trust Him. Yet even when we don’t, the mercies of God never fail. Praise God that His mercies are more than our doubts!

The chapter break at Exodus 4 is somewhat artificial, as it continues the encounter Moses had with God on Mount Sinai. Remember that the Hebrew people were enslaved in Egypt. Although they had willingly gone down into Egypt during the time of a terrible famine, over the course of 400 years the attitudes of the Egyptians had changed towards them, and the Hebrews went from being the national shepherds to the national slaves. They cried out to God for help, and God heard their cries. 

God’s plan was seen in the life of Moses. Moses was miraculously prepared for his future ministry, and his life miraculously preserved, despite the attacks of Pharaoh upon the Hebrews in general, as well as the foolishness of young Moses himself. At 40 years old, Moses was as a fugitive from Egypt, but found refuge with the priest of Midian, whose daughter he married. Over the next 40 years, Moses served as a shepherd in the house of the priest, and eventually made his way to Mount Sinai, where he encountered the Angel of the Lord in a burning bush that was not consumed. God spoke with Moses, telling him His plan to deliver the Hebrews, and promising to fulfill the covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by bringing the people back to their land. The Lord revealed His divine name to Moses (I AM), saying how HE IS with His people, and would always be with them, providing for them every step of the way.

That was no doubt a lot for Moses to take in, and by this point some questions have popped up in his mind. He’s heard of God’s plan, but he isn’t so sure that he’s the right choice as God’s person. It’s with this that his objections begin…

Exodus 4

  • Doubting the call (4:1-17). Objection #1: No proof (1-9)

1 Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’ ”

  1. Out of all of the objections Moses raises, this is one of the more reasonable/understandable ones. After all, it’s one thing to claim to have received a revelation of God; it’s another to back it up with proof. Mental hospitals are full of people who claim to have seen Jesus (or to be Jesus). How can we sift between legitimate visions and outright delusions? How could the people of Israel? 40 years earlier, it would have seemed as if Moses had visions of personal grandeur – perhaps his return would be seen as more of the same. What would be the proof?
  2. BTW – Many people today have claimed visions of Christ, including scores of people in the Muslim world who have since placed their faith in Jesus. How can we tell who’s telling the truth & who isn’t? Sometimes we can’t…sometimes we have to simply take someone at their word. Even so, we have a gold standard: the written word of God. Whatever testimony we hear from someone, we need to match it up with what is written in the Bible. If a person claims to have a vision or revelation from the Lord, we need to ask if what they claim matches up with what is already revealed in the Scripture. Does it match up with what God has already said? If not, then it isn’t true.
  3. Moses asked for proof, and God graciously gave him three different signs.

2 So the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” 3 And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.

  1. Interestingly, God used what Moses had: “a rod.” Moses didn’t have to go on a quest to find something sacred or special from the past – he didn’t have to go get something blessed by a priest – he didn’t have to do anything except use what God already gave him. A shepherd’s rod was in his hand, and that was enough to be used by the Lord. If God can create man from the dust of the earth, surely He can turn something ordinary (a stick) into something special (a sign from God).
    1. God did that with the staff, and He does it with His people. We may be ordinary, but God can use us for His extraordinary work!
  2. What happened? Moses threw his staff on the ground, and it became a snake. Why a serpent? All kinds of theories have been suggested, some suggesting it goes back to the serpent in the Garden of Eden, God having victory over the serpent. Others suggest it was because snakes were viewed as sacred in Egypt, and thus God had victory over the spiritual powers of Egypt. Ultimately, the Scripture doesn’t tell us. All that is clear is that it was a shocking transformation showcasing the power of the true God over His creation. If He could turn a stick into a snake, just imagine what He could do to Pharaoh & Egypt!
  3. Some have wondered: was it real? Undoubtedly…Moses ran! Moses didn’t doubt if there was an actual serpent on the ground. Like most of us, he ran the opposite direction! Of course, that’s when God called him back and commanded him to get far closer than his comfort level.

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), 5 “that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

  1. Commanding something that sounds like it came right off the “Animal Planet” channel, God tells Moses to take the snake by the tail, and suddenly the animal once again became a staff. (And Moses’ heart probably started beating a bit slower again!) Although it was one sign, it was really a double-miracle. After all, it was one thing for the stick to change into a snake; it was another for it to turn back again. That sort of thing would be difficult (if not impossible) to fake as an illusion, and it would demonstrate to Pharaoh & the Hebrews that this wasn’t a trick up Moses’ sleeve; it was the power of the true God at work.
  2. And God emphasizes this as He gives the reason for the sign: “that they may believe…” Remember that Moses had asked for an authenticating sign to show to the Hebrews. Although this would take place in front of Pharaoh, it would first happen among God’s people, and the reason was so that they would believe. The people had prayed that God would hear them; the miracle would be proof that God had heard. Once they saw the sign, they were to believe. They had to take a step of faith, believing that this truly was a sign from God.
    1. We can hear testimonies and have the gospel clearly presented to us, but at some point we need to take a step of faith and believe. 
  3. The snake was an amazing sign, but it wasn’t the only one.

6 Furthermore the LORD said to him, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow.

  1. After the snake, there was a 2nd sign: leprosy. Moses placed his hand inside his clothes, as if someone today might take something from an inside jacket pocket, and when he took it out, it was covered with an obvious and horrible skin disease. What the Bible often calls “leprosy” is often thought of today as Hansen’s disease. The Biblical version of leprosy actually encompassed a whole host of skin diseases, not unlike how we use the term “cancer” to refer to any number of types of cancer (skin, liver, lung, etc.). Whatever it was that covered Moses’ hand, no doubt he was shocked when he saw it. On it was a disease the culture considered to be a death sentence – another demonstration of the immense power of Almighty God.

7 And He said, “Put your hand in your bosom again.” So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. 8 “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign.

  1. Healed! God conquers death, having complete power over it. Likewise, as leprosy is often a picture of sin in the Bible, God conquers sin. There is nothing He cannot cure, no sin He cannot forgive! What seems insurmountable in the eyes of men and women is nothing in the eyes of God.
    1. The key is to trust God according to His terms; not ours. God had commanded us to go through Jesus Christ alone.
  2. Note the progression in difficulty. If the 1st sign was somehow believed to be an illusion or some form of sleight-of-hand, the 2nd sign was undeniable. God was at work! 

9 And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.”

  1. God gives a 3rd He mercifully gives abundant proof to stubborn people. If the Hebrews talked themselves out of the first two miracles, they would have a third presented to them, once again showcasing the infinite power of the Creator God.
    1. BTW – God has given abundant proof to us: the resurrection of Christ! How is anyone to know beyond a doubt that the claims of Christianity are true? Because Jesus historically rose from the dead. His resurrection is the declaration of His deity, and it is the authentication that He is the way, the truth, and the life.
  2. What was the last sign given to Moses? River water would turn to blood. It wouldn’t become “like” blood – it would just be reddish as if it had rust deposits or certain kinds of algae in it; it would “become blood on the dry land.” There would be a physical change that was undeniable. This would strike at the heart of Egypt, in that it was a direct attack on the Nile river itself. It would be impossible to ignore. And for the Hebrew slaves, it would be a clear sign of promised victory over Pharaoh!
    1. Interestingly, this sign is duplicated by Moses as the first of the plagues. What was done on a small scale to the Hebrews was later done on a national scale in front of Pharaoh & all Egypt.
    2. Looking forward in time, it perhaps prefigures the later miracle of Jesus of turning water into wine. If God can turn water in to a symbol of judgment, He can also turn it into a symbol of joy and blessing. There again, it was done as a special sign, to get people to place their faith in Jesus as God.
  • Objection #2: No skill (10-12)

10 Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

  1. In Moses’ 2nd objection, he said he had difficulty speaking. Literally, he said he was “heavy” of speech & tongue, implying that it didn’t work right. Question: how would that be possible for a former general in the army of Egypt? Centuries later, when the deacon Stephen defended himself before the Sanhedrin, he said that Moses was mighty in words and deeds among the Egyptians (Acts 7:22). Was Stephen wrong – did he refer to tradition, without knowing the Scripture? The very fact that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (1st 5 books of the Bible) demonstrates that Moses was extremely literate. So was Moses lying? Probably not…he just lacked confidence. Some have suggested that Moses was referring to difficulty with foreign languages. He was undoubtedly familiar with Hebrew, but not necessarily fluent in it at the time (though he grew in his knowledge while in the wilderness). Remember he was primarily raised around Egyptians, and then spent the next 40 years in Midian with his father-in-law, who perhaps spoke some kind of Akkadian (either Assyrian or some other Semitic dialect). For him to speak on behalf of the Hebrew people, going back and forth between the Hebrews and Egyptians, was probably an intimidating thought to Moses.
  2. Even so, if the first excuse was reasonable, this one was not. Moses’ calling was not dependent upon his ability. It was only dependent upon the Lord, whom Moses clearly doubted at the moment.

