4/1, 2, 3 - 92
Aaron could speak, Moses could teach-they needed each other for the unity of the body, v. 14-17
The Lord God of Israel had been silent for a great many years (430, Keil). Now the Lord is commanding Moses to go and tell them that, after 430 years, the Lord is speaking again. The fearful thing on Moses' part is what took place 40 years previously.
4:1, gives us two thoughts:
First, Moses told the Lord, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor harken unto my voice.. (v. 1), even though he had been assured that they would listen, 3:18. This gives us two points for consideration:
1) As usual, it is not our responsibility to make people believe us or listen to our message, but it sure makes it easier to continue on when people listen. 4:1, goes back to Moses' original command, 3:10, Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people... where the Lord made a mater-of-fact statement to Moses, and Moses was to go back and implement the word of the Lord. The Lord deals with this in v. 11.
I know that since I have been in the ministry this appears to be the case far more than not. It sure is discouraging to speak when people do not listen. The really discouraging thing is that I am presenting what I believe the Lord would have me present which many do not want. Most people do not want firm clear guidance which goes against their wishes and desires. I am very tempted to change my message, but I do not know what I would change it to. People do not seem to like "Reconstruction" Calvinism, and the teaching of the law in our lawless day. But the Lord leaves us with a few who do desire to learn, as well as the mailings which He has permitted.
2) Moses had been promised by the word of the Lord that the people would listen, yet he doubts. So then, when Moses said what he did in v. 1, rather than angerly saying, "Moses, I told you that you would accomplish this, now go by faith and do it," the Lord proceeds to give Moses something tangible to increase his faith.
Observe for us: The Lord knows where we are; He remembers that we are dust, Psalms 103. Because the Lord remembered that Moses was dust, He remembered that He was speaking to and working with dust. Therefore, He did not deal with Moses as pure justice would have required; rather, He dealt with Moses in mercy and pity, remembering that he was only as the grass of the field. "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief," should be in our memory. I am thankful that the Lord does go further than a "one time" instruction and many times works to build our faith with some physical means. The Lord provides for human weakness.
4:1, Second, Moses is clothed with humility as he voices his legitimate concern: "Lord, the people will think that I am being presumptuous to claim that the God of our fathers hath sent me: the great I AM; remember Lord what happened 40 years ago." [The fact that the people will think Moses is being presumptuous is indicated by the word for.] Therefore, the Lord gives Moses the ability to work supernatural signs and wonders to confirm that he is indeed sent by the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. [They will not believe me.. is dealt with in v. 10.]
Supernatural signs and wonders were common from Moses until the death of the last Apostle.
A few instances are as follows: Num. 16:28, Korah stood against Moses; therefore, the Lord confirmed Moses as His man by supernatural signs. 1 Kings 13, a prophet of the Lord appears at Bethel and cries out against Jeroboam's false alter; the sign that the prophet spoke for the Lord was the rending of the alter. John 14:11, Christ told His disciples that if they could not believe His words believe for the very work's sake. In other words, if they could not believe His words, at least believe His works, i.e., miracles (cf. Jn 4:48). Furthermore, the Apostles followed the same pattern; see Ac 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 14:3; 15:12; Ro 15:18, 19 [many Gentiles came to believe the gospel through mighty signs and wonders.. which the Lord worked through Paul among them]; 2 Co 12:12 [the signs and wonders were the signs of an apostle, i.e., they confirmed the message and the messengers]; Heb 2:3, 4 [note that the ability to work supernatural signs and wonders was restricted to only those who heard Christ. Thus, their ability to do the supernatural was the Lord's confirmation upon the new message which they were presenting, ie., the new message of Christ.]
It is significant to note that the primary requirement on the part of the one working the miracle was humility. Even Samson was not lifted up with pride over his abilities; his problem was uncontrolled lust.
Moses went back to Egypt and confronted Pharaoh. He had with him the ability to work supernatural signs and wonders to prove that he represented Jehovah God. The first miracles that Moses produced were imitated by Pharaoh's servants. This is an interesting fact for we see this also in the NT. To start with, any supernatural ability to work anything is from the Lord Who is the possessor of all power of heaven and earth, cf. Deut 13. Therefore, the working of the supernatural by the side of evil is also an ability given by the Lord. There are two such references in the NT: 2 Thes 2:9, 10, & Rev 13:13. In both cases the reason for the supernatural signs is to lead those who love a lie astray for the Lord's judgment.
So we see that signs and wonders were temporally given by the Lord to confirm His message, but now man has the revealed word of God which must be accepted by faith apart from signs and wonders, 1 Corinthians 13:8; Romans 8:24. The temporary time frame started with Moses and closed with the giving of the revelation of God's word, i.e. the death of the last apostle. Hence, Moses's third concern was not at all out of line, and the Lord answered it by establishing a precedent which He would follow until the close of the giving of His word; He gave Moses the ability to work supernatural signs and wonders.
There were three reasons for the signs: first, for Moses' benefit. He was understandably weak in the faith. These signs were designed to strengthen his confidence in the Lord. Second, for Israel's benefit. It had been a great many years since God had spoken; therefore, the signs were given to convince God's people that Moses was indeed who he said he was and that he could do what he was claiming that he could do, v. 5. And third, they were signs against Egypt and Pharaoh, 3:20; 4:21. Thus, these signs install Moses as the messenger of Jehovah: to Moses personally, to Israel, and to Pharaoh. (Keil)
Vs. 3-9, the Lord gives to Moses three signs: the rod into a serpent and back to a rod again, his hand leprous and back to normal again, and the water of the river into blood when poured upon the ground.
Let's look at these three signs one at a time.
1) the serpent:
A) "The turning of Moses' staff into a serpent, which became a staff again when Moses took it by the tail, had reference to the calling of Moses." (Keil) In other words, the Lord can and did take an unknown shepherd, Moses, and turn him into an useful instrument in the Lord's hands. At the Lord's commend, Moses turned loose of his shepherd's life and became a powerful instrument in the hand of the Lord. The rod changing into a serpent which Moses fled before, shows the fearful times ahead for Moses as he follows the command of the Lord. In addition, the serpent changed back into a rod shows that, though the times will be parlous, the Lord will provide the victory as Moses follows the command-word of God. He is not going in his own strength.
Observe for us: God uses people who unknown to the world and who are willing to follow His word and step out by faith. The times will be difficult, and at time, quite fearful, but obedience to the word of the Lord in the face of insurmountable odds will result in victory. The fearful conditions (the serpent, if you please) can and will be turned into an instrument of good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.
B) the serpent (satan himself who Moses will confront in Egypt) is nothing but a tool in the hand of the Lord. Furthermore, he is only a tool in the hands of God's faithful servants. The great serpent, the father of all lies, is a powerless deceiver who's only power lies in deceiving God's people into giving him the power which he does not possess. He is subdued to the King by the very power of God (Eph 1:21, 22) and has been from the moment he fell. His final subjection will be when he is cast alive into the bottomless pit. Through the power of Christ and the grace of God, the Church is to trod this enemy of God under foot, Ephesians 3:10.
