Study Notes

Exodus 3:1-22

Remember that last week, we reviewed the history of the Israelites. Beginning with Abraham, through Isaac, to Jacob, who was renamed Israel, to his twelve sons. They moved to Egypt, and after that first generation died off, a new Pharaoh arose and enslaved them. It has been 400 years of oppression for the Jews.

Moses was born during a time when the Jews' baby boys were supposed to be killed at birth, but through a divine set of circumstances, the daughter of Pharaoh adopted him. He was raised as Egyptian royalty until he went out among his people, saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and killed the oppressor. When Pharaoh sought to kill him for this, he fled into the wilderness.

It was in the wilderness that he met the daughters of the priest of Midian. The family invited Moses over for dinner, he ended up marrying "Tsih-po-RAH," and together they had a son named "Gehr-SHOHM."

We pick up the story in chapter three, verse one.

3:1-3 The Mountain of God

Moses has become a shepherd, pasturing the flock of his father-in-law. He leads them to Horeb ("Kho-RAYB"), another name for Mt. Sinai. It is here called the mountain of God.

Horeb, or Sinai, will become a significant landmark as we go through the book of Exodus.

Moses Sees The Burning Bush

As Moses is caring for the sheep, he looks up and sees a bush on fire. Apparently, this wasn't a rare occurrence, for lightning strikes and the desert sun have been known to ignite dead plants in the Sinai wilderness.

The Thorn Bush

The word for "bush" here is "s-NEH," which indicates that it is the acacia bush, the thorn bush of the desert. This is confirmed in the book of Acts, where Steven preaches,


Acts 7:35 "This Moses whom they disowned, saying, 'WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?' is the one whom God sent {to be} both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush.

Thorns are one of the many studies in Scripture that show us the Bible's intricate design by one Person. Just by taking a concordance and following thorns through the Bible, you will get a complete picture.

Remember when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, that thorns grew as a result of the curse that had been caused by their sin.

Gen. 3:17-18 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;

In the parable of the soils, Jesus interpreted thorns as "the worry of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things - worries, riches, and pleasures."

Also, the books of Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and 2Corinthians mention thorns.

When you read about these things, you come to one conclusion: thorns are the fruit of sin. Thorns are the result of disobedience to God, of perversity, of being a sluggard, of pride. Thorns are the fruit of sin.

Why is this important? First of all, it shows us that there is a consistency of design in the Scriptures. But knowing this allows us to see at least two amazing pictures in the Bible.

#1: Remember that the soldiers who were torturing Jesus wove a crown of thorns and put it on His head. Why is that significant? Knowing that thorns are the fruit of sin, we get an even clearer picture of Jesus' work for us. He bore the fruit of our sin right on His head. Isaiah prophesied,

Isa. 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried...

#2: The other amazing thing, getting back to the burning bush, is the picture that Moses saw. He saw a thorn bush on fire, but not being consumed. Fire in the Scriptures speaks of God's judgment. And He is, as the Bible says numerous times, a consuming fire. But this bush, the thorn bush, the fruit of sin, was not consumed by the judgment of the Lord. The fruit of sin being judged but not consumed. This is a picture of God's grace. And it was this that drew Moses up the the mountain to see the Lord. This is the same thing that will draw people to the Lord though you - if you are an example of God's grace. Yes, God judges sin, but His desire is to judge your sin through Jesus Christ, that you would not be consumed. So Moses said, as others will say when you show the grace of God,

Exod. 3:3 "I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up."

The Angel Of The Lord

When we read this expression, "the angel of the Lord", we should keep our eyes open. More often than not, it is an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ.

Like we've discussed many times before, the word "angel" means "messenger," and can apply not only to angelic messengers, but human men, and even Christ Himself. Some of the times that the term "the angel of the Lord" was used for Christ included

- Genesis 16, when God met Hagar by a spring in the wilderness,

- Genesis 22, when God met Abraham on the mountain,

- Judges 2, when God rebuked Israel,

- Judges 6, when God met Gideon as he was beating out wheat in the wine press.

- Judges 13, when God met with Samson's parents.

