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A New Education — Exodus Chapter 3

This blog post will cover the devotionals #15-21 for Exodus Chapter 3.

**Pictures will be added at a later date.

Please note that this devotional book WILL SOON be for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[15] Exodus 3:1

Moses had been surrounded by many bad influences in Egypt—and they’d all made profound impressions on his developing mind. This’d also helped to mold some aspects of his habits and character. The only thing that could remove those impressions was time, a change of environment, and an intimate experience with God. He’d need to struggle to give up error and accept truth—and it’d be a severe conflict that God would help him with—just as Jacob had experienced. The lesson of faith that Jacob and Abraham had been given (not to depend on human strength or wisdom, but on God’s power to accomplish His promises) was what Moses would gain in the lonely mountains. He was alone there, with God—learning self-denial, hardship, patience, and how to control his passions. He had to learn to obey before he could govern. Moses’ heart had to be harmonious with God’s, or he wouldn’t be able to teach Israel His will or give a father’s care over all his sheep. We tend to think that forty years of labor and loneliness was a waste of time, but God didn’t count it a waste for the man—who’d shepherd His people for forty years—to spend forty years doing the humble work of an actual shepherd. He had to develop new habits. Caretaking, selflessness, and tender concern were all characteristics that prepared him to be the compassionate, patient leader of Israel. No other training, culture or experience could replace what he learned in the mountains. The extravagant Egyptian temples were replaced with awe-inspiring mountains, where he’d see the glory of God—which made Egypt’s gods weak and insignificant. God’s name was written everywhere in nature, and Moses felt like he was always in His presence and protection. His pride and self-sufficiency couldn’t help but disappear in that place. His easy, luxurious life was replaced with the patience, reverence, and humility of the wilderness. He didn’t just think of God—he saw Him—never losing sight of His face. He looked forward to Christ coming as a man, but also saw Him staying with Israel throughout their entire journey. Hebrews 11:27 says, “He endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” As time went by, and he roamed with his flocks, Moses thought about his people’s oppression. He pondered God’s dealings with his ancestors and the chosen nation’s promises. He prayed continuously for Israel. It was in the wilderness, during this time, where he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the book of Genesis. These long years in the desert were a powerful blessing for Moses, Israel, and the entire world in all ages. He seemed to be cut off from the mission of his life—but this is where he was being prepared to fulfill it. Like sheep, the multitude that Moses would lead would be ignorant and undisciplined. He led one flock in preparation of leading the other.

[16] Exodus 3:1-9

Forty years had passed since Moses had left Egypt. The same amount of time that he’d been exposed to the vices of the heathen place had been required to erase all of that from his heart and character—as steadfast for God as he’d been. It took forty years for him to unlearn all he’d learned (Pharaoh gave him a thorough education), and to learn a new ‘curriculum’ of absolute faith and trust in God. Moses was the shepherd of Jethro’s flocks, and one day, he led them to the backside of the desert and ended up at Horeb—the mountain of God. Horeb, meaning ‘desolate’, was a generic name given for a specific set of mountains. Acts 7:30-35 tells us that was the wilderness of Mount Sinai. Interestingly, as we see in 1 Kings 19:8, this is the same mountain that Elijah would later take forty days to get to—at which point, God revealed Himself to him (in a different way than one might expect). Likewise, when Moses had spent forty years and ended up there, God also revealed Himself to him in a unique way. It was as a flame in the middle of a bush. The burning bush was not burning up, and Acts says Moses wondered at the sight. Naturally, it caught Moses’ attention, and he went to see why it wasn’t consumed by the flames. Once God saw He had his attention, He called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses.” Moses responded as Isaiah had (in Isaiah 6:8), “Here am I.” However, unlike Isaiah, Moses didn’t yet know he was answering the same call—“Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” As he approached, awe-struck, he failed to consider that the ground (and the entire area) was holy with God’s presence. God told him not to draw closer, and to remove his shoes. This was the same thing said to Joshua (in Joshua 5:15). This should be a reminder that we shouldn’t approach God’s presence presumptuously. We’re not on His level, and certainly not above Him. We should humbly and reverently approach Him. God told Moses who He was—the God of his father, of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. At this point, Moses hid his face out of fear of seeing God. It’s interesting how the Israelites would later do the same thing to Moses after he’d been with God. Now, just like Isaiah’s purified character was symbolized by a fiery coal touching his lips, Moses’ character change was marked by this fiery bush encounter. God told Moses about His understanding of Israel’s plight, and that He came to deliver them from Egypt to the Promised Land. The way He said it grabbed my attention though. Verse 8 says: “And I am come down to deliver them…” Recall how God said (in reference to Babel in Genesis 11:5, 7): “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower…‘Let Us go down and confuse their language there…’” It’s neat, because God said the same thing to Moses, Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh.” When God says He ‘comes down’ to Earth, it doesn’t mean He needs to actually come down. He’s omnipresent! What I do like, though, is that God says He’s the One coming to do the thing! Notice how God wasn’t ready to use Moses until He called him. Moses had proudly charged forward—knowing he was chosen to be the deliverer, but God called him from his humbled retreat—knowing he was now the deliverer that God had chosen.