Moses was told to cast the rod on the ground. He did and it became a fearful serpent. Moses fled from before it. And the Lord said for him to reach down and pick it up, showing Moses that even though he would confront the Serpent himself, he had the victory.
Observe for us: The Serpent is present today by the divine providence of God. He pursues God's people and they flee from before him. Rather than fleeing, God's people are to obey the command-word of the Lord which will give them victory over the wicked one.
2) the leprosy:
A) "The nation of Israel was like a leper, who defiled every one that touched him." Moses is shown a couple of things about this nation: he will have to carry them in his bosom like a nurse carries the sucking child, Num 11:12; that the Lord has the power to cleanse them, and He will use Moses to perform His work of cleansing. (Keil)
B) consistently in Scripture, leprosy is a sign of sin. The Lord, by telling Moses to place his hand into his bosom, shows Moses the sinfulness of the heart (and of these people; they were Egyptian at heart). But the Lord does not leave man in his sinful condition; he tells Moses to put his hand back again and it is restored. Thus, Moses is shown in a dim shadow that he will receive the law which is foundational to solving the sin problem, Christ. Cf. Gal 3:24.
"The object of the first miracle was to exhibit Moses as the man whom Jehovah had called to be the leader of His people; that of the second, to show that, as the messenger of Jehovah, he was furnished with the necessary power for the execution of this calling." (Keil)
3) the blood:
A) if further proof was needed to convince Israel, Moses was to take water from the Nile River and pour it on the ground, and it would become blood. This is an important sign to both Israel and to Egypt. As we mentioned back in chapter one, Egypt gave divine honors to the Nile. The Nile was even identified with Osiris. (Keil) Moses' power to turn the Nile into lifeless blood showed that he now had the power of God to destroy Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt, which Moses did.
B) it was the blood which would make their deliverance possible, just as the blood makes our deliverance possible today.
The Lord has an answer for our very concern. He uses people, unknown people, people who are despised by the world, to do His work, cf. 1 Cor. 1 & 2.
A. Edersheim makes this point: "We note that here, for the first time in Old Testament history, this power was bestowed upon man, and that the occasion was the first great conflict between the world and the Church." The state only recognizes one god, power. When the power of the Lord God is proved to be stronger than its gods, it [the state] will yield, which is confirmed by the Book of Daniel.
V. 10, in his first two answers, Moses had expressed his justified concern about the call and presence of the Lord: "Who shall I say sent me; what is the proof that I truly represent who I say I represent and that I can do what I claim." Moses' questions about the ability of the Lord to do as He had promised has been answered; now Moses turns to his own abilities: "I am not a good speaker." Notice what Moses implies: "If I were a good speaker, they would listen to me," or, "If I were a good speaker, I would be assured that You [Lord] would work through me."
It was probably this very fact of his inability to speak which prepared him for the Lord's mighty work through him. We are told of Paul's inability to speak, and it was one of his greatest assets, 1 Cor 1 & 2. Inabilities should not make us discouraged or to give up. Rather, they should do two things (this assumes that we are operating within the calling of the Lord upon our lives. I know of men who fell that they are called to preach when obviously they are not):
1) Inabilities should make us dependant upon the Lord. The more we realize that we do not have the ability to do His will, the more we will depend upon Him.
2) Inabilities on one member of the body of Christ makes them dependant upon another member, Ephesians 4. Some are speakers, some are thinkers, &c., and no two are alike in their abilities. But, the inability of one makes them dependant upon another.
Moses was honest though his eyes were off the Lord's promise to be with him. Because of his total lack of any self-confidence, the Lord was able to use him mightily. Latter in the wilderness after Israel was delivered, Moses was accused of acting in his own power, but the Lord vindicates him and calls him the meekest of all men, Num 12:3. Moses had had all self-confidence destroyed; he remembered well the calling at the bush and the Lord's promises. Furthermore, the Lord remembers Moses. Even though there would be times of doubt, Moses leaves this place at the bush confident that the Lord would indeed be with him.
For us: Our inabilities should make us dependent upon one another and upon the Lord. Our inabilities need to be worked on, but they will always be with us. Additionally, we should not allow our inabilities to cause us to get our eyes off the Lord; rather they should increase our dependance upon Him. No doubt a major reason why those with great natural abilities either don't serve God at all, or serve Him in a corrupt way is their trust in their own abilities.
I like the Lord's answer here throws the natural man into a fit. "You mean that the Lord is the One Who caused a person to be unable to have these handicaps?" What does the verse say?
The Lord is not angry at Moses; rather, He is reminding Moses of what he already knew. The Lord reminds Moses of 4 things:
1) He made man's mouth, i.e. the ones who can speak.
2) He made the dumb, i.e. the ones who cannot speak.
3) He made the deaf, i.e. the ones who cannot hear.
4) He made the blind, i.e. the ones who cannot see.
Why did He tell Moses this? He is pointing out that He can use even Moses' mouth; He can open the ears of the ones Moses is going to that they can hear the message (as has already been promised); He can open the eyes so the people can see the point or message which Moses is to deliver.
This is our hope! Namely that the Lord can use my mouth, He can and will open the ears of the hearers, He can and will open the eyes that they will see the wonders of the Lord and His word. This is the only hope that any teacher of God's word has. In fact, if our hope is any place else, we will be sadly disappointed for then we are hoping in the arm of the flesh.
What a tremendous promise. This sounds like the same promise as was given by the Lord in Mt 28:19, 20. We are commanded to go do the work and deliver the message for which the Lord had made each of us responsible; And lo I am with you always. Neither the work or the message will be identical with each other's, but each are equally responsible to go do our God assigned task.
If we will go, He promises to be with us. We need to go in this promise.
Moses agreed with the Lord in every area except one: that he was the man for the job. Moses' reasons for not wanting to go started on such a high plain, now he is reduced to simply "I don't want to go."
Understanding that he was only dust, the Lord worked with Moses; He answered all his questions, doubts, and fears; He made promise to Moses and gave him supernatural power, but Moses still wants nothing to do with going back.
Though we do not know Moses' heart or motives for making this statement in v. 13, we know human nature. Therefore, we can safely assume that Moses was not rebelling as we would readily identify rebellion. As we have followed Moses' situation for the last 40 years, we can be confident that he was fearful of returning; the memories of Egypt and Israel were sharp and painful.
For us: We sure do not fit in the same league with Moses, but we sure can understand where he is coming from. How many times have we dreaded going back or doing something because of painful memories? But the Lord can overcome those memories. Memories must not hinder our obedience to the Lord our God.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in Philippians 3:13, 14, Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in christ Jesus. My! What a glorious promise. By the power of the Spirit of God, the past failures and errors can be left behind; we can move ahead toward the mark which the Lord has established for each of us. Paul's past involved the legalized murder of Christians. Through the Spirit of Grace, he was able to leave his past behind and move ahead for the cause of the Kingdom of God. So can we.
Another point here: It seems that everywhere I read in the word of God, I am confronted with fact that modern Christianity will confess to the fact that something needs to be done but someone else needs to do it.
