God continues to fulfill his covenant promises to the people of Israel by revealing his redemptive plans, extending his self revelation, and graciously commissioning Moses as his emissary and prophet.
Know that God is the unparalleled and unbounded, faithful, gracious, almighty savior of his chosen people; and so we can confidently trust and obey.
Fulfill his covenant promises –
God reveals himself to Moses as the God of the patriarchs (6) and instructs Moses to introduce him to the elders of Israel and the king of Egypt as the God of the patriarchs (15) and the God of the Hebrews (18). The words of God in Genesis 15 have come to pass – Abraham’s descendants have been enslaved for 400 years and God now needs to act to fulfill his promises of rescue (Gen 15:14) and in so doing, continue the process of fulfilling his promises to Abraham of people, blessing and land (Gen 12:3).
Revealing his redemptive plans –
God uses this promised redemptive act to extend the covenant promises established with the patriarchs. God promises to reveal not only his power to rescue (8), but also his compassion (7) and the comfort of his presence (12). God promises to not only bring his people up to the promised land, but to a “land flowing with milk and honey” (8), which is a picture of comfort and prosperity. God promises to not only powerfully rescue his people (20) but to cause the Egyptians to let them plunder them also (21-22).
Extending his self revelation –
In revealing his name to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’, God is revealing more of his nature and character. Of his nature, his name expresses the idea of being un-qualifiable, un-defineable, un-bounded by concepts that can be expressed in words – to say that God is anything is to bound his nature, and so the most fitting expression is just to say that ‘He is’ (‘He is’ is the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘Yahweh). Of God’s nature also, this self revelation declares his identity for all time and in being unbounded in nature, suggests that he is God for all people as well (15). Of his character, his name implies his presence with his people. i.e. ‘I am with you’ (Sailhammer, 246)
Graciously commissioning Moses –
After 40 years of shepherding in obscurity, God calls and commissions Moses to bring his people out of Egypt under God’s mighty hand (20). Whilst Moses is the lead human character in this story, Moses in his inadequacy and questioning appears to be a foil for revealing more of God. God graciously engages with Moses in conversation and answers Moses’ concerns. As we consider the character and experience of Moses, it is possible to learn something of how God chooses to work through human agents – we see God teaching Moses patience during his 40 years of shepherding; we see Moses learning humility and fear before a Holy God (6), we see the importance of a honest personal relationship with God prior to public ministry, and also see the primary importance of the presence and power of God in enabling humans to be his effective agents for his purposes. However the story is not ultimately about Moses (or us), but about God. As Hill argues, “The basic theological purpose of the book (of Exodus) is divine self-disclosure. God has not only remembered his covenant promises to the Hebrew patriarchs, but also has now revealed himself to Israel as Yahweh”.
Hill, Andrew E. A Survey of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).
Fretheim, Terence E. Exodus. (Louisville: John Knox, 1991).
Motyer, J. Alec. The Message of Exodus. (Leicester: IVP, 2005).
Sailhamer, John H. The Pentateuch as Narrative. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992).