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Divine Revelations to Moses:
The Call of God for the Christian
C. Pat Lanyon
Exodus to Deuteronomy
Dr. James D. Price
May 5, 1977
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Divine Revelations to Moses:
The Call of God for the Christian
There are only certain types of men which God is able to use. Those He most assuredly will call for His service, because the need is so great. But this places no obligation upon to accept any leader He chooses who is not willing to submit in every way to God's plan for His life. God's call to Moses in Exodus 3 is a fitting subject for learning how He both prepares and calls His chosen "servants" to be leaders and accomplish things for His honor and glory. After God prepares a man, He divinely reveals Himself to His chosen instrument, promising that leader all that is essential for him to carry out his task.
God is looking for men who will be good leaders of His people. He has chosen to use man to lead His people though God can and does lead His people alone when necessary. But He only does this when men, whom He has chosen, fail. He has a perfect design for the life of the leader He chooses, and Moses' life is "an illustration of the truth that 'every man's life is a plan of God.'"
In Exodus 3:1 a picture can readily be visualized of the place where Moses was; yet the place where Moses was in this verse cannot be appreciated until we see Moses before he came to Midian. In Acts 7:22, we learn he came from Egypt, a place of high education and training. From other sources we learn that his education was of a priest of Heliopolis where he learned and taught Greek, Chaldee and Assyrian literature. In addition, he was known to be an inventor and also to have gone on expeditions for the Egyptian king where he won both honor and marriage. Tradition also expresses the intimation that he taught the Jews grammar. It is also believed that he was well acquainted with "legal procedure, with political and economic problems and with the symbolism of religious worship. Moses' indeed, was knowledgeable, and it can be supposed, since the king's daughter had adopted him when young, that he was heir to the throne.
With this great privilege before him, we learn something Moses' humility and self -denial from Hebrews 11:24-27. Simply stated, Moses chose to leave it all. "He determined to give up the glories of the court, even the possible grandeur of the throne, and to ally himself with a race of slaves." He chose "humiliation and distress rather than for a time to enjoy 'the pleasures of sin'". This term refers not to "sensual and unlawful gratifications" but rather "the continued acceptance of royal favor and all the delights of princely position and power afforded him by the oppressor of his people. The 'sin' would have been that of being disloyal to them (Israel) and untrue to his divinely appointed task." He valued affliction with the Hebrews more than the prestige of Egypt, and indication of "matchless heroism."
Through his flesh, he "avenged" an Egyptian mistreating a Hebrew slave, honestly believing that "his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them." But Moses had to learn in "the school of Midian," that it is not by man's hand that deliverance comes.
Though little is written in the Scripture of Moses' sojourn "in the desert" at Midian, volumes can be written of what he learned while there. Some describe it as "indispensable." It was a place where "depth, a solidarity and a steadiness" was learned. Some describe it as a time in which God "was sharpening His instrument." It was also a school of patience, for he spent 40 years in training -- as long in time as the length of his training in Egypt.
But one important thing Moses did learn in Midian was humility. For the forty years of his education in Egypt, Moses has been taught that a shepherd was abominable to the Egyptians. And for forty years Moses worked with that which he was trained to hate. Indeed, Moses learned to be meek and humble here and it was evident that throughout the rest of his life he had learned it never to forget it. "When God educates, He educates in a manner worthy of Himself and His most holy service. He will not have a novice to do His work."
Now Moses, having learned these lessons, was now ready to do "the task of shepherding the flock of the Lord." Moses leads his 'training flock' to the "backside" or as some believe, the west side of the wilderness, (Verse 1). The word "desert" here refers to "pasture." Moses was bringing his flock to better pasture and this area was known for good feeding.
The "Mountain of God" to which he came has had several interpretations. Some believe it is a series of mountains. There is question as to whether or not it was previously a "supernatural" mountain, "presumably because of a mysterious phenomena, either volcanic or other character." It is also possible that no previous associations with any deity were present, but instead it became called the Mountain of God after the account of Exodus 3 occurred, where it was consecrated "through the revelation of God upon its summit."
