Moses knew that he was about to hear a momentous announcement at the burning bush when the Lord identified Himself, saying, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Ex. 3:6). This statement recalls the great work God did for the patriarchs of Israel and the great promises made to them throughout the book of Genesis. Some knowledge of these promises would have come down to Moses through the Israelites’ retelling these promises to their children throughout the generations between the death of Jacob and the exodus era, for it would make little sense for God to have revealed Himself as the God of the patriarchs if Moses did not know who the patriarchs were and what they had been promised.
In today’s passage, we read the Lord’s incredible declaration, a word that would forever alter the course of history—namely, that He would rescue Israel from its slavery (Ex. 3:7–10). Several things stand out in God’s announcement. First, we see the Lord’s great compassion. God tells Moses that He has “seen the affliction” and heard “the cry” of the Israelites (vv. 7, 9). Earlier, Moses wrote that God heard the cries of His people, taking pity on them (2:23–25), but we see in today’s passage that Moses learned of this pity because God Himself told Moses of His concern for Israel. The Lord is not aloof and distant; He heard and cared about the ancient Israelites. Moreover, we can be sure that He cares about His people today (see Ps. 103:13). John Calvin comments, “It ought to afford no common consolation in the troubles of us all when we are groaning under any unjust burden; for God, whose sight was [in the exodus era] so clear, is not now so blind as not to see all injustice, and to pity them that call upon him.”
Second, this compassion for the Israelites is good news because God can do something about it. Feelings of compassion are all well and good, but the Lord’s compassion would not be encouraging were God unable to intervene and help us. The Lord tells Moses that He is going to solve the Israelites’ problem by liberating them from Egypt (Ex. 3:8, 10). Because the Lord’s arm is mighty to save, being objects of His compassion is something in which to rejoice.
Finally, God tells Moses that not only will He save the Israelites from slavery but He will give them the blessing of a good and fertile land, one “flowing with milk and honey” (v. 8). The Lord rescues His people and gives them many more blessings besides.