Exodus 1-3: Moses, saved and Jesus, the Saviour

1.  “And these are the names of…”:  Introduction to Exodus (Exodus 1:1-7)

2.  Pharoah and Herod (Exodus 1:8-22)

3.  Moses’ and Jesus’ birth (Exodus 2)

4.  The God of the Burning Bush (Exodus 3)

1.  “And these are the names of…”:  Introduction to Exodus (Exodus 1:1-7)

Exodus is the Latin form of the Greek ‘ex hodos‘ meaning ‘exit’ or ‘going out’ – Blackham continues that the Hebrew title for “Exodus” (we’elleh shemoth – which literally means “And these are the names of”) – is exactly the same phrase appearing in Genesis 46:8.   This chapter begins by summarising the people who entered Egypt, and all seventy of them.  The Pharoah however despised them, despite their fruitfulness and their history in aiding Egypt – the place where the Hebrews now reside, called “Pithom” (v.11) which has been rendered as ‘the fortress of foreigners’, as well as a ‘city of justice’ and the ‘house of Tum’ (the sun-God of Heliopolis of Ancient Egypt).  Whatever the case may be, it is definitive of these people – they are segregated into their own group of righteous men and women, in a fortress defining their nationality and spirituality.

2.  Pharoah and Herod (Exodus 1:8-22)

Pharoah strikes first – v.10 – “Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land”.  Regardless of the Israelites’ behaviour, Pharoah is freaked not because of their threat as a warring nation; but simply because of their number.  But it doesn’t matter how many taskmasters the Pharoah puts over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; many are aware that a Saviour is coming after 430 years as mentioned in the prophecies in Genesis – and their forward looking faith means that the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread abroad (v. 12).  Indeed, it is just as we are – the more we are afflicted, the more it is in fulfillment of God’s prophecies, and the more we are assured of being part of the Elect One (1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Peter 4:13).

Shiphrah (brightness/beautiful) and Puah (splendid), the two Hebrew midwives had been loyal to God and disobeyed the Pharoah, and their obedience is rewarded, and indeed the people had multiplied and grew very strong beyond the pace of the midwives’ working hours.  As I have already calculated in previous entries, we are speaking of tens of thousands of people each generation.  From 70 to 600,000 (of both Jews and Gentiles) in a space of 400 years… that is definitely some divine drive over a space of approximately 10 generations!

3.  Moses’ and Jesus’ birth (Exodus 2)

Reu-el (friend of God), the father-in-law of Moses, has seven daughters.  He is a Midianite priest, where Moses, the most humble man who had lived apart from Christ (Numbers 12:3), escaped to the land of Midian (strife) after defending a Hebrew slave.  Then Moses stands up for the seven daughters at the well, who the shepherds have been driving away.  This Moses was born from the Levite line, descendant of Kohath (Exodus 6:20) who had married Jochebed, a Levite woman as well.  Moses was therefore from a priestly line, and how fitting it is to be disciplined by Reuel the priest for at least 40 years of his life.  Moses is also a very special child (Acts 7:20), given his birth.

I think there is much typology behind Moses’ actions and his life.

Firstly, he is born in a time when there is much persecution, a la Herod, who had been killing Hebrew males – for what reason?  Because he is afraid that the males would side with enemies and destroy the Egyptians.  It is for the same reason that Herod destroys the Hebrew babies in the four gospels – because he fears that someone would usurp his throne.  And unsurprisingly, all of this occurs after a 400 year period of silence after the book of Malachi; and so also the same period has occurred between Genesis and Exodus  Moses had been placed into an ‘ark’ (the Hebrew word used for Noah’s ark as well e.g. Genesis 7:1 – tebah), and Moses was saved through the waters of punishment in his little ark and was drawn out of water, hence his name which means both “Drawn out of water” and “Saved“.  This is a little distinction between his name (Saved) and Christ’s name as Jesus (Saviour) – nonetheless, there is much connection between the two lives.

