Monthly Archives: July 2013




A. God gives Moses signs to confirm his ministry.

1. (Exodus 4:1) Moses asks, “How will they believe me?”

Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’“

a. But suppose they will not believe me: It was not wrong for Moses to initially ask Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? in Exodus 3:11; this was a logical question considering how great the task was. Yet God answered this question more than adequately in Exodus 3:12 : I will certainly be with you. After that point, and in this passage, Moses’ questions show unbelief more than sincere seeking.

b. But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice: In Exodus 3:18, God promised that the leaders of Israel would listen to Moses. He said, “they will heed your voice.” When Moses makes this protest he may as well be saying, “But what if you are wrong, God?”

i. It was good when Moses had no confidence in the flesh; but it is bad that he now lacked confidence in God.

2. (Exodus 4:2-5) The first sign: Moses’ rod turns to a snake and back again.

So the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and takeit by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

a. What is that in your hand: This reflects a precious principle regarding how God uses men – God used what Moses had in his hand. Moses’ years of tending sheep were not useless. Those years had put into Moseshand things he could use for God’s glory. God didn’t use the scepter that was in Moses’ royal hand when he lived in Egypt, but He did use the simple shepherd’s staff.

i. God likes to use what is in our hand.

· God used what was in Shamgar’s hand (Judges 3:31)

· God used what was in David’s hand (1 Samuel 17:49)

· God used the jawbone of a donkey in Samson’s hand (Judges 15:15)

· God used five loaves and two fish in the hand of a little boy (John 6:9)

b. He said, “A rod”: That rod of Moses would part the Red Sea. It would strike a rock and see water pour forth. It would be raised over battle until Israel was victorious. It would be called the rod of God (Exodus 4:20; Exo_17:9).

c. It became a serpent: Not only did Moses’ rod become a snake; it became a real snake that was frightening enough to Moses that he ran from it.

d. Reach out your hand and take it by the tail: We see the faith of Moses when he reached out to grab the snake when God commanded him to. The tail is the most dangerous place to grab a snake; yet Moses was unharmed.

i. In this little incident Moses learned how to do what God tells him to do even when it is uncomfortable.

e. That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers . . . has appeared to you: This miracle would make the children of Israel realize that the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob was with them and that the God of the covenant had not forsaken them.

3. (Exodus 4:6-9) The second and third signs: Moses is made leprous and whole again; water turns to blood and back again.

Furthermore the LORD said to him, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, “Put your hand in your bosom again.” So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. And the water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.”

a. It was restored like his other flesh: Each of the first two signs have to do withconversion. Something good and useful (a rod or a hand) is converted to something evil (a serpent or a leprous hand), and significantly, they are then converted back again.

i. There was a real message in the first two signs. The first said, “Moses, if you obey Me, your enemies will be made powerless.” The second said “Moses, if you obey Me, your pollution can be made pure.” Doubts in each of these areas probably hindered Moses, and before those signs ministered to anyone else, the ministered to Moses. This is the pattern with all God’s leaders.

b. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land: The third sign is simply a sign of judgment. Good, pure waters were made foul and bloody by the work of God and they did not turn back again. This showed that if the miracles of conversion did not turn the hearts of the people, then perhaps the sign of judgment will. If they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice shows that if the sign of judgment is only given when unbelief persists in the face of the miracles of conversion right before them.

4. (Exodus 4:10) Moses makes an excuse: “I can’t speak well.”

Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

a. O my Lord, I am not eloquent: After these remarkably persuasive signs, Moses still objected to God’s call. Moses revealed that he was not confident with his ability to speak – slow of speech is literally “heavy of mouth.”

b. I am slow of speech and slow of tongue: It seems that Moses’ excuse was not justified. Clearly 40 years before this Moses was not slow of speech and slow of tongue. Acts 7:22 says Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.

i. In those years of silence – preaching only to the sheep – Moses had to deal with all the discouragement and sense of failure and condemnation that accumulated over 40 years. It isn’t hard to see why he now believes he can’t do what he clearly thought he could do before.

ii. Instead of Moses “regressing” in speaking ability during those years in the desert, it is far more reasonable to believe that he has simply lost confidence in himself – something that can be good, but not if it makes him lose confidence in what God can do in him.

5. (Exodus 4:11-12) God’s response to Moses’ excuse.

So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

a. Who made man’s mouth? The fact that Moses believed that he was not eloquent is completely beside the point. The God who created the most eloquent mouths who ever lived was on his side.

b. Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? This is a dramatic statement revealing the sovereignty of God, and God reveals it in the context of an invitation to trust God and to work with Him.

i. There is not the slightest sense of fatalism in this declaration of God’s sovereignty. It is never “God is so mighty we can’t do anything,” but it is always“God is so mighty, He can work through us if we make ourselves available.”

c. Some have thought it cruel that God would say He makes the mute, the deaf, . . . the blind. Nevertheless the point here is not to analyze the origin of evil, but to show that God is so mighty that He can even call the mute, the deaf, and the blind to do His work. Moses’ perceived inadequacies don’t matter at all.

i. If Moses was a poor speaker, was this news to God? Does God have trouble keeping track of who is deaf, who is blind, and who is mute? Does Moses really think God made a mistake here?

ii. If Moses was a poor speaker, it didn’t matter – the mighty God said, “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” By extension, God is sufficient for us, no matter what real or imagined inadequacies we have.

6. (Exodus 4:13-17) Moses’ unwillingness, and God’s reply.

