God Came Down to Deliver

Exodus 3:1‑8  •  16 min. read  •  grade level: 6
One thing that is brought before us in Exod. 3, is the compassionate love of God. We find Him coming down; a n d what has brought Him down? Oh, He has heard some sighs, some groans; He has looked upon some burdened ones, and He has been moved with pity, and has come down to deliver. Well, we know how fully that is seen in God coming down to this poor world—sin stricken, and under the burden and bondage of corruption, where there is a continual groaning going on. We know what led Him to come down; that is, it was the compassion of His love—"God so loved."
Well, in what way did He come down? In what way did He appear to that servant to whom He came to communicate the great truth that He had come down to deliver, and deliver in love? Where was that servant? He was in an out-of-the-way place in this world—in the backside of the desert. And, dear friends, the secrets of God are learned, in principle, outside of this world.
We know from His Word that we must be in a state spiritually, more or less, to receive His communications; that is, our spirituality not deadened by unholy and unnecessary intercourse with this world. In a way, we must have intercourse with this world, and that is why I say "unholy and unnecessary intercourse." We have our callings to attend to, and those callings are to be attended to in communion with God; but Satan is ever ready to deceive.
One naturally connects Exod. 3 with Luke 2, and you may wonder why. In Exod. 3 Moses is in the backside of the desert, where he had led the flock. In Luke 2, wonderful things had taken place—an event that brought even the angel of the Lord down from heaven, "and the glory of the Lord shone round about," and it brought a multitude of the heavenly host, who praised God. To whom did that angel of the Lord appear? To shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. What did Jerusalem and the great ones of this world know of what was going on out there on the plains of Judea? Nothing! And I believe we can find a certain principle there of the ways of God: that, in order to be in communion, there must be in some measure the spirit of separation from the world.
Here we get a blessed picture of the nature of God—He came down. Where did He come down from? Heaven! He had been looking down on the earth and, as we say, He had been seeing, and He had been hearing something that moved Him, and moved Him with compassion. Has that no word for us? Ah, yes; for God looks down on the whole world, as He did then over His people in Egypt, and this poor world is, in God's eyes, an Egypt. That is one phase of the world in the eyes of God—it is one vast Egypt.
There are several countries that bring the world before us as God sees it; Egypt, for instance, is a type of the world in its power and independence of God, not depending upon Him for its power. Here they are oppressing God's people, and were independent of Him.
Babylon represents the world in its glory—Babylon was a glorious kingdom. Tire is a type of the world of commerce.
And, dear friends, how thankful we should be to God for His letting us know what this world is in its various aspects before Him, and that the place of His people, and the place of intercourse with Him, is outside of it; that is, outside of it in spirit.
Here God is about to call that servant of His into the place of service. He takes him out to the backside of the desert for a lesson—a lesson that He has to teach all of His servants. Moses sees a burning bush there; and he watches it a little while. He expects to see it consumed; but it burns and burns, and is not burned. He says, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned." And as he turns aside there is a voice which calls him by name, "Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I." What is the burning bush to that one whom He is now calling into His service? "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." God is ever trying, in some way or another, to remind us of what is due to His presence. What made that ground holy there in the backside of the desert? The presence of God is what made it holy. And it is quite at the beginning, as we may say, of Moses' history as a servant of God. It is a good thing to learn that at the outset, though God may have to remind us of the truth of it once and again afterward; and that truth goes a long, long way, and grows more into our daily lives.
Another thing: Why did God appear in that burning bush? I believe the scriptural interpretation of the burning bush to be in the prophet Isaiah. Now let us connect Isa. 63:99In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9) with the burning bush in Exod. 3 It says, "In all their affliction He was afflicted." v 9. Ah, that's what the burning bush is. God has come down from His dwelling place, after having long looked upon the afflictions of His people, and hearing their groans and cries.
Oh the beautiful compassion of that; the mercy of it—"come down to deliver." It does not say, "I am come down to judge their enemies," but "I am come down to deliver." That is very comforting to one's heart. We read in the 7th verse, "I... have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows." Is there not One now in the glory who knows the sorrows and afflictions of His people here on earth? Yes, there is. There is One that hears every sigh and groan, and sees every burden; and more than that, He is One who shares all with them.
And then, "The place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Well, we have just said that God's presence made it holy.
Now I would address a word to those who by grace are gathered to the Lord's name, and rejoice in that word, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I." Just think of the grace of that! Who is it that says, "There am I in the midst of them"? It is the Son of God; it is the Lord Jesus. And I have often thought that if the Lord were there in bodily presence, how we should be mindful of what becomes His presence. Well, He is not there in bodily presence, but though the sight and sense are not affected in that way, He is surely as really there—"There am I." What does that presence claim? It claims holy and loving reverence. Don't we very, very often lose the sense as to the presence of the Lord in the midst, and what is due to that presence? And we suffer the consequences.
Another thing: God encourages—I would say, delights in—the intimacy of His people, but He never allows familiarity; there is a difference between intimacy and familiarity. With this thought before us, let us see the third verse: "And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burned." Now let us mark a point of great importance. "And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see GOD"—it is not the Lord now, but God—"God called unto him out of the midst of the bush." Why is there a change from "LORD" to "GOD" there? Ah, God never forgets what is due to His presence, however precious and great the grace through which He makes Himself known to us. I believe that is a very valuable lesson—He is God—that is what He is in Himself. The Lord Jehovah is what He is in relationship. But it is solemnly beautiful when we see Him as He comes down to deliver. But He never forgets, He is God. That little change there from "Jehovah" to "Elohim" is full of instruction: "God called unto him out of the midst of the bush." The first thing for a servant to learn is what is due to the presence of God Himself. There is an important verse in Psalm 89:77God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. (Psalm 89:7). It is not to sinners, but to saints. "God is greatly to be feared"—where? -"in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him." This is a word in season.
