Come, Follow Me
Old Testament Lesson 13:
“I Have Remembered My Covenant”
Exodus 1: The children of Israel multiply—They are placed in bondage by the Egyptians—Pharaoh seeks to destroy the sons born to Hebrew women.
Exodus 2: Moses is born to Levite parents, is raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, slays an Egyptian in defense of an Israelite, flees to Midian, and marries Zipporah—Israel in bondage cries to the Lord.
Exodus 3: The Lord appears to Moses at the burning bush—Moses is called to deliver Israel from bondage—The Lord identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and as the Great I Am—He promises to smite Egypt and bring His people out with great wealth.
Exodus 4: The Lord gives signs to Moses—Aaron is chosen as a spokesman—Israel is the Lord’s firstborn and must be released to serve Him—Moses’ son is circumcised—Moses and Aaron lead Israel in worship.
Exodus 5: Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh to free Israel—Pharaoh responds, Who is the Lord?—He places greater burdens upon the children of Israel.
Exodus 6: The Lord identifies Himself as Jehovah—The genealogies of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi are listed.
Mar 21 – Mar 27 (Exodus 1–6) Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
This is Book of Mormon Central’s come Follow Me Insights.
Today, Exodus 1-6.
So before we dive into chapter one of Exodus, I think it might be helpful if we take a step back for a minute. It in quick overview in review of what we’ve covered so far and then kind of a preview of what’s coming up. So we Orient better into these first chapters of Exodus. You’ll notice that in the Book of Genesis, which the word Genesis is this beginning idea, the initiation of something. So what’s happened here is this is traditionally referred to as the first of the five books of Moses. One of the tasks that he had in front of him wasn’t just to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. It was also to go back and abridge a whole bunch of scripture, not just like 1000 years of scripture, but we’re talking 2500 years of scripture because Moses is sometime around 1500 BC, 1400 BC. And so the Book of Genesis is simply Moses abridgement of everything that came before him. So you get the story of Adam and Eve and Enoch and Noah and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. That’s all Genesis is. Moses giving us this abridgement of these records.
Now, keep in mind, when Father Lehi takes the brass plates over to the New World, we find out in Mosaiah chapter one that those brass plates were written in which language Egyptian and nephews is writing in Egyptian. And all the subsequent authors on the Book of Mormon plates are writing in Egyptian or reformed Egyptian. By the time you get down to Moroni, he refers to it as reformed Egyptian. So we’re going back to Moses beginnings here in Egypt. Everything seems to have its Genesis or its beginning out of that language and that culture. As far as the Bible and the brass plates and Consequently all of the golden plates that contain the Book of Mormon story, it brings us back to this learning of the Egyptians.
The Egyptians are actually the most prosperous, the largest Empire in the world at that time. And imagine just like they have all the culture, all the science, all the learning. And the Egyptian language was like the language of commerce. It was the language of literature, the language of religion. And in some ways, we have English today that is used commonly throughout the world. Now, some people, it’s a second language for them, but they want to engage in business or transactions or even understanding religion. They actually learn English. And the same thing anciently with Egyptian, it was the most powerful society. And there’s just so much cultural influence that ends up being exerted on the Bible. And the Israelite people, they emerge out of Egypt. Moses himself, I mean, his name is an Egyptian name. So it’s all this kind of background influence of this Egyptian culture. Much like if we rolled the clock forward from today, like two or three or 4000 years. People would say, man, there’s English everywhere and there’s so much culture going on from Western culture that’s infused in what’s going on in business and religion. And partly why we share this with you is because context matters.
The word Con actually means what goes with the text. Include the context with the text. All you’re doing is just giving people a Con. So if you only have the text, you don’t get the whole context. So we’re trying to give you a little bit of context here. So these words have more power and meaning so we can see the gospel and live it.
Yeah. So that sets the stage for the book of Exodus, the second of the traditional five books of Moses, what you might hear referred to as the Torah or the Pentatuk. It’s Genesis, Exodus of iticus Numbers and Deuteronomy. So Genesis is everything that came before Moses. Exodus is his own story, his own experiences coming to Earth, being called as a Prophet and leading the children of Israel. And then we’re going to get to those final three books a little later on. So with Exodus, what happens here is we begin in chapter one with Moses’own story. So he’s no longer in abridging mode, writing down the things from previous prophets writings. He’s now telling his own story, and it begins before he’s even born here with his family. Keep in mind, we’ve been in Egyptian bondage now for 400 plus years. And you’ll see that in verse six, chapter one, Joseph died and all of his brethren and all of that generation. So we begin the story going clear back to Joseph time he passes away. And then verse seven, the children of Israel were fruitful and increased, abundantly and multiplied and waxed exceeding mighty. And the land was filled with them.
This fulfills the promises God gave to Abraham back in Genesis twelve doesn’t make the Egyptians very happy that God’s fulfilling his promises.
Yeah, they don’t love it. So they’re enslaved because this new King rose up in verse eight, which knew not Joseph. That’s such an interesting biblical phrase. This new King, which knew not Joseph, which means all of those privileges that were appointed to Joseph and all of his family, by extension, they’re pulled back and this new King in Egypt actually enslaves the people.
It’s interesting here, biblical scholars and archaeologists have spent a lot of time looking at the ancient Middle East. And briefly, what we discovered is there were a bunch of Semitic people, Canaanites, who came down into Egypt and actually took over power and became the Kings of Egypt. And it seems that Joseph actually gets into Egypt about this time and is appointed to a position of power with people who are ethnically and linguistically related to him. And from the archeological record and the literary record, these people who are called the Higzos, it means foreign rulers actually were overthrown by Egyptians. And you can imagine Egyptians who have now overthrown the foreign rulers are saying we didn’t really like having foreigners running our country. And now all these foreigners who live in our country, we’re going to find a way to put them to work. And that’s kind of maybe the historical context of the story where Moses is born into.
