“And now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them” (Exodus 3:9).
The Israelites had been under this oppression for about 400 years. Multiple generations were in this slavery. Multiple generations had cried out to God and heard nothing. Hope had been taken away. Even Moses had run away and forgotten about the plight of Israel, God’s people.
But we learn from this verse that their cry to God did reach His ears. God had to prepare a servant leader who would have enough faith to take on this impossible challenge: Moses. But, as we’ll see in coming verses, although God saw potential in Moses, Moses wasn’t so sure he was the man.
If you’ve ever been mistreated, as I have been, its good to know that God sees the mistreatment. If we respond in faith, God will do our battling for us. If we don’t respond in faith, He’ll let us fend for ourselves. I’d rather have God on my side.
“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” (Exodus 3:8).
God often sent an angel or messenger to speak to one of His servants, but in this case, God Himself came down to speak to Moses. God is patient and doesn’t act quickly. But even He has a limit to His patience. After 400 years of bondage in Egypt, God finally decides enough is enough and calls on Moses to set them free.
But God doesn’t just want to deliver the Israelites out of that land of Egypt and the slavery they found themselves in, but also bring them into the good land God has promised. God’s deliverance has two aspects: “to bring them up out of that land“, and “to bring them…into a good and spacious land“.
There is always a better plan with God. He takes us from one position in life and leads us into a better place to serve Him. Its never about God being nice to us, its always about His greater plan for souls. Have you arrived at the better land yet?
“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’” (Exodus 3:7).
Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it, but God does indeed see the misery of His people. If you belong to Him, He sees your misery and He sees your sorrow. He is not blind to your trouble. But He’s waiting to hear you cry out to Him.
In addition to seeing your misery, He also hears your cry to Him because of the bondage in your life. Satan is the spiritual slave driver who keeps us in bondage.
In addition to seeing our misery and hearing our cry for deliverance, He is also concerned about our suffering. Sin results in suffering. God sent His Son, Jesus, to suffer on our behalf to set us free. In the Exodus account, God’s concern resulted in God’s call to Moses. In our day, God’s concern resulted in God sending Jesus. He sees, He hears, and He is concerned.
“Then he said, ‘I am the Lord 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” (Exodus 3:6).
The Book of Genesis tells the detailed story of God’s appearance to Abraham and entering into a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, a covenant repeated to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and then to his son, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. All the Israelites, including Moses, were heirs to that covenant. But it had been 40 years since Moses had heard about his father’s God. This introduction must have brought a rush of memories back to Moses; memories that he had suppressed living in the household of the Priest of Midian, his father-in-law.
So, like Adam and Eve after their sin, Moses hid himself from God. When God appears to us, His glory shames us. We know how undeserving we are, so we hide from God. But if God were interested in condemning Moses, why would He appear at all? God shows up in our lives because He wants to recruit us into His harvest. There is a mission for Moses to perform. And if God should appear to you, its not to condemn you, but rather to rally you to some cause in His plan. Let’s be willing to submit to that cause and say, with Moses, “Here I am”.
“‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground’.” (Exodus 3:5).
Moses had stepped aside from his routine to check out the bush that burned without being consumed. What was this unusual sight? When he had gone out of his way to explore this sight, the voice of God came out of the bush: “Take off your sandals.” There are times God gives us specific instructions that we don’t understand. This was one of those. Why take off his sandals? What did that have to do with anything?
To this day, Muslims take their shoes off when entering a holy place. When Anita and I visited the Holy Land in 1986, we toured the Dome of the Rock, Islam’s third most holy site. Our Jewish tour guide had to wait outside while a Muslim tour guide took us inside. The concrete floor is covered by a prayer-rug type carpet. Everyone was required to take shoes off at the entrance. Most people from the Middle East don’t wear socks, so the whole room smelled like sweaty feet. It might not be necessary to remove our shoes today, but there are things God expects us to unload if we desire to enter His presence.
What made that piece of real estate “holy ground” anyway? Was there something special about that mountain? No, it was the Presence on the mountain that made it “holy ground“. God was there. Because God was present, Moses must show due reverence and remove his sandals.
Ever stood on “holy ground“? The place where you meet Jesus is holy ground. We should treat that place with reverence.
“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’” (Exodus 3:4).
I wonder what the voice of the Lord sounded like. Was it a deep bass voice, with a little reverberation? Did God have an British accent? Was He loud or soft spoken? I’ve never heard the audible voice of God before. My only reference point is the voice that spoke to Charleston Heston in The Ten Commandments. But I do wonder what God’s audible voice would sound like.
I observe that God didn’t speak until He saw that Moses turned aside to check out the mystery God had set up for him. Have you turned aside from your busy schedule lately to listen to the voice of God? He likely won’t speak to you until you turn aside from your busyness.
And when God did speak, He called Moses by name. Twice! God knows your name and everything it represents. When He gets your attention, don’t be afraid to say, “Here I am”.
“Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up’” (Exodus 3:2b-3).
Moses was like people in the 21st Century in that he knew there had to be a logical explanation for this phenomenon. There had to be a reason why it did not burn out. Nothing goes on forever. So he stepped aside from his routine to check out the mystery.
I want to discover the secret of burning brightly and not burning out. And, I’m learning that the secret is keeping the fire inside me stirred up. Peter said, “Stir up the gift within you” (2 Timothy 1:6). If you don’t stir it up, it will go out.
So, Moses made a decision that he would explore this mystery of life. Have you made that decision yet? There are unexplainable mysteries all around us. Maybe God is trying to get your attention. Are you happy with your life like it is, or are you ready to explore a better way? Its up to you.