March 4, 5, 6, 92
v. 9, prayer.
v. 12, Experience oriented religion, no power to provide freedom. Moses was to go by faith. The law of Faith, all self-confidence had to be destroyed, Ph. 4:13.
Forty years Moses has been following sheep in the wilderness. Wilderness in this case would not be a desert as we would think of it today. It would have been an attractive, uninhabited place, although the mountain where God meets Moses was barren. Now the Lord is going to call Moses from leading sheep to leading His people. David's call is quite similar, 2 Sam 7:8.
1.) The breakdown of Moses' life is interesting: 1/3rd in Egypt gaining all of their wisdom, 1/3rd in the wilderness gaining God's wisdom, 1/3rd putting it all into action. Moses' situation changed "overnight" in each case. The Lord works in His time in His way.
2.) Note the difference in training between the world and the Lord is striking. The world methods seek to exalt people and build self-esteem and self-confidence, whereas, the Lord uses solitude. Moses' and David's training alone with God was basically the same; the Lord teaches His servants in the quiet and alone with Himself and His word. The still small voice has always been what has worked in the heart of His people.
a. Note that it is Moses' humility and contentment which he learned in the desert, not his great Egyptian training, that qualifies him for the Lord's service and is exalted in Scripture. Contentment with diligent hard work where the Lord's Providence has placed us is humility before God, James 4:6-10; 1 Peter 5:9. The apostate Christianity of our day exalts the Egyptian training, not the time in the wilderness learning humility and contentment. But we should not hastily dismiss Egypt's training. It was needed in Moses' life for his calling or the Lord would not have worked it all out this way.
b. Moses had been in this uninhabited place for forty years; quietly tending his father in law's sheep. But, unbeknown to Moses, God is working to prepare His servant for the greatest task in all history ever required of any human being. The Lord had not spoken for several hundreds of years; now He is going to speak in a manner totally unexpected to a man striped of all self-confidence. Forty years of hopelessness on Moses part; then God speaks!
c.) If one desires to be used by God to any extent at all, they must first be content and faithful in the hidden tasks; both Moses and David were busy when and where no one could see them. The Lord exalts according to faithfulness in the small unnoticed areas, 2 Cor. 2:4. I know of people that the more public acclaim they receive the more active they are, which is not what God is looking for.
3.) The Lord has been working on both ends, Israel in Egypt under hard bitter bondage and Moses in the solitude of the wilderness, breaking both Moses' and Israel's pride and self-confidence. In their wildest imagination, neither dreamed that they were being prepared for the destruction of the mighty world dominating power, Egypt.
a. Obviously, it takes different schooling for different people to prepare them for the Lord's work through them: high profile or solitude. The decision is the Lord's for He alone knows the heart and what lies ahead for each individual. "Do we try to mass produce servants of God according to the way which we feel they should be trained, rather than allowing the Lord to train them by His mighty hand of Providence?" Only the Lord knows what each person requires to best equip them for what He has for them to do. Therefore, we should be emphasizing faithfulness in service wherever they find themselves and letting the mighty hand of the Lord open doors and lift them up.
When people are trained in self-esteem and self-confidence, they are being trained to receive God's judgement.
4.) While the Lord is preparing Moses in the wilderness, He is also preparing Israel in the fire of persecution. Edersheim gives us an important observation here: "Not one ray of hope lit up their sufferings other than what might have been derived from faith. But centuries had passed without any communication or revelation from the God of their fathers! It must therefore be considered a revival of religion when, under such circumstances, the people, instead of either despairing or plotting rebellion against Pharaoh, turned in earnest prayer unto the Lord, or, as the sacred text puts it, significantly adding the definite article before God [Ex 2:23], "cried" "unto the God," that is, not as unto one out of many, but unto the only true and living God." They cried and God answered. (Pg. 44.)
In other words, a theological revival is evident when God's people, in the fires of persecution, neither despair of hope nor try to rebel against the oppressor, but turn in faith and confidence to the Lord. Modern Christianity has both despaired of hope (ie., the Rapture is their only hope), and tried to rebel against the oppressor. Both attitudes ignore the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14. The covenant people, in the midst of the fires of persecution, cried out to the Lord; He heard their cry, called a man, and delivered His people in such a way as to destroy the one-world power of their day.
5.) Edersheim's further comment is also important: "This spirit of prayer, now for the first time appearing among them, was the first pledge and harbinger, indeed, the commencement of their deliverance."
When we start seeing the covenant people crying out to God and returning to His law-word for their every rule of action, we will know that God is about to show Himself strong to subdue the wicked according to Malachi 4:2, 3. Until this godly spirit is evident, only continued fires of persecution lie ahead.
It is worth noting that, as a whole, the fires of persecution of our day only causes Christianity to find ways to compromise with the oppressor, eg., the state. What will it take to cause Christianity to abandon its false hope in some kind of supernatural intervention on God's part which requires no responsibility to return to the law of the Lord on the individual's part, ie., the Rapture? The Scripture teaches that faith in His subduing Spirit of Grace and the theology behind the Rapture are not compatible.
Moses, the former heir to all the glory of the one-world power, Egypt; Moses, the future leader of a great and mighty nation through whom God would destroy the world power, Israel; Moses, though not in poverty, is humbled to keeping a few sheep for his father in law. God's ways are not our ways, but they work.
There is no place that we can open the word of God and not see His Divine Hand of Providence. Providence led Moses who led the sheep to the backside of the desert. Moses is led not to just any location, but to a mountain group called Horeb containing a special height, Sinai, ie., the mount of God, Exodus 4:27. This area where Moses led his charge of sheep was a plateau of fertility amidst the barrenness of the mountains. It was a common place for shepherds to take their flocks in the early summer [Edersheim].
In the solitude of this fertile spot, totally unexpectedly, the angel of the Lord finds Moses and speaks to him. This would be a preincarnant appearance of the person of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The thing which drew Moses' attention was a burning bush which was not consumed.