11 So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

  1. What God told Moses is what the Scripture declares of all of God’s people: God equips the called. It’s been often said that God does not need our ability; He only requires our availability. Skills can be given, either naturally or supernaturally. Moses certainly didn’t need any skills to part the Red Sea; that was something God miraculously equipped Him to do. The ability to speak is no different. It didn’t matter what Moses thought he was able to do; it only mattered what God is able to do. God created the heavens and earth by His word…words are no problem for God! What was a problem was Moses’ lack of faith and trust.
  2. How did God deal with this objection? He promised His power and His presence: “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” God wasn’t about to abandon Moses when Moses needed Him most. God wouldn’t hang him out to dry with the Hebrews, or with Pharaoh. God called Moses to the task, and God would give Moses everything needed for the task. And what needed most was His presence! God Himself would be with Moses. Remember, that is part of the promise of God’s name “I AM.” God IS, and always will BE, and part of that was the promise that “I will certainly be with you,” (Exo 3:12). Moses was not called to do this alone…not by a long shot! God would be with him.
    1. Why do we so often make the same mistake as Moses? Why do we believe God is going to hang us out to dry when we need Him? Think about your fear when you know you’re supposed to share the gospel with someone. Do you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach, thinking, “I don’t know how this person is going to respond… I don’t know if I’ll have the answers… I’m afraid I’m going to mess it up…”? Not so! Christian, there is zero doubt that God has called us to the task of evangelism, because that is the stated command of Jesus in the Great Commission as we make disciples of the nation. We have been called; we will be equipped! We have been called; Jesus is with us! He will not leave us nor forsake us when we need Him. Step out in faith, and see how God provides for you in the moment!
  3. Question: Does God really make the disabled people of the world, “the mute, the deaf,…the blind”? The Scripture is clear that God knits us together in our mothers’ wombs (Ps 139:13) – it is clear that God is sovereign over all things and all people (Pro 16:4) – it is clear that God knows us intimately, even before we ever knew ourselves (Eph 1:4). If this is the case, we cannot help but conclude that God makes all people as they are…including those with so-called “disabilities.” Granted, the existence of disabilities is due to the Fall, but God’s sovereignty over these things is not diminished by the Fall. God is still God, even with all of the consequences in this world that have been allowed in by the sin of mankind. With that in mind, what does this tell us about people with disabilities? They are beloved and made by Almighty God. They are just as valuable in His sight, as is any other man or woman made in His image. There is no difference between the seeing and the blind, the hearing and the deaf, or the person with normal chromosomes and the one with Down Syndrome. Each is loved by God, and each has been purchased by the blood of Jesus.
    1. Along these lines, abortion is evil for all kinds of reasons, not the least is when a baby is aborted due to potential mental or physical disabilities. Parents often worry that the child will be a burden, or has been “mis-made” by God. God doesn’t make mistakes – He makes those children exactly as they are, and when seen rightly, those children are blessings; not burdens.
  • Objection #3: Not me (13-17)

13 But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”

  1. Note the italicized “else” in the NKJV. This is an indication that the word was supplied by the translators to bring out the sense. The literal reading (at first glance) might sound a bit better: “Send, I beg you, by the hand [of whom] you will send,” (Kaiser, Expositor’s). To Western ears, that might sound like Moses’ submission unto God, as in “Thy will be done.” Yet Moses’ intent was plainly as the English translation is rendered. When Moses asked God to send someone, he meant “any someone but me.” (Notice Moses called Him “Master,” but not by God’s revealed name…shows his hesitancy)
  2. Moses’ previous two objections could have been arguable (the first more than the second), but this final objection was flat-out disobedience. He simply refused to go. God called him, and Moses said “no.”
  3. How different than Isaiah! Centuries later, when Isaiah had his own supernatural revelation of God, Isaiah had a far different response to God’s call. Having seen God’s glory, the reality of his own sin, and the cleansing power of God’s forgiveness, Isaiah was ready to be used by the Lord. Isaiah 6:8, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”” Thankfully, Moses did not always resist the Lord, but how much better it is to have the response of Isaiah than Moses to the call of God! 

14 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, …

  1. Does God ever get angry with His people? Yes! God was angry with Moses, and rightly so. Moses had flat-out refused a direct command from Almighty God. His rebellion may have been stated in polite terms, but it was rebellion, none the less. At this moment, Moses deserved death…thankfully, God did not give it. He is a merciful God! 
  2. What Moses did with God at this point was little different than what the nation of Israel did when they refused to enter the Promised Land at Kadesh Barnea. Likewise, God’s anger was kindled against them, too. God was fully prepared to judge the entire nation, and start over again with Moses (Num 14:11-12). Thankfully, God turned from His anger at the intercession of Moses on the peoples’ behalf, and He allowed them to go into the Promised Land (after a 40 year death march).
    1. Perhaps this was one reason Moses interceded for them so passionately. He understood their fear from a first-hand perspective!
  3. God is God, and He is to be obeyed…period. Any refusal on our parts is criminal rebellion. On the battlefield, it would be called treason – it’s no wonder why God responds with righteous anger! Yet His mercies are abundant! He gives us the opportunity to be forgiven and cleansed through Jesus. He so often extends to us another chance to be obedient, just like He extended to Moses.

…and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.

  1. God gave mercy when God sent Aaron. How much mercy is seen in this act? Apparently, Aaron was already on his way from Egypt. God foreknew Moses’ disobedience, though God gave Moses the chance to freely walk by faith. But because He knew what Moses would choose, God mercifully set another plan in motion before the choice was made. God’s will was going to be done, no matter what, and He graciously still gave Moses a huge part to play.
  2. Even so, there is perhaps a bit of judgment here. After all, Moses had been personally and specifically called by God. Moses had been given the opportunity to do this just on his own, with God – now Moses had to share that position with someone else.
  3. Question: Why mention that Aaron was a “Levite”? The Levitical priesthood was not yet established, and Moses surely knew his own heritage, especially if he was familiar with his older brother. The priesthood was not yet given to the tribe of Levi, but it seems likely God foreshadows it a bit, which is perhaps another part of the consequences to Moses. Moses would be used by God in wonderful ways (by God’s mercy), but Moses would not be included in the future priesthood. Did God give Moses mercy? Yes! But Moses still missed out on what could have been.
    1. God’s mercy & forgiveness doesn’t mean that there are no consequences for our choices.

15 Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do. 16 So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God. 17 And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.”

  1. Aaron was to be like the prophet, and Moses was to be like God. The prophet speaks, yet God acts. This would be apparent to both the Hebrews and the Egyptians, which is why Moses is consistently credited with the speech and actions throughout the rest of the book of Exodus.

By this point, Moses is fully resigned to the work given him by God (hopefully with joy, although the Scripture doesn’t record Moses’ reaction to all of this). The meeting at the burning bush is done, and now it’s time to get to work.

  • Doubting the covenant (18-31). Initial semi-obedience (18-23)

18 So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

  1. There’s a bit of obedience here, in that Moses asks to return to Egypt. This was what God called him to do, so he asked to go do it. That he asked permission of his father-in-law was the culturally acceptable practice at the time, and it would have been wrong for Moses to simply pack up & leave.
  2. There’s a bit of disobedience as well, in that Moses didn’t give the full story. Nothing is said here about his encounter with God, and his holy commissioning. Besides, Moses knew full & well that his countrymen were alive in Egypt, as those were the very people God sent him to deliver. Even if “my brethren” is taken to mean immediate family, Moses knew Aaron was alive, for God had specifically told him so.
    1. We don’t know why Moses was hesitant to tell the full truth, but many of us can understand his hesitancy. We’ve been in positions when we know we’re supposed to walk by faith, but we weren’t sure how to tell other people about it. The right response: just tell the truth. Moses had been called by God, and that would have been a witness to his father-in-law, whether Jethro believed him or not. All we can do is trust God & walk by faith…what others think is of no consequence.

19 Now the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go, return to Egypt; for all the men who sought your life are dead.” 20 Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

  1. Whatever reasons Moses gave for leaving, God gave him reassurances for his journey. Moses wouldn’t be walking into Egypt as a fugitive, with an APB on him or a bounty on his head. He would be safe in the country (although he wouldn’t be very welcome for long).
  2. In the end, Moses left for Egypt. (Good!) Notice the plural “sons.” Exodus 2:22 spoke of one son, Gershom, but we read of no other births. Yet we know of a second son, Eliezer (Exo 18:4, “My God is help”), although we don’t know of the time of his birth. It’s possible Eliezer was born around the time of Moses’ calling on Mount Sinai, and he was named in response to that initial encounter. Whatever the case, Moses loaded up his family, took the rod appointed by God, and took the road to Egypt.

