Exodus 3



Share a time when you unexpectedly encountered God. What was the context? Is there a lasting impact from that encounter?
The book of Exodus continues the story of Genesis. In a nutshell, Genesis tells the story of how God created the heavens and the earth, and everything God created was good.

At the pinnacle of this good world, God created humanity to live in a perfect love relationship with him and to image his glory to the world. The first man and woman were given a mission: to multiply and fill the earth with image-bearers of God so that the glory of God would cover the earth like the waters cover the sea (Gen 1:26-27). But an enemy crept into God’s creation, that ancient serpent, the Devil. And he deceived the man and woman, and the world was plunged into sin and death. God promised that one day a descendant of Eve would come as a deliverer, and he would crush the serpent’s head and lead humanity back into God’s presence forever. But until that day, there would be a battle between the Serpent's descendants and Eve's descendants (Gen 3:15).

The rest of Genesis tells the story of how God began to fulfill this redemptive promise through a specific descendant of Eve named Abraham. God came to Abraham and promised that through his family line, all the peoples of the world would be blessed (Gen 12:1-3). In other words, God was telling Abraham that the promised descendant of Eve, who would crush the serpent’s head and bring humanity back to God, would come through his line. Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob, and Jacob had twelve sons, and God began fulfilling this redemptive promise.

But Genesis ends with a threat. A famine comes upon the land, and this family, chosen to be the family through whom the deliverer would come, is threatened with extinction. It appears that God’s promises hang in the balance. So they flee to Egypt and find relief there for the next 400 years. The chosen family is spared. This is where Exodus picks up.
In Exodus 1, we saw how the people of Israel were “fruitful and multiplied” in Egypt in fulfillment of God’s ancient promise. In Exodus 2, we read the story of a baby boy born to save Israel's people. Though God seemed to have forgotten his enslaved people, the birth of this baby shows that God was at work in unnoticed ways to answer his people’s prayers and, ultimately, to save them. Now we enter Exodus 3, where this baby has grown up. He unexpectedly encounters God and receives a surprising call to lead the oppressed nation of Israel out of the land of Egypt.


Read Exodus 3 aloud.


  • Begin by examining the text together. What do you notice? What stands out? Who are the main characters? What is surprising?1
  • Most of chapter 3 is a dialogue between God and Moses in which God reveals numerous insights into who he is. Discuss the following questions:
    • How does God identify himself? What can we learn about who God is based on what is said from the bush? 
    • Fire represents the presence of the Holy God in scripture. Moses is told to stop because he has entered holy ground. What comes to mind when you think of ‘holiness’? 
    • The burning bush is not consumed. Fire typically burns wood, but God holds it in abeyance. What does this tell us about God? Where else in scripture do we see God or Jesus exerting power and dominion over the created world? 
  • Read Genesis 15:12-21 and 26:1-5. The God we serve is a covenant-keeping God. What consistencies do you see in God’s promises in these covenants and the promises he made to Abram and Isaac? Is God fulfilling his covenant promises? Continue reflecting on God’s covenant with the people of Israel throughout Exodus. 
  • At every opportunity, Moses disqualifies himself from serving the Lord. Read 3:11 and 3:13. How does Moses disqualify himself in these verses? Look ahead to 4:1, 4:10, and 4:13. How does Moses disqualify himself here? Do you relate to Moses' responses to God? 


  • In Exodus 3, we learn many things about who God is. What sticks out to you about who God is? Does this reveal any ways you have misunderstood who God is? 
  • Moses’ response to God is one many of us experience daily. Moses doesn’t leap at the opportunity presented but seems to be invalidating himself from what the Lord has given him. Do you ever disqualify yourself from God's calling on your life? If so, how? 
  • God promises his power and presence with Moses. Do you believe that God’s power and presence are with you? If you don’t, how would your life change if you were actively aware of God’s power and presence? How can we grow in awareness of God’s power and presence?


God of salvation, we praise you that you are a God who is present with his people. You are a God who hears, remembers, sees, and knows us. Help us listen to you, remember you, see you, and know you even amidst the things of life that close us off. In our fears, be near. In our anxiety, give us peace. In our disqualification, remind us of who we truly are: a people set apart for your glory. Father God, may you be glorified in our lives. Amen.
1Example Observations:
  • Moses was a shepherd for his Father-in-law.
  • Fire is often connected with God’s presence.
  • Moses encounters God in the “west side of the wilderness”.
  • Moses throughout the entire conversation seems fearful. 
  • God is present and also promises his presence.
  • God commands Moses to return to Pharoah, who sought to kill Moses (see 2:15)
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