But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do. So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God. And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.”

a. Please send by the hand of whomever else You may send: Finally, Moses is done with excuses and declares the real state of his heart. Simply, he would much rather that God send someone else. His problem isn’t really a lack of ability, it is a lack of willingness.

i. “It’s common for men to give pretended reasons instead of one real one.” (Benjamin Franklin)

b. So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses: God was not angry when Moses asked, “Who am I?” (Exodus 3:11). He was not angry when Moses asked, “Who should I say sent me?” (Exodus 3:13). He was not angry when Moses disbelieved God’s Word and said, “suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice” (Exodus 4:1). He was not even angry when Moses falsely claimed that he was not and had never been eloquent (Exodus 4:10) – but God was angry when Moses was just plain unwilling.

i. There may be a hundred understandable reasons why Moses was unwilling, some of them making a lot of sense. Perhaps Moses really wanted to serve, but was unwilling because of past rejection. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that Moses was unwilling, not unable.

c. Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well: When God brought Aaron to help lead with Moses, it was an expression of His chastening to Moses, not of His approval or “giving in” to Moses. Aaron was more of a problem to Moses than help.

i. Aaron did turn out to be a source of problems for Moses. Aaron instigated the worship of the golden calf, fashioning the calf himself and building the altar himself (Exodus 32:1-6). Aaron’s sons blasphemed God with impure offerings (Leviticus 10:1-7). At one time, Aaron openly led a mutiny against Moses (Numbers 12:1-8).

ii. As these episodes unfolded, Moses surely looked back at why the LORD gave Aaron to Moses as a partner – because God was angry at Moses’ unwillingness.

d. I know that he can speak well: Aaron was a smooth talker, but a man weak oncontent. Moses had to put the words of God into the mouth of Aaron (you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth). In this sense Aaron was like a modern-day news anchorman, who does nothing but read what others have written for him.

i. Aaron wasn’t God’s spokesman; he was the spokesman of Moses. God doesn’t need leaders like this. It isn’t God’s way to have a man minister as a smooth talker but not be qualified for leadership. God wants to combine the offices of “talker” and “leader.”

B. Moses leaves Midian, goes to Egypt.

1. (Exodus 4:18) Moses asks leave of his father-in-law Jethro to go to Egypt.

So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

a. So Moses went: When the fire fades from the burning bush and when the voice of God is silent across the desert, then it is upon us to obey, and to do what God told us to do. More than one person has had a spectacular “burning bush” experience and then carried on as if it had never happened.

i. Did Moses have any idea what he was getting into when he agreed to take the LORD’s call? Could he see the Egyptian army closing in, and God parting the Red Sea through Moses’ hand? Could he see the song of victory, the water from the rock, the manna from heaven, the battles won through prayer? Could he see vision of God on Mount Sinai, the voice of God from heaven, the tablets of stone, the golden calf? Could he see the tabernacle built, the priests consecrated? Could he see the spies sent forth into Canaan, the response of unbelief, and a thirty-eight year sentence to wander the wilderness? Could he see a lonely climb to the top of Mount Pisgah, where he would die looking out over the land of promise? Could he see the honor of sitting beside the LORD on the Mount of Transfiguration? Did Moses have any idea what he was getting into?

b. Please let me go: Moses is a good example of the truth that serving God doesn’t mean neglecting your employer. Moses made sure that it was clear for him to go.

c. Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive: As well, Moses didn’t really tell his father-in-law the story behind his desire to return to Egypt. Perhaps he just felt it was too fantastic, and would rather let God demonstrate His Word through fulfilling it.

i. It is far more important – and more beneficial – for others to see the fruit of God’s guidance in your life than to hear you explain all you believe God said to you.

2. (Exodus 4:19-23) God tells Moses how events will unfold in Egypt.

And the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go, return to Egypt; for all the men who sought your life are dead.” Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand. And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.”‘ “

a. The men who sought your life are dead . . . I will harden his heart: God knew Moses was safe in Egypt, and so eased his mind from this anxiety; but God also knew that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, and that it would take the death of the firstborn before Pharaoh would agree to release the children of Israel.

i. Sometimes, it says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21). Sometimes it says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Exodus 8:15). Sometimes it says simply that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, without saying who did it (Exodus 7:13).

ii. Who really hardened Pharaoh’s heart? We might say that it was both God and Pharaoh; but whenever God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, He never did it againstPharaoh’s will. Pharaoh never said, “Oh, I want to do what is good and right and I want to bless these people of Israel” and God answered, “No, for I will harden your heart against them!” When God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, He allowed Pharaoh’s heart to do what Pharaoh wanted to do – God was giving Pharaoh over to his sin (Romans 1:18-32).

iii. “God does not harden men by putting evil into them, but by not giving them mercy.” (Augustine)

b. Israel is My son, My firstborn: As a picture, God regarded Israel as His firstbornand God knew that there would be an exchange of His firstborn (Israel) and Egypt’s firstborn.

3. (Exodus 4:24-26) Moses’ life is spared on the way.

And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” So He let him go. Then she said, “You are a husband of blood!”; because of the circumcision.

a. The LORD met him and sought to kill him: This is a mysterious event; but it seems that God is confronting Moses – in the strongest possible way – because Moses had not circumcised his son. God demands that this be set right before Moses enter Egypt and begin to fulfill the call of God.

i. There is often a point of confrontation in the life of the leader where God demands that they lay aside some area of compromise, and will not allow them to progress further until they do.

b. Surely you are a husband of blood to me! Perhaps Zipporah objected to the rite of circumcision. She was not an Israelite and may have thought it a barbaric custom. Perhaps this was why God held Moses accountable (for not doing what was right, even though his wife didn’t like it), but disabled Moses so that Zipporah had to perform the circumcision itself.

i. Some wonder why Moses’ wife seems so bitter here. Perhaps for the first time she recognizes the serious nature of her husband’s call and how important it is for their whole family to walk in the ways of the LORD.

4. (Exodus 4:27-31) Moses and Aaron present themselves to the people of Israel.

And the LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him on the mountain of God, and kissed him. So Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him. Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.

a. So he went and met him on the mountain of God: God told Moses that He would send Aaron to him (Exodus 4:14), and now it happens. God is showing Moses that He keeps His promises.

b. So the people believed: It happened just as God said. God had promised then they will heed your voice (Exodus 3:18), and the people of Israel did – and their excitement was real as they anticipated the deliverance of the nation.

c. When they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel: Years before when Moses offered himself as a deliverer to Israel, they rejected him. Now the time and the circumstances are right, and God’s destiny for Moses’ life will begin to be fulfilled.







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A. God’s call to Moses from the burning bush.

1. (Exodus 3:1-3) Moses and the burning bush on Mount Horeb.