While upon this mountain Moses sees a bush not different than most he had seen before, except that it "burned with fire" but it "was not consumed" (Verse 2). The angel of the Lord was in the midst of it. Many have explained its symbolism. Most conservative commentators liken the "bush" to Israel being tried by the fire of Jehovah which consumes all that is not according to God's purpose in Israel; perhaps the best discussion is found in Keil & Delitzsch. Personal application can be made also according to the trials with which God tests the Christian consuming all which is unholy in his life.
It seems most likely that here, in Exodus 3, God simply desired to get the attention of Moses away from his business of attending sheep and toward Himself, in order that He might reveal His plan to Moses. The burning bush, in other words, was simply a physical wonder to attract his attention. In much the same way God will bring physical trials into the life of the Christian just to make him stop and listen to the voice of God instruct of His own will for that Christian.
Moses then turned at the sight, and God called him by name when he turned, "Moses, Moses." Twice was his name spoken by the Lord, perhaps a warning "of the urgency and the importance of the call."
Moses' response was simple and respectful: "Here am I." Moses knew previously of God, but he never knew Him personally. The Lord now had Moses where he would listen and so He began advising him of the preliminaries of His holy calling for the greatest leader of the Old Testament, as it is said of him, "There arose not another prophet . . . in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face."
God, after He had sought Moses and secured his attention, was now ready to reveal Himself to him and to call him to service. In the verses following Exodus 3:4, many revelations were given to him, but the most important one came first: God revealed His holiness.
Sinful man must keep his distance from God. "The sight of the holy God no sinful man can bear." Not only was he to keep his distance, but he was to remove his shoes. This was an ancient custom in the Orient. Removing the shoes showed reverence when "entering a place of worship," and was "a symbolic act representing the removal of the uncleanness caused by contact with the world." Moses' shoes prevented him from drawing near to God, and worldliness in the life of a Christian will also prevent God from calling him into divine service.
The ground where Moses stood actually became holy. "The character of the dwelling place takes it's stamp from the character of the Occupant. God revealed His holiness to Moses, the ground became holy, and Moses experienced God's holiness as was revealed by "the angel of the LORD" (verse 2). But His revelation to Moses was not complete. God then revealed another important aspect before Moses could react to the divine revelation found in verse 5. God revealed His name to Moses.
To become friends, the first step is usually an introduction of "names". God already knew Moses' name, and now He proceeds to identify Himself since He had already laid the groundwork for anyone knowing Him by the revelation of His holiness. It was a personal way that God revealed Himself: "I am the God of thy father" (verse 6). Moses not only knew his 'father' well, but he knew much of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The identified the LORD as the God of the Hebrews, which Moses had learned about from his mother. Moses' knowledge of this seems obvious from his "heart" decision described in Acts 7:23. It also seems obvious from his immediate reaction after hearing the mouth of God, for he "showed his reverence by covering his face." It was not until he heard God's voice that he feared the LORD. It is by hearing the Word of God that today's child of God can truly know God personally, and fear Him. Moses did not fear God in the burning bush until "he perceived that God was in it."
God reveals what Moses already knows to be fact. But Moses can now see a "personal" God with sight and hearing Who is personally interested in man. God sees their "afflictions" and hears their "cries." And during this time Moses learns, more intimately than ever before, the great interest He has for His people, an interest which was likely only "fact" to Moses previous to this time. The bondage which Israel had gone through had not been unnoticed by their God. And every word they uttered was heard by Him. God was indeed was a personal God, with senses to see and to hear.
But to Israel, God's next revelation was supreme, for not only is God a personal God with senses to relate to His people, He is also a loving and compassionate God. This fact is truly evident from a careful examination of verses 7 through 9. "I have surely seen the affliction of my people" (Verse. 7). The expression ‘My’ indicates a special re1ationship of lover, as shown by God: a possessive love. His love for His own people is indeed a very personal matter.
