���� The Pastor's Class


Holy Ground


Exodus 3-4



The Israelites multiplied and became a great multitude of people during the 400 years that they were in Egypt. A Pharaoh came into power who did not have regard for the accomplishments of Joseph and became fearful that if war broke out the Israelites would side with the enemy and over power the Egyptians. Pharaoh's solution was to enslave the Israelites and then later to kill all male children born unto them.


A young couple from the tribe of Levi was not willing that their son should die in this manner so they hid the infant in the river in hopes that he would be rescued. Pharaoh's daughter saw the infant and drew him out of the water and thus named him Moses. Even though Moses grew up in Pharaoh's house he did not forget his roots. As a young man he noticed an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and he took revenge upon the Egyptian by killing him. Moses fled Egypt in fear for his life. While in Midian Moses met and married the daughter of the Priest of Midian and worked for him as a shepherd.


Exodus 3: 1-3

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.3 So Moses thought, �I will go over and see this strange sight�why the bush does not burn up.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



1.How old is Moses when God first spoke to him at the burning bush?







Moses was 40 years old when he killed the Egyptian and was forced to flee. He spent the next 40 years in the employ of his Father-in-law.




2.How was God able to get Moses' attention?







Moses was with his flock at the foot of the mountain sometimes called Horeb and sometimes Sinai. The flames of a burning bush caught Moses' eye. He must have watched it for some time because he made the statement that it did not burn up. Many have tried to give an explanation for such an occurrence but to Moses it was a mystery.


One of the most dangerous things we can do is to remove all mystery from our religion. In earlier days God was sometimes referred to as "the Awesome Mystery." It is most often the mysterious that inspires awe and reverence.

Science has explained away much of the mystery in our world today and in so doing they have attempted to explain away God.


Even though we know how babies are born and why rainbows appear and why sunsets look the way they do there is, for me at least, still a mystery and an awesomeness that gets my attention.




Exodus 3: 4 - 6

4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, �Moses! Moses!�

And Moses said, �Here I am.�

5 �Do not come any closer,� God said. �Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.�6 Then he said, �I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.� At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



3.Do you think Moses understood who was speaking to him at first?







For almost 400 years we have no record of the activities of God. We know that during this time the Hebrews kept alive their heritage. They told their stories and passed along the accounts of the Patriarchs to their children. However, at 80 years of age it is possible that this is the first real encounter that Moses has ever had with God.


Today many people think that knowing about God is the same as knowing God.


God was quick to speak and identify himself as the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.





4.Why did God stop Moses and require him to remove his shoes?







There are several lessons to be learned here. First observe that the time and place was of God's choosing. It was God who was seeking out Moses.


Second, God reminded Moses that he was standing on holy ground. There was nothing special about the ground. It was the presence of God that made it holy. That word "holy" means "set apart."God is an "other than" God. He is uncommon. That is why we must approach him in an uncommon manner.


Most of the time when we meet a friend or neighbor we approach them in a very common relaxed manner. We greet them with a handshake or a pat on the back. However, we would not treat everyone like that. No one would greet the Queen of England, or the President, or the Pope in such a manner. Neither can we approach God in such a manner. Moses removed his shoes as an act of reverence, obedience and worship.



Exodus 3: 7-10

7 The LORD said, �I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey�the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



5.What does God reveal about his nature in these verses?







The Lord reminded Moses that He was aware of the suffering of the Israelites. Forty years earlier Moses saw their suffering and made a feeble attempt to fix the problem. I can imagine that for 40 years Moses thought that he was the only one concerned about the Israelites.


The first thing God does is to remind Moses that He sees, and hears, and feels. (This is in contrast to the Egyptian gods of stone and wood that did none of these things.) Throughout these 400 years of silence God has not forgotten nor taken his eyes off the Israelites. Later in the New Testament we learn that God does not even allow a sparrow to fall to the ground with out his knowledge.




6.What is God's answer to the plight of the Israelites?







Notice in verse 8 God says "I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians." In other words there would be divine intervention.


There is a religion called Deism that believes in God but denies that God is actively involved in creation. In other words, God sort of wound up creation and then set back to watch it unwind.


