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God Reiterates His Promise

 

22Moses returned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? 23Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

1Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”

2God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord. 3I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. 4I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. 5Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

6“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”

9Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.

10Then the Lord said to Moses, 11“Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”

12But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”

13Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

14These were the heads of their families:

The sons of Reuben the firstborn son of Israel were Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi. These were the clans of Reuben.

15The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. These were the clans of Simeon.

16These were the names of the sons of Levi according to their records: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. Levi lived 137 years.

17The sons of Gershon, by clans, were Libni and Shimei.

18The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. Kohath lived 133 years.

19The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi.

These were the clans of Levi according to their records.

20Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.

21The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg and Zicri.

22The sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan and Sithri.

23Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

24The sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph. These were the Korahite clans.

25Eleazar son of Aaron married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas.

These were the heads of the Levite families, clan by clan.

26It was this same Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.” 27They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. It was the same Moses and Aaron.

 

In the previous section, at the first sign of trouble, the people had turned on Moses, blaming him for their troubles (see Ex. 5:20).  Their unbelief was contagious, for, in this section, we see Moses’ faith was also wavering:  “Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people?  Is this why you sent me?  Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all’” (vss. 22–23).  Moses was chosen to be the leader of God’s people, but this did not exempt him from trouble.  “Even when God is coming towards His people in ways of mercy, yet sometimes He takes such methods that they may think themselves but ill-treated” [Wesley].   “God’s chosen servants must expect opposition and misunderstanding, because that’s part of what it means to be a leader;  and leaders must know how to get alone with God, pour out their hearts, and seek His strength and wisdom” [Wiersbe, 26].

We all can understand Moses’ frustration.  He was trying to do the will of God, but had so far only met up with failure.  Not only did Pharaoh increase the workload of the Hebrew slaves, but the Israelites themselves had turned against Moses.  “But as the greatest darkness is immediately before the dawn, so the people of God are often plunged into the deepest affliction when on the eve of their deliverance, and so it was in this case” [JFB, 291].

Moses was bold before God, frankly relating his frustration that God had not yet rescued His people.  God honored the frankness of Moses with a reaffirmation of His promise:  “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh:  Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of His country’” (6:1).

However, God had more in mind than just to break Pharaoh, and free the people from slavery.  God wanted to establish a cohesive nation, ruled by His law.  He wanted the people of this nation to embrace God as their God.  He desired to establish a different kind of relationship with His people than He did in the past:  “God also said to Moses, ‘I am the Lord.  I appeared to Abraham to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known’” (vss. 2–3).  To draw the people together, there had to be a common opposition, and a shared suffering, much as the players on a sports team are drawn together by their common opposition, or the soldiers on the battlefield are drawn together by their shared suffering.

God reminded Moses of His promises to His people:  “I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens.  Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant” (vss. 4–5).  The promises of God are sure, and will be carried out.

Next, God gave Moses the words to say to the people who were, at that time, opposed to Moses’ mission:  “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.  I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment’” (vs. 6).  God wanted Moses to speak His exact words to the people, in order to instill in the people the sense that Moses’ mission was a mission of God and from God, not of man or from man.

Then God wanted Moses to tell the people that His goal of rescuing them was not just to free them, but to turn them into a unified nation of His people:  “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.  Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.  And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.  I will give it to you as a possession.  I am the Lord” (vss. 7–8).

Sadly, the people did not accept God’s message:  “Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage” (vs. 9).  This, however, did not deter our gracious God from continuing to help them:  “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of the country’” (vss. 1011). 

Moses’ continued lack of success bred more frustration:  “But Moses said to the Lord, ‘If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?’” (vs. 12).   We see here Moses’ humanity.  As James told us:  “Elijah was a man just like us” (James 5:17).  So I say, also, Moses was a man just like us.  We tend to think of the great prophets as supermen, but they were ordinary people, with human failings.  But they persevered in faith to overcome their human failings, and to do great things for God.

At this point in the narrative, we are given a genealogy of Moses and Aaron.  This genealogy is, I believe, placed here to remind us that God, from long beforehand, prepared Moses and Aaron for their mission.  As the text tells us:  “It was this same Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, ‘Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.’  They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt.  It was the same Moses and Aaron” (vss. 26–27).

 

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