Exodus 2 • Moses’ First Calling


We already know the results of Moses’ life and the famous account of being called by God at the burning bush; but that was actually Moses’ SECOND calling. Those events are made even more pertinent by the display of God’s grace to overlook Moses’ initial failure to live up to his calling, to take things into his own hands, and find himself transplanted from the best place to fulfill God’s plan to the seemingly worst place in exile. It’s important to note the pattern of Moses’ life not just as an example for our own, but as it relates to the foreshadowing of the events and ministry of the Messiah to come. In Moses’ life is not only the example of heeding God’s call, but the working of God’s salvation first for Israel through the Word given through Moses, and later for all the world in the Word Himself—Jesus Christ—given by God.

Read verses 1-10

Q: What has just been decreed by Pharaoh in chapter 1 concerning all Hebrew newborns?

A: “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.” (Exodus 1:22) In other words, Moses is under a death sentence.

Q: What other great and future prophet of Israel will be born under a death sentence as an infant?

A: Christ. (See Matthew 2:16)

Q: This translation states that Moses was placed in a basket. What does the word for basket literally mean and what might it represent?

A: It’s the word for “ark”, used both for Noah’s ark and for the Ark of the Covenant. It’s the picture both of salvation (Noah’s ark) and the giving of God’s Word (the Ark of the Covenant).

Q: How does this foreshadow the work of the Messiah?

A: Christ is Himself the Word (John 1:1) and salvation (John 3:16).

Q: What does it mean in v.2 that Moses’ mother “saw that he was beautiful”?

A: It’s a way of stating that even at birth and as a baby, his parents knew he was something extraordinary, born for a higher purpose. [Just like someone else?]

Point: Moses is a “type” of Christ; that is, his life contains many parallels that teach about the life and ministry of the Messiah to come. Just as through Moses salvation from Egypt and God’s Word will be given to lead God’s people to the Promised Land, so through Christ comes salvation and God’s Word completing what was begun through Moses, bringing us into the Promised Land of eternity.

Read verses Acts 7:17-21

Q: Stephen is giving a dissertation to the authorities of his day as to why Jesus is the Messiah. What are the parallels to Moses

  1. Just as Moses was the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation to a nation, so Christ is the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation for all mankind.
  2. Just as Moses came at a time the nation of Israel was under an oppressor—Pharaoh and Egypt—so Christ came at a time that Israel was under Caesar and Rome.
  3. Just as Moses was born under the sentence of death, so was Christ.
  4. Just as Moses was “set outside” and accepted by Gentiles, so is Christ by those He first came to: Israel.

Read verses 11-15

Q: What is the dead giveaway that Moses himself knew that what he was doing was wrong?

A: “So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around...” (v.12) He was undertaking to do something according to his own will and desire, not God’s.

Q: What is the irony of the man’s statement to Moses, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us”?

A: The irony is that GOD intended to make Moses a prince and judge over Israel, but that it hadn’t happened yet. When acting according to God’s calling and timing, Moses WILL be a prince and judge over them.

Q: What was the result of Moses’ taking matters into his own hands, according to his own timing?

A: Failure. Having to flee for his life, he was no longer in the position to either fulfill his life’s calling nor to help Israel.

Read verses Acts 7:22-29

Q: What do we learn from Stephen’s speech about Moses’ stature and standing?

A: He was educated, well-known, powerful.

Point: Moses would appear to have had all the attributes and abilities at the right place and time to carry out God’s promise to liberate His people from Egypt.

Q: Was Moses constantly occupied with the thought and goal of liberating Israel?

A: Apparently not. Verse 23 would indicate that he mainly lived apart from them the first 40 years of his life, only visiting them on occasion.

Q: Why didn’t Moses have closer or more consistent contact with his people?

A: According to v.23, “he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him”. In other words, he was conscience of his calling and thought that it was apparent to everyone else the nature and authority of that calling. He assumed he was recognized.

Q: Why do you suppose that the people did not see Moses’ calling and authority as plainly as Moses saw them?

A: Probably because he lived the vast majority of his life apart from them. He was probably viewed as “one of them”, someone that lived a privileged, royal life that was no longer Hebrew as much as Egyptian. There really wasn’t any visible evidence that he was a ruler or judge over them.

Q: What became of Moses’ stature and standing after he had to flee Egypt for Midian?

A: He “became an alien”. He was completely estranged from his people physically and from his Egyptian status socially.

Application: Moses’ parents weren’t the only ones that saw something special about Moses—Moses himself knew that he had a special calling from God. But the calling was not enough. What was lacking? Why did it not turn out the way he expected?

Read verses 16-22

Q: Joseph—also considered a “type” of Christ—took what kind of bride?

A: A Gentile bride.

Q: Moses takes what kind of bride?

A: A Gentile bride.

Q: Jesus, after first going to and being rejected by His own people the Jews, takes what kind of bride?

A: The church is often referred to as Christ’s bride, so in a way He also took a Gentile bride.

Point: The pattern established in Old Testament “types” such as Joseph and Moses is that the Messiah will not be recognized the first time he appears to His countrymen (just as Moses is initially rejected and Joseph’s brothers do not recognize him the first time they come into his presence), but accepted/recognized the second time. In the interim, He takes a Gentile bride in the form of those that DO recognize and accept Him until such time as both can be brought together.

Read verses 23-25

Q: During the first 40 years of Moses’ life in Egypt, and even through these 40 years of his life in Midian, Israel has been in bondage and captivity. What has changed that God has chosen to act now?

A: Israel turned to God for help.

Q: What was God’s reaction? List the 4 things He did.

  1. God heard” (v.24)
  2. God remembered” (v.24)
  3. God saw” (v.25)
  4. God took notice” (v.25)

Q: How does God’s reaction speak of His timing to work on behalf of Israel? Did He act immediately and why?

A: God did not provide the final solution immediately, but He certainly had already begun to act even though they may not have understood it as such.

Point: Before the physical work of salvation could be undertaken, the spiritual work of salvation had to take place. Spiritual redemption precedes earthly redemption.

Read verses Acts 7:35

Q: So Moses WAS God’s ruler and judge over Israel. But what do we learn here as the difference between “Moses of Egypt” and “Moses of Midian”?

A: The former Moses tried to accomplish it on his own; the latter Moses “with the help of the angel who appeared to him”.

Overall Application