Thursday, December 12, 2019

Exodus 3 - The Burning Bush

body of water during golden hour

It continues to be a wonderful task to exposit the Old Testament. I preached through the book of Exodus in the second half of 2018 verse by verse and paragraph by paragraph. We left no word unread and did not skip the exposition of any section. It is a wonderful exercise for myself to go back now, chapter by chapter, and review the wonderful truth of this book. I pray that it is as beneficial for you, the reader, as it has been for me. More resources can be found at

This very important chapter details God’s commissioning of Moses to lead the people of Israel out from the land of Egypt. God raised up Moses in order to fulfill His covenant which He had made with Abraham more than 400 years before. God is not slow about His promises, but bring them about in His own timing.

1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

The angel of the LORD is again identified as being God Himself, and is said to speak for God as God. He appeared to Moses in the burning bush on mount Horeb (also called Sinai). God called out to Moses from the midst of the bush, and identified Himself as the God of Moses’ fathers.

7 The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. 8 So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. 9 Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.

God had not forgotten His people. He had not ignored their cries. He was not oblivious to their distress. He had seen and He had heard. Furthermore, He remembered His covenant made with their fathers to give them the land of Canaan where they would become a prosperous nation unto the LORD. Though His timing is different than His people suppose it should be, His timing is perfect. Now, at just the right time, He was going to deliver Israel out of Egypt to take them to the Promised Land of Canaan.

10 Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”

God’s sign to Moses was that his mission would be completed. If Moses went to Pharaoh and failed to free the Egyptians, he would know for sure that God had not sent him. But if he went to Pharaoh and successfully delivered Israel out of the land of Egypt to Mount Sinai on the way to the land of Canaan, then Moses would have no doubt that it was God who was with him to deliver the people.

13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

This was not some unknown and impersonal God that was sending Moses back into Egypt at the risk of his own life. He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was the God who created the world. This name ‘I AM’ demonstrates God’s self-existence and eternity. It shows that God will never change, for He is immutable. Moses was to declare this supreme and awesome God to the people of Israel. He was not going back at the command of some little god. He was going under orders from the Most High God whose personal name demonstrates His superiority and sovereignty.

15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.

Yahweh is God’s permanent name unto every generation. It is a promise that even thousands of years later, He is. He cannot die. He cannot be dethroned. This is how His people are to know Him forever: the eternal, sovereign, unchangeable God who faithfully keeps His covenants.

16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’

What a comforting message to an afflicted people. God was concerned about them, and would end their affliction by bringing them to a land of great things. This is still His promise to all those who are afflicted and persecuted. There is a heavenly kingdom that awaits where affliction will be finished and glory awaits.

18 They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion.

The inscrutable sovereignty of the LORD is self-evident from these passages dealing with Pharaoh’s will and hardness of heart. Sometimes Pharaoh is said to harden his heart. Sometimes God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. The point here is that God was warning Moses that it would not be in-and-out. Pharaoh would put up a fight. But it would end with God’s name being glorified.

20 So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go. 21 I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. 22 But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians.”

God’s power would be put on display. No one would have cause to wonder whether Pharaoh was stronger or God was. God would decimate the power of Egypt, and His people would plunder the defeated foe on their way out of the land of their captivity.


God is not slow about His promises, but is able to bring Himself glory through His patient dealings with mankind. He did not forget the people of Israel, but heard their cries and knew their affliction. In the right time, He raised up Moses and sent him to the people to deliver them and take them to the Promised Land.
So also, at the right time, God raised up His Son Jesus that all who believe in Him would be delivered from their sins. He is the great I AM. He is the eternal and unchanging Son of God. We believe in Him and submit to Him, waiting for the day when He will gather us to Himself and rule over all the earth.

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