They shall say - What is his name? - Does not this suppose that the Israelites had an idolatrous notion even of the Supreme Being? They had probably drank deep into the Egyptian superstitions, and had gods many and lords many; and Moses conjectured that, hearing of a supernatural deliverance, they would inquire who that God was by whom it was to be effected. The reasons given here by the rabbins are too refined for the Israelites at this time. "When God," say they, "judgeth his creatures, he is called אלהים Elohim ; when he warreth against the wicked, he is called צבאות Tsebaoth ; but when he showeth mercy unto the world, he is called יהוה Yehovah ." It is not likely that the Israelites had much knowledge of God or of his ways at the time to which the sacred text refers; it is certain they had no written word. The book of Genesis, if even written, (for some suppose it had been composed by Moses during his residence in Midian), had not yet been communicated to the people; and being so long without any revelation, and perhaps without even the form of Divine worship, their minds being degraded by the state of bondage in which they had been so long held, and seeing and hearing little in religion but the superstitions of those among whom they sojourned, they could have no distinct notion of the Divine Being. Moses himself might have been in doubt at first on this subject, and he seems to have been greatly on his guard against illusion; hence he asks a variety of questions, and endeavors, by all prudent means, to assure himself of the truth and certainty of the present appearance and commission. He well knew the power of the Egyptian magicians, and he could not tell from these first views whether there might not have been some delusion in this case. God therefore gives him the fullest proof, not only for the satisfaction of the people to whom he was to be sent, but for his own full conviction, that it was the supreme God who now spoke to him.
What is his name - The meaning of this question is evidently: “By which name shall I tell them that the promise is confirmed?” Each name of the Deity represented some aspect or manifestation of His attributes (compare the introduction to Genesis). What Moses needed was not a new name, but direction to use that name which would bear in itself a pledge of accomplishment. Moses was familiar with the Egyptian habit of choosing from the names of the gods that which bore specially upon the wants and circumstances of their worshippers, and this may have suggested the question which would be the first his own people would expect him to answer.
While Moses was living in retirement, the Lord sent his angels to especially instruct him in regard to the future. Here he learned more fully the great lesson of self-control and humility. He kept the flocks of Jethro, and while he was performing his humble duties as a shepherd, God was preparing him to become a spiritual shepherd of his sheep, even of his people Israel. He had been fully qualified as a general, to stand at the head of armies, and now the Lord would have him learn the duties, and perform the offices of a faithful shepherd of his people, to tenderly care for his erring, straying sheep. As Moses led the flock to the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb, “the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush. And he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither. Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am 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 the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their task-masters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me; and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.—Come now, therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 3SG 187.1Read in context »
Those who minister to others will be ministered unto by the Chief Shepherd. They themselves will drink of the living water, and will be satisfied. They will not be longing for exciting amusements, or for some change in their lives. The great topic of interest will be, how to save the souls that are ready to perish. Social intercourse will be profitable. The love of the Redeemer will draw hearts together in unity. DA 641.1
When we realize that we are workers together with God, His promises will not be spoken with indifference. They will burn in our hearts, and kindle upon our lips. To Moses, when called to minister to an ignorant, undisciplined, and rebellious people, God gave the promise, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” And He said, “Certainly I will be with thee.” Exodus 33:14; 3:12. This promise is to all who labor in Christ's stead for His afflicted and suffering ones. DA 641.2
Love to man is the earthward manifestation of the love of God. It was to implant this love, to make us children of one family, that the King of glory became one with us. And when His parting words are fulfilled, “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12); when we love the world as He has loved it, then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven; for we have heaven in our hearts. DA 641.3
But “if thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?” Proverbs 24:11, 12. In the great Judgment day, those who have not worked for Christ, who have drifted along thinking of themselves, caring for themselves, will be placed by the Judge of the whole earth with those who did evil. They receive the same condemnation. DA 641.4
