God's Heart of Compassion and First Excuse Of Moses – Session 11
Read Session 1, Session 2, Session 3, Session 4, Session 5, Session 6, Session 7, Session 8, Session 9, Session 10
As the heat of the summer gains momentum this year, our Men’s Bible study is gaining momentum, as well, as we are studying the life of Moshe (Moses). We may have made an idol out of him and his life. We might have pictured him as an invincible man who spoke for God. But I hope that throughout the course of this study we learn that he was just like us. He was no different than anyone of us. He had his fears, his insecurities, and plenty of opportunities to fail. And yet, none of that defined him as a man of God. God took him through His boot camp to make him the man we know him to be today.
The context for today’s study is the burning bush experience - when Moses turned aside to see the burning bush and the unusual sight not being burned up. He showed intentionality in his actions when God engaged him in training him in reverence of Him. God commanded that Moses remove the sandals from his feet because where God is the place therein is holy, set a part. The holiness of the place is always attributed to God and His presence - not man’s actions. Moses also hid his face for he was afraid to look at God. Since God has Moses’ full attention, He is going to share with him the game plan for his life and for the life of the children of Israel. This demonstrates to us that God’s calling is always personal. From all of the men of Moses’ generation, God had Moses in mind to be His deliverer. In a like manner, each one of us can fulfill our personal calling that God has in mind for us.
In the course of the study of Exodus 3:7-12, we discovered that God wasn’t just concerned with Moses’ lack of comfort as he pastured his father-in-law’s flock. He was more concerned with developing the character traits in Moses; of the faithful love and deep compassion needed to represent God to His people. God was also moved by the suffering of the children of Israel and the cruel Egyptian taskmasters who He would punish for their role in this developing drama. For over 400 years, the nations that occupied the land were given the opportunity to repent from their wicked ways and yet we see that impending judgement is now coming to them, as well as, God’s promise to Abraham from Genesis 15 coming to fruition.
In the following verses we are going to look at the main characters of the developing drama; the children of Israel, the Egyptians, and of course the nations occupying the promised land. Each character is interdependent and God is concerned with each one personally. So let’s dive into our study.
1. God Reveals to Moses His heart of Compassion
Then the LORD said, "I have surely seen theaffliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, (Exodus 3:7)
The Law of First Mentioned (http://www.ariel.org/dlc/dlc-wg-04.htm) is useful here to understand the context and the meaning of each of the phrases highlighted in the above passage. By finding the original Hebrew word and its first mention in the bible we glean the following:
- To see H7200 רָאָה raw-aw' to see, to inspect to perceive, to consider - 1st mentioned in Genesis 1:4 “And God saw the light”
- The affliction H6040 עֳנִי on-ee’ depression, that is misery, trouble - 1st mentioned in Genesis 16:11 God hears the affliction of Hagar in the wilderness.
- To hear - H8085 שָׁמַע shaw-mah' to hear intelligently often with implication of attention and obedience – 1st mentioned in Genesis 3:8 “They (Adam and Eve) heard the voice of the Lord”
- The cry H6818 צַעֲקָה tsah-ak-aw’ cry or crying - 1st mentioned in Genesis 18:21 God is going to see Himself if the cry of the suffering of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah are correct.
- To know - H3045 יָדַע yâda‛ yaw-dah' to know, to have knowledge of – 1st mentioned in Genesis 3:4 where the serpent told Adam and Eve that God knows in the day you eat of it (fruit). It is our knowledge that it is referring to here.
- The sufferings - physical pain and suffering like in the pain of the circumcision – H4341 מַכְאֹבָה מַכְאוֹב מַכְאֹב mak'ôb mak'ôb mak'ôbâh pain, sorrow– 1st mentioned in Genesis 34:25 where Jacob’s sons acted deceitfully and required the king of Shechem to circumcise himself and his people. (this is based on the root word H3510)
As we can see from above, God expresses His heart in terms that humanity can understand. He is sharing His heart of compassion. As humans, we are bound by space and time but God is above all of that. So how can He relate to us but by using the very action words we use. Actions words in any language are bound by past, present and future tenses so it is important to see what verb tense God is using when He speaks to His people. The english translation is using Present Perfect Tense for: “I have surely seen... have heard…” this verb tense is always connecting the past with the present. He knows everything that is going on around us. We might be deceived that He doesn’t see, doesn’t hear but this is foolishness on our account. Do we realize fully that God is with us in every situation of our lives? Do we doubt?
