Genesis 46 – Exodus 4
Turn back with me again to Exodus Chapter 3, where we will pick up where we left off last lesson. Moses, of course, has come to Mount Sinai; he’s seen the burning bush, and God speaks out of that bush.
This is one of my favorite lessons to teach. I shared it with a young man from Israel, with a masters degree, back in 1975, when we had the privilege of going to Israel for 10 days. Our bus stopped just for a while at the Dead Sea. So my wife Iris, and I, went for a walk and ran across this young Jewish fellow walking guard duty. It was very informal, so he was more than willing to visit with us. He spoke perfect English, because he had been educated in Boston. But as we shared what I will be teaching in this lesson today, he was aghast. He said, “Well, you’ve got the Hebrew 100% right. But I’ve never heard it explained like that!” He said, “As soon as I get home I’m going to get my New Testament and check this out.”
From that time on, I was more confident than ever when teaching this lesson on Exodus 3:14, where the Scriptures says, “You go back and tell the children that I AM has sent you. You will see before the lesson is over that we are not stretching any point, but staying strictly according to the Biblical language. Here God has now told Moses from the burning bush, that it is now time to deliver the children of Israel out of bondage. And that Moses is going to be the man. Now, in verse 10, God says:
“‘Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.’”
“And Moses said unto God, ‘Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt.’”
As I pointed out in our last lesson, what did the Egyptians think of a shepherd? He was an abomination. And what is Moses now? A shepherd, and has been for 40 years. This is sticking in Moses’ craw. He says, “God, I can’t go to Pharaoh, I’m just a shepherd.” And then later on in the conversation with God, Moses says, “I can’t speak, I can’t do this.” So why does he make such an argument? Stop and think – for 40 years where has he been – sheep herding, with nothing but sheep to talk to. He doesn’t have any public connections. He is now just an old country boy, who is going to feel completely out of place in Pharaoh’s Palace:
“And he (God) said, ‘Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye (the nation)shall serve God upon this mountain.’”
And that’s exactly where they went when they left Egypt. It was there that Moses received the Ten Commandments, and there, he received the instructions for building the Tabernacle. It was there, the Priesthood was established. And it was there that Israel was to move straight north to the land of milk and honey. Now, remember, Moses spent 40 years steeped in Egyptian idolatry. And every idol and god in Egypt’s culture had a name. Regardless whether it be, sun, moon, star, frog, animal, or whatever – it had a name. Moses hasn’t forgotten that, and with that in mind, look at his next question.
“And Moses said unto God, ‘Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, ‘What is his name? What shall I say unto them?’”
Now, isn’t that typical? The children of Israel are in Egypt, they too are surrounded by all the Egyptian gods; here comes this man Moses from the back side of the desert; and he speaks of a God, and what’s the first thing they will ask? What’s his name. So Moses anticipates. And now look at the answer. Verse 14
“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.”
As we look back to Genesis Chapter 1, “In the beginning God,” and so it is all through Chapter 1. Everything has been accomplished, the creation was completed, man was on the scene and in the garden. Then in Chapter 2, verse 4 we have a change toLORD God. Is that a misprint? Of course not. All through the first chapter we are dealing with God the Creator, but as soon as we get into Chapter 2, man is on the scene, and man is going to need a communicator. Someone in the God-Head must be able to communicate with Adam.
Go back in your mind to John 1:1 and what does it say?“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That “Word” is capitalized, so it’s a name of Deity; a name of God. Now, what do we do with words? We communicate. So now we have, “In the beginning was the Word – the Communicator. God the Communicator. So the Communicator must come on the scene in order to do just that with Adam. Who is He? – Jesus in the New Testament, and God the Son in the Old Testament. He’s Jehovah. He is LORD. So what you really have here in Chapter 2:4 is Jehovah God. The term Jehovah comes out of a couple of Hebrew root words – Jahweh-Havah. Jahweh, meaning I AM, and Havah, meaning to become more and more and more revealed. So you take Jahweh-Havah the I AM, Who is to become more and more revealed, and you contract them and come up with the name Jehovah.