Secondly, Moses’ actions are that of a Levite person – his violence is akin to that of Levi and Simeon in Genesis 34 and again re-iterated in Genesis 49:5-7.  But we see that Moses’ violence is slowly subdued over time – especially his time spent with Reuel. Not only that, but his actions should be interpreted as according to how Stephen interprets it in Acts 7:23-28.  Stephen gives us the impression that Moses already knew he was the one sent to deliver the Church from the captivity of Egypt BEFORE the burning bush encounter in Exodus 3.  Moses had probably thought that his initial action would lead a revolution, but it did not – and that is why Moses’ time in Midian for 40 years was the prototype pattern of “40 years punishment for sin” constantly repeated throughout the Pentateuch.  This is because the 40 years were wasted; the Israelites could have started the Exodus when Moses was 40 years old; instead, they awaited for his return when he turned 80.

However, despite his actions – his intention is to protect the Hebrew slave, and in response he was persecuted by the Hebrews. “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” (v.14) – he is persecuted by the very same people he tried to protect.  Then he goes, and protects the seven daughters of Reuel from v.16-18 – protecting them from shepherds!  And the irony is that the daughters were attempting to water their flock, but the shepherds had failed to complete their duty.   The typology here can be widely interpreted – our Christ had also been thrown out of societal acceptance (Hebrews 13:13), made prince and judge by the Father in heaven for our sake; yet we are the ones who crucified him by our very sin and that death had to occur to atone for our reproaches.  He protects us from the false shepherds who aim not to water the flock, but chase away those who are thirsting for true water, and so Christ provides us with the living water so that we thirst no more (Nehemiah 9:20; John 4:13-14).

And immediately after he fought for those who thirst for the true water, he is given a bride from the priest of Midian, the priest who is a friend of God.  So also our Christ worked and fought for us as an outcast on the cross, against all the false shepherds and the uncircumcised physical Israel who had ears which fail to hear and eyes which fail to see and hearts as hard as metal; and in return, the Father blesses Christ with a bride, a church, which only Christ could rescue by his self-sacrificial love.  Zipporah was Moses’ prize; yet the global church will be Christ’s.

Chapter 2 ends on a hopeful note – as sombre as it sounds to see the Israelites crying for help, it is God who remembers the covenant which he established with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It is always God who remembers; rarely the Israelites remember the promise.  They remember to complain, they remember to wail… but it is God who is the one who remembers that the covenant will be inevitably and assuredly fulfilled.

4.  The God of the Burning Bush (Exodus 3)

At 80 years old, 40 years after shepherding in Midian, Moses witnesses his first (but not our first) Christophany, but the appearance is even more amazing than anything in Genesis (save perhaps Jacob’s dream of the staircase of angels up to Jesus).  Indeed, the people in Genesis are amazed when they realise they have seen God (in hindsight), but here Moses is attracted to the Angel by the fire surrounding Him.  This is the same Angel who will speak to Joshua, defined by the very ‘holy ground’ on which both Moses and Joshua unknowingly stood upon.  No mere angel can command such allegiance, unless it is the Second Person Himself.  This is further re-iterated in v.7 when the narrative called the Angel “the LORD”; then in v.13-22 where the Angel is repeatedly called GOD.  This is also the reason why Moses wants to know the Angel’s name, for he knows that the Angel is God himself.  And during this encounter, it isn’t some ‘symbolic’ experience – Moses was afraid to see God face-to-face; this is a very real, physical encounter with Jesus Christ.

Moses however doesn’t realise that at first, as shown in Acts 7:30 – hence his rather innocent approach to Jesus without taking off his sandals.  Perhaps Moses is amazed why the bush isn’t burning out?  But the more symbolic meaning is spoken of here – on the mountain of God (Horeb), on this holy hill, is a burning fire whereupon Christ is standing in the fire.  Moses had walked up that hill and is standing before Christ.  Will he be standing on the right side of the fire, or will he be burnt?  Adam and Eve were protected from the burning flames and now the story of redemption is repeated within the 3rd chapter of Exodus, just as Adam and Eve left the holy hill of Eden leaving the flaming swords behind in the 3rd chapter of Genesis.  This fire is the barrier between true Paradise, and everything else.