Moreover, God’s heart of compassion is revealed through the descriptive words like “the affliction of my people”, “their cry” and “their sufferings”. How often have we asked the question “Where is God in the midst of …?” Please feel free to fill in the blank for your situation. It is our human nature to doubt God. Questions like: “Where is God?” are often raised in the midst of our situations. Situations we cannot comprehend. Does God see all that is going on? Does He hear my prayer? Does He really care about what I’m going through? He relates to us by addressing our perspective in space and time.
God established a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15-17 and now He is acting on His covenantal promises. God starts sharing His heart for His people first by identifying with His people. He sees, hears and knows what is going on – always! Yeshua expressed the Father’s heart, as well:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Matthew 9:36-38)
God began His work because of His compassion for humanity then and now. Do we see other people’s afflictions or are we so busy with our own life’s? Do we hear the cries of the widows and fatherless? Do we share in others sufferings? Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone and into the commitment zone? The harvest is truly plentiful as this nation and all nations are rapidly turning away from the knowledge of God to the anti-Messiah’s promise that the government of man will solve all problems.
God eternal concern for the lost sheep of the house of Israel hasn’t changed. He continues to call out to Israel and the nations (Romans 10:15). Are we concerned about Israel? Do we reach out to the Jew first and equally to the Gentile (Romans 1:17)?
2. God’s Righteousness is Revealed
“..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.” (Exodus 3:8)
God is saying: “I am aware of the sufferings and I have come down to do something about it”. The purpose of coming down is to bring them up from the land to a land flowing with milk and honey. The principle of deliverance is revealed here. We are delivered from sin to freedom when we place our trust in Yeshua. God delivers us from our failed state and bring us into His family.
Here we see the intention of God not simply to deliver the people from their oppression but to more importantly bring them out to another place.
The phrase – “I have come down” (H3381 יָרַד yârad to come down to descend) first appears in Genesis 11:5 in connection with the Tower of Babel, and then in Genesis 18:21 in connection with Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin.
As you can see in the first mention, God came down to address the injustice that was taking place on the earth. This instance is no different. He is coming down to rescue the people of Israel from the injustice that is being done to them. Yeshua also came down from heaven by humbling Himself in order to rescue us from the bondage of sin (Philippians 2:5-10) and to bring us into His glorious light (1 Peter 2:9). We might not realize that we even have an issue with sin and in fact we might think that this righteous God only gets in the way of our plans and from us living our lives. The bondage of sin is not a problem because it keeps us from doing what we want. No, it is a problem because it keeps us from living for God, relating to Him so we might represent Him and live for Him. Our actions contrary to God’s commands will eventually bring judgment upon us. How are we doing with our freedom to live free from sin? Are we using our liberty for Him or for ourselves?
The Promise Land
A Place of Freedom
“A good and broad land” represents freedom to the children of Israel and to us, as well. Israel was sojourning in a land not their own. We, as believers, sojourn here and wait for a far better place that Yeshua promised and prepared for us. The Egyptians are holding the children of Israel captive to serve themselves rather than allowing Israel to be in service to the Lord as He intended them to be. The place of freedom is given to us to serve the Lord and not to use our liberties in the Lord to serve our fleshly passions.