In these times and others, God was His own messenger. And here again, in Exodus, Moses will meet God.

3:4-5 Holy Ground

Moses was told to take off his sandals, for he was standing on "ground of holiness." This same thing happened to Joshua before the battle of Jericho.

Josh. 5:13-15 Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" And he said, "No, rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?" And the captain of the LORD'S host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy."...

Another Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ.

3:6-9 Moses Hides His Face

This is the natural reaction of people who find themselves before God.

In Genesis 17, when the Lord appeared to Abram, he fell on his face as God talked with him.

In 1Kings 19, we read of Elijah being met by the Lord when he was hiding in a cave.

1Kgs. 19:13 And it came about when Elijah heard, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave...

In Isaiah 6, we read that the Seraphim in heaven, having six wings each, use two of them to cover their faces.

When Ezekiel was given visions of heaven and the glory of God, he fell on his face several times.

God is holy. "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty," the Cherubim say continuously. God is holy, and must be revered as such. This casual attitude people have toward God is appalling. The disrespect that I have seen for God by people who claim to worship Him. He is not your genie in a bottle. He is not your little brother. He is not your bar buddy. He is God, and He is holy, holy, holy.

I Have Seen

God tells Moses, "I am the God that made these promises to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I haven't forgotten my chosen people, I am very aware of their suffering. I have seen their affliction."

God is all-knowing - He knows what you are going through. God is all-seeing - He sees your pain, He sees your troubles and your trials. You are not forgotten. He knows the plans He has for you, and they are for good. He's working everything together for good. Trust Him.

A Good And Spacious Land

The Lord also tells Moses about the Promised Land. It was in fact a good and spacious land. Its borders would be

Gen. 15:18 ...From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates

I Have Seen The Oppression

The Lord has a special compassion for the afflicted, for the needy, for the widow and the orphan. For those who are subjected to unfair affliction and oppression.

Ps. 9:9-10 The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble, and those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee; For Thou, O LORD, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee.

3:10-12 Who Am I?

Moses has lived a great life, and he has lived a humble life. Formerly, he was in Pharaoh's household, but for the last 40 years, he's been a nothing. A shepherd - and not even of his own sheep, but his father-in-law's sheep. "Who am I, Lord?" Nobody. That's exactly who we need to be to be used of God - nobody.

Paul, writing to the Corinthians, said,

1Cor. 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.

If you are somebody big - a celebrity, or a wealthy person, or popular, or strong, you must become nothing to be properly used of God.

John the Baptist had a thriving ministry. Everyone was coming out to hear him preach and to be baptized by him. But when Jesus came on the scene, John the baptist's disciples came to him and said, "John, everyone's going over to Jesus' ministry!" John responded,

John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease."

That is the attitude we must have, and God won't be glorified in our lives until we have it. It took 40 years for Moses to be humble enough to be entrusted with the ministry of delivering God's people out of bondage.

3:13-22 I AM WHO I AM

When Moses says, "Whom shall I say sent me?" God says, "I AM WHO I AM." This is a very difficult title to explain, for it is all-encompassing of God. He is real and perfect; He exists apart from any other influence; He causes to be what is. We cannot fathom how deep this title is.

In the gospel of John, Jesus Christ made 7 "I AM" statements, each time proclaiming Himself to be God.

I am the bread of life;

I am the light of the world;

I am the gate for the sheep;

I am the good shepherd;

I am the resurrection and the life;

I am the way, the truth, and the life;

I am the true vine.

Three Days' Journey

If Pharaoh had allowed them to go to sacrifice to the Lord, God would have kept his end of the bargain. But he knew that Pharaoh would not allow it.

It is interesting to me that God always gives us a chance, even when He knows we won't take it. John the baptist would have fulfilled the prophecy of Elijah's return, if they had accepted him - but they didn't. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, that would have ushered in the kingdom age, if they had accepted him - but they didn't.

God knows the future and plans accordingly. But just so we don't get bent out of shape by our free will being taken away, He gives us decisions and choices to make. So Pharaoh will be given a chance. But he won't take it.

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