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Monday, February 10, 2014


"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.  So Moses said, 'I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.'  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.'  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.'  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.'" 
Exodus 3:2-6

Three sets of 40 years for Moses

Moses' 120 years of life were divided into 3 sets of 40 years each: 40 years as a young man in Egypt, 40 years in Midian, fathering two sons before he encountered the burning bush and returned to Egypt to save his people from the bondage of slavery.  Later, Moses led the Israelites through the wanderings in the wilderness for another 40 years.  And when this set of 40 years was over, Moses died, Acts 7:17-43.

In Exodus 3-4, Moses takes his sheep to the area of  Mount Horeb to find good pasture.  It is there that he has his first encounter with God.  Something interesting to notice is that Moses met God at this Mount Horeb and later received the Ten Commandments there.  It is also on this same mountain that God spoke to Elijah the prophet in a "still small voice"  I Kings 19. 

The angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush and when Moses looked he noticed that the bush was burning with fire yet it was not consumed.  So Moses, out of curiosity, decided to investigate it. It is then that God called Moses' name and asked him to remove his sandals since he was standing on holy ground. This practice of removing one's shoes was common when entering a home or a sacred place in those days.  Notice that God was not asking Moses to remove his shoes because the place was holy, but because God Himself is holy and was there.  Moses fell face down when he realized he had come into God's presence.  He hid his face in fear.  Then God said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Exodus 3:5-6.  We see many occasions in the Bible where men and women fell face down in God's presence, Genesis 17:3, Ezekiel 1:28.

God told Moses that the cries of the Israelites had reached his ears and that He intended to rescue them. God asked Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand the deliverance of His people. Moses perhaps out of shock asked "Why me?"

In this third chapter of Exodus, God tells Moses who He is in five different ways.  Let's consider the following:

1. (3:6) God tells Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"
2. (3:14) God tells Moses "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"
3. (3:15) Moses is instructed to tell the Israelites that God is "The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"
4. (3:16) Moses is instructed to tell the elders that God is "The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob"
5. (3:18) Moses is instructed to tell Pharaoh that God is "The Lord, the God of the Hebrews"

Notice that Moses was reluctant to go and began giving reasons why he was the wrong person to go since no one would ever believe him.  But in response to Moses, God provided him with a series of signs he could use to prove God's power and authority:  1) God changed Moses' staff into a snake. When Moses grabbed the snake by its tail, it changed back to a staff.  2) God caused Moses' hand to become leprous like snow and restored and healed it.  3) God told Moses that if they would not believe him with those two signs, he should take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground and it would become blood on the dry ground.

Even though God had promised to Moses that He would give him the right words to say, Moses still wavered saying he was not eloquent but slow of speech and slow of tongue.  So Moses begged God to send someone else in his place. God was angry with Moses, but allowed Moses' brother Aaron to speak in Moses' place. Moses would start a journey as the leader of the Israelites. Exodus 5:10-16.

In Exodus 5-10, Moses and Aaron back in Egypt, approached Pharaoh saying "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.’” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?  I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go. Instead, the Pharaoh increased the Israelites' work load.  He commanded the taskmasters over the people and their foremen, saying, “You are no longer to give the people straw to make brick as previously; let them go and gather straw for themselves.  But the quota of bricks which they were making previously, you shall impose on them; you are not to reduce any of it.  Because they are lazy, therefore they cry out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Let the labor be heavier on the men, and let them work at it so that they will pay no attention to false words.” When they couldn't fulfill their brick quotas, they were beaten and they blamed Moses for bringing trouble upon them. In turn Moses blamed God saying, "O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people?  Why did You ever send me?  Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all."  Exodus 5:22-23.  But God renews his promises and again He tells Moses who He is in four different ways:

God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the Lord; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them.  I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned.  Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.  Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage.  I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord."  Exodus 6:2-8 NASB.

When Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh again they used one of the signs that God had given them: Aaron threw down his staff and it turned into a snake. Notice that he did not use sorcery or chants, but simply threw it down. But the Egyptian court magicians were also able to turn their staves into snakes by their secret arts. Aaron's snake consumed the magicians' snakes, but Pharaoh was not impressed.