Yeah. So we pick it up with verse eleven. Therefore, they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Python and Ramses.
And these are cities that are built to Egyptian gods. P. The word P in Egyptian means house, and the thumbnail actually means atom, one of the creator gods, Egyptian pantheon. And you have RA here. The Israelites are now having to build cities dedicated to the Egyptian gods. And I can just imagine, first of all, nobody likes to be enslaved, but to be enslaved, to build temples to pagan deities that you don’t worship probably doesn’t make you feel very good.
Then the story gives us an interesting little insight here in verse twelve, it says, but the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. We’ve seen that in other places in scripture, in Church history, where sometimes the more pressure from the outside that gets put on people, the stronger they become and the more resilient they end up becoming. It kind of has the opposite effect of the oppressors. So the only reason I share that is because some of you right now in your life are probably feeling incredible amounts untold levels of outside pressure and stresses and oppression weighing down upon you. I hope that for you, verse twelve would be a little reminder that just because the external forces are really negative and they’re heavy and they’re not fun doesn’t mean that those internal forces can’t multiply and that spirituality and that connection with heaven can’t actually be accelerated or increased or improved in ways that maybe you wouldn’t get in other settings. I don’t know. It may not apply to every situation out there, but it’s something a principle to at least consider. So look at this part now in verse 15, where we get a new paragraph marker in your King James Version and the King of Egypt Spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of one was Shifra and the name of the other Pua.
Normally in scripture you get names mentioned when a really significant event is occurring. Otherwise it would just be the midwives. But you actually get two specific given names. And I’m here to tell you that in chapter one in the Moses story, these two women, Shifra and Pua, are some of the unsung heroines. We know their name, but people don’t usually go around giving talks about Shifra and Pua. Yet these two women did something in their sphere of influence at their time in their setting of life that was just as important or just as grand in the overall scheme of things as anything that anybody’s ever done in other settings. What do I mean by that? They’re commanded by the sovereign leader of the most powerful man in the world that they knew of. They were commanded to kill all of the Egyptian or all of the Hebrew boys that were born. These are midwives. So if it’s a boy, let’s kill all of them, because Pharaoh is so concerned that the numbers are just going to keep increasing. So what do you do?
And he’s also worried about those boys get older and become men who become military officers, and they could then throw critic coup and overthrow the Egyptians again.
So what do you do when you’re in this situation where you’re being commanded to do something that you know is absolutely wrong on every level? Well, notice that verse 17 tells us, but the midwives feared God and did not as the King of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. I love the fact that when they had to make a decision between, do I serve God or do I serve this really powerful person who’s commanding me to do something I really don’t want to do? They chose to put God first and serve him. So it didn’t take long for Pharaoh to realize that his plan wasn’t working because he could see a whole bunch of Hebrew boys, little children running around. And so he calls in the midwives and asks them specifically, Why haven’t you obeyed me? And they say, well, verse 19, the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women, for they are lively and are delivered. The midwives come in unto them so we don’t have a chance to carry out your orders. And then notice verse 21, it came to pass that because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.
I think the Hebrew word there correct me if I’m wrong doesn’t mean that God gave them a whole bunch of mansions or physical houses. He gave them households, he gave them increase. And their names are now revered down to this day. We know these two and there were probably many others, but we at least specifically know these two.
Well, it’s interesting. Houses also means dynasty. We get this in Second Samuel, chapter seven, where King David wants to build a house to the Lord, a temple. And God says through Nathan, actually, now I’m going to build you a house. David already had a palace, but God said, I’m going to make you a dynasty. It’s not just about the dynasty, it’s about having a named family where there’s one name at the top that everybody says, I’m part of that family. And you notice you don’t have the men who are likely married to these women mentioned. It’s the women’s names that are preserved here. In some ways that’s God had fulfilled the promise that I’m going to have you remembered as a Memorial. Your names, and we have their names. Now. It’s a pretty amazing way for God to fulfill his prophecy.
So next time you hear the name Shifra and Pua, hopefully it can call to memory this idea of do what is right, let the consequence follow. Put God first. Let God prevail in your life and do the right thing. Now we come into chapter two, which is the introduction of Moses into the story. Everything before that is filled, those 400 plus years between Joseph and Moses birth. That was chapter one. Now we get into chapter two. Now, as we dive into chapter two, let’s pause for a moment and look at some of the things that make Moses such an amazing Prophet. In the history of the gospel dispensations, you’ve probably seen this happen in other settings where people will take a person and they’ll put that person on a comparative table with the Lord Jesus Christ and show how there are similarities between the two people. And at first that’s a fun exercise, just because it’s neat to see those connections. But at a deeper level, I think it’s very helpful to see these kinds of connections, to see that what the scriptures tell us is true. When it says all things denote that there is a Christ, all things point to him.
All good things. I should probably clarify here to the point where hopefully you and I can begin to live our lives a little more intentionally, a little more purposefully, a little more actively thinking through, rather than just living, just going to bed and waking up and eating and going about our business and letting life happen. But to intentionally strive to put our name over here so that people can see comparisons between Christ’s life and ours because we’re seeking to become more like him. So, just for fun, this is not an exhaustive list. Many people have done this before. I’m going to share a couple of the items off of a list that Jack Welch. He being one of the founders here at Bookworman Central, one that he prepared years ago in BYU studies. Listen to this for a minute. Both Jesus and Moses escaped being killed as a baby when the decree of a King, Pharaoh in Moses’case, Herod in Jesus case, condemned all male infants to death in that region. Neither one was an Egyptian, but both lived among the Egyptians who ended up preserving their lives when they were little babies. Same thing.
