[From the authors book: Gleanings in Exodus pp.
27-31. Photograph above by Clive R. Tindle.]
attempt to deliver Israel
was inopportune, for Gods time had not arrived. Moreover, the leader
himself was not fully prepared, nor were the Hebrews themselves ready to
leave Egypt]. Moses in Midian pondered the significance of
God appearing to him in the burning bush.
It was there he received his call and commission to act as Jehovahs
favoured instrument in delivering His people from their hard bondage. As Moses turned aside to behold the amazing
sight of the bush burning and yet not being consumed, the voice of God
addressed him. First, God reminded Moses
of His holiness (v.
5). Next, He revealed Himself in
covenant-relationship (v. 6). Then, He expressed His compassion (v. 7). Then He
declared His purpose: I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the
Egyptians, etc. (v. 8). Finally, He
addressed Himself to His servant: Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that
thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt (v.10).
considering Moses Call, let us weigh what is recorded in verses 7 and 8: 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 am come down to deliver them out
of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good
land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. Notice the completeness
of this statement. First, the
Lord said, I have surely seen
the affliction of My people which are in Egypt. Second, And have heard their cry by reason of their
taskmasters. Third, For I know their sorrows. Fourth, And I am come down to deliver them. Fifth, Out
of the hand of the Egyptians. Sixth, And to bring them up out of
that land unto a good land, etc. Seventh, Unto a good land and a large,
land flowing with milk and honey.
observe the definiteness and positiveness of Jehovahs
assertions. There were no perhapss or peradventures.
It was no mere invitation or offer that was made to Israel. Instead, it was the unconditional, emphatic declaration of what the Lord would do I am come down to
deliver. So it is now.
goes forth on no uncertain errand. Gods
not return unto Him void, but it shall accomplish that which He
pleases, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto He sends it (Isa. 55: 11).
is, on this occasion, the Gospel is that good
news of Gods grace: all human works are excluded, (Eph.
2: 8, 9).]
admire the blessed typical picture here, a prophetic picture of the Divine
Incarnation. First the Divine compassion
which prompted the unspeakable Gift: I have surely seen the affliction of My
people which are in Egypt God contemplated the wretched condition of sinners
and their need of deliverance. Second,
the Incarnation itself: I am come down. Thus it was fifteen hundred years later, when
Jehovah-Jesus left His Fathers House on high and came down to these scenes of
sin and suffering. Third, the purpose of Incarnation: to deliver His people and bring them up out of that land, which symbolizes the world. Fourth, the beneficent design
of the Incarnation: to bring them into a good land and large, unto a land flowing
with milk and honey to bring us
on to resurrection ground, where there would be everything to satisfy and
rejoice the heart.
Come now therefore, and I will send thee
unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people
the children of Israel out
(Ex. 3: 10). Notice the little word which
we have placed in italics. God is not to
be rushed: our business is not (irreverently) to seek to hurry God, rather it
is to wait on Him and for Him. For many long years had the groans and cries
of the distressed Hebrews gone up; but the heavens were silent. Forty years previously, Moses had become
impatient at the delay, and thought to take matters into his own hands, only to
discover that the time for deliverance was not yet ripe. But now. Now the four hundred years of
servitude and affliction (Gen. 15: 13) had
run their ordained course. Now
the hour of Divine intervention had struck.
Now the time for Jehovah to deal with the haughty oppressor of
His people had arrived. Now
the children of Israel
would be in a condition to appreciate the promised [eternal] inheritance.
The pleasant pastures of Goshen and the
carnal attractions of Egypt
had, no doubt, quelled all longings for Canaan,
that their afflictions were fast becoming unbearable, the land flowing with
milk and honey would be a pleasing prospect.
now that the time for deliverance had arrived, what is the method of Divine
procedure? A captive
people is to be emancipated; a nation of slaves is to be liberated. What, then, is the first move toward
this? Had God so chosen He could have
sent forth His angels, and in a single night destroyed all the Egyptians. Had He so
pleased He could have appeared before the Hebrews in person and brought them
out of their house and bondage. But this
was not His way. Instead, He
appointed a human ministry to effect a Divine salvation. To Moses He said, I will send thee
mayest bring forth My people
out of Egypt. There is
little need to apply this to ourselves.
Gods way then, is Gods way now.