1. The first and foremost in this call of Moses is the fact that it is the Lord who finds Moses: Moses is not looking for God; God is looking for Moses. Consistently throughout Scripture we see God seeking those who He will have to serve Him. Moses tried to chose God forty years previously and was rejected by God and man. Now God chooses him, empowering him to do what Moses had wanted to do forty years previously (but didn't want to do now).
2. When men give up (content and hard at work where they are) and in the most unexpected places and circumstances, God speaks to call and to instruct His servants. MH points out that Moses saw more of God alone in the desert than he did in Egypt.
The bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. There are several significant facts about this burning bush.
1. The type of bush which the Lord chose to work through is interesting; The Lord did not chose a tall stately cedar tree, but a lowly thorn-bush (Keil).
a. God uses people, imperfect people at best; thorn-bushes if you please. Israel and Moses had become Egyptian in their character; the Lord uses the fire of persecution and trial to burn Egypt away.
2. According to the original prophecy given to Abraham (Gen. 15:17), Israel would be oppressed for many years in the iron furnace of Egypt; oppressed but not consumed, Deuteronomy 4:20.
a. The burning bush "symbolizes the relationship between
God and Israel at all times, and similarly that between Him and
His Church," Edersheim.
b. God was with Israel (thus His Church), protecting him from total destruction.
c. The people prepared by God (thus His Church, Psa 47:2, 3; Mal 4:3) would destroy Egypt. Egypt, as she did her best to destroy the OT church, was only preparing her own destruction. "[A]n emblem of the church now in bondage in Egypt, burning in the brick-kilns, yet not consumed; perplexed, but not in despair; cast down, but not destroyed," MH. Perplexed and cast down in the eyes of the pagan world today is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, but not forever.
3. The fire represents the fire of God which consumes His enemies but not His faithful people, Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 10:27; Revelation 19:12. God's enemies are defined as any one who is unfaithful to His covenant-law.
4. The Lord appeared to and spoke out of the burning bush to Moses, vs. 2, 4. When Moses brought Israel back to this location to meet their God, again the Lord spoke to establish His covenant out of the burning fire, Deuteronomy 4:12; 5:24.
We must not take the covenant-law lightly. It was given in fire and will be enforced by fire.
5. The sight which Moses saw here was a strange sight indeed. The Lord works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.
a. He will use unusual means to get the attention of those He calls unto Himself; He will use whatever means necessary. He may speak in a still small voice as He did to Elijah, 1 Kings 19:9-18, stilling the disquieted spirit caused by His servant's seemingly futile faithful service to the covenant-law of God, v. 14. He may speak from the fire of judgment and trials of purifying as He does in the Book of Revelation.
As we study Scripture, primarily, the Lord is presented as fire, and He should be seen as such; He purifies, judges, searches, and moves in an unstoppable way in history His plan to preform. The promise or threat of fire would do far more to convene of the need of faithfulness to the covenant-law than will a promise of some kind of reward.
Two concluding remarks about the fire of Jehovah God.
1. The fire of the furnace is used to prepare for God a people as it burns away the dross of sin which hinders service to Himself, 1 Peter 1:7; Revelation 1:14.
Observe: The fiery symbol used by Peter does not consume the thorn bush. In fact, the fire turns the thorn bush into gold which is fit for the Masters use. It should be also noted that fire is required to purify; there will be no purification without fire. This is why Peter said to rejoice in v. 6. After establishing the necessity of fiery trials, Peter goes on to list the results of purification in the rest of his book. James says the same thing in his first chapter. No doubt the bush feels the heat, but the promise is that it will not be consumed; rather, the bush will be refined and purified, 1 Cor 10:13.
2. Our God is a consuming fire (He 12:29) and the fire which purifies His people is the same fire which consumes His enemies. Even though our human nature dreads to see the fire of purification come, the fire of God which burns away the dross from His people is the same fire which consumes His enemies and establishes righteousness through His righteous judgment against sin. God delivers His people and judges the wicked through fire.
Therefore and obviously, I do wish it were not this way, God's people should not only rejoice in the fiery trials, but they should pray for the Lord to send the fire; it will both refine their faith so that they can be effective servants of the Lord and burn away the sin around them. They should also pray for the grace to see them through the trials and learn the lesson which they need. (We ask God to judge evil. Well, this means that the same fire which judges evil around us must also judge the evil dross in His people. The two cannot be separated because fire is no respecter of persons; it burns anywhere flammable material is found.)
V. 3, the Lord got his attention, and Moses turned aside to see what was going on. He is curios, but cautious. And we might add, the Lord, if He has a job for us, will get our attention; we will do His will or we will pay the price.
V. 4. Moses, Moses... Though Moses had been broken during the preceding 40 years, though he was sure he had been forgotten by God and man, God knew exactly where he was. Unbeknown to Moses, the Lord had sent him to the exact spot on earth which was necessary to further his schooling. Now the Lord's time is right, Moses' preparatory schooling is complete so He sends for him.
Observe: God knows our name, He knows exactly where we are because His divine providence sent us to that place. Even if we have been lost and forgotten by men on the backside of the desert for 40 years, He has not forgotten us.
Moses answered right up, "Here am I." (Evidently Moses didn't know what he was getting into or he would not have turned aside.)
V. 5. There are two points here which we should consider.
1. The caution with which the Lord warned Moses. I am afraid that today one of the major problems is that man has become far too familiar with God. This familiarity is seen in several areas: in church buildings; in prayer; in life, actions, words, and attitudes; in the lack of respect for proper authority; lack of obedience to His law-word; &c.
2. The presence of the angel of the Lord (v. 2), the Lord (v. 4), God Himself (v. 4), made the location holy. There was nothing holy about the place itself; it was a barren place with a bush on it. The presence of the Spirit of God made it holy; therefore, Moses was to regard this location as holy. It is significant that this location, and latter the mountain itself where God also revealed Himself in fire, is never regarded as special by Israel.