He was born in Bethlehem, but then very quickly taken down to Egypt to preserve his life. Both were raised with the legal right to become a King, but instead of being a King, they belonged to a nation, in this case, Israel, oppressed by a pagan and foreign government. Egypt for Moses, Rome for Jesus, who was born and adopted by Joseph as the son of David. As this line, another one freed his people from slavery through a lamb that was slain for the Passover. Jesus is the Lamb that was slain to free all of us from slavery. They both come out of Egypt in order to fulfill their missions. Moses passes through the Red Sea. Jesus passes through the waters of baptism. So that’s the one that Jack Welsh uses. Another one to add to that is the fact that Jesus walked on top of the water of the Sea of Galilee without being destroyed by that force. Both spent 40 somethings, 40 years in the wilderness, 40 days up on Mount Sinai, 40 years in Egypt, 40 years out in Midian, and then the 40 years in the wilderness. The number 40 keeps coming up with Christ at the beginning of his Ministry.
After being baptized, he spends 40 days up in the wilderness to be with God. And both fasted for 40 days. During that time, when they were up on Mount Sinai and in the wilderness with God, while in the wilderness, was administered two by Angels, while in the wilderness, administered two by Angels, and was tempted of the devil. Moses was also tempted of the devil. And we covered that back in Moses. One, Moses gave the law to the people from the mountain. Christ gives the upgrade or the higher connections, covenantal connections from the mountain. We call it the Sermon on the Mount. And that is just the beginning of the list. If you wanted and if you were interested, you could spend lots of time in your study finding additional connections between Moses and Christ. And hopefully it would lead you to once again put your name over here.
So here’s some other perspectives you might consider as you dive into the Book of Exodus. You might look for these themes. You might look for the theme of redemption. We’ll write these down Covenant, God’s presence. And this is not an exhaustive list. There are lots of really amazing themes. An important one we’ve actually mentioned a little bit ago was law. Another word for law is Torah, and the Hebrew word Torah literally means instruction. It’s very interesting. So it’s actually God’s covenantal laws or covenantal instructions for how to be faithful and loyal to him, to show love to him and love to your neighbors. If you want to look for like now, this is just me. I think two of the most significant passages that lay out the purpose of Exodus would be first, Exodus, chapter two, verse 24. And that reads and God remembered his Covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. We spent quite a bit of time back in the Genesis lessons talking about why the Abraham accounts have been preserved for our time is to help us to know what God promised to do for Abraham and all his posterity. And notice that when that posterity is in bondage, God remembered the Covenant.
So you might add to your list of themes is the theme of remembering. And remembering is a word we’re all familiar with but it has a Covenant or context. It has a Covenant or context of somebody knowing that they have covenantal obligations. The next verse I would point out is Exodus 20, verse two. And this Lord says, I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. So this ties into God back in chapter two, saying he remembered the Covenant that he made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Whenever you see that phrase, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob anywhere in scripture, it always refers to the God who will always fulfill his Covenant. You can fully trust him. And here’s God in chapter 20, which we’ll get to in future lessons, where he’s now revealing himself to the Israelites. This is who I am. I have done these things for you. I have saved you. And Exodus 20 is where he gives the ten Commandments, which are the stipulations or the instructions for the people to show covenantal faithfulness. And then, having gotten to this point, let’s talk about maybe a two part structure for the book of Exodus.
Now, there’s a variety of ways of chopping up the text of Exodus. You might actually say Exodus one through 19 is the first part of the text and the rest of the book. These chapters are 20 to 40. Now, the first part we might say God showing Covenant and faithfulness. So if we look at all the stories, it’s God saving the Israelites with mighty power and deeds, these incredible stories, chapter after chapter of God showing that he’s more mighty than the Pharaoh, more mighty than any of the Egyptian gods. He’s mightier than the created order because he himself created it. So what’s interesting here is that he spends 19 chapters proving to the people that he is faithful to his Covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So you get to chapter 20 through 40. It’s all about instructions for us or for the Israelites to be faithful to God. So the first half of the book, in my view, the first half of the book is God showing his Covenant of faithfulness. And the second half of the book is instructions for the Israelites or all who want to be God’s people for how to be covenantly faithful to God.
So it’s a nice book, Enos for a 40 chapter book.
It’s powerful in that context for them back then. But to me, Taylor, the power of this is to take opportunities to once again be a little more intentional in the way we live our life on the Covenant path is to look for God’s hand, to recognize his covenantal faithfulness in our life after we’ve seen it on the pages in the history of scripture, to then say, so where has he shown that to me? Not in the same way as he did it with Moses and the Egyptians and the Hebrews back then, but in ways today. And then to figure out what are some of those instructions he’s given us today? We thank the O God for a Prophet to guide us in these latter days.
I’m so glad you said that, because in Moses day, right? He’s the Prophet who reveals the instructions for how to be faithful to God, how to love God, love your neighbor. When Jesus shows up, he’s like the new Moses. He gets on a mountain and says, Moses taught you these instructions to be covenantly faithful. I now saying to you, here’s the new instructions. We now have a restoration with modern day living prophets. Now, I love the ancient scriptures, but God is saying, look, you are not simply only bound to instructions from a long time ago. I now have modern day prophets who will teach you the covenantal instructions for how to be faithful to me. So that’s the beauty of having modern day prophets who speak to us at General Conference and at other times.
