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Scripture reading: Exodus 3-4
Background of Today’s Devotion (Exodus 2)
Moses was forty years old when he fled Egypt into the wilderness (2:11), and there he spent the next forty years tending his father-in-law’s sheep. In Midian, Moses was safe from the reign of Pharaoh and lived far from the travail of the children of Israel. He might have contentedly lived out his days with his wife, Zipporah (2:21), and sons, Gershom (2:22) and Eliezer (18:4).
Though the children of Israel were physically far and distant from the thoughts of Moses, they were never beyond God’s love and compassion. So now, when the “king of Egypt died” (2:23), and the people found no relief from their sorrows, they “cried, and their cry rose up to God by reason of the bondage [slavery; forced labor]” (2:23b). Then, “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.25And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect [acknowledged] unto them” (2:24-25).
Moses: Called and Commissioned (3:1-14).
When the time came, God found Moses tending his father-in-law’s sheep on the backside of the desert (3:1). There, Moses providentially made his way to Horeb, “the mountain of God” (3:1). [This same mount, also named Sinai, would become the base camp for Israel when Moses received the Ten Commandments, Exodus 19:10-11.]
Now, at Horeb, “the angel of the Lord appeared unto [Moses] in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush… and the bush was not consumed” (3:2).
Understanding temperatures in the Arabian desert can reach 1300 F (550 C), the sight of a burning bush in the wilderness was not unusual; however, Moses noticed the bush was not consumed. Astonished, he turned aside to see the spectacle (3:3), and suddenly out of the burning bush, God called his name, “and said, Moses, Moses, And he said, Here am I” (3:4). (Note – fire is a symbol of God’s presence in the Scriptures, Exodus 19:18.)
God instructed Moses to remove his shoes and said, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (3:6a).
What did Moses, a prince of Egypt, know about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
Indeed, his knowledge of God was not acquired in the palace of Pharaoh’s daughter. Instead, he was taught in the loving arms of his Hebrew mother, Jochebed (2:2, 8-10; 6:20). God then awakened in Moses’ memory the sufferings of the children of Israel (3:7) and announced His intentions to deliver His people out of bondage (3:8). God commanded Moses, “10Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (3:10).
With wonder, Moses asked, “Who am I?” (3:11).
He was no longer a proud prince of Egypt, and his question evidenced a humility born in the solitude of the desert. The LORD had prepared the heart of Moses. Yet, his calling to be the shepherd of Israel was not founded upon who he was, but on the one who called and commissioned him. God assured Moses, “I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain” (3:12).
Moses wondered aloud and asked God, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?” (3:13) “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (3:14).
God instructed Moses that he first had to come to the children of Israel and make known what the Lord was saying to him and them. Then, they were to know Who the authority was behind Moses and that His name was to be remembered in every generation (3:15-18a). Finally, the LORD promised that in showing His mighty hand, Pharoah would release Israel from bondage (3:18b-22).
God Overcame Moses’ Objections
Overwhelmed by the task he was given, God provided Moses with three miraculous signs to prove He was with him. The first sign, his shepherd’s staff, became a serpent (4:2-5). The second sign showed his skin turning leprous and then wholly healed (4:6-8). Finally, turning water into blood was the third miraculous sign (4:8-9).
Then, Moses objected and declared he lacked the eloquence or language needed to stand in Pharaoh’s court (after all, he had been exiled from Egypt forty years, 4:10). God rebuked him, saying, “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?” (4:11) Finally, the LORD overcame Moses’ objection and promised to send Aaron on his behalf (4:12-16).
Obeying God’s command, Moses departed for Egypt and became deathly ill along the way (4:18-24). He might have died, but his wife, Zipporah, intervened by circumcising their son (4:24-25). She returned to her father’s house (4:24-26) and did not reunite with Moses until Israel was encamped at Sinai (18:2-3).
As God promised, Moses was met by his brother Aaron (4:27). He told him the signs he was given and what he had been commanded (4:28). When they arrived in Egypt, Aaron gathered the elders of Israel and Moses demonstrated that the power of God was upon him (4:30). When the people witnessed the signs of God’s power, they believed and worshipped the LORD (4:31).
Questions to consider:
1) What fears and objections did Moses give to justify his reservations about going back to Egypt? (Exodus 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10)
2) What signs and assurances did God give to encourage Moses to trust and obey His command? (Exodus 3:6, 10, 12, 18; 14:2-9, 12-16)
3) It is easy to allow fears and feelings of inadequacy to become obstacles to obeying God. What spiritual truths can you take from God’s promises to Moses and apply to your life and walk of faith?
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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