God’s Revelation to Moses
Key Verse: “Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”
WE RECALL FROM OUR study of the Bible that God had prepared a place for his people Israel in the land of Egypt. Due to adverse conditions in their homeland of Canaan he transported them to a new land at the invitation of Joseph. (Gen. 46) Here in the best of the land he gave them great temporal prosperity during the lifetime of the first generation. However, prosperity had given way to cruelty under the reign of Rameses I and II, and continued with Menephtah I, who “knew not Joseph.” (Exod. 1:8) It was their goal to keep the Israelites in a weakened condition, and they accomplished this through years of oppression and cruelty.
The Heavenly Father had “seen the affliction” of his people (Exod. 3:7), who, for nearly three centuries, had lived in a foreign land and had also been forced to serve as slaves in bondage to the Egyptians. In our lesson theme text, God is reminding Moses of the special covenant that he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for an everlasting covenant. In this manner, God was assuring Moses that he had not forgotten the good things which he had promised. He also was demonstrating to Moses that he was both willing and able to grant deliverance at the appropriate time.
Moses, however, ‘hid his face’ as an act of reverence toward God. He did not feel that he was worthy to be used of the Lord, and doubted his own ability to carry out God’s plan to deliver the people from the control of Pharoah. This is demonstrated by the words spoken by Moses, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharoah, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exod. 3:11) At the age of eighty, Moses had spent 40 years in the land of Midian being prepared for this day. Perhaps, during that time, he had wondered if the Lord really cared for his people in that he allowed them to be oppressed for so long by the Egyptians. So thoroughly discouraged by his past failure, he now had become so distrustful of himself that he even apologized for his lack of fitness to be used in God’s service. The Lord reassured Moses that he himself would be responsible for delivering the nation, and he spoke these words to him, “I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.”—Exod. 3:12
The Father in his ultimate wisdom knew that the deliverance of his people would be a great task. Moses stated that the Egyptians would not let the people go. He felt that their intentions were to keep the Israelites as slaves, and that the Israelites would not believe that God had actually appeared to him. Answering these objections, the Lord gave Moses certain signs, convincing him that he was talking to the Almighty God. (Exod. 4:1-9) He then assured him that these same signs would be convincing to the Israelites and the Egyptians. By way of making this matter more forceful, God declared that Moses would lead the people and that they would come to that very mountain, “the mount of God” and worship him there.—Exod. 18:5