[17] Exodus 3:10-15

After God told Moses what He came down to do, He made it clear what object He’d speak through to Pharaoh. It wasn’t a bush. It was a man—and that man was Moses. He said He would send him to bring Israel out of Egypt (in verse 10)—after He got done saying that He came down to deliver them from there. It doesn’t get much clearer than that. However, if you want even more clarity, we’ll see how God responds to Moses, in Exodus 4, when he lays out his inability to do the thing. Furthermore, after God informed him of his duty, Moses responded, “Who am I…(to do this thing)?” How’d God respond? He essentially said, ‘No, it’s not about who you are, but who I AM.’ God assured him that He’d be with him. He even gave him a sign to know that He was the one sending him: “When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will serve God upon this mountain.” Moses knew there’d be many difficulties—even his own people were blind, ignorant, and unbelieving—mostly lacking a knowledge of God. Thus, he asked God who he should tell them had sent him. The name to be given to signify God to Israel was ‘I AM’. “This is My name forever, and this is My memorial unto all generations.” I AM THAT I AM. God was making a powerful statement about Himself here. He used a present-tense verb (not of action, but of existence) to describe His name—His character—and He said that it’s His name forever. He will always be I AM. His character has never changed, nor will it ever. It’s His memorial to all generations. Psalm 135:13 also says: “Your name, Oh Lord, endures forever; and Your memorial, Oh Lord, throughout all generations.” ‘I AM THAT I AM’ was a pledge of their deliverance from slavery—a memorial of it. When Christ revealed, in John 8:58, that He was the one who spoke to Moses in the bush (“Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am.”), He was giving the same pledge for all of humanity’s deliverance from the bondage of sin. Why would this name be a sign to Israel that God was leading them? The Sabbath is a memorial of Creation, and a witness to the authority of God as our Creator—identifying Him as the only name (and the only god) worthy of our praise and worship. Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Why is no other god worthy or authoritative? Jeremiah 10:14 and 51:17 say, “Every man is confused in his knowledge: every founder is confused by the graven image: because his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.” There’s no other god in the universe that has breath, let alone one that can give breath to sustain Himself or others. ‘I AM’ means, ‘He who is’ or ‘subsists’ (meaning, ‘maintain or support oneself’) in a superior manner over all other beings. Ezekiel 37:6 says, “I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you will live; and you will know that I am the Lord.” What’s amazing is that, ‘I AM’ is defined by Strong’s Concordance as not only, ‘to exist’, but also, ‘to breathe’. God’s the very One who gave the breath of life to the universe—so it’s only fitting for Him to be named such. Psalm 33:6 says, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”

[18] Exodus 3:11

When God told Moses that he’d be used to deliver the people, he shrank back in fear. He said, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” This was a far different response than what he’d given before he left Egypt. He’d thought that being educated in Egypt’s wisdom gave him qualifications to lead Israel from slavery. He was knowledgeable as an army general. He’d learned in the best schools. He believed he was able to deliver them. He started forward to accomplish his task by trying to win their favor by making the wrongs ‘right’. This is what led him to kill an Egyptian and revealed Satan’s murderous spirit. It also revealed that he wasn’t prepared to represent the character of God—mercy, love, and tenderness. Because his first attempt was a horrible failure, he allowed himself to lose confidence in God, and ran away from the work God had given him to do. He ran away from Pharaoh’s punishment and assumed that God would punish his sin by not using him in His work. He didn’t know that God allowed it all to teach him the characteristics that all of God’s workers would need to have. God doesn’t call the qualified—He qualifies the called. Moses didn’t expect that God would use His name, rather than warfare, to deliver His people. He would’ve felt more comfortable leading an army against Egypt with weapons, than to stand before its king with a rod. God didn’t want Moses to be glorified—He wanted His name to be. In Egypt, Moses had learned to be flattered and praised for his great abilities, which is probably one of the reasons he was so shocked when the Israelite responded the way he did. Now he needed to learn humility and to disappear into God’s shadow. Thus, he no longer felt qualified to his calling—but finally was. Luckily for him, the One that was truly qualified was the One that was going to accomplish the work. God doesn’t depend on the education of men to equip them for His work. He isn’t limited by the lack of education of men—only by their unwillingness to put themselves aside and allow the Holy Spirit to make them what they should be—even if that means accepting rebuke for their wrongs and letting Him help them overcome.

