Exodus 3:7-9 ~ 20100613 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
6/13 Exodus 3:7-9 God Come Down
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
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
God may not respond to our prayers the way we would like. It may be because there is sin in our life.
Or it may be simply that he hears and answers 'no'.
God says 'I have surely seen.. I have heard.. I know'. God sees our affliction. God hears our cries. God knows our sufferings.
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.
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.
God come down. This is Jesus!
Notice what God comes down to do. He comes down to deliver his people. To deliver his people and to bring them up.
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!
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.
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:
If you will acknowledge yourself as a needy sinner then you are in the right position to be rescued by Jesus!