The anger of the Lord was kindled.. But the glorious part is that the Lord sends him anyway rather than taking some drastic action against him. One of the basic teachings of the word of God is that the Lord is Sovereign over all of His creation; He raises up whom He will, and He puts down whom He will. The Sovereign Lord God has chosen to use Moses, and He is going to use him.
Vs. 14-17, the answer here confirms that every reason Moses used to keep from returning to Egypt was basically fear, so the Lord answers his fears again. Now the Lord tells him, "All you have to do is go back. You do not have to say anything to anyone. You know your brother Aaron? He is coming and he will be glad to see you. I will teach you what to say, then you teach him what to say, and he will speak to the king of Egypt and to Israel for you. Furthermore, take the rod and do the signs as I have instructed."
Aaron was known and called by God for his ability to speak, an ability which Moses had not. 1) Even though Aaron had a wonderful speaking ability, he still needed the enabling grace of God to speak, ie. and I will be with his mouth. 2) The Lord gives gifts and abilities as it pleases Him, Eph 4. The reason is that all can work together for the perfecting of the saints, v. 4. Moses had God's teaching ability and he taught Aaron what to say. This is important to keep in mind. Many have good speaking but not teaching abilities; therefore, the Lord calls on us to unite together as one for the good of the kingdom. The teacher needs to realize that he cannot speak and he needs someone to speak for him; the speaker needs to realize that he cannot teach and that he needs someone to teach him. It all works together for God's glory.
Note the words this rod, not your rod. The rod which Moses had carried as a shepherd as his own now belongs to God; it is returned to Moses as his symbol of authority. He is still a shepherd, but now he is shepherd over God's people. He is a servant of God, but he will be instead of God to Aaron, to Israel, to the people of Egypt, and to the king of Egypt.
And Moses went.. Interesting! I can imagine how Moses must have felt (a poor choice of words) at this point. He probably is thinking to himself: "OK Lord. If I have to, I have to. But all I am going to do is speak to Aaron. He will have to speak for me." Thus he departs from the site of the bush totally dependant upon the Lord to speak to him and totally dependant upon his brother to speak for him. Moses departs from here with the knowledge and assurance that he is only a channel for the Lord to deliver His message and signs through. (Aaron's presence also meant that there were now two witnesses to the words of the Lord. Two are required by the law.)
Accordingly, Moses' weakness and fear is turned into his strong point. He yields to God with absolutely no self-confidence. All of his confidence is in the Lord speaking to him and Aaron speaking for him; he has nothing of himself to add or take away from what the Lord will teach him. I do not think that we can imagine the emptiness of self with which Moses departs the bush.
As the Apostle Paul describes what took place between himself and the Lord, the similarity with Moses is striking.
For us: The more we can be emptied of self, the more the Lord will be able to use us. Notice with Moses who did the emptying: the Lord. The Lord is the only one who can preform this work in us; it is the Spirit of Christ working in us which must strip away all self-confidence. Furthermore, notice v. 14, does not say and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, "OK Moses, if that's the way you feel about it, then I will find someone else." Instead, the Lord uses this fear for His glory; Moses' fear of not saying the right thing or of the people not listening to him, is the very thing that makes him the most humble man of history.
Let's skip on down to v. 20, the situation with the circumcision of his son. V. 20, Moses departs for Egypt with two sons. V. 25, one son, evidently the youngest, was uncircumcised, indicating that Moses had had a living hope that one day he would go back and deliver the people. Therefore, he circumcised his first-born son. But as time went on, and on, and on, he lost this hope; thus, he did not circumcise his second-born son. Apparently, in his opinion, he had reached the point of no return; he is 80, what can he do now? His dream had evaporated as water in the desert by the reality that he was alone and forgotten by God and man. He has become at home and content in a Midian. His big plans had been dashed to pieces, so Moses thinks, "Why circumcise this son? I circumcised the oldest in the hope that the Lord would use me to deliver the people, but He hasn't. It has been many years, and He has forgotten all about me. And besides, I killed a man and the king will kill me anyway if I would try to go back. It was only by the intervention by the Lord that I escaped with my life. Since I am not going back, there is no need to circumcise the youngest." Note that circumcision was the outward sign of faith in the covenant promise as given to Abraham. Moses lost this faith in the desert, so he saw no need to circumcise the youngest.
[Added from ch 3. This is still there. "[T]he second [son] he called Eliezer, "my God is help" (xviii. 4). Banished to a strange land, far from his brethren and the land of promise, Moses longs for his real home. Yet this feeling issues not in despondency, far less in disbelief or distrust. On the contrary, "the peaceable fruits of righteousness," springing from the "chastening" of God of my fathers," said he, "is mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh." The self-confidence and carnal zeal manifest in his early attempt to deliver his brethren in Egypt have been quenched in the land of his banishment, and in the school of sorrow. And the result of all he has suffered and learned has been absolute trustfulness in the God of his fathers, and the God of the promise, Who would surely fulfil His word. Edersheim, pg. 44."
The account of the circumcision of Moses' son in Ex 4:25, raises a difficult question: which son was this, Eliezer or Gershom? The only author which I found which dealt with this at all was Edersheim who identifies this son as Gershom, "of course."
But I suppose that my opinion is as good as any in this matter; therefore, for several reasons, I am inclined to believe that it was the second son which he failed to circumcise: 1) Would Moses circumcise the second son and not the first if his hope in the Lord, reflected in the name Eliezer [my God is help], had been renewed? Would he not go back and circumcise the first in obedience to God? 2) The reason Moses named the second son Eliezer gives us a clue: for the God of my father was mine help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh. In other words, the reason Moses named this second son "My God is an help" was because he realized that God was the one who delivered him from the sword of Pharaoh, and not because he had a strong confidence in the covenant-promise of God. 3) Moses' reluctance at the bush shows us that he had no hope. Whenever God's people laid aside their faith in the covenant, they also laid aside the rite of circumcision. 3) Finally, observe the problem with the fallen nature. Confidence starts off great, then it dwindles without intervention by the Spirit of God. This intervention did not take place in Moses until the bush. (See my notes in chapter 4. and in MO)
Furthermore, we see here that Moses' hope had been so thoroughly dashed that even though he is going back, he still has no confidence in himself. He says to himself: "If anything is going to be accomplished, it's for sure it is the Lord who will have to do it." This is shown in the failure to circumcise his son before he left Midian in v. 18.
For us: Hopelessness on our part that God will ever do anything for and/or through us is no excuse for not obeying the law-word of God now. It almost cost Moses his life; it will cost us our life. Our faith in the word of God must be kept alive; although, if it is a self-confident faith, it must die.