[19] Exodus 3:16-20

Before Moses ever spoke to Pharaoh, he’d need to speak to Israel’s elders first, and tell them what God planned to do. They’d been told years before that God was going to deliver them through Moses, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’d be receptive—as God said they’d be. Moses had his doubts about that, which we’ll address in devotional #22. The elders would also be expected to join Moses when he went before Pharaoh to tell him: “The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us: and now let us go, we beg you, three days' journey into the wilderness, so we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.” Recall, from verse 12, that God had told Moses that they’d serve Him on that same mountain when they came out of Egypt? Thus, if their place of worship was only three days away from Egypt, Mount Sinai must also only have been three days away. However, God wanted to take them slightly further afterwards—to the land of Canaan, which’d only take an extra eight days on foot from Sinai. We’ll talk more in future devotionals about how eleven days turned into forty years—and where they went within that small space of land, before getting to Canaan. Verse 19 tells us that God knew Pharaoh wouldn’t let them go, though, so He would have to step in and do something about it. It says that He would stretch His hand out and smite Egypt with all His wonders, which He would do in their midst, so he’d finally let them go. People automatically read this to mean that God was going to directly afflict (or punish) Egypt—especially given the language of the passage, but I want to point you to how Strong’s Concordance defines the word ‘smite’ here. It says, ‘to signal as a monument or evidence’. Notice that God is constantly trying to show those that hate Him that He is God. His name’s always given, as well as the authority of His name (the memorial, as we saw in devotional #17). It’s so He may prove who He is, and that He is the only God. Why would God need to do that with Egypt? Recall that they had many gods they worshipped, and none of them were Him. God would need to show Egypt that He could only deliver His people, and He alone could deliver the Egyptians as well. Why? Couldn’t their gods deliver them? We’ll discuss this heavily when we get to Exodus 12:12. We’ll see soon enough, though, how consistent God’s dealings were—from the flood to Egypt. God knew Moses could become discouraged if Pharaoh refused—so He warned him that it’d happen, but not to worry, because it’d give God the necessary opportunity to reveal Himself to them.

[20] Exodus 3:21

Verse 21 says that God would show Israel favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Was this an unfair favor? What does it mean? Did God show His people (Noah’s family) favor at the flood? Let’s survey the situation. Did God’s people have to experience the trouble of the flood? They sure did! They had to endure mocking, hard labor, and the doubts that Satan tempted them with for years. ‘Would there actually be a flood and/or would God actually save us from it?’ They had to ride in a boat with multitudes of animals (imagine the work, noise, and stench!) for many months. They had to endure the tragedy of knowing the loss of their entire world, and all the lives in it. They had to labor to start it all over again afterwards. What’d the Antediluvians have to endure? Sure, they had to hear the preaching from Noah’s mouth, the hammer’s knocking on the ark, and the Holy Spirit’s knocking on their hearts for over a century. They had to endure the fear of death for less than a day before the floodwaters swallowed them up. That was it! We don’t often consider the fact that, while God’s people were saved, they actually had to suffer so much more than those who weren’t. God didn’t just give them a free ticket onto the boat. They had to build the door of the boat in faith (along with everything else they had to go through) before they could get behind it and trust that God would use it to protect them from the death that’d come knocking. The Antediluvians were offered a free ticket though! They could’ve sat back and watched Noah’s family do all the work, and then climb on board at the last minute without a question of eligibility or qualification. Let’s consider what Egypt was about to go through and compare it to the flood. Israel had to endure years of slavery—the ill-treatment and words of their taskmasters. They had to endure years of doubts that Satan was throwing at them. ‘Is God truly going to deliver us from slavery?’ They’d have to endure the fear of coming before Pharaoh, and the fear and physical taxation of running once they left Egypt—as they saw their captors coming to bring them back. They’d have to make the efforts and endure temptation during the plagues, making the marks on their own doors that’d keep away destruction. They’d have to step into the Red Sea as they were surrounded on all other sides—before God would open it up for them—and then they’d have to run through, faithfully fighting doubt that the waves wouldn’t crash down on them. Egypt got free labor for years, having great structures built to house the gods, etc. that they depended on for salvation. They had to hear the preaching about God and His plans to deliver them, and how their gods weren’t real, etc. for years. They had to endure the conviction of the Holy Spirit trying to soften their hearts up until then, and during the final scenario. The wonders God would ‘bring’ to them were short-lived compared to what Israel experienced. The fear of death, and the loss in Egypt and at the Red Sea were also very short-lived. We don’t realize how God wasn’t just trying to deliver Israel, but also to save Egypt. All God had tried to accomplish with Joseph and Moses there was to bring them truth. Their sin was the rejection of that truth. Egypt was given the same opportunity as the Antediluvians to avoid the things that were coming as a result of their sin. God didn’t kill the Antediluvians —the flood did. He didn’t send the flood—He removed His restraints, and the flood came and consumed them. Likewise, God wouldn’t afflict or kill the Egyptians—the creatures, pestilences, destroyer, and waves would. God wouldn’t send any of those things, but merely remove His restraints and allow them to be consumed by them. Did God show His people favor? Yes—but no more than He would’ve shown the Antediluvians and/or Egyptians if they’d accepted His salvation. His people were there in the midst of both those situations, and they alone prayed and acted out of faith of God’s restraint. We’ll see more about this as we go through our upcoming devotionals.

