The second purpose God revealed to Moses about why He wanted to bring Israel out of Egypt was to provide for them as His people.
“And the Lord said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.” Exodus 3:7-8
Do you see how tender God was in His thoughts about Israel? He called them “My people”. God owns Israel. He owns the people and the land. He called Abram out of Ur and sent him to the land of Caanan. God made this promise to Abram – “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2) The people of Israel living in slavery in Egypt 3,500 years ago was the nation God had promised Abram. God also told Abram, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) That is part of God’s protection that we saw in the last part of our study. Egypt cursed Israel, so God cursed Pharaoh and Egypt. That’s how it works. God does what He says He will do. Even though His cursing of Egypt happened centuries after His promise to Abram, it happened because of the promise. God does not change and time does not diminish His purpose. He keeps His promises.
The purpose of God’s deliverance was to provide Israel a permanent home. He described it to Moses as “a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey.” He also told Moses that it was the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. God, in one sentence, told Moses a remarkable story of deliverance, protection, and provision.
One of God’s Names is Jehovah Jireh, which means “the Lord will provide.” That’s what Abraham called the place where God provided a sacrifice in place of Isaac (Genesis 22:14). Providing “the” sacrifice is the most important provision God made for Israel. He made that clear to Moses as He spoke to him from the burning bush.
Moses asked God – “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). Moses was 80 years old when he met God for the first time. He had spent 40 years as a prince of Egypt and the last 40 years as a shepherd in hiding. His question is understandable in light of his history. Moses had inserted himself into the life of his people before and failed miserably (Exodus 2:11-15). Why should things be different this time?
What is interesting to note here is how God responded to Moses’ question. Moses asked “Who am I.” How did God respond? “I AM WHO I AM.” Delivering Israel from Egypt and taking the people to a land flowing with milk and honey would not be based on human strength, but on the Power of the Great I AM.
“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ Moreover God said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’ Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, ‘I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.’ Then they will heed your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt; and you shall say to him, ‘The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, please, let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.” Exodus 3:14-18
Service is at the heart of true worship. When God told Moses to go to Pharaoh to bring Israel out of Egypt, Moses asked, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11) God promised Moses He would be with him – “And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3:12) The word God used in the Hebrew language for “serve” is abad. The word is used almost 300 times in the Old Testament and is translated most often by two English words – “serve” and “worship.” The word means “to labor, work, serve another.” God was not offering Israel a free ride. There was work to be done – the work of serving and worshipping the Almighty God.
Moses then asked God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” God’s answer was simple – “I AM WHO I AM.” Ehyeh asher ehyeh אהיה אשר אהיה. The Bible contains scores of Names for God. Most of them describe Him in some way (e.g. El Shaddai – God Almighty, El Elyon – Most High God, El Olam – Everlasting God, Adonai – Master), but the Name God revealed to Moses and Israel did not describe Him in the same sense. Ehyeh asher ehyeh is a statement about His Existence. It is the first person singular imperfect form of hayah (to be) and translates as “I will be.” Asher is a relative pronoun that can be translated as “that,” “who,” “where,” or “which,” depending on the context in which it is used.
Notice that God introduced Himself to Moses as ehyeh asher ehyeh – “I will be Who I will be.” Repeating ehyeh emphasizes God’s independence from all others. God is dependent on no one for His existence. God is Self-Existent. He is because He is! There is no one else in the universe who can say that. Everyone and everything exists because of cause, except for God Who is “causeless.” No one “caused” God. No one “made” God. No one “created” God. He is the “I AM WHO I AM.”
It’s important to remember what is happening here. God is sending Moses back to Egypt, a nation with hundreds of “gods,” to tell the people of Israel that “God” sent Moses to deliver them from slavery. The Names God gave Moses to give to Israel were the beginning of teaching Israel about God and why He was different than all the gods they had known about since their birth in Egypt.
God continued to reveal Himself to Moses in the next verse: “God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers —the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob —has sent me to you.’ ‘This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3:14) God gave Moses five other Names to give to Israel: “Lord,” “the God of your fathers,” “the God of Abraham,” “the God of Isaac,” and “the God of Jacob.”
Lord – YHWH
God of your fathers – Elohei Avoteinu
God of Abraham – Elohei Avraham
God of Isaac – Elohei Yitschak
God of Jacob – Elohei Ya’akov
YHWH is thought to be a verb form of the Hebrew word for “to be, to exist” (hyy or hwy). YHWH is used thousands of times in the Hebrew Bible. Vowels were added much later so that the spelling became Yahweh in Hebrew and Jehovah in English. The word speaks to God’s Self Existence, His Creative Power, and Redemptive Plan.
Genesis 1 uses the Name Elohiym 30 times to describe God creating the heavens and the earth. YHWH is added to Elohiym in Genesis 2 (e.g. “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens …). Eve used YHWH when she gave birth to Cain – “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” (Genesis 4:1) The godly line of Seth began to call on YHWH when Enosh was born – “And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:26) It’s important to note here that Moses used YHWH when he wrote about the redemptive plan of God.
[It’s also interesting to note that when Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden he never referred to God as YHWH. Satan used Elohiym three times instead. Genesis 3:1-5]
In the next part of our study we will see why God told Moses to tell Israel that Elohei Avoteinu, Elohei Avraham, Elohei Yitschak, and Elohei Ya’akov sent him to free them from slavery.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”