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The Wiersbe BIBLE STUDY SERIES: EXODUS
Finding freedom by Following God
By Warren W. Wiersbe
David C. CookCopyright © 2013 Warren W. Wiersbe
All rights reserved.
Before you begin ...
Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.
Read Exodus 1—4. This lesson references chapter 1 in Be Delivered. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.
From the Commentary
The Old Testament is God's "continued story" of His great program of salvation that He announced to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:15) and to Abraham (12:1–3). That explains why the Hebrew text of Exodus begins with the word and, for God is continuing the story He started in Genesis. God's wonderful story finally led to the coming of Jesus to earth and His death on the cross, and it won't end until God's people go to heaven and see Jesus on the throne. What a story!
—Be Delivered, page 17
1. From its first four chapters, what does Exodus seem to be about? What role do you expect Moses to play in this story? How is this a continuation of the story God began with Adam and Eve? How does it lead to our story today?
More to Consider: The Jewish rabbis call Exodus "the Book of Names" (or "These Are the Names"), because it opens with a list of the names of the sons of Jacob (Israel) who brought their families to Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan (Gen. 46). What is the significance of listing these names? What importance did names have in Moses' time? How did God use the Israelite's experiences in Egypt to prepare them for the tasks He gave them to accomplish on earth? What were those tasks?
2. Choose one verse or phrase from Exodus 1—4 that stands out to you. This could be something you're intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.
From the Commentary
During the years Joseph served as second ruler in Egypt, his family was greatly respected, and even after Joseph died, his memory was honored in the way the Egyptians treated the Hebrews. God kept His covenant promise to Abraham by blessing his descendants and causing them to multiply greatly (Gen. 12:1–3; 15:5; 17:2, 6; 22:17). By the time of the exodus, there were more than 600,000 men who were twenty years and older (Ex. 12:37; 38:26), and when you add the women and children, the total could well be nearly two million people, all of whom descended from the original family of Jacob. God certainly kept His promise!
—Be Delivered, page 18
3. What was the new pharaoh's response to the rapid multiplication of the Jewish people? What steps did he take to try to change their story? (See Ex. 1:8–22.)
From the Commentary
Amram and Jochebed were Moses' parents (Ex. 6:20), and while the Exodus text emphasizes the faith of the mother, Hebrews 11:23 commends both the father and the mother for trusting God. Certainly it took faith for them to have normal marital relations during that dangerous time when Jewish babies were being killed. Moses became a great man of faith, and he learned it first from his godly parents. Amram and Jochebed already had two children: Miriam, who was the oldest, and Aaron, who was three years older than Moses (Ex. 7:7).
From the very first, Moses was seen to be "no ordinary child" (Acts 7:20 NIV; see Heb. 11:23), and it was evident that God had a special purpose for him. Believing this to be true, the parents defied Pharaoh's edict and kept their son alive. This wasn't easy to do, since all the Egyptians were now Pharaoh's official spies, watching for babies to be drowned (Ex. 1:22).
—Be Delivered, pages 20–21
4. Review Exodus 2:1–10. How did Jochebed obey the letter of the law, but not necessarily the spirit of the law? What does this tell us about one of the many ways God works to accomplish His plan? What does this story teach us about the obstacles to faith? About God's role in helping us to overcome them?
From the History Books
Exodus tells a story of a powerful leader attempting to control a people—the Jews. History (both ancient and modern) tells many similar stories—many of which are even more heinous. From Hitler's attempt to exterminate the very same people in World War II to the Rwandan genocide in 1994, the dehumanization of people has continued to plague our world in horrific and catastrophic ways. Even today there are governments intent on destroying or diminishing people solely based on religious or cultural disagreements.
5. How is the situation the Jews faced in captivity similar to the more recent attempts to eradicate a group of people? How is it different? What does this pharaoh's response to Moses teach us about the pharaoh's heart toward the Jewish people? Why didn't he simply try to destroy them, as so many nations had previously tried? What causes a leader or a nation to denigrate a people or culture? What should our response today be to such travesties?
From the Commentary
God used a baby's tears to control the heart of a powerful princess, and He used Miriam's words to arrange for the baby's mother to raise the boy and get paid for it! The phrase as weak as a baby doesn't apply in the kingdom of God, for when the Lord wants to accomplish a mighty work, He often starts by sending a baby. This was true when He sent Isaac, Joseph, Samuel, John the Baptist, and especially Jesus. God can use the weakest things to defeat the mightiest enemies (1 Cor. 1:25–29). A baby's tears were God's first weapons in His war against Egypt.