[21] Exodus 3:21,22

Verses 21 and 22 show how God wouldn’t only deliver Israel from bondage, but would also prepare them with the means to provide for themselves. Just prior to that, it’d said that God would show them favor. We already saw how God’s favor wasn’t unfair / partial in the case of salvation. What about with the wealth they’d leave with? They wouldn’t leave Egypt with empty pockets or purses. They’d ‘borrow’ gold and silver jewels and clothing from Egypt—thus ‘spoiling’ them. Exodus 12:30 confirms that Egypt ‘lent’ to them whatever they’d need, and were spoiled. Ezekiel 39 gives a prophecy against Gog (Magog), which sounds an awful lot like Egypt. God would smite their bow from their hand and cause their arrows to fall from the other hand. They’d be given to ravenous birds and beasts of the field to be devoured. Those that dwelt carelessly (the heathen) would know that God is the Lord. Those that spoiled and robbed Israel would be spoiled and robbed. Gog would be given a place of graves, east of the Sea, and they’d be buried. The house of Israel would know that God is their Lord, and the heathen would know that Israel went into captivity for their iniquity. He hid His face from them, gave them up (into the hands of their enemies). Then, He would have mercy on the house of Israel, bring them back from captivity, and pour out His Spirit on them. What a parallel! Well, even with all of that said, God wasn’t trying to ‘render evil for evil’ to Egypt, but rather, to give Israel what was due to them. Egypt had become wealthy as a result of the unfair labor imposed on Israel. They forced them to be slaves when they had no right. Israel hadn’t sold themselves to Egypt. All that Israel was given during their bondage was what was needed to sustain their lives just enough to continue their heavy labor. It was right that they should finally be paid for all the years of their work. The items God directed they should request would be easy for them to carry (they could wear it), and their requests would be granted due to the fear created in their hearts by the miracles God used to deliver Israel. Gold and silver jewels weren’t intended for them to keep and wear (or to use to make idols), but rather, to trade for food, etc. The ‘neighbor’ that they were each to request the items from was the very one appointed to oversee them in their bondage. The amount they’d ‘borrow’ would be substantial, but could never compare to the amount the Egyptians gained from Israel’s labor. God never showed unfair favor (of any kind) to His people. Those who received His favor endured much hardship—usually much more than the heathen in the same scenarios. Furthermore, the heathen had every same opportunity to receive God’s favor—as they too could’ve become God’s people by accepting Him as their Lord and Savior. God’s blessings were usually most evident and appreciated (and sometimes only possible) when His people had gone through an experience of affliction. Those circumstances often led to blessing, opening doors that wouldn’t have otherwise been opened. If it hadn’t been for Israel’s affliction in bondage, they wouldn’t have left Egypt. If they’d continued prosperously in Goshen, they’d have had no reason to make the difficult journey to return to Canaan. The Messiah couldn’t have come with the death decree for all the Hebrew boys born in Egypt (and if He did, His lineage couldn’t have been traced to back to Abraham—making it impossible to prove He was the Messiah), so they had no choice but to leave.

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