Moses—Rejected by Man and Even by Himself, But Not by God (Exodus 1-4)*
A. THE SITUATION—Humanly speaking, the Egypt situation for the Hebrews was going from bad to worse.
1. Influential Joseph and his entire generation were dead (1:6).
2. The beneficent Pharaoh Connection” was gone (1:8).
3. The new Pharaoh wanted the Hebrews subjugated at all costs (1:9-14).
a) He set oppressive taskmasters over the Hebrews.
b) As the Hebrews multiplied, he multiplied their rigor.
4. The new Pharaoh resorted to infanticide (1:15-22).
a) He ordered that all Hebrew male newborns be murdered.
b) When the midwives disobeyed, he deputized his entire populace to carry out his orders of infanticide.
B. THE SERVANT
1. From a human point of view Moses’ early prospects were dim (2:1-3).
a) Born of slave parents, he could not be hidden for long.
b) He was set afloat on the Nile River in a flimsy basket.
c) Found by Pharaoh’s daughter he should have been killed, had she obeyed her father’s edict.
GOD’S INTERVENTION: He moved the princess to pity. Moses not only lived but also enjoyed the benefits of a royal upbringing. He was an assimilated Jew whose demeanor and dress identified him as an Egyptian; yet there remained a link with his Hebrew background from his brief time with his natural mother before he was weaned (2:7-10).
2. Moses’ later prospects were not good either (2:11-3:1).
a) Noble sentiments led him to an ignoble act of murder.
b) The one he had tried to help turned against him.
c) Pharaoh sought to kill him, and he had to flee into exile.
d) In exile he married the daughter of a pagan priest.
e) For forty years he herded someone else’s sheep.
f) At the oppressive Pharaoh’s death another despot took his place.
GOD’S INTERVENTION: Moses found safety in a simple, contemplative life in Midian. Then God called him to go back to Egypt and deliver Israel (3:1-10).
3. Moses’ Protests (3:11-4:13):
a) I am not a person of influence or stature.
b) I am not knowledgeable
c) I am not credible.
d) I am not eloquent.
e) I am not willing—get someone else to do the job.
4. God’s Response (4:14-17):
a) What matters is not who you are but who I AM.
b) I will give you a helper (Aaron).
c) I will perform miracles and work through you.
C. GOD THE SAVIOR (The same for believers today as for Moses)
1. God is the all-sufficient I AM.
2. He is all we need to do what he commands.
3. He has sent the Holy Spirit to be our Helper.
4. He who formed us and called us goes with us to equip us and to work through us.
Questions for Thought And Discussion
1. The early chapters of Exodus chronicle the worsening situation for the Children of Israel, but God was at work. In chapters 1 and 2 how was he at work though unseen and unacknowledged?
2. Why is one person able to acknowledge God’s unseen work, while another is consumed with fear or bitterness?
3. Has there ever been a time in your life when God seemed to be doing nothing about your suffering or bondage? What was/is your response? Fear? Bitterness? Faith? Do you have any choice as to how you respond?
4. What did the Hebrews do in their suffering that helped to elicit a saving response from God? What lessons can we learn from this for our own lives?
5. Was God any more at work during the spectacular days of the Ten Plagues and the Exodus deliverance than he was during events of earlier times described in Genesis? What light might this shed on how you view your own life?
6. In later chapters of Exodus (5-14) we see that Pharaoh did not benefit one whit from the manifest presence of God. Why not? How might that fact help you to respond to a cynical antagonist who derides your faith because God seems unreal or irrelevant to him?
7. Moses expressed his entire perspective of himself and his prospects in terms of what he was not. What factors in his makeup and experience might have contributed to that largely negative view of himself? Can you identify any parallels in your own life that helped to shape your own self-image and level of expectation?
8. Was God pleased by Moses’ self-deprecation? Defend your answer from the biblical text.
9. Is God pleased when you or those you know have a negative, self-deprecating self-image? Is such a self-view humility? If not, what is true humility? (See Romans 12:3).
10. How can believers maintain a proper self-image without falling into the pit of pride? (See 1 Corinthians 15:10.)
* Edited from notes by Stuart Dauermann, former Jews for Jesus staff member.