The princess adopted Moses as her own son, which means that Moses had a favored position in the land and was given a special education for service in the government (Acts 7:22). In the Egyptian language, Moses means "born" or "son" and sounds like a Hebrew word that means "to draw out" (of the water). Years later, his name would remind Moses of the God who rescued him and did great things for him in Egypt. On more than one occasion, Moses would rescue his people because he trusted the Lord.
—Be Delivered, page 21
6. Why does God so often speak to His nation through a baby or a child? What does this teach us about God's character? What does it tell us about His love for His greatest creation? What does it tell us about how we ought to treat one another—young or old?
From the Commentary
Moses spent his first forty years (Acts 7:23) serving in the Egyptian bureaucracy. (Some students think he was being groomed to be the next pharaoh.) Egypt seems the least likely place for God to start training a leader, but God's ways are not our ways. In equipping Moses for service, God took several approaches. The first of these was education.
"And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 7:22 NKJV). What did that involve? Egypt had a highly developed civilization for its time, particularly in the areas of engineering, mathematics, and astronomy. Thanks to their knowledge of astronomy, they developed an amazingly accurate calendar, and their engineers planned and supervised the construction of edifices that are still standing. Their priests and doctors were masters of the art of embalming, and their leaders were skilled in organization and administration. Visitors to Egypt today can't help but be impressed with the accomplishments of this ancient people. The servant of God should learn all he can, dedicate it to God, and faithfully serve God.
—Be Delivered, page 22
7. Review Exodus 2:11–14. Why was it important that Moses knew the Egyptians' ways? How was this crucial to his relationship with the pharaoh? To his calling to serve God? Why was education important to the Egyptians? To Moses? What does this teach us about the importance of educating ourselves today?
From the Commentary
Moses became a fugitive and fled to the land of the Midianites, relatives of the Jews (Gen. 25:1–2). True to his courageous nature, he assisted the daughters of Reuel, the priest of Midian (Ex. 2:18), and this led to hospitality in their home and marriage with one of the daughters, Zipporah, who bore him a son. Later, she would bear another son, Eliezer (18:1–4; 1 Chron. 23:15). Reuel ("friend of God") was also known as Jethro (Ex. 3:1; 18:12, 27), but Jethro ("excellence") may have been his title as priest rather than his given name.
The man who was "mighty in word and deed" is now in the lonely pastures taking care of stubborn sheep, but that was just the kind of preparation he needed for leading a nation of stubborn people. Israel was God's special flock (Ps. 100:3) and Moses His chosen shepherd. Like Joseph's thirteen years as a slave in Egypt and Paul's three years' hiatus after his conversion (Gal. 1:16–17), Moses' forty years of waiting and working prepared him for a lifetime of faithful ministry.
—Be Delivered, page 23
8. Review Exodus 2:15–25. Why did Moses because a fugitive? How was this preparation for his later role? What does this reveal about how God often works with the people He calls to lead? Why does it often take so much time for God to train His leaders?
From the Commentary
Moses spent forty years serving as a shepherd in Midian (Acts 7:23; Ex. 7:7), and during those many days and nights in the field, he no doubt meditated on the things of God and prayed for his people who were suffering in Egypt. It's significant that God calls people who are busy: Gideon was threshing grain (Judg. 6), Samuel was serving in the tabernacle (1 Sam. 3), David was caring for sheep (17:20), Elisha was plowing (1 Kings 19:19–21), four of the apostles were managing their fishing business (Mark 1:16–20), and Matthew was collecting taxes (Matt. 9:9). God has nothing good to say about laziness (Prov. 24:30–34; Matt. 25:26–27; 2 Thess. 3:10–12).
What Moses saw (vv. 1–4). God can take an insignificant bush, ignite it, and turn it into a miracle, and that's what He wanted to do with Moses. Some see in the burning bush a picture of the nation of Israel: They are God's light in the world, persecuted but not consumed. But the burning bush was also a picture of what God had planned for Moses: He was the weak bush, but God was the empowering fire (Ex. 19:18; 24:17; Deut. 4:24; Judg. 13:20; Heb. 12:29), and with God's help, Moses could accomplish anything.
