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Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 4

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-31

Chapter 4

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me ( Exodus 4:1 ),

Now he's not convinced. They're gonna say, "Who sent you?" "All right", God said, "Tell them Jehovah God, the God of your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". But Moses objects, "They'll not believe me"

nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, Oh Jehovah didn't appear to you. The Lord said, What have you got in your hand? And he said, A rod. [A walking stick.] God said, Throw it on the ground. And he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. The Lord said to Moses, Grab it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod again in his hand: [God said] That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now your hand into your bosom. So he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put your hand in your bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and he plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was [white again, it had] turned again [rather] like the other flesh. So it shall come to pass, the Lord said, If they will not believe thee, nor hearken to the voice of the first sign, they will believe the voice of the latter sign. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe these two signs, neither hearken unto your voice, that you shall take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which you take of the river shall become blood upon the dry land ( Exodus 4:1-9 ).

So you want signs? All right, you think they won't believe you? When you get there and they say, "Ah the Lord hasn't"-you just throw your stick down. When it becomes a snake and starts chasing them, they'll believe. If they don't believe that, just put your hand in your side and pull it out, and it'll be leprous, and they'll all start to flee from you and all. Then just put it back in, and pull it out again, and it'll be whole".

So armed with these signs.

Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I'm not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since you have spoken unto your servant: I'm slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. ["Lord, I can't speak, you know."] The Lord said unto him ( Exodus 4:10-11 ),

And this to me is very interesting, very interesting, God said,

Who made man's mouth? or who makes the [Wait a minute, "who makes the",] dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord ( Exodus 4:11 )?

You mean God made blind people? God made deaf and dumb people? That's what God is saying. He's taking the responsibility for it. Now to me that's quite a responsibility to take, because immediately it puts my heart at odds with God, because I don't understand why. Why would God allow a child to be born blind or create a blind child as He declares here? Why would God create a deaf and dumb child? You see, immediately my whole concept of God is challenged. Yet God has declared that in certain cases, He has created certain physical infirmities. Notice He doesn't even offer us an explanation why. He just declares the fact.

This becomes one of the greatest challenges of my faith. But if I can overcome this hurdle, I will have a greater faith in God; in fact, an unshakable faith in God that nothing will be able to shake. If I only believe what I can understand, that doesn't take faith that only takes intellect. Believing what I can't understand is that step of faith, which honors God. "Without faith it's impossible to please God."( Hebrews 11:6 )

So if I can believe that God has created a blind child, and yet believe that God is love, and that God is just, because the scripture declares to me that God is just and God is love, I am now believing something that I can't understand. How can a loving God create a blind child? I don't know, but I know He did. He said He did and I believe His word, and I believe in Him. Though I may not understand it or be able to put it together in my mind, yet I believe that God is a God of love. I believe that He is a fair God. Even though He has done things, which I cannot understand, it doesn't shake my faith in His love. Because I can't reason it out or understand it, actually I am now coming to a deeper relationship of faith in God.

God has used that blind child not to destroy my faith, but to deepen my faith in God and to take my belief in God from just sheer intellect, to a heart faith, which is so important. Now I do believe that if God has created a blind child, or a deaf child, or a child that has cystic fibrosis, or multiple sclerosis, or any of these things that there is a purpose of God in allowing that child to be that way.

Though I may not be able to understand the purpose, my intellect fails at this point, and I stumble intellectually then when I am stumbling. And intellectually is when I've got to grab for something else, and I grab for faith. "God I believe. God I trust You, though I don't understand." My faith is really deeper now then it ever was. I do believe that if God does create a child that way that He had a definite reason and purpose for creating the child that way, whether I ever know the purpose or not. I can guess, I can surmise, I can offer conjecture of why it may be. Maybe to let us know this isn't a perfect world. Maybe to just sort of jar us from complacency.

I can remember back in the depression years about the most favorite chorus they used to sing in church went, "I'll be so glad when day is done, I'll be so glad when Jesus comes. There'll be no sorrow in God's tomorrow, I'll be so glad when Jesus comes." Back in the depression years they were really looking for the Lord. During the war years, popular chorus, after the war the post-war prosperity and all, the chorus died. Didn't sing it anymore. "Lord, just wait around. I'm gonna get this new home, and this new car, and I need a swimming pool. Just wait Lord, I'll be so glad if you'll just wait a little while now. You know things are going pretty good. You know got a secure job and all of this."

Now that again there are very real threats on the horizon, the energy crisis, life isn't gonna be so comfortable anymore. You're not gonna be able to just jump in your car and run whenever you want to. You're not gonna be able to heat your swimming pool as high as you used to have it. You're not gonna be able to have the air conditioning on as high as it once was. Life's not gonna be so comfortable. "Oh, I'll be so glad when day is done..." Of course, I predict a revival for it.

"Oh but God aren't you a God of love?" Yes. But the church was getting soft; the church was becoming complacent. The church was settling in her leads, and God had to pour us into another vessel. To make us realize that this earth, this world is not our home. That we're just passing through. That it isn't God's intent that we get all deeply involved in the possession of material things, but that our hearts be on the things of the Spirit and His eternal kingdom.

So He starts showing us, how quickly and how easily the material things can be taken away. All of a sudden I'm looking for deeper roots. I'm beginning to long for His eternal kingdom. As I look at sickness, as I look at physical impairments, in my heart I say, "Even so come quickly Lord Jesus. Hasten the day when the blind will see the glory of God, when the lame will leap for joy. When the dumb will be singing praises unto Thee. Oh Lord hasten Thy day."

God declared, "I have made them".

