Exodus
Introduction 1-6 The LORD Appears to Moses 7-10 Moses Must Go to Pharaoh 11-12 First Objection and God’s Answer 13-22 Second Objection and God’s Answer
Introduction

Moses is called by the LORD when he is eighty years old. That is at the end of his natural life. In Psalm 90 he says this himself: “As for the days of our life, they are seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years” (Psa 90:1a,10a1A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
10As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is [but] labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.
). Before the Lord can use someone, a person must learn to renounce his natural abilities. Moses has learned this. However, it is not enough not to rely on one’s own skills. Now he must learn to trust in God’s power.


The LORD Appears to Moses

1Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4When 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.” 5Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses learned the shepherd’s calling for forty years. Now he is with his flock “to the west side of the wilderness”, or “beyond the wilderness”. He has, as it were, the wilderness experiences behind him. Many men of God have been shepherds. According to God’s heart the shepherd gives the best indication of the way in which He wants to lead His people. David is a shepherd: “He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart and guided them with his skillful hands” (Psa 78:70-7270He also chose David His servant
And took him from the sheepfolds;
71From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.
72So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them with his skillful hands.
). It is written of the Lord Jesus that He is a Ruler who will “shepherd” the people of God, that is to say, as a Shepherd would be to them (Mt 2:66‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH,
ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;
FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER
WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’”
).

While Moses shepherds the sheep, he comes to the mountain of God, Horeb. Horeb is another name for the Sinai, the mountain where later the law is given (cf. Exo 19:1111and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.; Deu 4:10a10[Remember] the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’). That is why the mountain is called “the mountain of God”. There the Angel of the LORD appears to him. Verse 44When 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.” shows that it is God Himself.

The Angel of the LORD is the manifestation of the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament. Wherever God appears to man, He does so through the Lord Jesus. It is the first time after many years that the LORD appears again to someone. Apparitions have never been the order of the day. God appears only at special occasions.

God also appears in different ways. To Moses He appears in a burning thorn bush. To Hagar He appeared at a well (Gen 16:7,13-147Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.13Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?”14Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.). He has chosen a ladder with Jacob (Gen 28:1313And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants.).

The LORD appears to Moses and calls him when he is busy with his daily work. We also see this with the brothers Peter and Andrew and the brothers James and John. When the Lord Jesus calls them to follow Him, Peter and Andrew are busy casting out the nets to catch fish; James and John are busy repairing the nets (Mt 4:18-2218Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.19And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”20Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.21Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the [son] of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.22Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.). This is how the Lord still works today. He calls people who are faithful in their daily work.

Moses notices that the bush burns but is not consumed. The bush represents man by nature, the sinful man. We also see the whole people of Israel in it, as in Egypt the burning oven. We also see that God is in the fire. Therefore, the bush is not consumed. God uses the fire of trial to purify His people, and us. What is not in agreement with Him is consumed by the fire. As a result, we will increasingly answer to His purpose for us: to become more like the Lord Jesus. He is with us in the trial (Isa 63:99In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the angel of His presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
; Dan 3:2525He said, “Look! I see four men loosed [and] walking [about] in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of [the] gods!”).

The LORD sees that Moses is approaching the bush to see the miraculous phenomenon. He sees in what we are interested. He rejoices when we show interest when He reveals Himself. At the same time He maintains His holiness. Where God is, is holiness. Moses must take off his shoes (cf. Jos 5:1515The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.).

When God has gained Moses’ attention, He makes Himself known as the God of the patriarchs with whom He has made a covenant: with Abraham (Gen 15:13-14,1813[God] said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.14But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions.18On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying,
“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:
), with Isaac (Gen 26:33Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham.) and with Jacob (Gen 46:3-43He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there.4I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes.”). That is the ground on which He will start to act. He is and remains their God, even though they have died, for in Him they remain alive, which will be proved in the resurrection: “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the [passage about the burning] bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB. Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him” (Lk 20:37-3837But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the [passage about the burning] bush, where he calls the Lord THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB.38Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.”).


Moses Must Go to Pharaoh

7The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 8So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 9Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”

God says to Moses that He has seen what is being done to His people and He has heard them moan about it. He is familiar with their sorrows. That brings Him to action. He has come down to redeem them and bring them to a land He has chosen for them. And Moses is the man whom He will use to carry out His purpose, that is to say the first part of it, which is to lead the people out of Egypt. God knows that Moses will not enter the promised land.

The fact that it is a land flowing with milk means that it is extremely suitable for animal husbandry. The juicy meadows will ensure that the goats, sheep and cows give a lot of milk. The flowing with honey is another proof of the riches of the soil conditions of the land. The expression “flowing with milk and honey” occurs here for the first time and is repeated many times after (Exo 3:8,178So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.17So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’; Lev 20:2424Hence I have said to you, “You are to possess their land, and I Myself will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples.; Num 13:2727Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.; 14:88If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey.; 16:13-1413Is it not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us?14Indeed, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor have you given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Would you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”; Deu 6:33O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do [it], that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, [in] a land flowing with milk and honey.; 11:99so that you may prolong [your] days on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give to them and to their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.; 26:9,159and He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.15Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.’; 27:33and write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over, so that you may enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.; 31:2020For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant.; Jos 5:66For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, [that is], the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.; Jer 11:55in order to confirm the oath which I swore to your forefathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as [it is] this day.”‘“ Then I said, “Amen, O LORD.”; 32:2222and gave them this land, which You swore to their forefathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey.; Eze 20:6,156on that day I swore to them, to bring them out from the land of Egypt into a land that I had selected for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands.15Also I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands,).

