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Mar 5 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 4, 2018 – Exodus 6:2-30

God’s Reassurances

And God said to Moses, “I am Yahweh–‘the LORD.’ I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai–‘God Almighty’–but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. Under its terms, I promised to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are not slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them.” Exodus 6:2-5

Intro: This chapter breaks the flow of the story

The scene changes, the pace slows down and the camera moves in for a close-up
– we left Moses and Israel last week in a state of emergency
• the initial excitement over being rescued has evaporated
• instead of being freed, their oppression has been intensified
◦ Israel new-found hope is crushed and Moses is ready to walk away
– in spite of all this, God’s plan is still moving forward
(his enthusiasm and energy has not dwindled)
• but now we pause, so God can breathe life back into his people
• and from this break in the narrative we learn something
◦ namely, what our souls need when discouraged, run down, drained and oppressed

2-3 Yahweh reintroduces himself to Moses

This is a repeat of what Moses learned at Sinai, but with important additions
(this encounter also has a more intimate feel to it)
I am Yahweh – this formal introduction was widely used when delivering a message
• it is frequently the way a royal proclamation began

I am Pharaoh, but no one will lift a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval (Ge. 41:44)

• God used this form in a message to Abraham

I am El-Shaddai—“God Almighty.” Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will a covenant with you . . . . (Ge. 17:1-2)

– the storyteller gives us a clue that this statement is important
• it is repeated at end of v. 8, enclosing God’s entire speech
◦ a literary device that marks a text, setting it apart from what came before and what follows
◦ it is like drawing a line or box around these verses
• in this way, the storyteller highlights a theme
◦ the theme here is the fact that it is God who speaks

It is interesting to me that God kept his name from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
– El-Shaddai is a title, not a name – Abraham learned several titles for God
• these titles were revelations of God, but they were not names
• what is the significance of God revealing his name?
◦ he is a Someone, not a something–e.g., a “dark, impersonal power”
◦ he is accessible; the people of Israel can call on him
◦ it is possible for humans to be in a relationship with him
(in fact, this is what will come next)

The Old Testament scholar, Walther Eichrodt wrote, “. . . proclamation of the divine Name was treasured as an act whereby God himself came forth from his secret place and offered himself in fellowship . . . .” People were eager to use his name whenever they “wished to be assured of his nearness and the reality of his [support].”

Some nations boast of their chariots and horses,
but we boast in the name of [Yahweh] our God (Ps. 20:7)
The name of [Yahweh] is a strong fortress;
the godly run to him and are safe (Pr. 18:10)

– it is apparent in Israel’s worship and prayers that,
• God’s people were aware of encountering him in his name
◦ it was how he made himself present to them
◦ and it was what they used to return to him
• prayer is more focused when you can address God by name

Do you remember what Yahweh means? “I am” (Ex. 3:14-15)
– this self-revelation extends through all time and space
• there will never be a moment of your life when God is not present
• you will never be in a place where God is not with you
– I find it fascinating how God’s name is conceived in the Old Testament
• in the New Testament the name of Jesus does not replace Yahweh
◦ Jesus teaches us to pray that God’s name would be hallowed
• but the name of Jesus is a more focused and complete revelation of God
◦ and it is in the name (person) of Jesus that we have access to God

4-5 God reaffirms his covenant

A covenant was a binding commitment to a relationship
– there were a number of different types of covenants

For example, in Genesis more than one covenant was formed between two people as an agreement neither party would cause harm to the other (Gen. 26:28-31; 31:48-52). Other covenants served as peace treaties between nations or agreements in which a powerful nation would exchange protection for tribute from a less powerful nation. Marriage was also considered a covenant (Mal. 3:14). Several prophets used the analogy of marriage to describe God’s covenant relationship with Israel–the two most radical examples are in Ezekiel 16 (see v. 8) and the Book of Hosea.

