2879.) Exodus 4

"Moses and the Burning Bush" watercolor by William Blake, early 19th century (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

“Moses and the Burning Bush” watercolor by William Blake, early 19th century (Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

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.”

Ex 4 hand

God likes to use what is in our hand.

God used a sharp stick in Shamgar’s hand (Judges 3:31).

God used the stones and slingshot 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 (NASB)

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).

–William MacDonald

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.”



HERE  is “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:

Ex4 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).

–David GuzIk

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.

Ex4 moses_burning_bush_bysantine_mosaic

Luke 1:54 (NASB)

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.

Images courtesy of:
Blake.    http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O192457/moses-and-the-burning-bush-watercolour-blake-william/
hand.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/86bd8-ex44.jpeg
Andy Warhol quote.   https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/after-andy-warhol-the-idea-of-waiting-for-15-c-8a8a1bde1f
Moses and the burning bush Byzantine icon.    https://iconreader.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/moses_burning_bush_bysantine_mosaic.jpg

2 Responses to 2879.) Exodus 4

  1. Margaret High says:

    Verses 24,25 and 26 are disturbing. Why would the Lord want to kill him when he had something special for him to do?

    • Rebecca says:

      from Jewish Studies for Christians:
      “Why Did God Almost Kill Moses?
      It happened on the way to the lodging place that the LORD met him [Moses] and sought his death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched his feet and said, “This is because you are a bridegroom of blood to me”. So He let him alone. At that time, she said, “You – a bridegroom of blood” – because of the circumcision.
      One of the most enigmatic Torah events (that, frankly, runs contrary to our modern logic) is found in Exodus 4:24-26. There, after commissioning Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, God came to kill him (Ex.4:24-26).
      The key to this passage lies in realizing that Moses was not properly circumcised. Growing up in the Egypt, Moses and the rest of Israelites did not fully remove the male’s foreskin (growing up in the Egyptian Royal home, it could not have been otherwise). In the time of Joshua, Israelites went through a second, proper circumcision, where foreskin was fully removed (Josh. 5:2-3). All of this sounds trivial, gross, and strange to the ears of modern Christian believers, but clearly it was not how YHWH saw this situation. In other words, Israelites could be delivered while still being uncircumcised, but the leader of the Exodus would be held to a higher standard.
      Moses was about to embark on “Operation Exodus” without the sign of the Abrahamic covenant on him or his son Gershom. When God came to seek his life, Moses’ Medianite wife Zipporah intervened to save him. God’s wrath was turned away by the blood of the son and decisive redemptive action of a Midianite woman.
      While it is possible that only his son was not circumsized, but it does explain the words of Zipporah (“You are bridegroom of blood to me”)? Something more was going on.
      Circumcision was not only a sign to the man of his entrance into the Abrahamic covenant. It also served as a sign to his bride that the man she was marrying was, in fact, a worshiper of the Most High God.
      A man who was properly circumcised was a “bridegroom of blood” to her. But why did Zipporah touch the foreskin of Gershom to the “feet” of Moses?
      The most likely scenario is that the “feet” of Moses refers to Moses’ procreative organ (a common euphemism in the Hebrew Bible).
      At the time, Moses’ procreative organ was not properly marked with the sign of Abrahamic covenant. After (properly) circumcising Gershom, Zipporah touched Moses’ procreative organ as if he was already properly circumcised. When this great woman of faith did that, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob spared the life of Moses, making him ready to deliver God’s Ancient people.”

      So it seems that Moses, having been raised in Pharaoh’s court, had not been properly circumcised. Thus he did not have the mark of the Lord’s covenant upon him or his son. This was a necessary step for a leader, and it is thanks to Moses’ Midianite wife that the situation was resolved. Such a thing may seem trivial or ridiculous to us in our day and age, but we can trust that God had His good reasons, and that this action made a spiritual impact upon Moses and was part of God’s preparation of Moses for the job ahead.

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