“Preparation for Deliverance”
Lesson Text:Exodus 3:7-17
Background Scripture: Exodus 1-4
Devotional Reading: Exodus 4:10-16
Exodus 3:7-17 (KJV)
7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
To recognize that God is concerned and involved with our struggles.
To know that the will of God will never lead you where the power of God can't enable you, so walk by faith in His promises.
Walk by faith in His promises!
Prince of Egypt
In 1998, DreamWorks Animation released the animated film Prince of Egypt. This popular movie retells the story of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.
As is often the case with cinematic retellings, the producers take considerable liberty with the story. Although the Bible says nothing about Moses' life growing up as the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, the movie furnishes abundant details. In the movie, Moses is adopted not by Pharaoh's daughter, but by the queen. That makes Moses the stepson of Pharaoh and kid brother to Ramses, who is next in line to succeed his father as Pharaoh. Moses therefore ends up wielding considerable power as Royal Chief Architect under his brother, who is crown prince in charge of all of Pharaoh's temple building projects.
Moses is oblivious to his humble origins as the son of a Hebrew slave at first. But Miriam, his sister by birth, reveals the truth to him. Although he is reluctant to accept it, this truth is confirmed by a disturbing dream and a frank conversation with his stepparents.
DreamWorks Animation is not alone in filling the gaps in Moses' backstory. It is quite common for preachers, Sunday school teachers, and even Bible scholars to infer a great deal from the simple statement, "And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son" (Exodus 2:10). Who can blame them? Moses is a pivotal figure in both biblical and world history. Three of the major world religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) claim Moses as a core prophet. Today we will look at what Scripture does have to say about the event that changed the course of Moses' life and world history.
Place:Horeb (the mountain of God)
In Genesis 15, God appeared to Abraham in a vision to reaffirm the promise to make a great nation of that man. God sealed His Word with a covenant ceremony (Gen. 15:9-12). Though this was certainly good news to Abraham, a dark cloud hovered over this promise: God also revealed to Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved in Egypt for 400 years (v. 13).
That is precisely what happened. Abraham's grandson Jacob was forced to relocate all of Abraham's descendants to Egypt in about 1877 B.C. to survive a famine (Genesis 45-50). Things went well at first. Through divine providence, Jacob's son Joseph had received Pharaoh's favor and was able to settle all of his extended family in the rich land of Goshen.
The Israelites multiplied as time passed, but the memory of Joseph's favor evaporated from the Egyptian establishment (Exodus 1:8). But the new Pharaoh wasn't happy with the rapid multiplication of the Jewish people, so he took steps to control it. Pharaoh's stated reason was that the presence of so many Jews was a security risk: since the Jews were outsiders, if there were an invasion, they would no doubt ally themselves with the enemy. So the Israelites came to be seen as a threat within their host country. The Pharaoh followed the well-trod path of paranoid power-bearers: they intensified their grip and oppressed the Israelites (vs. 9-11).
Things seemed bleak for Abraham's descendants, but the birth of Moses changed everything. Because Pharaoh had issued a decree that all Israelite boys were to be killed at birth, Moses' mother placed him in the river in "an ark of bulrushes" (Exodus 2:3). Pharaoh's daughter soon discovered him and proceeded to ask Moses' mother to nurse the infant. The daughter then adopted Moses as her own son (making him part of the royal family, vs. 5-10).
The next we hear of Moses is when he killed an Egyptian for mistreating a Hebrew slave (Exodus 2:12). Unlike the animated film, however, Pharaoh exhibited no special affection for Moses and ordered him to be executed (v. 15). Moses fled and found a new home among the Midianites, who lived east of Egypt (vs. 11-22).
During his first 40 years, Moses presumably enjoyed all the privileges and prestige that go along with being a member of the Egyptian royal family. But Moses turned his back on all the opportunities Egypt had to offer and chose to side with God and his fellow Israelites (see Hebrews 11:24-26). Moses married Zipporah (the daughter of a Midianite priest), started a family, and spent the next 40 years as a sheepherder (see Exod. 2:16-22). Meanwhile, the Israelites groaned beneath their burden of slavery; and God responded to their cries for help (see 2:23:25).