Fallen man has a problem of regarding locations as holy or special. We establish shrines all over the place to commemorate events which took place in that location. We forget that it is the spirit which was evident at that location which is to be remembered. I think a good example of this would be the war for independence, 1776. We reverence the man who fought and the locations where they fought, but we have long forgotten the spirit which caused them to fight. The Christian spirit of godly independence is erased from history as we remember the empty shell of the men and events.
It is the spirit of what took place, it is the presence of God which makes a location special. It is the spirit which must be honored and remembered or everything is reduced to an empty shell. Paul warns Timothy of those who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. These men will honour the tombs of the saints of old, they will honour the places and events, but they will deny the power of God which empowered these man and made the events possible, 2 Timothy 3:5.
Moses, and latter Israel, went from this place where this tremendous event took place (ie., God revealing Himself in and speaking from the fire) honouring the God which made it all possible. Might we learn to do the same.
Shoes... Up until recent times, the removal of shoes was common place when entering a home or church. Their removal represented leaving the filth and dirt of the world outside of the building.
V. 6. God of thy father..
Not fathers. Jehovah God considered these saints of old, one. Clearly, the unity of the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ is referred to here; there is one Lord, one faith... In addition, our Lord referred to the statement by God to Moses as proof that the righteous die not, Luke 20:37, 38.
Moses' response.. he hid his face. We see again the reverence of Moses for the Lord God.
V. 7. I have surely seen..
To the people in the bondage I'm sure it appeared that the Lord had forsaken them. Notice why the Lord heard their cry and is now going to move to judge Egypt and redeem His people: by reason of their taskmasters. They cried out because of the hard bondage; they cried out for release from that bondage. See my notes in 2:23.
Israel's bitter bondage has been going on for well over 80 years; Moses has been alone in the wilderness for 40 years. Accordingly, we can safely say that both Moses and Israel had began to despair, they of being delivered and he of delivering them, but now it is time for the Lord to move. Note, God often comes for the salvation of His people when they have done looking for Him. (MH) Furthermore, it is never too late nor is the oppression to heavy to hope in the salvation of the Lord.
The result of the bitter bondage and harsh taskmasters in Egypt is that the Lord comes down to deliver them. He will judge Egypt and His people who are Egyptian at heart. Israel many times resisted this deliverance because of the judgement which it contained against them. But in the end His people inherited the promise: the large (contrasted with the confined area where they currently lived) good land of Canaan.
This land was currently supporting 6 nations, although Gen 15:19-21, lists 10. Obviously it was a prosperous land; a land flowing with milk and honey.
The bondage and suffering caused them to cry out to the God who they had ignored in their prosperity. God heard their cry, saw their oppression and is going to do something through a man, strangely enough, that does not want to do anything. Moses is content.
As we mentioned in chapter 2, Moses had tried to deliver the people 40 years previous to this event at the bush. His efforts were rejected; neither Moses nor the people were ready for deliverance. God prepares both; Moses with 40 years of solitude, the people with increased bondage. Notice that the oppression of 3:7-9, is not mentioned until 40 years after Moses fled. Egypt was oppressive before Moses fled, but not bad enough to cause the people to cry out.
(See 2:23 for the treatment of this passage on prayer. See mo & 2:23 for treatment of prayer which I removed from here.)
Vs. 7-9. a) V. 7, I have surely seen their affliction, He observed closely and considered the matter. b) V. 7, have heard their cry, with no recourse against the oppressor, their recourse was to the Lord who heard their cry. c) V. 7, I know their sorrows, the Lord knows all about what His people go through. In fact, he that touches them touches the apple of His eye (cf. De 32:10; Ps 17:2; Zec 2:8. His people, the Church, may appear downtrodden, but the oppressors are storing up wrath for themselves.) d) V. 9, I have also seen the oppression, twice this is mentioned; the first time in v. 7, I have seen their affliction, and then again here.
The primary recourse given to God's people against the oppressor is prayer, James 5:4; Deuteronomy 24:15. It is interesting that my World Bible gives Ex 3:9, as a cross ref for James 5:4. This means that God's deliverance of Israel and Israel's spoiling of Egypt is a picture of what the Lord does for His people who are oppressed by the ungodly and who will pray and leave the matter in the Lord's hands. Notice also that it took a minimum of 80 years for God's people to be delivered from their oppression. In addition, this also means that the reference to James shows us that when God's people seek relief from other sources other than from the Lord, they will be left in bondage and oppression.
God does hear, God does see, God did come down in the form of Christ, and God will deliver His people from bondage and into His promises.
The Lord has heard the cry of His people; He remembers His covenant to their father; now the Lord speaks to Moses.
1. "I will send thee back..." The Lord is not asking Moses to go back on his own, but He will send him back. Why did not the Lord go do this job Himself? God speaks to men through Men. God gives His word, man is to develop and apply it. God never works from the many to the one; he works from the one to the many (Parker).
2. The Lord still calls people into His service. The Lord calls to work, not to sit around and enjoy the benefits of the Christian life. In addition, whom He calls, he qualifies.
3. The Lord calls to a specific task; He told moses to a specific job, ie., "bring forth my people."
4. They were God's people, not Moses'. The Lord did not speak to send Moses back until He was ready to deliver them.
5. The Lord uses the strangest of people. Moses did not want to go back, although we can assume that his heart was still with his people in Egypt.
Added to, 3/25/92
Moses' first doubt (Although we should probably call these next 5 responses by Moses, Moses' concerns):
The once mighty prince of Egypt, the son of Pharaoh's daughter who, 40 years earlier, had the world by the tail, has been stripped of all self-confidence. He properly answers the call of God with humility when he says, "Who am I, that I should go..." 40 years previously his strength was his weakness; he sought to deliver Israel on his own. Now his weakness is his strength; he realizes that he has no strength to confront Pharaoh. His self-esteem and self-confidence are gone, replaced by nothing. The Lord must rebuild his confidence, which He will do here at the bush.