What Moses heard (vv. 5–10). God spoke to Moses and assured him that He was the God of his fathers and that He felt the suffering of the Jews in Egypt. He was now ready to deliver them out of Egypt and lead them into the Promised Land, and Moses would be His chosen leader. God's statement "Behold, I will send you" must have astonished Moses. Why would God choose a failure?
What Moses did (3:1—4:17). Moses should have rejoiced because God was at last answering prayer, and he should have submitted to God's will saying, "Here I am! Send me!" But instead, he argued with the Lord and tried to escape the divine call to rescue Israel from slavery.
—Be Delivered, pages 24–25
9. What reasons did Moses give for not being able to accept God's call? (See 3:11—4:17.) How is this similar to the way some believers respond to God today? Why are we so hesitant to do God's work? What role does faith play in all of this?
More to Consider: God knows us better than we know ourselves, so we must trust Him and obey what He tells us to do. Read Judges 6:15, 1 Samuel 9:21, and Jereremiah 1:6. How are these stories similar to Moses' story? Why are we quick to tell God our weaknesses when He already knows them? How does the following statement answer Moses' (and our) excuse: The will of God will never lead you where the power of God can't enable you.
From the Commentary
When you've lived in a place for forty years, how do you go about packing up and moving elsewhere, especially when you're going to a place of danger? The text describes five encouragements God gave Moses as he sought to obey the will of God.
(1) His father-in-law's blessing (4:18). Moses couldn't leave without first informing his father-in-law and receiving his permission and blessing.
(2) The promises of God (vv. 19–23). As Moses stepped out by faith, God spoke to him and encouraged him. God told Moses not to be afraid to return to Egypt, because his enemies were dead. Then He assured Moses that He would enable him to do the miraculous signs but that Pharaoh would only harden his heart and thereby invite more judgments from the Lord.
(3) Zipporah's obedience (vv. 24–26). The servant of the Lord must be careful to "manage his own family well" (1 Tim. 3:4 NIV) if he expects to enjoy the blessings of the Lord; for "[i]f anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?" (v. 5 NIV).
(4) Aaron's arrival (vv. 27–28). When it comes to serving the Lord, two are better than one (Eccl. 4:9). In spite of his faults, and we all have a few, Aaron ministered along with Moses and became the founder of the priesthood in Israel.
(5) The nation's faith (vv. 29–31). Moses had expressed fear that the Jewish elders wouldn't believe his message or accept his leadership, but they did, and so did the rest of the nation when they saw the demonstration of God's power in the signs. On hearing that God was concerned for them and was about to rescue them, they bowed in grateful worship.
—Be Delivered, pages 27–29
10. Why was it so important for God to give these encouragements to Moses? What kinds of encouragements does a church need to move forward into "places of danger"? What are those dangerous places? Why might God want the church to go there?
Take a moment to reflect on all that you've explored thus far in this study of Exodus 1—4. Review your notes and answers, and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.
Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don't press for people to speak if they're uncomfortable doing so.
11. Moses' very life was saved because someone defied a pharaoh (though she abided by the letter of the law in the process). Have you ever felt led to defy a law or an authority in order to accomplish God's purpose? Explain. Upon reflection, was your interpretation of God's intent correct? Were there other ways to accomplish the same thing? What is the line that God draws when it comes to disobeying authorities?
12. What are some areas of your life today where you see God's delay? How might God be using this delay? What can you learn from it?
13. What has God called you to do that you are hesitant to act upon? Why are you hesitating? How does God's call on your life reveal your level of faith? How does accepting that call grow your faith? Grow you closer to God?
14. Think of one or two things that you have learned that you'd like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It's better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don't try).
Do you want to lean to trust God's specific call upon your life? Be specific. Go back through Exodus 1—4 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.
Real-Life Application Ideas: Spend time this week considering God's call upon your life. Do you know what He's calling you to do? Have you responded to that call? If you don't know what God is calling you to do, talk with family members, trusted friends, and leaders in your church community. The perspectives offered by others can often clarify blurry issues relating to God's call. God may have used a burning bush in Moses' story—but he might use the people around you in yours. If you haven't yet embraced the call you discover in your life, start making specific plans to do so.
15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence) inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you've noted in the Going Forward section. Be honest about your desires and fears.
Excerpted from The Wiersbe BIBLE STUDY SERIES: EXODUS by Warren W. Wiersbe. Copyright © 2013 Warren W. Wiersbe. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
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