Human instrumentality is the means He most commonly employs in bringing
sinners from bondage to liberty, from death to [eternal*] life.
is of the utmost importance for regenerate believers to grasp the fact that
Moses task was not just to deliver the Israelites from their bondage under
Pharaoh in Egypt typical of the receiving salvation by grace; his task also,
and after that deliverance, involved leading all
who came out of Egypt (typical of all who were saved by Gods grace: and not a hoof was left behind!) into an
inheritance and life in the Promised Land - a type of the
Millennial age, life,
and rest after the first
resurrection yet to come, (Luke 20: 35; 1
Tim. 6: 19; Heb. 4: 1, 8, 11; Rev. 20: 4): the Prize
which the Corinthian believers, (and multitudes of regenerate believers today),
who appear to have lost sight of
(1 Cor. 9: 24; 2 Cor. 4: 4).
is a vast difference in being accounted worthy
by Christ, of life after resurrection
(Rev. 20: 4), in the age to come (Luke
20: 35) - an inheritance for saints in the kingdom
of God (Gal. 5: 21; Eph. 5: 5);
which regenerate believers, through disobedience, wilful sin and
unbelief can lose, - from the enjoyment of Eternal life after resurrection, when the thousand years
are over (Rev. 20: 7), in a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21: 1).
The former is a free gift of God to all who
are saved by grace (Rom. 6: 23, R.V.); the
latter has to do with finishing the race
according to the rules, winning the prize
and therefore not losing the crown
(Heb. 12: 1; 2
Tim. 4: 7; Phil 3: 14; Rev. 2: 10).]
Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that
thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt (v. 10). What, then, is the response of our
patriarch? Surely he will bow in worship
before the great I Am at being thus so highly honoured. Surely he will ask, in fullest submission, Lord, what wouldst
Thou have me to do? 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? (v. 11).
at eighty was not so eager as at forty. Solitude had sobered him. Keeping sheep had tamed him. He saw difficulties in himself, in the
people, and in his task. He had already
tried once and failed, and now for long years he had been out of touch with his
people. But while all this was true, it
who now called him to this work. And He makes no mistakes.
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? (v. 11). This brings out a principle in connection
with Divine service which is strikingly illustrated in Luke 9. In v. 57
we read, And it
came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord,
I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest. In response
our Lord said, Foxes
have holes, and birds of the air have nests: but the Son of Man hath not where
to lay His head. Then we read, And He said unto another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and
bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom
of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow
Thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. The principle
is this: When the will of man acts in self-appointed service, he does not feel
the difficulties in the way; but when there is a true call from God these are
felt. Thus it was with Moses. When he went forth in the energy of the flesh
(Ex. 2: 11, etc) he was full of confidence in the success of his
mission. This comes out clearly in Acts 7: 25: For he supposed his brethren would have
understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. But now
that he is called of God to this work he is very conscious of the difficulties
in the way. The discipline of the backside of the desert had not
been in vain. Shepherding had chastened him.
Lord, therefore, graciously encourages him by promising to be with him and
assuring him of the ultimate success of his mission. And He said, Certainly I will be
with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee: When thou hast brought forth
the people out of Egypt,
ye shall serve God upon this mountain (v.
12). This was very comforting. God did not ask Moses to go forward alone: an
all-mighty One would accompany him. And
this is still the Divine promise to each Divinely-called servant. I doubt not that the apostles must have felt
much like Moses when the risen Saviour commissioned them to go and preach the
Gospel to every creature Who am I that I should go? If so, their hearts were reassured with the
same promise Moses received Lo I am with you always. And fellow-worker, if the Lord has manifestly called you to some task for
which you feel utterly insufficient, rest on this precious promise Certianly I will be with thee. This is a word that everyone engaged in
Christian service needs to take to heart.
When we think of what is involved
in bringing a soul out of darkness into light; when we encounter the fierce opposition of the devil;
when we face the frowns and sneers of
the world, little wonder that we hesitate, and ask, Who is sufficient for these
things? But take
courage faint-heart, and remember the unfailing promise, Certainly I will be with thee.
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? (v. 13). Let us not to
be too quick to condemn Moses here the Lord did not! This was no small difficulty for Moses. No visible presence would accompany him. He was to go alone to the enslaved Hebrews
and present himself as the Divinely-sent deliverer. He was to tell them that the God of their
fathers had promised to free them. But, as we shall see later, this was not
likely to make much impression upon the people who were, most of them at least,
sunk in the idolatries of the Egyptians.
He felt that they would quickly want to know, Who
is this God? What is His character? Prove to us that He is worthy of our
confidence. And does not a similar
difficulty arise before us! We go forth
to tell lost sinners of a God they have never seen. In His name we bid them trust. But cannot we anticipate the response Show us the Father, and it
sufficeth us is still, in
substance, the demand of the doubting heart.
