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Yahweh Initiates the Exodus
The events described in the book of Exodus take place about 300 years after Joseph’s death. As Exodus begins, a pharaoh had come to power in Egypt who had not known Joseph. He was concerned because he thought the Hebrews, who had grown in number to several million people, could turn against Egypt if enemies invaded the country and possibly could help to bring about her defeat. Thus, he decided to enslave the Children of Israel, and he put them to work making bricks to build cities and temples that were needed as Egypt grew and prospered.
The Hebrew people continued to increase rapidly in number despite their difficult circumstances. Thus, Pharaoh decided to kill their male children at birth. Moses was born during this time, and Pharaoh’s daughter spared his life when she found him floating in a basket in the Nile River. She brought him into Pharaoh’s house and raised him as her own son.
Yahweh protected Moses, and He arranged things so that his real mother became his wet nurse. She must have taught Moses about his heritage as an Israelite because when he was 40 years old, Moses decided to forego the life of luxury that he could have lived as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and he attempted to rescue his Hebrew relatives.
One day he got involved in a dispute between an Egyptian taskmaster and a Hebrew slave, and he killed the taskmaster. When news of the incident reached Pharaoh, he ordered Moses’ execution. Thus, Moses fled to the Land of Midian which is known today as Saudi Arabia.
While living in Midian, Moses married the daughter of the priest of Midian and began raising a family. He worked for his father-in-law (Jethro) as a shepherd of his flocks, and he spent long hours in the wilderness grazing sheep. When he was 80 years old, Moses met Yahweh on Mount Sinai.
Yahweh Meets Moses on Mount Sinai
Exodus 3: 2 says that the Angel of Yahweh appeared to Moses as a blaze of fire in a bush that was not consumed, and Exodus 3: 4 says that the Angel of Yahweh is Yahweh. Keep this fact in mind because the Angel of Yahweh is the personification and manifestation of Yahweh, and we refer to Him as the Messiah.
Moses turned aside to take a close look at the bush. He could have simply looked at it from a distance in amazement, or he could have run away from it since it was such an unusual, and possibly frightening, sight. Instead, he walked right up to the bush, and he got so close to it that Yahweh stopped him and told him to take off his shoes because he was walking on holy ground.[i] The ground was holy because of Yahweh’s presence.
Yahweh called out to Moses from the burning bush and said,
“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”[ii]
When he realized who was talking to him, Moses hid his face because he was afraid to gaze at God. Moses’ mother had probably taught him about God’s awesome power and about His absolute purity. He knew that compared to God he was a filthy wretch.
Yahweh told Moses that He was sending him as His emissary to the Children of Israel and to Pharaoh. He also told Moses that He would deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt personally and take them to the land He promised to give Abraham and his descendants.
At first Moses was reluctant to assume this responsibility perhaps because he had tried to help his Hebrew relatives 40 years earlier, and they had asked Him, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us?”[iii] When they asked him this question, Moses did not know how to respond.
In all likelihood, Yahweh had been working in Moses’ life at that point, and he understood what he was supposed to do. However, he did not understand the details. He did not know who was giving him the job or when he was supposed to do it. Forty years later on Mount Sinai speaking from a burning bush, Yahweh told Moses about the role he would play in the redemption of the Children of Israel.
[i] Exodus 3: 4-5.
[ii] Exodus 3: 6.
[iii] Exodus 2: 14.
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Ezekiel 5: 5-12
“Thus says Adonai Yahweh, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her. But she has rebelled against My ordinances more wickedly than the nations and against My statutes more than the lands which surround her; for they have rejected My ordinances and have not walked in My statutes.’ Therefore, thus says Adonai Yahweh, ‘Because you have more turmoil than the nations which surround you and have not walked in My statutes, nor observed My ordinances, nor observed the ordinances of the nations which surround you,’ therefore, thus says Adonai Yahweh, ‘Behold, I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the nations. And because of all your abominations, I will do among you what I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again. Therefore, fathers will eat their sons among you, and sons will eat their fathers; for I will execute judgments on you and scatter all your remnant to every wind. So as I live,’ declares Adonai Yahweh, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable idols and with all your abominations, therefore I will also withdraw, and My eye will have no pity and I will not spare. One third of you will die by plague or be consumed by famine among you, one third will fall by the sword around you, and one third I will scatter to every wind, and I will unsheathe a sword behind them.’”
- God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This [Yahweh] is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3: 15)
- “Therefore behold, I am going to make them know—this time I will make them know My power and My might; and they shall know that My name is Yahweh.” (Jeremiah 16: 21)
- “Behold, the days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘Yahweh our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23: 5-6)
Hosea 4: 6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
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