21 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.

  1. Moses would do the wonders, but who would give them to Moses? As was said on Mt. Sinai, God empowers His people for what He’s called them to do. God had “put” these wonders in Moses’ hand, and God would ensure they would come to pass.
  2. Yet Moses’ work would not stop with the three wonders. God made it clear from the very beginning that Pharaoh would not let the Hebrews go, even in view of the many miracles (Exo 3:19). Here, God says why: “I will harden his heart.” Pharaoh would stubbornly refuse to free the Hebrews, partly of his own choice, and partly of God’s. Out of the nine initial plagues, the first five declare how Pharaoh hardened his own heart; starting in the sixth, the Scripture says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. God gave him over to his own devices. The more Pharaoh said “no” to God, the more God let him, to the point that God simply confirmed what it was Pharaoh had already determined. Does it mean that God was to blame? Certainly not! Pharaoh was fully responsible for his own sin, and had chosen to harden his heart many times over. God simply (and sovereignly) agreed.
    1. Can people get to a point today that they no longer get the opportunity to decide for themselves? Best not to find out! God does give people over to their sin, and it seems apparent in the lives of many. What that point is for each individual, we cannot know. What you can know is that as long as your heart is not yet completely hardened to the gospel, and you sense a calling to be saved, then you still have that opportunity. Don’t waste it! Don’t let your heart grow heart to the gospel of Jesus!

22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.” ’ ”

  1. What was the message? “Let My people go.” But more than that, the message was that Israel was God’s son, and even the son of privilege, “My firstborn.” Contrast this imagery with Pharaoh, who believed he was the most valued man on earth, being the embodiment of a god. This sort of command would have gone against everything Pharaoh believed…and that was the point! It was meant to get Pharaoh’s attention, which it did.
  2. With Pharaoh’s disobedience, there would be dire consequences. God loves His people, and God punishes those who persecute them. In this case, it would be the death of Pharaoh’s own firstborn, a foreshadowing of the future Passover.

So Moses is prepared, and he’s on his way. All is well, right? Maybe not. There comes an event in the middle of all of this that threatens to derail the entire plan of Israel’s deliverance…

  • Covenantal disobedience (24-26)

24 And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him. 25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” 26 So He let him go. Then she said, “You are a husband of blood!”—because of the circumcision.

  1. It seems like a completely strange event, almost antithetical to everything else that had happened. On one hand, God called Moses on Mt. Sinai, even becoming angry with him when Moses initially refused to go. On top of this, God promised Moses safety in Egypt, telling him that the current Pharaoh would not attempt to kill him. Yet at the point that Moses is finally en-route to Egypt in obedience, God Himself almost kills him!
  2. What did it look like? We don’t know. Some suggest that Moses became violently and supernaturally sick, unable to do anything for himself. The text leaves open the possibility for another appearance of the Angel of the Lord who might have personally threatened Moses with death.
  3. Of course the bigger question is: why kill Moses? What did Moses do that deserved such a response? Look at the context of what his wife Zipporah did: she circumcised her son (either Gershom and/or Eliezer). Moses, as the appointed deliverer of God’s people, sent by God to lead the people into the promised land – the land specifically appointed to them by God because of the Abrahamic covenant – this Moses had ignored the very sign of the covenant for his own family. He had been disobedient to the fundamental tenets of the Hebrew faith. How could he be a leader among the Hebrews, if he hadn’t even followed through on the basics? How could he extol the covenant promises of God, if he himself hadn’t been faithful to the covenant? At this point, Moses was an unworthy representative of Almighty God, thus he would face the judgment of God.
  4. That’s when his wife took bloody action. Zipporah did what Moses ought to have done in the first place, circumcising her son and casting the proof down at her husband’s feet. Graphic? Yes – but it got the point across. Moses had not only rebelled against God by himself on Mount Sinai, but he had rebelled against God within his own family.
    1. Husbands & fathers, we have a solid warning in Moses. Don’t neglect your first ministry field: your family. 
  5. Thankfully, Moses’ failure wasn’t forever disqualifying. Once more, God showed mercy and reaffirmed his calling.
  • Finally, faith (27-31)

27 And the LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him on the mountain of God, and kissed him.

  1. Gets back to what God told Moses on the mountain, showing how God had called Aaron to leave Egypt.
  2. Like Moses, Aaron had his own revelation from the Lord, and also had to walk by faith.
  3. Met at Mt Sinai, with a joyful greeting after 40 years of separation.

28 So Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him.

  1. Despite all his earlier objections, Moses was faithful with what God had given him.
  2. Notice that Moses was, in essence, a messenger. He passed on to Aaron what had been told him by God. This is evangelism. This is discipleship.
  3. What he did with Aaron, Aaron did with the elders of Israel. 

29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. 30 And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people.

  1. Again, we are called to be faithful messengers.
  2. Moses didn’t have to invent the message, nor did he have to make up the signs. All he had to do was be faithful to God’s call. If he trusted the calling and equipping of God, then he could be sure God would do the rest. And God did!

31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.

  1. The result? People believed & they worshiped! Notice why they worshiped: Because of answered prayer. They had groaned out to God, praying that God would see them, hear them, and visit them…and He did!
  2. Why do we worship? For many reasons (one of which is simply because God is God & worthy of worship), but specifically because God has seen us, heard us, and visited us in the Person of Jesus Christ!

Conclusion:

The remainder of Moses’ life is a wonderful testimony of what it looks like to walk in humble faith with God. Moses wasn’t perfect, but he provides an excellent example of how a man or woman of God ought to live. He didn’t exactly start out that way! At his beginning, he was a lot like the rest of us: scared sinners hesitant to trust God.

Beloved, we can trust our God! He is the Almighty King, and He never fails. What He calls you to do, He equips you for. Maybe it’s sharing the gospel with a co-worker or family member – maybe it’s extending forgiveness to someone who did something unforgiveable – maybe it’s loving someone with the same love Christ gave us, by laying down your life for him/her. Whatever it is, if God called you to it (and He calls us to all of those things!), then be certain God will equip you for it.

Let us stop with our doubts and our objections! Let us stop letting our fears get in the way of our faith! Instead of saying “Send someone else,” may we say “Send me!”

Moses Meets “I AM”

Posted: September 20, 2018 in Exodus, Uncategorized

Exodus 3, “Moses Meets I AM”

We refer to the event as “Moses and the Burning Bush,” but if we think about what’s actually included in the text, the title misses the point. Obviously Moses’ attention was caught by the burning bush (as we’ll see), but the main event was the revelation, presence, and commissioning of Almighty God. Moses is certainly seen in Exodus 3, but he isn’t the main character; the “I AM” is.

The Lord God appears in the burning bush for a reason: to call Moses to the ministry appointed for him, and to reassure His people that God has heard their prayers. For 400 years, it seemed as if God had been silent…no more! God spoke, and what He said changed the world!

The book of Exodus began with the children of Israel in Egypt. No longer were they a large clan headed by a single patriarch (Jacob/Israel); they had grown into a large nation. So large, in fact, that their population growth scared the native Egyptians, and the Pharaoh instituted the first anti-Israel pogrom in history. The Hebrews were enslaved, forced into hard labor – and when that did not slow the population, the Pharaoh ordered every Hebrew newborn son killed at birth. Thankfully, the Hebrew midwives disobeyed, fearing God more than Pharaoh…but it didn’t stop the Egyptian king. He ordered a more direct approach: commanding that every newborn son be cast into the river.

Into all of this, Moses was born. Through a series of God-directed events, Moses’ life was not only preserved, but he was adopted into the royal household of Egypt with his own birth-mother serving as his nursemaid. As the years passed, Moses’ life would be preserved once more by God – this time due to Moses’ own impetuous behavior. Thinking he could act as a Hebrew deliverer, Moses killed an Egyptian who was caught beating a Hebrew. Not only was Moses’ act unappreciated by his kinsmen, it endangered him with Pharaoh, and he fled for his life. By God’s providence, Moses found safety with the priest of Midian. Moses wed one of his daughters and settled into the life of a shepherd.

Moses was 40 years old when he left Egypt, and he spent the next 40 years in Midian as a shepherd. What now? Was that it? With his background, Moses had assumed he was destined to be a national deliverer, but perhaps he was wrong. Maybe he was always meant to be a shepherd, having a quiet life like many honorable ranchers today. Maybe Moses’ initial thoughts were wrong.

They weren’t. Where Moses went wrong was where many of us go wrong: being unwilling to wait on the timing of God. He (like us) wanted to rush into things, doing it his way, and then became disillusioned when things fell apart. (Sound familiar?) What Moses needed to do was wait. Now the time was right – not just for Moses, but for all Israel. God had not forgotten any of them. He had everything perfectly planned, and things would proceed according to His own timetable.