Moses felt this difficulty; and so do we.
And God said to 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 (v. 14). At first sight this might strike us as
strange and mysterious, yet a little reflection should discover its profound
suggestiveness to us. I am is the great Jehovistic name of God. Dr.
Pentecost says, It contains each tense of the
verb to be, and might be translated, I
was, I am, and I shall always continue to be. The principle contained in this word of
Jehovah to Moses contains timely instruction for us. We are to go forth declaring the name and
nature of God as He has been revealed.
No attempts are to be made to prove His existence; no time should be
wasted with men in efforts to reason about God.
Our business is to proclaim the Being of God as He has revealed Himself
in and through Jesus Christ. The I am of the burning bush now stands fully declared in the
blessed Person of our Saviour who
said I am the bread of life,
I am the good Shepherd,
I am the door. I am the light of the
world, I am the way, the truth and the life, I am the resurrection
and the life, I am the true vine. He is the eternal I am the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
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 (v. 14). There is a depth here which no finite mind
can fathom. I am that I am always the same, eternally changeless. The apostle Paul could say By the grace of God I am what
I am announced that the great God
is self-existent, beside whom there is none else. Without beginning, without ending, from everlasting to
everlasting He is
God. None but He can say I am that I am always the same, eternally changeless. The apostle Paul could say By the grace of God I am what
I am what grace has made me, but
he could not say I am that I am.
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
forever, and this is My memorial unto all generations (v. 15). This was most blessed. Here was indeed something which ought to win
the hearts of the Hebrews when Moses repeated it to them. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was the
God of sovereign grace, who had
singled out these men from the mass of fallen humanity, and made them His high
favourites. The God of Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob, was the God of unconditional promise, who had pledged to give to
them and their seed the land
of Canaan for their
inheritance. The God of Abraham, Isaac
and Jacob, was the covenant-keeping God; for with Abraham God entered into
solemn covenant, and with Isaac and Jacob He confirmed it. Note, also, the threefold
repetition of God The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the
God of Jacob.
Was there not here something more than a hint of the Holy Trinity!
the remaining verses of Ex.
3 we learn how God further re-assured His
servant by declaring what should be the results of his mission (see vv. 16-22). And mark once more the
positive terms used; I will bring you up
out of the affliction of Egypt
shall hearken to thy voice
I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go
And I will smite Egypt with all my
and I will give this people
favour in the sight of the Egyptians,
etc. Everything is definitely
determined. There is no possibility of
the Divine purpose failing. There are no
contingencies; no I will do my part, if you do yours. The Lord has sworn, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure (Isa. 46: 10). Let this be
the ground of our confidence. Though all
the powers of evil array themselves against us, whatever God hath called us to do
will issue precisely as He has appointed.
It is true that these promises to Moses were not made good in a
day. It is true that there was much in
the sequel to severely test the faith of Moses, ere the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt. And it
is also true that with two exceptions the six hundred thousand men who left
Egypt [because of their failing faith and disobedience] perished in the wilderness, and thus Moses died without
seeing the complete fulfilment of Israels actually reaching the land flowing
with milk and honey for Gods
promises were made to Israel as a nation, not to any particular generation of
that nation.* Nevertheless, in the end, every word of Jehovah was made
good. So, too, God may commission us to
a work for Him, and we may die before the determined issue appears; but
notwithstanding, the Divine purpose will be realized.
Note. All within the redeemed family of
God today, who are now rejecting Gods ultimate restoration of the nation of
Israel in the near future; and His plan to restore them in their own land in
the age to come, (Rom. ch.
11) - are opposed to His unfulfilled prophetic revelations throughout
both Old Testament Scriptures are too numerous to list. Here are a few, selected at random:- Jer. 30: 8, 9; Isa. 51: 3-5;
Ezek.11: 16-20; Dan. 7: 14; Hos. 6: 1-3; Joel 3: 17,
18; Mic. 4: 1-5; Hab. 2:
14; Zech. 2: 10-12, etc.
All Christians, and in particular Anti-Millennialists,
take note of this recorded Scriptural fact:-
All who sheltered under the blood in Egypt,
and All who were led my God out of Egypt,
through the Red Sea and the desert to the borders of the land at Kadesh Barnea who refused to
believe His promises and advance into their inheritance in the land flowing with milk and honey, were - because of
their lack of faith in what He had said, and disobedience to His commands
entrance, (Num. 14: 21-23; Psa.