Also, what will the Lord have to do to remove the self-confidence of Christianity. Personal note: I heard Dobson say that they are now on 1850 radio stations in the US. In addition, they just went on 2500 radio stations in the former Soviet Union. I really find it hard to believe that the Soviets would allow anything over there which might threaten their hold on the people. Only if I continue to see "reforms" take place for the next 10 or so years (lay hands suddenly on no man), will I believe that this new religious freedom is real. The thing that strikes me is that Dobson is the primary promoter of the gospel of self-esteem and self-confidence. You don't reckon that the enemy knows this and opens the door for his gospel of self to propagated further? We would be fools to think that the enemy of God does not know how the law of God works. He used Balaam to instruct Balak how to work on the inside to destroy Israel, didn't he? What makes us think that he is not at least as smart today as he was 3000 years ago. He has had a lot of time to perfect his deception from the inside. If he can get the whole Christian world to follow offer his gospel of self, what would happen. Now, we also know that God used Balaam to bring judgment upon the ones who had Baalpeor (Num 28:3) in their heart. If they did not have Baalpeor in their heart, they would not have gone so quickly to him. The result of the experience with Baalpeor was the destruction of the idolaters among God's covenant people and the vexing of the enemies of God, v. 17, 18.
In other words, the Lord will use this modern false gospel of self to judge the evil hearts of his people and to bring in His righteousness. Even though the false gospels are being presented and multitudes of people are following after them, they fit into the Lord's plan and purpose.
I was talking to Jon at the practice dinner last night, 4/3/92. He has found the same thing that I have here. People would do far differently if they were properly instructed. But the false shepherds are leading them astray. And we who desire to change their direction from the oncoming cliff of destruction could if we had the money to reach them through the mail or through the media. But we can not get the money. ON the other hand, the promoters of the gospel of self have abundance of funds. We cannot get around it, the Lord's hand is stretched out in judgment as He withholds funds from those who could turn things around. It is in his hands.
So what can we do in the face of what we see going on around us? Romans faith commeth by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Continue to faithfully proclaim the total of God's law-word. He is the One Who must move in the hearts of mankind.
V. 18. and returned to ...
Even though Moses has direct instruction from the Lord, he does not depart without first facing his human responsibility. Moses still has a responsibility to Jethro. Moses departs from the bush and returns to Jethro, telling him that he, Moses, desires to return unto Egypt to check on Israel. Jethro gives his blessing; "Go in peace." Notice again that Moses did not go to him barging about his confrontation with the Lord at the bush.
The Lord speaks again to Moses while he is still in Midian; the Lord, in telling him to return into Egypt, answers a concern which had not been expressed at the bush: how about the ones who tried to kill Moses? The Lord assures him that they are all dead.
Moses takes all he possesses with him. He takes his wife and sons and places them on an ass. He will walk, but they will ride. 1) He returns in poverty, yet he returns with the power of God. Appearances are deceiving! 2) The indication is that the sons were young because all three fit on one animal. It would be interesting to know how old the boys were, but the Scripture does not speak to satisfy idol curiosity.
Moses sets out with his family and the rod of God in his hand. The Lord makes a point of telling us about this rod. The significance cannot be overestimated and points to several things: 1) Moses had not fled Egypt with this rod but had acquired it where he was. 2) There was nothing special about this stick. Moses might have cut it especially for his use in the wilderness, but it was not sacred or anything like that. 3) It had been an unmistakable symbol of a simple shepherd. 4) Though a simple stick and a shepherd's staff before the Lord met Moses, it is now a royal scepter, ie. the rod of God. 5) All Moses had to go back with was one ass and this rod; his poverty is obvious. 6) Imagine the contrast when Moses and Aaron stand before Pharaoh. Moses, who has not more than one ass which he sent back to Midian with his family, contrasted with Pharaoh, who has the wealth of the world. Moses standing there with a dried out stick in his hand; Pharaoh sitting on his throne with a golden scepter in his hand. The simplicity of the man of God and the earthly majesty of the king of the world.
Observe: This is a clear picture of the manner in which the Lord works. He takes a dead dry stick and turns it into an instrument for His use and for His glory. This dead stick is going to be used to show the very might of Jehovah God through; through this dead stick the Lord will break the power and might of Egypt. The Lord specializes in using dead sticks as instruments to show Himself strong through. The symbolism of the stick and Moses could not be clearer. Moses, at one time a broken dried out man, is now going back as an instrument in the hand of God with no confidence in himself whatsoever. How can this be? God confronted him at the bush. Moses resisted but the Lord won.
For us: God is not restricted by talent, abilities or possessions. I am thankful that He can use any old stick if He so chooses. The choice is His, the gifts which enable the individual to fulfill the task to which God has called him is also His. Obviously, we are not all endowed the same; the Lord gives abilities according to His will, and the person had better remember where the gifts came from (who maketh the to differ...?).
This verse introduces several things worth developing.
1) The first and maybe the most important point about this passage (vs. 21-23) is that the Lord continues to prepare and encourage Moses, but notice when the Lord spoke. After many reasons not to, Moses finally agrees to obey. But agreement with the Lord is not enough; he must act upon that agreement, v. 20. After Moses moves to act upon the Lord's command, then the Lord gives further instruction.
For us: A) The Lord prepares His servants for the task which lies ahead, but they must be moving ahead; v. 21 is conditioned upon v. 20. We cannot expect the Lord to give further grace to move ahead if we are not moving. B) The Lord does not require or bring anything upon His people for which He has not yet prepared them. In other words, no matter what comes our way, the Lord has prepared us, for He promises not to tempt us above that which we are able to endure. Our problem is that we fail in the preparation; maybe we run from the preparation or just fail to do the work which would prepare us for what lies ahead. In other words, if we fail in the difficult task to which He has called us, it is not His fault. "Those He calls, He qualifies," or "He arms His servants for the battle to which He calls them."
2) Moses' return. Not only is he to reveal the marvelous power of God to Israel, but he is also to enter into the court of the king with a bold demand ("Let My people go!") and mighty power to back up the demand. Maybe some in the court remembered Moses, maybe they remembered how he, as Pharaoh's grandson, had turned his back on everything Egypt offered and had thought he was crazy. The man who turned his back on the riches and honor of Egypt is now back; he does not appear any richer or more powerful, but he has the might to turn Egypt upside-down. In a word, the world is contemptuous of anyone who gives up its pleasures and power to follow the Lord, but in the end they will know the truth. (MH)
3) The Lord reiterates His warning to Moses which He gave at the bush, 3:19. He instructs Moses to do all the signs which He had given to him, but those signs will not do any good; rather, they will only be used to harden Pharaoh's heart. In other words, the Lord prepares Moses so that he will not be surprised at Pharaoh's hardness even though God's word is accompanied by supernatural signs and wonders. Nor should the preachers of God's word be surprised at the hardness of the heart of their hearers today. In fact, there are times (more often than not it would seem) when this hardness of heart is to be expected. The natural heart, apart from the grace of God, is as hard as was Pharaoh's.
4) Not only would Pharaoh reject Moses and the Lord he represented, but also the then-living generation of Israel. Furthermore, Moses would never see the results of his 40 years labor among the Israelites, for he would die in the wilderness just short of obtaining the promise. Moses faithfully served the Lord until his death; might we do the same.
5) I will harden his heart... Because this statement causes great consternation among the arminians (ie. those who desire to believe in the "free will of man," or that man controls his own destiny), we might as well deal with it at this point.
Note Keil: "The hardening of Pharaoh is ascribed to God, not only in the passages just quoted, but also in chap. ix. 12, 20, 27, xi. 10, xiv. 8; that is to say, ten times in all; and that not merely as foreknown or foretold by Jehovah, but as caused and effected by Him."