Interesting Fact: The Ancient Egyptians loved their snakes. Their favorite was the rearing cobra with its distinctive good spread. The Pharaoh's headdress often resembled the cobra's hood for protection as a symbol of royalty.  Snake charmers around the world still perform this trick today.  The real shocker of the day was when Aaron's snake ate the magicians' snakes.

In Exodus 7:14-24 - 12:1-51, we read about the 10 plagues.  When the signs failed to convince Pharaoh, God had to take drastic measures. God began a series of ten plagues on the Egyptians, both with the purpose of convincing Pharaoh of God's mighty power and authority and also to release the Israelites from the bondage of slavery.  The plagues would also demonstrate God's superiority to the Egyptian gods.  The plagues are usually divided into four groups, three groups of three plagues each and one final climactic plague.  The first three plagues affected all of Egypt.  After that the plagues spared the area around Goshen where the Israelites lived.

Hapi, Knum,
3. LICE/
Kheper, Geb
Apis (bull),
Hathor (cow)
(sky goddess)
Seth, Nepri,
Ra (sun god)

1. Blood
  • All the water in the Nile and in the streams, reservoirs, ponds, and even buckets and jars were changed to blood. All the fish in the Nile River died as a result.
  • The Magicians replicated this plague using their sorcery arts.
  • Pharaoh turned his back on Moses going into the palace.
2. Frogs
  • The frogs were so many that they were everywhere; in the houses, in the bedrooms and all the food. After Moses prayed their dead carcasses were everywhere with a foul smell.
  • The Magicians also made frogs appear using sorcery, but they couldn't remove the LORD's frogs.
  • Pharaoh begged Moses to remove the frogs promising to let the Israelites go to offer sacrifices to God if he succeeded.
  • After the frogs disappeared, Pharaoh hardened his heart.
3. Lice/
  • The lice or gnats descended upon everyone, people and animals.
  • The Magicians were unable to replicate this plague. They acknowledged God's hand.
  • Pharaoh would not listen.
4. Insects
  • The insects (flies or beetles) swarmed everywhere, eating almost everything and probably spread disease everywhere they went.
  • This plague affected only the Egyptians. The land of Goshen where the Israelites lived was spared.
  • Pharaoh tried to negotiate by suggesting that the Israelites could worship God in Egypt, but Moses stood firm, insisting that he let the Israelites go to the desert. Pharaoh agreed to let them go only if Moses would pray to have the insects removed.
  • After the insects were removed, Pharaoh hardened his heart again.
5. Livestock
  • The Egyptian livestock which included the cows, sheep, goats, camels, horses and donkeys died.
  • This plague affected only the Egyptians. The Israelites' livestock survived.
  • Pharaoh's heart was unchanged.
6. Boils
  • Open boils covered all the Egyptians and animals.
  • The Magicians were unable to heal themselves from this plague. They were ashamed of the impotence of their so called gods. They couldn't stand in Moses' presence.
  • Pharaoh's heart was still not changed.
7. Hail
  • The worst hailstorm ever known to man was this. It destroyed trees, flax and barley.
  • The land of Goshen was spared as well as some of the Egyptians who obeyed God's warnings and His power.
  • Pharaoh recognized that he had sinned against the Israelites and begged Moses to stop the hail. Moses agreed and prayed to God although he knew Pharaoh had not truly repented.
  • When the hail was over, once again Pharaoh hardened his heart.
9. Darkness
  • Thick darkness throughout all the land of Egypt.
  • The land of Goshen was not covered in darkness.
  • I think this darkness is a period of silence. Usually before the LORD's judgment, there was a period of this in Scripture,  Mark 15:33; Rev. 16. This ninth plague is the set up for the tenth and final plague.
  • Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites go to worship God, but insisted that they could not take their livestock.
  • Moses refused causing Pharaoh to throw him out of the palace threatening to kill him if he ever returned.
  • Again, the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart.
10. Death
  • All the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, in each family whether slave or free were to die, except those that would heed the warning of the LORD and mark their door frames with blood.
  • After Pharaoh's firstborn son died, he sent the Israelites away in his own grief.
  • The people took their dough before it was leavened with their kneading bowls bound up on the shoulders.
  • Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, "God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you."  Exodus 13:19.
  • They also took what Moses had requested of the Egyptians: articles of silver, gold and clothing. The LORD gave favor in the eyes of the Egyptians toward the Israelites so that they could take all these articles. So the Israelites began their great exodus from Egypt.

In Exodus 11-12, we read of the Passover and the final plague which killed all of the firstborn sons. This to me is very shocking! This may be interpreted as God's judgment on Pharaoh for killing all the Hebrew boys we read about at the beginning of the Book of Exodus. This is a powerful reminder to all, that God is the Master of life and death, and that what He gives to us, He may also take away from us. After the plague of darkness, Moses warned Pharaoh that at midnight all of the firstborn sons in all the land of Egypt were to die, except for the firstborn sons of the Israelites. They were to be spared. The Israelites were also to take heed and obey the instructions of the LORD so that the angel of death would pass over and not kill them. Pharaoh's heart has been hardened by God, and he did not listen to Moses.

The account of the Passover is one of the most important miraculous events in all of the Jewish history and the Christian faith.   Remember that Christ is our Passover.  A lot of the Jewish roots are based on this account. The narrative of events stops here briefly for a section on the procedures for Passover night, instructions for future celebrations of  Passover and a new Jewish calendar.

In Exodus 12:1-2, God instructs Moses and Aaron to direct the Israelites to abandon the Egyptian calendar and adopt a new one.   The Passover would now begin their new year.  Their new calendar would be the first step toward creating a new society a free people. The Egyptian calendar was built around the Egyptian gods and three festivals: the festival of the gods, the festival of the kings and finally the festival of the dead. The new Jewish calendar was not based on mythology or seasonal changes, but on a historic event.  Their new lives, free from the bondage of Egyptian slavery, to new lives under the True God who rescued them from this bondage.   

Procedures for the Passover (Exodus 12:3-13)
  • Lamb: The Israelites were to take a male lamb about a year old without blemish, taken from the sheep or the goats. Each family was to kill it at twilight. Each family was to take some of the blood and put it on the doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they ate it. They were to eat the flesh roasted with fire. Interesting fact: This same blood that was shed and saved the Israelites is a parallel with the blood required for the forgiveness of our sins that we read of in Hebrews 9:22
  • Herbs: For the Passover meal, they were to eat the roasted lamb with bitter herbs, most likely a salad made up of lettuce and other stemmed plants.
  • Unleavened Bread: They were also to eat unleavened bread, a kind of flat cake that could be prepared quickly since it didn't need to rise.
  • No leftovers: They were not to save food from the Passover meal, but were commanded to consume or burn it up. This rule was applied to food that had been used for an offering.
  • Loins girded: A flowing garment was the normal attire for an Israelite. When they needed to move quickly, they would grasp the garment at the bottom pulling it to the waist and tucking it to the belt. This would allow for easy maneuvering.
  • Sandals and staff: The Israelites were to be prepared to leave as soon as they were given the signal, so they were to eat with sandals on and a staff in hand. According to tradition, the sandals were to be removed inside the house and the staff was to be kept near the door in order to be taken up when one left.  But the Israelites were not to leave the house until morning, Exodus 12:22.  This highlights their urgent waiting on the LORD and their readiness to follow.  It emphasizes the need to wait on the LORD and to be ready to move when God decides to act upon.

In Exodus 12:14-20, we read of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Moses had instructed the Israelites about how to celebrate the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread before they even had their first one.  They were to celebrate it each year thereafter.  Although they had not yet been free from Egyptian bondage, God in His mighty power established a yearly commemoration of the Passover even before it actually was in effect.   Moses and the Israelites obeyed God's instructions. They placed the blood on their doors, readied themselves in their houses and waited for the Lord's Passover.   Isn't that amazing!

"Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.  Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead." Exodus 12:29-30 NASB.

In the last part of this study we will consider the 40 years that Moses led Israel from the crossing of the Red Sea unto the gates of the Promised Land.


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