Exodus 4 - Outline of Exodus (Book Notes menu page)
Although the Lord had stated clearly that He would deliver Israel, Moses doubted his own involvement.
Moses offers two objections:
  1. They will not believe me (v.1-9).
  2. I am not eloquent (v.10).
4:1 And Moses answered and said,
But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice:
for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.
4:2 And the LORD said unto him, What [is] that in thine hand?
And he said, A rod.
4:3 And he said, Cast it on the ground.
And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
4:4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail.
And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
4:5 That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
4:6 And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom.
And he put his hand into his bosom:
and when he took it out, behold, his hand [was] leprous as snow.
4:7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again.
And he put his hand into his bosom again;
and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his [other] flesh.
4:8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee,
neither hearken to the voice of the first sign,
that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
4:9 And it shall come to pass,
if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice,
that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour [it] upon the dry [land]:
and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry [land].
They will not believe me...-
Actually, it is Moses who is suffering from unbelief.
God had previously promised that Israel would believe His message (Ex 3:18).
Now, He provided three miraculous signs to demonstrate His power to Israel, and to Moses.
God promised that Israel would believe these signs, which in fact, they did (v.29-31).
  1. The rod which became a serpent. v.2-5
  2. The leprous hand. v.6-8
  3. The water turned into blood. v.9
    Two of these signs would later be demonstrated before Pharaoh, in his unbelief. (7:8-10,14-18)
Additional lessons, in these signs, for the servant of God...
  1. What is that in thine hand? (v.2)-
    • It was a simple shepherd's staff. A tool of his trade.
      Cast down to the ground, in its natural state, it was nothing but a dead stick.
      But, when yielded to the Lord, it became "the rod of God" (v.20).
    • God has given us ordinary tools, which when yielded to Him, can accomplish His work.
      Examples:  -- a few small loaves and fish... "What are these among so many?" (Joh 6:9-13)
        -- a basic skill... becomes a means of supporting missions. Acts 18:1-3; 20:34,35; 1The 2:9
        -- a simple home... becomes a place of hospitality to share God's Word. 1Cor 16:19
        -- a small financial resource... becomes much when invested in God's work. Luk 21:1-4; Php 4:11-13
  2. What is the condition of your heart (bosom) and hand? (v.6,7)
    God cannot use the tools in our hands, until our hearts and hands are clean, and yielded to Him. cp. Prov 4:23; Luk 6:43-45
    He, who reveals our leprous condition, is able to cleanse us for His service (1Joh 1:7-10).
  3. Will you trust Me, even 'if they will not believe'?
    God's servant is to pour out the water of God's Word, upon a dry land. cp. Psa 63:1,2
    To those who will believe, it is a savour of life. To unbelievers it is a savour of death. cp. v.30,31; Ex 7:20,21,23; 2Cor 2:14-17
4:10 And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I [am] not eloquent {HB=dabar (noun)},
neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken
{HB=dabar (verb)} unto thy servant:
but I [am] slow of speech
{lit., dull of mouth}, and of a slow tongue.
4:11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth?
or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?
4:12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I [am] not eloquent...-
At one time, Moses had exhibited fleshly self-confidence. But after 40 years in the backside of the desert, his self-confidence had been broken, and his calling had been forgotten (Acts 7:22-30).
Notice the irony of these words -
- of personal inadequacy:
     addressed to 'the LORD' {HB=Jehovah, the eternally self-sufficient One}, cp. 2Cor 3:5.
- of excuse: addressed to 'my Lord' {HB=adonai, sovereign, master}.
  • Was Moses displaying humility or unbelief?
    Unbelief is not humility but pride. It refuses to believe God, because it cannot find in self a reason for believing. cp. Psa 115:1 [CHM]
    We will find no strength in self "...neither before, nor since" the Lord's instructions.
  • What is the remedy for the servant's inadequacy to serve the Master?
    Total dependency upon Him. cp. v.11,12; 2Cor 12:9,10
    If the servant's heart is prepared and yielded, the Lord will supply His words.
    cp. Prov 16:1; Isa 6:5-9(a); Luk 6:45; Mat 10:19,20; Luk 12:11,12; 21:12-15; Jer 1:1,4-9
4:13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand [of him whom] thou wilt send.
4:14 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses,
and he said, [Is] not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well.
And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee:
and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
4:15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth:
and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
4:16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people:
and he shall be, [even] he shall be to thee instead of a mouth,
and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
{cp. v.30; Ex 7:1,2}
4:17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.