Paul's use of Pharaoh as an example of the Sovereignty of God in all matters does not ease the problem any, Romans 9:14-23. (Furthermore, James 1:13-17 tells us that every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.) According to Paul, God raised up Pharaoh for the purpose of showing His power through to the whole earth. In other words, God raised up Pharaoh, the oppressor of His people, and gave him the mightiest nation of his day so He, the Lord, could judge him with a great and terrible judgment.
Observe these points about the sovereignty of God, Romans 9:
A) Jacob & Esau shows that God will have mercy and compassion on who He will. God does not call nor work according to the will and desires of man; rather, He does all things according to His will and His good pleasure.
B) Pharaoh was exalted so the Lord could destroy him; that HE might shew HIS power in Pharaoh, and that HIS name might be declared throughout the earth, v. 17.
C) The Lord is the One who softens or hardens the heart, 18. The Lord concludes these strong statements about His sovereignty by saying that the potter has the power over the clay and that the clay has no right to question the potter. V. 20, repliest against God concerning these matters of His sovereignty is listed in the marg as disputing with God. There are volumes of pages written trying to justify what Paul tells us here in Romans 9, but all of the arguments in the world will not change what is so obvious: God is sovereign and He does whatsoever He pleases in the kingdoms and in hearts of men. Those men who are hardened against Himself are so because of His working; men who are softened toward Himself are so because of His working. Thus, if a person loves God and desires to serve Him he does so because of the moving of the Spirit of God.
Note that it is the same message of grace which softens one and hardens another. The same words and signs presented by Moses caused Israel to believe and caused Pharaoh to be hardened. And all things are working for His glory and to accomplish His ends. This is our hope.
This brings up an important point. Back up in v. 13, we mention that modern Christianity admits that something needs to be done but someone else needs to do it; they do not want to get involved. We see here in v. 21 and in Rom 9, that it is the Lord which works and moves in hearts according to His good pleasure. The inescapable conclusion is that the Lord is the One preventing pastors and people from seeing what is going on around them; He is the One who is hardening the hearts to the situations; His is the One who is raising up unjust oppressive power. It all fits within His sovereign plan and purpose. Probably one of the major reasons the last family left was over this issue; they could not accept the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. Not many can accept it, but I love it. This means that His using of us in conditioned in Him, not in me... Note that a major part of Moses' call was a reminder of what he should have known: the sovereignty of God, 3:11.
Added, 4/15, 17/92 worked on, 4/24,25/92
Why do "Christians" fall away, never to return??
The hardening of Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 4:21) has been a bone of contention for centuries; our purpose herein is not to add to that contention. But Pharaoh's hardness does present an interesting situation worthy of attention. Certainly the hardness of the unsaved is disconcerting, yet for those who try to remain faithful to the law of the Lord, the real anguish comes from the progressive hardness of the saved as we see formally rock solid individuals falling by the wayside, indifference to all spiritual matters. (indifference.. is an appositive for wayside. Will it work?)
This griefful(?) problem is not new nor unique; Paul addresses it in Hebrews 6:4-6, it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift,.. if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.... This is strong language, but it is God's word. Therefore, we need to develop this a little.
V. 4 opens with For, referring back to the preceding verses. V. 1 opens with Therefore, also referring back to the preceding verses. Tracing the thought back, we find Paul's teaching concerning the High Priesthood of the Lord Christ, summed up in the key verses 5:8 & 9, Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.. Though there is more to the thought than what Paul gives, he breaks off further instruction at this point because of their dullness of hearing, i.e., they could not understand more if he told them, v. 11.
(note, can I make this connection with a comma or should it say - of the Lord Christ which is summed up..- I want the emphasis on the teaching about the priesthood of Christ, not on the verse which sums it up.)
The reason for their limited understanding is given in v. 12, For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again.. Paul rebukes his readers for not growing in the knowledge of the Lord; they grew not in their obedience to God's command-word as did Christ, 5:8, 14. In other words, their refusal to act upon the revealed law-word of God (in spite of suffering) caused them to remain immature babies. The obvious conclusion here is that, regardless of one's position in the body of Christ (ie. leader or follower), if one refuses to increase in obedience he remains an immature babe on the road to destruction (cf. Ja 1:22); he will become a hardened wreck along the Christian highway of life with no hope of renewal unless the Spirit of God intervenes to give him repentance.
[Also note that there is far more instruction which must be taught to God's people than just the first principles of the oracles of God, and the principles of the doctrine of Christ, He 5:12; 6:1. 24. In other words, there is more to Christianity than what Christ has done for His people. Paul is saying that His people are to go on to what Christ commands them to do for Him: take dominion over all the earth in His name. If they do not, they will fall away to impossible renewal.]
When one refuses to deal with a situation which arises in his life by applying God's law, not only is he refusing to grow, but he is choosing to remain an immature babe in Christ. Furthermore, determination not to return to obedience to the voice of the Lord will lead to a falling away into hardness; he has refused to leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ where he was at that point of his life. [Notice that, depending upon their Christian growth, there is a time when a person should be a teacher, v. 12. Hence, if they fail to grow as they should, they not only are in danger of falling away, but they are in trouble with the Lord.]
Furthermore, note that the command to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18) is contrasted with being led away with the error of the wicked (v. 17). When grace is defined as the desire and power from God to do His will (Ph 2:13), then the child of God is to grow in the desire and power to do His will as well in increased knowledge. In other words, Peter is telling us that if one does not continually grow in knowing, developing, applying and in the desire and power to do His law-word, he will be led away with error of the wicked. Thus one's major defence against the desires of the wicked one is continual growth in the grace of God. (Cf. Eph 4:14 & Ja 1:6.)
Observe Keil's statement about the hardness of Pharaoh's heart:
Looked at from this side, the hardening was a fruit of sin, a consequence of that self-will, high-mindedness, and pride which flow from sin, and a continuous and ever increasing abuse of that freedom of the will which is innate in man, and which involves the possibility of obstinate resistance to the word of and chastisement of God even until death... But such resistance plunges him into destruction, and is followed inevitably by death and damnation. God never allows any man to scoff at Him. Whoever will not suffer himself to be led, by the kindness and earnestness of the divine admonitions, to repentance and humble submission to the will of God, must inevitably perish, and by his destruction subserve the glory of God, and the manifestation of the holiness, righteousness, and omnipotence of Jehovah." (Emph added. Vol I, pg. 455.)
With Keil's comment in mind, follow Paul continuing thought in Heb 6 to vs. 7 & 8. As the rain from heaven falls upon the earth, the earth receives the rain, brings forth good fruit and man receives blessings from God; on the other hand, the same rain on the same earth at times brings forth only thorns and briers fit solely for cursing and judgment. Then Paul urges these people to faithful obedience to the word of God by reminding them of the example of Christ and the sure promises of God (5:8; 6:9-12).
The grace of God which prevents unrenewable hardness (thus destruction) has appeared to all men. Titus 2:11, For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world..
