Opening Prayer: Gracious Lord, you know that we like to talk about you a lot. We use lots of big words, and we are quick to deceive ourselves, thinking that knowing about you is the same as knowing you. Present yourself to us today, even now. That we may know you and the power of your salvation, and thus bear your Name and image in true righteousness and holiness, through Jesus Christ, Amen!
My Name Yahweh
Moses has just gotten in hot water with the elders of Israel and has brought his case before the Lord (5:20-23). God’s response is initially to tell Moses his name (6:2ff). Of interest here is the fact that God is not talking about mere knowledge of his name; the patriarchs use the name “Yahweh” throughout their narratives. Some modern critics take this to mean that an original (now lost copy of Genesis did not include the name Yahweh). But there is a simpler explanation in the text (v. 8). This means that there is some knowledge of Yahweh that will be new: the fact that he is a God who delivers his people and keeps promises (6:6-8). Yahweh is the God who redeems with “an outstretched arm.” Yahweh is the God of Exodus. God’s word does not seem to affect Israel’s view of Moses because of “shortness of breath” and “hard labor” (v. 9). And Moses asks God how his words will have any affect on Pharaoh if his own countrymen aren’t (v. 11-12).
The Family of Moses
We need to do a little bit of math here to understand the genealogy correctly. We know that God promised Abraham that his descendents would be in bondage for 400 years (Gen. 15:13). However, here in Exodus 6 we find that 400 years has not elapsed between Levi and Moses (vv. 16, 18, 20). If we add these years end to end we get 407 which some have taken to mean that this is merely a symbolic number. But the Apostle Paul gives us some inspired commentary on this chronology in Galatians 3, indicating that the 400 years should be reckoned to begin from the covenant made with Abraham (Gal. 3:17). If we estimate the chronology (not being sure exactly when people were born during their father’s life) we might estimate that Israel went down into Egypt proper about half-way through the 400 or 430 years (cf. Ex. 12:40-41). Based on Exodus 12, we must conclude that “bondage in Egypt” refers to the entire time Abraham and his descendents lived in the land as strangers under foreign domination (which would have been Egypt primarily).
Why this Here?
Many modern commentators have concluded that this genealogy is yet another evidence of scribal cut-and-paste sloppiness. “O shoot, we forgot about that bit… ah, just throw that in here.” But the context suggests that the writer of this text knew full well what he was doing when it was placed here. First, we know that this genealogy precedes the beginning of the heart of the “showdown” between Yahweh and Pharaoh. The genealogy makes sense here to introduce the main characters. Secondly, God has just declared who he is in terms of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (6:3-4, 8). The genealogy here clearly illustrates that for God to be Yahweh, the promise keeping God, the God who delivers his people, he must act now (it’s the fourth generation cf. Gen. 15). Notice also that this passage is concerned to record the “heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites” (v. 25). Also notice the redemption of Israel is not coming through the oldest sons of Jacob: Reuben and Simeon. It’s coming through a younger brother (remember Joseph), and it’s coming through the liturgical tribe. It’s not the royal tribe (Judah); it’s the tribe given the task of teaching Israel and leading her in worship.
As God to Pharaoh
The text indicates after the genealogy that it’s at this time that this same Moses reminded God that he was not a good public speaker (6:28-30). But Yahweh responds by saying that he has made Moses God to Pharaoh (7:1). Yahweh said something similar when Moses protested that he was not a good speaker. Yahweh told him that he would be as God to Aaron his brother who would speak on his behalf (4:16). The set up is a little different here, and Aaron is described as Moses’ prophet. But Moses is said to be God in both of these cases. Clearly, Moses is not becoming Yahweh himself, but Moses because of his interaction with and knowledge of Yahweh is being made God to Aaron and Pharaoh. From this angle, this should remind us of Adam in the garden. He was created in the image of God. Additionally, Adam enjoyed perfect communion and interaction with God. His communion with God was so perfect that he could be said to be God to the world. Perhaps this is what the Psalmist refers to in Psalm 82 when he refers to the “children of the Most High” as “gods.” Thus, Moses is a picture of righteous image-bearing, the image restored. He does this because he knows and speaks with Yahweh.
Conclusion & Application
Jesus is called the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15) and the “express image” of His person (Heb. 1:3). And Paul tells us that in Christ, we and the whole creation are being renewed and remade. In particular it is that image that must be renewed, and therefore this is what God has predestined us to: to be conformed to the image of the new Adam, the Lord Jesus (Rom. 8:29). But how are we conformed to that image? By knowing God in Christ (Jn. 17:3, 1 Cor. 2). And the NT ties this “knowing God” to imaging God (Eph. 3:19, 1 Jn. 4:7-8). Therefore we may rightly say that God has made you God to the world. This is not a call to some kind of arrogant, power-tripping lifestyle. This is actually a call to a ministry of redemption through dying. And in fact, the apostles over and over again insist that we have already died (Rom. 6:2-8, 2 Cor. 5:14, Col. 2:20, 3:3, 2 Tim. 2:11). That means that this is a call to faith. Moses didn’t have a great job, telling the most powerful man in the world that he was going down. We are all called to die to one another. But this should come as a great joy in this season as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. For if God has raised him from the dead we know that God will surely raise us up as well.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Closing Prayer: Almighty God and Father, we thank you that in Jesus Christ we have died. And we thank you that because you raised him from the dead, you have also raised us to newness of life. We thank you that in Him, we have been called this ministry of reconciliation, a ministry of redemption. Grant us grace to know you, to know your Christ and him crucified, that your fullness may dwell in us that we may be present you truly to the world.