And that’s where the Jewish young man caught it so quickly. Therefore, Who is Jehovah? Jehovah is the I AM, but the I AM Who would become more and more revealed. As you come up through human history as far as the Bible is concerned, isn’t that exactly what has happened? All the way through the Old Testament, God the Son is revealing more and more of Himself. And finally, He comes in the form of flesh, a further revelation. And then He goes the way of the Cross, and ascends back into heaven; but He’s coming again, and we see that all revealed in the last Book of your Bible. And what do we call it? The Book of Revelation. And this is exactly what the Bible has been doing; it has been a continuing revelation of God the Son. The Jehovah of the Old Testament.
Let me show you more clearly in a passage of Scripture, just exactly what is entailed in all of this. Turn to John’s Gospel again. Let’s begin at John 8:48 so that we can get the setting: this is during Christ’s earthly ministry, and He is being confronted by the religious leaders of the Jews. They were constantly accusing Him of being an imposter. They wouldn’t give Him credit for Who He was. In this passage they are claiming that He has a demon.
“Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, ‘Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?’”
“Jesus answered, ‘I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.’”
“‘And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth’.”
“‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.’”
What did those Jews know concerning life and death? It was the territory of God! So to them Jesus is on pretty thin ice, because look at how they responded:
“Then said the Jews unto him, ‘Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead (he had been for over 2000 years)and the prophets (they were also dead, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel are all gone..); and thou sayest, ‘If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.’”
“‘Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Who are you?’” They should have known who He was, but they didn’t.
“Jesus answered (now Jesus wasn’t very kind to them here), ‘If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me: of whom ye say, that he is your God:’” They thought they knew the God of Abraham, and they thought they knew Jehovah.
“Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: (And I guess he did! Now here is what I was making reference to. This is sharp). and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: (That’s pretty strong isn’t it? How could He call them liars? Because they claimed to know God and didn’t. And they said Jesus didn’t know Him, but He did. So He said,”If I agreed with you, that I don’t really know God, then I’d be as big a liar as you are”)but I know him, and keep his sayings.”
“Your father Abraham (2000 Years ago) rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.”
Now get the response of those Jews:
“Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?”
Can you get the sarcasm there? Oh what a blasphemer this is. How can He say these things. You have seen Abraham? Let’s recall what He told Moses His name was:“I AM THAT I AM.“
“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
What’s He claiming? He’s the I AM of the burning bush. He’s the I AM of pre-eternity. He’s the I AM of all Scripture. It’s interesting to note throughout the Book of John there are seven distinct I AM’s, that fit so perfectly with the seven distinct Jehovah’s, or I AM’s in the Old Testament. What are some of them? I AM the Bread of Life. I AM the Way and the Truth. I AM the Resurrection. I AM the Good Shepherd. There are seven in all. He never backed away from being the I AM. But what I want you to see is, how the Jews responded when He claimed to be the I AM.
“Then took they up stones to cast at him (Why? They were going to kill Him for being such a blasphemer; to claim to be the I AM of the Old Testament.); but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by;”
Please turn back to Exodus once again, Chapter 3, verse 15. Moses now has it clearly put, that the I AM, God the Son, Jehovah, is the one Who is doing all this preparation work. He’s the one that’s going to be the Pillar of Fire and the Pillar of Smoke. And when we get to the Tabernacle, and we won’t be spending a lot of time on it because, except for someone who is deeply interested in the word of God, it’s an area you can get bored with very easily.
When we do get to the Tabernacle, I’m going to show very clearly that the word “propitiation” in Romans Chapter 3, is lived out in all of it’s fullness, in every jot and tittle of that Tabernacle back here in Exodus. Everything that is in the Tabernacle is a picture of Christ. For example, the Ark of the Covenant, there in the Holy of Holies, is a box made of wood, that speaks of Christ’s earthly side. But it was covered with gold, that spoke of His Deity. And all the way through that whole Tabernacle: the fence, the blocks on which it sat, the hides that covered the tent, and the sacrifices, and the priesthood, the Day of Atonement – everything speaks of the finished work of Christ on the Cross. Now verse 15:
“And God said moreover unto Moses, ‘Thus shalt thou 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 this is my memorial unto all generations.’”
