Exodus 6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 16, 2007


The book of Exodus is a book about deliverance. It chronicles the deliverance of the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt.

We’ve followed along as God has called Moses to be the deliverer, and Moses reluctantly obeys. Last week we saw Moses and Aaron make their first plea to Pharaoh to let God’s people go. But instead of deliverance, things just got worse.

(Exo 5:22-23 NKJV) So Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? {23} "For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all."

:1-8 God’s response to trouble

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

:2 And God spoke to Moses and said to him: "I am the LORD.

:3 "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them.

God Almighty – the Hebrew here is “El Shaddai”, the strong and powerful God.

This verse is a little difficult to understand because we are told in Gen. 13:4 that Abraham actually called on the name of “Yahweh”.

(Gen 13:4 NKJV)  to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

What’s the verse saying?

Some say that there should be a question mark here, “but by My name LORD was I not known?” Hebrew and Greek do not have punctuation marks. Using a question mark in translation is up to the translator.

Others say that the point is that the patriarchs mainly knew God as “El Shaddai”.

(Gen 17:1 NKJV) When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am Almighty God…

It’s possible that it’s at this point that the name Yahweh will take on way more importance as they see the mighty miracles that will be worked in connection with the name Yahweh.

:4 "I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers.

:5 "And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.

At this point, God will now make seven specific promises, all starting with “I will …”.

God’s promises are all about taking us from where we are to where we are supposed to be.

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

:7 'I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

:8 'And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.'"


The answer is faith

Things have been getting harder rather than easier. The people are confused. Moses doesn’t know what to think.
God’s response is, “I am God. I am going to take care of this.”
If you look closely, you will see that though there are seven things that God promises to do, there isn’t a single thing that the Israelites are supposed to do.
It’s a picture of grace. It reminds us that our salvation comes because of what God has done for us, not what we’ve done for God.
I think the issue is, how are you going to respond to God’s grace?
God wants you to trust in Him.

Your initial trust, your initial cry to God is what starts the deliverance. But your continued trust is going to affect what kind of “ride” you’re going to have through the deliverance.

(Isa 12:2 NKJV) Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; 'For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.'"

This was D.L. Moody’s favorite verse. He used to say, “You can travel to Heaven first-class or second-class. First-class is, ‘I will trust and not be afraid.’ Second-class is, ‘when I am afraid, I will trust in thee.’”

Either way, it’s all about trust.

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

heedshama‘– to hear, listen to, obey

anguishqotser – shortness, impatience, anguish, grieved

cruel bondage – their harsh slavery conditions


Not hearing the message

Moses was speaking, but the people just didn’t get the message.
A pastor decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon. Four worms were placed into four separate jars. The first worm was put into a container of alcohol. The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke. The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup. The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil. At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results: The first worm in alcohol - Dead. The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead. Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead. Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive. So the Minister asked the congregation - What can you learn from this demonstration? Maxine, who was sitting at the back, quickly raised her hand and said, “As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won’t have worms!” That pretty much ended the service ...
Maxine didn’t get the message either.
The people had a hard time listening to what Moses was saying because of the difficulty of their circumstances, and how they had responded to their circumstances. They had responded with “anguish”, with “impatience”.
I find it interesting that God doesn’t stop working. God doesn’t say, “Well if you’re not going to have perfect faith, then I’m not going to help you.”
When it comes to the messages that I prepare for Sundays, I have learned that there usually are reasons for why we are studying the Scriptures we are studying.
I believe that it is very possible that there are some of you here this morning who are in the very same place. You want God to help you. But things haven’t been going the way you thought they would. Things are getting harder instead of easier.
I hope you are able to hear me this morning. I hope you are able to open your heart to receive the truth that there is a God in heaven. He cares about you. He wants to help you.
(1 John 3:16 NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us...
(Rom 8:31-32 NKJV) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? {32} He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Don’t confuse the difficulty you are in with the love and purpose that God has for you.
Because things are getting more difficult doesn’t mean that God isn’t at work or that the process hasn’t started.

:10-13 Get back to it

:10 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

:11 "Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the children of Israel go out of his land."