I love it. Any chance I can get to listen to the profits, Sears and Revelators and to do my best to give heed to what they’re saying and to implement it. There’s never been a time when I’ve applied something or even when I strive to apply something that I’ve heard from the prophets where I say, oh, man, I wish I hadn’t done that. Maybe I’m missing something, but that’s just never happened to me. It’s always I learn things as I strive to live my life more in accordance with the instructions that God is giving me today to be covenantly faithful to God through his living prophets.
Let’s just tie this in just briefly to the overview of the rest of scriptures, because a lot of scriptures show examples of God’s faithfulness. Lots of examples. We also have examples of what happens when people are loyal and faithful to God versus how some ancient prophets talk about it versus cheating on God. And if you look at the Bible and we’re going to get to this in other conflammated lessons, too many of the Israelites cheated on God. They were covenantly unfaithful, and therefore they didn’t get access to the blessings. The Book of Mormon is full of this, of what happens when people are faithful or not and God has preserved these records for us to learn. The main thing is, please be faithful to me. It’s like a relationship. I have always been loyal and faithful to you. Please be faithful to me. I understand that sometimes you make mistakes. Making mistakes is not covenantal and faithfulness, but choosing to purposely walk away from God, to purposely and persistently in a long term get into a pattern of habit of rejecting God, that’s Covenant on faithfulness. But if you are desiring to be his child, to be in his Kingdom, and you are purposely working towards trying to be a little bit better every day, that’s faithfulness God wants that faithfulness.
He wants us to be loyal to him. So that’s kind of what’s going on. And sometimes we get lost in all these details and just see the larger picture. It’s about God simply wants to be in a relationship with us.
Redeeming, establishing and perpetuating the Covenant, coming into God’s presence and learning his law. It’s beautiful. Now let’s jump in chapter two. This is the birth of Moses. You’ll notice that in the footnote there next to chapter two, verse one, it sends you over to Exodus, chapter six, verse 20. That’s where you actually get the name of Moses father and mother, verse 20 tells us, and Amrem took him joke, Abed, his father’s, sister to wife, and she bear him Aaron and Moses. So there’s where you get the names of his mother and father. And keep in mind, Aaron is the older brother by about three years.
It’s like Nephi having older brothers. Often God breaks the expected order and makes the younger be the ruler.
So look at verse two.
It says, when the woman conceived and bear a son and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hit him three months. There’s a significant word here, this goodly idea in an ancient Hebrew context. It doesn’t mean, oh, he’s a good baby. I think everybody could say every baby is a good baby, but they’re using the word goodly to mean something different.
Actually, if you look at Nephi first, Nephi, chapter one, verse one, he says, I Nephi, haven’t been born of goody, goody parents. It turns out the word Nephi, the best research suggests it’s an Egyptian word that means goodly or beautiful or lovely or desirable. So there’s something going on here about prophets of God being described as goodly or Nephi. So if we actually were reading this text in Egyptian, Moses would be described with the word with a variant of the word Nephi, which I think is very interesting. In fact, we noticed that when Nephi describes the fruit of the tree of life, he uses words that all would be based on the meaning of his Egyptian name of goodly and beautiful and desirable. So it’s all tied in to the tone of Jesus Christ. So these little gems packed in. And every now and then I’m like, man, I would sure love a Yarm and thumb. So I can just kind of read the stuff in the original Egyptian and Hebrew, but we get a pretty good English translation.
Yeah. So verse three says, when she could no longer hide him, she took him, sorry, she took for him and Ark of Bullrushes and dubbed it with slime and with pitch and put the child there in. And she laid it in the flags by the river’s Brink. She puts him in the flags, which is near the side of the river. It’s in the reeds. It’s where the water isn’t moving.
You’re stuck in the reeds, can’t move.
He’d be rocking back and forth there, but staying in one spot so this is where we get the most famous little joke for you. This is where we get the most famous money manager in the history of the Bible comes into the story here. It happens to be Pharaoh’s daughter. Apparently, times were tough, but she found a way to go down to the bank of the Nile and draw out a profit. So we shouldn’t overlook that little fact here. And remember, the gospel is still true in spite of everything you might hear. So the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself. She sees this arc among the flags, and she sends her maid to fetch it. And she sees this child, and she had compassion on him and said, this is one of the Hebrew’s children.
So let’s just look at the word compassion for a minute. This word is made up of two Latin words. It means to suffer or feel with. When people talk about the suffering that Jesus Christ endured, they often talk about the passion, like the passion of Jesus Christ. It’s the suffering. And we saw earlier, earlier, the word for context, Con and calm actually means with. So when you have compassion, it means you’re willing to suffer with God has. Jesus has compassion for us. He suffers with us. He feels our pain. And it’s actually taught very well in the Book of Mormon, probably better than any other scripture that God is willing to succor us in all of our suffering. And I love that. Here’s an Egyptian woman who technically is the enemy. And it’s interesting that the Bible preserves that her common humanity as a daughter of God, she has compassion for other humans. And I love the acknowledgement that you do have one guy, the Pharaoh, who’s kind of telling everybody to be mean. And yet most people throughout human history are good people and want to live good lives. And she’s doing this even without a knowledge of God.
She’s a compassionate person. So I find that kind of this compelling thing, that this Pharaoh’s daughter is a bit of a savior character.
Yeah. So it’s fun to see another character come into this story. In verse four, Moses sister stood afar off, to wit, what would be done to him or to know or to see, to watch what would be done to the baby. At which point when the daughter of Pharaoh decides, I want to save this baby, but how are we going to take care of this little three month old baby? Moses sister comes and says, hey, I know somebody who could feed him until he’s weaned. And then you could have him back. And so he gets to go home.
And she’s a savior character, too.