Now what is interesting is that Moses witnesses Christ in glowing flame, in some portion of heavenly glory, just like the disciples had seen Christ resurrected – and are immediately commissioned to spread the gospel.  It is no different for Moses here – he is immediately commissioned by the Angel to be the apostle to the Pharoah.  And throughout this, there is every intention from God to plunder the nation of Egypt for God’s glory (v.22) and go on a three day journey in the wilderness to worship God (v.18).  Whether these three days are literal can be found wanting, especially since it took longer than three days to go out to ‘worship’ Him.  The significance relates to the meaning of three days, signifying that on the third day Christ’s resurrection, the day 3 of creation which points to dried land after the day 2 of the waters of punishment, all point to true worship through Christ.  And all of this comes from the LORD whose name is the Great I AM.  I end this entry by Matthew Henry’s view of the name “I AM”, which directly contradicts any sense of Buddhist philosophy, the Doctrine of Anatta, which fights so whole-heartedly against the meaning of “Soul” and “self”, but little do they know our God whose meaning of ‘Soul’ and ‘Self’ far surpasses any of ours:

1. A name that denotes what he is in himself (v. 14): I am that I am. This explains his name Jehovah, and signifies, (1.) That he is self-existent; he has his being of himself, and has no dependence upon any other: the greatest and best man in the world must say, By the grace of God I am what I am; but God says absolutely—and it is more than any creature, man or angel, can say—I am that I am. Being self-existent, he cannot but be self-sufficient, and therefore all-sufficient, and the inexhaustible fountain of being and bliss. (2.) That he is eternal and unchangeable, and always the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever; he will be what he will be and what he is; see Rev. i. 8. (3.) That we cannot by searching find him out. This is such a name as checks all bold and curious enquiries concerning God, and in effect says, Ask not after my name, seeing it is secret, Judg. xiii. 18; Prov. xxx. 4. Do we ask what is God? Let it suffice us to know that he is what he is, what he ever was, and ever will be. How little a portion is heard of him! Job xxvi. 14. (4.) That he is faithful and true to all his promises, unchangeable in his word as well as in his nature, and not a man that he should lie. Let Israel know this, I AM hath sent me unto you.

2. A name that denotes what he is to his people. Lest that name I AM should amuse and puzzle them, he is further directed to make use of another name of God more familiar and intelligible: The Lord God of your fathers hath sent me unto you (v. 15): Thus God had made himself know to him (v. 6), and thus he must make him known to them, (1.) That he might revive among them the religion of their fathers, which, it is to be feared, was much decayed and almost lost. This was necessary to prepare them for deliverance, Ps. lxxx. 19. (2.) That he might raise their expectations of the speedy performance of the promises made unto their fathers. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are particularly named, because with Abraham the covenant was first made, and with Isaac and Jacob often expressly renewed; and these three were distinguished from their brethren, and chosen to be the trustees of the covenant, when their brethren were rejected. God will have this to be his name for ever, and it has been, is, and will be, his name, by which his worshippers know him, and distinguish him from all false gods; see 1 Kings xviii. 36. Note, God’s covenant-relation to his people is what he will be ever mindful of, what he glories in, and what he will have us never forget, but give him the glory of: if he will have this to be his memorial unto all generations, we have all the reason in the world to make it so with us, for it is a precious memorial.

Exodus 1-3: Moses, saved and Jesus, the Saviour

2 thoughts on “Exodus 1-3: Moses, saved and Jesus, the Saviour

  1. to whom this may concern I have just started.church and being the beginning of the year.I have to read chapter.3 vs 1:4 the burning bush what it means to mean I’m having a hard time.in understand it could you please be of some help

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