Paraphrase: 'My Sovereign Master, send whoever you want, as long as it is not me.'
The Lord wanted to send Moses. But because of his unbelief, He sent 'Moses & Aaron.'
  • How reluctant we are to entrust ourselves to God alone.
  • How ready we are to rely on the support of another mortal.
    We are more ready to trust anything other than the living God. [CHM]
    Yet, the person, whom Moses considered essential to success, would later be a source of great sorrow. Aaron would make a molten calf (32:21-24). Aaron was skilled in public speaking, but apart from Moses, he was unable to discern the will of God.
The anger of the Lord was kindled...- because of Moses' unbelief. (cp. Num 11:1,33)
Should the servant expect to want {ie., suffer lack}, if "I will be with thee"? (Ex 3:12; 4:12) cp. Psa 23:1
Should the servant refuse to go, when "I AM hath sent me..."? (Ex 3:14)
Now, therefore, go (v.12)... thou shalt (4x in v.15-17)...
The Lord commanded Moses' obedience (having answered his objections).
  • ...speak unto [Aaron]... put words in his mouth. ('I am not eloquent.')
  • ...take this rod... do signs. ('They will not believe me.')
4:18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law,
and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which [are] in Egypt,
and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.
4:19 And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt:
for all the men are dead which sought thy life.
4:20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass,
and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.
4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt,
see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand:
but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
4:22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh,
Thus saith the LORD, Israel [is] my son, [even] my firstborn:
4:23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me:
and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, [even] thy firstborn.
4:24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn,
that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.
4:25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son,
and cast [it] at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband [art] thou to me.
4:26 So he let him go:
then she said, A bloody husband [thou art], because of the circumcision.
Moses went...- despite his earlier objections, Moses set out to obey God's call.
The Lord provided Moses with a prophetic summary of the confrontation with Pharaoh (v.21-23)-
  1. Thou shalt do... those wonders before Pharaoh... I will harden his heart.-
    This 'hardening' will be discussed further in future chapters. For now, note that Pharaoh would be exposed to the Lord's reality and power in "all those wonders" performed before him. But Pharaoh would reject the truth presented to him. The repeated rejection, of the truth, results in increasing unresponsiveness to truth. Hearts are hardened in proportion to the brightness of the light rejected.
    There are dual aspects to hardening:
    1. by the will of an individual: truth is rejected.
    2. as a judgment of God: a willfully unbelieving heart is increasingly darkened. cp. Rom 1:28; 2The 2:10-12
  2. Thou shalt say [let my people go, or else]... I shall slay thy firstborn.-
    The fact that nine plagues would precede this final outcome, is an indication of the Lord's patience and grace. cp. 2Pet 3:9
The matter of circumcision (v.24-26)-
  1. It's importance: Circumcision is a 'token' or sign-
    God 'swore by Himself' in the 'cutting of the covenant' with Abraham.
    For Abraham, circumcision was a mark of identification with God's promises.
    The cutting off of the flesh, indicated that the promises would be fulfilled by God, not by fleshly means.
  2. It's offence -
    Circumcision is a 'bloody' practice, because of the cutting off of the flesh (which symbolizes the death of the natural man). cp. 2Cor 1:9; Col 2:10-12
  3. The circumstance - The Lord sough to kill Moses.
    1. Not due to his personal lack of circumcision.
      - Moses' parents had time to circumcise him, at eight days of age (cp. Ex 2:1,2).
      - All of Israel's males, who were born in Egypt, had been circumcised (Josh 5:4,5).
    2. Due to his neglect of circumcision for his own son.
      Moses could not represent God, in the saving of His 'first-born,' and the slaying of Egypt's first-born (v.22,23), when he had not brought his own first-born under the Covenant. Perhaps Moses had intended to do so, but could not persuade his wife to allow the child's circumcision. Nevertheless, God held him responsible.
      The sentence of death must be carried out upon the flesh. If we will not judge ourselves, God will do so.
4:27 And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.
And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.
4:28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him,
and all the signs which he had commanded him.
4:29 And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:
4:30 And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses,
and did the signs in the sight of the people.
4:31 And the people believed:
and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel,
and that he had looked upon their affliction,
then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
The people believed 'the words of the LORD' delivered to them.
The question was not 'would they believe Moses?' (cp. v.1), but 'would they believe God?'.
As the messenger rests in the authority of the One who sent him (cp. Ex 5:1),
the hearers also must receive the message as the Word of God (cp. 1The 2:13).
Confidence placed in the messenger is no substitute for trust in God. cp. Ex 5:20,21

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