ADDITIONAL COVENANT ASSURANCES SUPPORT THE RENEWED COMMISSION TO FORTIFY THE LEADERSHIP OF MOSES AND AARON
Sometimes you just have to revert back to the old axiom: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” The Lord knew that Moses and Aaron as well as the people of Israel needed a renewed focus on the blessings of the covenant promises in order to commit to such a formidable mission.
I. (:2-9) RENEWED COVENANT PROMISES
A. (:2-5) Identity and Immanence of God Support His Covenant Commitment
1. (:2-3) Identity and Immanence of God
a. (:2) Authoritative Self-Declaration Formula
“God spoke further to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the LORD;’”
S. Lewis Johnson: God considers his word to be of the greatest significance in delivering his servants from discouragement.
John Mackay: The divine speech begins and also ends in verse 8 with the royal formula of self-announcement, I am the Lord. The same form of words is also found in verses 6 and 7. This was a typical way for a king to express his authority and exert control. It is to misunderstand its function to assume that this is another account of the Lord revealing his name as he had done earlier (3:14). It is only because the name Lord is already known that it authenticates the message that is to be given. Such an introductory announcement is characteristic of covenant language, and it is the identity and purpose of the covenant king that is now set out.
b. (:3) Significance of Progressive Revelation
“and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them.”
Matthew Henry: The patriarchs knew this name, but they did not know him in this matter by that which this name signifies. God would now be known by his name Jehovah, that is,
(1.) A God performing what he had promised, and so inspiring confidence in his promises.
(2.) A God perfecting what he had begun, and finishing his own work.
In the history of the creation, God is never called Jehovah till the heavens and the earth were finished, Gen. 2:4. When the salvation of the saints is completed in eternal life, then he will be known by his name Jehovah (Rev. 22:13); in the mean time they shall find him, for their strength and support, El-shaddai, a God all-sufficient, a God that is enough and will be so, Mic. 7:20.
John MacArthur: The same self-existent, eternal God, Yahweh, had been there in the past with the patriarchs; no change had occurred in Him, either in His covenant or promises. Since the name Yahweh was spoken before the Flood (Ge 4:26) and later by the patriarchs (Ge 9:26; 12:8; 22:14; 24:12), the special significance of Yahweh, unknown to them, but to be known by their descendants, must arise from what God would reveal of Himself in keeping the covenant and in redeeming Israel.
Steven Cole: In the Lord’s reply to Moses (Exod.6:2-8), “I am the Lord” (“Yahweh”) occurs four times (plus again in 6:29). We need to know that He is the great “I AM,” only living and true God. He is the only self-existent One, who has neither beginning nor end. He is the covenant-keeping God, whom we can know personally. Sometimes it is through our failures and setbacks that we come to know Him more deeply. We come to realize that He is the only one who can really do something about impossible problems. We need to fix our eyes on who it is that we serve. We need to let skeptics know that they are defying the only living and true God.
2. (:4) Covenant Commitment
“And I also established My covenant with them, to give them
the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned.”
3. (:5) Covenant Faithfulness
“And furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage;
and I have remembered My covenant.”
B. (:6-9) Immutability of the Covenant Promises
1. (:6a) Credibility for the Covenant Promises
“Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD,’”
I am the Lord and I will do what I said I would do! You can count on it.
Douglas Stuart: God had just reassured Moses. Next he gave Moses the words with which to reassure the Israelites, words that represent an expansion on his reassurance to Moses—similar in some ways to it but adding some important particulars as well. These words summarize God’s plan for his people.
2. (:6b-8) Covenant Promises Detailed = Seven “I Will” Statements
F. B. Meyer: said when you analyze these “I will” statements, they present for God’s people “The possibility of the Impossible” (Studies in Exodus, p. 97). God does have the power and ability to do anything and to reverse any situation.
J. Vernon McGee: called this the seven “I wills” of redemption. He said when you carefully study them, they paint a picture of the fact that we are saved to the uttermost. There is no doubt that we may make great application of these “I will” statements, but they are specifically for Israel.
Guzik points out that “There is a strong contrast with the later five I will statements of Satan in Isaiah 14:13–15. The great difference is that Satan was powerless to make any of his “I wills” come to pass. God is more than able to fulfill each of His promises.
Steven Cole: The seven “I will’s” cluster around three areas:
– deliverance and redemption from bondage;
– personal relationship (“I will be your God”);
– and, future possession of the land.
Those three areas mirror the promises of the new covenant that we enjoy in Christ (Heb. 8:10-12): God delivers us from our sins through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. He promises that He will be our God and we will be His people; and He promises every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3)!
a. (:6) Promise of Redemption
1) #1 – Compassionate Deliverance
“and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians,”
2) #2 – Hopeful Liberty
“and I will deliver you from their bondage.”