Then God found Moses while tending sheep at Horeb, “the mountain of God” (3:1). Little did Moses know that though he was now leading Jethro’s little flock to this mountain, he would one day lead the much larger flock of God (the Israelites) to the same mountain. There Moses saw a bush that burned without being consumed, which sparked his curiosity (Exodus 3:2, 3). Here Moses listened as God revealed His will to him concerning the sufferings of His people (today’s lesson). Moses was 80 years old at the time (7:7).
God Sees and Hears (Exodus 3:7)
1. How do we know that God sees our troubles and hears our cries of sorrow? (Exodus 3:7)
Our passage begins with God. In so doing, the verse before us establishes something that Christians have long claimed by faith: God sees and hears. The God of Israel, who later reveals Himself as the God of Jesus, sees the plight and hears the cries of His people. He is neither blind nor deaf (contrast Psalms 115:4-7; 135:15-17).
The Lord revealed to Moses that He was fully cognizant of the suffering His people were enduring in Egypt (Exod. 3:7). As previously mentioned, Jacob and his family went down to Egypt while Joseph was in power during the time of the famine (see Gen. 46:26-27). While the chosen people were treated well under Joseph, eventually a Pharaoh came to power who forced the covenant community into bondage and treated them “with rigor” (Exod. 1:14). The Egyptians made the life of the Israelites “bitter” with hard labor and beatings that were typical for ancient Egyptian treatment of slaves. Exodus 12:40 states that 430 years passed from the migration of Jacob to the Exodus. During that time, the Israelite population grew from the few who came with Jacob to a thriving nation of about 600,000, men of military age (12:37), Though their numbers were great, the people were still severely oppressed, crying out, and needed the Lord to deliver them out of their distress.
God Has a Plan (Exodus 3:8)
2. What was Gods’ plan to rescue His people? (Exodus 3:8)
God's statement “I am come down”(Exod. 3:8) is a vivid way of stressing His direct involvement in the affairs of His people. In light of the Israelites’ afflictions, God was about to set in motion a plan to deliver them from bondage to their Egyptian slave drivers. The Lord would bring the Israelites to a land that was both good (in terms of quality) and large (in terms of size). The description of Canaan as flowing with milk and honey drew attention to the abundance and prosperity of the region, which was then occupied by a variety of peoples.
The Lord’s Commissioning of Moses (Exodus 3:9-10)
3. How did the Lord go about commissioning Moses? (Exodus 3:9)
The Hebrew noun rendered “cry” (Exod. 3:9) is a technical term for the complaint one might make to a judge. In this case, God had seen His people’s oppression and knew that their grievances were accurate. So He initiated His proceedings of judgment against the oppressors. God would no longer permit the Egyptians to tyrannize the Israelites. Perhaps to Moses’ astonishment, God revealed that He would accomplish this amazing feat through Moses, His humble human instrument (v. 10). The Lord’s command to Moses was straightforward and simple. He was to go, for God was sending him to Pharaoh to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
What Do You Think?
Do biblical examples of complaint and despair ever serve as models of how we should pray? Why, or why not?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Job 6:1-4; Psalm 44:23-26; Lamentations 3:44
Doubt and Assurance (Exodus 3:11-17)
4. Why was Moses reluctant to take on the task of bringing “the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11-12)
After God commissioned Moses for a seemingly impossible task, he wondered how an old shepherd like himself could convince the head of an empire to release a huge slave population. When Moses responded to God’s call by asking “Who am I” (Exod. 3:11), the Lord did not attempt to debate Moses about his weakness. Rather, God dealt with Moses’ sense of inadequacy in two ways. First God assured Moses that He would be with him all the way (v. 12). The Lord indicated that human weakness was not what mattered most. His divine power would be all-sufficient.
Second, God promised Moses that when he led the Israelites out of Egypt, he and the people would worship and serve the Lord at Horeb. The Hebrew verb for “worship” also means “to serve” or “to be a slave of.” Thus, the Israelites, who were oppressed in Egypt, soon would become joyful servants of the living God. What a contrast between the two masters. One (the Pharaoh) was a cruel tyrant, while the other (God) was a deliverer and redeemer Who intimately cared for His servants. The Lord would prove His compassion for His people by delivering and redeeming them from bondage.
What Do You Think?
When was a time you hesitated in your response to a perceived call from God? What contributed to your ultimate decision, right or wrong?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Becoming aware of God's bigger plan (Acts 10:9-20, 34, 35) | Focusing on the personal danger (Esther 4:11)
Seeing the need (Nehemiah 1:1-2:5) | Other
5. How do we know that Moses was still hesitant to be God’s instrument? How did God respond? (Exodus 3:13-15)
The questions that Moses asks are valid from a human standpoint (v. 13). However, despite what the Lord had revealed, Moses still wasn’t quite convinced that he should be God’s instrument. In fact, Moses gave five reasons why he couldn't accept God's call.