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”

a. Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law: “The Hebrew suggests that this was his habitual occupation.” (Cole) By now, it was 40 years that Moses lived as an obscure shepherd out in the desert of Midian. At this point his life was so humble that he didn’t even have a flock of sheep to call his own – the sheep belonged to his father-in-law.

b. Came to Horeb, the mountain of God: Moses brought the sheep to this mountain, also later called Mount Sinai. Horeb probably means “desert” or “desolation,” and the name gives an idea of the terrain.

c. The bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed: It wasn’t just that Moses saw a bush burning; apparently, it is not uncommon for a plant like this to spontaneously ignite out in that desert. Nevertheless, two things were distinctive about that bush: the Angel of the LORD appeared . . . from the midst of the bush; and though the bush burned, the bush was not consumed.

i. The bush burning but not being consumed was a magnetic sight to Moses – it drew him in for a closer examination. Some say the burning bush here is a picture of God’s grace that draws us to Him. In this picture, you have a thorn-bush (the original Hebrew word comes from the word “to stick or to prick,” this meaning a thorn-bush or bramble) which is a figure of the curse (Adam was cursed to bring forth thorns and thistles from the earth,Genesis 3:18). The “curse” is burned (a picture of judgment) without being consumed – therefore, a picture of God’s mercy and grace.

2. (Exodus 3:4-6) From the burning bush, God calls to Moses.

So when 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.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father; the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.

a. When the LORD saw that he turned: God didn’t speak to Moses until He has Moses’ attention. Often God’s Word doesn’t touch our heart the way that it might because we don’t give it our attention.

i. The burning bush was a spectacular phenomenon that captured Moses’ attention; but it changed nothing until Moses received the Word of God there.

b. God called to him from the midst of the bush: Moses didn’t see anyone in the burning bush; yet God, in the presence of the Angel of the LORD (Exodus 3:2) was there, calling out to Moses from the midst of the burning bush.

i. Undoubtedly, this is another occasion where Jesus appeared before His incarnation in the Old Testament as the Angel of the LORD, as He did many times (Genesis 16:7-13Judges 2:1-5Judges 6:11-24Judges 13:3-22).

ii. We say this is God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, because of God the Father, it is said No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18), and that no man has ever seen God in the Person of the Father (1 Timothy 6:16).

c. Moses, Moses! God’s first words to Moses call him by name. This shows that even though Moses was now an obscure, forgotten shepherd on the backside of the desert, God knew who he was, and Moses was important to God.

d. Then He said: God told Moses to do two things. First, He told Moses to keep a distance (Do not draw near this place). Second, to show a reverence for God’s presence (Take your sandals off your feet). Moses was to show special honor to this place because of the immediate presence of God.

i. Do not draw near literally has the sense of “stop coming closer.” Moses was on his way for an up-close examination of this burning bush when God stopped him short.

ii. This was a holy place; and because God is holy, there will always be a distance between God and man. Even in perfection man will never be equal to God, though we will be able to have closer fellowship with Him than ever.

iii. Take your sandals off your feet: Removing the sandals showed an appropriate humility, because the poorest and most needy have no shoes, and servants usually went barefoot. It also recognized the immediate presence of God. In many cultures, you take off your shoes when you come into someone’s house, and now Moses was in God’s “house,” a place of His immediate presence.

e. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: God revealed Himself to Moses by declaring His relationship to the patriarchs. This reminded Moses that God is the God of the covenant, and His covenant with Israel was still valid and important. This isn’t a “new God” meeting Moses, but the same God that dealt withAbraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

i. God will reveal Himself to Moses more intimately than He had to any of the patriarchs; yet it all begins with God reminding Moses of the bridge of covenant they meet on.

ii. Some in the days of Moses might have thought that God neglected His covenant for the 400 years of Israel’s slavery in Egypt, since the time of the patriarchs. Nevertheless, God was at work during that time, preserving and multiplying the nation.

f. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God: God asked of Moses to do what is appropriate for a creature before their Creator – a reverence and recognition of holiness. Moses responded as a man who knew he is not only a creature, but a sinful creature – he hid his face.

i. In his years in the wilderness of Midan, Moses must have often remembered how he murdered an Egyptian and how proud he was to think he could deliver Israel himself. Moses might have remembered a thousands sins, both real and imagined – now, when God appeared, he responded in a way completely different than he might have 40 years before.

B. God’s commission to Moses.

1. (Exodus 3:7-10) God explains His general plan to Moses, and Moses’ place in the plan.

And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

a. I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land: Obviously, God did not just then decided to give Israel the land of Canaan – it was the land that He promised to the patriarchs some 400 years previous to this.

b. I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry: So Moses and Israel can see the compassionate heart of God, He emphasized that He would deliver Israel from the taskmasters of Egypt.

i. The land of Canaan belonged to Israel since the day God promised it to Abraham. God will move Israel there now because of the compassion of His heart. The actions were ordained long ago, but the timing was prompted by God’s heartfelt love for His people.

c. I have come down to deliver them . . . I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people: There was a connection between the principles. God was going to do it, but He still wanted to use Moses. God could do it all by Himself, but it is God’s plan to work with and through people – we are workers together with Him (2 Corinthians 6:1).

2. (Exodus 3:11-12) Moses’ answer, and God’s reply to that answer.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

a. Who am I? 40 years before, Moses thought he knew who he was: he was a prince of Egypt and a Hebrew, God’s chosen instrument to deliver Israel. After forty years of chasing sheep around the desert, Moses didn’t have the same self-sure confidence that he once had.

b. I will certainly be with you: God’s reply is intended to take Moses’ focus off of himself and on where it should be – on God. Therefore, God never answered the question “Who am I?” Instead, He reminded Moses “I will certainly be with you.”

i. This was a great opportunity to deal with Moses’ “self-esteem” problem, but God ignored the solutions we usually use regarding this “problem.” Moses only had a self-esteem problem when he was too confident in his own ability to deliver Israel.

ii. Who am I? wasn’t the right question; “Who is God?” was the proper question. God’s identity was more important than who Moses was. When we know the God who is with us, we can step forth confidently to do His will.

iii. I will certainly be with you: After this, Moses had no right to protest further. From here his objections move from a godly lack of self-reliance to an ungodly lack of faith.

c. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain: As Moses tended his flock in the wilderness, it probably seemed totally unlikely that he would lead all three million of his people to this same mountain – but God promised that this would be so, as a sign to you that I have sent you.

3. (Exodus 3:13-14) The revelation of God’s name to Moses.

Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM .” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“

a. And they say to me, “What is His name?” what shall I say to them? Rightfully, Moses sensed he needed credentials before the people of Israel. Before, he thought he had the credentials because he was a prince of Egypt. 40 years of tending sheep took away his sense of self-reliance.

i. When God revealed Himself to man in the days of the patriarchs it was often associated with a newly revealed name or title for God.

· Abraham, in the encounter with Melchizedek called on God Most High(Genesis 14:22)

· Abraham later encountered Almighty God (Genesis 17:1)

· Abraham came to know the LORD as Everlasting God (Genesis 21:33), and The-LORD-Will-Provide (Genesis 22:14)

· Hagar encountered You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees (Genesis 16:13)

· Jacob met El Elohe Israel (Genesis 33:20) and El Bethel (Genesis 35:7).

ii. Now, when Moses comes to the elders of Israel with a “new message” from God, it is logical to think they would ask, “What name did He reveal Himself to you under? What new revelation from God do you have?”

b. And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Is there a difference between I AM WHO I AM and I AM and Yahweh? Not really, because each of these sayings express the same idea.

i. Cole on: I AM WHO I AM: “This pithy clause is clearly a reference to the name YHWH. Probably ‘Yahweh’ is regarded as a shortening of the whole phrase, and a running together of the clause into one word.” In Exodus 3:15, when God says:Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: “The LORD God of your fathers . . .”, God is referring back to the name I AM WHO I AM.

ii. Yahweh was not a new name, nor an unknown name – it appears more than 160 times in the book of Genesis. Moses’ mother’s name was Jochabedmeaning, Yahweh is my glory. Moses and Israel knew the name Yahweh. God did not give Moses a “new and improved” name of God, but the name they had known before. God called them back to the faith of the patriarchs, not to something “new.”

iii. How did this name come to be pronounced Jehovah? The pious Jews of later years did not want to pronounce the name of God out of reverence, so they left the vowels out of His name and simply said the word Lord (adonai) instead. If the vowels of the word adonai are put over the consonants for YHWH, you can get the name “Jehovah.” All this came about much later; in the days of Bible, the name was pronounced Yah-weh or Yah-veh.

c. I AM has sent me to you: God tells Moses His name is I AM because God simply is; there was never a time when He did not exist, or a time when He will cease to exist.

i. The name I AM has within it the idea of aseity – that God is completely independent; that He relies on nothing for life or existence (Isaiah 40:28-29John 5:26). God doesn’t need anybody or anything – life is in Himself.

ii. Also inherent in the idea behind the name I AM is the sense that God is “the becoming one”; God becomes whatever is lacking in our time of need. The nameI AM invites us to fill in the blank to meet our need – when we are in darkness, Jesus says I am the light; when we are hungry, He says I am the bread of life, when we are defenseless, He says I am the Good Shepherd. God is the becoming one, becoming what we need.

d. I AM: This is a divine title that Jesus took upon Himself often, clearly identifying Himself with the voice from the burning bush.

i. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I AM [He], you will die in your sins. (John 8:24)

ii. Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM [He], and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28)

iii. Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58)

iv. Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I AM (John 13:19)

v. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I AM [He].” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am [He],” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:4-6)

4. (Exodus 3:15-18) God tells Moses what to say to the elders of Israel.

Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD 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 this is My memorial to all generations.’ Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘ Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’“

a. Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: After four hundred years in Egypt, Moses had the job of announcing that now was the time for the children of Israel to go back to Canaan, and take the land God promised to their fathers.

i. This was probably totally contrary to what the elders and people of Israel desired. In four hundred years, you set down roots. They probably had no desire to return to the Promised Land; all they wanted was to be made more comfortable in Egypt.

b. Then they will heed your voice is a precious promise to Moses. Forty years before, when it seemed that he had everything going for him, the people of Israel rejected him as a deliverer for the nation. Surely, he must be wondering why they would listen to him now, when it seemed he had nothing going for him.

i. But Moses had God going for him now; they would indeed listen to Moses’ message.

5. (Exodus 3:19-22) God tells Moses how it will go with the Egyptians.

“But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

a. I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go: God knew this from the beginning. He knew what it would take to move the heart of Pharaoh, and the plagues and calamities to come where engineered for a specific purpose and they were not haphazardly planned.

i. Moses asked God about how his fellow Israelites would receive the news of the deliverance from Egypt, but getting the people of Israel behind Moses was only a small part of the struggle ahead – what about the Egyptians? How would they ever agree to let this free labor force leave the country? Without Moses asking, God answered this question.

b. I will give this people favor . . . you shall not go empty-handed: God promised to arrange things not only to move Pharaoh’s heart, but also to move the heart of the Egyptian people so that when Israel did depart, they would be showered with silver andgold and clothing. This was not stealing or extortion, it was the appropriate wages for the years of forced labor.

i. In Deuteronomy 15:12-14, God says that if you have a slave, and his time of service is up, you shall not let him go away empty-handed. God was not going to let Israel leave their slavery in Egypt empty-handed; instead, they wouldplunder the Egyptians.






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Exodus 2:23-25 Cry of the Oppressed Israelites.


Verses 23-25

Cry of the Oppressed Israelites. B. C. 1491.