To every soul a trust is given. Of everyone the Chief Shepherd will demand, “Where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?” And “what wilt thou say when He shall punish thee?” Jeremiah 13:20, 21. DA 641.5Read in context »
Yet he did not regret the burdens he had borne. He knew that his mission and work were of God's own appointing. When first called to become the leader of Israel from bondage, he shrank from the responsibility; but since he had taken up the work he had not cast aside the burden. Even when the Lord had proposed to release him, and destroy rebellious Israel, Moses could not consent. Though his trials had been great, he had enjoyed special tokens of God's favor; he had obtained a rich experience during the sojourn in the wilderness, in witnessing the manifestations of God's power and glory, and in the communion of His love; he felt that he had made a wise decision in choosing to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. PP 472.1
As he looked back upon his experience as a leader of God's people, one wrong act marred the record. If that transgression could be blotted out, he felt that he would not shrink from death. He was assured that repentance, and faith in the promised Sacrifice, were all that God required, and again Moses confessed his sin and implored pardon in the name of Jesus. PP 472.2
And now a panoramic view of the Land of Promise was presented to him. Every part of the country was spread out before him, not faint and uncertain in the dim distance, but standing out clear, distinct, and beautiful to his delighted vision. In this scene it was presented, not as it then appeared, but as it would become, with God's blessing upon it, in the possession of Israel. He seemed to be looking upon a second Eden. There were mountains clothed with cedars of Lebanon, hills gray with olives and fragrant with the odor of the vine, wide green plains bright with flowers and rich in fruitfulness, here the palm trees of the tropics, there waving fields of wheat and barley, sunny valleys musical with the ripple of brooks and the song of birds, goodly cities and fair gardens, lakes rich in “the abundance of the seas,” grazing flocks upon the hillsides, and even amid the rocks the wild bee's hoarded treasures. It was indeed such a land as Moses, inspired by the Spirit of God, had described to Israel: “Blessed of the Lord ... for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, ... and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, ... and for the precious things of the earth and fullness thereof.” PP 472.3Read in context »
The burden of God's work, laid upon Moses, made him a man of power. While keeping, for so many years, the flocks of Jethro, he gained an experience that taught him true humility. But God's call found Moses, as it will find us, inefficient, hesitating, and self-distrustful. The command to deliver Israel seemed overwhelming; but, in the fear of God, Moses accepted the trust. Mark the result: He did not bring the work down to his deficiency; but in the strength of God he put forth the most earnest efforts to elevate and sanctify himself for his sacred mission. 4T 611.1
Moses would never have been prepared for his position of trust had he waited for God to do the work for him. Light from heaven will come to those who feel the need of it, and who seek for it as for hidden treasures. But if we sink down into a state of inactivity, willing to be controlled by Satan's power, God will not send His inspiration to us. Unless we exert to the utmost the powers which He has given us, we shall ever remain weak and inefficient. Much prayer and the most vigorous exercise of the mind are necessary if we would be prepared to do the work which God would entrust to us. Many never attain to the position which they might occupy, because they wait for God to do for them that which He has given them power to do for themselves. All who are fitted for usefulness in this life must be trained by the severest mental and moral discipline, and then God will assist them by combining divine power with human effort. 4T 611.2
Many in ----- will fail because they do not keep up with the advancement of the work, and do not properly represent in their daily life the sanctification of the truth. They do not, like Moses, bring their life up to meet the exalted standard. If they had done this, many more would now be added to their numbers, rejoicing in the truth. It is a fearful thing to lead souls away from Christ by our unsanctified life. Our religion must be something more than a head religion. It must affect the heart, and then it will have a correcting influence upon the life. Wrong habits are not overcome by a single effort. Only through long and severe struggles is self mastered. This self-training must be taken up by the individual members of the church, and the rubbish which has accumulated around the door of the heart must be removed, ere they can serve God with singleness of purpose, adorning their profession by a well-ordered life and a godly conversation. Then, and not till then, can they teach sinners the truth and win souls to Christ. 4T 611.3Read in context »