God empowers Moses. God talks to Moses via a burning bush.

Day 32 (Feb. 1): Exodus — Israelites in Egypt, Moses is born, Moses escapes Midian, Moses’ family tree, burning bush, God adds Aaron

John Paul Stanley / YoPlace.com

At first I put “Day 32 (Jan. 32).” Lol.  Congrats!  We have made it one month!  Can you believe we have learned so much in just two books?  Another 64 books and we will be the wisest ones around!  I am amazed at how much I have learned, how many questions have been answered and how much more I understand about the way God is showing us to live to have a more fulfilling life.  A Bible study leader asked me what insight I have gained from Genesis.  I said, “the boundaries God has given us.” He tells us rules to live by to keep from falling into darkness.

From Job, I have learned to shut up and to realize just who God is.  I question too much of God’s reasons for things.  Like Job says, who am I to ask “Why?” of the Creator of the world?  Job and his friends say over and over and over how magnificent and powerful God is.  The repetition definitely tested our patience, but they certainly succeeded in pounding in their message.  The extensive lists of what God controls, creates and cares for opened my eyes to and solidified my realization of God’s magnificence and magnitude.  And, letting go of all the questions I have, realizing I will never know all the answers, is a big weight off my back.  Just giving God your burdens is such a relief!

Thanks to Rob, our expert on board, I have also learned that although the Bible is historical, that’s not God’s main purpose in giving us the information.  The purpose of the Bible is to show us how to live; to give us insight on how to deal with struggles; and to turn to God and ALWAYS trust Him!  We need to extract the wisdom from God’s Word, not pick it apart to learn all the details of a story and the reasons behind the actions.

Let’s keep going!  Exodus is next.  For an introduction to Exodus, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/exodus/.

If you are just joining us, thank you for checking out Livin’ Light, where we are reading the Bible in one year, chronologically.  This Bible-in-a-year challenge is unique in that questions from the reading are answered by a seminary graduate who has studied cultural history.  The information helps readers grasp confusing parts, explore deeper meanings and often times find surprises! To start this quest from the beginning, click on 365 Daily Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1.

I hope you find this as fun and as enriching as we have creating it!

Today’s Reading
Exodus 1-2:25
1 Chronicles 6:1-3a
Exodus 3-4:17
(~1600-1446 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 1:22): Here, the king’s rule spared the Hebrew girls.  Any idea why girls are treated more gently than boys?  Is this tied to being a gentleman?  I just wonder if Pharaoh was determined to subdue the Israelites, then why did he not rule to have the girls killed along with the boys?

A. The women would be unlikely to fight in any uprising against Pharaoh, and would be easy to control by comparison.  Pharaoh is, in his mind, trying to make the Israelites weak.

Q. (2:1,10): I wonder what Moses exuded that made his mother think he was special and made Pharaoh’s daughter desire to spare his life and take him as her own?  Also, did the princess have contact with Moses while his mother had him?  The only evidence I see is that the princess said she would pay Moses’ mother to care for him.  So, she may have visited him when paying her.

A. My understanding is that Moses came to be part of the house of Pharaoh when he was weaned — Pharaoh’s daughter was paying Moses’ mother to be a wet nurse, which I guess worked out pretty well for the mom.  The story doesn’t seem to tell us if the princess came to visit (I honestly don’t know), but the more important detail for the story is that Moses will be a person of two ethical heritages: he was born an Israelite, but brought up as part of an Egyptian household.  He lived in both worlds, and very likely was raised with the man who would become Pharaoh (something the movie The Prince of Egypt points to).

Q. (1 Chronicles 6:1-3a): Is there any significance from Moses coming from the line of Levi?

A. In the sense of where we’ve been, no.  But in the sense of where we’re “going” so to speak, you bet!  Moses and Aaron are two of the most important figures in Israel’s history: Moses will (of course) be the great liberator, and speak to God on behalf of his people in a way that no one (outside of Christ) has done since.  God will make Aaron the first High Priest on this journey, and Aaron’s descendants will be important members of the priesthood.  So it is in Exodus that we see Levi’s descendants first become the chosen ones to be the people’s representatives before God.  (As you will recall, because of this special religious role, the Levites will be dispersed among the other tribes and not have land of their own.)  We will see in the book of Leviticus (about the Priesthood) the way that God will provide for the priests out of the sacrifice system.

