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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Ex. 2:23–4:31]

NOW Moses fed the sheep of Jethro, his father-in-law. One day he drove his flock into the desert, and came as far as Mount Horeb. There the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire, which issued from the midst of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire and was not burnt. He said: “I will go near to see why the bush is not burnt.” As Moses drew near, the Lord cried out to him from the burning bush: “Moses, Moses!” And he answered: “Here I am.” And God said: “Come not nigh hither. Put off the shoes from thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

Moses, in awful reverence, hid his face, and dared not look at God. The Lord said to him: “I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt, and I am come to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians, and to bring them out of that land into a land flowing with milk and honey.” The Lord further told Moses that he should go to Pharao to demand the liberation of the children of Israel. Moses answered: “Who am I that I should go to Pharao, and should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” The Lord said: “I will be with thee.”

Moses objected that the people would not believe him, but would ask who sent him. Then God said to Moses: “I am who am1. Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: He who is, hath sent me to you.” Moses answered and said: “They will not believe me, nor hear my voice; but they will say: The Lord hath not appeared1 to thee.” Then God asked Moses: “What is it that thou holdest in thy hand?” Moses answered: “A rod.”1 The Lord then told Moses to cast his rod upon the ground. He threw it upon the ground, and the rod was turned into a serpent, so that Moses fled from it in terror.

But the Lord called him back, saying: “Take it by the tail.” Moses did so, and the serpent became again a rod. The Lord told Moses to work this and some other signs before the Israelites, and they would believe. But Moses still objected, saying that he was not eloquent, but that his speech was slow and hesitating.

Then the Lord said to him: “Who made man’s mouth? Or, who made the dumb and the deaf, the seeing and the blind? Did not I? Go, therefore, and I will teach thee, what thou shalt speak.” Moses answered: “I beseech Thee, Lord, send whom Thou wilt send.” The Lord, being angry with Moses, said: “Aaron, thy brother, is eloquent; speak to him, and put My words into his mouth; he shall speak, in thy stead, to the people.” So Moses returned to Egypt; and Aaron, his brother, inspired by the Lord, came forth to meet him.

Moses repeated to his brother all the words of the Lord. Then they went together to assemble the children of Israel; and Aaron spoke to them that the Lord had looked upon their affliction. And Moses wrought the sign of the rod and other miracles, whereupon the people believed; and falling down, they adored the Lord.

The Attributes of God. This story reveals God to us in a wonderful way. It shows us that:

1. God is eternal. “I am Who am!” God exists of Himself. He has His being of Himself. He is Who is, and was, and is to be. He alone is eternal. All else has been made by Him and has a beginning.

2. God is unchanging. His command: Thou shalt bring My people out of Egypt, could not be altered by any hesitations or objections on the part of Moses.

3. God is omniscient. “I have seen the affliction of My people, and heard their cry.”—“Do these signs, and they will believe.”

4. God is almighty. “Who made the dumb and the deaf; the seeing and the blind? Did not I?” God’s power was also proved by the miracles of the rod &c.

5. God is holy. “The Lord was angry with Moses”, i. e. He showed His displeasure with Moses for having so little confidence, and for making so many objections.

6. God is merciful. “I will deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians.”

7. God is faithful. He fulfilled that which He promised to Jacob: “I will bring thee and thy seed back from Egypt.”

The object of miracles. Moses was the first of those sent by God, who received the power of working miracles; and, as we are told, the object of these miracles was that the children of Israel might believe. How much more, then, ought we to believe in Jesus Christ, who worked so many more, and much greater miracles, than Moses! The difference between our Lord’s miracles and those of Moses is this that Moses wrought them by the power of God, and our Lord by His own power.

Humility and confidence in God. One of Moses’ most prominent virtues was a sincere humility. He held himself to be neither capable nor worthy of the great task allotted to him by God. But it was just on account of his humility that God chose him to be the leader of His chosen people, for He “exalteth the humble, and abaseth the proud”. Moses, however, failed, by giving way to so many hesitations. After God had said: “I will be with thee”, he ought to have said, as St Paul did: “I can do all things in Him who strengthened me” (Phil. 4:13). Instead of that, he made more and more objections, and on account of this Almighty God reproached and blamed him. At last, however, he obeyed God’s commands, and full of confidence he accomplished his appointed task splendidly. True humility distrusts itself, but trusts all the more in God.

APPLICATION. You are not called on to take off your shoes when you enter a church; but you are called on to leave all worldly thoughts outside. You are not obliged to cover your eyes, but you ought to hold them in check, and be recollected, and not look about you curiously.








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