Exodus 4 (NRSV)
Moses’ Miraculous Power
Then Moses answered, “But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’“
Bible commentator G. Campbell Morgan has written: “We are ever prone, when God is calling us to some high service, to say ‘But,’ and this to introduce our statement of the difficulties as we see them.”
2The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
He said, “A staff.”
3And he said, “Throw it on the ground.”
God likes to use what is in our hand.
- God used what was in Shamgar’s hand (Judges 3:31)
- God used what was in David’s hand (1 Samuel 17:49)
- God used the jawbone of a donkey in Samson’s hand (Judges 15:15)
- God used five loaves and two fish in the hand of a little boy (John 6:9)
So he threw the staff on the ground, and it became a snake; and Moses drew back from it. 4Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand, and seize it by the tail” —so he reached out his hand and grasped it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5“so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
6Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” He put his hand into his cloak; and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow.
7Then God said, “Put your hand back into your cloak” —so he put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored like the rest of his body— 8“If they will not believe you or heed the first sign, they may believe the second sign. 9If they will not believe even these two signs or heed you, 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.”
10But Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
11Then the Lord said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
Psalm 94:9 (New American Standard Bible)
He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, does He not see?
12Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.”
13But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else.”
14Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “What of your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. 15You 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 what you shall do.
Moses should have obeyed the Lord in simple dependence, knowing that His commands are His enablements. God never asks us to do anything without giving us the power to do it. Because Moses was not satisfied with God’s best, he had to take God’s second best—that is, having Aaron be his spokesman. Moses thought that Aaron would be a help, but he later proved to be a hindrance in leading the people to worship the golden calf (chapter 32).
16He indeed shall speak for you to the people; he shall serve as a mouth for you, and you shall serve as God for him. 17Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”
“Speak, O Lord,” by Keith Getty, 2005, with videoclips from Norway and France. ( The music does not begin until 20 seconds into the clip.)
Moses Returns to Egypt
18Moses went back to his father-in-law Jethro and said to him, “Please let me go back to my kindred in Egypt and see whether they are still living.”
And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”
19The Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt; for all those who were seeking your life are dead.” 20So Moses took his wife and his sons, put them on a donkey and went back to the land of Egypt; and Moses carried the staff of God in his hand.
a thought from Andy Warhol:
According to Exodus 7:7, Moses was 80 years old when God called him to do the great work of his life: lead the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and guide them 40 years in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.
Are you impatiently waiting for something — and could you now put that situation in God’s hands for God’s timing?
What good work, what great work might the Lord have for you now, later, and even in your retirement years?
21And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.
Who really hardened Pharaoh’s heart?
We might say that it was both God and Pharaoh; but whenever God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, He never did it against Pharaoh’s will. Pharaoh never said, “Oh, I want to do what is good and right and I want to bless these people of Israel” and God answered, “No, for I will harden your heart against them!” When God hardened, He allowed Pharaoh’s heart to do what Pharaoh wanted to do – God gave Pharaoh over to his sin (Romans 1:18-32).
22Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: Israel is my firstborn son. 23I said to you, “Let my son go that he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.’“
24On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met him and tried to kill him. 25But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26So he let him alone. It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”
27The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went; and he met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him, and all the signs with which he had charged him.
29Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the Israelites. 30Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and performed the signs in the sight of the people.
31The people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
Luke 1:54 (New American Standard Bible)
He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.