Q. (Exodus 3:1): It’s interesting that there are so many references to sheep in the Bible.  Sheep were obviously a staple back then?  Now, we have mostly cattle, swine and chicken in the U.S.  I don’t know if sheep are still as numerous in the area as they were in Bible times.  Most interesting though, is God’s use of sheep in demonstrating how Jesus, the shepherd, takes care of us, the sheep.  And here, Moses is a shepherd, which may help prepare him for taking care of the Israelites as they exit Egypt.  Any comment, Rob?

A. Sheep are still a big part of agriculture in other parts of the world (though the story will make reference to other domesticated animals as well, notably cows (and oxen) and birds — pigs were unclean, so they didn’t keep them (and still don’t).  Sheep have played an important role in the story so far, and they will continue to.  They (goats, sheep, and lambs) will play a crucial role in the sacrifice system that is established in Leviticus (other animals will be offered up to, so its not just them).  In addition, both the Old and New Testaments describe the relationship between God and humanity as a shepherd who takes great care of their flocks (for example, Psalm 23 and John 10).  Since it was such an important part of their culture, it is probably unsurprising that God would use that image.

Q. (3:6): Isn’t this the first time that we see God appear with more of a presence?  Here, God told Moses to stop where he was and take off his shoes because he was on holy ground.  Moses doesn’t go any closer and he covers his face in fear.  When God appeared to Abraham, He just showed up as a traveler, although Abraham quickly knew who He was.  Just wondering why the change?  This is the first time God has spoken to Moses. Before this, we don’t know if Moses obeyed God, right?

A. God will not appear to two people in exactly the same way throughout the Bible, for reasons known only to Him.  We don’t know much about the relationship between God and Moses to this point (though it does imply that Moses knew who was addressing him, so he had some sort of relationship with God).  Don’t forget, Moses killed a man and fled his people to live in (basically) isolation.  Just one more example of God selecting a deeply flawed person to carry out His will.  God does not call the equipped; He equips the called.

Q. (3:8): Are the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites descendants of anyone we know from Genesis?

A. No, I don’t think so.  The only one we have any connection with is Esau’s (Edom’s) relatives, and though they will be a part of the story, they live outside of Canaan, the area where these tribes live (for now).

Q. (3:14): Can you explain God calling himself “I am”?

A. Oh man.  I could write a novel in response to that question (and people have).  God is here revealing His “real” or proper name: which in Hebrew is the four letters YHWH (called the Tetragrammaton from the Latin for “four letters”).  The word “Yahweh” is derived from the YHWH (vowels do not appear in printed Hebrew) and is the third person form of the word for “I AM” (i.e. HE IS).  I AM is the way God chooses to refer to Himself, and we refer to Him (in this sense) as He IS (if that makes any sense).

Here’s a few other things we can take away from the significance of the name: the use of I AM (and I Am that I Am) both imply that God is a personal being, that He is in the present moment (you could also say He is outside of time — He is neither past or future, He just IS).  It also can tell us that God is unchanging, and that we must adapt to Him, not the other way around.

One of the best write-ups I’ve read on this matter comes from John Piper (of Desiring God ministries).  He has an entire sermon on God’s identity.  The whole thing is good, but the bottom half talks about the significance of the name in this scripture.  Check it out: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/i-am-who-i-am (and note the section Seven Implications in the Divine Name).

Q. (4:10): I have heard people mock Moses, that he’s not the most confident leader.  Again, God chooses a humble man.

A. God certainly chose a man who did not want the job, but he will be the only person who can “shepherd” (as you made reference to) his people through 40 years in the wilderness.  Despite his humble beginnings, Moses will be the single most revered person in Jewish history.

For further reading:
— A mountain, a bush and a call to Moses: https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/ordinary-22/commentary-on-exodus-31-15-3
—  Shoe removal: https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/why-did-moses-remove-his-shoes-in-front-of-the-burning-bush.html
— The grossness of shoe bacteria: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/should-you-take-your-shoes-off-while-indoors

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 4:18-7:13