By Luke Johnson | October 4, 2016
Take some time to see how everyone is doing, and to pray for each other.
What kind of responsibilities do you have right now? (e.g., chores at home, duties you have at school or on sports teams, part-time job?)
Which responsibilities do you like doing / hate doing? Are there responsibilities you’d like to have?
Today’s Exodus reading is a big turning point in the story, like those few minutes you spend looking down the ski hill before setting out. And God gives Moses a big task that he really doesn’t want to do.
Our Big Questions
As we read, keep these questions in mind:
Who is God? // What does it mean to belong to God’s people? // Where is Jesus?
READ Exodus 3-4
What popped out to you? Anything weird / shocking / surprising / cool / encouraging / interesting?
Exodus 2 ends with God noticing his people’s suffering. How does God respond? (Exod 3:7-8)
How does Moses react when he hears that God wants him to lead his people out of Egypt?
(Moses protests 5 times -- can you find them all? Exod 3:11, 3:13, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13)
Have you ever been asked to do something you didn’t think you could do? (What happened?)
When Moses asks, “Who am I to face Pharaoh?”, how does God respond? (3:11, “I will be with you.”)
(Can you think of anywhere else in the Bible where God makes this same promise? E.g., Matt 28:20)
Why do you think Moses was so afraid to get involved? (Does all of this depend on Moses alone?)
When Moses asks for God’s name, what name does he give? (Exod 3:14, I AM WHO I AM / YHWH)
What do you think God is trying to communicate about himself by calling himself I AM WHO I AM?
Egypt had a big pile of gods, and each of them represented a part of nature. (God of the Sun, God of the Nile, God of the Wind) But the name God told Moses doesn’t refer to anything you can point to. YHWH (יהוה) literally means, “I am me.” If God had a title like the Egyptian gods, it would be something like “I-Am-Me, God who is God.” God wants his people to know, “I’m not just some run-of-the-mill Egyptian god in charge of cheese sandwiches -- I’m ‘The Uncontainable God’, ‘The God Without Limits’, ‘The God Who Has Been With You Since Abraham’!”.
This is the first time in the Bible that God refers to himself as “I AM”. Can you think of other “I AM” names for God or Jesus in the Bible that might be drawing from this story? (e.g., John 8:58; 14:6)
What message do you think God is trying to tell Moses by calling himself “The I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”? Why refer to those guys?
Moses keeps protesting, but God keeps reassuring him. But when Moses asks God to send someone else, “the LORD’s anger burned against him” (4:13-14). Any idea why?
Moses keeps assuming that everything is up to him. Notice how often Moses refers to himself: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (3:11); “What if they don’t believe me?” (4:1); “I have never been eloquent … I am slow of speech and tongue” (4:10). Moses hears God’s plan and says, “I can’t do this! I don’t have the skills! Send someone else!”
But notice how God has been speaking all along: He calls the Israelites “my people” (3:7); “I have come down to rescue them” (3:8); “I will be with you” (3:12); “I have promised to bring you up out of Egypt” (3:17); “I will stretch out my hand … I will strike the Egyptians… I will perform wonders” (3:20); “I will help you speak … I will teach you what to say” (4:12).
God even promises to pull Pharaoh’s strings: Look at 3:21 -- Why do you think God would make Pharaoh stubborn on purpose? What would that achieve?
Hardening Pharaoh’s heart is part of God’s plan to care for Israel. Egypt was the most powerful kingdom in the world. Imagine if Pharaoh let Israel go without any trouble: Israel starts their journey to the Promised Land and then Pharaoh changes his mind and comes after them with his huge army. Countless warriors against a bunch of slaves. But if Egypt is destroyed and their huge army is swept away in the sea, Israel would escape without fear of pursuit. God sends the plagues, and God causes Pharaoh to be stubborn, all so Israel can go free.
God will send the plagues, and God will handle Pharaoh. So, what is Moses’ job, then?
(Hint: Psalm 147:10-11)
In John 6, Jesus didn’t ask the little boy with the 5 loaves and 2 fish to feed the crowd of 5000 people. The little boy just gave his lunch to Jesus, and it was Jesus who miraculously fed the huge crowd with it. By telling Moses his plans, God was inviting Moses to participate with him. God wasn’t going to leave it up to Moses to accomplish by himself. When God calls us into his work, he gives us the ability to see it through. Your job is just to trust him.
Based on what you’ve read in Exodus so far, how would you answer these questions:
Who is God? (What kinds of things does Exodus want us to know about him?)
What does God want from the people who follow him?