(1) I'm a nobody (Exodus 3:11).
(2) I don't know Your name (v. 13).
(3)The elders won't believe me (Exodus 4:1).
(4)I'm not a fluent speaker (4:10).
(5)Somebody else can do it better (4:13).
However, here in Exodus 3:13, Moses proposed a hypothetical situation in which the Israelites asked him the name of the God who had dispatched him. Moses inquired of God as to how he should answer (v. 13). Moses’ proposed question-“What is his name?” –probably had little to do with learning God’s identity. The latter had already been disclosed when the Lord had called Himself the God of Abraham, lsaac, and Jacob (see v. 6).
Nevertheless, in response to Moses’ question, God said, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exod. 3:14). This verse can also be rendered “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.” Though the name “I AM” may seem odd to the modern ear, Moses apparently understood what God was saying to him. The name “I AM” comes from a Hebrew verb that means “to exist” or “to be (compare Revelation 1:4, 8; 4:8). This self-identification does not allow the hearer to draw on a prior frame of reference that will fall short of who God is. In essence, the name signifies that God is pure being. Moreover, He is the self-existent one. God never came into being at any point in time, for He has always existed.
What Do You Think?
How do we know when it's time to move from questioning and planning to action in the service of God?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Valid questions vs. questions of doubt | Gathering data vs. overanalyzing
Getting counsel vs. stalling | Taking responsibility vs. taking the easy way | Other
6. Why did God instruct Moses to gather the elders first? (Exodus 3:16)
Before God sends Moses to Pharaoh, He sends Moses to his own people (“the elders of Israel”). They stand in a privileged relationship of knowledge of God's plans (compare Amos 3:7). Moses will visit Pharaoh soon enough, but God's people must first get on board with the plan. This arrangement was necessary. The people’s consent must be obtained to their own deliverance. This applies to the higher Redemption. Men cannot be saved without their own consent. We must, in the sense of Phil. 2:12, work out our own salvation—must co-operate with God, by freely adopting and falling in with his method of grace. There must be free choice of Christ as our Saviour, free compliance with the directions of the Gospel.
Their elder’s first reception of God’s message is quite positive according to Exodus 4:29-31.
The eternal God knows the end from the beginning, so He was able to tell Moses exactly what would happen when he returned to Egypt (Ex. 3:16-22). The elders of Israel would accept Moses as their leader and believe that God was about to deliver them.
What Do You Think?
Without direct communication from God such as Moses received, how do you discern what God is calling you to do?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Holy Spirit guidance | Spiritual giftedness | Closed and opened doors of opportunity
Counsel by fellow Christians | Other
7. What was God’s message to the elders of Israel? (Exodus 3:17)
Moses was to tell them that their Redeemer had seen their misery and would deliver the Israelites from bondage. Indeed, God planned to lead the entire covenant community to a rich and fertile land (v. 17; see v. 8), a land flowing with milk and honey!
POINTS TO PONDER
1.Have faith in God, He knows when we are troubled. (Exodus 3:7)
2.God always has a solution to your trials and tribulations. (Exodus 3:8-10; Proverbs 3:5, 6)
3.God knows us better than we know ourselves, so we must trust Him and obey what He tells us to do. (Exodus 3:11-13)
4. “I AM” …God declared Himself to be—1, eternal; 2, uncaused; 3, unconditioned; 4, independent; 5, self-sufficient. (Exodus 3:14). Wow!!! Now read it again.
5.God expects us to do the possible, He will take care of the impossible. (Exodus 3:15-17).
Servant of God
Though we cannot be sure what Moses' life was like as an adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, we know what it was like after God laid claim to him. Moses learned that the holy God sees and hears, that God's power is all that is needed to accomplish God's mission, that God's name is unlike any other name, and that God's people have an important role to play in His plans. We who would continue to serve this God by seeking first His kingdom must take to heart these lessons!
Lord God, we, like Moses, come before You with doubt that we are fit to be used of You to accomplish anything of lasting value for the world. Please prove us wrong! In Jesus' name, amen.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
Join God in delivering people from sin-slavery.