Because this statement about the grace of God will not stand alone, we need to briefly examine its context. Titus 2:14 is a quote from the Lord's words to Moses on the mount; it is the then part of the covenant that the Lord made with His people after He, by Him marvelous grace, redeemed them out of Egypt, Ex 19:5 & 6. The Lord commanded Moses to explain to His newly redeemed people His purpose for their choosing them out of all other people upon the earth: ie. to make them a peculiar treasure unto Himself above all the people of the earth, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. But this part of the covenant (then -- God's part) was not unconditional; rather, it was preceded by an if, ie. if His newly redeemed people would faithfully obey His voice indeed, and keep his covenant, then they would be a peculiar people unto Himself. Actually, the Lord Jesus laid the foundation for Peter and Paul's words by reestablishing the if part of the covenant (comp Deu 11:13, 14 & Mk 12:30). In other words, the Lord reestablished the if part of the covenant which Paul and Peter were to latter build upon as they reestablished the then part of the covenant. The Lord Christ, Peter and Paul all expanded the if then covenant to include all of God's people everywhere, Gal 6:15, 16. [See MO, E&T]
Clearly then, both Paul's statement to Titus and Peter's statement to the strangers scattered everywhere (1:1) in 1 Peter 2, is not unconditional; rather, both statements are firmly anchored in the covenant made through Moses (& through the person of Christ) with His redeemed people; both statements are the then part of the covenant conditioned upon the if part. Nor could the Lord Jesus Christ Himself be any clearer than is Peter (2:10) in saying that the Gentiles are now in the covenant through faith in Christ [Who is the Covenant, Isa 43:6; 49:8].
In other words, the context of Peter's words is something like this (2:5 & 9): Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, [God has, by His marvelous grace and mercy, chosen and redeemed you above all the people of the earth; therefore, if you will obey His voice and keep His covenant, then ye shall be] an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ... But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Assuredly, those to whom Peter (and Christ) spoke knew the reference; they knew the condition which were already established by the covenant-law.
Now, back to Paul's instruction to Titus (2:14): it is the then side of the covenant between the Covenant Making God and His newly redeemed people. Neither Paul's nor Peter's statement can be removed from their OT or NT context; therefore, the obvious purpose of the grace of God (2:11) is to provide His redeemed people [thus covenant man] with the power and ability to keep the if side of the covenant. The purpose of the grace of God that bringeth salvation is to teach His people to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts so that they can live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world. The result will be a purified people who love the Lord their God with all their heart.. by keeping the if side of the covenant making them a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [Note then that when a person is delivered by God into hardness of heart without repentance, God is only keeping His side of the covenant.]
This brings us to this question: "What if the person does not obey the grace of God that bringeth salvation which appears to him? [And by salvation we must include eternal life and salvation from, victory over, the world, flesh and the devil in the present.] God has clearly established an immutable law: if the lusts exposed by the word of God are not laid aside, the hearer will be hardened in his sin. Furthermore, the more rejection on the part of the hearer, the more hardened they become. When the if part of the covenant between God and man is not kept by man, the then will be kept by God which includes hardness of heart and finally the cutting off of the hardened sinner from among God's people, 1 Cor 5.
In other words, the rain from above (ie. the revealed Divine word of God, He 6:7, 8) falls on all people; the same grace of God which brings salvation (from the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life) has appeared to all men (cf. Mt 5:45. Also Mt 7:24-27). Those who receive and act upon it will bring forth fruit, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold (Mt 13:8). Conversely, the same rain, when resisted by the hearer, brings forth briers and thorns. As the hearer decides over an extended period of time that he will not follow what God's word is telling him to do, the word of God hardens him further. The same massage (Son) melts one heart while baking another into hardened clay. It is the curse of sin, saying no to the word of the Lord, which causes the word of God to harden the heart.
Heb 6:6, If they shall fall away.. If one, upon hearing the word of God, continuously refuses to act upon what they hear over a period of time, he will become harder and harder, finally falling away to unrenewable repentance. In addition, Paul warns of a common danger of obeying the Lord's word without seeing our desired results; therefore, we quit following it. Paul uses Abraham's example to encourage faithful obedience in spite of all obstacles, Heb 6:9-15.
Personal note: From my personal observation, there seems to be three classes of people particularly susceptible to the falling away of He 6:6; A) many who have attended Bible College no longer see a need to study the word of God, B) those with strong charismatic personalities see no need to depend upon the Spirit and word of God; C) church staff members feel that they have "arrived," and need no further growth in grace. I grew up in a pastor's home, and I have been in or every closely connected with the "ministry" since '65; I can not count the ones whom I have seen fall away never to be renewed. At one time they faithfully served the Lord, but now they seem to be almost totally indifferent to the things of the Lord. They still claim to be saved, but if they are it would be "so as by fire," 1 Cor 3:15. In every case that I can think of, I can place my finger on where I feel they not only resisted the teaching of God's word in their spirit, but openly rebelled against it. Maybe their circumstances were difficult so they yielded to them; maybe the desires of the flesh were too strong, so they went back to the old loves and desires. But for whatever reason, there was a point that they no longer were willing to sacrifice their personal desires to the word of God. I knew a pastor who at one time was tremendously used by the Lord, but, by his own admission, the Lord told him to do something, and his pride prevented his obedience: "I am too important in God's plan to do what He is telling me to do." He held onto his pride resulting in his total destruction (and many of those around him), though not death.
Paul continues his argument, ie. Esau's love for the desires of the flesh caused him to chose the desires of the flesh over the promised blessings of faithful obedience to God's will. As a result, Esau failed of the grace of God, Heb 12:15-17. Easu repented but not for the sin of choosing the desires of the flesh over the Lord's will.
There are different degrees of rebellion; some areas of saying no to the Spirit are more dangerous than others bringing swifter destruction. The presently hardened Christian at one time had the grace of God, but there was a point where they refused to submit their fleshly desires to the word of God. They made a choice against the word of God; their choice for the enemy turned then from God's grace. Now they are hardened clay; their hearts only bear thorns and briers; they are dry wells and waterless clouds.
It is extremely sad to see this hardness happen in those we love. Is there any hope for them? Certainly! There are two options afforded by God's word: A) go back and confess the original sin where they said no to the Spirit, or B) hardness and death (Gal 6:16; 1 Jn 5:16 &c.). Our hope and prayer for these people is that, God in His mercy, will see fit to shed His grace upon them, open their eyes and once again give them the strength to overcome the sin and renew their covenant with Him.
In conclusion, observe:
1) It is significant that in the confrontation with Pharaoh, his heart grew harder and remained hardened in spite of the ten plagues. Obviously, all of the mighty signs and wonders in the world will not change one hardened sinner's heart. The word of God apart from the grace of God will only harden the heart of the hearer. In other words, no amount of worldly wisdom will convince anyone of anything having to do with genuine religion; genuine God-honoring religion is a function of the Spirit of God. [Note that the warning of judgment to come only made the unjust steward more determined in his evil ways, Luke 16.]
Therefore we should not be discouraged at the blindness, hardness and indifference to the word of God around us. We have been warned by the Lord Himself! We must pray for the Lord to reveal His grace in the heart of the sinner, 2 Cor 4.
