“God heard the groaning, and God remembers His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” (Exodus 2:24, 25).
Let’s be clear. God never forgets. It is just that God’s ways are not man’s ways. God does not always work as we would wish He would or in the time frame that we would like. We might as why? As a sovereign God, God is all-knowing and all-powerful. Therefore how can you, me, or anyone comprehend all that must go into the decisions that God makes? By divine inspiration, when the author stated that “God remembers and acknowledges,” it is a way of saying, “The time is right for Israel to inherit the land I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Moses, having understood his rescue by the Pharoah’s daughter and that Salvation came through the Ark of bulrushes, had tried to take matters into his own hand. He had failed. Now an eighty-year-old sheepherder stands before the burning bush. A fire burned brightly amid the bush, but the bush was not consumed. From within the fire, a voice is heard. “Moses, Moses!” Moses responded and said, “Here I am.”
From the midst of the burning fire, God responds by saying, “Do not draw near this place, ‘Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’ Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.”
After acquainting Moses with His presence, God introduced Himself as the God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In this way, God reminded him of the promises made to the patriarchs. The oath which He was about to fulfill with the children of Israel. In the expression “thy father,” the three patriarchs are classed together. Why? Because of the personal relations enjoyed by each with God and the promises each received directly from God.
For Moses, the swagger of youth was softened by the years of toil and isolation as a lowly sheepherder. The desire to lead men into battle has been damped by chasing after sheep. Moses had replaced the school of Egypt with a deep relationship with the things of nature around him. Therefore when Moses hears the words of verses nine through eleven, Moses is stunned. “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharoah that you may bring My people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh’” (Exodus 3:9-11a).
Hey God, remember me. I am the man who fled Egypt after killing a man. I was told, and the Ark symbolized that I was to save the people of Israel from the oppression of the Pharoah. I tried, I failed! I ran! I tend sheep and have a family. And, I am no longer 40, I’m an old man, I am 80 years old. “Who am I that I should go to Pharoah, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:11).
From Exodus 3:11 – Exodus 4:17, Moses objects to this call in five different ways. “Who am I?” (Exodus 3:11-12). “Who are You? (Exodus 3:13-16). “What if they don’t believe me?” (Exodus 4:1-9). “I am not eloquent” (Exodus 4:10-12). And finally, “Send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13-17).
God’s response is, “I will be with you.” “I will reveal my name to you,” which we will look at further in a moment. “I will give you three divine signs” (rod, leprosy, blood). I will reveal to you and them who I am. “I will teach you.” And finally, God appears to be angry with Moses but says, I anticipated your reluctance; therefore, I have already sent Aaron, your brother.”
There was no guarantee this new Pharoah would be any friendlier to him than the one who placed a bounty on the head of Moses for killing an Egyptian. Therefore, I can understand Moses’s reluctance. But to ask, who are you, after God had already reviewed before Moses, his relationship to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, shows a fundamental distrust on the part of Moses. God responded, “I AM WHO I AM.”
Let’s not forget that this is the pre-incarnate Christ that is speaking with Moses. When we finally get to the new testament, we see that Christ on several occasions said, I AM, and qualified it with living, water, the bread of life, light to the world, the God of your Salvation, and the list goes on. Therefore, what God is doing is revealing to Moses how God can provide for him and the children of Israel. Over the forty years that Israel wandered through the desert, the pre-incarnate Christ was all these things. He was their refuge. He supplied their physical and spiritual food and water. He protected them and blessed them in ways they could not comprehend.
But Moses, the reluctant war hero turned shepherd, could not wrap his head around the fact that God was once again asking that he lead, guide, and direct Israel out of Egypt and to the promised land.
God tried to reassure Moses, and so in Exodus 3:20, He says to Moses, “So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go. And I will give the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house. Articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing, and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters so you shall plunder the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:20-22).
When Abraham was told that his descendants would be afflicted for 430 years, God had said, “When they leave Egypt, they shall take with them the riches of Egypt.” God was reminding Moses of the promise given to Abraham to reassure Moses that God was with him and all of Israel.
Moses continues to object, and so God becomes angry. I wonder if there are times when God asks us to do things, and we mount up the arguments against as Moses did, and God becomes frustrated with us.
In closing this post, I want to draw our attention to Exodus 3:22. This text uses an interesting word. That word is “plunder.” Plunder is a military word indicating terminology used in war. Why? Why the use of a military word in this passage. Because it sets us up the conflict between two powers present within the exodus story, we have been introduced to the first power in Exodus chapters 1 and 2. This power is the power that enslaved and oppressed the Israelite people. Its earthly representative was Pharoah, but as we will see later in the story, the entity behind that earthly power is non-other but the same entity that deceived The Woman in the garden. The second entity is God, who in chapters 3 and 4 talked with Moses, convincing Moses to rescue God’s people from the hands of their oppressors.
The author wants us to know that there is a war going on, a war involving God and the entity behind the world’s powers. God is about to win a major conflict in this war using a reluctant earthly leader named Moses.
“So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, ‘Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.’ And Jethro said to Moses, ‘Go in peace.’ Now the LORD said to Moses in Midian, ‘Go, return to Egypt; for all the men who sought your life are dead’ ” (Exodus 4:18, 19).