Of particular interest is the fact that the phrase "I know their sorrows" (Verse 7) , uttered by the angel of the Lord" can be considered as an expression of the pre-incarnate Christ. Christ certainly could say such a statement, for He indeed was a "man of sorrows" and He knew grief and affliction as none other could.
The words "come down" (Verse 8), a "normal idiom for describing divine intervention in human affairs," is also a picture of the condescending love God has for His people. Found in Isaiah 64:l, the phrase describes an "extraordinary" way of doing things, very similar to the love He showed for the entire world by giving salvation through Jesus Christ.
God also showed His love through the land He promised in verse 8 and, at the same time, by minimizing the Egyptian bondage they had experienced because "they would ultimately forget it." The blessings of entering Canaan are described by two picturesque phrases while suffering in the Egyptian bondage is described by only one phrase and is concluded by the words "to bring them up out of that land." Even in this respect is the love of God clear as He emphasizes the good and minimizes the evil. For the Christian, the trials and testings are only short compared to the blessings of entering a "heavenly Canaan." And God had a definite reason for telling Moses of His love and compassion: though Moses would have trials in his leadership responsibilities, God's love for His children would bring them all to a happy and prosperous end.
God’s love and compassion are also revealed to Moses by the words used to describe the promised land Israel was promised to inherit. "Good and "broad" were adjectives contrasting the "confinement and oppression of the Israelites in Egypt."
Their bitter grief for the afflictions experienced in Egypt would be welcomed by these promises. Yet God revealed His love further by the picturesque expression "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Verse 8). This phrase was first used by "nomadic shepherds" to describe a land of rich pastures and trees to feed Israel with "food as nourishing and as sweet as bees’ honey." "Milk and honey" describe the "simplest and choicest" products of the land which God in His love has prepared for His people. Moses now had revealed to him the personal love and the giving love of God.
God revealed to him all of these revelations about Himself: His holiness, His name, His "personal" senses, and His compassion, all for a very special reason. God was about to make His last "Divine utterance" to Moses.
On the basis of what God has revealed to Moses since he uttered the words "Here am I" , in verse 4, He makes a request for Moses to "come" (Verse 10). The "therefore" relates back to verses 5-9 where God had personally revealed Himself to Moses. The request becomes a requirement: "I will send thee." This is the call of God to be a leader of His people. "And now, Moses hear what I require of you." His requirement was two-fold. First, he. was to go to Pharaoh, and second, he was to "bring forth ...the children of Israel out of Egypt."
"My people." was a phrase to remind him in the last revelation given to him, the love God had for Israel."
It is interesting to note that God here did not include a command also for Moses to bring in the children of Israel into Canaan. Cassuto implies God's foreknowledge of Moses' sin in Numbers 20 :11 which excluded him from that privilege and he simply states, "Moses was not to lead the people into the land." This was in fact true, but rather than presume upon man's free will, would it not be better to interpret the silence of God in this matter as an act left for Moses' to determine? If he had not rebelled at Meribah, there is no indication that he would not have been given the same privilege Joshua had of bringing them into the promised land. Moses had all the knowledge to do what God had asked him to do. When God calls a man to lead His flock, He will not only educate him, but He will also reveal all that must be known for that man to exercise his faith and be the leader God has chosen him to be. Moses was chosen by God. When he went on his own at forty years of age he failed miserably. When he waited forty years for God's time, God gave him every tool required to do the job. We need to wait for God to reveal His will, and then to say "Yes" unreservedly.
"There is a vast difference between
God sending a man, and a man running unsent."
THE TEXT AND RELATED REFERENCES
(King James Version)
Part I: The Text, Exodus 3:1-10
Part II: Related References
In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months:
21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son.
22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.
24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:
25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.
26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?
27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?
28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?
29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons.
30 ¶ And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.
31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him,
32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.
33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.
35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
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