In a word: the hardness to the point of no renewal is the result of an extended saying no to the if part of the covenant, ie. God spoke and spoke, the individual said no and no resulting in indifference to all spiritual matters.
2) Change must take place in the heart; thus, conversion, both in spirit and works, is totally a work of the Spirit of God, Jn 6.
3) The greatest fear in the life of any child of God should be of the Lord removing His hand of Grace and mercy for just an instant permitting: A) blindness and unable to see and apply the law-word of God, B) allowing us to follow our own desires resulting in the hardening of our own heart. Blindness and following our own desires will lead to sure destruction.
4) We will either grow in grace and knowledge (knowledge of, ability in the application of and the desire to do God's will as revealed in His total word), or we will grow harder in our rebellion. The same message of grace appears to all hearts producing either fruit or thorns. The same Son softens or hardens depending upon the action taken upon His message. The sun shines and the rain falls everywhere; thus, there is no natural ground. Either we will grow in our obedience to God's law-word or we will harden in disobedience.
5) Correction can be made by going back and confessing the sin.
6) We effect far more people than just ourselves.
7) One of our greatest dangers is that when the ground starts to bring forth fruit for the Lord again, we go back into the same hardness and rebellion.
8) Finally, resistance to God and His command-word must result
in fearful judgment. "Each conviction suppressed, each admonition
stifled, each loving offer rejected, tends towards increasing
spiritual insensibility, and that in which it ends." Edersheim
See MO to here.
I will harden his heart... An extremely difficult passage for the ones who deny the sovereignty of God.
An additional point in closing this verse: If it was indeed Jehovah God who hardened Pharaoh's heart, and it was, then nothing "could possibly hinder the performance of His will concerning Israel, but must rather contribute to the realization of His purposes of salvation and the manifestation of His glory." (Keil)
For us: If the Sovereign God of the universe is indeed in control, and He is the One who is directing the hearts of the rulers of this world (and He is, Pro 21:1), then there is nothing they can do to hinder His plan for the ages in any way, shape or form. His purposes of salvation and the manifestation of His glory will be accomplished.
Thus saith the Lord... The Lord promised to teach Moses what to say so that Moses could teach Aaron what to say. Here the Lord, using for the first time the phrase The Lord hath said.., begins to instruct Moses verbatim as to what he is to say. This will be a common phrase from Moses on through the rest of the OT.
Israel is my son, even my firstborn. Who is Israel? He is not some servant or slave to be cruelly dealt with. He is the firstborn son of God and the Lord will treat the firstborn of Egypt as Egypt treats His firstborn.
God promises to bless all who bless Israel and curse all who curse Israel, Gen 12:3; Israel is the apple of His eye, De 32:10; Zec 2:8 (see my notes in Zech 2). We will not develop the idea of who this refers to here, other than to say that this is not the political and religious party of modern day Israel and Judaism, but this promise is to the covenant-people of all time, ie. those in Christ. The Lord is going to deal extremely harshly with Pharaoh because of the evil he has done to God's people. The Lord does the same thing to the King of Assyria. The Lord raised up the king of Assyria to deal with His people, but the king got carried away and went too far. The Lord judged him for it, Jer. 50:17ff.
Pharaoh is oppressing Israel; therefore, he is oppressing God. Israel here is refereed to as the firstborn of God, meaning that he is identified with Christ, the Son of God. Pharaoh is going to taste the wrath of God because he persecuted the people of God. The nation of Israel is replaced in this promise by the Church.
Thus, we see here the idea that God uses the oppressiveness of the world against His people for their training. He then judges the evil of the world for overstepping their bounds. (Cf. Jer 50. See my notes in personal study in Jer.)
Note this important point: "But it is exceedingly significant that Israel is only called "the firstborn." For this conveys that Israel was not to be alone in the family of God, but that, in accordance with the promise to Abraham, other sons should be born into the Father's house. Thus even the highest promise spoken to Israel included in it the assurance of future blessing to the Gentiles." (Edersheim, vol I, pg. 57.)
Under the law of God as latter given the firstborn could only inherit the estate if he was faithful. If he was unfaithful, the law required that he be disinherited; the estate could not go to an unfaithful heir. (the purpose of wealth is to advance the kingdom of God on earth. The one who has that wealth is responsible to see that it is used for its intended purpose.) The unfaithful child could return to the faith, and if the inheritance had not already been distributed, could be reinstated, but if the inheritance was already distributed, he was out.
Therefore, when the Lord disinherited Israel, He acted according to the law. Israel was faithless so he, the firstborn son, was disinherited. This faithless child was replaced by the Church consisting of both Jews and Gentiles. The cutting off is described by the Lord in Matthew chapters 21 through 24. (See my study there.) It is important to see that the covenant given to Israel was NOT UNCONDITIONAL. We have talked about the if-then aspect of the covenant. Only as Israel was faithful did he have the right of the firstborn. When he departed from the faith, he was cut off from the covenant just as was required if any faithless child. Thus, the doctrine of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE is a modern heresy.
Also notice that the firstborn son was brought out totally by the grace of God. This firstborn son was not brought out because of faithfulness on his part. Latter, he is judged and cut off because of unfaithfulness. Therefore we see that the Lord "overlooks" a great amount of sin before one is saved. It is a different story after one is saved, because then unfaithfulness is troding under foot the blood of the Lamb, Heb 10.
Obviously, being the firstborn places one under a far greater responsibility and judgment for not fulfilling that responsibility, Rom. 2.
Paul calls all the covenant-people of all time the Israel of God in Galatians. Isaiah calls Christ Israel, ch. 49; therefore, the Church is the true Israel of God.
Vs. 24-26. The Lord met Moses... and not on friendly terms. I have already discussed v. 24-26 so there is no need to go into it again other than these short points.
1) Note what Moses tried to do: he attempted to obey God's call upon his life without obeying God's law in as simple of a matter as the circumcision. But, circumcision was not a simple matter; the lack of circumcision was cause to be cut off from the covenant, Gen 17:14. Thus, Moses was to go to Pharaoh and pronounce the sentence of death against him for not obeying God, while at the same time, Moses was under the sentence of death.
A) How many do I know (and at times myself included) that try to follow God's will for their lives without explicit obedience to His law? Furthermore, note that we tend to see a distinction between doing God's will, such as SW or preaching, and doing God's law. Even Moses could not be an exception before the Lord as he tried to separate the two; he faced the wrath of God; either he obeyed God's law or he would die.
B) Before he could serve God, he had to get his own house in order. How many people try to instruct others in a matter in which they themselves are guilty? The Lord knows the truth and judges accordingly.
2) Zipporah evidently was not a loving submissive wife, and Moses did not want the hassal of making her line up. She, it seems to me, went along but not because she wanted to.
4) We read no more of Zipporah until her father brings her to Moses after they are out of Egypt, Ex 18. (after he Moses had sent her back.) Ex 18:27, Jethro, Moses father in law returns to his land, evidently leaving Zipporah and her two sons with Moses.
We have no record of her being with Moses when he meets Aaron, so evidently he sends her and the boys back to her father after this "near-death" experience. He realizes that she will be a problem and he doesn't need any more complications.