A Place of Fullness
God is bringing His people to a promised land. The destination of their journey will be the land of the promise. The phrase - “a land flowing with milk and honey” is first mentioned here in the Bible. This phrase is mentioned 20 times in the Bible (Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17, Exodus 13:5, Exodus 33:3, Leviticus 20:24, Numbers 13:27, Numbers 14:8, Numbers 16:13, Numbers 16:14, Deuteronomy 6:3, Deuteronomy 11:9, Deuteronomy 26:9, Deuteronomy 26:15, Deuteronomy 27:3, Deuteronomy 31:20, Joshua 5:6, Jeremiah 11:5, Jeremiah 32:22, Ezekiel 20:6, and Ezekiel 20:15).
What does it mean? When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, He informed him that He would redeem the Israelites and bring them to a "good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey..." Honey here (and elsewhere in the Scriptures) is generally understood to be a reference to fruit nectar, specifically date honey—not bees' honey. Nachmanides writes that the key word in the verse is "flowing." Fruit trees grow in many different terrains, but their produce overflow with nectar only when the land is especially fertile, when the trees are particularly well-nourished. Similarly, livestock survives in many habitats, but only overflow with milk when they are in particularly fertile pastures. Thus, a "land flowing with milk and honey" is indicative and symptomatic of a greater good—the fertility of the Promised Land.
A Place of Foes
While the land presents freedom and fullness, it is also occupied by the nations that God gave 400 years to repent from their wickedness. There are foes in the land that Israel must face. I included the comparison diagram here:
|Genesis 15:18-21||Exodus 3:8b|
|On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites."||to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.|
As we can see, there are less nations mentioned in the land now. Is it possible that some of them already perished? Either way there will be plenty of resistance to the fulfillment of the plan. As a matter of fact, the spies saw the grandeur and blessedness of the land but delivered a bad report about the foes occupying it. In their minds they were afraid of the nations which consequently caused Israel to wonder for 40 years until the wicked and unbelieving generation perished (Numbers 14).
The land belonged to Abraham when God made the covenant with him. But here we see the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham and his descendants. First, God must bring the people of Israel out from their bondage. Next, He must grow them up to be His people. How are we doing with foes in our lives? Do we give up because we fight in our own strength, or are too afraid to deal with them or do we choose to trust God?
The Ambassador (Apostle) Shaul (Paul) encouraged the congregation in Corinth with the following words:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 10:3)
3. God’s Compassion is Just
“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.” (Exodus 3:9)
In the past, the cry of the helpless was heard by God in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. And also now God hears the children of Israel crying out to Him. As we saw from Exodus 2, the children of Israel finally realized where their deliverance would come from. It wasn’t from the Egyptians and it wasn’t from Moses. It was from HaShem (The Name) God Almighty. Do we see the strength of the Lord in our lives? Do we cry out to Him in times of trouble? Or do we think we can manage it on our own?
We might want God to act in our timing but His timing is always perfect. The Egyptian nation had its time to turn away from their wickedness and yet they chose not to. Instead they continued to devise ways to destroy the children of Israel, first by enslaving them and then by killing their baby boys. God is setting up the reason for His actions to follow as part of the Deliverance of Israel. In a like manner, in our lives we too will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). Are we choosing to sow seeds of righteousness? Oftentimes, we are quick to judge situations according to our understanding on the matter and not necessarily according to God’s word. We don’t always see justice the same way God sees justice until we begin to grow in the knowledge of God and mature in His perfect law. It is then that we can mature in our understanding of God’s Judgement and see that He is always merciful. If we have eyes to see we can realize a simple truth: We are better than we deserve. Let us seek after His word and use our liberties to bring others unto Yeshua (Salvation).
4. Moses’ Excuses in Light of God’s Word
God’s Instruction to Moses – God’s Plan Revealed
“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:10)
The word “come” is better translated as “go now”; it is in command form. God is saying: “Go now, I am sending you.” As with Moses, our answer might be: “You are sending WHO to share the Good News? I tried sharing to them once and it didn’t work out well. Who am I, anyway?” 40 years ago, Moses was part of the household pf Pharaoh and he knew the nuances of how to operate within that world. But that had been a long time ago. Now, Moses is a humble shepherd taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep. Contrary to our understanding, God is not asking Moses to fight the Egyptians. We saw in Exodus 1 that Pharaoh had been afraid of a revolt by the Hebrews and enacted policies to keep them in check. But God doesn’t operate in human terms; thus, God is not making Moses a military leader. Instead, He is asking Moses to go to the place where he failed 40 years ago and to this time represent the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. A messenger is simply asked to deliver a message. Moses’ mission was simply, “Go now”.
