So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.
As we enter Exodus 3, forty more years passed by, and Moses had lost his fervor of younger age, where he aspired to save his people. Now, he just wants to be left alone, to follow God anonymously, and to raise his family.
Some may think it was a waste of 40 years to have Moses wander in the wilderness as a shepherd, but others would argue that it gave him the perfect training he needed: for the next 40 years, God would call Moses to shepherd His people across a similar area of the desert!
We may not always be aware of God's plan for us. However, if we abide by his will, then the training we receive goes beyond time and money. Even if we hate the situation, there is always something there that we will learn through it, always something that will come and help our walk with Him in the future.
Moses' life was divided into three 40's:
First 40: In Egypt, Moses became something.
Second 40: In the wilderness, Moses became nothing.
Third 40: Moses learns how God can do something with nothing, by having him lead His people out of bondage.
GOD APPEARS TO MOSES AT THE BURNING BUSH (Exodus 3:1-10)
So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
The bush was a symbol of Israel in affliction. The fire was a symbol of God’s judgment (Exodus 19:18; Hebrews 12:28-29).
Like the bush, Israel will burn with God’s judgment, but God will not let it be consumed.
Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.
As Moses approached the burning bush, God told Moses to not come too close and to take off his sandals because Moses was on holy ground. Moses couldn’t get any closer because God’s perfect holiness would turn all sin into ashes. Hence, God’s warning was to protect Moses from premature judgment.
Joshua was also given the same commandment as he approached an angel who would help him defeat Jericho (Joshua 5:13-15). Only God ever allowed Himself to be worshipped. Hence, we know from this passage that the angel who helped Joshua defeat Jericho wasn’t just any angel. It was THE Angel of the Lord, pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.
God has heard the cries of His people, and He is sending Moses back to Egypt to take His people out of cruel bondage.
MOSES DOUBTS HIS ABILITIES & RELUCTANTLY ACCEPTS GOD’S PLAN (Exodus 3:11-4:17)
Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.
Moses was not enthusiastic at all about this call. He was at a point in life where he just wanted to retire and go home to the Lord. And so, Moses comes up with five excuses (Exodus 3-4).
Excuse 1. Moses didn’t think he was the right person for the job because he was a nobody.
Moses tells God that He has the wrong guy. And what does God say? He tells Moses he will succeed because He will be with him (Exodus 3:12). God wasn't sending Moses out alone. God was going to be with Moses every step of the way! Moses was not a nobody – He had God! Zero plus God makes the majority!
Excuse 2. Moses didn’t know what he would say to his people so that they would follow him.
Moses didn’t need to know what to say – God will tell him what to say. (Exodus 3:14-22)
We don’t need to be somebody famous or powerful or amazing to do God’s work. When we are in God, when we have God in our lives, we are capable of doing great and amazing things. Not because we are independently able, but because we have God guiding us from within. Moses, a great man known as the father who rescued the entire nation of Israel from Egypt, didn’t think he was good enough for the plans that God had envisioned for him. Moses believed that God should pick someone who was in higher power, or at least someone who would know what to do. In Moses’ own eyes, he saw himself as a tiny nobody who was so removed from the Israelites living in Egypt, that he wouldn’t even know what to say or what to do to get his people to follow him. However, God reassured Moses that as long as he had God on his side, Moses would have the power to accomplish such a daunting task. As long as Moses followed God faithfully, God would accomplish everything through Moses. This is the kind of faith we need to have, especially when we are faced with a great challenge that we doubt we could ever succeed!
Excuse 3. Moses didn’t think his people would believe him.
To help him over this obstacle, God gave Moses 3 signs:
God gave Moses a rod that would show the Israelites that God was in power (Exodus 4:2-4). The rod would become a serpent when cast on the ground but turn back into a rod when taken by the tail. The serpent was a symbol of Egypt. God is showing Moses here that God is in control of the situation. Egypt may be fearsome, but God is in control.
God also gave Moses the ability to heal leprosy (Exodus 4:6-8), which was and still is an incurable disease!
God gave Moses the ability to turn water into blood (Exodus 4:9).
Excuse 4. Moses didn’t think he was a good public speaker.
God told Moses that He would teach Moses what to say if Moses didn’t know what to say.
Excuse 5. Moses just really didn’t want to do it; he wanted God to send someone else.
Running out of excuses, Moses finally turned to straight disobedience. Because Moses was so reluctant, God told Moses that he could have the help of his brother, Aaron. Aaron was a more eloquent speaker than Moses (Exodus 4:14-16). Through Moses, Aaron was connected to God (Exodus 4:14-16, 27-31); he learned about God and His plans through Moses. It appears that Aaron was also more obedient than Moses; he certainly didn’t complain about his mission as much as Moses did!
We need to realize that when God calls us to do something, IT IS NOT ABOUT US. We will never succeed if we do it on our own. But with God, we will always succeed. And so, when God calls on us, IT IS ABOUT GOD AND HIS WILL. We are just His chosen vessel. We do not need to have confidence in ourselves because it's not about us anyway! We just need to trust that God will take the lead, and guide us to where He needs us to go.
GOD IS THE GREAT I AM
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Jesus revealed himself to the Israelites that He IS God. Why did they want to stone Jesus for saying this (John 8:59)? Because the Israelites rejected Jesus as their Messiah, they did not believe Jesus to be God. And if Jesus wasn’t God and dared to say He was, that was blasphemy in their eyes, and the punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning.
Jesus is God, the same God who created the universe, the same God who form an everlasting covenant with Abraham, the same God who rescued His people from bondage.
MOSES RETURNS TO EGYPT (Exodus 4:18-31)
To prepare for his return to Egypt, Moses first sought permission from his father-in-law. Once Moses had his blessing, he then packed up his family and headed back for Egypt on a donkey, with the rod that God gave him.
As they got ready to leave, however, God exposed a serious mark of sin in Moses’ life: One of Moses' sons was not circumcised. This was an example of Moses' disobedience to God. Because of this disobedience, their son suffered through a life-threatening illness. Both Moses and Zipporah knew that it was their disobedience that led to their current circumstance.
Nobody is above the Law of God, no matter the calling. Zipporah may have been against circumcision earlier, and Moses did not fight her on it, perhaps thinking God would be okay with this willful disobedience. Both Moses and Zipporah learned that God does not tolerate disobedience. Period.
The leader has to lead from the home. There is not tolerance for willful disobedience to avoid strife. God is telling Moses here that He will not let Moses lead His people if Moses thinks its okay to disobey His commands at will. Obedience needs to start in the home!
Having straightened things up at home, Moses faces no easy feat ahead. Moses was to tell Pharaoh that Israel belongs to God, and the Israelites are His people, His firstborn. Pharaoh should let God’s people go. Otherwise, just as Pharaoh killed God’s firstborns, God, too, will kill Pharaoh’s firstborns.
With Aaron on his side, Moses progressed with God’s commands. Both Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord exactly as God had instructed them to do. They didn’t leave anything out, and they didn’t add anything to God’s plan. Because of their faithful obedience, their lives were blessed: They led the Israelites, who looked upon them and respected them as their leaders.
Forty years earlier, Moses' fire burned out after a few days of ministry (having been rejected by his own people), and he fled into the wilderness. Forty years later, Moses would be ignited again. Although he was at first reluctant, once his fire for God was lit again, it would not be put out. What's the difference? The presence of God in his life.
God loves us and always hears us. He will always protect us and take us to safety. And when we keep Him in our lives, we will always be under His love and care.