:12 And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying, "The children of Israel have not heeded me. How then shall Pharaoh heed me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?"

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

Moses seems to be a bit reluctant to go back into the ring with Pharaoh.

:14-27 Genealogies – leading to Moses

At this point we are given the genealogy of Moses – verses 14-25…

It starts out as if we’re going to get a detailed genealogy of all the sons of Israel, starting with the first three sons – Reuben, Simeon, and Levi.

But when we get to Levi, we start getting into details to show how Moses was a direct descendant of the third son of Jacob, Levi.

:14 These are the heads of their fathers' houses: The sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel, were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. These are the families of Reuben.

:15 And the sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. These are the families of Simeon.

:16 These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the years of the life of Levi were one hundred and thirty-seven.

We get the three main families of the Levites, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. We then follow the line of Kohath on down to Aaron and Moses. We even are given some of the ages of the men involved, a total of close to four hundred years.

:17 The sons of Gershon were Libni and Shimi according to their families.

:18 And the sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. And the years of the life of Kohath were one hundred and thirty-three.

:19 The sons of Merari were Mahali and Mushi. These are the families of Levi according to their generations.

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

:21 The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri.

:22 And the sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Zithri.

:23 Aaron took to himself Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Nahshon, as wife; and she bore him Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

:24 And the sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. These are the families of the Korahites.

:25 Eleazar, Aaron's son, took for himself one of the daughters of Putiel as wife; and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers' houses of the Levites according to their families.

:26 These are the same Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said, "Bring out the children of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their armies."

:27 These are the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the children of Israel from Egypt. These are the same Moses and Aaron.


Learn the history

Here’s this odd break in the middle of the story and it seems to me the purpose is to remind us of Moses’ connection with these people he’s going to deliver.
I’ve been spending a lot of time at the hospital lately with my dad. My dad’s mind is still very sharp and he has always had this incredible memory. The last two weeks I’ve learned all kinds of things. He told me about the odd thing in the family genealogy about how my great great grandfather had three sons, then my great grandfather had one son, then my grandfather had three sons, then my dad had one son, and I have … three sons. Funny, huh?
I’ve heard stories about my grandfather, who I never really knew, about his musical talents, about how he served the Lord by being the Sunday School Superintendent and playing the organ at the Methodist Church. Isn’t it funny that I’m a keyboard player and that I got my first full time ministry position overseeing a Children’s Ministry?
I’ve heard stories about my dad growing up. He told me that during the Great Depression he and a group of four other boys formed a club called the Fifth Street Tigers. He told me about how they went to a local farmer and asked him if they could use one of his chicken coops for a club house, and how they had to scrape the poop out and wash the thing out before they could use it. I got these pictures of “Spanky and Our Gang” in my head. I heard about the town bully, Bill Brown, a big kid who used to pick on the smaller kids, like the kids in the Fifth Street Tigers. My Dad told me how they decided as a club that one day they had had enough and how they ambushed Bill Brown, beat him up, and how he cried and called out for his mommy, and never bothered them again.
I heard stories about the Bible Club that one of the ladies in the neighborhood started when my dad was in his early teens. I heard about how my Dad would gather up all his friends and bring them to the Bible Club, though mostly because the lady made delicious cookies.
I heard about how my Dad accepted Christ when he was twelve years old, and how when he was eighteen a traveling evangelist came through town and my dad rededicated his life to Christ, and how his relationship with Christ has helped him through his life, starting when he went off to New York City, living at the YMCA, studying in a trade school and become an aircraft draftsman, and attending the local Presbyterian church every Sunday.
I find it fascinating to see how much of my life is connected to my past.
My point? I have to wonder if it isn’t a valuable thing to know where you’ve come from. I think it helps you know where you are going.
I’m not sure I’m talking about doing your genealogy or knowing your family history, perhaps the value is in your own personal history.
The Bible often reminds us to think about where we’ve come from.
(1 Pet 1:18-19 NLT) For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. {19} He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.

I can find benefit from remembering what Jesus has saved me from. It will affect the people I am going to minister to.

When Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, he had an opportunity to speak to the Jewish crowd. Look at how Paul uses his own history to connect his own past to the people he was trying to speak to:
(Acts 22:1-3 NKJV) "Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now." {2} And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said: {3} "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.

Paul’s own history got the attention of the people he spoke to.

Sometimes people get a little confused about:
(Phil 3:13-14 NKJV) Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, {14} I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

They take this to mean that we need to forget everything about our life before Christ. But in the same chapter (Phil. 3:4-7), Paul had just given his readers a reminder of his own life and history, so I don’t think Paul is saying to forget your history.

Paul is saying that we need to learn to not allow the past to be the thing that slows us down. But being reminded of the past is one way we help others. Don’t forget the song:

“I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see”

It’s the testimony of where God has taken you from that reaches out to the people you are ministering to.

Your past is not unimportant. It’s a part of who you are. It’s also a part of how God wants to use you. It is part of the connection to the people God wants to use you with. Moses’ past was his connection to the people God was going to help through Moses.
It’s connected to where Moses was going. Your past has a connection to where you are going.

:28-30 Uncircumcised Lips

:28 And it came to pass, on the day the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt,

:29 that the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "I am the LORD. Speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you."

:30 But Moses said before the LORD, "Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh heed me?"


Uncircumcised lips

Circumcision was a special thing that God asked Abraham and all his descendants to do with their baby boys (Gen. 17:10). It was supposed to be a symbol that they were a part of the covenant between Abraham and God.
(Gen 17:10 NKJV) "This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised;
Circumcision is a cutting away of the flesh. It’s symbolic of a life that is going to be lived not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Even though the ritual of circumcision later became a symbol of legalistic Christianity, requiring Gentiles to be circumcised in order to be saved, in many parts of the Bible circumcision was a picture of a life that is right with God.  Uncircumcision is a picture of a life that isn’t right with God.
Hearts – Hearts are often described as being “circumcised” or “uncircumcised”, referring to whether a person’s heart is right with God. (Lev. 26:41; Deut. 10:16; Eze. 44:9)

(Lev 26:41 NKJV)  and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt;

(Deu 10:16 NKJV)  "Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.

(Ezek 44:9 NKJV)  'Thus says the Lord GOD: "No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter My sanctuary, including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel.

Ear – A couple of scriptures speak of an “ear” being uncircumcised (Jer. 6:10; Acts 7:51), talking about a person who is not right with God, a person who is unwilling to listen to God.

(Jer 6:10 NKJV)  To whom shall I speak and give warning, That they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, And they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; They have no delight in it.

(Acts 7:51 NKJV)  "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.

Lips – It would seem that Moses saying his “lips” were not circumcised would refer to him feeling that he was not right with God, that he was not in a place to be speaking for God.

It’s possible that Moses is thinking about what seems to be a failure. It seems that the words he has been saying aren’t doing any good. Earlier he had said,

(Exo 6:12 NKJV) And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying, "The children of Israel have not heeded me. How then shall Pharaoh heed me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?"

Moses does have a growing grasp on what “circumcision” is all about and the need to be right with God.

Remember that earlier Moses had encountered a problem (Ex. 4:24-26) just before arriving in Egypt where he almost died because he had not circumcised his own son.

Note that in our passage there has been a disaster – things haven’t gotten better, they’ve gotten worse and the people aren’t happy. The disaster is followed by God showing up and speaking to Moses. This is followed by the “excuse” about the lips.
There is a similar passage in Scripture where a disaster is followed by God’s presence, which is then followed by a statement about lips. It’s not in Exodus 6, but Isaiah 6.

Isaiah is going through his own disaster, King Uzziah had died.  And it was at that time that God showed up – Isaiah had a vision of God sitting on His throne.  Then we read:

(Isa 6:5-8 NKJV) So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts." {6} Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. {7} And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged." {8} Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

For Isaiah, the realization of his own weakness was followed by God taking care of the problem – cleansing his lips.  And this is followed by God sending Isaiah into his ministry.

Take a peek at how God responds to Moses:

(Exo 7:1-2 NKJV) So the LORD said to Moses: "See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. {2} "You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall speak to Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land.

Are you struggling with whether God could use you?

Let God cleanse you.

Let God send you.