3) #3 – Powerful Redemption
“I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”
John Mackay: ‘Redeem’ adds to ‘rescue’ the idea of relationship. It implies ‘act as your kinsman-redeemer’, and is the practical outworking of the bond that the LORD has already recognized as existing between himself and the Israelites. “Israel is my firstborn son” (Ex 4:22). The kinsman-redeemer acted on behalf of close relatives who had fallen on bad times: he was required to buy back any inalienable property sold by them (Lev. 25:25), to buy back any kinsman who sold himself into slavery to a foreigner (Lev. 25:47–55), and to act in place of a deceased relative in receiving restitution (Num. 5:8). Boaz acted as kinsman-redeemer with respect to Ruth (Ruth 4). Here the LORD is committing himself to act to free the Israelites because of the relationship that the covenant has created between him and them. It will not be the case, however, that some monetary payment will be made for their release, but a display of divine strength overthrowing their oppressors.
C. I. Scofield: When you track the concept of “redemption” through the book of Exodus there are four critical things that are taught: (Scofield Reference Bible)
– Redemption is wholly from God.
– Redemption is through a person.
– Redemption is by blood.
– Redemption is by power.
b. (:7) Promise to Adopt Israel as His Own People
1) #4 – Family Ownership
“Then I will take you for My people,”
Rod Mattoon: In Christ, we belong to God as His peculiar people (1 Pe 2:8 KJV+). We are accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6 KJV+), even though we are unworthy. The Lord says and wants you to know that you belong to Him when you have put your faith in Christ. If you are saved, you are part of the bride of Christ. As Paul says “For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Ro 14:8+)
2) #5 – Personal Knowledge of God
“and I will be your God;
and you shall know that I am the LORD your God,
who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
c. (:8) Promise of the Land
1) #6 – Peaceful Rest
“And I will bring you to the land which I swore
to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,”
John Mackay: The land had always played a key role in the benefits God would bestow on the covenant people (3:8, 17; 6:4). Possession of the promised land would be the ultimate vindication of their trust in him, and enjoyment of his presence in the land would be the supreme reward for their loyalty.
2) #7 – Lasting Inheritance
“and I will give it to you for a possession;
I am the LORD.”
3. (:9) Communication of the Mission Rejected Again by the Israelites
a. Repetition of the Divine Assurances Supporting the Mission
“So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel,”
b. Rejection due to Discouragement and Hardship
“but they did not listen to Moses
on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.”
Walter Kaiser: on despondency – The NIV weakly translates “their discouragement” (v.9); but it was the inward pressure caused by deep anguish that prevented proper breathing—like children sobbing and gasping for their breath. This made such an impact on Moses that he had another attack of self-distrust and despondency. How could he persuade Pharaoh when he failed so miserably to impress his own countrymen who presumably would have had a naturally deep interest in what he had to say, given their circumstances (Ex 6:11–12).
J Ligon Duncan: These people were both physically beaten down, and frankly, they had lost heart. There is a lesson, I suspect even in the connection between the weariness of the body and the weariness of the soul. But whatever the case, their oppression was heavy, and it is described in amazing terms here. We are told that they did not listen on account of their shortness of breath. Maybe you know what that is like. Maybe you know what it is like to be so under his hand that you are out of breath, you can’t breathe. Man, you just can’t catch your breath. And when you can’t catch your breath, it is pretty hard to listen to sermon. Have you ever been grasping for breath and you don’t think the next one is coming? It is hard to concentrate on anything else.
Rod Mattoon: Their despair was rooted in their unbelief and bitterness. Moses was looked upon as a deceiver. God was considered as a deserter. Their bondage was more devastating than before. Discouragement is an effective tool of Satan that is used to rob us of God’s blessings and His best for us. Such was the case here with God’s people….Their discouragement led them to reject the very message which would give them relief.
Douglas Stuart: Optimism is often dashed by suffering, especially ongoing suffering. Faith is often diminished by hardship because emotions play a powerful part in most human thinking, and thinking can become increasingly pessimistic when any sort of pain continues unabated. Accordingly, it is understandable that the Israelites would not listen (v. 9) to Moses’ latest message of divine reassurance, even though they had previously welcomed Yahweh’s words (4:29–31). Pharaoh’s strategy (5:7–9) had proved remarkably successful. The people were overcome by impatience for relief and by hard slavery (NIV “discouragement and cruel bondage”).
II. (:10-13) RENEWED CHARGE TO FULFIL HIS MISSION AS DELIVERER
A. (:10-11) Clear Charge Repeated to Moses
“Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt
to let the sons of Israel go out of his land.’”
B. (:12) Recalcitrant Reluctance Expressed — Two Excuses
“But Moses spoke before the LORD, saying,”
1. Poor Track Record
“Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me;”
2. Poor Speech Ability
“how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?”
Rod Mattoon: His claim, “I am a failure because I have uncircumcised lips which means “I am unable to talk eloquently.” Moses has a great fear of failure. It is one of the pains of life that we just cannot bear. No one wants to fail. Unfortunately, we are bad judges of identifying failure.
Our service to the Lord Jesus Christ must not be conditioned on how folks respond to our message. We are to do what God says whether people believe God’s message or do not believe it. God sent Moses back to Pharaoh again and again even though Pharaoh never believed. Our calling is simply not dependent on whether people believe or not. It is dependent upon God’s commands. What Moses considered a defeat, was actually in essence, a delay. His so called “failure” was not one at all.
