Friday, December 13, 2019

Exodus 4 – Moses’ Commissioning

body of water during golden hour

It continues to be a wonderful task to exposit the Old Testament. I preached through the book of Exodus in the second half of 2018 verse by verse and paragraph by paragraph. We left no word unread and did not skip the exposition of any section. It is a wonderful exercise for myself to go back now, chapter by chapter, and review the wonderful truth of this book. I pray that it is as beneficial for you, the reader, as it has been for me. More resources can be found at

God continued to speak to Moses from the burning bush. Moses was afraid to confront the people and to take on Pharaoh, but God would not be swayed. His choice of Moses would stand.
1 Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’” 2 The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.” 3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched 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.”

God gave this sign to Moses to convince the people of Israel that He had indeed sent Moses to them. This sign demonstrates God’s power over the creation. If He can turn an ordinary stick into a fierce serpent and back again, then surely He can rescue Israel out of Pharaoh’s hand.

There was yet a second sign to the people of Israel.

6 The LORD furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign.

In this way, Moses would attest to God’s power over creation. He is able to bring about leprosy as well as restore health. Thus, God displayed sovereignty over two of the most fearsome aspects of life in Egypt: snakes and leprosy. He is indeed the God who created it all, and all of it is under His power and authority. Yet the people of Israel (and certainly the Egyptians) would not be satisfied with these things. They were going to require more proof because of their lack of belief. So God would be glorified in all the wonders that He would perform in the midst of Egypt.

9 But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

This would begin the plagues on Egypt that would bring Egypt to its knees. Armed with these signs, Moses should have been confident that God was with him. If God intended to use him to bring Israel out of Egypt, then Moses should have understood that He was able to do so. Now the crux of the matter is revealed: Moses is not willing to go.

10 Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, LORD, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11 The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” 13 But he said, “Please, LORD, now send the message by whomever You will.”

Moses flat out refused the calling of God. But God is not one to be resisted. Moses should not have been worried about his oratorical skill, but his obedience to the word of God. He should have known that God would use him according to His will to bring about that which He intended.

14 Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16 Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. 17 You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”

In this way, Moses would still be in the lead, but he would not have to speak before Pharaoh. Aaron would be the prophet of Moses, the prophet of God. This is an excellent description of a prophet: one who speaks those words which they are taught by another.

18 Then Moses departed and returned to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 Now the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and mounted them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. Moses also took the staff of God in his hand.

Despite his unwillingness, Moses obeyed the command of God to go. It is interesting that he did not tell Jethro, his father-in-law, the entire purpose of his departure. But in his request of Jethro, he makes clear that he identifies with the household of Israel. So Moses took his family and headed for the land of Egypt.

21 The LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which 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 son, My firstborn. 23 So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’”

So that Moses would not be surprised by the ordeal that lay ahead, God told him that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened. God would do this hardening, causing Pharaoh to refuse to the let the people go. Then God would demonstrate His love for Israel as His firstborn son by taking the life of Pharaoh’s firstborn son as a just trade.

A strange incident occurred on the way to Egypt.

24 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that 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 threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”—because of the circumcision.

This passage brings up many questions, but the main point seems to be that Moses had not circumcised his son. As a preacher who would demand faithfulness to God’s covenant, he needed to get his own house in order. So God met him along the way in the wilderness in order to correct this. As soon as Zipporah circumcised their son, God relented.

27 Now the LORD said to Aaron, “Go to meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; 30 and Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people. 31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.

The people were initially convinced that the LORD had sent Moses and Aaron to deliver them out of Egypt. They rejoiced that the LORD had seen their affliction and was concerned for them. The signs convinced them that God’s power was more than sufficient to deliver them from Pharaoh. Despite this, their faith would be tested through the ordeals of the next several chapters.

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