Moses Before the Call
We've noted in our previous chapter that Genesis provides approximately 2,000 years of history in general and in this we find the beginning of the "Golden Thread," the Bible's main focus which is the story of God's people.
In Genesis we are introduced to individuals (Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) along with their families all the way down to Jacob's son Joseph, and how he as Vizer (Prime Minister of Egypt) saved his family's life by bringing them to settle in Egypt and providing them with food during a period of prolonged famine. Genesis ends with Jacob and his extended family of 70 people living freely and comfortably in the fertile land of Goshen in northern Egypt.
Exodus begins by filling the reader in on what has taken place since that time and introducing two individuals around whom most of the events in Exodus will take place. Also, it is in Exodus that God will go from speaking directly to individuals, to speaking to the people through certain individuals, to speaking to a nation through a set of laws and regulations that reveal His will which will be available to all the people at all times.
Exodus can be divided and outlined in several different ways. Here are samples taken from another resource book used in prepping this study:
Truth for Today Commentary – Exodus – Coy Roper
1. Two Part Outline:
- The Deliverance – Chapters 1-18
- The Covenant – Chapters 19-40
- The covenant and commandments (19-24)
- The building of the tabernacle (25-40)
2. Relationship Outline (Warren Wiersbe):
- Redemption – The Lord delivers His people (1-18)
- Covenant – The Lord claims His people (19-24)
- Worship – The Lord dwells with His people (25-40)
3. Experience of the People Outline:
- God's people delivered (1:1 – 13:16)
- God's people led (13:17-18:27)
- God's people made into a covenant nation (19-24)
- God's people given instructions RE-tabernacle (25-31)
- God's people in sin: The golden calf (32-34)
- God's people constructing the tabernacle (35-40)
The advantage of these outlines is that they give us a snapshot of what the book is about and the flow of information concerning main topics. The downside is that they are not always practical to follow as class outlines because there is more information to cover than time for a typical Bible study class.
For example, with the Two-Part Outline there is not enough time to cover 15 chapters in a single session.
For a fixed number of sessions (13 max) like this class we need an outline that summarizes well the material at hand, but also gives us time to adequately study the contents of the book so that we can better understand Exodus and come away from our study with new information about this second book of the Pentateuch.
4. The Expanded Outline
- Summary of Genesis
- Author and date of the book of Genesis
- Geography and history of Egypt
- Purpose of Exodus
- Deliverance 1 – (1:1-6:27)
- Israel enslaved – (1:1-22)
- The deliverance: Moses – (2:1-4:26)
- Initial failure – (4:27-5:23)
- Moses and Aaron Genealogy – (6:1-27)
- Deliverance 2 – (6:28-12:36)
- God's promise of success – (6:28-7:7)
- The miracle of the staff – (7:8-13)
- Deliverance by means of ten plagues – (7:14-12:36)
- The Exodus – (12:37-18:27)
- Departure from Egypt – (12:37-15:21)
- Journey to Sinai – (15:22-18:27)
- The Covenant Between God and Israel – (19:1-40:38)
- The covenant made – (19:1-25)
- The people react, ratify, and receive the law and covenant – (20:1-24:18)
- Plans for the tabernacle – (40:1-38)
- Apostasy and restoration – (35:1-39:43)
- Building of the tabernacle – (40:1-38)
This expanded outline covers all the material in summary form but provides enough information, so the reader is familiar with the general story before he even reads it and studies the details.
With this outline you always know where you are in relation to the big picture or main story. This is the outline we will follow for our study of Exodus, which in the Greek translation meant "departure" or "way out." In Hebrew it meant "names" or the "book of names," meaning that God knew and had not forgotten the names or identity of His people enslaved in Egypt.
We've already completed this in our first lesson:
A. Summary of Genesis
Joseph who has become second in command in Egypt has received his father Jacob, along with his brothers and families (70 people in all) into Egypt to protect them from a severe famine. This is the final happy scene in Genesis.
B. Author and Date of Exodus
Using existing records, oral histories, and his own witness of the times, Moses wrote all of the books of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) between 1447-1400 B.C.
C. Geography and History of Egypt
We spent considerable time reviewing this when we covered these two subjects for review purposes. Suffice it to say the following:
- Egypt is completely dependent on the Nile River which flows the length of its country.
- Most of its population lives near its shores and fertile delta valley that supplies its food and water.
- Egypt is an ancient civilization having been established 3,000 years before Christ.
- It was considered a world power several times throughout its history.
