PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 3:6-9; God Come Down

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100613_exodus03_7-9.mp3

6/13 Exodus 3:7-9 God Come Down

2:23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel––and God knew.

3:1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 7 Then the LORD said, “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, 8 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, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

God’s people have been in Egypt over 400 years. They are slaves, cruelly oppressed. God has been blessing them and multiplying them and making them powerful in fulfillment of his promises, but Egypt sees this as a threat and so they have taken measures to control and restrict the population growth, even going so far as state mandated execution of all male babies born. But in preparation to answer prayers that the people would pray 80 years later, God providentially preserved one baby boy named Moses. Moses was raised in the courts of Pharaoh, but when he was 40 years old, he understood that God was sending him to save the Hebrew people. He took action to deliver them, but he was rejected by his own people and went into exile in the desert. Moses spent the next 40 years in the wilderness caring for another man’s flocks. He married the daughter of an idolatrous Midianite priest and has begun a small family. There is no suggestion in the text that he had any goals or aspirations other than continuing to lead sheep around the desert. It appears that he had lost all hope, lost purpose, lost direction, and he may have even lost his faith in God. He was certainly not looking for an encounter with God. But that’s when God showed up and got his attention. God captured his attention by showing up as a flame of fire in the midst of a desert bush when he was far away from home.
God introduced himself to Moses. He called Moses by name – twice – as an indication that he cares deeply and is intimately acquainted with him. He appeared as a consuming fire, and yet as merciful, not consuming the bush. He presented himself as holy, unapproachable by sinful man. Moses is instructed to remove his sandals, humbling himself and taking the place of a servant, because that is our place in the presence of God. And God connected himself with history – he is Moses’ father’s God. He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is the same God that called Abram from out of his pagan idolatrous culture and initiated a relationship with him. This is the same God who made staggering promises to Abraham and entered into a covenant relationship with him and with his descendants, with Isaac, with Jacob and all who would follow in their footsteps.

Moses’ response to this revelation was appropriate. He was afraid and hid his face. Throughout the bible, whenever God’s people have an encounter with the Divine, they are terrified, on their faces, crying out ‘woe is me’. God is holy and he is to be feared. Even the seraphim around the throne of God cover their faces in the presence of God (Is.6:2). And yet to see the glory of God is the one thing that the human heart longs for more deeply than anything else. All other pleasures are but cheap imitations of the One we were designed to delight in.

Once God has captured Moses’ attention and revealed to him his character and how he is to be approached, God now is ready to bring his message to his servant.

7 Then the LORD said, “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, 8 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, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Much of this is repetition of what we saw in the narrative of 2:23-35 in God’s response to the cries of his people.

2:23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel–and God knew.

We, the hearers of the story know God’s heart for his people, but Moses, who’s been out tending sheep on the backside of the desert has not heard what we have heard. He does not know what we know. He doesn’t know that the king of Egypt had died, and he doesn’t know that God was moved to compassion by the cries of his people So God now communicates to Moses his heart for his people.

Back in 2:23-25, the four words used to describe God’s response to the people’s cries are: God heard, God remembered, God saw and God knew. Those verses give us a third person narrator’s perspective, describing God’s attitude toward his people. Here God is speaking in the first person to Moses, and he says ‘I have seen, I have heard, I know and I have come down’. The first three; ‘I have seen, I have heard, and I know’ are all a repetition of what was said before.

God says ‘I have seen’. Moses years earlier…

Exodus 2:11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.

God says ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people’. Moses identified with the Hebrews – they were his people. Much more, God identified them as his people, a people who were to be his own possession.

Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (c.f. Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18; Psalm 135:4; Malachi 3:17; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9)

Moses called the Hebrews ‘my people’ as an indication of his identity. God called Israel ‘my people’ as an indication of ownership. Moses observed one instance of injustice and cruelty and took action to rescue. Much more, God had seen every unjust act, every cruelty. Our translation ‘surely I have seen’ attempts to capture the emphasis of the original language. Literally it reads ‘seeing I have seen’, the same word duplicated to intensify the thought. Nothing of the past 400 years had escaped his attention. God has seen. God has seen. He has seen their affliction. There have been many words used in Exodus thus far to describe the suffering of the people of Israel; taskmasters, afflict, oppressed, ruthlessly, slaves, bitter, hard service, work as slaves, burdens, beating, groaned, cried out for help, cried for rescue; but the four words used by God in this verse are new to the Exodus narrative; affliction, cry, taskmasters, and sufferings. The word ‘affliction’ means to be bowed down, pressed down, or humbled. The word ‘cry’ indicates an outcry against an intolerable situation or a cry of distress. The word for taskmaster used earlier in Exodus describes one who oversees laborers; this word indicates one who presses or drives or oppresses. The word for suffering is one of pain or grief. God has not missed anything. None of their suffering has gone unnoticed. Even if God seemed silent and unmoved, God says ‘I have surely seen.’

God says ‘I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters’. God has heard their cry. God is not deaf to the cries of his people. When we pray we may feel that God does not hear us. But that is our perception, that is not reality. God hears everything all the time.

Psalms 94:9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?

Psalms 139:2 …you discern my thoughts from afar. …4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

God may not respond to our prayers the way we would like. It may be because there is sin in our life.

Isaiah 59:2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Or it may be simply that he hears and answers ‘no’.

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

God says ‘I have surely seen.. I have heard.. I know’. God sees our affliction. God hears our cries. God knows our sufferings.

Psalms 139:1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

God sees, God hears, and God knows. But this means more than that God is all-seeing, everywhere present, and all knowing. God cares. God is deeply and intimately involved in our lives. God is not standing aloof. God is with us.

Proverbs 18:24 … but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Hebrews 13:5 … for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

God is looking with compassion on their situation and preparing to do something about it. God sees, God hears, and God knows. God remembered is replaced in this section by ‘I have come down’. Where God has remembered his covenant promises to his people, now God says I have come down. This is personal. God made promises and now God is going to show up personally to see that those promises get fulfilled. This is an intense and personal thing for God to say that he has come down.

Psalms 18:9 He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.

Psalms 144:5 Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!

Isaiah 64:1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence–

Micah 1:3 For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.

God come down. This is Jesus!

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Notice what God comes down to do. He comes down to deliver his people. To deliver his people and to bring them up.

8 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, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

God has personally come down to deliver his people out of the hand of their enemies and to bring them up to a good and broad land. See God’s heart here! God so desires to bless his people! A good land; a land flowing with milk and honey. A land bursting with produce and dripping with sweetness. A good land and a broad land. A land with room to spread out and grow. A land so large that it has been the home of six peoples. Take heart in your suffering, because God is preparing a place for you!

Psalm 30:4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. 5 For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

God has come down to bless and to save and to rescue and deliver. Let’s look for a moment at why God has come down. What was it that motivated God to come down? God says ‘I have surely seen’, not the perfect performance of my people, but the affliction of my people. God says ‘I have heard’, not because they claim to have done everything right, but because they cried out for help. God says ‘I know’, not their righteousness and goodness, but their sufferings. What is it that motivates God to come down and deliver? Not merit, but need. Not righteousness but helplessness. Not performance, but desperateness. God is not compelled by our inherent goodness to come and save us. God sees our helplessness and need and when we cry out to him in utter desperation, he is moved to act. This is the free and sovereign grace of God in salvation.

Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us , not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, …

Ephesians 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–

God saves not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy. It is not by our merit but by his grace that we are saved. Jesus said:

Mark 2:17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

If you will acknowledge yourself as a needy sinner then you are in the right position to be rescued by Jesus!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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June 13, 2010 - Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , ,

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