They were to bring all the heads of the people together, so that Moses could announce to them, that the time of their deliverance is at hand.
“‘And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go (God knows what’s going to happen), no, 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 (The Plagues)he will let you go.’”
And then verse 22 there is a statement in here that I want to clarify, lest anyone would get the wrong idea. I think it’s an unfortunate translation of a word:
“But every woman shall borrow of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.”
All the commentaries and scholars I’ve ever read agree that the word there should not be “borrow” but “ask.” For the word “borrow” would indicate that they would have it, and then have to give it back. God never intended that. All He told the women, and all of Israel to do, was to ask the Egyptians if they had something to give them, to send them on their way. And we know from the account, that by the time Egypt had gone through the plagues, they were in shambles; economically, physically, and in every other way. The Egyptians literally unloaded all their wealth on the Israelites. ” Just get out of here, and don’t come back.”
However, God had something else on His mind. It wasn’t just to make the Israelites rich, as they left Egypt. When they get down to Sinai, He is going to give them instructions to build the Tabernacle, and that Tabernacle is just literally filled with silver and gold and precious stones, fine linen – all the wealth of Egypt. It was in God’s Sovereign plan, and it was unfortunate that our translators use the word borrow. They asked and the Egyptians gave it to them gladly. Now come to Chapter 4:
“And Moses answered and said, ‘But (Isn’t that just like us? How many times have you and I known God probably wants us to do something for Him. And what do we say? “But God”… I know I have been guilty of that. And Moses was no different) behold, they will not believe me (Moses says, “I’ve been gone 40 years, I’ve been on the back side of the desert; I’m a shepherd; they won’t believe when I tell them.” And what else did he remember? He went to them earlier when he had all the things of Egypt and they didn’t believe him. Now that he comes back as a lowly old shepherd, are going to believe him?), nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.”Now, look at God’s reply:
“And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.”
“And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.”
That snake was real! – and middle eastern serpents can be deadly poisonous. So he runs from it.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail (I don’t like to handle snakes, but I’ve watched others, and the place you grab a live snake by is not by the tail, but right behind the head, where the fangs can’t touch you. God tells Moses to do the impossible – catch it by the tail)And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:”
What I like to point out here is the beginning of what Paul claims in 1 Corinthians 1:22. This could avert so much confusion, and doubt, and wonder that is crossing people’s minds these days. Now, remember this is Paul writing to a Gentile Church, and it’s Paul writing to you and I. And look what he says:
1 Corinthians 1:22a
“For the Jews require a sign,”
Just think about that for a moment, beginning with Moses to the Children of Israel first, and then later on to convince Pharaoh that Moses was the representative of the God of Israel. What did he use as proof. Signs and miracles! Think of it – all through Israel’s history, as much Bible as you can possibly remember, didn’t it happen over and over? The supernatural! The miraculous! For instance, the night the shepherds were on the hills of Judea, and that great angelic host appeared, singing the choruses of heaven, concerning the birth of the Christ. Did that drive those shepherds insane? No, they weren’t that shook up over that. They were almost used to those sort of things. That was part of Israel’s history.
Likewise, in the Book of Acts, Peter is locked up in prison, and who comes and escorts him out? An Angel! I am sure, if an Angel would suddenly go into the prison down at Big Mac in McAlester, there would be a lot of people fainting dead away, wouldn’t they? We are not programmed for that kind of thing, but Israel was used to it. It happened all through their history, and begins right here, when they are a nation and God is beginning to work with them. Now, come back to Exodus. So He tells Moses, if they don’t believe you, throw this rod on the ground and it will become a serpent.
“That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.”
Then as we go into the next verse, He gives him yet another sign. And what is it? He puts his hand into his bosom, and it becomes leprous, he puts it back in and it’s whole again. These were signs given to Moses, to prove to Israel that he was God’s man…
by Thomas Bass | Les Feldick