Trust the plans of God! Don’t lose faith in Him or in His works. God is the “I AM” – there is nothing that is beyond Him!

Exodus 3

  • God’s presence and proclamation (1-10)

1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

  1. From royal court to shepherd’s field. Quite the change! According to historian Josephus, at one point Moses led the Egyptian army to victory over the Ethiopians. (Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter 10) He went from being an adopted royal son and celebrated military general, to being an infamous fugitive, and from being an infamous fugitive to an obscure shepherd living in the backwaters of the ancient near east. Moses’ 2nd 40 years were vastly different to his 1st 40 years! In Egypt, he learned his academics and worldly prowess; in Midian he learned humility and service. He went from commanding soldiers to caring for sheep. No doubt, it was his latter experience that best prepared him to lead Israel!
    1. Due to our shorter lifespans, it can be difficult for us to imagine. After all, at 80 years old, most of us are preparing to meet our Maker; we certainly don’t imagine embarking on a 3rd career! Yet for Moses at 80 years old, he was just getting started…and from a place he could have hardly imagined. Don’t discount the ways God can use you! When God wants to use someone, He does – no matter what his/her background or supposed abilities. Maybe the time you’re in today is a proving/preparing ground for something God has for you in the future. Or, maybe He’ll have you stay right where you are…that’s all up to Him. Just do the most with what you have! Glorify God right where you are, and leave the rest to Him!
  2. Although it can be a bit confusing, Jethro = Reuel, and Mount Horeb = Mount Sinai. It’s uncertain why the Bible uses different names to refer to the same people/locations, but it wasn’t all that uncommon. It’s not uncommon for us, either. In DFW, the loop can either be Interstate 635 or LBJ Freeway. Sometimes people are referred to by their titles (Doctor, Judge, President), sometimes by a nickname, and sometimes by their given name. It should be no surprise that ancient people did the same thing.
  3. Where is Horeb/Sinai? That’s a matter of much debate! Some say that it is located in the Sinai Peninsula (though the actual mountain within a particular mountain range is debated), and some say it ought to be closer to, if not in, modern-day Saudi Arabia (and again, various locations are suggested). Note: Horeb/Sinai need not be in Midian (in fact, the Bible indicates that it was not, for Jethro later left Sinai to return to his home in Midian, Exo 18:27); it just needs to be accessible to Midian. Exodus 3:1 says that Moses went “to the back of the desert,” meaning the far-off, hinder parts. It wasn’t unusual for shepherds to lead their sheep far from home (per Joseph having to travel so far away to find his brothers, Gen 37:17). Moses could have to any one of the proposed locations, with the text still being accurate.
    1. The location of Mt. Sinai was known for generations: Elijah went to Sinai when he fled Jezebel (1 Kings 19), and even Paul mentioned that Mt. Sinai was located in Arabia (Gal 4:25 – in which the Sinai Peninsula was included). In the end, does it really matter if we know the exact location of Mt. Sinai? The truth of the account does not hinge on the identification of the mountain, and having an unquestioned location only opens the door to potential idolatry. Ultimately, we do not need an archeological site for Mt. Sinai; we look forward to the heavenly Mt. Zion and the New Jerusalem!
  4. So Moses was doing what he always did for the past forty years: tending sheep in the wilderness. He had gone far from home (not unusual), but was going about his daily business. That’s when something truly unusual happened.

2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”

  1. The Angel of YHWH appeared, but this was a very different kind of appearance. Instead of taking human form as He had with Hagar & Abraham (Gen 16, Gen 22), He appeared “in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.” Perhaps the Angel took the form of a man from inside the fire in the bush, but the text does not specify. All it says is that the Angel appeared in the flame, and from verse 4 we know that this Angel was God. With that in mind, put it together: if God had a visible appearance to Moses, who did Moses see? Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15), so this must have been a pre-incarnate appearance of God the Son. The Son did not officially (and eternally) take on human flesh until He became a baby in Mary’s womb, so He could previously appear in any fashion He chose. This time, it was a flame, and a special one at that: it was a flame of fire that did not consume the bush in which it was kindled.
  2. Now that would have stood out! (And it certainly got Moses’ attention!) Remember that Moses was in the desert/wilderness. A dried-up bush ought to have been consumed by fire in a matter of seconds, yet it endured. It persevered as though it was not harmed in the slightest. It was a visual paradox & oxymoron. Yet it was perfect! Normally, if we think of God’s holiness like fire, we would assume instant consumption and destruction. After all, the Scriptures proclaim that God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29). So why would God be in a burning bush that was not consumed? Again: it showed preservation – protection. God is truly holy, but the delicate bush was not harmed. This is nothing less than a picture of grace! God chose to be revealed in the bush, and He chose that the bush remain, so it did. What a great picture to set the stage for His call to Moses! God chose this imperfect man Moses, just like God chose this imperfect people of Israel – and His choice was for grace, love, protection, and blessing. God is truly holy and set apart from His people, but He was inviting them to worship Him in truth, and inviting Moses to be a part of His plan. This wasn’t something any of them deserved, but it was what God chose to give.
    1. God has chosen to give us grace! Do we deserve anything from God other than His wrath? Absolutely not. We deserve to be consumed in holy fire, to be burned up in angry, yet holy, justice. But because of the grace of Jesus, we aren’t. Because of Jesus we are not consumed. Instead, we are purified – we are made holy by His wondrous work. Moses saw a picture of the grace of God; we live it!

4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”

  1. Moses did the natural thing, which was to come near and look. That was when he heard the voice of YHWH God speak to him, commanding him to remove his shoes. Not that Moses’ sandals were inherently sinful; this was a symbolic act of the sin that was inherent in Moses himself. By removing the unclean sandals, it was an act of reverence for God’s holy presence.
  2. And that’s the key. Sixty seconds prior, there was nothing special about that piece of ground. It was just mountain dirt and a dried-up bush – the same as hundreds of others Moses had passed by. What made it special? The presence of God. What had been common was now utterly holy. What had been earthly was now touched by heavenly glory. The presence of God made all the difference.
    1. How true this is on so many other levels for the Christian! Remember who you are in Christ: a child of God, both born of the Spirit and given the Spirit of adoption – a co-heir with Jesus in His inheritance. Our bodies as believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit as He actually indwells us, having sealed us for eternity. Put it all together, and what are we? Holy! No doubt we still deal with our sinful nature, struggling with the person we used to be, but in Christ we have been transformed from the inside-out – we have been made new creations. What made the difference? The presence of God. You want to talk about grace? How about this: Almighty God lives inThat’s grace!

6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.

  1. Remember that although Moses was raised in the polytheistic royal house of Egypt, Moses had always known he was a Hebrew. His mother was his nursemaid, and as a younger man Moses attempted to act on behalf of the Hebrews. Even so, there is no indication in the Bible that Moses had any sort of previous relationship of worship with God. He knew the Hebrew history with the covenant God, but it’s impossible to know what Moses believed of that God. All of that changed in an instant! Whatever Moses may have thought about God in the past, all of a sudden he had the true God revealing Himself and speaking. The God speaking through the bush is THE God! He is the one spoken of throughout all the Hebrew history, the covenant God of Moses’ fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (And as Jesus pointed out, the fact that God IS the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is proof that all the patriarchs still live. ~ Mk 12:26)
  2. Moses’ response? Fear, and justifiably so! After all, if God gave you a visual revelation, you would be afraid to look, too! Question: What kind of fear did Moses have? There’s a difference between a healthy fear of fire, and an unhealthy fear of clowns (coulrophobia). The Hebrew word translates exactly as we might think: “fear, be in awe,” and depending on the context it could even refer to “terror” or other extreme forms of fright. Interestingly, the ancient Jews who translated the Hebrew into Greek did not use a parallel word that might suggest a similar range of emotion (φόβος ~ phobia); instead, they used a word that spoke more specifically of “reverent regard,” rather than outright terror. They seemed to believe that Moses had a healthy righteous fear of God, rather than an unhealthy fright. How can we tell the difference? Moses was afraid to look upon God, but he didn’t run away. No matter how afraid Moses may have been, he feared God enough to know he couldn’t leave. A healthy fear of God drives us to God; an unhealthy fear does not.
    1. Some people claim that God isn’t to be feared; He’s to be loved. The Bible makes no such distinction. To properly fear the Lord is to love Him, and it’s impossible to say that we love the Lord if we do not fear Him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10), and those who love Jesus keep His commandments (Jn 14:21, implying a righteous fear and obedience). We are to fear the Lord, and we are to fear Him rightly.
    2. What does that look like? It looks like worship, reverence, respect, obedience. Those who fear the Lord delight in God’s word and commands – those who fear the Lord worship God alone, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Those who fear the Lord live their lives in service of the Lord, in whatever capacity the Lord has given them to serve. Fear the Lord!

