I was reflecting on a conversation I had with a friend on the Moses topic, when something began to niggle at the back of my mind. So last night, I went to Exodus 3 and did a little re-reading. That would be when God gently corrected me. Let me refresh your memory on my blog comment:
I recently recognized something in the life of Moses...You know, he recognized his calling (deliverer of a nation) FORTY YEARS before God actually had him begin moving on that calling...Sometimes, I wonder if my life is going to be like that.
Um, well, it turns out that God has a slightly different take on that story.
The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. (Exodus 3:7-8)
Do you see it? God was the deliverer! In fact, God, LORD, or a pronoun referring to God occurs over 50 times in this chapter alone! I actually love this so much more! Isn't that exactly true of God? He is the one who delivers us! A favorite verse of mine is found in Psalm 68:20: Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
I am so glad that God corrected me on this. As I dug into this, I realized that it is a very basic and fundamental truth to Old Testament theology, as is repeated again and again in verses I should know (at least on the basis of repetition!):
- I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. --Exodus 20:2
- I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. --Leviticus 11:45
- I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God. --Numbers 15:41
- I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. --Deuteronomy 5:6
- It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. --Joshua 24:17
- But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship... --II Kings 17:36
- I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. --Psalm 81:10
- Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day... --Daniel 9:15
- But I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. --Hosea 13:4
- Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt... --Amos 3:1
It was this calling out of Egypt by God that became the point of issue in this little scenario out of Exodus 32:
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him." Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt."
Can you imagine?!! God has just brought them out of Egypt, out of hundreds of years of suffering, and they suddenly redesign the God who did so into a god? I don't think I'd have wanted to be in heaven at the moment they made this declaration. Can you imagine God's righteous indignation?!
This calling out of Egypt was also part of the foundation for the laws God would establish for them:
- Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest scales and honest weights, an honest ephah and an honest hin. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. --Leviticus 19:35-36
- Do not profane my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the LORD, who makes you holy and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD. --Leviticus 22:32-33
- If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you...You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. --Leviticus 25:35-38
- If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you...Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. --Leviticus 25:39-42 [Bonus Note: Don't make the Israelites into servants because they are already (My) servants! Cool, huh?]
- After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them... --Judges 2:10-15
- Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites... Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help. When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian, he sent them a prophet, who said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. I said to you, 'I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.' But you have not listened to me." --Judges 6:1, 6-10
So all of this to say... it was really important both that I learn the lesson that it was God who delivered the Israelites from Egypt, and that I correct it here.
And so I would like to reiterate my own comment about my life being like Moses'. I would simply like to be one sent by God, and to be in the front lines as I watch God be the deliverer. I think I'd like to have that front row seat, wouldn't you?
Glad God is my deliverer,
P.S. Here's a freebie: Check out God in Exodus 3:19-20a. God is speaking in His commissioning of Moses: ...But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand... Don't we serve a MIGHTY God?!