God appears to Moses in a burning bush. (Verse 1-6.)
God sends Moses to deliver Israel. (Verse 7-10.)
The name Jehovah. (Verse 11-15.)
The deliverance of the Israelites promised. (Verse 16-22.)
1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
“Horeb” is another name for “Mt. Sinai” – the two terms are used interchangeably throughout the Old Testament.
2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
the burning bush is the first miraculous phenomenon mentioned in the Bible apart from the rapture of Enoch in Genesis chapter five and the turning of Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. It was the first clear contradiction of natural principles to be observed by a man. It is also a symbol of the Jews who, though tortured and killed by the nations of this world, have never been consumed (see Malachi 3:6).
How long had Moses been in the wilderness according to Acts 7:30?
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
[Gen 28:16, Josh 5:15]
Notice that in verse two it was the angel of the LORD that appeared unto him, and then in verse four it mentions both the LORD and God in relation to the bush. How are these things possible?
First of all, when you see LORD in scripture it is always the Hebrew letters for the name of God (YHVH or YHWH), and when you see the word God, it is in place of the Hebrew word Elohim.
God is often called multiple names and titles at the same time in scriptures, when you see the word Lord, it is a reference to the Hebrew word Adonia.
The angel of the LORD is often a pre-incarnate appearance of the Messiah of Israel. The Messiah is Lord, LORD and God at the same time. The very word Elohim ends with im and in Hebrew that is always a plural ending. The God who is One is also plural.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
[Matt 22:32, Mark 12:26, Luke 20:37, Acts 7:32]
Notice that God declares that I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not I was. He is the God of the living and not the God of the Dead.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did die, but they are alive today, and God is their God today just as much as he was when they walked the face of this earth.
7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
God did not forget the children of Israel but used this great trial to make this group of people strong for the journey that lie ahead, just as the Holocaust has prepared them to give birth to a new nation in the Land.
This time it was without forty years of wandering. The Messiah stood before the rulers in his day as well.
11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
Moses produces three excuses for not serving God: 1) Who am I? 2) What if the people don’t believe me? (ex 4:1; 3) I am not eloquent and cannot speak (ex 4:10).
Act 7:24 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.
Moses came unto his own people, and his own received him not. The Jews didn’t follow Jesus the first time either, but after his time in exile in heaven they will.
12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
“token” – God begins his dealings with the nation of Israel by giving them signs and tokens
Why did he do this according to I Cor. 1:22?
13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
[Isa 43:13, John 8:58, Col 1:17, Rev 1:4]
One of God’s names is “I AM” – Jesus Christ claimed to be God and freely used this title.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
God had never revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob nor to any other person in scripture in this fashion before by calling himself I AM THAT I AM.
16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:
17 And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
18 And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.
19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty:
22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
[Gen 39:21, Exod 11:3, Exod 12:36, Dan 1:9]
fulfilled literally in Ex 12:35-36
“borrow” – the Jews left Egypt with all of the treasures of Egypt but ended up paying back what they borrowed almost 1000 years later in II Chron. 12:9.
God who is all knowing tells Moses to tell the elders of Israel all these things and yet the children of Israel still complained against Moses even though everything he said would happen happened.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-6 – The years of the life of Moses are divided into three forties; the first forty he spent as a prince in Pharaoh’s court, the second as a shepherd in Midian, the third as a king in Jeshurun. How changeable is the life of man! The first appearance of God to Moses, found him tending sheep. This seems a poor employment for a man of his parts and education, yet he rests satisfied with it; and thus learns meekness and contentment, for which he is more noted in sacred writ, than for all his learning. Satan loves to find us idle; God is pleased when he finds us employed. Being alone, is a good friend to our communion with God. To his great surprise, Moses saw a bush burning without fire to kindle it. The bush burned, and yet did not burn away; an emblem of the church in bondage in Egypt. And it fitly reminds us of the church in every age, under its severest persecutions kept by the presence of God from being destroyed. Fire is an emblem, in Scripture, of the Divine holiness and justice, also of the afflictions and trials with which God proves and purifies his people, and even of that baptism of the Holy Ghost, by which sinful affections are consumed, and the soul changed into the Divine nature and image. God gave Moses a gracious call, to which he returned a ready answer. Those that would have communion with God, must attend upon him in the ordinances wherein he is pleased to manifest himself and his glory, though it be in a bush. Putting off the shoe was a token of respect and submission. We ought to draw nigh to God with a solemn pause and preparation, carefully avoiding every thing that looks light and rude, and unbecoming his service. God does not say, I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but I am. The patriarchs still live, so many years after their bodies have been in the grave. No length of time can separate the souls of the just from their Maker. By this, God instructed Moses as to another world, and strengthened his belief of a future state. Thus it is interpreted by our Lord Jesus, who, from hence, proves that the dead are raised, Luke 20:37. Moses hid his face, as if both ashamed and afraid to look upon God. The more we see of God, and his grace, and covenant love, the more cause we shall see to worship him with reverence and godly fear.
Verse 7-10 – God notices the afflictions of Israel. Their sorrows; even the secret sorrows of God’s people are known to him. Their cry; God hears the cries of his afflicted people. The oppression they endured; the highest and greatest of their oppressors are not above him. God promises speedy deliverance by methods out of the common ways of providence. Those whom God, by his grace, delivers out of a spiritual Egypt, he will bring to a heavenly Canaan.
Verse 11-15 – Formerly Moses thought himself able to deliver Israel, and set himself to the work too hastily. Now, when the fittest person on earth for it, he knows his own weakness. This was the effect of more knowledge of God and of himself. Formerly, self-confidence mingled with strong faith and great zeal, now sinful distrust of God crept in under the garb of humility; so defective are the strongest graces and the best duties of the most eminent saints. But all objections are answered in, Certainly I will be with thee. That is enough. Two names God would now be known by. A name that denotes what he is in himself, I AM THAT I AM. This explains his name Jehovah, and signifies,
1. That he is self-existent: he has his being of himself.
2. That he is eternal and unchangeable, and always the same, yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
3. That he is incomprehensible; we cannot by searching find him out: this name checks all bold and curious inquiries concerning God.
4. That he is faithful and true to all his promises, unchangeable in his word as well as in his nature; let Israel know this, I AM hath sent me unto you. I am, and there is none else besides me. All else have their being from God, and are wholly dependent upon him. Also, here is a name that denotes what God is to his people. The Lord God of your fathers sent me unto you. Moses must revive among them the religion of their fathers, which was almost lost; and then they might expect the speedy performance of the promises made unto their fathers.
Verse 16-22 – Moses’ success with the elders of Israel would be good. God, who, by his grace, inclines the heart, and opens the ear, could say beforehand, They shall hearken to thy voice; for he would make them willing in this day of power. As to Pharaoh, Moses is here told that petitions and persuasions, and humble complaints, would not prevail with him; nor a mighty hand stretched out in signs and wonders. But those will certainly be broken by the power of God’s hand, who will not bow to the power of his word. Pharaoh’s people should furnish Israel with riches at their departure. In Pharaoh’s tyranny and Israel’s oppression, we see the miserable, abject state of sinners. However galling the yoke, they drudge on till the Lord sends redemption. With the invitations of the gospel, God sends the teaching of his Spirit. Thus are men made willing to seek and to strive for deliverance. Satan loses his power to hold them, they come forth with all they have and are, and apply all to the glory of God and the service of his church.