He’s a savior character, too. You’re getting types of Christ in varying degrees and various symbolic connections, kind of like that comparison grid that we drew up before, where she now is able to take this little baby home to the child’s mother. And verse ten tells us the child grew and she brought him on to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she called his name Moses. And she said, because I drew him out of the water, you’ll notice the name Moses, if you look at your footnote, tells you that in Egyptian it’s to be get a child. And in the Hebrew it’s to draw out.
What actually the inspired authors are doing here is they understand that the word Moses means son, but they also want people to know one of the key themes, the lesson the name is a lesson they want you to know in Moses name, in the Hebrew, it is to be drawn out. So you’re drawn out of Egypt through Exodus, you’re drawn out of the water. There’s all these drawing outs that are actually packed into the Moses story. And so there again, the writers are giving you a clue. When you hear the name Moses, here’s what you’re supposed to think of. Now, again, for the ancient people, most people were illiterate, so they would actually hear the Bible read or sung to them. And this way, when they knew the meanings of the names, they already knew the key theme or some of the key themes in the story. And this is a big one, how God draws us out from our suffering.
It’s interesting to me how Moses mother here, Jokabad, we often talk about types of Christ. Well, in her case and in her husband’s case, MRAM. These two are kind of types of our heavenly parents in a way, where they give their son to another person to raise him and he’s being raised to become the savior for all of these people. There’s beautiful symbolism there as well that she was willing to sacrifice all those memories and all those experiences with her son growing up. Once he was weaned, but she gave him up to save his life and by so doing to save the life of the entire family, of the house of Israel. It’s some beautiful symbolism there. So verse eleven tells us it came to pass in those days when Moses was grown, that he went out onto his brethren and looked on their burdens and he spied an Egyptian smiting, a Hebrew, one of his brethren. Now, if you go to Acts, chapter seven, because you don’t get all of the timestamps here in Exodus, Luke, when he’s writing the Acts of the Apostles in chapter seven, he gives us a really fascinating overview in that chapter of Moses life.
And it all comes down to the number 40, which again, we’ve talked about this before. In ancient cultures, the number 40 often means a long passage of time. So that’s why it shows up so many times as 40 days or 40 years. It could be literal, but it could also just mean a really long period of time. Well, in Acts, chapter seven, it breaks up Moses life into three iterations of 40. The first 40 years in Egypt, the second 40 years out in Midian with Jethro, where he gets married and has two sons, and the last 40 years out in the wilderness, wandering with the children of Israel before they get to go into the promised Land. And he’s translated at the very end. So 40, 40, 40. And if you think about that, he spent a long time, maybe it’s exactly 40 years. Maybe it’s just a long passage of time in Pharaoh’s court, in Pharaoh’s household. And now he goes out to start seeing what’s going on with his brethren. We don’t know for sure how he how many memories he has or how he learned his true identity at this point as to his lineage.
But he sees bad things happening to these Hebrews by these Egyptian slave drivers. And so he slays the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. Well, the next day, he sees two Hebrews striving together, and he asks him, Why are you being rude to each other? And their response is pretty negative in return. Are you going to do to us what you did to that Egyptian?
Yeah. Who made the apprentice to judge over us?
Verse 14, at which point Moses feared and said, Surely this thing is known. He realizes, oh, that’s not going to look good.
I’ve killed an Egyptian when I’m a Hebrew.
Yeah. So now look at verse 15. When Pharaoh heard about what had happened, he sought to slay Moses, but Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh. So the first of 340 year phases of Moses life is now complete, and he goes in and he begins phase two, which we’re not going to spend very much time on. He goes out to Midian. It’s a long way, long journey.
It’s a tough journey.
Getting away from Pharaoh and from that conviction that would lead to his death.
I was pointing out briefly, if you look at a map, you’ll see here’s the Nile River, the Nile River Delta, you have the Sinai Peninsula, all that is controlled by Egypt and the Pharaoh. So if you can get all the way over to Midian, which is where modern day Saudi Arabia is, well, then you’re outside the power of the Pharaoh. And so that’s why Moses has to go so far away. He has to get outside the jurisdiction of the Pharaoh, which is all the way over both arms of the Red Sea.
As we jump into phase two of his life, he meets Jethro in the land of Midian, and there he marries one of Jethro? S seven daughters, and the two of them have two children. The first one, verse 22, is Gersham. Then what you find out at the end of chapter two is that the King of Egypt died, and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage. And they cried, and their cry came upon to God by reason of the bondage now what we don’t know is how often and how profoundly the previous generations of Hebrew servants in Egypt had turned heavenward. And if they even knew to turn heavenward, or if it’s just getting so bad now that their cries are so painful that finally it says, verse 24, God heard their groaning, and God remembered his Covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob back to what Taylor had been talking about before. So God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
It means he sees them. The word respect means to look again. It’s not like God has turned his back on them. He sees them and he looks again and he sees their suffering. He has compassion. And now God is ready to start to deliverance, but he needs a servant to do it.
There you go. So we come into chapter three. Moses kept the flock of Jethro, his father in law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the backside of the desert and came to the mountain of God, even to Horb. Now it says in the KGV, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him. Joseph Smith changed that to say, the presence of the Lord emanating out of this Bush. We refer to it as the burning Bush experience. To me, it calls up the imagery from the Book of Mormon, from the dream of Lehigh and the vision of Nephi, where he refers to the tree of life as this exceedingly light and white tree in a dark and dreary wilderness or wasteland. It’s that idea that the presence of God might best be described this God of glory as a burning Bush, the Lord of the outstretched arms. It’s a pretty good description that from a distance or even up close, it might look like a Bush that is burning. So I love that Joseph translation change because it feels a lot more personal to have Moses in the presence of the Lord rather than just talking to a shrub that looks like it should be consumed by fire.
