Exodus 4: Moses Given Powerful Signs

1 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” 3 And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail”—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” 6 Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. 9 If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

-God says, “If they will not believe you or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign”. There is no “if” with God and He knows exactly whether the elders will believe Moses. So then why does God say this? He does this for Moses benefited. These little displays of power are enough to encourage Moses enough to do the Lord’s will because he is too afraid. Gods purpose in doing all this is to make a grand display to the Egyptians and to the whole world that the Hebrews are His people. If these little signs were enough for Pharaoh also and pharaoh just let them all go right then and there, other things could be said about what happened. Moses would have been said to have power or have some special ability himself to lead the people or way or the Pharaoh might have been considered a fool. This way there can be no mistake about what is happening. God is in control. So God tells Moses what he needs to hear, not that God is manipulating or deceiving Moses, but God is giving information and knows what Moses is going to decide to do by his free will with this information. God always gives us what we need to fulfill His grand purpose.

10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” 13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” 14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. 17 And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”

-The Lord actually gets “angry” with Moses. Moses mistake as mentioned last chapter is thinking he is being told that he is the one that needs to do these things. He is not showing faith in God at all and believes God is mistaken for relying on him to do this task. But Moses is not the one doing the task, God is, Moses is only the tool. It is the same thing when we are given opportunity for ministry for God but do not do it because we believe we are not good enough. There is no such thing! If you are meant to do something, you will do it. We lie to ourselves and convince ourselves of our worth as being not good enough yet with God, anything is possible! One question from this passage I have is if God was offering Moses the honor of being his sole representative but since Moses did not have enough self-confidence and was turning away, God allowed Aaron to share part of this honor as well. Obviously, God knows what is going to happen but we do seem to have a certain free will to reject him to His face if we should choose. We’ve seen God kill Er and Onon for not obeying His will and rejecting him. Perhaps Moses was running this risk in showing more faith in his own opinion of himself than what God told him directly that he could do.
Moses Returns to Egypt
18 Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.”

-It has been 40 years since Moses killed the Egyptian but it seems unlikely they would have simply all died off. It seems God thought of everything and made sure this would not be an obstacle for Moses when the time came. Everything has been paved for Moses to do this.

20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand. 21 And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’”

-The information Moses received from God made Moses believe the signs would work for Pharaoh to but now God was telling Moses that the signs are not going to work for Pharaoh and he will refuse. Hearing that is enough to lose confidence…

24 At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.

-It says that “the Lord met him and sought to put him to death” referring to Moses. This must mean Moses was on the verge of disobeying and rejecting the task he was given. Perhaps after he heard that the signs would not work and Pharaoh would not let the people go he had second thoughts. Moses, being born a Hebrew was circumcised but his son being born among the Midianites to a Midianite wife was not. It seems unlikely “the Lord” appeared to kill Moses just because his son had not been circumcised yet but rather because Moses was about to disobey. His wife, Zipporah’s quick thinking and show of devotion was enough to prove, as a couple, Moses and Zipporah feared the Lord and were going to obey what He said. The term “a bridegroom of blood” is a very interesting phrase for Zipporah to use not being a Hebrew but what this means is that she is reminding God of the commitment to protect the Israelites and was declaring their son a Hebrew. Although the man is almost always solely mentioned, even in these ancient biblical times, the husband and wife are a couple and act as a couple. Moses was failing and was so afraid that he did not want to disobey God. But thankfully he had a wise wife who probably saved his life. This is the importance of having a wise, god-fearing wife. She can build you up and encourage your faith and together as one, you can both be strong in your service to God. Once again, it is implied that a human form of God was on Earth which would have to mean that Jesus was the one who appeared to come and kill Moses. It does not say “an angel” but says “the Lord” so we cannot assume some “angel of death” came but rather take it as written. Jesus is the word of God and He was going to carry out God the Father’s command to end Moses’ life if he was going to choose to disobey.

27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him to speak, and all the signs that he had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. 30 Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.

-Not only did Moses have a wonderfully wise wife to help him but a great friend and companion in his brother. God will always provide what we need and does not demand that we do everything alone. Since Moses had run away from home and lived among the Midianites, it has likely been forty years since he has seen his brother. This was a great confirmation from the Lord that the two should meet out in the wilderness because each was being spoken to separately.

Notes): For some possible other interpretations for Exodus 4:24-26, check out this paper: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otlit/week3/allen-ex4-bloody-bsac.pdf

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