This is also a challenge to Moses because now God is asking him to face his past - his failures. How many of us would willingly go and revisit our failed past? It is in our nature to take credit for all of our successes while quickly forgetting all of our failures. But, if we forget where we came from then we will forget the power of God who delivered us in the first place. This is why the Bible’s narratives are brutally honest. Contrary to secular history, written mostly by its victors, the Bible exposes our human state with its true colors and gives us hope only within God’s power. Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible and he could have omitted all of his personal failures instead focusing on all of his successes and yet we would not have the encouragement that the truth of God’s word presents us with. The very best we all can do very well is FAIL without our God. We are nothing without God and can never live out our calling in our own strength. The Bible is full of narratives of everyday, regular people who failed and yet when they received the grace/favor of God they were transformed into stellar men and women of God. Can you think of anybody else besides Moses? No matter how much time passes, our mistakes are ever before us. When we come to Yeshua, all of our sins are forgiven and forgotten. We must be able to forgive ourselves and look to Him for the future He has for us. This is exactly what God is teaching Moses here. The author of Hebrews put it so well:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Yeshua, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
First Excuse of Moses - Who am I? (Inadequacy)
But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11)
At first glance, we might think that Moses is a very humble here. Do not be deceived by false humility. True humility will say “yes” to God while false humility will say “no”. The truth here is simple. Moses is focused on his past and not on God’s power. His failures and his inabilities to represent God to the children of Israel is being demonstrated in false humility here. The principle we are seeing here is that Moses was a failure but God loves working with failures because it is then that we can finally realize that it is not our own strength that this life should be lived out upon but by God’s power! Moses is half way there in his realization of it. He is half way there because he demonstrates an inadequacy that comes from not trusting in God’s sufficiency. Yeshua put this way:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
How are we doing as husbands? How are we doing as fathers? Are we doing in our workplaces? Are we trusting in God’s power or trying to make it work in our strength? As men, we have a great calling upon our lives to pass this spiritual baton on to the next generation.
God’s Response to Moses’ Inadequacy is God’s Full Certainty in Who God is.
“He said, "But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." (Exodus 3:12)
God didn’t ask Moses to fight in order to deliver His people. He simply sent him out. God wasn’t counting on Moses’ power but on His own! He promises him that he is going to serve God on the same mountain where he received the instruction to represent God in the first place. Moses is assured of His presence as the work is getting done. The sign of worship is the sign of deliverance from bondage. We are delivered from bondage and into freedom to serve the Lord. In a like manner, the children of Israel were freed to worship God instead of serving the Egyptian’s masters. God’s will is accomplished according to His power and not on our past victories and especially not on our past problems. Our certainty comes in our service by walking by faith and depending on His grace. So as with Moses, God is sending us:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
Are we listening and obeying or are we saying “no” or “who am I” to God?
In the progress of this session we saw that God reveals His plan for deliverance of the children of Israel based on His revelation of His heart being burdened with a compassion for them. He cared for the children of Israel then and He cares for them now. He cares for all people and He will continue to be faithful to His promise to Abraham. If His promises to Abraham fail and He changes His mind, then none of us have any hope.
God reveals His heart and commands Moses to go to which Moses comes up with his first excuse: “Who am I?” It shouldn’t matter who Moses was but it should have mattered who his God was. This is true in our lives. As men, we like to have everything under control by relying on ourselves and that comfort and security we think we have. But, God has created us to rely on Him and upon His strength. How are we doing in these areas?
Let us say “yes” to the Lord and seek out His will for our lives, redeeming our past failures, and looking to His plans and purposes we were created for today, finding our sufficiency and fullness in Him!