But it’s not. So Moses comes near, and the Lord calls to him out of the midst of the Bush. And Moses response was, Here am I, which is a phrase that Jehovah used in the Premortal Council. He taught us how to use that. And so the Lord tells him to put the shoes off of his feet. Take your shoes off. You’re standing on Holy ground here. And so Moses comes forth. Why is this ground Holy? Why does he need to take off his shoes?
Look at verse six.
Moreover, he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Did you notice that he didn’t say, I’m the God of your father, Pharaoh, who for 40 years minus however long it was that he was with his biological parents. That’s his father. That’s what he was raised to become. But God is establishing identity here very powerfully. 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. And then look at verse seven. And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people, which are in Egypt. And I’ve heard their cry by reason of their test Masters, for I know their sorrows, compassion. You know, if we’re practicing that attribute with our loved ones and with people around us, it’s an opportunity for us to try to become more like the Lord himself. It’s this turning outward and recognizing when people are struggling and hurting, and it doesn’t mean that we go and instantly fix their problem. Rarely does that happen.
It just means that we go and have compassion where we’re suffering with them. We’re making sure they don’t walk that lonely road all alone in isolation.
A brief example. Some years ago, I was having some personal sorrows and suffering in my life, and I spent a lot of time talking to my mom, Cathy Howverson, and my dad, but a lot to my mom. And it’s interesting. I did a lot of talking, and she sat there with me and listened and listened and listened. And it didn’t immediately resolve the issues. But knowing that there was somebody who was willing to hear me out and care about the suffering I was dealing with was actually extremely empowering and gave me the added assurance and encouragement and strength and energy to continue enduring to the end day by day as I was working through these situations. And sometimes we might feel like I have to have the right answer. I have to know what to say. Sometimes it’s just sitting with people and just listening to them, as God does for most of us. When we pray, God does it.
He’s the best listener of anybody.
Yeah. He listens to me a lot. I wish I was as good as him when I grew up. I want to be more like God.
Now look at verse eleven. So this command has been given to Moses to go into Egypt. I’ve heard their cry, and I need you to go and help me bring them out of bondage. Well, verse eleven says, and Moses said unto God, who am I? That I should go unto Pharaoh and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt. His question is, I am the last person in the world who wants to go into Egypt, because last time I was there, I had a death sentence pronounced upon me. I am not the most popular person in Egypt right now. You’ve got to find somebody better to do this job. Which, by the way, doesn’t that beg the question of us to consider? Why does God use Moses here or Enoch before or any of the prophets we’ve had in this dispensation or fill in the blank with whoever your Bishop or your state President is or your Relief Society President. Why then why doesn’t God just miraculously perform all of the miracles? Why is he calling imperfect people who feel inadequate, who know that they don’t have what it takes to accomplish this task that’s been given them?
At least that’s what they think. Why does he do this? I think it’s beautiful to see the fact that Earth life mortality isn’t about God doing everything perfectly. It’s about a perfect God helping imperfect children learn and grow through their own experience, as we have heavenly parents who work with us to help us grow and develop. And the best way to grow and develop is to learn not from books or not from lectures or not from other people, but from experience. We live to the best of our ability, and we learn from that, which is exactly what’s happening here. Look at verse twelve.
I love this verse. Go ahead. He’s so worried. He’s like, who am I? And the answer is, I am everything. Certainly God says, I will be with thee, and this shall be a token unto thee that I have sent thee. When thou has brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain, which we’ll see in Exodus 20 is where God makes that big covenantal relationship real.
So then Moses asked this obvious question, wait, what shall I say the people, when they ask me for who sent you? Whose errand are you on? Why would we follow you?
Who’s the authority?
And look at the answer. Verse 14. And God said unto Moses, I am that I am. That phrase has been interpreted a million different ways over time. I think the simplest way to look at it is the I am in any language. Is this to be verb. The personal pronoun combined with the to be verb here’s a couple of ways that you could translate that.
The selfexisting one, we call them the great Im. Point out what you said actually prompted this thought. The word here that is used for God’s name, which become, we know as Jehovah. The underlying Hebrew word is the present tense verb to be. What’s interesting, throughout the entire Old Testament, the present tense verb to be is exclusively and reservedly only used for the name of God. So the verb to be it’s used in the future tense and the past tense for anybody else. But God himself occupies the total space of the verb to be. You will never find the verb to be anywhere used in the Old Testament except in the name of God himself. That’s incredible. That is, how so encompassing his existence is that there is nothing that exists unless he is a doer of it.
Yes. And in fact, you could cross reference that verse right there, verse 14, where he says, I am that I am. When Moses had asked him, well, who should I tell them sent me with chapter six, verse three, where at that point he says, and I appeared onto Abraham, onto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty. That’s what they knew me as, God Almighty. But by my name, Jehovah was I not known to them. Jehovah is an amazing name that we get in our English translation of the Bible that is often attributed to William Tindall coining. This name, where did he get it from? We get these four letters of the name of God, Yahweh. It’s called the Tetragramaton.
It’s a great way to impress your friends at a party.
You can ask them how they feel about the Tetragram, what it is. Now, keep in mind, in Hebrew, you read from right to left, you have to kind of cross over these letters here into our Y.
Hwh, Y, H, the W and the H, correct.
So Yahweh, but this is the name that you don’t speak, you don’t pronounce it, you don’t say it, it’s too sacred, the name of God for them, except for certain people on certain occasions. Well, William Tyndale and others are translating the Bible into English in the 1500s and they keep coming across the Tetragram and they want to translate it into English. But there’s not an easy way to know how the ancient Israelites pronounce the name. So what he did with something really clever, he took the word for the Lord in the Hebrew Adonai and he took the sounds of the vowels and he inserted those in between the consonants, the four consonants. And keep in mind, the Y and the J could be interchangeable in the pronunciation. And the W is more like the German pronunciation, so it comes across with a V sound. So he takes Jahho Vai and he makes up a brand new name in the 1500s to represent the name of God, which is the unspeakable Tetragram, Y, HW. Now, knowing that isn’t going to get you into heaven, but it’s to show this idea of anciently the name of God was a really big deal to these Hebrews.