Moses gives the Lord 4 reasons (and one refusal, 4:13) why he should not return to Egypt. Moses speaks these reasons, not out of rebellion (even his refusal was not actually rebellion. It was a lack of self-confidence) against the will of the Lord, but out of a genuine fear of going back to the place from where he had to flee. His self-confidence had been intentionally and completely devastated by the Lord; therefore, he lacks the confidence that he can do the task. These reasons were legitimate because he lacked the confidence that he could do anything.
He had tried and failed 40 years previously. I would think that his last experience with Egypt, of having to flee, had been lived many times over while he was with the sheep. It was probably still as vivid 40 years latter as it was the day he fled. The image of his killing the man, Israel's tuning against him, and his speedy departure was still with him. Moses offers his 5 reasons for not wanting to go back because he lacks the self-confidence that he can do what the Lord is requiring of him.
As we look at the Lord's answers, it is apparent that the answers are designed to build Moses' confidence in the power and ability of the Lord to use him: "This is what I can and will do through you," the Lord tells Moses.
No doubt this is why Moses is second only to Christ (maybe Paul ranked in here also) as the most powerful man to ever walk on this earth. Moses' self-confidence is totally gone, so before he would agree to go back to Egypt, the Lord had to convince him that He [the Lord] would work through him, and that Moses could do the job. Only one time did Moses lose this attitude of total confidence in the Lord working through him to accomplish the promise to Abraham. That one time at the rock cost him his entrance into Canaan.
Moses left this location of the bush still a broken man (and remained a broken man except for the one instance), but he left with the confidence that the Lord would do as He said he would.
There are two applications so obvious that they hardly need mentioning. First, our self-confidence must be dealt with. It is when we are confident that we can do nothing that the Lord can work through us His mighty works to perform. If that self-confidence is allowed to surface, it will cost us our promise, peace, and power in Christ. Thus, the more that self-confidence is destroyed, the more the Lord can use us. Second, it is not enough to destroy one's self-confidence, but it must be replaced by confidence in what can be done through Christ that strengtheneth us. Without this replacement, a person will be a powerless wimp. Thus, a primary purpose of the spiritual leader is to build confidence in the people of God. This is done through the word of God.
Also, look at what was required to take place in Moses' life before the Lord could use him. The more self-confidence one has, the more difficult its striping away.
added to here. (From here on is MO See MO for edited form of this.)
Experience & Tokens
Experience Oriented Religion, Ex 3:12
Every Sunday School child knows about the life and times of Moses, so we will not spend any time "bringing him to the bush." Even though the Lord knew that His one simple command to Moses would not be enough to convince him to return to Egypt, we will examine the two major points in the original command: I) Certainly I will be with thee.., - Experience Oriented Religion and II) this shall be a token.. - Faithful service to the Lord.
Under the first division we have these two main points:
A) Moses was to be in the forefront, but behind him was the Almighty God of heaven and earth. Therefore, "Would the children of Israel know that he was a servant, not a master?" The invisible Christ uses visible men who may or may not be subject to Himself. The Sovereign God of the universe uses whom He will, when He will, with or without their consent, although it is much better for the man that he be subject to the Lord (cf., Dan 4:35). God's will will be accomplished, Psalms 76:10.
B) Moses' experience at the bush was to equip him for service, hard work, and an extremely difficult task. God's emphasis is on the work Moses is called to do, not on the call to do that work. Moses does not dwell on his burning bush experience; he never mentions it again because he is too busy with the task to which he has been called. Moses' experience at the bush was unique; imagine speaking to God face to face! But notice that his call is not to return to Egypt and tell about his experience at the bush, nor is it to gather an army of Israelites against Egypt; rather, his call is to take the command word of God to the place where God sends him, his call is to bring God's people to freedom under God.
Observe: Man is called to a task: the task of setting people free through the applied word of God. Moses' responsibility was to speak God's command word to the covenant people and to Pharaoh; God's responsibility was to free the people (who didn't especially want to be totally delivered from Egypt). Moses' call and responsibility was not to spread abroad his experience at the bush.
We can draw three conclusions from the above:
First, all our effort must be placed in doing what God has called us to do - WORK. Clearly it is much easier to tell people about a burning bush experience because it does not offend people nor make them mad. In addition, many desire a similar burning bush experience because it requires no hard work, study, and discipline on either the speaker's or hearer's part. Sadly, because study, work, and personal communion with God are not required when emphasizing "personal testimonies" about burning bush experiences, false doctrine is able to reign supreme. Also notice that it was impossible for Moses' burning bush experience to set others free, or God would have told him to tell Israel about his burning-bush experience. Freedom came as the Lord of the bush moved in response to Moses delivering His command-word to Pharaoh and to Israel.
Observe: It is evident that the enemy will gladly give a near perfect imitation of a genuine burning bush experience if it will encourage its recipient to broadcast that experience; he will do anything to prevent the law-word of God from being delivered to whomever needs it, ie., the king and God's people.
Second, Moses told only his brother (& maybe his wife) all that had happened; he did not tell his father in law, 4:15, 18, 28. Moses had clear instructions from the Lord; he had withstood the Lord as long as possible and lost. Therefore, he asks only permission from his authority (he was working for Jethro) to go check on his people's welfare. On the other hand, Aaron will be his mouth; consequently, Aaron needs to know everything.
