Exodus 2:16 – 3:22

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 18, 2007


Moses had grown up in the court of Pharaoh as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  When he was forty years old he made a choice to start identifying with his own people, the Israelites.  He ended up killing an Egyptian and fled Egypt to live in the wilderness of Midian.  We last left Moses sitting by a well somewhere east of Egypt

Exodus 2

:16-22 Moses gets married

:16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. And they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father's flock.

the priest of Midian – it is possible that this fellow was a priest of the True God.  Later it will seem even more clear that this fellow knows God (Ex. 18:10-11)

:17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.

:18 When they came to Reuel their father, he said, "How is it that you have come so soon today?"

Reuel[email protected]‘uw’el – “friend of God”.  He’s also known by the name “Jethro” (“abundance”), and no, he’s not the nephew of uncle Jed in Beverly Hills

It sounds to me as if Reuel’s daughters have been regularly having a problem with these other bully shepherds.  Their father is surprised that they came home so early.

:19 And they said, "An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock."

:20 So he said to his daughters, "And where is he? Why is it that you have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread."

Reuel is probably thinking, “How am I ever going to get these girls married off if they keep leaving every eligible man they meet back at the well?”

:21 Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses.

ZipporahTsipporah – “bird” or “warbler”, (played by Yvonne De Carlo)

:22 And she bore him a son, and he called his name Gershom; for he said, "I have been a stranger in a foreign land."

Gershom[email protected] – “foreigner”

:23-25 Israel cries for help

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

king of Egypt – this would be the Pharaoh that had wanted to kill Moses.

bondage‘abodah – labor, work, service

:24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

:25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.

God hears their cry.  And God has a plan.  We now skip forty years ahead…

Exodus 3

:1-12 The Burning Bush

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

back of the desert – to the Jews, the “front” is always “east”.  This is the “western” side of the desert.

Horeb – this mountain is also known as “Sinai”, where Moses will receive the Ten Commandments (Deut. 5:2).  Though the traditional view is that it was located in the Sinai Peninsula, the site is actually a bit of a mystery and some have suggested that it might better be located in Saudi Arabia.

:2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.

the Angel of the LORD – this is a unique phrase in the Old Testament.  It’s not just “any” angel, it’s THE angel of Yahweh.  This is a unique person found only in the Old Testament, and we’ve already seen Him appear twice – Once to Hagar (Gen. 16) as she was running away from home, and the other time to Abraham when he obeyed God and offered Isaac as a sacrifice (Gen 22).

Don’t confuse the word “angel” with that of the created race of beings we call “angels”.  The word “angel” itself simply means “messenger”.  This person is the “messenger of Yahweh”.

We’re going to see that the language used in this passage could identify this person as God Himself.  Here it’s the angel in the bush.  In verse 4 it’s God that calls to him from the bush.

We believe that this is the person of Jesus Christ.  This is how Jesus appears in the Old Testament before He has taken on human flesh as a baby in Bethlehem.

:3 Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn."

It’s not just a burning bush, but the bush continues to burn and not be burned up.

:4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."

Moses was raised in the household of Pharaoh.  Moses was educated and trained in the best of what Egypt had to offer.

But it’s not until he’s spent forty years in the desert tending sheep that God speaks to him.

:5 Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."

holy – qodesh – apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness.  We think of being “holy” as being clean and pure.  There is something different about this place.

take your sandals off – this might be done as a sign of respect.  Some cultures today teach people to take their shoes off when entering a house.  Some moms like to keep their carpets clean.

This ground is clean because of God’s presence.  It might be that God did not want something dirty, something man-made, like sandals, to come between this holy ground and Moses.  God doesn’t mind Moses’ bare feet.  God just doesn’t want the sandals.

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


Going barefoot

Moses was asked to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground.  I kind of wonder if I really have any idea of what holiness looks like.
Soap and Water
A pastor was asked to dinner by one of his parishioners who he knew was not a great housekeeper. When he sat down at the table, he noticed that the dishes were the dirtiest that he had ever seen in his life. “Were these dishes ever washed?” he asked his hostess, running his fingers over the grit and grime. She replied, “They’re as clean as soap and water could get them”. He felt a bit apprehensive, but blessed the food anyway and started eating. It was really delicious and he said so, despite the dirty dishes. When dinner was over, the hostess took the dishes outside and yelled, “Here Soap! Here Water!”
I look at my life and kind of think that I must be okay because my dishes are about as clean as soap and water can get them.
But is my life really that clean?  We live in a pretty filthy world.  It’s hard to get through this life without getting dirty.  And after awhile we get kind of comfortable with our filth.  I wonder if I’d recognize a clean plate if I saw one.
Paul writes,
(1 Th 4:3-8 NKJV)  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;

“Sanctification” is the process of becoming more “holy”, becoming more “clean”.  “Sexual immorality” is simply any kind of sex outside of marriage.  Our world is filled with it.  It is simply one of many ways that we make ourselves “dirty”.

