Exodus 3

Moses has failed in his first attempt to be the great deliverer for the Israelites; he proceeded in his own power using the practices he learned in the Egyptian courts. He assumed an authority not appointed by God and deals with injustice by the unjust murdering of an Egyptian. Fearing Pharaoh’s wrath Moses runs as far away as he can, to Midian, where he lives for forty years. Now God calls Moses to return to Egypt in a miraculous way, but this time Moses will proceed in God’s way and in God’s timing.

Moses current occupation is tending the herd for his father-in-law the priest of Midian. He is doing this in the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, in an area called Horeb, which means desolation. Looking at the pictures of the area, it is indeed a desolate area – it doesn’t appear to have much vegetation for grazing animals. This would have a lonely job, traveling great distances to find grass and water.

This mountain will become quite significant in Israel history. This is the mountain where God will meet with Moses to give him the Ten Commandments, where the Israelites make a lasting covenant with God and it will be where Elijah meets God after escaping Ahab and Jezebel’s murderous rage.

Moses is alone on the mountain when he sees a bush that is burning but is not consumed, a strange sight, Moses approaches to get a better view. The Angel of the LORD calls Moses by name from the burning bush, Moses answers, “Here I am”. God warns Moses to not come any closer that he is standing on holy ground and he must remove his sandals.

God identifies himself to Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob”. Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.  I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a land that is both good and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the region of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.And now indeed the cry of the Israelites has come to me, and I have also seen how severely the Egyptians oppress them.So now go, and I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

Notice all the “I” statements, it is God who directing the plan and it will be God that rescues the Israelites – this is not Moses’ initiative and plan, it is God’s plan. Note too that God says, “So I have come down to rescue them”, this is divine intervention – God provides the salvation by coming to dwell with His people – God Himself comes to save and deliver us.

After stating his plan God now commands Moses to go back to Pharaoh, putting his well-ordered life in peril. Moses will not go in secret but out in the open so that the whole world will see and hear about what the God of the Israelites has done for his people. Moses understandingly is fearful, saying “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt”. God’s simple reply is “I will be with you.” The LORD God Almighty, will be with Moses through the trials and He will speak through and empower Moses to do the seemingly impossible.

Moses asks God, when I go to the Israelites and tell them God has sent me, what name shall I use so they know that it is their God. God’s reply, “I AM WHO I AM. That is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you”. God further identifies himself as the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – He is the God of the Promise, He is the eternal LORD.

Moses is directed to meet first with the elders of Israel, to deliver God’s message to Israel, then they are to go together to Pharaoh to say, “The Lord the God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God”. This encounter sets the stage for all the following confrontations with Pharaoh. Remember that Pharaoh considered himself a god, the highest and most powerful god among many gods. God states clearly that Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go to worship the LORD unless the mighty hand of God compels him. God will act; He will show the wonders that will eventually allow the Israelites to leave Egypt and to leave with vast amounts of plunder. God will reverse the years of humiliation and oppression as slaves, allowing the Israelites to leave richer and more plentiful than when they arrived in Egypt. The LORD God Almighty has the power to do what he promises and He will do what He promises to do with a mighty act.

Can you relate to the Israelites? Have you been praying for years for deliverance from trials or perhaps for God’s intervention in the lives of loved ones – the same God, who heard the cries of Israel, hears your prayers. Perhaps you feel like Moses, you have failed in your attempts under you own plans and power. Now is the time to allow the God of the Universe to fill your life and work through you, but be prepared to work in ways that are God’s plans and not your own. God’s promise to Moses applies to you as well, “I will be with you”.