23And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

Here is, 1. The continuance of the Israelites’ bondage in Egypt, Exodus 2:23. Probably the murdering of their infants did not continue this part of their affliction attended only the period immediately connected with the birth of Moses, and served to signalize it. The Egyptians now were content with their increase, finding that Egypt was enriched by their labour so that they might have them for slaves, they cared not how many they were. On this therefore they were intent, to keep them all at work, and make the best hand they could of their labour. When one Pharaoh died, another rose up in his place that was governed by the same maxims, and was as cruel to Israel as his predecessors. If there was sometimes a little relaxation, yet it presently revived again with as much rigour as ever and probably, as the more Israel were oppressed the more they multiplied, so the more they multiplied the more they were oppressed. Note, Sometimes God suffers the rod of the wicked to lie very long and very heavily on the lot of the righteous. If Moses, in Midian, at any time began to think how much better his condition might have been had he staid among the courtiers, he must of himself think this also, how much worse it would have been if he had had his lot with brethren: it was a great degradation to him to be keeping sheep in Midian, but better so than making brick in Egypt. The consideration of our brethren’s afflictions would help to reconcile us to our own. 2. The preface to their deliverance at last. (1.) They cried, Exodus 2:23. Now, at last, they began to think of God under their troubles, and to return to him from the idols they had served,Ezekiel 20:8. Hitherto they had fretted at the instruments of their trouble, but God was not in all their thoughts. Thus hypocrites in heart heap up wrath they cry not when he binds them, Job 36:13. But before God unbound them he put it into their hearts to cry unto him, as it is explained, Numbers 20:16. Note, It is a good sign that God is coming towards us with deliverance when he inclines and enables us to cry to him for it. (2.) God heard, Exodus 2:24,25. The name of God is here emphatically prefixed to four different expressions of a kind intention towards them. [1.] God heard their groaning that is, he made it to appear that he took notice of their complaints. The groans of the oppressed cry aloud in the ears of the righteous God, to whom vengeance belongs, especially the groans of God’s spiritual Israel he knows the burdens they groan under and the blessings they groan after, and that the blessed Spirit, by these groanings, makes intercession in them. [2.] God remembered his covenant, which he seemed to have forgotten, but of which he is ever mindful. This God had an eye to, and not to any merit of theirs, in what he did for them. See Leviticus 26:42. (3.) God looked upon the children of Israel. Moses looked upon them and pitied them (Exodus 2:11) but now God looked upon them and helped them. (4.) God had a respect unto them, a favourable respect to them as his own. The frequent repetition of the name of God here intimates that now we are to expect something great, Opus Deo dignum–A work worthy of God. His eyes, which run to and fro through the earth, are now fixed upon Israel, to show himself strong, to show himself a God in their behalf.



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Exodus 2:16-22 he Marriage of Moses

religion_22Verses 16-22

The Marriage of Moses. B. C. 1533.


16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it thatye are come so soon to day? 19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. 20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. 21And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. 22And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.


Moses here gains a settlement in Midian, just as his father Jacob had gained one in Syria, Genesis 29:2, &c. And both these instances should encourage us to trust Providence, and to follow it. Events that seem inconsiderable, and purely accidental, after wards appear to have been designed by the wisdom of God for very good purposes, and of great consequence to his people. A casual transient occurrence has sometimes occasioned the greatest and happiest turns of a man’s life. Observe,


I. Concerning the seven daughters of Reuel the priest or prince of Midian. 1. They were humble, and very industrious, according as the employment of the country was: they drew water for their father’s flock,Exodus 2:16. If their father was a prince, it teaches us that even those who are honourably born, and are of quality and distinction in their country, should yet apply themselves to some useful business, and what their hand finds to do do it with all their might. Idleness can be no one’s honour. If their father was a priest, it teaches us that ministers’ children should, in a special manner, be examples of humility and industry. 2. They were modest, and would not ask this strange Egyptian to come home with them (though handsome and a great courtier), till their father sent for him. Modesty is the ornament of woman.


II. Concerning Moses. He was taken for an Egyptian (Exodus 2:19) and strangers must be content to be the subjects of mistake but it is observable, 1. How ready he was to help Reuel’s daughters to water their flocks. Though bred in learning and at court, yet he knew how to turn his hand to such an office as this when there was occasion nor had he learned of the Egyptians to despise shepherds. Note, Those that have had a liberal education yet should not be strangers to servile work, because they know not what necessity Providence may put them in of working for themselves, or what opportunity Providence may give them of being serviceable to others. These young women, it seems, met with some opposition in their employment, more than they and their servants could conquer the shepherds of some neighbouring prince, as some think, or some idle fellows that called themselves shepherds, drove away their flocks but Moses, though melancholy and in distress, stood up and helped them, not only to get clear of the shepherds, but, when that was done, to water the flocks. This he did, not only in complaisance to the daughters of Reuel (though that also did very well become him), but because, wherever he was, as occasion offered itself, (1.) He loved to be doing justice, and appearing in the defence of such as he saw injured, which every man ought to do as far as it is in the power of his hand to do it. (2.) He loved to be doing good. Wherever the Providence of God casts us we should desire and endeavour to be useful and, when we cannot do the good we would, we must be ready to do the good we can. And he that is faithful in a little shall be entrusted with more. 2. How well he was paid for his serviceableness. When the young women acquainted their father with the kindnesses they had received from this stranger, he sent to invite him to his house, and made much of him, Exodus 2:20. Thus God will recompense the kindnesses which are at any time shown to his children they shall in no wise lose their reward. Moses soon recommended himself to the esteem and good affection of this prince of Midian, who took him into his house, and, in process of time, married one of his daughters to him (Exodus 2:21), by whom he had a son, whom he called Gershom, a stranger there (Exodus 2:22), that if ever God should give him a home of his own he might keep in remembrance the land in which he had been a stranger. Now this settlement of Moses in Midian was designed by Providence, (1.) To shelter him for the present. God will find hiding-places for his people in the day of their distress nay, he will himself be to them a little sanctuary, and will secure them, either under heaven or in heaven. But, (2.) It was also designed to prepare him for the great services he was further designed for. His manner of life in Midian, where he kept the flock of his father-in-law (having none of his own to keep), would be of use to him, [1.] To inure him to hardship and poverty, that he might learn how to want as well as how to abound. Those whom God intends to exalt he first humbles. [2.] To inure him to contemplation and devotion. Egypt accomplished him as a scholar, a gentleman, a statesman, a soldier, all which accomplishments would be afterwards of use to him but yet he lacked one thing, in which the court of Egypt could not befriend him. He that was to do all by divine revelation must know, by a long experience, what it was to live a life of communion with God and in this he would be greatly furthered by the solitude and retirement of a shepherd’s life in Midian. By the former he was prepared to rule in Jeshurun, but by the latter he was prepared to converse with God in Mount Horeb, near which mount he had spent much of his time. Those that know what it is to be alone with God in holy exercises are acquainted with better delights than ever Moses tasted in the court of Pharaoh.




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Exodus 2:11-15 Moses Slays an Egyptian

religion_22 Verses 11-15

Moses Slays an Egyptian Rebukes a Contentious Hebrew. B. C. 1533.