Walter Kaiser Jr.: In spite of the grandeur of what “I am the Lord” meant for Israel in the current situation, the people did not listen “for shortness of breath”. . . This made such an impact on Moses that he had another attack of self-distrust and despondency. How could he persuade Pharaoh when he failed so miserably to impress his own countrymen who presumably would have had a naturally deep interest in what he had to say, given their circumstances (vv. 11-12a).
C. (:13) Forceful Charge Issued to Moses and Aaron
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and gave them a charge
to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt,
to bring the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt.”
III. (:14-25) GENEOLOGY ESTABLISHING MOSES AS AUTHENTIC LEADER OF THE JEWS
A. (:14-19) Sons of Reuben, Simeon and Levi
1. (:14) Sons of Reuben
“These are the heads of their fathers’ households. The sons of Reuben, Israel’s first-born: Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi; these are the families of Reuben.”
Gispen: The author inserts the genealogy of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi because Moses and Aaron were form the tribe of Levi; and for that reason Reuben and Simeon are mentioned only briefly.
Walter Kaiser Jr.: Everything in the list suggests that God’s choosing Moses had nothing to do with natural advantage or ability.
John Mackay: At this point the narrative is broken off for what seems to us to be at best peripheral details regarding the descent of Moses and Aaron. We should remember, however, that in the ancient world details of this sort were of far greater significance. Indeed, genealogies are intrinsic to the Israelite feel for the flow of history that arose from their conviction that God was shaping events in this world so that his purposes would be achieved. This is linked to the nature of the covenant promises which did not come to individuals in isolation, but to individuals and their offspring after them. In this way family history was a testimony to the outworking of God’s saving purpose in history. What happened in each generation was not isolated from what preceded or what followed. Through the history of the line of promise there is the reality of God’s continuing graciousness. As the narrative is about to plunge into the crucial conflict with Pharaoh, and so exhibit the tremendous reality of God’s covenant commitment on this occasion, Moses takes time to pause and place matters in their historical perspective. As well as providing essential background information, the genealogies, by delaying the flow of the narrative, also serve to heighten tension: how will Pharaoh’s intransigence be dealt with?
2. (:15) Sons of Simeon
“And the sons of Simeon: Jemuel and Jamin and Ohad and Jachin and Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the families of Simeon.”
3. (:16-19) Sons of Levi
“And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon and Kohath and Merari; and the length of Levi’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years.”
Cole: At this point the narrator breaks off, in order to identify and particularize Moses and Aaron more precisely. The Hebrew method of identification was to give a genealogy, in this case the genealogy of the founding fathers, beginning with Reuben, the senior tribe. It is repeated from the beginning up to the mention of Levi, the required tribe. No further tribes are then mentioned.
a. (:17) Sons of Gershon
“The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, according to their families.”
b. (:18) Sons of Kohath
“And the sons of Kohath: Amram and Izhar and Hebron and Uzziel; and the length of Kohath’s life was one hundred and thirty-three years.”
c. (:19) Sons of Merari
“And the sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi.”
“These are the families of the Levites according to their generations.”
B. (:20-22) Sons of Amram, Izhar and Uzziel
1. (:20) Sons of Amram = Aaron and Moses
“And Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, and she bore
him Aaron and Moses; and the length of Amram’s life was one
hundred and thirty-seven years.”
2. (:21) Sons of Izhar
“And the sons of Izhar: Korah and Nepheg and Zichri.”
3. (:22) Sons of Uzziel
“And the sons of Uzziel: Mishael and Elzaphan and Sithri.”
Davis: The Amram mentioned in verse 20 as the father of Moses was probably not the same person as the Amram who was the son of Kohath (v. 18), but must have been a later descendant.
C. (:23-25) Sons of Aaron, Korah and Eleazar
1. (:23) Sons of Aaron
“And Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.”
2. (:24) Sons of Korah
“And the sons of Korah: Assir and Elkanah and Abiasaph; these are the families of the Korahites.”
3. (:25) Son of Eleazar = Phinehas
“And Aaron’s son Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel,
and she bore him Phinehas.”
“These are the heads of the fathers’ households of the Levites
according to their families.”
David Thompson: By God giving this list, it again demonstrates to Moses and Aaron that they have a big job to do that is lineage linked clear back to Israel in the book of Genesis. This assignment is not just about having some weekend family reunion, this is a national covenantal program of God designed to take Israel to a specific land.
IV. (:26-27) HIGHLIGHTING LEADERSHIP ROLE OF MOSES AND AARON
Chiastic structure of 6:26-27
“It was the same Aaron and Moses”
“to whom the LORD said, ‘Bring out the sons of Israel
from the land of Egypt according to their hosts.’”
“They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the sons of Israel from Egypt;”
“it was the same Moses and Aaron.”
John Hannah: In verses 20 and 26 Aaron is mentioned before Moses because Aaron was older (cf. 7:7). But in 6:27 Moses’ name precedes Aaron’s because the major responsibility of the Exodus was his.
John Mackay: The point is made that they carried out the divine commission given to them