Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Canonical Reading for Jan 18, Ex 1-3

Today's reading is Ex 1-3.

Exodus starts about 400 years after the events in Genesis. The twelve sons of Jacob have become a multitude. The sons' descendants have grown into twelve huge tribes of thousands each. They are as rich and prosperous as they are numerous.

Exodus is a stunning testimony to the faithfulness of God in fulfilling His promises. As we move through the book, we'll see Him make Israel a great nation in spite of the opposition of the most powerful nation on earth and the faithlessness of His children. In looking at how Exodus fits into the Bible, we’ve seen God create everything, choose a people and begin to refine them in Genesis. By the end of that book, His chosen people are provided for but live in an uneasy tension with each other. 

What will become clear in Exodus is that His children need to be delivered—more from themselves than from anything else. They need deliverance from their pride, jealousy, deceitfulness and incredibly bad decisions. Genesis reveals the fallen nature of mankind, even God’s chosen people. Genesis also reveals God’s grace and faithfulness. In Exodus, we’ll see the consequence of man’s fallen nature, slavery. Then, we’ll see how God delivers His people out of slavery. Exodus begins to put God’s plan of redemption on display. It is rich with symbolic imagery and the supernatural power and presence of God among His people.

Ex 1:1-6 is a reminder of Genesis and the fact that God sent a small number of His children to Egypt. His promise is being fulfilled as they multiply into a huge nation (Ex 1:7), so numerous that Pharaoh feels threatened. Hardship ensues. This should not be surprising. God told Abraham his descendants would struggle and He would deliver them. As the Hebrew people are enslaved, we read a phrase that will, time and again, ring true of God's people. "But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied..." (Ex 1:12)

As they endure hardship, we see another truth that will remain constant, God's hand of protection and preservation rests upon them.  In this case, we see it when the midwives refuse to murder the Hebrew male babies for fear of God (Ex 1:15-22). The midwives are blessed for their commitment to the Hebrew babies (Ex 1:21). God blesses those who bless His people! 

We meet Moses in Ex 2, a Hebrew who grows up in Pharaoh’s palace but runs in fear from everything Pharaoh and Egypt have to offer (Ex 2:11-15).

Moses, after fleeing Egypt, is living peacefully in Midian when he encounters the burning bush (Ex 3:1-3) on a soon-to-be-significant mountain (Ex 3:12). The mountain is Zion, the "mountain of God" that will dominate events in the Old Testament, particularly in the Book of Exodus. 

God, who has heard the cry of His people, wants Moses to go back to Egypt to lead His people out. God makes it clear that this is not going to be an easy task. Moses feels inadequate and objects a number of times, finally asking God what to say if he is asked who sent him. God says "Tell them I AM!" (Ex 3:13-14), effectively telling Moses, “This is not about you, Moses. You’re just the messenger. Tell them about the one true God. Tell them about My power and glory. Don’t be concerned about what they think of you. Be concerned about what they think of Me!” Moses would eventually come to understand that God’s calling is for His glory, not for the glory of the one who is called.

The burning bush story reveals something about how we relate to our Father in heaven. Many have a desire to hear a word from God. Many hear about the burning bush and think, "I wish God would speak that clearly to me." Yet, what Moses heard was (most likely) the last thing he wanted to hear, "I'm sending you back to Egypt." Ex 2:21 tells us Moses was content right where he was. God upsets Moses in his contentment and calls him to do something so entirely impossible, it can only happen if God moves supernaturally. We should all be careful what we ask for when we think we want God to speak clearly to us. If He does, He may just call us to do the impossible and trust Him to get it done. 


  1. In Exodus 3:14 God tells Moses his name, the name Moses is to tell the Jews who sent him. Then in 15 he declares the importance of his name and "thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations."

    But we don't remember his name! We use the general word god, only with a capital "G" and "the LORD" (in caps or small caps) to refer to him who is the Creator of all things, the only true God. But he has a name and he has told us to remember it forever!

    Other gods get to have their names remembered, like Baal or Asherah or Dagon. Yet even today we follow what must be the pharisaic tradition that prohibits the use of the real name of God.

    So today, how many of us professing to believe in God even know what his name is? And how can we indeed call upon the name of the Lord if we don't even know his name?

  2. While the ancient Hebrews were reluctant to write the name out of sheer reverence for who He is, the Scriptures clearly tell us what the name He gave Moses is, "I AM." Jesus, who was God, has no hesitancy in giving us a name. He calls Him "Father" (Mt 6:9) and "God" (John 16:27). The Scriptures, which He inspired, call Him "I AM", "Yahweh", "Elohim", "Creator", "LORD" and a number of other reverential names. God seems to have given us quite a few names to use when addressing Him. If we read the Bible in context, I think it shows that God deals more with the heart that calls out to Him rather than the label placed on Him.