Exodus 1-5 (12-11-21)
As we begin into the Exodus Era this week, I am very excited to get into the testimony of God’s work in and through Israel and His servant Moses. The events of the Exodus and God’s deliverance of this small nation of Israel is historically one of the most talked about events from generation to generation. We see this all throughout the biblical narrative and in the New Covenant, as God fulfills much of His redemptive plan in Christ, whereby key things were set in motion at the Exodus are fulfilled. In just the first few chapters, there is so much to cover as we focus in on Moses. So with that, let’s dig in.
A God ordained adoption
In Exodus 2, Moses’ story begins with his birth. His parents had to send him down the river in order to try to keep him alive.
If they only knew what God had in store for him. The daughter of Pharaoh makes him her own (v. 10). Moses aimed to use his status in Pharaoh’s house to look out for his people (v.11). In his defending a Hebrew man who was being beaten, he killed an Egyptian soldier and fled to Mideon to avoid the wrath of Pharaoh (vs. 12-15). He married and had a son in his time away from Egypt. At the end of Exodus 2, we read that Pharaoh died, and the Israelites cried out to God to remove them from their bondage in Egypt. “Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew” (Exodus 2:23-25).
An Unlikely Leader
In Exodus 3, we read about the incredible encounter Moses has with God at the burning bush. God making Himself known through this kind of encounter is what is called a Theophany. Moses shows great reverence and righteous fear at the presence of God. God tells Moses that He has seen His people’s affliction and heard their cries and that He will deliver them to the Promised Land. Then God says something Moses would have never expected: He says, “You will be my mouth piece before Pharaoh and My chosen leader.” Listen, to Moses’ response.
Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
“Who am I? I am a nobody!”
Too often, we get caught up in only looking at the horizontal, meaning we are only worried about what other people think of us, how they will respond, and what we are capable of. But realize that when we do this, we are missing something very critical: what God thinks about us and what He can do in and through us. This is the vertical truth we must walk in every day. Yes, by the world’s standards, we are often very insufficient and unqualified. But that is not how God works. He most often takes the least of these and raises them up to do mighty things so that He is the one who gets the glory.
Notice as we read on, God doesn’t give Moses a pep talk. He doesn’t slow down and say, “You can do it!” What God doesn’t say to us in response to our feeling defeated or ill-equipped is, “You just have to believe in yourself.”
God’s response to Moses is a statement of truth—of assurance of the One who is in power! God says five life-shifting words:
Exodus 3:12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
God isn't the guy who wants to cast you in His epic story because He is desperate for anyone who will show up; this is the author, perfector, designer, creator, director, and sustainer of all things. He says, “I WILL BE WITH YOU!”
God has given the life-shifting statement to everyday, average, unlikely people time and time again. It was those same words Jesus told His previously cowardly, failed, and scared disciples. After experiencing the risen Christ, they heard the promise that He would be with them all the way. And what did they do? They rose up and gave all they had to their faith as they gave birth to the Church.
The question for us is, “What have I done with those words?” God says, “I will be with you.” How did you wake up and live life this last week as a result of those words?
“Thank God; having you around will make things easier and more convenient.” Or, “Ok God, I’ll remember that when I can’t seem to do it on my own.” Or did you say, “God, I recognize it is all from you and for you. I trust you will lead me, sustain me, and use me for your purposes ... let’s go!”
One of the things that helps us is to rightly know and remember who God is to understand what His name is. In our text, we get one of the most important insights into who God is, as He describes to Moses His name!
Exodus 3:13-18 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’”
What you need to understand about the religious system in Egypt in that day is a belief in many gods. These are “little g”—little pretender gods: a god of soil, of fertility, of the sun, or of death. So Moses is asking, “How do I describe you to those who believe in many gods? Which god will they think you are?” Now listen to God’s answer:
Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am."
Now you might be thinking, ‘Well that just clears it up!”
But really pay attention to what He just said: “I am who I am” is taken from a Hebrew word that means “to exist.” What God is telling Moses is “I exist; I am REAL!” In this, He is totally slamming the entire religious system and putting to correct shame all the “little g,” man-made gods. He makes no excuses, no explanation. He is as straight forward as He can be: “I AM! Whether you figure me out or not or whether you acknowledge me or not! I AM”
Next God says, “This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" So, God’s name is “I AM.”
Exodus 3:15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob-has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
The Lord (all CAPS) represents four Hebrew consonants (YHWH). This was so sacred the Jewish people wouldn’t even pronounce them. Our modern word for God’s name is “Yahweh.” So anywhere you see the Lord in all caps in the Bible, this is a sign that it is in reference to the One true God.
This is the name of God! YAHWEH! It is not a name to be taken lightly! It is full of power and wonder! It is a name describing His eternal power and unchangeable character. In a world where values, morals, and laws change constantly, we can find stability and security in our unchanging God.
This name is used 6800 times in the Old Testament! Now think of the difference between knowing Him as GOD verses knowing Him as Yahweh—"HE IS!” When God’s reveals His name, He is not only letting us get to know Him, He is proclaiming who He is. So when He says, “I AM,” He is saying, “I am huge, I am it, I am vast, I am who I am!” No matter what you think or have been told, “I AM!”
He is surely worthy of our trust and praise!
Setting the table for what is coming next:
Exodus 3:19-22 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.
This sets the table for all that God was about to do to deliver His people from the most powerful and dominate ruler in the world at the time. I’m stoked for what lies ahead of us in our reading of the Exodus.
To close, what I love about the testimony of Moses is that it is far more a testimony about God. I want my life to be that way. I want the people who walked with me and heard my preaching and followed me to have way more to say about all that God did in and through me in that time than what I did. May we keep our eyes on the vertical and not just the horizontal. May we never forget that we are utterly dependent on the great I AM, who is with us always. May we never lose our gratitude or trust in God, even when what stands before us seems insurmountable.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC