Exodus 3:1 “…Jethro his father-in-law…”
Different from Reuel in the last chapter. Obviously the man had multiple names which isn’t unusual, have three myself. But why did the writer use two, and why use the ones he did when he did? Interesting. Commentaries say the Hebrew word translated as father-in-law actually means relation by marriage, which could be used for any number of connections. So, Jethro could be a son of Reuel, Moses’s brother-in-law. Both ways work. However, none of them mentioned the extra phrase, priest of Midian. I suppose a son of Reuel could have taken over that position as well. It could have been mentioned to clarify the same person or to say that the new person had taken over the position. Either way, Moses was still employed in his in-laws’ service.
1 “…to the back of the desert…”
Could possibly be referring to a specific geographical location, with relation to desert and mountainous areas. Or it could be a phrase meaning a ways away from the normal grazing area. We might say on the back forty. He was out there, away from everything, when God speaks to Him. Sometimes it works better if we get away from all other distractions to speak with God.
2 “…Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush…”
Wasn’t just a burning bush, but an appearance of the pre-incarnate Jesus aflame within it. Seeing that term always brings to mind the awesomeness and complete power of God. He can speak through anything. His essence breathes out of everything He chooses to use. Nothing comes anywhere near being His equal.
3 “…I will now turn aside and see this great sight…”
I love the way scripture gives the basic phrasing when you know there was more emotion involved. I will now turn aside. I don’t think so. More like, Wow, I have got to see this!
4 “…Here I am”
I’m sure there was more fear and trepidation here than they let on. You’re out in the middle of nowhere, you see a burning bush that doesn’t burn, and suddenly, from out of the bush, a voice calls your name. You don’t simply say, oh, yeah, that’s me. Here I am may have been all he could get out.
5 “…for the place where you stand is holy ground”
Doesn’t say, but I’m betting the reason God did this is to begin teaching Moses about His holiness. At this point, the Israelites have no clue about God. God needed to begin showing them, this is who I am, and you need to respect the awesomeness of that. Unfortunately, that aspect will get Moses in trouble years later when He fails to show God’s holiness and glory to the people.
6 “…And Moses hid his face…”
He may not have known God to meet Him, but I’m sure his parents told him about the God of their fathers.
7 “…for I know their sorrows”
Some consider God an impersonal God who created everything and then left creation to fend for itself. Whenever He takes the initiative to speak about Himself, that’s not how God describes Himself. Here He tells Moses He is fully aware of what has been happening with His people. And it’s not just an academic knowledge like a judge or one in authority. He cares about what is happening, that it has caused sorrow among His people.
10 “…I will send you to Pharaoh…”
God was going to do the work, but He was going to work through Moses. Actually, all Moses had to do was stand there and tell Pharaoh what God told him. And stand in front so the people could see him. But God would take care of everything Himself.
11 “…Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh…”
Sounds like a humble question, but when you read God’s reply you see that Moses was beginning to make excuses as to why God shouldn’t call him.
12 “…I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
Direct assurance of God. He says He would definitely be with Moses through the whole process. And although Moses didn’t ask for a sign for affirmation, God provided it. He said the sign would show up after Moses was obedient in what he was asked to do. But the sign itself is assurance. It shows the deed is as good as done already. He didn’t say if you bring the people out, worship me, but when you bring the people out you will worship me right here. Affirmation comes after obedience to God.
13 “…The God of your fathers…”
I’d never thought about it until now, but although the Hebrews probably knew about God from their parents and ancestors like Moses, they didn’t have a specific name. It was usually the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
14 “…I AM WHO I AM…”
The God who is. The one who exists. Everything is now to Him. Past, present, future, it is all the same to the God that IS.
18 “Then they will heed your voice…”
Eventually they did. But at first they wouldn’t even listen. And when Pharaoh made their life harder, they were ready to kill Moses. But I think this is more of God telling him the ending. Didn’t really matter what happened between now and the end, the end was already determined.
19 “…I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go…”
God knew the situation, what was going to happen, and He told Moses at the beginning, including the fact that Moses would lead the people out and back to the mountain. Seems like it should have been simple to trust God with all of that. But Moses didn’t know God yet. And he didn’t have the advantage of hindsight as we do. Still, it seems a bit strange how hard it still seemed to be even after all the signs and wonders God provided.
20 “…all My wonders which I will do in its midst…”
Wonders to show Himself great in the eyes of the Egyptians and the Hebrews.
22 “…you shall plunder the Egyptians”
Interesting point. God tells Moses He is not only going to rescue the people from Egypt, but when He does, the Egyptians are going to willingly give the Hebrews all their valuables. The Hebrews are going to plunder the Egyptians without a fight. He can not only rescue them by His great power, He can provide financially for them as well. Nothing is impossible with God.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.