Observe: Only those who need to know need to know; therefore, beware of those who major on personal experiences at the "bush." There may be times when others need to know all the facts, but those times are few and far between. The emphasis must be on hearing, doing, and applying the command word of God if we expect to see the hand of God move in the hearts of God's people and in the hearts of God's enemies. It is God's word, not our experiences, which brings conviction and produces results. Let us summarize: A) it is impossible for an experience-oriented religion to free people from bondage, for freedom only comes from knowing and applying the truth, John 8:32; B) it is obvious that we must avoid experience oriented religions if we desire to see people freed from bondage; and C) experience-oriented religions encourage the angel of light to give false experiences. Ask yourself this question: "If the Spirit of God works the knowledge of sin and faith only by hearing the law-word of God proclaimed (Rom 3:20; 10:17, &c.), who is at work when experience is exalted over the law-word of God?"
Now the third conclusion from Moses' burning bush experience: Moses' call was the most unique in all history, but has God only one method of working in revealing His will to man? (J. Parker) I think not! God's call may be through others, His word, circumstances, &c. The important thing is that we walk according to His Divine call upon our lives. We must be constantly on guard that we have not departed from His call, thereby walking according to our own call; are not walking ahead of His call; and are not refusing to walk according to His call. Is our call of God? Are we walking and working according to His call?
The law of Faith
The other major point to develop from v. 12, And this shall be a token.. Notice the wording: When thou hast brought.. & ye shall serve.. Moses is given one token of the Lord's presence based upon the promise that he will successfully bring Israel out of Egypt; the token is that he [Moses] will serve God upon Mount Herob (Sinai).
We will divide v. 12b, into two parts: Israel's promised deliverance, then Moses' service, or the token of the Lord's presence. Notice Israel's promised deliverance:
Moses was to obey the Lord because of God's promises (cf. Isa 8:10-14). Jehovah God told Moses that the sign of His presence would be the fulfillment of the promised deliverance; the people would be released from their bondage and they would return to mountain where the bush was located. By faith that the Lord would deliver His people, Moses was to do all that was required of him. Therefore, faithlessness refuses to act upon God's future promised victory. Moses' problem was not faithlessness in this sense of the word; his self-confidence had been intentionally and totally destroyed by God.
Observe: The Lord operates according to His law of faith. We live in a faithless generation of men who do not believe that the Lord is capable of releasing His people from the oppressions of our day, resulting in a powerless Christianity which leaves God's people in the clutches of Egypt. This law of faith is consistent with our Lord's command to step out by faith, confident of His presence, Matthew 28:18, 19 (cf., Heb 11).
Moses cannot go back and do his job without faith that the Lord God will deliver His people from Egypt's bondage into freedom and Canaan; for this reason, the Lord builds his faith, v. 13 to 4:17.
Wrong Faith, i.e., self-confidence.
It is interesting that Moses, while still in Egypt, had plenty of faith that the Lord would use him to deliver the covenant people from bondage, Acts 7:25. Unfortunately, rather than Moses' faith being in the Lord, he had faith in his own abilities. The contrast between Moses 40 years earlier and at the bush is striking; now at the bush the Lord must convince Moses that he can accomplish what he had earlier failed to do in his own strength. Moses' sincere answer in 3:11, Who am I, reveals that all his self-confidence has been destroyed. Now the Lord can now use him in a mighty way.
Observe: The self-confidence which Moses had 40 years previously could not set the people free, nor can self-confidence free God's people today. "Christian" and pagan humanists are spending billions of dollars trying to build self-confidence in every person possible. They desire to mold people into the image of Moses before he had to flee or into the image of Paul before he wrote Philippians 3. The intent is evident: convince people that they can do all things. Godless self-confidence programs build confidence and pride in one's birth, race, education, works, abilities, &c. Rather than building self-confidence, the Spirit of God must destroy it before one can be used of the Lord. Furthermore, it is the spiritual leader's responsibility to build confidence in God's people; not confidence that they can do anything, but confidence that the Spirit of Christ working through them can do all things, Deuteronomy 20:1-4. Do we fulfill this responsibility?
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me, must be kept within the context of Scripture (Ph 4:13). In his letter to the Philippians, Paul had previously emphasized the necessity of God working in His people to give them both the desire and the power to do His perfect will, 2:13. In chapter 3, he stood hard against any and all confidence in the flesh, and for seeking the mind of Christ. In chapter 4, he presented the necessity of keeping the body and mind under the control of the Spirit of God according to the word of God at all times. Only after firmly establishing 3 1/2 chapters of foundation does he say, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Not only did the man Paul fit the same pattern as did Moses (ie., stripped of all self-confidence before the Lord could use him), but he taught the message that required Moses 40 years to learn: the absolute requirement that every child of God must lay aside all self-confidence if they desire the power of God to do God's word (work). On the other hand, the pagan and Christianized humanists of our day seek to build the very confidence which God had to destroy in both Moses and Paul. God worked mightily through both in providing redemption and deliverance for others, but only after their confidence in the flesh was devastated. Paul's marvelous statement in Ph 4:13, is a result of the devastation of his self-confidence.
Furthermore, the promise of God's supply of all our needs (4:19) is conditioned upon the destruction of self-confidence, and that self-confidence is replaced by dependance upon the Spirit of Christ and doing HIS good pleasure.
Paganized Christianity seeks victory apart from faith in the future promises of God's victory over all ungodliness. Furthermore, it seeks to claim Philippians 4:13 & 19, apart from dealing with the flesh and self-confidence as described by Paul in the preceding laws and precepts of Philippians.
The second part of v. 12b, is the promised token: ye [Moses] shall serve God.. Where? upon this mountain. When we find what Moses did upon this mountain when he returned with the nation of Israel, we will know what God defines as service to Himself. (Although ye could refer to Moses and the people, we will use ye as a direct reference to Moses for two reasons: the people were never permitted to ascend into the mountain, Ex 19:23, and because of the NT references.)
The mountain where Moses is going to serve God is identified as Mount Herob in Exodus 3:1. After Moses returns with the nation of about 3 million people which the Lord sent him after, the same mountain is called Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:1. Moses parks them at the foot of the mountain, and according to the promise that he will serve God upon this mountain, he ascends the mountain where the Lord originally spoke to him, 19:3. The Lord again calls unto Moses out of the mountain to give him further instruction, 19:3-6.