{4} that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

Your “vessel” is your body.  It’s learning to keep your plate clean.

{5} not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; {6} that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. {7} For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. {8} Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

Some people don’t like to hear about keeping their plate “clean”.  But your problem isn’t with people, your problem is with God.  God has put His “HOLY” Spirit inside of you, and the Holy Spirit wants to make you more “holy”.

The Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19)

(1 Cor 6:19 NKJV)  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

If Moses was asked to take off his sandals because he was standing on ground made holy by God’s presence … what does that say about us?  We’re not standing on holy ground, we ARE holy ground.

Maybe we should all go barefoot.
Taking your shoes off today doesn’t mean the same for us as it did for Moses.
Perhaps there are things we can remove from our lives, things that mess with the holiness God wants to impress on our lives.

Are there things messing with God’s purity in your life?

:7 And the LORD said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.

:8 "So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.

flowing with milk and honey – a hint at the fruitfulness of the land.

A land flowing with milk means that there would be good pasturing for their cattle and flocks, hence, lots of milk.

A land flowing with honey meant that the there was a land perfect for farming, making a great place for bees to make honey.

:9 "Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.

:10 "Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt."

I imagine that up to this point Moses is probably thinking, “That’s nice.  God is concerned about helping these people.  Why is He telling me all this?”

Then God tells Moses that he is the one who will deliver the people from Egypt.

:11-12 Moses’ first objection:  Who am I?

Forty years earlier Moses’ response would have been something like, “Well of course I’m your man, why did you wait so long to ask?” But now Moses isn’t so sure anymore.

Moses will be coming up with five excuses why he is not the right person for this job (3:11, 13; 4:1, 10, 13)

:11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?"

:12 So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."


Usefulness requires Me and God

God said to Moses, “I will certainly be with you”.
This is the “First Qualification” to being useful to God. I must have a relationship with God.  I must be close to God.
I think it’s a good idea for a person to have certain abilities in order to do certain tasks.
If you needed a mechanic to service your car, it would be helpful if the mechanic knew a few things about cars.
If Dave needed a new keyboard player in the band, it would be really nice if the person trying out for that position can actually play the keyboard.
But don’t overlook what God is saying to Moses right here.
When Moses says, “Who am I…?”  God doesn’t respond with, “Well you are the guy who has this education in Egypt, you have connections with all the right people, you are smart, you are a gifted person…”
Instead, God’s response is, “I’m with you and that’s all that counts.”

It’s not who you are that counts.  It’s God that counts.

If you want to be a person who is useful to help others, there is one primary thing that you need to focus on and continually develop – your relationship with God.
In the end, the only thing that really helps other people is getting them connected to God.  That’s a pretty difficult thing to do if you yourself don’t have a close relationship with God.
There was a reason the early disciples were so useful to God.

(Acts 4:13 NKJV)  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

How do I get a relationship with God?
For some of you, you think that having a relationship with God means going to church.  I’m here to tell you that having a relationship with God is NOT just going to church.

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.

If you go to the San Diego Zoo and stop by the exhibit with lions, you might get to take a peek at lions, but you don’t have a relationship with them.  It’s the zookeepers who get into the pen that have a relationship with the lions.

For those of you who are only coming to church, there’s a step you need to take – you need to open your heart to God.  You need to get into the pen with the “Lion”.

It starts by admitting you need Him.  It starts by admitting you are a sinner.  It starts by understanding that God has loved you so much that He allowed His Son to pay for your sins when He died on the cross.  It starts by you being willing to trust your life to God.

How do I cultivate my relationship with God?
There are quite a few things that we can do to cultivate our relationship with God, but the two most important ones are The Word of God and Prayer.
I believe a very simple, fundamental part of a growing Christian’s life is learning to spend time every day with God – both in reading God’s Word and in prayer.
Reading God’s Word is one of the best ways to let God speak to you.  Learning to spend time every day setting time aside to pray is how we complete that two way communication with God.  Prayer is how we learn to talk to God.
If you want to be useful to God, if you want to be used by God to help other people, you must cultivate your relationship with God.


Faith to serve

God said He would give Moses a sign that God had sent him.  The sign was that Moses would one day bring the Israelites back to Sinai to worship God.
How does that work?

This doesn’t seem like it’s going to be much help for Moses when he’s having a hard time getting Pharaoh to listen or the people to follow him.

There’s an element of faith that is going to be needed for Moses.  He’s going to have to trust God to get him back to Sinai.
It seems to me that God is saying that Moses isn’t always going to have some golden stamp in his passport proving that he’s the one that God has chosen.  He won’t get that “golden stamp” until he makes it back to Sinai with the people.

:13-15 Moses’ Second Objection:  Who are You?

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

:14 And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

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

Jesus will use this passage to speak about the resurrection, the fact that there is life after death:

(Mark 12:26-27 NKJV)  "But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? {27} "He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken."

The point is that God doesn’t say, “I WAS the God of your father”, but “I AM the God of your father”.  God is STILL the God of Abraham because Abraham still lives.