5) It appears that shortly thereafter, Zipporah, the faithless woman, died and Moses remarried an Ethiopian woman, Numbers 12. Which brings up a point: why did Miriam, Moses' sister, complain about the new wife and not about Zipporah? Speculation: Zipporah was a lot like Meriam, strong willed and in control. Moses' new wife was not. Obviously, Miriam was jealous of the new wife while she was not of Zipporah. She and Zipporah got along fine because both desired to control Moses. The Lord would tolerate their attempt to dominate His man Moses; Zipporah died and Miriam received leprosy. The stature, as well as meekness, of Moses is shown in that he prayed for Miriam even after she led the rebellion against him.
6) One option here is that Moses allowed his wife to prevent his obedience which the Lord required. I can name two men right today that I am confident that are prevented from obeying God because of their wives resistance in a particular area.
Furthermore, Moses indulged a wife who indulged her child. Eli honoured his sons more than God, 1 Sam 2:29. How many families have been destroyed by indulging the children? (MH).
Observe: I know some men today who appear to be strong on the outside but obviously they are controlled by their wives. They would let the Lord kill them before they would admit such a thing. It is indeed sad about this situation between Moses and his wife.
Here at the inn, the Lord held Moses accountable for not having his wife under control: IT WHAT GOING TO BE HIS DEATH. Although it appears that he never did get her under control, we must give Zipporah credit; she did circumcise her son before she would let her husband die (even though unwillingly). The women I know would rather let their husbands die than release them to do the Lord's will.
There are many speculations here, but really we are not told that much about this situation. I just do not understand how the Lord could use a man so mightily as He did Moses when his family was not under control. Furthermore, the sin which kept him out of the promised land was not his family situation. It is a question worth keeping in mind.
In addition, we hear no more of Moses' children after Ex 18 and Jethro brings them to Moses. Again, Speculation: As much as the children of Israel highly regarded Moses, they would probably have set these boys up as kings if they had followed in their father's footsteps.
7) "But judgment must begin at the house of God; and no one is fit to be employed as an instrument for God who in any way lives in neglect of His commandments. God met even His chosen servant Moses as an enemy." Edersheim, pg. 58.
From what I am observing, the vast majority of professed men of God are living in neglect of His commandments because they do not believe that they are for them today. Moses would have died if his wife, no matter how reluctantly, had not submitted to the ordinance of God. What will have to take place today to gent the men of God to live according to the commandments of God?
8) Omissions are sins which will lead to judgement (these ye aught to have done and not to have left the other undone), MH
9) Circumcision was the OT sign of the covenant. Moses failed to properly execute this sign and death met him. The Lord's supper is the NT sign of the covenant. To fail to execute it properly will also result in death, 1 Cor 11:30. If the mighty man, Moses, could not avoid the results of violating the sign, can we today?
10) It would have been Moses' if his wife had not done what he had failed to do. How many times has this been true of husbands since Moses?
11) Zepporah's contempt for the rite of circumcision is obvious. V. 26, a bloody husband, or bridegroom, thou art.. Some would say that she is referring to receiving her husband again, as one back from the grave. "because she had been compelled, as it were, to acquire and purchase him anew as a husband by shedding the blood of her son" (Glass). Keil, pg. 460. Regardless of what she meant, it is evident that when sin is revealed to one, they had best get it settled -- QUICKLY!
A) It has been my experience that many folks would rather die at the hand of the Lord than make sin right.
12) Finally and most important: Moses was not all he should have been, but, God in His sovereignty, has chosen Moses, and He is going to use him.
The Lord met Moses and sought to kill him. Now the Lord sends Moses' brother to meet him in love. Evidently the mount of God, Mt. Horeb, lie between Jethro's home and Egypt because Moses goes to Jethro first. Then he heads toward Egypt and meets his brother, Aaron, at the mount of God after he stopped at the inn.
V. 14, Aaron already had it in his heart to visit Moses. Evidently the Lord is the One who had implanted the desire to go see Moses. If Aaron set out from Egypt at the time Moses was arguing with the Lord in v. 14, he would probably reach Moses at about the time of v. 27. V. 27, indicates that the Lord spoke audibly to Aaron, while v. 14 indicates that the Lord only placed a desire in his heart to go see Moses.
Regardless, the Lord told Aaron to go, and Aaron went.
Moses tells Aaron everything, and Aaron believes him. We have previously discussed this meeting.
Vs. 27 & 28, the Lord works on both ends. It was in His divine providence that Moses would resist going back to Egypt, so He works on one end to send Aaron to see Moses. On the other, Moses is resisting the Lord so that Aaron would be needed. The Divine Providence of God is totally beyond any human comprehension. Aaron would be needed to make Moses effective against Pharaoh. It all works together for the good of the Elect. In fact, the Lord is working all of history to bring about His plan and purpose through the elect.
The two, Moses and Aaron, return to Egypt. In obedience to the word of the Lord (3:16), Moses and Aaron gather together all the elders of the children of Israel; they deliver to them all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses and showed them the signs according to the command of the Lord.
Note also here that the nation here in bondage already had a line of civil authority established. Moses and Aaron called together the already established leaders.
And Aaron spake.. According to the word of the Lord to Moses,
Aaron speaks for him and will continue to do so for some time
yet to come.
We are told that the people, upon hearing the words and seeing the signs, believed and worshiped the Lord. But, in 5:21, when Pharaoh failed to heed Moses' first message, the people were ready to judge Moses as their enemy. Therefore, the worship of the Lord here was indeed a very shallow worship.
They had cried out by reason of the bondage, 2:23. They wanted relief from their hard labor, not from Egypt. Therefore, 4:31, their hope was that the Lord had heard their cry and was going to make life easier for them.
Observe: The people had been told all the words of the Lord which Moses had been told; they bow their heads and worship. But, obviously, they only heard what they wanted to hear, because when times got difficult and sacrifice was upon them, they immediately rebelled against the words which Moses had delivered to them, 4:31. Moses had warned them of Pharaoh's response because he had been told what to expect, but they only heard what they wanted to hear: deliverance from their bondage had come.
Furthermore, the Lord had visited.. he had looked.. Take this with 3:7, and the indication is that the Lord Himself had walked among them to check out the situation. We covered this back under 3:7.
Our definition of visitation by the Lord and drawing His attention is a lot different than His. His visitation and notice of the situation brought action, but far different action, increased bondage, than what was expected. But the result was the promised deliverance and the destruction of the power of Egypt.
They bowed their heads and worshiped... It is significant that they obviously expected to be supernaturally delivered with very little if any effort or suffering on their part. Therefore, this generation worshiped the Lord because of who they thought He was. Within a very short time, they are cursing Moses in the name of the Lord. Their worship here was not sincere or they would not have responded as they did in the next chapter. The prospect was that they would now get what they had longed for: a life of ease. [But we should keep in mind, they had been in bondage and had not heard from the Lord for several hundreds of years.]
For us: How typical of men today. They praise and worship the Lord because they feel He is providing a life of ease and pleasure.
God help us!