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Exodus 2:233:10, 1920comment (0)

March 4, 2010

By Jeffrey S. Quiett

Related Scripture: Exodus 2:233:10, 1920

Explore the Bible
Associate professor of marriage and family counseling, University of Mobile

Exodus 2:23–3:10, 19–20

Not Forgotten (2:23–25)

The story begins approximately 40 years after the birth of Moses’ son Gershom. In self-imposed exile, Moses seems to be engaging in an “ordinary life” apart from the riches of Egypt. While Moses participated in the typical pastoral activities of his day, the people of Israel were still under the oppressive rule of Egypt. Although Moses was absent from the sufferings of his people, Scripture makes it clear that God was never absent from them. God understood the plight of His people.

Even under the persecution of a repressive regime, the Israelites still managed to “cry for help” to God. This reality implies the source of help even when things look bleak. Difficult times have a way of drawing out what we really believe. The Israelites were surrounded by multiple Egyptian deities, yet they remained devoted to the one true God. Their faith was not based on emotion or experience. It was based on the reality of the promise that God had made to their ancestors. Faith is not just a feeling. Faith is a conviction “of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

The Call of Moses (3:1–10)
While Moses was engaged in his daily activities, God made an appearance. We often believe that God “shows up” only in religious activities but Moses’ experience suggests otherwise. Horeb, which literally means “desolate,” is another name for Sinai. The exact location of this “mountain of God” is still debated today although early Christians identified it as Jebel Musa in the southern Sinai Peninsula.

God uses an ordinary object (a bush) to appear and speak to Moses. The designation “angel of the Lord” (2) has long been a subject of theological debate, but most scholars agree that it is a visible manifestation of God Himself. These visible manifestations are usually called “theophanies” and occur periodically in the Old Testament. Theophanies are not present in the New Testament since Jesus is the ultimate theophany (God become flesh).

The remainder of the passage begins what turns out to be a lengthy discussion between God and Moses. God speaks to Moses personally, which affirms God’s personal relationship with His people. God answers Moses’ doubt concerning the identity of the voice by calling on Moses to remove his sandals. This was an ancient indication of divine presence and a custom that servants practiced in the presence of their masters. God further identifies Himself not as an unknown god but as the God of Moses’ ancestors — the one true God. 

Verse 7 marks the first time in the Old Testament that God uses the term “my people.” God has heard the cry of His people and has now decided to take action. Concern without action is incomplete. His method of action is to use the man Moses. This is a common theme throughout Scripture. Most of the time, God chooses to work through people to accomplish His purposes.

We often expect that God will intervene directly and personally in the world. As the call of Moses demonstrates, God almost invariably chooses to work through people who obey His call. Moses was 80 years old at the time of his call. God is always calling us to do something to further His purposes and work. Age, experience, intelligence and social standing make no difference to God in light of His calling on our lives. God is always looking for those who will obey His call.

The Power Behind the Man (3:19–20)
While Moses is called upon to obey God’s commands, God does not leave Moses to “fend for himself.” God understands the heart of Pharaoh and affirms that it will take a “mighty hand” to convince the king of Egypt to relent.

When God calls us for His purposes, He will always provide the power to carry out His wishes. We can be confident that God will give the necessary resources and strength to accomplish what He calls us to do.

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