7 And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.

  1. In this, God refers to Exodus 2:24. The Hebrews in Egypt had groaned and cried out in prayer because of their oppression, and God heard their prayers. God saw them, heard their cries, knew their hearts, remembering His covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In response, God promised to act. He had “come down.” Being that God is spirit and omnipresent, there is no need for God to literally & physically “descend” from heaven to earth (so to speak). This is symbolic language – God is simply saying He has “come down” in a way that the Hebrews could see. God had always been involved with their situation; now they would see His involvement…and His work would be undeniable!
  2. The end result from all their suffering would be inheritance of the Promised Land. Remember a major part of God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the promise of the land then known as Canaan. The time had come, and the land was good! It was “flowing with milk and honey.” If the Hebrews held fast to God, they would see their home. God had not forgotten His promise; His people needed to prepare themselves to see them come to pass! (Don’t take God’s promises for granted! Don’t let your excitement for the things of God grow cold or routine!

9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

  1. God does not ignore evil. Again, He had heard their cries, and He saw their state. He knew the sufferings they faced, and He would act on their behalf. The Egyptians may have seemed has if they had all the power, but soon they would all learn differently! The Almighty God would be their judge!
  2. And God’s instrument in all of this would be Moses. After revealing Himself to Moses and telling him all about the things He would do for Israel, God made it clear: “Moses, you’re going to be involved!” God had a plan for this 80 year-old shepherd. It wasn’t time for retirement; it was time for redemption!
  3. Obviously that got Moses’ attention as well, and made him more than a bit nervous!
  • God’s person and power (11-15)

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

  1. It’s difficult to blame Moses for his first set of questions. Any one of us might have asked some of the same things. First, Moses recognized his lack of authority. “Who am I?” IOW: “I’m a nobody! I’m a fugitive & a current shepherd. I don’t have any qualifications for this!” And he would have been right. Who was Moses? No one, apart from God. Moses had nothing of his own to offer, and Moses (rightly) knew it. This was quite a change from 40 years earlier! Back in Egypt, Moses attempted to assert his authority, and he was roundly rejected by the Hebrews (Exo 2:14). Earlier, Moses simply assumed he could be in command, probably due to his background. This time, Moses knew better. He didn’t have anything on his own that qualified him to do anything for God, much less lead the people of God.
  2. God’s answer: Moses wasn’t going on his authority; he was going with God. God would be with him, empowering him for the task, and any questions that remained would be answered when the nation returned to Mt. Sinai. The events at Mount Horeb/Sinai would be “a sign” to the children of Israel. Not that the Hebrews would have to wait that long! God gave all kinds of authenticating signs through Moses, including the 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. But just in case that wasn’t enough (!), God Himself would personally appear in glory on Mount Sinai in full view of the nation of Israel, and they would hear His voice and tremble. If they wanted to know that Almighty YHWH God had truly sent Moses, they would have their questions answered!
    1. Are we qualified to do anything for God? Not in ourselves! But when we are in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, God goes with us and uses us for His glory!

13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

  1. Legitimate question. 400 years had passed since Joseph. The knowledge of the true God remained among the children of Israel, but who knows to what extent? They lived in a polytheistic world, so how would they know which god had sent Moses? How would they know that Moses served the true God of their forefathers? Moses asked for a name, and unlike with Jacob in centuries past (Gen 32:29), God gave one.

14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

  1. Who is God? He is “I AM,” the self-existent God. It is the perfect name for God to refer to Himself. Think about it: we are named by our parents, but God has no parents – He simply IS. There was not a moment He came into existence; He has always existed. Everything had a starting point with the exception of God. What better name could He call Himself, other than “I AM”? – “I AM WHO I AM” (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה), exactly what Jesus referred to when He said to the people of Jerusalem: John 8:58–59, “(58) Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (59) Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”  Why did those Jews pick up stones? Because they understood exactly what Jesus was saying: He was equal with the Almighty I AM who spoke with Moses on the mountain. Jesus, as God the Son, is, was, and is to come – He is I AM!
    1. Is this the God you trust? Is this the God you worship? Not only do people have a tendency to invent their own god (idolatry), but when they do, they make their god too small. The true God isn’t small at all – there is nothing beyond Him, for He is beyond existence itself! The true God is the Creator, the source of all life, the source of everything that can be imagined. Even our imaginations find their origins in Him, for He gives us the capability to think & dream! (How sad we so often use it in rebellion against Him!) Beware the idolatry of a god who’s too small! God is I AM, revealed to us in Jesus Christ. There is nothing that is beyond Him!
  2. This is how God refers to Himself, but how are others to refer to Him? The same way they did back in Genesis in the lives of the patriarchs.

15 Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’

  1. God refers to Himself as I AM, which makes sense, speaking from the 1st To His covenant people, He is YHWH, commonly written in our Bibles as “the Lord.” Most English Bibles follow the tradition of the LXX, which substituted the word “Lord” (κύριος) for God’s name, which in turn followed the Hebrew tradition of not saying God’s name aloud. (The mispronunciation of “Jehovah” was a result of mistaking the Hebrew convention for this practice.) The name itself is most likely derived from the Hebrew verb for “to be,” making it the 3rd person version of the name God spoke for Himself in the 1st person. To God Himself, He is “I AM;” to His people, His name is “HE IS.” It speaks of His eternal self-existence, and alludes to His promise to always be with us, which leads into the other primary description of God: He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the covenant-keeping God of Israel. HE IS that God, the same “Elohim” and “El Shaddai” of the forefathers – the God who has always existed and the God who has always been with His people.
  2. This is who God is, and who He will always be. He is to be known this way forever, and He is! Even through Jesus, God is still I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. None of that has changed in Jesus; Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of all the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When we worship Jesus, we worship the same God that created the world and Who called Abraham to a destiny!
  3. Of course, that destiny still needed to be fulfilled, so God went on to tell Moses how to go about it.
  • God’s plan and promise (16-22)

16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; 17 and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” ’

  1. If any of this sounds familiar, it should. God had just gotten done telling Moses all of these things directly, and now He gives it to Moses to share. Moses was basically to go tell others what God had told him.
  2. Question: Couldn’t all of this have been summarized? God had already mentioned all of these people groups in verse 8. Why mention them all again? It emphasizes that the promised land was already populated. Although the land would be rich with blessing (“flowing with milk and honey”), the children of Israel would have to walk by faith in God in order to receive it. The land was undoubtedly a gift of God, by His grace and His power. There was no way that the Israelites would be able to walk into this land by themselves and claim it as their own; much work was left to be done. But if God could get them out of Egypt, He could surely get them into the Promised Land. What was impossible for men is possible with God, and it’s all due to the grace and power of God.
    1. This is salvation in a nutshell! The picture is one even the author of Hebrews paints, showing that the land of promise was a picture of rest for the Israelites, but it wasn’t the real rest. The real rest was neither the land, nor the day of rest (the Sabbath), but the true rest of God: the rest from working towards salvation (Heb 4:1-10). The true rest is Jesus! But rest is impossible to find, without Jesus. There are too many obstacles in the way, too many masters to which we are enslaved. Israel had to deal with Egypt, and then with the Canaanites; we have to deal with our sin & death, and then the ongoing threat of our fleshly nature. What can we do? Our situation is hopeless…but not in Christ! In Christ, we have rest, peace, freedom, and joy! All of it is due to His grace and His power!
  3. This was the long-term plan Moses was to share with the elders; there was also a short-term plan for the time being.

18 Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’

  1. The initial plan: Moses and the Hebrew elders were to ask Pharaoh for a 3-day journey. They’d go into the wilderness, worship God and (presumably) return. Was this deceitful? It was supposed to be a test run, giving Pharaoh the opportunity to show mercy. If Pharaoh responded in kindness, then the next step would be taken at that point. As it was, God knew Pharaoh wouldn’t do it.

