FROM BONDAGE TO FREEDOM: A Study of the Book of Exodus
Keep reminding People of the Promises of God
Exodus 6 SCC 7/22/12
So what do we do when it seems that God is not listening? Or not working in a way we had expected? Our expectations of God do not obligate Him to perform. Even if God has given promises, He is not obligated to perform according to our expectations. This can be a source of frustration for us as we try and surmise our situations. Moses had the same difficulty and even takes God to task for the hardship being caused because of God’s performance. So what can we learn about how we should manage those situations in which we do have a promise from God but its outworking does not match our expectation?
If the plan of God is not working as we expected, then it must be that the plan of God is working as he planned 5:22-23
1. Here in this section we have Moses’ complaint. The section is based on two rhetorical questions: Why have you dealt evil . . . ? The word itself means “to do evil,” but evil in the sense of pain, calamity, trouble or affliction. How God had allowed Pharaoh to oppose them had brought greater pain to the Israelites (Chp 5). Then, Why did you send me . . . ? Moses is not looking for an answer. He is implying that if this was the result of the call, then God had no purpose calling him. He is rather chiding God out of his frustration–you brought calamity on the people and had no purpose in sending me. Moses brought God’s message of hope as he was instructed to do, but God brought painful toil to the people. God seemed to be working against them. Moses discerns a cause-effect relationship: “Why did you do evil to this people?” is the cause; “Pharaoh did evil to this people” is the effect. The ultimate cause of the trouble was God, but the immediate cause was Pharaoh and the way he increased the work. So Moses knows all about God’s sovereignty. He knows that if the plan is not working it is because of God. We might say if the plan of God is not working as we expected, then it must be that the plan of God is working as he planned. We may not like it, especially if it is a painful delay. And we may ask questions as to why God works the way he does. But the answer will be: trust me, I am the Lord.
2. The complaint is basically that the plan has not worked; Moses uses a very emphatic construction that is difficult to translate. Literally it would say “you have not delivered at all.” It implies that, “you have not lifted a finger to deliver,” putting it at the level it conveys. The charge is legitimate, but the boldness is striking. It will be greatly overshadowed by the Lord’s answer. God never has objected from such bold complaints by the devout. So the rhetorical questions are designed to prod God to act differently.
This promise will be fulfilled because of the nature of God 6:1-5
1. Here is the Lord’s answer. Essentially, the Lord is not slack in keeping his promises (6:1-5). Notice the assurance of the promise as it is based on the nature of the Lord. The theme “I am the Lord,” is the organizing principle. You can see this in v 2 and 6. He first states the promise clearly (6:1), “Now you will see what I shall do to Pharaoh.” The deliverance is worded in parallelism: “by my strong hand he will send them out // by my strong hand he will drive them out.” The word “hand” is the hand and forearm. It became idiomatic for the strength or power. Here it means the power of God will deliver them.
What are the things the ‘hand of the Lord’ does?
o Ezra 8:21-23 The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him.
o Josh. 4:24 So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever
o 1Sam. 5:6 The hand of the LORD was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors
o Ezra 7:6 this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.
o Prov. 21:1 the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.
o Acts 11:21 and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
2. This promise will be fulfilled because of the nature of God (6:2-5). “I am Yahweh” is the declaration that he is the sovereign covenant God. The statement calls for faith. The Lord says he appeared to the patriarchs “as” El Shaddai, but was not known to them “as” Yahweh or Lord. They knew about the name; but God says “I will bring you out . . . and deliver you . . . and redeem you . . . and take you to myself and be your God . . . that you may know that I am Yahweh.” No one could have known the Lord fully until he fulfilled his promises. The name is the covenant name, but the covenant had not been realized. The implication of this passage is that this generation would know the name (i.e., the nature) of the Lord in a way the patriarchs never did. In fact, the exhaustive divine exposition on the holy name in these chapters shows that is what is intended. God told Moses to say “Yahweh, the God of” the patriarchs sent me. They knew the name, but this generation would know by experience the covenant name. Pharaoh claimed also not to know the Lord. But the plagues would be designed to let him know, i.e., see and experience firsthand, the power of the Lord.
3. The rest of this section is a review of the covenant promises the LORD made. He had established the covenant to give the patriarchs the land of sojourning. Now he would respond to the groaning and fulfill it. The message that Moses is to deliver is an emphatic listing of the divine assurances of the covenant promises, all based on “I am Yahweh.”
keep reminding the people of what God has promised to do while warning the world not to oppose god’s plan 6:6-12
1. Here is Moses’ responsibility, i.e., prepare for the day of God and speed it’s coming.
Moses speaks to Israel as commanded, but they do not listen to him because of anguish and labor (6:6-9); then God instructs Moses to speak to Pharaoh that he send out Israel (10, 11), but Moses hesitates because if Israel did not listen to him, certainly Pharaoh will not (12).
2. The section closes with a report that God simply laid the task before him (13). This last verse seems to summarize their whole mission: “The Lord . . . appointed them to Israel and to Pharaoh.” The verb is normally “command,” but may also be “appoint, charge, commission.” It did not matter if Israel or Pharaoh listened–they had a charge from God to lead a stubborn people out from under a stubborn monarch. Ezekiel was commissioned to speak ‘to the rebellious sons of Israel—stubborn and obstinate children—and say to them Thus says the Lord whether they listen or not!
In spite of opposition and rejection we must continue to declare his plan, trusting in the nature of the covenant God to fulfill his promises. The messages of God must faithfully declare the promise of God as a warning to the world and a hope for the believer. The promise of God is inseparably bound up with the nature of God.
And what does Scripture say? God is not a man that he should lie. God stretches out his hand, but who will tell him to take it back. God remains faithful to his word, for even if we are unfaithful, he remains faithful because he cannot deny himself.