I. Moses and the God Who Hears — Exodus 1 and 2
A. To understand the Israelites' plight in Egypt.
B. To think about our own response to suffering and oppression.
C. To see how God was working through individuals long before the Exodus drama actually took place.
D. To be introduced to Moses.
1. In what ways were the Israelites made to suffer in Egypt? (Exodus 1)
What was their reaction to suffering?
Is prayer our response to suffering?
Have there been times when pain has led to prayer in your life?
Do we live up to the prayers we make during times of distress?
What in particular can we learn from Exodus 14:12 and 16:3?
2. In Exodus 2:24 we read that God remembered his covenant." What evidence is there in these two chapters that God had not forgotten his people?
3. Throughout these two chapters we see God working out his purposes through the godly qualities of ordinary people. What particular qualities do we see in: the midwives; Moses' mother; Miriam; Pharaoh's daughter? What can we learn from their example?
4. In Exodus 2 we see that God's hand was already on Moses as a child and in the provision of his education. From Exodus 2:11-21 in particular, how would you describe Moses' character? Do you think he had leadership potential? What did he have to learn?
Suggestions for prayer:
- Praise God who hears our prayer.
- Pray for the oppressed, especially Christians who lack religious freedom.
- Pray for personal qualities of courage, ingenuity and compassion.
- Pray for the leaders of the future.
II. Moses and the God Who Calls — Exodus 3:1-4:17
A. To look at the way in which God called and reassured Moses.
B. To think about our own calling as Christians in the church and in the community.
1. Setting the scene — What meaning do you think lay behind the appearance of God in the form of the burning bush?
What was Moses' immediate response upon hearing God's voice? (Exodus 3:46) As Moses removed his shoes to express reverence for God, do you think that physical expressions of reverence should be more important to us today?
Moses' calling was very dramatic and distinct. In what ways may we hear God's call? Can we all expect to "be called"?
2. God's call to Moses — What was Moses called to do? (Exodus 3:10)
Moses made five excuses to God, pleading his own inadequacy. What were they? How did God reply to each?
Do we ever find ourselves making the same excuses?
What experiences have we had of God's reassurance when he calls us to a task?
3. Thinking about our call — Is "I'm not the one for the job; send someone else" ever a valid excuse?
What should we do if we find ourselves doing a job for which we are clearly not suited?
Are we ever adequate to the task?
Suggestions for prayer:
- Are there aspects of your Christian calling where you feel particularly inadequate, e.g., work, witness, prayer, family?
- Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 and use it as a basis for praise and prayer for one another.
III. Moses and the God Who Delivers — Exodus 13:17-14:31
A. To see the way God guided the Israelites and to think about the way he guides our lives.
B. To study the reactions of Moses and the Israelites to the crisis at the Red Sea and to consider our own reactions to crises.
C. To think about the deliverance God has given us and what our response should be.
1. Looking at Exodus 13:17-18, why did God not lead Israel by the shortest route? What comfort does this afford as we think about the way God may guide us?
2. How desperate was the Israelites' situation in Exodus 14:1-9? (Look at a map and note what was in front of them and behind them.) Why did God allow this situation to arise? What does this teach us about the way God may guide us?
3. What was the Israelites' reaction to the crisis? What mistakes did they make? Do we find ourselves doing the same?
4. What was Moses' reaction to the crisis? What can we learn from him?
5. How did the Israelites respond after their deliverance? (Exodus 14:30-15:1) What deliverance has God worked in our lives? What is our response?
6. Compare Exodus 14:31 with Exodus 15:24 and Exodus 16:1-3. What had happened? How can we guard ourselves and each other from the same plight?
Suggestions for prayer:
- Use (part of) Moses' Song of Deliverance (Exodus 15) as a basis for a time of praise to God our deliverer.
- Give thanks for ways God has guided in the past and pray for specific individuals who are seeking guidance for the future.
IV. Moses and the God Who Provides — Exodus 16:1-30 and 18:13-27
As Christians we often repeat Paul's words in Philippians 4:19: "my God shall supply all your need…" Although few of us in this country suffer from material need, how often do we hear ourselves say, "I'm too busy…if only I had more time…" Study the above incidents to see how God, in providing the manna, was teaching his people how to order their lives to meet all the needs of the community; a message reiterated in a very practical way in the story of Moses and Jethro.