11And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. 13And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. 15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

Moses had now passed the first forty years of his life in the court of Pharaoh, preparing himself for business and now it was time for him to enter upon action, and,

I. He boldly owns and espouses the cause of God’s people: When Moses was grown he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens, Exodus 2:11. The best exposition of these words we have from an inspired pen, Hebrews 11:24-26, where we are told that by this he expressed, 1. His holy contempt of the honours and pleasures of the Egyptian court he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, for he went out. The temptation was indeed very strong. He had a fair opportunity (as we say) to make his fortune, and to have been serviceable to Israel too, with his interest at court. He was obliged, in gratitude as well as interest, to Pharaoh’s daughter, and yet he obtained a glorious victory by faith over his temptation. He reckoned it much more his honour and advantage to be a son of Abraham than to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 2. His tender concern for his poor brethren in bondage, with whom (though he might easily have avoided it) he chose to suffer affliction he looked on their burdens as one that not only pitied them, but was resolved to venture with them, and, if occasion were, to venture for them.

II. He gives a specimen of the great things he was afterwards to do for God and his Israel in two little instances, related particularly by Stephen (Acts 7:23-53, &c.) with design to show how their fathers hadalways resisted the Holy Ghost (Acts 7:51), even in Moses himself, when he first appeared as their deliverer, wilfully shutting their eyes against this day-break of their enlargement. He found himself, no doubt, under a divine direction and impulse in what he did, and that he was in an extraordinary manner called of God to do it. Now observe,

1. Moses was afterwards to be employed in plaguing the Egyptians for the wrongs they had done to God’s Israel and, as a specimen of that, he killed the Egyptian who smote the Hebrew (Exodus 2:11,12) probably it was one of the Egyptian taskmasters, whom he found abusing his Hebrew slave, a relation (as some think) of Moses, a man of the same tribe. It was by special warrant from Heaven (which makes not a precedent in ordinary cases) that Moses slew the Egyptian, and rescued his oppressed brother. The Jew’s tradition is that he did not slay him with any weapon, but, as Peter slew Ananias and Sapphira, with the word of his mouth. His hiding him in the sand signified that hereafter Pharaoh and all his Egyptians should, under the control of the rod of Moses, be buried in the sand of the Red Sea. His taking care to execute this justice privately, when no man saw, was a piece of needful prudence and caution, it being but an assay and perhaps his faith was as yet weak, and what he did was with some hesitation. Those who come to be of great faith, yet began with a little, and at first spoke tremblingly.

2. Moses was afterwards to be employed in governing Israel, and as a specimen of this, we have him here trying to end a controversy between two Hebrews, in which he is forced (as he did afterwards for forty years) to suffer their manners. Observe here,

(1.) The unhappy quarrel which Moses observed between two Hebrews, Exodus 2:13. It does not appear what was the occasion but, whatever it was, it was certainly very unseasonable for Hebrews to strive with one another when they were all oppressed and ruled with rigour by the Egyptians. Had they not beating enough from the Egyptians, but they must beat one another? Note, [1.] Even sufferings in common do not always unite God’s professing people to one another, so much as one might reasonably expect. [2.] When God raises up instruments of salvation for the church they will find enough to do, not only with oppressing Egyptians, to restrain them, but with quarrelsome Israelites, to reconcile them.

(2.) The way he took of dealing with them he marked him that caused the division, that did the wrong, and mildly reasoned with him: Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? The injurious Egyptian was killed, the injurious Hebrew was only reprimanded for what the former did was from a rooted malice, what the latter did we may suppose was only upon a sudden provocation. The wise God makes, and, according to his example, all wise governors make, a difference between one offender and another, according to the several qualities of the same offence. Moses endeavoured to make them friends, a good office thus we find Christ often reproving his disciples’ strifes (Luke 9:46-50,22:24-27), for he was a prophet like unto Moses, a healing prophet, a peacemaker, who visited his brethren with a design to slay all enmities. The reproof Moses gave on this occasion may still be of use, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? Note, Smiting our fellows is bad in any, especially in Hebrews, smiting with tongue or hand, either in a way of persecution or in a way of strife and contention. Consider the person thou smitest it is thy fellow, thy fellow-creature, thy fellow-christian, it is thy fellow-servant, thy fellow-sufferer. Consider the cause,Wherefore smitest? Perhaps it is for no cause at all, or no just cause, or none worth speaking of.

(3.) The ill success of his attempt (Exodus 2:14): He said, Who made thee a prince? He that did the wrong thus quarrelled with Moses the injured party, it should seem, was inclinable enough to peace, but the wrong-doer was thus touchy. Note, It is a sign of guilt to be impatient of reproof and it is often easier to persuade the injured to bear the trouble of taking wrong than the injurious to bear the conviction of having done wrong. 1 Corinthians 6:7,8. It was a very wise and mild reproof which Moses gave to this quarrelsome Hebrew, but he could not bear it, he kicked against the pricks (Acts 9:5), and crossed questions with his reprover. [1.] He challenges his authority: Who made thee a prince? A man needs no great authority for the giving of a friendly reproof, it is an act of kindness yet this man needs will interpret it an act of dominion, and represents his reprover as imperious and assuming. Thus when people dislike good discourse, or a seasonable admonition, they will call it preaching, as if a man could not speak a work for God and against sin but he took too much upon him. Yet Moses was indeed a prince and a judge, and knew it, and thought the Hebrews would have understood it, and struck in with him but they stood in their own light, and thrust him away, Acts 7:25,27. [2.] He upbraids him with what he had done in killing the Egyptian: Intendest thou to kill me? See what base constructions malice puts upon the best words and actions. Moses, for reproving him is immediately charged with a design to kill him. An attempt upon his sin was interpreted an attempt upon his life and his having killed the Egyptian was thought sufficient to justify the suspicion as if Moses made no difference between an Egyptian and a Hebrew. If Moses, to right an injured Hebrew, had put his life in his hand, and slain an Egyptian, he ought therefore to have submitted to him, not only as a friend to the Hebrews, but as a friend that had more than ordinary power and zeal. But he throws that in his teeth as a crime which was bravely done, and was intended as a specimen of the promised deliverance if the Hebrews had taken the hint, and come in to Moses as their head and captain, it is probable that they would have been delivered now but, despising their deliverer, their deliverance was justly deferred, and their bondage prolonged forty years, as afterwards their despising Canaan kept them out of it forty years more. I would, and you would not. Note, Men know not what they do, nor what enemies they are to their own interest, when they resist and despise faithful reproofs and reprovers. When the Hebrews strove with Moses, God sent him away into Midian, and they never heard of him for forty years thus the things that belonged to their peace were hidden from their eyes, because they knew not the day of their visitation. As to Moses, we may look on it as a great damp and discouragement to him. He was now choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God, and embracing the reproach of Christ and now, at his first setting out, to meet with this affliction and reproach from them was a very sore trial of his resolution. He might have said, “If this be the spirit of the Hebrews, I will go to court again, and be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Note, First, We must take heed of being prejudiced against the ways and people of God by the follies and peevishness of some particular persons that profess religion. Secondly, It is no new thing for the church’s best friends to meet with a great deal of opposition and discouragement in their healing, saving attempts, even from their own mother’s children Christ himself was set at nought by the builders, and is still rejected by those he would save.