I am not sure where that Idea originated but it did not come from the bible. God said, I have seen and heard and I have come down to do something about it.



Exodus 3: 11-14

11 But Moses said to God, �Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?�

12 And God said, �I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.�

13 Moses said to God, �Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, �The God of your fathers has sent me to you,� and they ask me, �What is his name?� Then what shall I tell them?�

14 God said to Moses, �I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: �I AM has sent me to you.��

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



7.What does God's personal name reveal about his nature?







The name that was revealed to Moses is the verb of being in the Hebrew language. Transliterated into English it would be the letters YHWH. If we add a few vowels in the appropriate places we get the word YAHWEH.


When God revealed his name he simply said I, I am. (I am who I am.) or (I will be who I will be.)


God is the ever present God. He told Moses "I will be with you."


God revealed himself as the eternal or everlasting God. Since he is eternal and everlasting he is self existent. In other words he was not created.



Exodus 3: 15 - 17

15 God also said to Moses, �Say to the Israelites, �The LORD, the God of your fathers�the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob�has sent me to you.� This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

16 �Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, �The LORD, the God of your fathers�the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob� appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites�a land flowing with milk and honey.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.


The Lord revealed that he would be remembered forever as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.This is another indication that the stories of their heritage had survived in tact. They knew of this God and his covenant promise. It was this knowledge and this hope that helped them through those difficult years.


Today Christians live in the knowledge and the hope of the soon return of Jesus Christ. Today we see and suffer many things but our assurance is that the same God who saw and heard the cry of the Israelites also sees and hears us.



Exodus 3: 18 - 22

18 �The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, �The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.�19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him.20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

21 �And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed.22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



8.Why would God allow the Israelites to plunder the Egyptians?







God was going to make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the Israelites. In other words when they asked for silver or gold they would not be refused. Can you imagine a slave asking for gold or silver from his master? In a sense this would be payment for the slave labor that they performed for the Egyptians. Much of this gold would be used in the building of the Ark of the Covenant and utensils used in worship.



Exodus 4: 1-9

4 Moses answered, �What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, �The LORD did not appear to you�?�

2 Then the LORD said to him, �What is that in your hand?�

�A staff,� he replied.

3 The LORD said, �Throw it on the ground.�

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.4 Then the LORD said to him, �Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.� So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.5 �This,� said the LORD, �is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers�the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob�has appeared to you.�

6 Then the LORD said, �Put your hand inside your cloak.� So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.

7 �Now put it back into your cloak,� he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

8 Then the LORD said, �If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second.9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



9.Why was Moses so fearful of obeying God? How did God help him overcome that fear?







What God was calling Moses to do was seemingly impossible. Moses was just one man and he was armed with nothing. He had no bargaining power. His only promise was that God would be with him.Now we would say that the presence of God should be enough. However, we know from our own experiences that even with the promises of God we still sometimes fear and cower away from what God is calling us to do.


In order to give Moses courage God allowed him to see and do some miraculous things.



Exodus 4: 10 - 17

10 Moses said to the LORD, �O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.�

11 The LORD said to him, �Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.�

13 But Moses said, �O Lord, please send someone else to do it.�

14 Then the LORD�s anger burned against Moses and he said, �What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you.15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it.�

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



10.How did God answer Moses' second complaint?







Moses was doing a very good job of self evaluation. His second complaint is Lord, I am slow of speech. I somehow think God must have known that when he picked Moses for the job.


In final desperation Moses pleaded, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."Notice that the text says that "the Lord's anger burned against Moses." We must remember that anger is a part of God's righteousness. A rebellious child of God will see his anger.



Exodus 4: 18 - 31

18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, �Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.�

Jethro said, �Go, and I wish you well.�

19 Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, �Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.�20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

21 The LORD said to Moses, �When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.22 Then say to Pharaoh, �This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son,23 and I told you, �Let my son go, so he may worship me.� But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.��

24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him.25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son�s foreskin and touched Moses� feet with it. �Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,� she said.26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said �bridegroom of blood,� referring to circumcision.)

27 The LORD said to Aaron, �Go into the desert to meet Moses.� So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him.28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform.

29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites,30 and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people,31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House) 1984.



11.How would you explain verses 24 - 26?







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