19 But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go.

  1. From the outset, God knew Pharaoh’s response. He knew Pharaoh would say “no,” and harden his heart against the command of God. Question: if God knew, why did God still command Moses to ask? Answer: Because God is gracious! God knows the end from the beginning, being totally outside of (or unconstrained) by time. There is not a single thing we can say or do that God has not known from before the foundation of the world. That means He knows all our decisions before we ever decide them. It does not mean that He is responsible for our bad decisions. He often gives us the opportunity to do what is right before we do what is wrong. Sometimes, He gives us over to those things (Rom 1), which will be demonstrated in the life of Pharaoh. But Pharaoh (nor any of us) can claim that God never gave us the opportunity to do what is right. God is gracious and just, and He always does what is right.
  2. Not only did God know Pharaoh’s choice, God obviously knew His own plan. God’s plan to free His people from Egypt had been eternally decreed, and He knew that it would take a terrible demonstration of His powerful wrath before Pharaoh would let Israel go. Countless lives would be lost (including Pharaoh’s own firstborn son), and the nation of Egypt brought to ruin before it would happen, but eventually, Pharaoh would let Israel go. God knew what had to be done, and He didn’t hesitate to do it.
  3. In all of this, what was it God made clear to Moses: Freedom would come, but it would only come via God’s power. God’s power brings freedom. Unless God moved in a mighty way, using “all [His] wonders,” Israel would remain enslaved. But when God moved, nothing would stand in His way.
    1. Once again, we cannot help but make the parallel to our salvation. Before we know Jesus, we are enslaved to our own sin – we are enslaved to a future of eternal death and hell. Unless God moves on our behalf in a mighty way, we’re doomed. But God’s power brings freedom! The mighty wonder Jesus performed at the cross & resurrection was the death blow to death itself, and was the miracle God performed to give us eternal life and freedom. Praise God for His mighty act!
  4. What would happen to Israel after Pharaoh let them go? God had a plan for that, too.

21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. 22 But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

  1. God’s grace brings provision. 400 years’ worth of back-wages would be paid to Israel as they symbolically “plunder[ed] the Egyptians.” By the time the Israelites were finally leaving, the Egyptians were so glad to see them go, they were willing to give them pretty much anything the Hebrews asked for. For centuries, the Hebrews lived in Egyptian poverty; they would walk out with the wealth of kings.
  2. Be careful not to get the wrong idea. God didn’t promise gold, silver, and clothing to the Hebrews that they might live in opulent desert mansions or spend it on wild parties. God had a purpose for their wealth: the tabernacle. Much gold & silver & cloth would be required for the ark of the testimony, the lampstand, the curtains, and more. God had a plan for His people to worship Him while they were in the desert, and He ensured that they would have more than enough provision for it.

Conclusion:

Our God is utterly amazing! Appearing to Moses through the burning bush, God gave His holy presence, revealed His eternal name, and spoke of His perfect plan. Through it all, He demonstrates His grace, power, and compassion. He had not forgotten His people; He had a plan to deliver them. And when He did (using Moses), the children of Israel would know the holy grace of the Infinite God.

The same God that appeared to Moses in a burning bush is the God who appeared to us in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and when we have seen Him, we have seen the Father. And because of Him, we are brought into the holy presence of God – we have direct relationship with the eternal God – we are participants in the might plans of God. We are His people, through Jesus, and He has given us every spiritual blessing in Him. (Eph 1:3)

So believe the I AM! Don’t lose faith in God or His promises! It can be easy for any of us to lose hope. Maybe it’s regarding a loved one who is still stubbornly unsaved…we can trust God is giving them every opportunity to know Jesus. Maybe you struggle with prayer, not knowing if God hears. He does! Even when it seems as if He’s silent, He hears the groans of His people. Maybe you doubt if God “can” work in a certain situation. He is the I AM…He can do anything! Believe Him for who He is, for who God has declared Himself to be; not according to the limits of your own expectations. Hold fast to God because HE IS God, and thankfully because of Jesus, He is OUR God.

 

Waiting for a Deliverer

Posted: September 13, 2018 in Exodus, Uncategorized

Exodus 1-2, “Waiting for a Deliverer”

Waiting can be difficult. We used to think microwaves were fast; now we stare impatiently at the timer. We used to think email was quick; now we want text messages. Soon we’re going to be complaining about the wait before we realize what we’re waiting for! 😊 It’s one thing to wait for food; it’s another to wait out a crisis. During those times, the minutes (hours, days) seem to slow down. It’s as if time slows in proportion to the amount of our trouble, and it just can’t end soon enough.

If we experience that in surgical waiting rooms (and elsewhere), imagine what it was like for the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt! They had a promise of a future homeland, a nation, and the blessing of God, but it seemed like it never came. Years turned into decades, which turned into centuries, and nothing. What to do? They had to trust their Lord God, which meant they had to trust His timing…and that can prove to be the trickiest part of all.

Why were the children of Israel in Egypt in the first place? For that, we need to back up a bit to Genesis. Out of all of humanity, God chose one man through whom He would bring the Messiah (the promised Seed of the woman – Gen 3:15): Abraham. Abraham bore Isaac, Isaac bore Jacob, and Jacob grew into a large family which eventually faced mortal danger. (1) A physical famine threatened their lives, (2) social inter-marriage with the Canaanites threatened their existence. God save the family of Jacob/Israel from both threats through one of Jacob’s sons: Joseph. Despite enduring betrayal, slavery, and imprisonment, Joseph rose to being second-in-command of all Egypt, fully able to deliver his family from the famine, and also give them a temporary home in Egypt where they would have the opportunity to remain pure and grow into a nation.

Of course, that home was supposed to be temporary. Both Jacob and Joseph looked forward to the day their bodies would be returned to the land of promise. Canaan was God’s perpetual gift to His people, and one day all the children of Israel would return. The book of Exodus tells that story.

The Hebrew name of the book is “Now these are the names,” which is literally the first two words of Exodus 1:1 (וְאֵ֗לֶּה שְׁמוֹת֙). Our English name for the book is simply a transliteration of the Greek LXX (ἔξοδος), which seems more descriptive of the whole. Even so, the Hebrew name is not totally irrelevant. The book begins with the names of the tribes of Israel, but continues through it’s conclusion showing the birth of the nation of Israel. The tribes leave Egypt in a grand “exodus,” but the reason they leave is so they can bear the “name” of Israel in their own land as their own people worshipping their own God. Whatever you call the book, it contains a mighty history of God’s glorious deliverance of His people unto freedom.

Its author is Moses, which, though debated by liberal scholars, is unquestioned by the rest of the Bible, including the Lord Jesus. When referring to the burning bush, Jesus talks about “the book of Moses,” (Mk 12:26) – something that could be said of each of the 1st 5 books of the Bible, with the Pentateuch as whole being considered “the books of Moses.” Undoubtedly he wrote it during the 40 years of wilderness wandering, probably in the range of 1446-1400BC, recording all that God revealed to him for the benefit of the Hebrews who would eventually live in the Promised Land.

As the book begins, a need is seen for deliverance, and a man has been destined as the deliverer. The question was if anyone among Israel would look to God to provide His deliverer in His way. Too often we try to run ahead of God. We think we might know His plans, but we’re too impatient to wait upon His timing. Wait upon the Lord! He hasn’t forgotten you…of that you can be sure!

Exodus 1 – Slavery and Suffering

  • Growth of Israel (1-7)

1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; 4 Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 5 All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already).

  1. Exodus opens with a quick reminder for the context. The whole family of Israel went down to Egypt, totaling 70 persons (75, depending how you count Joseph & his family) – quite a large family, even for the day. The single man of Jacob had turned into the clan of Israel (both names used here in reminder of God’s work in Jacob’s own life), and this clan had survived the famine and following years. 

6 And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. 7 But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.

  1. Time passed, the generation of the patriarchs died, and Israel was blessed with growth…exceeding growth! The wording is reminiscent of the opening chapters of Genesis, after God gave the command to mankind to be fruitful and multiply. Specifically to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God had promised that they would grow into such numbers that they would be beyond count – like the sand of the seashore or the stars in the sky. The population explosion in Egypt was a sign that God kept His promise. (And if He proved true in part of His word, surely He would prove true in all of it!)
  2. There was so much growth, in fact, that the Hebrews became seen as a threat by the Egyptians.
  • Egypt’s fear of the Hebrews (8-14)

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; 10 come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.”

  1. In generations past, the Hebrews enjoyed a certain amount of protection and safety in the land of Egypt. Joseph had been the prime minister to Pharaoh, and the king of Egypt gave him full permission to do to his family whatever it was that needed to be done. But Joseph wasn’t there any longer. Time passed, administrations changed. Joseph’s position wasn’t hereditary, and the Hebrews were just a foreign people group living within the borders of Egypt.
  2. With a new Pharaoh came new policy. He believed it wise (“shrewd”) to subjugate the Hebrews. All of the new population could easily form an army, and soon it could be Pharaoh and the native Egyptians who were servants; not the Hebrews. Depending how one dates the book of Exodus, this attitude might be explained by the temporary rule of the Hyksos people over Egypt during the 15th-17th dynasties (1650-1550BC). The Hyksos were also a Semitic people like the Hebrews, and had actually taken control of Egypt until the native Egyptians took it back in 1550BC. If Jacob, Joseph and the others had arrived around 1880BC, then the Hebrews would have been in Egypt during the entire upheaval of the Hyksos. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the new Pharaoh wanted to prevent the Hebrews from becoming a similar kind of threat. (Of course, the way he handled it was sinful!)
  3. None of this ought to have been a surprise to the Israelites. All of this had been prophesied from God to Abraham. Genesis 15:13–16, “(13) Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. (14) And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. (15) Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. (16) But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”” 400 years needed to pass before the Israelites headed home, and during that time they were specifically told that they would expect suffering and subjugation. It wouldn’t make it easy to handle, but it at least provided an expiration date to their trial. For the Hebrews who had faith in the Lord, all they needed to do was remember this promise, and start counting down the years.
    1. That’s one of the glorious benefits of having God’s word written down, freely available to us to read. We can see God’s promises with our own eyes, and take comfort. We can read God’s prophecies, and be reassured things aren’t out of control. Waiting is always difficult, but it’s far better when we wait with the word of God!