In the coming down of God and the sending of Moses we see a picture of what God has done through His Son. The Lord Jesus descended to earth to save people who sigh under the yoke of sin. As with Israel, He did not speak from heaven, but came from heaven to earth. He did so to bring all who believe in Him into the heavenly land, that is, to bless them “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ” (Eph 1:33Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ,).


First Objection and God’s Answer

11But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” 12And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”

Moses comes with his objections. He sees his own
1. incapacity,
2. ignorance,
3. incredibility.
4. inarticulacy,
5. after which he finally shows his unwillingness.

Moses is full of objections. His first objection shows that he considers himself totally unfit for his task. When he was still in Egypt he was full of vigor. Then he would do it. There his self-assured ‘I’ forms the hindrance to God’s work. Now his humble ‘I’ is the hindrance. When God calls, it does not matter who we are, but Who He is. He says: “I will be with you.”

This answer the LORD also gives to Gideon when he raises the same objection as Moses to the commission he receives from him: “He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man”” (Jdg 6:15-1615He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”16But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”).

Moses also receives a sign that he and the people will serve God on His mountain. With this, God also gives the actual purpose of the redemption of His people: that they may serve Him. Serving here means serving as a slave. So far the people have served the Egyptians as slaves; after their redemption they will serve God and worship Him as His people (cf. 1Thes 1:99For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,).

As fast as Moses acted the first time when he struck the Egyptian to death, so slow is he now to respond to God’s calling. The man who has shown the progressive development of human nature now shows a reluctance that also stems from human experience. Neither of them can have a place in the work of God.


Second Objection and God’s Answer

13Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the 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-name to all generations. 16Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. 17So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ 18They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ 19But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. 20So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go. 21I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. 22But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians.”

Moses comes up with a second objection. He is not convinced. Who actually sends him? He thinks he does not know enough about God to be able to speak of Him when asked. In His goodness and grace God also meets this objection of Moses. He acts with us the same way. He meets all our objections as long as they arise from our weakness and not from our unwillingness. In that way He speaks with an objecting Ananias whom He sends to Paul (Acts 9:10-1710Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”11And the Lord [said] to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying,12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;16for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”17So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”) and with an objecting Peter whom He sends to Cornelius (Acts 10:9-169On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.10But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance;11and he *saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground,12and there were in it all [kinds of] four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air.13A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!”14But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.”15Again a voice [came] to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no [longer] consider unholy.”16This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.).

First God points out the immutability of His Person: “I AM WHO I AM.” He is the eternal Being Himself, the totally independent One. He finds everything in Himself and everything and everyone depends on Him. The Lord Jesus calls Himself so too. He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (Jn 8:5858Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”), which means that before Abraham’s existence He has always been there as the I AM. He is the eternal One, always true to Himself.

Then God continues, ”furthermore”, (verse 1515God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the 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-name to all generations.) with His answer, pointing out that He has Himself made contact with the patriarchs: He is “the LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”. This also means that He will fulfill the covenant He has made to them. The patriarchs have died, but the promises of God have not lapsed. To relieve Moses, God then tells him what will happen. He is the One “declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done” (Isa 46:10a10Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
).

Moses and the elders must tell the king of Egypt that “the LORD, the God of the Hebrews” has come to them (verse 1818They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’). In this name, which Moses later mentions to Pharaoh (Exo 5:33Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, otherwise He will fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”; 7:1616You shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now.”; 9:1,131Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.13Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.; 10:33Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me.), the LORD shows that his people are a company of pilgrims. They were instructed by Him to “go a three days’ journey into the wilderness”, that they “may sacrifice to the LORD” their God. In verse 1212And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” we have read the purpose of salvation: serving God. Now we see a special aspect of serving God: to sacrifice to Him.

They cannot sacrifice to God in Egypt. This requires “a three days’ journey into the wilderness”. The number three is associated with the thought of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus: from the death of the cross to the resurrection are three days (Mt 16:2121From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.; 17:22-2322And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men;23and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved.; 20:18-1918“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death,19and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify [Him], and on the third day He will be raised up.”. The three days’ journey speaks of this. By believing in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus a person is freed from the power of the world, sin and death and can serve and sacrifice to God.

Pharaoh, by his refusal, gives God the opportunity to show His power. It is ultimately a battle between God and Pharaoh with God’s people as a stake.

When they leave Egypt, the Israelites have to claim the outstanding wages of many years of slave labor. In this way God settles the debt Egypt has with His people. The payment will be made in kind, in the form of objects of valuable metals and clothing. These are things that are used in Egypt by the Egyptians to dishonor God. However, these objects can be used by God’s people for God’s glory. Thus, the metal objects are later used for the construction of the tabernacle.


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