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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 3

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Chapter 3

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to mount Horeb ( Exodus 3:1 ).

Now no doubt Moses' experiences there in the wilderness were going to be necessary experiences. Number one, while he was there he was learning the lay of the land. As he was out there as a shepherd following the flocks through the Sinai desert and around Mount Horeb, he became very well acquainted with the area. He knew where all of the wells were. He began to know a little bit about the weather conditions. Really beginning to get a lot of good, practical savvy on survival in the wilderness. These things were all to be helpful for him in the big project that God had for him in leading the children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. So he was out there now learning in the school of experience, wilderness or desert survival which would prove to be very handy later.

And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I'm gonna take a look at this, and see why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and he said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Don't draw near: but put off your shoes from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. 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; And I'm come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians ( Exodus 3:2-8 ),

So God began to speak to Moses out of the midst of the burning bush. First of all, warning him against approaching any closer. Telling him to remove his shoes, he was on holy ground, declaring Himself, "I am the God of thy father, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Then God declared, "I have surely seen, I have surely heard, for I surely know." In Hebrew it is, "Seeing, I have certainly seen, knowing I have certainly known, hearing I have certainly heard." It's an emphatic in the Hebrew. God declares the fact that He has seen, He has heard, He knows.

These are the characteristics of God emphasized by Jesus Christ in the New Testament, "Your Father sees, your Father hears, your Father knows." These are characteristics of God that are always challenged by the unbeliever. "Is there any knowledge in the most High? How does God know?" They feel that they can hide from God. They scoff at the idea of prayer. Yet these characteristics are emphasized over and over by Jesus Christ. How your Father loves you, and His ear is open to your cry. How He sees, how He hears, how He knows. It's more than that. "I have come to deliver." God just doesn't see and say, "Oh, my isn't that terrible." He doesn't hear the cry and say, "Oh, what a shame." But He does something about it. Sometimes our friends offer us great sympathy. They see, they hear, they say, "Oh, my what a shame. That's so bad, that's just terrible. Oh my." "Thanks." But the Lord said, "I have come to deliver out of the hands of the Egyptians".

and to bring them out of that land into 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 Jebusites. [And the PLO's. These glasses.] Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them ( Exodus 3:8-9 ).

Some of you have been very oppressed by people. You've been lied against. You've been rejected. You've been hurt. You think, "Nobody knows what I'm going through. Nobody knows what I'm dealing with." Oh yes, someone knows, "I have seen also the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them."

Come now therefore, and I will send you unto Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt ( Exodus 3:10-11 )?

Now forty years earlier, Moses was gung ho for the job. He started out to do it on his own thinking, "Surely they will understand." But his experience brought him such disappointment, and now the forty years in the wilderness had an extremely mellowing effect upon the guy. Moses, you remember, was of the tribe of Levi. You remember concerning the Levites, the prophecy of Jacob for Levi, "cruel and treacherous, cursed be your anger"( Genesis 49:7 ), hot-tempered tribe. Moses had that hot Levite blood coursing through his system, that short, fiery temper. Turned on the Egyptian and killed him.

Now after forty years the fire is gone. He's not that short-tempered, ready to go to battle anymore. In fact, he has become very meek. When God said, "I want you to go to the Pharaoh to bring My people out of the land," he said, "Hey, who am I that I should go to the Pharaoh and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?"

Who am I ( Exodus 3:11 )?

Interesting question. I think that everyone who is called of God probably asks that question, "Who am I, Lord, that I should be the one to do this?" I think that it is always valuable that we have a sense of our unworthiness as being an instrument through which God might do His work. I think that God had to bring Moses to this place, but Moses carried it a little far. "Who am I?"

God said,

Certainly I will be with you; and this will be the token unto you, that I have sent you: When you have brought forth the people of Egypt, you will serve God upon this mountain ( Exodus 3:12 ).

Now he was at Mount Horeb. "When you bring them out of the land, you're gonna worship Me right on this mountain. This will be the proof." It was here at Mount Horeb that he received the commandments.

Moses said unto God, Behold, when I am come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers has sent me unto you; and they'll say unto me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 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. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thou shalt 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 ever, this is my memorial unto all generations ( Exodus 3:13-15 ).

Now Moses said, "Who shall I say sent me?" God said to Moses, "I am that I am." Now this really is to Moses. God is declaring to Moses that relationship, "I am", I am what? "I am whatever you're going to need." The name of God, a verb, "to be". "I am", because God always wants to be to you whatever your particular need might be. "I am your peace, I am your strength, I am your help, I am your guide, I am your righteousness, I am your salvation, I am your hope." Whatever you might be, God will become to you whatever is the need in your life. How beautiful that is. "The Becoming One is named Yahweh, The Becoming One", as God becomes to you whatever your need might be.

Now to the children of Israel, verse twenty-five, "God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, now they're gonna say, who sent me, to the children of Israel you say, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob has sent Me unto you. This is My name forever and this is My memorial to all generations." So this is by which God identified Himself to the nation, "The God of your fathers", or "Jehovah God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob."

Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them that, Jehovah God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, and the Hivites, and Jebusites, unto a land that is flowing with milk and honey. And they shall hearken to your voice: and you shall come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and you shall say unto him, Jehovah God of the Hebrews hath met with us: now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey in the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to Jehovah our God ( Exodus 3:16-18 ).

So to the Hebrews He was Jehovah God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. To Pharaoh He was to be Jehovah God of the Hebrews.

And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, not by a mighty hand. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go our empty: But ever woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and you shall spoil the Egyptians ( Exodus 3:19-22 ).

So God's saying, teaching them how to rip off the Egyptians. But in reality what they were taking was really the wages that were due to them through the several years of slavery, and servitude in which they were not paid. And so it was just really collecting back wages for all of the years that they had been slaves to the Egyptians. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-3.html. 2014.
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