11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.

  1. The Hebrews became forced labor for construction. Unlike what popular movies may depict, the Hebrews did not build the pyramids (which date to 2580BC), but they did build at least a couple of cities for the Egyptians. Although the names of the cities have caused some to place the Exodus at a much later date (middle 1200’s BC), we need to remember that city names can come from more than one source (i.e. a particular king), and that sometimes names are updated for later audiences. However the cities were named, its not enough to get sidetracked from the main point: the Hebrews, though one-time guests, were now slaves.
  2. Note: the Hebrews continued to multiply and grow. God had chosen the Hebrews for growth, and no matter how they were afflicted by the Egyptians, God’s choice did not change. God’s blessings cannot be undone!
    1. What hope this gives us in our own times of waiting & suffering! God will not reverse what He has granted us in Christ Jesus. The work He has begun in us, He will be faithful to complete (Phil 1:6) – His gifts and callings are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). He has chosen us for His own, just as we chose to surrender our lives to Jesus as Lord & Savior, and His choice will not be undone!

13 So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.

  1. The emphasis is on harsh, bitter service. It’s not only that the Hebrews served Egypt with the sweat of their brows, but that Egypt demanded that service with harsh ruthlessness. Just as the American experience has dealt with the issue of ruthless generational slavery of an entire race, so did the Egyptians do to the Hebrews.
    1. This is remembered in the modern Passover meal with the bitter herbs. There’s a reason that the Jews are supposed to bite into raw horseradish and wince: it reminds them of the suffering of their forefathers. That their suffering has ended reminds them to give God praise.
    2. From a Christian perspective, we ought to remember our bitter slavery as well: our former slavery to sin. It keeps us humble in our attitudes, compassionate towards those still lost, and forever grateful for the grace in which we live!
  2. Question: Was there a point to all of this rigorous labor and suffering? Why would God allow His chosen people to endure it? Answer: Among other things, it would make the Hebrews hunger for God’s freedom. It would cause them to look to God, plead for help, and beg Him for a deliverer (which the end of Chapter 2 demonstrates that they did). Just like the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, so is suffering a vehicle to bring us to Someone who offers relief. (Jesus alone!)
  3. Of course, in the midst of this, the children of Israel are still multiplying. Hard labor had not slowed the population growth, so Pharaoh decided he needed to take more forceful action.
  • Pharaoh’s order to kill the sons (15-22)

15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; 16 and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.

  1. Pharaoh’s new plan: kill the Hebrew male children. For whatever reason, Pharaoh feared the male children more than the female (though in Chapters 1-2, it was the females that foiled his plans every time). He ordered the midwives to kill the Hebrew sons in childbirth, which might make it appear to be more of an “accident” than murder (although everyone would know the truth). Two of the midwives are named – they likely represented the other Hebrew midwives as a whole, and surely they all followed the example of the two who are mentioned.
  2. Facing a direct order from the king of the land, what did the midwives do? They directly disobeyed. They took care of the male children in the same manner that they cared for the females: desiring to deliver every single one alive & healthy. Why? The midwives “feared God” more than they feared Pharaoh.
    1. And rightly so! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10), and these women knew that they would face an authority far higher than that of Pharaoh. Whatever it was that Pharaoh could do to them, it was nothing compared with the judgment of Almighty God. But more than terror, the midwives were motivated by their holy reverence and awe of God. They knew that God would never condone of murder, so they did what they could to preserve life.
    2. When it comes to a choice between obeying men or God, the choice is clear: we obey God! His word and command is the highest of authorities, no matter what the laws of men might proclaim. As a whole, we are to respect and obey earthly authorities, but when they come in conflict with the word of God, God’s word is to rule every time.
  3. BTW – In the midst of all of this waiting for a deliverer, the Hebrew midwives waited the right way. They did not rise up in outright defiance of Pharaoh, nor did they try to subvert the culture from the inside. They simply used the opportunity God gave them to glorify God. They would not be able to deliver the entire nation, but they could deliver the baby boys from death, even if it was one at a time.
    1. Use the opportunities God gives you! Too often, we spend our efforts trying to make our own opportunities and force our own plans, without looking at what God has right in front of us. One person says “I want to preach to thousands, just like Billy Graham!” Wonderful…but have you shared the gospel with your next door neighbor? Look around. What is it God has already given you to do? While you wait, do that.

18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?” 19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.”

  1. Did the midwives lie? Did they have a choice? Maybe yes, maybe no. They could have been honest, and taken the punishment given them by Pharaoh…but if they had, perhaps they would have been killed & unable to save any future baby boys. Ethics ought never be judged on the basis of “the ends justifying the means,” but it seems that the midwives were caught between a rock and a hard place, and they chose the least-bad of the options.
    1. Interestingly, Moses as the author of Exodus, did not cast a moral judgment on the midwives. He simply recorded the fact of what they did. He was probably one who owed his life to the midwives’ act.
  2. Did God judge the midwives for their lie? Absolutely not! He blessed them for their faithfulness to life and His will.

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. 21 And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.

  1. God knew the state of the midwives’ hearts, and He judged them accordingly…with blessing! To say that “He provided households for them” is to say that God gave them families of their own. Whether they were previously barren, or what their lives were like prior to that point was unknown, but God certainly blessed them going forward. They feared/worshipped God, and God treated them with His mercy and grace.
  2. God knows us, including our hearts and motives. That doesn’t give us free-reign to do whatever we want, but God also knows when we’re forced to make the least bad of terrible choices. He knows when we act for our own comfort or for His glory.

22 So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.”

  1. Pharaoh’s final plan: open infanticide. There was no more depending on the midwives – every family was responsible for drowning their own newborn sons. It was suffering on an awful scale…incomprehensible! In this, there is a foreshadowing of Passover. The final plague given to Egypt was the deaths of their firstborn sons – no doubt a direct response to the terrible order of Pharaoh.

At this point, things look absolutely awful! The Hebrews are enslaved, and their children are being systematically attacked by the evil order of Pharaoh. Once again, the nation is in danger of extinction. What can be done? God was already doing it. He had a plan for a deliverer, and that plan was set in motion with Moses.

Exodus 2 – Moses’ beginnings

  • Birth & deliverance (1-10)

1 And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. 2 So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months.

  1. The mother’s name was Jochebed (6:20). She gave birth to a son, and couldn’t bring herself to follow through with Pharaoh’s command. (Who could?!) She hid him away as long as possible. Can you imagine? She & her husband Amram would hardly have been able to even rejoice with their neighbors over the birth of their son. After all, who knows how many of them had been forced to drown their children? Jochebed kept her infant boy an absolute secret, trying to hush every cry, and anticipate any noise the baby would make. Eventually something would have to be done with the boy, but what?
  2. BTW – Did Jochebed save Moses just because he was good looking? Every mother believes their baby is beautiful, but what set this mother’s love for her son apart from any other? “Beautiful” (NKJV) is literally “good,” (ט֣וֹב). Contextually, it could mean “beautiful,” but it could also mean “fine” (ESV, NIV) or “healthy.” Some have seen a parallel to the creation account – just like God saw His creation as “good,” so did Jochebed see her baby boy. Perhaps there was something about this child that seemed stronger than the rest. Whatever it was, it stood out to her, and she knew she had to take action to save him.

3 But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.

  1. In the end, Jochebed still put her son into the river. It was the letter of the law, even if not the intent, for she put her son in the river as carefully as possible. Just as Noah was delivered from the waters of the flood by being enclosed in an ark sealed with pitch, so was baby Moses. The three-month old infant was put in a watertight bassinette and sent downstream.
  2. Question: Was this carelessness – cruelty? It was trust. Ultimately, Jochebed had no choice other than entrust her son to God. God had obviously led her to save her child; she had to trust that God would do the same.
    1. When we wait, it is imperative we trust. Waiting without faith is maddening – there is no rock to which to cling, no foundation upon which to stand. But with faith, waiting is possible. Again, it’s not always easy, but it’s doable. A solid faith and trust in Jesus (His goodness & His word) enables us to wait.
  3. Miriam (Moses’ sister) watched from the riverbank…something soon to be used by God for her baby brother’s deliverance.

