Wednesday, August 8, 2012

XXXIII - Exodus Chapters 3 and 4 - God Commissions Moses

Moses had settled down in Midian, maybe having decided to be a shepherd for the rest of his life.  But Moses was brought into this world for a specific purpose, and the time has come when God needs him.  {It's nice to settle in to a comfortable and relatively easy life, but those situations never seem to last very long.  Mine never have.  There was always something that came along that forced me out of that comfort zone in order to deal with a situation that arose due to circumstances other than those of my own making.}

Chapter 3  -  Moses was tending Jethro's flock and led them near to Mt. Horeb.  (Remember, sheep stripped the grazing land, roots and all, therefore they were constantly moved to fresh grazing acreage.)  This would have been a lonely place.  The job of a shepherd is a lonely job.  However, I've noticed that it is when I am alone for long periods of time when I commune with God the most.  Uninterupted.  Just me and my thoughts.  There near Mt. Horeb, the Lord appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush.  Picture a bush burning.  It burns up so fast that you can literally watch it burn away into nothing but ashes.  Moses noticed this right away and was curious to the point of approaching this strange occurance.  Fire is often used in the Bible as a symbol for the presence of God.  As Moses turned toward the bush, God called his name.  Vs 5 - God warns Moses not to come any closer, and to take off his sandals because the place he was standing was holy ground.  Then God in detail identifies Himself:  The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  Moses then instinctively hides his face, as the very thought of looking at God was frightening.

God remembers His promise to Abraham (Gen 13:15) about bringing His people to the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  Vss 7-->  God has heard the cries of His people in Egypt, enslaved and treated with cruelty.  And He tells Moses "It's time".  I am sending YOU to Pharaoh to bring My people out of bondage in Egypt and into this land I promised them in Canaan, as a people free from bondage, to live in fellowship with Me.

Moses understood everything God was telling him.  But (Vs 11) Moses does not consider himself worthy or capable of such a seemingly impossible task.  {This is the sign that a person is ready to be a servant of God.  To do God's work, any feelings of ability in oneself only hinders a person's ability to rely on God and His divine power to complete the work.}  God's first response to Moses in vs 12:  "I will be with you....", and God instructs Moses that he and the nation Israel will worship God on this very mountain.  {Comment:  Now is as good a time as any to comment on this.  I must be careful so as not to cause misunderstanding.  We've seen this with Abraham; We've seen it with Isaac; we've seen it with Rebekah, with Jacob, we even saw it with Cain, and now we'll see it with Moses.  God can be persuaded.  Repeat:  God can be persuaded.  And it does not take a patriarch to do it.  In the spirit of earnest prayer, we as His children, can appeal to God and actually persuade Him.  Sound strange?  It's true.  He hears our prayers.  He ponders and considers our requests with His perfect wisdom.  Remember Jacob's ladder?  The angels were taking our requests and concerns to God?  If God's mind is already made up about EVERYTHING, what would be the purpose of His angels carrying our concerns and petitions to Him.  It would be a total waste of effort.  In Genesis chapter 4, God pronounced punishment on Cain for murdering Abel.  Cain appealed to God that "This punishment is more than I can stand".  God then offered protection for Cain because I think at that point in time God realized Cain wouldn't live three days without God adding His protection to His punishment of Cain.  Don't be afraid to present your petitions to God.  He wants to hear from us and He does not mind a sincere, but respectful, appeal based on you thoughts and feelings. He understands when you say "but God, I'm so afraid."  We'll talk more about this down the road.}
Moses was overwhelmed, to say the least.  Vss 13-->  Moses told God that the Hebrew slaves will doubt Moses's credentials, and they will ask the name of the God that sent him.  {remember me telling you that people are going to be religious;  they are going to believe in a higher power, and in many cases, more that one.  The Egyptians believed in may gods, as I mentioned earlier.  It's easy to imagine that many of the Hebrews were "taken in" by some of the Egyptian customs, and came to acknowledge their gods.}  Moses asks God "then what do I tell them?".  God responded "I am Who I am"  This is to tell the Hebrews (or rather remind them) that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Moses knew these Hebrews and I cannot blame Moses for being so doubtful of his ability to persuade these people.  {Most people, like the Israelites, generally envision as their deliverer a military type of "knight in shining armor", as opposed to a lowly shepherd or the
son of a carpenter}

Vss 16-->  God proceeds to give Moses very specific instructions as to go about this seemingly monumental task:  Gather the elders of Israel together, tell them what I told you, and I will take them to the promised land, you and the elders together approach Pharaoh, and demand that he release all of Israel.  God goes on to inform Moses that the Pharaoh would at first reject his demands, but after God strikes Pharaoh, he will eventually let the go, and they will even leave Egypt in possession of many riches which will be given to them by the Egyptians.

Chapter 4 - Moses says to Go, "what if they don't believe me?"  God realizes He must instill faith in Moses concerning God's power, so God performs miracles in the presence of Moses, giving Moses power with which to deal with the Israeli elders and with Pharaoh himself.  These miricles are described in vss 2-8.

Vss 10-->  Moses just doesn't want to do this.  He says in vs 10 "I cannot even talk well enough to articulate these things clearly".  God tells Moses that He will help him speak and will teach him what to say.  Then Moses goes a bit too far in vs 13, and says "please send someone else".  This angered God, but God understands and tells Moses that He will send Aaron his brother to help Moses.  Aaron will avail himself to be a spokesman for Moses.

Vss 18-->  Moses returns to Jethro and asks his father-in-law him to release him of his service so he could go do God's work.  God told Moses it was time to go back to Egypt and reminded him that all who wanted him dead are now dead themselve.  So Moses took his wife and sons and headed for Egypt.

Vss 21-->  God continues to give Moses detailed instructions and tells him how things are going to go.  God predicts that Pharaoh's heart will be hardened and will refuse to let Israel go.  Moses is to tell Pharaoh that it will be God Who wants His children to go so they can worship and fellowship with Him.  Moses is to tell Pharaoh that his first born son shall die because he has refused to let Israel leave Egypt.

Vss 24-26 begs further detail, but offers little.  It tells that the Lord was about to kill Moses, but Zapporah his wife quenched God's anger by circumsizing their son.  I can only suppose that Moses had failed to obey God's covenant of circumsision when his son was eight day old.  I can offer not further thoughts on this matter.  I welcome the thoughts of any of the readers of this in the comment sections or directly to my email:

Vss 27-->  God calls on Moses's brother Aaron to meet with Moses to help him with this important task ahead of him.  Aaron meets Moses on the mountain and Moses tells him everything.  Imagine all that goes through Aaron's mind when he hears all that has happened and all that is going to happen, and that Aaron is going to be a part of it.

Vss 29-31 are refreshing, telling how Moses and Aaron got to Egypt, gathered the elders of Israel together, and even performed miracles for them.  Then the Israelites realized that God was about to deliver them and they bowed down and worshipped the true God.

Next post:  Chapters 5 and 6  -  Stubborn Pharaoh

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