And when Moses is able to give them a variant on his name with the I am that I am. And then later on, after he’s been faithful, then God rebuilds his actual name. This becomes very sacred ground for those ancient Israelites to learn the name of God.
So the name is a lesson. God’s name is about existence. So those who align themselves with God in Covenant and take his name upon them become existing. They exist for all time and through all eternity with him. That is the meaning of eternal life, is to have life forever with God. His name tells you the whole purpose of what’s going on. He wants you to exist forever like him, with him. So I just love how these names all tell the story of what we’re trying to get out of or what we should be learning from these scriptures. Beautiful.
So now, if you go back to chapter three, you notice this little it’s an interesting little interchange between the Lord and Moses in verse 19 when he says, When Moses hears and I am sure that the King of Egypt will not let you go. No, not by a mighty hand. It’s this. Moses, prepare yourself. This isn’t going to be easy. You’re going to experience a lot of struggles along the way of getting the children of Israel out of Egypt. You’re not just going to waltz in, tell them to line up and follow you. And Pharaoh say, Bon voyage, and here are some provisions for your journey. You’re going to have some wrestles and some struggles.
And it’s important because it’s not like he just passes a magic wand and everything is saved. He demonstrates again and again that he is in control. He’s writing a story very, very powerful. So in our long lives, these stories are preserved to convince all of us, no matter the Pharaohs, that we are under, God is more powerful. And if we are faithful, like Moses and the people, we can by stages be brought out of our own personal Egypt.
So even after all of that, we end chapter three and open chapter four. And you would think, okay, so all the questions have been answered, all the concerns have been clarified for Moses. And now he’s saying, I will go and do the things which the Lord has commanded. Well, we’re not there yet. Chapter four opens with Moses saying, Moses answered and said, but behold, they will not believe me nor hearken unto my voice, for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee. Anybody could make that claim that you’re making. How do we know that this is real? So he’s still very concerned. I don’t think I have any kind of clout with these people. I don’t think they’re going to follow me or believe me. So the Lord says, what are you holding in your hand? And he said, Rod like.
Kind of a shepherd staff staff.
So he says, Throw it onto the ground, cast it onto the ground, and it became a serpent. And Moses fled from before it.
Moses is kind of a smart guy.
Yeah, just get away from that thing. And then the Lord says, Put forth Dine hand and take it by the tail. So he caught it, and it became a Rod in his hand again. That’s pretty cool. We could stop there, right?
I don’t know if I would have passed that test.
You want me to go touch the back end of a snake?
So look at verse six.
And the Lord said, Furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. So you can picture this approach as he puts it in. And then when he took it out, his hand was as lepros as snow. It’s as white as snow. Now he’s got a problem. And so the Lord says, Put it into your bosom again. So he did. And it comes back out whole, turned again as his other flesh. So there’s your second sign. And then verse eight, and it shall come to pass if they will not believe thee. Neither harken to the voice of the first sign that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. And it shall come to pass if they will not believe also these two signs. Neither hearken unto thy voice that thou shalt take of the water of the river and pour it upon the dry land. And the water which thou takeest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land. So what happens here is God gives Moses three physical signs. Now, we know some things about sign seeking based on the Book of Mormon and based on Joseph Smith and some of his teachings about sign seeking and how it’s not really something.
That’s really a good thing. We need to keep it in its context here. These people have come out of 400 plus years of living in Egypt, and many of those years being in bondage and slavery.
Moses grew up in the Pharaoh’s house. Do you think that they had family home, eating lessons about all of God Jehovah’s qualities? And really, this is like the first discussion for Moses. Moses is like, Wait, I’m just out of here trying to run my sheep and what? I got to go back to Egypt. He’s really looking for good evidence, and I love that God works with people, and he understands that he might actually have to give a little bit of time to convince them that they should be part of God’s work. And that is what’s going on here. Moses wasn’t really sciencey. He was simply looking for kind of assurances, like, hey, I really want to make sure that I’m on the right errand for the right person and that I’m not just being sent back to get myself executed.
You don’t want to get this one wrong, right? So now you’re thinking, okay, so he has the three signs that he’s going to be able to show to the people we’re good. Right now, I will go undo right. Look at verse ten. And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent. Neither heretofore nor since hast thou spoken unto thy servant. But I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue, in other words. Now he’s got to the point where he says, okay, that’s all fine and good. I know better who you are. I know these three signs that I could use, but the reality is, I can’t speak very well. I’m not eloquent with these people. So what do I do? Look at verse twelve, very similar to what he told Enoch earlier on. Now, therefore, go, and I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou Shalt. See, I love this because in that context, that was his concern and that was the Lord’s solution. But in your context, some of the things that you’ve been called to go and do, whether it be a calling or a trial to endure or a struggle to face or something to accomplish that seems impossible to you.
I hope that this story here can resonate with you. To hear the voice of the Lord speaking to you, reassuring you that he knows how to help you accomplish what it is that he’s commanded you or what it is that he’s given you to do. And he’s more than capable. He just needs us to be willing to take that leap of faith and say, okay, I will go and do. I know there are a million people who could probably do this better, but I got this assignment. I’m going to go and do the best I can. There’s something really powerful about that when we allow God to work through us, in spite of our inadequacy and in spite of our weakness and our known struggles and at times, failures. So you’ll notice that God instantly gives him a portion of a solution to the speaking issue. He tells him that he’s going to give him Aaron, the Levite, thy brother. He’ll be a spokesman for you because I’ve given him power. Now, many of you might be thinking, well, why did God have to do that? Why didn’t he make Moses eloquent from the get go?