5 Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. 6 And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

  1. The princess recognized the baby as a Hebrew, but she still had compassion. “Compassion” could be translated as “spare.” She spared the baby boy from certain death.
  2. Note: This is an Egyptian princess – the daughter of the chief enemy of God’s people. Yet she was the one used by God to deliver the future deliverer. Can God use impossible situations for His glory? Yes! 

7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?” 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother. 9 Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.

  1. In a wonderful turn of events, Moses’ older sister Miriam calls to the Egyptian princess asking if she could find a nursemaid for the child. When all was said and done, Jochebed not only saw the salvation of her son from death, but she was able to (1) continue personally nursing him, (2) spend quality time with him in his formative years, and (3) get paid for doing it! Sometimes we think the miracles in Exodus don’t begin until Moses sees the burning bush on Mount Sinai. Not true! The first miracle in Exodus was Moses’ own deliverance & upbringing!

10 And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, “Because I drew him out of the water.”

  1. Moses’ name involves a bit of word-play, as it sounds like the word for “drawn out.” There’s no small amount of irony here. The Egyptians looked to the Nile River as a source of life and nourishment, and from the Nile came the Hebrew prophet that would be the spokesman for one of the greatest threats they ever faced. This time, life hadn’t come from the Nile; judgment had. Not immediate…but judgment would come in the timing of God.
  2. The cross can be seen in a similar way. Some would look at the cross as a place of defeat – the place where the ministry of Jesus ended as He was nailed there and left to die. In truth, the cross is the exact opposite: a place of victory! There, the price of sin was paid and Jesus became the sacrifice for all mankind. But there is both life and judgment in the cross. To those who believe, Jesus is our source of life, forgiveness, and eternity with God in His good pleasure. To those who reject Jesus, He is their Judge.
  • Foolishness & flight from Egypt (11-15)

11 Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

  1. Time passed, and Moses grew. What happened in the meantime, Moses (as the author) leaves unsaid. In his defense before the Jewish Sanhedrin, Stephen spoke of Moses’ wisdom & mighty deeds, but Stephen drew from historical tradition; not the Scripture. It’s not at all unreasonable to assume that Moses grew up with all the benefits of the Egyptian royal household, but we have to remember that Moses always knew that he was not an Egyptian. His own mother was his nursemaid, and although we do not know how long she played a role in his life, there’s little doubt she told him the truth from an early age. 
  2. So Moses grew up as an outsider, recognized his situation as one given by God, and rightly assumed himself to be God’s chosen deliverer of God’s people. One day, he decided to act. He saw a legitimate problem but came up with an illegitimate solution. Seeing an Egyptian abuse a Hebrew, Moses killed the Egyptian and attempted a (literal) coverup. Question: What was wrong with the act? Moses was destined to be the deliverer, but in this moment he was a vigilante – a murderer. He hadn’t done it according to God’s command, nor did he do it in God’s way. The midwives had broken the law of Pharaoh, but they kept the law of God (apart from lying). Nothing Moses did in this situation was righteous. The midwives preserved life; Moses took it. The midwives feared God; Moses says nothing of his own relationship with God at this point. This was Moses acting according to his own flesh, and it was sinful.

13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?” 14 Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!”

  1. The very next day, Moses saw a similar situation between two Hebrews. This time, he tried to be a peacemaker and failed. The Hebrews wanted nothing to do with Moses, thinking him to be entitled & self-important, with no real relevance or authority in the matter. Moses hadn’t acted with godly authority, and the Hebrews certainly didn’t recognize any evidence of it.
  2. Of course, God would make Moses “a prince and a judge over” the Hebrews…but not yet. This wasn’t the time – Moses wasn’t personally ready. Moses had been as impetuous and egotistical as the Hebrews had accused him of being, just assuming he could kill the Egyptian and get away with it. God had a work to do in Moses before Moses would be ready to do a work for God in Egypt.
  3. From Moses’ perspective, the worst part wasn’t the rejection by his own countrymen; it was the fact that the news of his crime had gone public. His life was in danger, and he needed to leave quick!

15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.

  1. For the 2nd time in his life, Moses was in danger of death & needed urgent deliverance. He was but one man facing down the might of the Egyptian superpower. He had no choice except to run for his life.
  2. Where did he go? The exact location Moses went is unknown, but he symbolically followed in the footsteps of his forefathers. Like his ancestor Jacob, he sat down by a well, where he would soon meet the woman he would eventually marry.
  • Deliverance in Midian (16-22)

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. And they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.

  1. The sovereign timing of God is again on display. Moses “just happened” to show up at the exact well where these women would be, and they “just happened” to be in need of his help. There is no coincidence with the Lord…this was exactly according to His plan!
  2. Moses acted again – this time, not as a vigilante, but in justice and compassion. What exactly Moses did to “help” them (deliver them / save them ~ יָשַׁע) is unknown…but he was making progress in that it wasn’t criminal or violent. He was learning to do things God’s way – learning the lessons of humility.

18 When they came to Reuel their father, he said, “How is it that you have come so soon today?” 19 And they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock.” 20 So he said to his daughters, “And where is he? Why is it that you have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.”

  1. Reuel/Jethro was surprised to see his daughters return so quickly, and was even more surprised that his daughters lacked in basic hospitality. A total stranger dressed like an Egyptian had saved them from their habitual trouble with the local shepherds, and they hadn’t even invited him home to dinner! 

21 Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses. 22 And she bore him a son. He called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.”

  1. This was Moses’ 2nd First he was rescued from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter; now he was rescued from being a refugee by the priest of Midian. He would spend the next 40 years in the wilderness of Midian with Reuel, learning the lessons of humility and shepherding. It may have been a foreign place for him, but it was a true proving ground used by God.
  • God hears the Hebrews (23-25)

23 Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage.

  1. If suffering was supposed to make Israel long for God, it worked. They “cried out” and “groaned” for God. The new Pharaoh did not lessen the load upon the Hebrews, and their suffering continued. They sighed, cried, and groaned for the Lord, pleading with Him for help.
  2. Although it may not have seemed like it at the time, their prayers did not go unanswered. God was well-aware of everything they endured, and already had a plan in place in which to deal with it. How much had God paid attention to the prayers of His people? Look at the various descriptions in vss. 24-25…

24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.

  1. God “heard” their sighing groans of anguish. He heard the cries of their hearts, understanding their pain.
  2. God “remembered” the promises He made to Abraham, specifically that God would bless those who blessed Abraham, and curse those who cursed him (Gen 12:3). Not that God ever forgot these promises, but He “remembered” them in that it was time to be fulfilled. Those promises once again came to the forefront of His plan.
  3. God “looked” at His children, seeing their suffering. His attention turned directly to His people, and He saw every whip that came down upon them, and every baby that was murdered in the river. Nothing escaped His attention.
  4. God “acknowledged them” – literally saying, “God knew” It wasn’t that God simply nodded in their direction; He knew every bit of the suffering of His people, and He was fixed upon them. Not a thing done unto them would go unanswered, and God would see that His people would have justice.
  5. God did that with ancient Israel, but He does that us, too. There is not a thing we endure He does not know, not a promise He does not keep, not a son or daughter of His that He ignores. He hears, remembers, sees, and knows us, too…all because of Jesus! Have you been suffering and waiting for God to act? Keep your eyes on Him, for He sees you & will act according to His promise!

Conclusion:

A nation needed a deliverer, and a man was convinced he was supposed to be that deliverer. God had raised him up and saved his life on at least two occasions for exactly that purpose. But…that didn’t mean it was yet time for Moses to act as the deliverer. The timing of God had to be right, and God was still doing a work in both the nation and the man. God was getting them both where they needed to be in order that they would be willing to be used by God for His glory. 

Some in Israel were already willing and prepared: the midwives, for example. They maintained a proper fear of God and used the opportunities given them the best way they knew how. Moses, on the other hand, still had much to learn (as did most of the Hebrews). Freedom would not come through the strength or plans of men; it would only come by the grace and power of God. They needed to look to God alone, and wait upon His will.

So do we! God has not forgotten us, so we don’t need to fear that He has by running ahead of Him doing the things that are on our own agenda, instead of His. Wait upon the Lord! Walk according to His will & His word. Some things take time, because there may be more than one thing going on. We’re often so focused on the situation outside of us that we forget about the battles on the inside. Often, God works within us to transform us before He works to transform our circumstances. He cares more about who we are than the things we endure. That’s not to say our situations aren’t important – by no means! God sees us, hears our groanings, and knows us…but He will do His work in His way according to His time. We just need to wait on Him.