LORD – In the original Hebrew texts, God’s name is spelled with four letters, equivalent to our letters “YHWH”.  These four letters are called the “Tetra-grammaton” (four letters).

God’s name was considered so holy by the Jews, that in later years they were afraid to even spell it all out, let alone ever say it, because they were fearful of breaking the command of God:

(Exo 20:7 NKJV)  "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Instead of pronouncing God’s name when they see these four letters, the Jews say the word “adonai”, which is the Hebrew word for “Lord”.  In most English Bibles, you can tell when the Hebrew name of God is being used because the translators will use the word “LORD” in all capital letters.

Ancient Hebrew consisted only of consonants, but in later years the Jews developed a system called “pointings” where dots and dashes were added above and below the original letters to help the reader pronounce the words correctly.  When this system of “pointings” was developed, the Jews decided to add the vowels of “adonai” to the consonants of YHWH.  The correctly taught Hebrew student will still pronounce the word “adonai”, but beginners will look at the word and pronounce it “Yuh-hoo-wah”.  With German scholars, you use a “J” for the “Y”, and a “V” for a “W” and come up with the word “Jehovah”.  In reality, the actual pronunciation of God’s name is probably closer to “Yahweh”.

What does “Yahweh” mean?

Because of our text in Exodus 3, it seems that God’s name is based upon the Hebrew verb “Chayah”, meaning “to be”, or in the first person, “I am”.  It might be translated “the becoming one”, “the existing one”.

:16-22 The general plan

Now God is going to tell Moses the general idea of how he’s going to bring an entire nation out of Egypt.  This is his “mission impossible”.  This is the part where Mr. Phelps takes out the little tape recorder and listens to the impossible mission that he is supposed to accomplish. “Mr. Moses, this is your mission, whether or not you choose to accept it…”

God tells Moses that he is to gather the elders of Israel together, go to Pharaoh, and ask permission to go and serve Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews.

God warns Moses that Pharaoh isn’t going to let go of the people easily, but when they finally go, they will go out with treasures from Egypt.

:16 "Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, "I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt;

:17 "and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey."'

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

Note that it’s a distance of three days that they were going.  Pharaoh wasn’t told how long the trip would last and he wasn’t told that they would return.

:19 "But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand.

mighty hand – God knows that it was going to take some big-time persuading for Pharaoh to let the people go.

:20 "So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go.

:21 "And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed.

:22 "But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians."

This “plunder” will apparently be done willingly by the Egyptians.

In a sense, this was a partial payment for all the years of slavery in which the Israelites served the Egyptians for nothing.

It will be a part of the fulfillment of Abraham’s ancient prophecy:

(Gen 15:14 NKJV)  "And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

Some of this “plunder” may have been a part of what was used to build the tabernacle:

(Exo 35:5 NKJV)  'Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze;

:14 …'I AM has sent me to you.'"

There are other names or titles used of God up to this point.  He is called God Most High, the God who sees, God Almighty, and the Eternal God.  But the name used carries the idea that God is here and He’s here right now.


He is here now

I have a hard time thinking that people are going to be helped by some philosophy started by some dead guy hundreds of years ago.
The Israelites aren’t going to be set free from their slavery by telling them bedtime stories about their ancestors.  They don’t need a “once upon a time” God. They need powerful help.  They need someone who is there right now.
When someone goes through “AA”, they are told that they need a “higher power”.  In some AA groups, they aren’t too picky about what your “higher power” is.  You can choose a doorknob to be your higher power if you want.  But I can tell you now that a doorknob isn’t going to deliver you from alcohol.
But the God who is here right now can.  The God who is always present can.
There used to be a day when you were sick that you’d call your doctor and he’d come over to take a look at you.  Those days are LONG gone.  Last Monday I called my doctor and told the appointment gal that I had been coughing for a month and would like to see the doctor.  She said that since I had already been sick for a month, I could probably wait for another week.  When I’m sick, I don’t want a doctor next week, I want a doctor now.  I don’t want “I will be” but “I AM”.
Sometimes we have a hard time getting a hold of God’s presence.  Sometimes God seems so far away.  There are things we can do to help us experience His presence.

(Mat 18:20 NKJV)  "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."


(Psa 22:3 NKJV)  But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.

The Amazon River is the largest river in the world. The mouth is 90 miles across. There is enough water to exceed the combined flow of the Yangtze, Mississippi, and Nile Rivers. So much water comes from the Amazon that they can detect its currents 200 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. One irony of ancient navigation is that sailors in ancient times died for lack of water—caught in windless waters of the South Atlantic. They were adrift, helpless, dying of thirst. Sometimes other ships from South America who knew the area would come alongside and call out, “What is your problem?” And they would exclaim, “Can you spare us some water? Our sailors are dying of thirst!” And from the other ship would come the cry, “just lower your buckets. You are in the mouth of the mighty Amazon River.”
Are you thirsty?  He is here now.  Just lower your bucket.