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Year 1, Week 8, Day 3

I have a brief observation for today’s reading of Exodus 2-3.

Today’s reading spans a period of about eighty years as it records the birth of Moses and runs all the way to the LORD’s appearance to Moses at Mt. Horeb in Midian. Exodus 2 describes the early years of Moses, including how he was preserved as a baby, raised in Pharaoh’s house, but then how as a young man, he kills an Egyptian as a means of defending a Hebrew slave, only to flee Egypt as the Israelites seem to reject his efforts. Exodus 3 tells of Moses’ time in Midian, which involved his marriage to a Midianite as well as the LORD’s appearance to Moses as he is summoned to return to Egypt.

What struck me from today’s reading is the LORD’s faithfulness to His people. The LORD, who is orchestrating history according to His purposes, has sent the people of Israel to Egypt and has now determined it is now time for their release: "Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And the LORD made his people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes. He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants. He sent Moses, his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen.” (Psalm 105:23-26). It was God’s plan all along for the children of Abraham to spend some time in Egypt before they were returned to the Promised Land: "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” (Genesis 15:13-14). 

The time in Egypt has come to a close. The LORD raises up a deliverer: “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.” (Exodus 2:1-2). Pharaoh had ordered the execution of all Hebrew baby boys, but Moses was rescued. Moses’ rescue is reminiscent of the rescue of Noah’s life, as the basket that he is placed in harkens back to the Ark; but also a preview of the rescue of the Hebrew nation as they too will be safely brought up out of deathly waters (in their case, the Red Sea).

Ironically, Moses will be raised in Pharaoh’s house, but it seems that he is shaped by his Hebrew identity. Moses’ early attempt to relieve the Hebrew people of their oppression is rejected, as they do not wish to be ruled by him: “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer…Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt” (Acts 7:35, 39). Rejected and fearful, Mose flees from Egypt. But in spite of the rejection of the LORD’s provision, the LORD hears their cries and remembers His covenant: “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2:24-25). While the Israelites cried out for relief, they were unfaithful to the LORD; but the LORD remains faithful to His promises.

Moses ends up living with the Midianites, even marrying Zipporah, a Midianites. The Midianites come from the line of Keturah, whom Abraham married after the death of Sarah (see Genesis 25:1-4). Thus, Moses is joining himself in marriage to kinfolk. Moses became a shepherd, as Joseph and his family were noted as shepherds. While shepherding his flock, the LORD appears to Moses and reveals His plans: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:7-8a). But then the LORD says to Moses: “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10).

As Moses objects, the LORD reveals something very personal—His Name: “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people 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 thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (Exodus 3:14-15). Through verbal forms, “I AM WHO I AM,” as well as by the noun form of the same word, “The LORD,” God disclosed His personal name, which is YAHWEH. The God who redeems His people to live with Him in a covenant relationship, is the God who desires to be known personally by His people. God’s covenant faithfulness is for the purpose of His people knowing Him by Name, that is, knowing Him personally: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake!” (Psalm 79:9).

What struck you in today’s reading? What questions were prompted from today’s reading?

Pastor Joe