(4.) The flight of Moses to Midian, in consequence. The affront given him thus far proved a kindness to him it gave him to understand that his killing the Egyptian was discovered, and so he had time to make his escape, otherwise the wrath of Pharaoh might have surprised him and taken him off. Note, God can overrule even the strife of tongues, so as, one way or other, to bring good to his people out of it. Information was brought to Pharaoh (and it is well if it was not brought by the Hebrew himself whom Moses reproved) of his killing the Egyptian warrants are presently out for the apprehending of Moses, which obliged him to shift for his own safety, by flying into the land of Midian, Exodus 2:15. [1.] Moses did this out of a prudent care of his own life. If this be his forsaking of Egypt which the apostle refers to as done by faith (Hebrews 11:27), it teaches us that when we are at any time in trouble and danger for doing our duty the grace of faith will be of good use to us in taking proper methods for our own preservation. Yet there it is said, He feared not the wrath of the king here it is said he feared, Exodus 2:14. He did not fear with a fear of diffidence and amazement, which weakens and has torment, but with a fear of diligence, which quickened him to take that way which Providence opened to him for his own preservation. [2.] God ordered it for wise and holy ends. Things were not yet ripe for Israel’s deliverance: the measure of Egypt’s iniquity was not yet full the Hebrews were not sufficiently humbled, nor were they yet increased to such a multitude as God designed Moses is to be further fitted for the service, and therefore is directed to withdraw for the present, till the time to favour Israel, even the set time, should come. God guided Moses to Midian because the Midianites were of the seed of Abraham, and retained the worship of the true God among them, so that he might have not only a safe but a comfortable settlement among them. And through this country he was afterwards to lead Israel, with which (that he might do it the better) he now had opportunity of making himself acquainted. Hither he came, and sat down by a well, tired and thoughtful, at a loss, and waiting to see which way Providence would direct him. It was a great change with him, since he was but the other day at ease in Pharaoh’s court: thus God tried his faith, and it was found to praise and honour.

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Exodus 2:5-10 The Deliverance of Moses. B. C. 1571

religion_225 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river and her maidens walked along by the river’s side and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children. 7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.


Here is, I. Moses saved from perishing. Come see the place where that great man lay when he was a little child he lay in a bulrush-basket by the river’s side. Had he been left to lie there, he must have perished in a little time with hunger, if he had not been sooner washed into the river or devoured by a crocodile. Had he fallen into any other hands than those he did fall into, either they would not, or durst not, have done otherwise than have thrown him straightway into the river but Providence brings no less a person thither than Pharaoh’s daughter, just at that juncture, guides her to the place where this poor forlorn infant lay, and inclines her heart to pity it, which she dares do when none else durst. Never did poor child cry so seasonably, so happily, as this did: The babe wept, which moved the compassion of the princess, as no doubt his beauty did, Exodus 2:5,6. Note, 1. Those are hard-hearted indeed that have not a tender compassion for helpless infancy. How pathetically does God represent his compassion for the Israelites in general considered in this pitiable state! Ezekiel 16:5,6. 2. It is very commendable in persons of quality to take cognizance of the distresses of the meanest, and to be helpful and charitable to them. 3. God’s care of us in our infancy ought to be often made mention of by us to his praise. Though we were not thus exposed (that we were not was God’s mercy) yet many were the perils we were surrounded with in our infancy, out of which the Lord delivered us, Psalm 22:9,10. 4. God often raises up friends for his people even among their enemies. Pharaoh cruelly seeks Israel’s destruction, but his own daughter charitably compassionates a Hebrew child, and not only so, but, beyond her intention, preserves Israel’s deliverer. O Lord, how wonderful are thy counsels!


II. Moses well provided with a good nurse, no worse than his own dear mother, Exodus 2:7-9. Pharaoh’s daughter thinks it convenient that he should have a Hebrew nurse (pity that so fair a child should be suckled by a sable Moor), and the sister of Moses, with art and good management, introduces the mother into the place of a nurse, to the great advantage of the child for mothers are the best nurses, and those who receive the blessings of the breasts with those of the womb are not just if they give them not to those for whose sake they received them: it was also an unspeakable satisfaction to the mother, who received her son as life from the dead, and now could enjoy him without fear. The transport of her joy, upon this happy turn, we may suppose sufficient to betray her to be the true mother (had there been any suspicion of it) to a less discerning eye than that of Solomon, 1 Kings 3:27.


III. Moses preferred to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:10), his parents herein perhaps not only yielding to necessity, having nursed him for her, but too much pleased with the honour thereby done to their son for the smiles of the world are stronger temptations than its frowns, and more difficult to resist. The tradition of the Jews is that Pharaoh’s daughter had no child of her own, and that she was the only child of her father, so that when he was adopted for her son he stood fair for the crown: however it is certain he stood fair for the best preferments of the court in due time, and in the mean time had the advantage of the best education and improvements of the court, with the help of which, having a great genius, he became master of all the lawful learning of the Egyptians, Acts 7:22. Note, 1. Providence pleases itself sometimes in raising the poor out of the dust, to set them among princes, Psalm 113:7,8. Many who, by their birth, seem marked for obscurity and poverty, by surprising events of Providence are brought to sit at the upper end of the world, to make men know that the heavens do rule. 2. Those whom God designs for great services he find out ways to qualify and prepare beforehand. Moses, by having his education in a court, is the fitter to be a prince and king in Jeshurun by having his education in a learned court (for such the Egyptian then was) is the fitter to be an historian and by having his education in the court of Egypt is the fitter to be employed, in the name of God, as an ambassador to that court.