Moses' service to the Lord is to speak to God's people for God, v. 3. The words he is to speak are in vs. 4-6. Basically Moses is commanded to remind them of their marvelous redemption from Egypt by God; that He chose them out of all the earth, all the earth is mine; and the purpose of His choosing of them, i.e., to be a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. The purpose of God contains an if - then, or a covenant, v. 5; the agreement is that if they will obey His voice and keep the terms of His covenant, then ye shall be.. In other words, Moses is to serve God by telling the newly redeemed people of God that the Lord redeemed them, the purpose of their redemption, and the LORD's conditions (the terms of the covenant) upon their being a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation unto Himself. They inherited the then part of the covenant not by their redemption but by their fulfillment of the if part. (Cf. Ex 34:28; Le 26:15; De 9:9, 11, 15; 29:1ff; Isa 43:6 & 49:8 - Christ; He 8, the new covenant is better because the law of God is now written on the heart by the Spirit, not on stone as under Moses, 2 Cor 3.)
Therefore, it is obvious that Moses' service to the Lord is to deliver the terms of the covenant, i.e., God's law-word, to the newly redeemed people of God so they can hear, understand, and do it. As they fulfilled their conditions of the covenant, then they would become a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation unto the Lord God Who delivered them from bondage.
Peter's quote of Exodus 19:5b & 6, is significant because it is the then part of the covenant given to Moses. 1 Peter 2:5, 9, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, [God has, by His marvelous grace and mercy, chosen and redeemed you above all the people of the earth; therefore, if you will obey His voice and keep His covenant, then ye shall be] an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ... But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: (cf., Titus 2:14). We can be assured that those to whom Peter spoke knew the reference; knowing the reference, they also knew the condition which were already established by the law.
There was no written law code of the covenant yet which spelled out the if side of the agreement, so Moses must receive the if ye will obey part of law code before he can deliver it. In other words, Moses' service to the Lord was to deliver the law of God to God's people which the Lord would use to make a holy people for himself.
As we read from Moses on through the Scripture, we will find that the primary service to the Lord of every man of God is the same as Moses', ie., deliver the law of God to God's people so He can make of them a holy nation unto Himself. The farther the man of God departs from this service the farther he departs from being a servant of God in the area of his calling. It is the washing of the water of the word which cleanses a people for the Lord, Ephesians 5:26; furthermore, the purpose of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors-teachers is to teach and apply the law of God for the people of God until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, Ephesians 4:11-13. If the spiritual leaders do not fulfill their responsibility, then God's people will remain children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, v. 14.
Moses' had a token of the Lord's presence, ie., he would serve God upon this mountain. Upon his return, Moses served God by delivering all the counsel of God to the people of God. The token of the Lord's presence for the men of God down through the ages is the same as Moses': delivering the whole counsel of God to God's people. Anything less is not service to the God of the Scriptures (cf., Acts 20:17-27).
Appendage to the last mailing on "What is Truth." Exodus 3:18, did the Lord truly intend to take His people back to Egypt after the three days? This is what the statement indicates all the way through the conflict with Pharaoh and the deliverance.
One more point under v. 12, ye shall serve God... Keil says this refers to the people of Israel. Therefore, the promise to Moses is that, even though the people will resist, in the end they will serve God.
Moses' second doubt:
Moses' first doubt is answered with the promise of the Lord's presence, and His promise to bring them back to this very spot. Now Moses presents another concern to the Lord: "When questioned by the ones to whom You are sending me, who will I say sent me?"
This is a legitimate question. Moses knew what kind of people to whom he was being sent. He well remembered the last time he saw them 40 years ago, when they said, "Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?"- "Who gave you the authority to say and do what you are trying to do?" He knows better than to go in his own name or he will be back in the same fix, so he asks for and receives proper authority to return. "Lord, you promised to go with me, which is fine, but I can not go back in my own name. Remember what happened the last time I did that? Who will I say sent me so I will not get the same reception this time as I did last?"
Observe: First, it is important that we know who sends us on the mission into the world (Parker). Second, Moses said, what shall I say unto them? This is a question that every person who represents the Lord must ask (MH). "What will I say to them?" must be our prayer before we attempt to represent the Lord. We must flee to the throne of Grace and to His word for our instructions, or we will be brought to confession and shame. Thirdly, we also need our confidence built to the place where we can boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do to me, Hebrews 13:6. And our confidence must come from His word and from His grace. Moses could not go back and do an effective job until he was confident that the Lord was going with him, and that the Lord would work through him. This is precisely what Proverbs 28:1, tells us: The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion. When a man is confident that he is right with God and right with man; he is confident that he is doing exactly what the Lord wants him to do, then there is no limit to what he can do. The reformation came from this very confidence of righteous men. The lack of this confidence causes men to flee in the face of the slightest threat.
Three points for us: First, we must work at being righteous, because we cannot be bold without righteousness. Second, we must find our confidence and instruction in Him and His word. We cannot go into the battle ill-prepared and expect the Lord to do for us what we have failed to do, ie., learn to use His word effectively. Thirdly, we must pray for the power of God to be righteous so the Lord can build our confidence IN HIM.
The Lord's answer: (Keep in mind that the Lord is building confidence in Moses that he can go back and God will work through him.)
The Lord answers Moses' concern by giving name to identify God by in this particular situation: "I AM THAT I AM." He is the Self-existent One; He is Who He is. In Bible times names were extremely important; names not only identified a person, but they described his personality or the hope of the parents for the child. This name describing God is all comprehensive; it describes God as all power and authority of heaven and earth Who needs no one outside of Himself for anything. The promise to Moses is the presence and support of the Great I AM.
How does this name answer Moses' concern? The command to Moses is to go tell Israel that the God of their fathers had sent him unto them. Moses said, "I know from experience that they will question my authority to say such a thing, so now how will I answer them?" The answer the Lord gives is in v. 14. Therefore, the name I AM identifies God as the same God who called their father Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the same God is now calling them out of Egypt in order to fulfill His promise to their fathers.