You know this is a day of lawlessness, and increasing lawlessness—a day of disregard of all authority, and all source of authority. It is just the forerunner of what is coming, and coming in a dreadful form, when a vast part of this world will be under the dominion of a man who knows no will but his own; he will do according to his will; he will exalt himself above all that is called God—that is what is developing. But in spite of all this sad failure of the world, God will be God; and we learn from His Word that those conditions shall not be in full until He allows them, and that lawless one is revealed. And these conditions are developing. In a certain place where I was recently I witnessed an incident that reminded me of the way these things will be fulfilled—the wife had prepared in a stove everything for a fire, so that when a fire was wanted she had but to put a match to it. Ah, God is
preparing the fire; but He will never put a match to it while His beloved people are here. "Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." And so that passage comes in very seasonably—"God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him." Is not that a word to the heart and conscience of all those that love the blessed Lord!
The love of God is a compassionate love, but when we realize whose love it is, the holiness of that One who loved us, the more should we drink in its true character. But what is especially on my mind is that we must ever remember the reverence that becomes us in the presence of God. Suppose I take up the Word of God and read it. If I am going to get profit from it, I must have, in some measure, the unshod foot; there is no other book like the Bible in the world, for the Bible is God's Word. If we would have Him communicate His thoughts to us from that Word (and unless He does communicate
His thoughts to us from it, we will never get them—vain is human learning as to getting the mind of God from His Word) we must have the unshod foot. Do you know anything of dependence upon Him in reading His Word; that is, in its character and nature of the unshod foot?
There is another servant who entered upon His service, and the Lord had to deal with him in the same way; that is, Joshua, the man of conflict. In Moses we have the man of communication; but in Joshua we have the man of conflict coming to "the captain of the host of the LORD." He is, as it were, just beginning the conflict; and he comes to a Man with a drawn sword, and says to Him, "Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries?"—a right question. "And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked," (there is not a burning bush here) "and, behold there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us or for our adversaries?"
What has that man with the drawn sword to say to him? Read the 14th and 15th verses. What do we learn from that? Ah friends, the unshod foot—not the energy of the flesh—is needed for service, for conflict. Is not that the lesson we should learn from what the Captain of the Lord's host said to Joshua? Joshua said, "What saith my lord unto his servant?" Oh, he said, You must have the unshod foot—"Loose thy shoe from off thy foot"—and Joshua did so. Are you prepared to receive the communications from God, to enter the path of warfare? Such, I take it, is the lesson God had for us in telling of these remarkable servants, and His ways with them.
"Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Exod. 3:55And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. (Exodus 3:5). God has now brought Moses into a condition or position where He can communicate to him; and now He gives him communications; but let us not forget the way He took to prepare His servant to receive the communications. And what are those communications? Look at the 6th verse: "Moreover He said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
How welcome that word would be to His servant—God appearing as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That, as it were, puts him in the path of the presence of God, for the unshod foot lesson has been learned. God tells His people and His servants to feel at home in His presence, but in the sense of what He is.
A word comes to mind now; it is a good word to remember: "He is not a man, as I am." The principle of that is very important. God is God—the gracious, blessed God, but He is God, and I am a man—and if I give Him His place in my thoughts and actions, I will get my true place before Him. Now look at the 7th verse. "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 taskmasters; for I know their sorrows."
I think that shows us the nature of God: to deliver them, but delivering them is not all He does for them; that is where God begins, but not where He ends. God did not deliver that people of old from their burdens and groanings, and leave them where they were; and the gospel not only delivers the believer from the burden of his sins, but it does something more—it delivers us from the very place where these burdens were made. "Bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey." Do we know anything of that deliverance, not only from the bondage of Egypt, but from Egypt; that is, the world? God's people are not only a forgiven and saved people, but they are a separated people.
Turn to Numb. 23 What is the second thing that God speaks of in connection with His people? "Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." God's association with His people is in their separation from the world. "I have chosen you out of the world." Well, that is what He has delivered us from, and what He would keep us out of; but that is not all. How good it is to know not only what God has delivered us from but what He has brought us into. He goes on to bring us unto a good land and a large, and that is what He has done for every believer in His Son: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ" (N. Trans.)—"a good land and a large"—"every spiritual blessing." Now that is the character of the Christian's blessings-they are not temporal; they are not physical. When God saved us, He left our purses where they were, and our bodies He left where they were—our blessings are spiritual. Israel's blessings were temporal and physical, and will be again; but the Christian's are spiritual. Israel's blessings were, and will be, on the earth; the Christian's are in heaven.
What is the measure of the blessing? To Christians, He has "blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ"; and the believer who enters into that with some little degree of comprehension, knows that his place is in Christ, and in heaven—that is the measure 4 'a good land and a large."
How one feels his spiritual poverty when brought into the presence of the riches of God's grace; and one great cause of spiritual poverty is a lack of the unshod foot, lack of the sense of having been with Him.
"Holy and reverend is His name" -"to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him." The blessed Lord is grieved when there is not the conduct that becomes His presence—the reverence—the holy, loving fear. This is the character of reverence He means when He -says, "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him." That does not mean judicial fear—it is what you may call spiritual fear, a happy kind of fear. The Lord give us then, dear fellow-Christian, to cultivate it.
May the Lord bless these scriptures to our souls; and may the truth of His Word teach us to shun something that is increasing—that which men call "liberty." The children of God are brought into liberty; it is the Spirit of God's liberty, but the flesh would turn that liberty to its own account. With the lesson of the unshod foot, God would teach us that we may guard against this false liberty.