IV. Moses named. The Jews tell us that his father, at his circumcision, called him Joachim, but Pharaoh’s daughter called him Moses, Drawn out of the water, so it signifies in the Egyptian language. The calling of the Jewish lawgiver by an Egyptian name is a happy omen to the Gentile world, and gives hopes of that day when it shall be said, Blessed be Egypt my people, Isaiah 19:25. And his tuition at court was an earnest of the performance of that promise, Isaiah 49:23Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and queens thy nursing mothers.


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Exodus 2:1-4 The Birth of Moses


This chapter begins the story of Moses, that man of renown, famed for his intimate acquaintance with Heaven and his eminent usefulness on earth, and the most remarkable type of Christ, as a prophet, saviour, lawgiver, and mediator, in all the Old Testament. The Jews have a book among them of the life of Moses, which tells a great many stories concerning him, which we have reason to think are mere fictions what he has recorded concerning himself is what we may rely upon, for we know that his record is true and it is what we may be satisfied with, for it is what Infinite Wisdom thought fit to preserve and transmit to us. In this chapter we have, I. The perils of his birth and infancy, Exodus 2:1-4. II. His preservation through those perils, and the preferment of his childhood and youth, Exodus 2:5-10. III. The pious choice of his riper years, which was to own the people of God. 1. He offered them his service at present, if they would accept it, Exodus 2:11-14. 2. He retired, that he might reserve himself for further service hereafter,Exodus 2:15-22. IV. The dawning of the day of Israel’s deliverance,Exodus 2:23-25, &c.


Verses 1-4

The Birth of Moses. B. C. 1571.

1And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein and she laidit in the flags by the river’s brink. 4And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

Moses was a Levite, both by father and mother. Jacob left Levi under marks of disgrace (Genesis 49:5) and yet, soon after, Moses appears a descendant from him, that he might typify Christ, who came in the likeness of sinful flesh and was made a curse for us. This tribe began to be distinguished from the rest by the birth of Moses, as afterwards it became remarkable in many other instances. Observe, concerning this newborn infant,

I. How he was hidden. It seems to have been just at the time of his birth that the cruel law was made for the murder of all the male children of the Hebrews and many, no doubt, perished by the execution of it. The parents of Moses had Miriam and Aaron, both older than he, born to them before this edict came out, and had nursed them without that peril: but those that begin the world in peace know not what troubles they may meet with before they have got through it. Probably the mother of Moses was full of anxiety in the expectation of his birth, now that this edict was in force, and was ready to say, Blessed are the barren that never bore,Luke 23:29. Better so than bring forth children to the murderer, Hosea 9:13. Yet this child proves the glory of his father’s house. Thus that which is most our fear often proves, in the issue, most our joy. Observe the beauty of providence: just at the time when Pharaoh’s cruelty rose to this height the deliverer was born, though he did not appear for many years after. Note, When men are projecting the church’s ruin God is preparing for its salvation. Moses, who was afterwards to bring Israel out of this house of bondage, was himself in danger of falling a sacrifice to the fury of the oppressor, God so ordering it that, being afterwards told of this, he might be the more animated with a holy zeal for the deliverance of his brethren out of the hands of such bloody men. 1. His parents observed him to be agoodly child, more than ordinarily beautiful he was fair to God, Acts 7:20. They fancied he had a lustre in his countenance that was something more than human, and was a specimen of the shining of his face afterwards, Exodus 34:29. Note, God sometimes gives early earnests of his gifts, and manifests himself betimes in those for whom and by whom he designs to do great things. Thus he put an early strength into Samson (Judges 13:24,25), an early forwardness into Samuel (1 Samuel 2:18), wrought an early deliverance for David (1 Samuel 17:37), and began betimes with Timothy, 1 Timothy 3:15. 2. Therefore they were the more solicitous for his preservation, because they looked upon this as an indication of some kind purpose of God concerning him, and a happy omen of something great. Note, A lively active faith can take encouragement from the least intimation of the divine favour a merciful hint of Providence will encourage those whose spirits make diligent search, Three months they hid him in some private apartment of their own house, though probably with the hazard of their own lives, had he been discovered. Herein Moses was a type of Christ, who, in his infancy, was forced to abscond, and in Egypt too (Matthew 2:13), and was wonderfully preserved, when many innocents were butchered. It is said (Hebrews 11:23) that the parents of Moses hid him by faith some think they had a special revelation to them that the deliverer should spring from their loins however they had the general promise of Israel’s preservation, which they acted faith upon, and in that faith hid their child, not being afraid of the penalty annexed to the king’s commandment. Note, Faith in God’s promise is so far from superseding that it rather excites and quickens to the use of lawful means for the obtaining of mercy. Duty is ours, events are God’s. Again, Faith in God will set us above the ensnaring fear of man.

II. How he was exposed. At three months’ end, probably when the searchers came about to look for concealed children, so that they could not hide him any longer (their faith perhaps beginning now to fail), they put him in an ark of bulrushes by the river’s brink (Exodus 2:3), and set his little sister at some distance to watch what would become of him, and into whose hands he would fall, Exodus 2:4. God put it into their hearts to do this, to bring about his own purposes, that Moses might by this means be brought into the hands of Pharaoh’s daughter, and that by his deliverance from this imminent danger a specimen might be given of the deliverance of God’s church, which now lay thus exposed. Note, 1. God takes special care of the outcasts of Israel (Psalm 147:2) they are his outcasts, Isaiah 16:4. Moses seemed quite abandoned by his friends his own mother durst not own him: but now the Lord took him up and protected him, Psalm 27:10. 2. In times of extreme difficulty it is good to venture upon the providence of God. Thus to have exposed their child while they might have preserved it, would have been to tempt Providence but, when they could not, it was to trust to Providence. “Nothing venture, nothing win.” If I perish, I perish.



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