1. The provision of manna — Exodus 16:1-30
It has been said that "God supplies our need but not our greed." How is this principle illustrated in the story of the manna?
2. Does "need" mean — the "necessities" of life? Does dissatisfaction with our standard of living result in increased pressure in our lives? Is this one reason for our failing to know God's peace?
3. Paul quotes from this story to make a point about Christian giving (2 Corinthians 8:13-15). What should our reaction be to our abundance and our brothers' poverty?
4. Do you think that the Sabbath principle as illustrated here is relevant to us as Christians? Are there any ways in which we can "gather manna" in advance of a Sabbath's rest?
5. Jethro's advice to Moses — Exodus 18:13-27
What was Moses' problem? What was the result for Israel? What solution did Jethro suggest?
6. Are there people in your church/group who seem swamped by all they have to do? Is too much being done by too few? Do you as a group have any spare resources that might be used for the good of the group?
7. Is God calling you to be a Jethro to someone you know well? How should you go about it?
Suggestions for prayer:
- Praise God that he does promise to supply every need of yours according to "his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
- Pray for those who suffer through poverty and famine.
- Pray for people who feel under pressure because of duties at work, in the church or in the home.
V. Moses and the God Who Teaches — Exodus 20
A. To think about God's purposes in giving the Israelites the Ten Commandments, and their relevance for us today.
B. To look briefly at the Commandments themselves, seeing what they teach us about the character and concerns of God, and considering our own reponse.
C. To look at the Ten Commandments from a New Testament perspective, thinking especially about Jesus' summary of the Law and our own status as Christians regarding the Law.
1. Beginning at Exodus 20:20, what three purposes did God have in giving the Israelites the Ten Commandments? Do they fulfill the same purposes for us today?
2. The Ten Commandments can be looked at in two main sections: the first four and the second six. What is the main difference between the two sections?
3. Christians and society in general seem much more ready to uphold the "man-centered" Commandments. Why? What is the result—for ourselves and for society—of failing to take the first four Commandments seriously?
4. What do the "man-centered" Commandments tell us of the concerns and purposes of God?
5. How would you reply to the criticism that the Ten Commandments seem a very negative guide to life? How did Jesus interpret them in Matthew 22:36-38?
6. Read Hebrews 12:18-24. How does our situation as Christians differ from that of the Israelites in Exodus 20:18-19? What difference does our knowledge about the work of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit make in our attitude toward Old Testament law?
Suggestions for prayer:
- Confess failure to meet God's standards. Pray for forgiveness and thank God for the power of the Holy Spirit to help you obey his commands.
VI. Moses and the God of Glory — Exodus 32:30-33:23
This incident perhaps tells us more about intercessory prayer than any other Old Testament passage. In this study look at: the three requests Moses made; the way God answered his prayer; and the effect on Moses of meeting with the God of glory.
1. Exodus 32:30-35 — What request did Moses make, and on whose behalf? Why was he so concerned? Do we ever find ourselves praying the same way for the forgiveness of others? If not, why?
2. Exodus 33:1-7 — What requests did Moses make in this passage? With what result? (cp. Exodus 33:3 with 33:14) If God's presence seems far from our society, our nation, or even our church, do we take seriously the role we might play in prayer? Do we believe that it will make any difference?
3. Exodus 33:17-23 — What does Moses ask for himself in verse 18? What do you think he means by the words "show me thy glory"? What did he expect of God? What three promises did God make in verse 19? Do we ever find ourselves asking to "see God"? With what results?
4. Exodus 34:29-35 — What was the result for Moses of his conversation with God? (Read 2 Corinthians 3:17-18.) How can we as Christians share with Moses in "seeing God"? How can we encourage one another to reflect God's glory?
Suggestions for prayer:In this passage Moses prays for forgiveness for the sins of his people, the continuing reality of God's presence, and a personal revelation of God's glory.
- Pray for these things for our nation, our church and yourself.