In our study of Exodus chapter four, we will see how it is the heart that qualifies a man for service to God. In chapter three, we saw Moses ask the question: Why me? Here, we will see God's answer and His promises.
Moses answered, 'What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, "The Lord did not appear to you"?'
Can you imagine going to the leaders of your people and telling them that God appeared to you? Like Moses, you would probably have some doubts and fears. Here, he asks God what to do when they look at him like he was a nut and don't believe him. The same type of thing happens today even in the church. Many do not understand that God will speak to us and, if we listen, He will guide our every step.
Then the Lord said to him, 'What is that in your hand?' 'A staff,' he replied. The Lord said, 'Throw it on the ground.' Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it.
We may wonder why God asked Moses what was in his hand as God must have known the answer. He was, in fact, trying to get Moses to see that he would not be alone in his calling. God had him throw his staff on the ground and turned it into a snake. Moses revealed the fear that was in his heart by running from the snake. In this, we see a continued lack of understanding that God was with him and in control. The staff was simply a tool and God was looking to put it into the hands of a man that had his heart set on the things of God. In chapter two, we saw that Moses had a heart of compassion for his people as he saved a man from being beaten by the Egyptians. This was a man that God could use but the heart of fear had to be changed into a heart of faith in God.
Then the Lord said to him, 'Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.' So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 'This,' said the Lord, 'is so 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 had Moses touch the snake (overcoming his fear) and it was changed back to a staff. He explains that this sign will be used to demonstrate the power of God and the truth of what Moses told the elders. It was only through faith that Moses was able to overcome his fear and grab the snake and we are reminded that faith in God drives out all fear. There are some Christians, today, that try to demonstrate their great faith by taking up snakes in worship. There is a big difference between them and Moses. Moses took up the snake because God told him to while the people of today are doing it to put on a show of faith. Many times they are bitten and die while the snake did not even attempt to bite Moses. This is a reminder that God will protect us when we are following His directions but, when we go it alone, He is not obligated to shield us from the consequences of our actions.
Then the Lord said, 'Put your hand inside your cloak.' So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow. 'Now put it back into your cloak,' he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.
The staff was a tool that could be used for either good or evil based on the hand that held it. Here, we see not only a demonstration of God's power to heal but also the fact that He chose Moses because He had a heart for the things of God.
Then the Lord said, 'If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.'
Throughout the Bible, the number two is associated with witnesses as that was the number required to prove that something was true. God gave Moses two signs and then went above and beyond the law by giving him a third. The third sign was turning water into blood and the number three is associated with the earthly display of God's will.
Moses said to the Lord, 'O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.' The Lord said to him, 'Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you to speak and will teach you what to say.'
Now, Moses doubts his own ability to communicate the words of God to the people. Once again, God meets Moses' doubt with the assurance of His provision. God reminds him that He is the one that made people and that He is in control. God is the same today as in the days of Moses. Do we, as Christians, take our doubts and insecurities about ourselves to the Lord? If we do, we can be comforted with the fact that He is in control and through Him we can do what He asks of us.
But Moses said, 'O Lord, please send someone else to do it.' Then the Lord's anger burned against Moses and he said, 'What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it.'
Even after God's assurance that He would provide a way for Moses to speak, Moses asks Him to send someone else. So, God has already prepared Aaron and he was on the way to meet Moses. We see that Aaron was to be his mouthpiece and Moses was to be like God to him. What we see here is a pattern that continues even today. God provides a way for men that only requires their acceptance of the fact that He will do something and yet man rejects that in favor of the works of men. That has been described as legalism and has been a tactic used by the devil to undermine the church and the fact that we are saved by grace. We must remember that fear and doubt are not of God and to "be blessed" is to be worry free.
Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, 'Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.' Jethro said, 'Go, and I wish you well.' Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, 'Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.' So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.
Finally, Moses gave up his objections and decided to return to Egypt as the Lord had instructed him. He took his wife and sons on a donkey so we know that he had prospered in Midian. Armed with the staff of God, they set out. As Christians, we can walk with the power of God living in us through the Holy Spirit. Like Moses, we can come up with excuses and objections to the call of God upon our lives but, if our heart is right with Him, we will follow His will for our lives.
The Lord said to Moses, 'When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then say to Pharaoh, "This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, 'Let my son go, so he may worship me.' But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son."'
God gave Moses his final instructions which were basically a warning to complete all of the signs that were given to him. We see that they were to be performed for the Pharaoh and not as some kind of show. (Today, there are many who want to put the power of God on display like a kind of circus show but that IS NOT God's desire.) We also see that the Lord is going to harden Pharaoh's heart for His purposes and the result will be the plague on the firstborn sons.
At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife , cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it. 'Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,' she said. So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said 'bridegroom of blood,' referring to circumcision.)
Along the way to Egypt, the wrath of God was about to break out against Moses. He had not circumcised his son as required under the Abrahamic covenant. This was the mark of the people of God and he was responsible for his son being circumcised. His wife stepped in and recognized what had to be done. In so doing, she saved the life of Moses. Today, many people try to minimize the role of a Godly woman/wife. As we see with Moses, it is crucial for a man of God to have a Godly wife. If Zipporah had not known about the things of God, Moses would have died.
The Lord said to Aaron, 'Go into the desert to meet Moses.' So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform.
God called Aaron to meet Moses and so begins a pattern that will occur over and over in the Bible. It is at this point that God begins to send His people in groups of two to accomplish His will. This was repeated when Jesus sent out the disciples two by two (see Luke 10). It will be repeated again in the last days with the appearance of two witnesses in Jerusalem (see Revelation 11).
Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
They called a meeting of the Israelites and Aaron spoke the words of God and demonstrated the signs. In so doing he showed the people the heart of God for His people. The people's hearts were touched and they reacted by bowing in worship. This is a picture of how we are to carry out the Great Commission. We are to tell people of God's love for them as demonstrated by sending His Son to die for them. As with Moses and Aaron, He has also given us signs to demonstrate that love and power. They were called to lead the people out of their slavery in Egypt while we are called to lead the people out of their bondage to sin and death. That, my friends, is the heart of the matter!