Parker makes the observation that "A man's inspiration should always be in excess of the duty which is imposed upon him." If he has not this overplus of power to face his duty and toil, he will become prey to the spirit of the hireling. This is why the Child of God, empowered by God the Holy Ghost and doing God's will, can actually triumph "in his labour, and rejoice even in persecution and tribulation." Without this Spirit of the Living God within, Christian duty becomes toil ending "in failure and mortification." The life and light-giving Spirit of God turns sorrow itself into joy.
Sin causes labour to fail in producing results, but the Spirit of God causes man to rejoice regardless; rejoice in all things, and again I say rejoice. How can this be? Because He that is within us is greater than he that is in the world. Thus, when man is doing God's will in the power of the Spirit of God, he can joyfully go about his service by faith. But if the Spirit is missing in his attempted Christian service, or if his attempted Christian service is outside of God's calling (and gifts) for him, he will most certainly grow weary in well doing; he will become no more than a hireling.
The Lord gives Moses the assurance of the Divine presence and power of the everlasting God, the Great I AM.
Another point here about this name of God: We cannot by searching find God (MH). Since names define, God cannot be defined; thus, I AM THAT I AM. We know all we can know about Him from His word; He changes not.
The Lord continues on to explain the meaning of the name which He has revealed to Moses. He tells Moses that He, the Lord, is the everlasting God from generation to generation, and His identification as the great I AM makes this clear.
One of the major conflicts between Christ and the religious leaders of His day was His claim to be the great I AM which met Moses here at the bush. 25 times in the Book of John, Christ identifies Himself as I AM. The strongest statement by our Lord on this is John 8:58, Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. The response He received for this saying is in v. 59: Then took they up stones to cast at him.. Christ could not have spoken any clearer; He was beyond any doubt, claiming to be the LORD God of the bush. Isaiah 9:6 says it like this: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
This means that it is the Great I AM Who met Moses at the bush Who also commissions His people today to go into all the world and preach the gospel.., Mt. 28:18, 19. (We come up with the same excuses as did Moses, but because of a different reason. I really do not think Moses was fearful or rebellious; he had been stripped of all self-confidence.)
V. 15, the everlasting God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob met Moses and sent him to speak to Israel for Himself; He sent him with signs and wonders and destroyed the power of Egypt. The everlasting God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob came personally in the form of the Lord Jesus Christ with signs and wonders; He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8); He came to give to His people of all time the power to overcome the world through faith (1 Jn 5:4); He came unto His own and His own received Him not; He came to speak to the nation Israel one last time before their destruction. They rejected Him, as He knew they would, and He came again in judgment and sent the gospel to the whole world. He initially sent it by His Apostles with signs and wonders.
These experts in the law and life of Moses whom Christ confronted knew exactly what He claimed, and they hated Him for His claim.
V. 16 & 17, contains the instructions which Moses is to deliver to the elders of the people. The instructions sound simple, easily carried out, and pleasant to the human nature: A) I the Lord have visited you; as a result, I know what is going on. B) Therefore, I will bring you out of your bondage and into the promised land, a land of your own. This message is short, sweet, and to the point, but it does not tell of the sacrifice and discipline which is going to be required of the people. It is a message that every one desires to hear because it contained no details nor anything negative. (I have surely visited you.. The last words of Joseph was the God will surely visit you.. Gen 50:24. Moses and Aaron go to Israel and say that Joseph's words are now fulfilled.)
Exodus 4:29-31, Moses and Aaron delivered this simple message of deliverance to the people, they believed and bowed their heads and worshiped. It was a message of deliverance with no sacrifice or effort on their part; there was no personal cost involved. They support Moses' going to Pharaoh with the message to let them go serve the Lord. But, we see in 5:20, 21, that things did not go as they had hoped. As soon as the going became difficult, they were ready to abandon ship.
What do we see here? People read God's word and see a painless no-sacrifice religion which they accept with open arms. Then the harsh reality of the whole thing takes place; the king of Egypt is not agreeable at all with the demands of the Lord. They take their stand, the king increased his demands, and they turn against God. But, the sad thing appears to be that their leaders fail to instruct them in the difficulty which lies ahead.
V. 16, the elders.. The tribal system was still in existence even though they had been under Egypt for several generations. We see in this that the Biblical system of local rule and authority had already been established. Moses, in the giving of the law, only codified what was already being done.
The parallel for Ex 3:15, 16, which is found in the coming of Christ is amazing: It is the everlasting LORD God of their fathers, the great I AM, who Moses is representing; Moses is to gather the elders of Israel together and tell them that the LORD God of their fathers has visited them. This is precisely what the LORD did while He was here on this earth. He plainly told everyone that He was here representing the Heavenly Father; furthermore, He gathered together the leaders of Israel and told them that the God of their fathers had visited them in the person of Himself.
V. 16, I have surely visited you... is a statement worth developing a little. The present generation of Israel which Moses was being sent to was in severe bondage and servitude; to them they were totally forsaken by the Lord; they were living in the darkest and most hopeless period of Israel's history up until this point. But in their darkest hour, their LORD God had visited them.
Observe: A) His visitation did not free them from their bondage and darkness. B) His visitation went unnoticed by any human agency. C) There was no supernatural manifestations which accompanied His visit. D) Even though He had already visited them, it still took the plagues and great effort on Moses' part for them to be freed. In other words, His visit did not relieve Moses' or His covenant people from their responsibility to work and serve their God.
