The third thing God said to Moses here in the sixth chapter is that he had a covenant with Abraham. Now that’s the covenant that we’ve already looked at. God expressed it in the fifteenth chapter of Genesis and elaborated it in the seventeenth chapter when circumcision, a sign of the covenant, was given. By it, God promised to bless Abraham, to multiply his descendants, and eventually to bring him into the promised land.
The fourth item is that God had not forgotten His covenant. This is the place where the story of Moses begins because in the second chapter we’re told that the Israelites groaned in their slavery and that God heard their groaning. He remembered His covenant with Abraham and with Isaac and with Jacob, and so He was concerned about them. And what we find here in chapter 6 is a deliberate echo of what is stated in chapter 2, which is a way of saying that God does not forget. Does God have a covenant with you? Yes indeed He does, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ. We call it the covenant of grace, that great covenant established through the blood of Jesus Christ, the sign of the everlasting covenant. That God who established the covenant with you certainly remembers it. If you find yourself in difficult trouble, if you find yourself suffering because of sickness, lack of a job, abuse or misunderstanding, the God of the covenant who has established that with you knows you, He hears you, and He remembers that covenant just as certainly as He did in the case of Israel.
The fifth thing God told Moses is that he was to repeat His message to the people. Moses had delivered this message once, and the people had received it. Then he had gone to see Pharaoh but Pharaoh had rejected it. And then when Pharaoh rejected it and made their lives hard, the people (who were always fickle) had rejected Moses. That didn’t change the message at all. You see, the message was exactly the same as it was at the beginning, and it was that God would set the people free. God’s Word is unchanging. It doesn’t make any difference whether people receive it or not receive it. God will do what God will do. Our task as Christian people is simply to teach what God has first of all taught us.
God says that He is going to redeem the people. Did you notice that word? That is only the second time so far in the Bible that you find the word “redeem.” What is it referring to? Well, it’s referring to the way He brings them out of slavery. At the time of the Passover, the lambs are killed and the blood is spread upon the lintel on the doorposts of the house. That’s His redemption. He sets them free from slavery at the cost of blood. That Old Testament picture points forward to that great redemption which was accomplished for us in Jesus Christ. It’s a pattern of that, and that’s why it’s given.
The sixth item is that the Jews were to be the unique people of God. This is closely linked to this matter of the covenant, and it is the basis of God’s requirement that they would be a holy nation. Peter undoubtedly had these words in mind when he wrote to the people who had been made partakers of the new covenant, that is, you and me. He wrote, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
The Jews had a wonderful opportunity after their redemption to say, “We were slaves in Egypt and God, the great God of our people, has set us free.” You and I have exactly the same opportunity and responsibility. We were slaves to sin, far greater slavery than any physical bondage. But God, the same God, Jehovah, the only God there is, has delivered us by the death of Jesus Christ our Savior. And we have the opportunity of declaring His praises.
The last thing is that God says He will bring them into the promised land. That was part of the covenant. He said He was going to do it, and so here He says again, “This is exactly what I will do.” After God has spoken to Moses, the last three verses of this section tell us that Moses again objected to God’s command to go to Pharaoh a second time. If his own people refuse to believe him, how could he possibly expect that Pharaoh would do so, especially since Moses was such a poor speaker? It was his old objection that he raised on Mount Horeb. And I might point out that it didn’t carry any more weight with God then than it did the first time. He’s still trying to get out of it, you see. But God doesn’t pay any attention, and so he has to do it. That objection is repeated again after this interruption for the genealogy, but again God says that He will be with him, and that eventually Pharaoh will let the people go.
F. B. Meyer points out the central point of this chapter:
Out of the whole story there comes to us this lesson: we must never suppose that the difficulties which confront us indicate that we are not on God’s path, and doing His work. Indeed the contrary is generally the case. If we are willing to walk with God, He will test the sincerity and temper of our soul; He will cause men to ride over our heads…. [But] He will bring us into a large room, and give us the very thing on which we have been taught to set our hearts.1
The bottom line of this is perseverance. Keep on. And keep on keeping on, especially when things don’t seem to go very well.
1F. B. Meyer, Moses: The Servant of God (New York: Revell, n.d.), 50.