Exodus 6:1-13


As you may recall, Moses and Aaron’s confidence had risen after a good reception by the Hebrew elders. But after being rejected by Pharaoh, seeing the Hebrew slaves being treated badly, and then being blamed for it, Moses and Aaron complained to God that He had not done what He had promised.

Chapter six continues the account of their conversation with God. In it we will see God’s answer to their complaint and their response to Him.

Before we get too far, let us ask ourselves the question again. Do we believe God will keep his promises only when things go well for us? Or do we believe God’s promises regardless of how His plan unfolds?


  1. What God promised to do (1-5)
    [Read Exodus 6:1-5.]

    In this section, God goes through a list of His promises to Israel. This list was given to Moses to calm his fears and to give him hope for the future.

    a. I will make Pharaoh drive them out (1).

    Now you shall see… The Lord answered Moses’ complaint by pointing him to the future. Moses would see how God’s promises were going to be fulfilled.

    Pharaoh’s future actions… A strong hand refers to either God’s power or him raising His hand to keep His promise. Either one means that Pharaoh would be compelled by God to let the people go. The Lord “was arranging circumstances so that Pharaoh would let them go and would even compel them to do so.” (BKCOT 116)

    b. I will reveal myself as the Lord (2-3).

    In the past, God had revealed himself to the patriarchs as God Almighty, “the One who provides and sustains” (BKCOT 116). Now, God was revealing Himself as The Lord, Yahweh, Jehovah.

    “The name Yahweh comes from the Hebrew word for ‘I am.’ When God met Moses at the burning bush and commanded him to go back to Egypt and lead the people out, Moses asked who he should say has sent him. ‘God said to Moses, I am who I am.’ … “The name speaks of the self-existence and self-sufficiency of God. All others are dependent upon Him for life and breath and existence. He is dependent upon no one.” (https://www.gotquestions.org/meaning-of-Yahweh.html)

    c. I will give them the land of Canaan (4).

    God promised to keep his covenantal promise to the patriarchs. Remember the promise made to Abraham? God promised to fulfill that promise by giving them the land of Canaan.

    d. I will remember my covenant (5).

    God was aware of their groanings under the Pharaoh’s cruel bondage. As the beatings continued and morale did not improve, the Israelites may have thought that God had forgotten his promise to them. God wanted them to know that he was aware of their suffering. God had not forgotten his covenantal promise to them.

    Summary: In four statements, God made it clear that he was still acting on the behalf of the suffering Israelites. (1) I will make Pharaoh let you go. (2) I will be known to you as the boundless, self-existing One. (3) I will give you the Promised Land. (4) I will remember my covenant to you.

    When God makes promises, He always keeps them. Moses was not yet convinced that what God had promised would come true. He was listening more to his feelings and experience instead of trusting the One who will keep His promises.

    Learn to look past your personal feelings and experiences to what God has promised. If you are a child of God, you surely have seen Him act on your behalf before, right? Don’t you know that He will keep His promises to you? Take some time today to review His promises and rest in His unfailing care for each of His children.

  2. What God told Moses to say (6-8)
    [Read Exodus 6:6-8.]

    Notice that God begins with the word, “therefore.” He is reminding Moses and Aaron that His promises would be kept. With that in mind, God tells Moses what to say to the Israelites. He gives him the words that will inspire their confidence in God Himself taking care of their problems.

    a. Tell Israel I will rescue them (6).

    He said, I am the Lord, I will rescue you from bondage, and I will show my strength with great judgments. We know what those great judgments would be like. God would send ten plagues that would show Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the Israelites that God can’t be messed with. There would come a time when all of these people would recognize the power of God’s “outstretched arm.”

    b. Tell Israel I will be their God (7).

    He would take them as His people and He would also be their God. It would be a remarkable relationship that no other nation would have. Then they would know that He is the Lord their God.

    c. Tell Israel I will bring you to the promised land (8).

    This is what the Israelites needed to hear. They didn’t want to be slaves in Egypt and to suffer. What would it be like in this new land? Much better. But those promises were made over 400 years previous to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was almost as if God had forgotten His promise.

    We also look forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise to send Jesus back to take us to be with Him. Don’t let the passing of time convince you that God will not keep this promise. Read 2 Peter 3:3-9.

    His final statement was signed off with His name. I am the Lord—the Self-Existing God who can do what He promises.

    Summary: Once again, Moses and Aaron must have been confident after hearing directly from God. God had promised to do great things for Israel. God had told them exactly what to say. Now, they only had to believe and obey Him.

  3. What happened as a result (9-13)
    [Read Exodus 6:9-13.]

    In this section, we see that things didn’t turn out as well as Moses would have liked. The response from the Israelites was not good and the prospect of another bad response from Pharaoh was not expected as well.

    a. Moses was rejected by Israel (9).

    Moses and Aaron gave God’s message to the Israelites. But the suffering slaves would not listen to their words. They were overcome with anguish because of their cruel treatment by the Egyptians. Moses and Aaron are now emotionally down again. What was God’s next plan for them?

    b. Moses was afraid of Pharaoh (10-12).

    God told them to tell Pharaoh to let them go again. Moses told the Lord that Israel had just rejected him. Moses told the Lord that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen either. Moses again described himself as a bad speaker. Perhaps he “thought that his lack of success with the people was caused by his lack of oratorical ability.” (BKCOT 116)

    Isn’t it interesting how Moses’ confidence goes up and down. He keeps going back to his inabilities instead of trusting God’s promises.

    Do you think God knew about Moses’ excuses and feelings of inadequacies before He chose him to lead Israel? Now ask the same question about yourself. Do you think God knew about your excuses and inadequacies before He saved you and set you apart for His service? The answer is yes.

    God did not reject Moses or look for another person. He had chosen Moses and would make him fit for the job.

    c. Moses was told what to do (13).

    God spoke to them. This is a magnificent thought. God spoke to them despite their feelings of inadequacy. God told them a command for the Israelites. God told them a command for Pharaoh.

    Whatever he said to them, you can imagine that He had not changed His mind about his promises or what the people needed to hear. Whatever he said to them, you can imagine that He had not changed His mind about his promises or what the people needed to hear.


Moses was discouraged by the bad response of both the Israelites and Pharaoh. So, what did God do to spur him on to obedience? God went back to His sure promises. He listed off all the great things He promised to do for Israel. And when Moses still had trouble being confident, God told him exactly what to do.

The lesson for us is this. When we are discouraged and lack confidence, we should go back and review the promises of God. As we look at His many promises, we will see that His promises include not only positive things but negative as well.

I will forgive your sins (1 John 1:9). You will suffer (2 Tim. 3:12).
I will give you eternal life (John 3:16). You will be hated (Luke 21:17).
I will be with you (Matt. 28:20). Evil men will get worse (2 Tim. 3:13).

When we remember all of God’s promises, we will have more of a realistic perspective about what happens as we carry out God’s commands. God doesn’t promise a life without problems. But He does promise that He will be with us, and tells us what to expect, and what to look forward to as we obey His commands.

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