- Its most significant period is recorded in the Bible as the nation where the Jewish people were forced into slave labor. Subsequently, the nation was completely ruined by plagues sent by God through Moses in order to force the release of the Jewish people from bondage.
- It appears further along in the Bible playing a major role in the local wars and geopolitics of the times, but never again obtained its former influence or power.
D. Purpose of the Book of Exodus
Exodus explains in detail how God transformed a large group of people, loosely held together by family and tribal ties into a single nation held together by their faith in the One true and living God. Exodus provides the manner in which God instructed the Jewish nation to both express and nurture that faith until the promises it contained were fulfilled.
Now that our outline has been laid out and we've had a brief review of the first section of that outline (the Introduction), it's time we look into part two of our outline, entitled – Deliverance 1.
Deliverance – 1 – (Ch. 1:1-6:27)
A. Israel Enslaved – (1:1-22)
1Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; they came each one with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5All the persons who came from the loins of Jacob were seventy in number, but Joseph was already in Egypt. 6Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.
- Exodus 1:1-7
The Jews arrived and lived as free men in a part of Egypt which was abundant in food and water, as well as grazing land for their animals (land of Goshen – Delta valley – north). God blesses them and as a result, they not only grow in numbers and wealth, but also rival the native Egyptian population as they spread out and lived in all parts of Egypt.
- God is fulfilling His promise to Abraham and Isaac, that their descendants will be as numerous as the stars – Genesis 26:4.
- They are experiencing rapid population growth.
8Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. 10Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land."
- Exodus 1:8-10
The term "did not know Joseph" doesn't mean that he never heard or was not aware of this part of Egyptian history – it means he did not recognize or honor the Jews out of respect for what Joseph had done. The sentiment among the Egyptians was, "That was then, and this is now, where the size and strength of the Jews, not to mention the liability they present should they align with our country's enemies, must be dealt with immediately."
11So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. 13The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; 14and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.
15Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; 16and he said, "When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live." 17But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. 18So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?" 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them." 20So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. 21Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them. 22Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive."
- Exodus 1:11-22
The Pharaoh tried to solve the "Israelite problem" using tactics that would weaken and limit their growth.
- At first, he oppressed them by constricting them to serve in a kind of slave army of workers charged with building projects.
- This was hard work which took them away from their farms, herds, and families.
- This didn't work since they continued to grow in population and strength.
He then doubled down by going to the root of the problem (too many births of healthy babies) and instructed the Hebrew midwives to destroy any male babies at birth.
- This plan also failed as the midwives refused to carry out this type of abortion claiming that Jewish women were so strong that they had their babies quickly before the midwives would arrive and interfere with the births.
- God blessed these midwives with babies of their own.
Having failed twice with these indirect plots to undermine the growth of the Jewish population, the Egyptian monarch enacted a radical program authorizing any Egyptian to kill any Jewish newborn male by drowning him in the Nile River but sparing the newborn females.
Deliverance – 1 - (Ch. 1:1-6:27)
The Deliverer: Moses – (2:1-4:26)
1. Moses' Early Life – (2:1-14)
1Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. 2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. 3But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. 4His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.
5The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her. 6When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children." 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?" 8Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go ahead." So, the girl went and called the child's mother. 9Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages." So, the woman took the child and nursed him. 10The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, "Because I drew him out of the water."
- Exodus 2:1-10
I want you to notice both the Providence of God here as well as His faithfulness to His promises:
- At first the Egyptians oppressed Israel and the more they oppressed them, the more they multiplied and prospered.
- Next, the Pharaoh tried to abort the babies, but more babies were born – even the midwives who couldn't themselves conceive were enabled to have babies (adding insult to injury).
- Finally, the Pharaoh required that all Hebrew male babies be thrown into the river. The ultimate result of this strategy was that the child who was to become the deliverer of the Jewish people (Moses) was rescued from the river by Pharaoh's daughter and raised in the court of Pharaoh, himself!
The theme of this episode is that nothing works when man (any man, even kings) oppose God. No one can defeat God or God's plan.
Moses lived 120 years and his life can be divided into three 40-year sections:
- As Royalty in the court of Pharaoh in Egypt.
- As a Shepherd in the wilderness of Midian.
- As the Leader of the Israelites.
The name, Moses, given to him by the Egyptian princess who found him means, "drawn out of the water." The princess knew he was a Jewish castaway and had him nursed by a Jewish woman who was his real mother. This helps explain why Moses, although recognized as royalty by Egyptians, was aware of his Jewish heritage and genealogy from the tribe of Levi, whose descendants would eventually provide the priests and servants of the temple. The Bible glosses over the details of his life as the adopted son of the princess and moves directly to the second phase of his life as a shepherd in Midian.
11Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13He went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, "Why are you striking your companion?" 14But he said, "Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and said, "Surely the matter has become known."
- Exodus 2:11-14
This is Moses' first attempt at leading his people based on human wisdom, strength and tactics (revolution), however, two things happen that thwart this initial effort:
- His own people reject and mock him.
- He is afraid for his life because of the killing of an Egyptian, and runs away.
This ends the description of events during the first 40 years of his life and his attempt at becoming the leader of his people.
2. Moses in Median – 2:15-22
This next period in Moses' life is briefly summarized in a few verses where he escapes to the land of Midian:
- Meets the daughters of his future father-in-law, Ruel, after saving them from aggressive local shepherds.
- He eventually marries into the family, has children, and settles into the quiet life of a shepherd. These are all the details given concerning his time there.
In the meantime, the narrative switches back to the land and people that Moses left behind.
23Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. 24So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.
- Exodus 2:23-25
This now indicates that the time has come for God to deliver His people and sets the scene for the calling of the deliverer.
3. Moses – Deliverer of Israel – 3:1-4:26
a) The Call – 3:1-9
Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
- Exodus 3:1
Note that Moses' father-in-law is called Jethro which is an alternate name for the same man referred to as Ruel in Exodus 2:18. He was a priest, not through the tribe of Levi appointed by God (i.e. Aaron), but a religious leader worshipping the God of Abraham since the Midianites were descendants of Abraham through his wife Keturah, whom he took after the death of Sarah.
- The Midianites were descendants of the children Abraham had with Keturah – Genesis 25:1-6.
- This explains where their belief in the God of Abraham came from.
Moses sees the burning bush as he was pasturing his flock near Mt. Horeb – the mountain of God, which is later referred to as
Mt. Sinai, the place where God will give Moses the law and appear to Him in the future.
2The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3So Moses said, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up."
- Exodus 3:2-3
Here, God appears and communicates to Moses from a bush that burned with fire but was not consumed. This type of event is known as a "theophany," which is an appearance of God in some form. The text says that the "angel of the Lord" appeared from the burning bush. He is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, but is in fact the Lord Himself since He describes Himself as such in verse six. In essence He is the Lord Jesus appearing in angelic form before He appeared as a man (Jesus).
The burning bush is the first miracle recorded in the book of Exodus, however, there are not many miracles in the Old Testament considering there are 39 books. Miracles, when they do take place, tend to be grouped together in clusters at certain points in the history of Israel. For example:
- At the Exodus which we will see shortly.
- During the conquest of Canaan.
- During the prophetic ministries of Elijah and Elisha.
Miracles occurred at times of crisis for Israel, at times that its national survival was threatened.
4When 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." 5Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." 6He said also, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
- Exodus 3:4-6
God calls Moses, twice to assure that the call was real, and Moses answered immediately without hesitation.
- This demonstrated that Moses' heart was ready to hear what God had to say.
- Despite his circumstances, Moses' faith was strong and seeking God's will.
The Lord confirms that this appearance is real and that Moses is standing before the true and living God by commanding him to remove his sandals.
- This confirmed that this was not a dream or hallucination.
- Also demonstrated that the physical space he occupied was now holy and sacred because God also occupied it.
- The removal of his sandals was his way of expressing his faith in the reality of this event.
Moses sees the miraculous proof of God's presence in the burning bush and now hears the voice of God identifying Himself.
- I AM – the way He usually begins
- The God worshipped by your fathers all the way back to Abraham where the "golden thread" of their history began.
Moses then acknowledges that he is in the presence of God by hiding his own face.
- The typical human reaction to being in the presence of angels or the Divine Being is fear as well as recognition of our own unworthiness and sinfulness.
- From Adam to Moses to Isaiah to Peter – men are completely overwhelmed and awestruck when in the presence of God, many afraid that they won't survive the experience.
The Purpose of the Call
7The Lord said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 8So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 9Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
- Exodus 3:7-9
God reveals to Moses why He has appeared to him before He actually calls Moses into service. He is there in connection with the Jewish people:
- He is aware of both their sufferings as well as their cry for help.
- He will deliver them from the power of enslavement of Egyptians.
- He will bring them to a prosperous land that He will give them.
- He specifies exactly what land this will be by naming its current occupants.
- He respects the initial idea that He has heard the cry (prayers) of His people concerning their suffering.
Therefore, before calling and sending Moses to fulfill His commission, God identifies both the problem (the suffering of the Israelites) and the solution (bringing them to their own prosperous land presently occupied by other nations).