• God’s covenant was a guarantee of a permanent relationship with his people
◦ it undergirds Israel’s entire existence
– God’s covenant is a relationship not held together by law, but by love

[Yahweh] did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! Rather, it was simply that [Yahweh] loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why [Yahweh] rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Understand, therefore, that [Yahweh] your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commandments (De. 7:7-9)

In verse 4, living as foreigners translates literally, in the land of their journeys
– their life with God was an ongoing journey
• they moved in stages and each stage served a purpose
◦ they learned new insight or lesson, faced a new challenge or test
◦ celebrated a rite-of-passage or experienced a breakthrough
– the same God with whom the patriarchs journeyed now assures Moses that:
• he hears the groans of him and his people
• he is well aware of the covenant he made with their ancestors

6-8 God’s message to Israel: his next steps

God outlines his plan for Israel and it entails seven stages
(each stage is introduced with I will
– like the journeys of their ancestors, this is a process
• they will go from being a possession to having a possession

  • The first three I will’s : “Free,” “rescue” and “redeem” Israel
    ◦ out from under Egypt’s thumb
    ◦ “oppression” is literally “bring you from under the yokes of”
    Everett Fox describes this as a “more vivid image than merely rescuing them”
  • The fourth and fifth I will’s : Here we see the of the covenant, it’s ultimate essence and goal
    I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God
    I will claim is literally I will take–compare that with verse 20 where Amram took for himself a wife (literal translation)
    ◦ this is what God is doing with Israel through the covenant
  • The sixth and seventh I will’s : They will at last be a people in their own land

– Verse 7, when all of this is done, Then you will know that I am the LORD your God
• we’ll hear this a lot in the next few chapters (e.g., Ex. 7:5)

Robert Alter points out, “This idea is emphasized again and again, in the Torah as well as in later books of the Bible. It is the cornerstone of Israel’s faith—that God has proven his divinity and his special attachment to Israel by the dramatic act of liberating the people from Egyptian slavery.”

9 Moses delivers the message, but it falls on deaf ears

The people were too broken down to pay attention
– discouraged is literally shortness of spirit – out of breath
• they could no longer afford the luxury of hope

10-13 It’s time to return to Pharaoh and confront him again

Of course, Moses wants nothing to do with it
– he uses an interesting excuse – the New Living Translation has, clumsy speaker
• literally, Moses said I am of uncircumcised lips
• the analogy of circumcision is also used of the heart (Deut. 10:16)
– for someone to be in God’s service, holiness was required
• circumcision was part of God’s pact with Abraham
◦ it was what set Abraham and his descendants apart from other peoples
◦ it was a sign of their unique relationship with Yahweh, which made them holy
• do you remember how Moses was almost disqualified himself on his way to Egypt?
◦ it was because his son was not circumcised
• now he tries to use the analogy of uncircumcised lips to disqualify himself
◦ he is saying, in effect, “I don’t meet the requirements to be your spokesperson”

14-30 Moses’ and Aaron’s Genealogy (then a brief summary)

Genealogies are historical records, not of events, but of people
– they show us how God’s work progresses through generations
• they also help to locate one’s self in God’s unfolding plan
• I am the next link in the chain — what role do I play in the unfolding story?
– this genealogy has something to say about Aaron and Moses
• where they come from, who their parents were, etc.
• in this way, the genealogy works sort of like a résumé or credentials

Verses 28-30 provide a transition back into the story
– basically, they are a repetition of verses 10-12
• here we have another literary device
◦ by repetition, we take up where we left off before the interruption

Conclusion: In 1992, a close friend of mine died unexpectedly

Jack was perhaps the most creative person I’ve ever known
– when I was in one of my dark, depressive moods I would call Jack
• immediately he would describe his current creative venture
• and as I listened to him, creativity energized me
◦ I was quickly carried into a world of possibilities

Whenever we feel broken, worn out, disappointed, unhappy,  or miserable
– what we need is an experience of God like this one Moses had with Yahweh
• we need moments of revelation and inspired insight
◦ we need a closeness and intimacy with God in which he opens our eyes
◦ we need to be shown a new truth that excites us and refreshes our hope
• this is how our spirits get a second wind and we recover our stamina

Jesus has made a new covenant and it is with you
He has also revealed to you his name,
and he encourages you to use it to call to him
Sit with Jesus, breathe his name
and allow him to share his creative plans with you
In doing so, he will open your mind, strengthen your heart and renew your strength

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