Off hand, I can think of another instance of the Lord's visiting a location. Genesis 18:21, records the LORD's visit to Sodom. What we see here in both of these instances is the LORD Himself checking out the situation before He takes action. The picture is of the cry of the people (cry of wickedness in Sodom, cry of bondage in Egypt) coming up to the Lord, and then He goes to check it out personally before He takes action. A third instance would be the LORD Christ visiting the earth and walking among men before He takes action. In all three cases the people cannot accuse the LORD of taking action without actually going among the people to see and experience what is going on. I think Paul gives us a hint of something in Hebrews 13:2: the Lord visits or sends His representatives among the people for a personal report of what is taking place.
In other words, when the Lord visited Sodom by sending His representatives, the two angles, the Sodomites wanted to know the men, and Lot had to protect them. Following on through with this thought, when the Lord visited Egypt, He probably went as an Israelite slave and had to suffer in their bondage. When He visited in the form of a man, the Man Christ Jesus, He endured all things as man endures, except the sinful desires. Paul tells us that even today the Lord continues to visit men in the form of angles, unbeknown to those He visits.
We can conclude that the Lord takes a very active role in the affairs of men, and when He speaks, He speaks from personal knowledge. The whole Book of Hebrews covers the fact that our God knows exactly what our situation is at all times, summed up in Hebrews 4:15. Therefore, His judgment is honest, fair, and just.
Exodus 3:16, the Lord had personal knowledge of what was taking place, so He moves.
V. 7, I have surely seen.., v. 8, I am come down.., v. 16, I have surely visited.., v. 17, I will.., the Lord is going to personally take action. But, the action He is going to take is through Moses and the plagues. In other words, the deliverance will be supernatural but not without pain, work, difficulty, sacrifice, and dedication on the part of the ones He is delivering.
Far too many pray (2:23), then expect a painless deliverance; the Lord did not work that way here.
V. 17, the Lord continues on with His instruction to Moses, as He instructs Moses as to what to tell the people. V. 17, sounds like the Lord is going to work things out and the people will get up and leave. They will march across the wilderness and simply move into and settle in the promised land. They soon find out that there is more to following the Lord.
V. 18, the Lord tells Moses that Israel will welcome him and the message from the Lord which he brings to them. Their leaders will join with him in making the demand to Pharaoh. It is many times over obvious that the people truly expected (and latter demanded) a painless redemption from Egypt; they expected a no-sweat religion.
Three days journey.. The Lord had no intention of returning His people to Egypt, so why did He make this statement which indicated that after Israel had made the sacrifice they would return?
Vs. 19-22, the Lord tells Moses some of the detail of what to expect, but He does not instruct Moses to tell these things to the elders. He does not tell Moses to instruct the people that the king of Egypt will resist them with a mighty hand. He does not tell the people anything more than that the Lord demands they depart form Egypt and go to Canaan.
Basically, the king of Egypt will resist their departure with all his might. The Lord will smite Egypt with more might doing signs and wonders among them. The Lord will give favor in such a way that when Israel departs, they will spoil Egypt. Borrow.. What the Hebrew women did was ask the Egyptian for their things which represented wealth and God would make the Egyptians disposed to give them to Israel, "without the slightest prospect of restoration." (Keil)
So then, we see that God tells Moses that when Israel departs out of Egypt, Egypt will pay Israel for the hundreds of years of servitude in which they had been. V. 21, is important because we see that it is the Lord which transfers the wealth of Egypt to Israel. The Lord caused Egypt to give everything to Israel; therefore, it was the Lord who gave it to Israel, not Egypt. Keil makes an excellent observation: "Egypt had spoiled Israel by the tributary labour so unjustly enforced, and now Israel carried off the spoil of Egypt-a prelude to the victory which the people of God will one day obtain in their conflict with the power of the world (cf. Zech. xiv. 14)."
Notice, Egypt was not a nice loving sickly nation; they had not treated Israel with anything but contempt; they saw Israel as a worthless nation who's only use was to serve them. But, we see that the Lord is going to move in their hearts to give all of their wealth to His people. Egypt, in all it's pride and arrogance, is no more than a tool in the hand of the Lord. Furthermore, the whole purpose of Egypt was for the good of God's people. He raised up Egypt for Israel's benefit, and when Egypt had fulfilled God's purpose Egypt was destroyed.
The parallel with our day is obvious. The world sees the people of God as only someone to do its bidding. The promises of God are also obvious; God raises up who He will to do His will and when He will, His people will prevail. The evil and pride of the world is only working for His glory. He cam move just as easily on our time in the world's heart to accomplish His will as He could in the heart of Egypt.
I have mentioned this elsewhere, but Egypt not only transferred their wealth to Israel, but because Israel was a slave nation which was doing the work for Egypt, Egypt also transferred their knowledge and skills to Israel. Egypt forced Israel to do all the labor, skilled and unskilled. Therefore, Egypt would have forgotten how to work. God, by His divine providence, striped everything from Egypt and her king, and He gave it all to Israel. The method used was through hard bitter bondage. At the time, Israel sure would not have seen the transfer, he was only interested in staying alive. But, once they were removed from Egypt, it would have been obvious. (Not only did Egypt transfer her wealth and knowledge to Israel, she also transferred her idolatry. This generation had to be destroyed because of the influence of the false gods of Egypt.)
Let me close this chapter with a statement by A. Edersheim: "But, at last, the wonder-working power of Jehovah would break the stubborn will of Pharaoh; and when Israel left Egypt it would not be as fugitives, but, as it were, like conquerors laden with the spoil of their enemies."
Yes, God's covenant people appear to be hopelessly in bondage in Egypt; yes, they appear utterly ill-prepared, unskilled, unorganized, undisciplined, and totally unable to help themselves; yes, there is a lot of heartache and training ahead; yes, Moses has yet to be convinced that he can do the job; but, there is freedom and victory ahead for the people of God when His time is right. God takes a totally un and ill prepared mob of people and makes of them a mighty army which conquers the world for Christ.
God is a present active God Who moves in time and space to accomplish His plan. And that plan will be accomplished through His covenant people. Egypt will be spoiled, its power destroyed, and subdued to the King of kings.