95: 11. cf. Heb. 4: 1, 8-11)!
Paul, when writing to Gentiles inside
the church at Corinth (1
Cor. 5: 12) about winning the Prize (1 Cor. 9: 24), said: These things happened to them (Israel in the
desert) as examples (or types) and were written down as
So, if you think you are standing firm, be
careful that you dont fall! (1 Cor. 10: 11, 12,
N.I.V.). Pauls warning had to do with
of an inheritance in the future, as disobedient Israel
lost theirs (typified by the land of Canaan) in the past: and that inheritance can only refer the Age
(Luke 20: 35) - the age to come between two general
resurrections of the dead. Hence the perseverance
and efforts of the inspired apostle to obey
God, and ultimately attain
gain by effort [dictionary
definition]) that resurrection [out] from the dead (Phil. 3: 11.) and reign
with Christ a thousand years: (Rev. 20: 4.)
And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come,
thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto
him, the Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we
beseech thee, three days journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to
the Lord our God. And I am sure that the
king of Egypt
will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand (vv.
18, 19). This presented another test to Moses
faith. Had he stopped to reason about
the commission God was giving him, it probably would have appeared foolish to
him. Here was he ordered to go,
accompanied by the elders of Israel,
unto Pharaoh, and present to him the message of Jehovah. He was to request that the Hebrews should be
allowed to go three days journey into the wilderness that they might worship
God. And, yet, before he starts Jehovah
assures him, I
am sure that the king of Egypt
let you go. He might have asked, What,
then, is the use of me wasting my breath on him? But it is not for the servant to question his
Masters orders: it is for him to obey.
But not yet was Moses ready to respond to Gods call.
And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not
believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not
appeared unto thee (4: 1). Were it not that we were acquainted in some measure with our
own desperately-wicked hearts, it would appear to us well-nigh unthinkable that
Moses should continue objecting and cavilling.
But the remembrance of our own repeated and humiliating failures only
serves to show how sadly true to life is the picture here
presented before us. The Lord had
favoured His servant with the awe-inspiring sight of the burning bush, He had
spoken of His tender solicitude for the afflicted Hebrews, He had promised to
be with Moses, He had expressly declared that He would deliver Israel from Egypt
and bring them into Canaan. And yet all of this is not sufficient to
silence unbelief and subdue the rebellious will. Alas! what is man
that the Almighty should be mindful of him!
Nothing but Divine power working
within us can ever bring the human heart to abandon all creature props and
trust in God.
And Moses answered and said, But, behold they will not
believe me, nor hearken unto my voice. Awful presumption was
this. The Lord had emphatically
declared, They shall
hearken to thy voice (3: 18), was the servant daring to contradict his Lord to His
face? Fearfully solemn is this; the more
so, when we remember that we are made of
precisely the same material that Moses was.
There is in us the same evil, unbelieving, rebellious heart, and our
only safeguard is to cast ourselves in the dust before God, beseeching Him to
pity our helplessness and to keep down, subdue, overcome, the desperate and
incurable wickedness which indwells us.
that has been before us repudiates the modern sophistry [i.e., reasoning that is clever and
subtle but unsound or misleading.] that God only uses those who are
fully consecrated to Him! How often
Arminian teachers insist that the measure of our faith and faithfulness will
determine the measure of our success in the Lords service. It is true that every servant of Christ ought
to be a vessel
unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Masters use (2 Tim. 2: 21),
nevertheless, God is not limited by our failure at this point, and clearly does
this come out in the passage before us. Moses was timid, hesitant, fearful,
unbelieving, rebellious, and yet God used him! Not
does he stand by any means alone in this respect. God used the mercenary Balaam to give one of
the most remarkable prophecies to be found in the Old Testament. He used Samson to deliver Israel from the
Philistines. He used a Judas in the apostolate. If God
were to wait until He found a human instrument that was worthy or fit to be
used by Him, He would go on waiting until the end of time. God is sovereign in this, as in
everything. The truth is that God uses whom He pleases.
yet was Moses ready to respond to Jehovahs Call. There were other difficulties which the
fertile mind of unbelief was ready to suggest, but one by one Divine power and long-sufferance overcame them. Let us take this lesson thoroughly to heart,
and seek that grace which will enable us to place God between us and our
difficulties, instead of putting difficulties between God and us. In our next paper we shall dwell upon the signs which God gave to Moses; let the interested reader
give these much prayerful meditation as he studies Ex. 4,
and thus be prepared to test our exposition.