Or just choose Aaron or choose Erin to go and do it? I don’t know. I don’t know why God did it this way, but I know that he’s the most intelligent of them all. I know he knows everything, and I know he has a reason for why he allows things to unfold the way they do. And so for us, it becomes an opportunity for them to trust God, to deepen our faith in God, that he really is in charge, and he really does know what’s going on here. So Aaron is appointed. So we get into Egypt, verse 29. Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. And they showed them the signs. They spoke to them. They told them everything that had happened and the people believed. And when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped and they thought, Deliverance has come. Now, how often does this happen in scriptures as well as in our own lives today, where we get revelation or we get an inspiring thought to do something and we do it, and it doesn’t quite turn out initially the way we had anticipated?
That’s exactly what’s going on here. Chapter five. They go and speak to Pharaoh, and he then commands the taskmasters to demand even more and stop giving them straw for making their bricks make them go, get their own straw, but keep the same requirement.
Before he does that, he asks a really dumb question. Don’t ever ask this. We actually have King Noah asking a similar question. Verse two. Who is the Lord? Who is the Lord? That I should obey his voice. Well, funny you should ask.
You’re going to find out who the Lord is.
Noah is like a Pharaoh figure who’s oppressing the people and God comes in and wipes them off the face of the Earth.
So instead of letting the people go and they were all excited, deliverance is here instead.
Look at verse twelve.
So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw. And the taskmasters Hasted them, saying, Fulfill your works, your daily tasks as when there was straw. And so now the children of Israel are working overtime and eventually they end up coming to Moses. Verse 20. Moses and Aaron. And they complain, look what you’ve done since you showed up.
Things got worse.
Our life has never been harder than it is now. And you made us all these promises. You said that God was going to deliver us. Well, thanks, but no thanks. If this is what deliverance looks like, I don’t want anything to do with it. Go away. Our life was better without you, Moses. At which point it causes me to wonder, as Moses scratching his head, saying, My goodness, what happened here? You see his response in verse 22, Moses returned unto the Lord and said, Lord, Wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? I haven’t been a deliverer. I’ve made it worse for them.
I love the humanity of the people in the Old Testament. It can be discouraging at times. But Moses is such a real human. He’s just like, what’s going on here? Am I worshipping the right God? This is not working out. Or maybe I said the words the wrong way because things are not working out the way we expected.
So now this sets the stage for our lesson next week when the ten plagues are going to unfold in Egypt. So as you see chapter six, it opens up with reassurance. Are you noticing this pattern? Human reaction, human frustration, human fear, human anxiety, human inadequacy being put out on a silver platter for us to watch. And in response, you see God’s reassurance, God’s mercy, God’s Grace, God’s power, his foreknowledge, all of his perfect attributes coming down to answer all of our mortal struggles. Look at verse one. Then the Lord said unto Moses, now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh? Moses, you can’t do this, but you’re going to watch what I’m going to do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land. This precursor to what’s going to happen down the road. And God, speak unto Moses and said unto him, I am the Lord. And I appeared unto Abraham on to Isaac and unto Jacob by the name of God Almighty. There’s that verse we talked about earlier, they knew me as God Almighty.
But I’m going to share with you my name, Moses. It’s this Tetragram, this Yhwheh, that we now translate into English as Jehovah, thanks to William Tindall. Now check this out so you get his name that he gives earlier on. Tell them that I am that I am that’s who sent you. Notice what happens here starting in verse six. This progression is beautiful. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm and with great judgments, and I will make you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God. And it goes on verse eight. And I will bring you in unto the land concerning the which I did swear I will give, and I will give it you for Inheritage. I am the Lord. Now the M is italicized, which means it’s an added word by the King James translators. They don’t have an equivalent word in the ancient Hebrew texts that they have.
Because, as I mentioned before, the verb to be does not exist in Hebrew in the present tense except the name of God himself. And where it says Lord. Here it literally is I Jehovah. And so they’re not going to say I Jehovah. Jehovah.
Right. That’s why it’s italicized M. So did you notice how many times in verse six, seven and eight we read the two word couplet? I will, I will. I love the fact that it’s the selfexistent God, the great I am who’s saying I’m not just going to exist, but I’m going to act in your benefit, in your your behalf. I will. I will do all of these things for you to deliver you and preserve you and to establish this Covenant with you. I will be your God and you will be my people. To me. That gives me so much hope, because I know just as much as Moses knew about his flaws. I’m very aware of my flaws and my imperfections and where I fall short repeatedly. But I’m not my own savior. That’s why I have hope, because I know to whom I’m looking for Salvation. And I know that there is nobody that is more capable and more powerful to deliver us than this Lord God of Israel, who we now know as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, who is full of Grace and truth. So as we conclude today, whatever your bondage, whatever your struggle may be, just know that God has prepared a way for our deliverance.
And that way has a name and we know him, Jesus Christ and he will bring people into our lives individually as well as collectively as a Church through Prophet surgeon Revelators and others who are called to positions of influence to help guide us forward in these latter days. But at the end of the day, the struggles, the concerns, the stresses, the anxieties that we face. Those external pressures they can’t even compare in capacity to the goodness and the glory and the capacity of our God to save us and deliver us and to redeem us and to one day exalt us. If we’ll move forward in that process as painful as that process, Mary be at times we keep moving forward and we leave that within with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen know that you’re loved.