Exodus 1 & 2

Exodus opens with the Israelites suffering under increasing oppression in Egypt; in the face of ruthless treatment God continues to bless the Israelites by increasing them in great numbers, “they were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceeding numerous, so that the land was filled with them”. We see in the use of these words, that is was God blessing the Israelites, God fulfilling His promises to Abraham and God protecting His chosen people. God’s power is revealed as the people flourish under the forces of evil.
Pharaoh attempts to exert his control over God’s people, he put slave masters over them to oppress them; but the Israelites grew stronger daily. The more the Israelites multiplied the more that Pharaoh made their lives bitter by hard service. Then Pharaoh attempts to curb their population growth by commanding the midwives to kill all male children born to Hebrew slaves, but we are told that the midwives did not obey the king, “because they feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them and let the boys live”.
These are the beginnings of interweaving story lines of people who will honor the LORD God more than they fear the authority placed over them and the repeated attempts by Pharaoh to undermine or reverse God’s blessings.
Pharaoh then commands all his people: “all sons that are born to the Hebrews you must throw into the river but all daughters you may let live”. Two things of interest, Pharaoh’s hatred and fear has grown to the point that he orders the extermination of all Hebrew males born and second, for some reason he doesn’t fear the females, they are allowed to live. These chapters show that the king’s efforts to destroy the strength of Israel — so clearly a work of God — met with failure again and again. And that failure involved the efforts of women, whom Pharaoh did not consider a threat.
Exodus 2 records the birth of Moses with the clear indication that he was set apart from his birth, protected and groomed to be the promised deliverer. Moses is born into the tribe of Levi, after his birth his mother hid him from Pharaoh for three months, defying Pharaoh’s order to sacrifice the babies in the Nile. When she could no longer hide him she devised a plan to save Moses. She made a waterproof basket and traveled to a place where the Princess of Egypt came to bath. She gently placed him in the basket and sent him towards the princess while Moses’ sister watches.
The Princess sees the basket and hears the baby crying and recognizes the baby as one of the Hebrews. She felt compassion, saves the baby and adopts him as her son. Moses’ sister appears to offer her mother as the perfect wet-nurse for the baby, thus Moses lived with his Hebrew family until he was about four years old then went to be educated and live in the palace of Pharaoh. It is the Egyptian Princess that names Moses, “because I drew him out of the water”.
The Egyptians considered the Nile as the sacred source of life. Therefore the child’s appearance was a supernatural provision from the Nile god as reflected in his name. What we know is that Moses was blessed and protected by the LORD God, allowing him to be drawn out of the Nile to become Israel’s great deliverer who will take the Israelites through the waters of the Red Sea into freedom.
The next verses jump forty years, Moses is a grown man and somehow even though he was raised and educated as an Egyptian he identifies with his “own people”. He observes the hard labor imposed on his people, sees an Egyptian attacking a Hebrew man and intervenes. He kills the Egyptian and hides his body in the sand, but his actions are seen by others. Moses has gone from wannabe deliverer to a murderer in moments. Next Moses confronts two Hebrew slaves that are fighting; they reject Moses’ intervention and reject his authority over them. Moses realizing that his murder has become known and that Pharaoh is planning to kill him flees into the desert as far away from Pharaoh and his people as he can get. Moses’ attempt to ‘save Israel’ in his own power fails, we will see that it is only by the Mighty power of God that Israel will be saved.
Relying on his own power is a repeated sin in Moses’ life – his weakness, which we know from the very beginning of this story. Exodus 2 ends with Moses living in the land of Midian, he is married to Zipporah and they have a son name Gershom. Gershom’s name means, “I am a resident foreigner in a foreign land”. Moses knows he is not where he is supposed to be; he is in a foreign land, even Egypt is a foreign land – he will take his people to the Promised Land.
God will use Moses as Israel’s great deliverer, but first he has some lessons to learn. In Egypt Moses learned all the knowledge and skills of Egyptian rulers, in the desert Moses will learn to survive in harsh conditions and the care and feeding of helpless animals as a shepherd. All of these skills he will need to shepherd the Israelites out of Egypt, to become the nation that God promised; but first he must listen to God and wait for God’s direction.

Exodus Introduction

Welcome back to our JOY of Living Bible study, this year’s study of Exodus will be a wonderful complement to our study of Revelation last year. Many of the images and themes from John’s Revelation have their roots in God’s revelation to Israel and the prophet Moses at Sinai.
Exodus is a Latin word derived from the Greek word meaning exit or departure; we will see in our study the dramatic miracles that God provides so that the Israelites would make a grand departure from Egypt. The Hebrew title for Exodus is from the first few words, “These are the names of”; they are the names of the sons of Israel that went into Egypt with Jacob. These beginning words of Exodus help us to understand that this is a continuation of the narrative of Genesis.
The author, compiler and editor of Exodus is Moses; Old Testament scriptures attests to that and Jesus states that Exodus is the book of Moses. Historically, Jews and Christians hold that Moses is the author of the first five books of the Old Testament, named the Pentateuch or the Torah. The most likely time period for the writing of these books would be the forty years that the Israelites wandered in the desert.
We date the writing of Exodus from 1 Kings 6:1:
In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites left Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, during the month Ziv (the second month), he began building the Lord’s temple.
We can date the 4th year of Solomon’s reign to 966BC, which makes the departure from Egypt at 1445 BC and the forty years of wanderings as 1446-1406 BC. This would be the most likely time for Moses to write the bulk of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
As we begin our study the stage is set for the big showdown in the desert, the people of Israel have gone from being a free nomadic tribe, meeting with success wherever they go to becoming slaves in Egypt. God continues to bless Israel even in oppression, they increase in number and have miraculous health even though they are beaten, starved and oppressed. In fact, they are so healthy and strong that the Egyptians fear them and treat them even more harshly.
As we begin the story of Moses’ life and the making of the Israelite nation, they appear to be abandoned and forgotten by God, they have been suffering unjustly for four hundred years and now finally, God hears their cries. But we know that God didn’t forget them, God was with them all along, He continued to bless them, but not in the ways that they chose – freedom, wealth, position, praise. God blessed the Israelites with fruitfulness in oppression, health in harsh conditions and endurance to wait for God’s timing. We will learn many lessons as we journey with the Israelites from being slaves in Egypt to becoming a nation of Laws, Land and Tabernacle Worship. Here is our first lesson:
This God, the One God Almighty is not like the gods of Egypt or the gods of today; He does not forget His people, He is with us in times of trials and temptation and in times of blessings. We should take a fresh look at the way God is working in the lives of people today; the same God that parted the Red Sea is working in your life today!