I don't understand it. I can't explain it truly, but it does not at all alter my faith in God, nor my belief in that He is a God of love, and that He is fair. Though I cannot in my mind explain to you how, though I cannot give you a rationale, because it hasn't really been reduced to my intellect, and thank God it hasn't. I must just believe His eternal word and trust in Him, thus my faith in God is greater.

Now therefore [God said] go, and I will be with your mouth, and teach you what you shall say. And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom you will send ( Exodus 4:12-13 ).

Literally he said, "O Lord, please send someone else." After all of this. "Lord they're gonna say, 'Who sent you?'" What should I tell them?"

Lord says, "Well, just say Jehovah God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." "But Lord they're not gonna believe me."

"Well what have you got in your hand?"

"A rod."

"Well use that."

"But Lord, I can't speak. I'm not eloquent."

"Alright I'll be with your mouth, I'll give you the words to say."

"Lord would you mind sending someone else?" Man talk about a guy that's mellowed out.

And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. Also, behold, he's coming forth to meet you: and when he sees you, he'll be glad in his heart. And thou shall 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 ( Exodus 4:14-15 ).

"All right, that's the way you want it? Well, let Aaron go with you. We'll let him be your mouthpiece." But that wasn't God's, you might say, direct will. It was permissive. You're gonna argue. And you see, Aaron became a real stumbling block along the line. It wasn't the best. God will lift you to the highest level that you will allow Him to lift you. Then He'll do the best for you on that level. But so many times with Moses, we are limiting God to the level by which we will allow Him to lift us. He could've been lifted to a higher level. God would've been with him and helped him. He didn't need Aaron. He didn't need Aaron to get in the way later on.

"But you want it? All right, you can have it." But you're a step below God's best for your life. It's possible for you to live one, two, three rungs down the ladder when God would have you over the top and totally victorious. Your unwillingness to allow God to lift you to the highest level, limiting the work of God, restricting the work of God within your life. God is still so loving and gracious, He'll lift you to the highest level that you will allow Him, and then He'll do the very best for you on that level. But unfortunately we seem to always be restricting that work of God in us. Settling for compromises, alternates.

Lord says, "All right. You want Aaron? Fine, he can speak, and let him. You put the words in his mouth. But I'll still be with your mouth and I'll be with his mouth, too. And I will teach you what ye shall do."

And he will be your spokesman unto the people: and he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shall be to him instead of God ( Exodus 4:16 ).

In other words, "You'll be the go-between. I'll speak to you and give you My words, and you give My words to Aaron." So now you've got a step-between. Now who was it that made the golden calf out there in the wilderness? Aaron brought a snare upon Israel. Moses is insisting that God come down to his level rather than he to arise to God's level.

And you shall take this rod in your hand, and with it you will do signs. And Moses returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethern which are in Egypt, and see if they're still alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, Go, return to Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought your life. And Moses took his wife and his son [Plural, so it doesn't tell us when the other son was born, we only know of Gershon.] and he set them upon a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. And the Lord said unto Moses, When you go to return into Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in your hand: and I will harden his heart, that he will not let the people go ( Exodus 4:17-21 ).

Now that word "harden" there in Hebrew is a word that literally means "strengthen". "I will make strong his heart." Now as we read of Moses' dealings with Pharaoh, and we'll get into this next week, we read, "Pharaoh hardened his heart". The word there in Hebrew is hardened. "And Pharaoh hardened his heart". And then we read, "and the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh." Different Hebrew word. "The Lord made firm the heart of Pharaoh", or "the Lord strengthened the heart of Pharaoh."

In other words, Pharaoh set his heart and God strengthened him in that set. God strengthened him in his position. He took his position; God strengthened him in that position. "You want to be stubborn? All right, I'll strengthen you in your stubbornness so I can really bop you good." That's basically what it was. "You want to be stubborn? All right." Pharaoh set his heart against the Lord, and God strengthened him in his position, made strong the heart of Pharaoh. God is declaring here, "I'm gonna make strong or strengthen his heart. He'll not let the people go."

And you shall say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith Jehovah, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, even your firstborn ( Exodus 4:22-23 ).

Now God said, "Tell Pharaoh this, Israel is my son, my firstborn, now let him go and worship me, and if you refuse to do it, God's gonna wipe out your son, your firstborn."

And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met Moses, and sought to kill him ( Exodus 4:24 ).

Hard to understand. The Lord says, "Go to Egypt". Moses is going to Egypt and God meets him in the inn and starts to kill him. What happened? I don't know; maybe he had a seizure. It is interesting his wife knew exactly what was going on. I think that probably Moses and his wife had a dispute over the kids. You see, God had commanded that the Hebrew children should be circumcised on the eighth day. That circumcision was a mark of the covenant relationship of these people with God. They were to be people who were walking after the Spirit, not after the flesh, thus the cutting away of the flesh. It was a symbolic action by which these people were identified as God's people. The mark of their covenant relationship with God.

Now when Moses went to Midian, married the daughter of Jethro the high priest that was there, Zipporah, when he had his son Gershom, he probably said, "Now we need to circumcise."

"Oh you're not gonna mutilate my child." And probably resisted Moses, and Moses again was, you know, he was so broken by his failure that he just let it go. He didn't circumcise his son. Rather than getting in a hassle with the old woman, he just said, "Well all right." You know, a meek guy, and just let it pass. Yet she knew when God met Moses and started to kill him, and just by what method, I don't know, the scripture doesn't say, but she immediately knew what was going on.

Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and threw it at Moses' feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband you are to me ( Exodus 4:25 ).

In other words, she was still angry about the thing. She went in; she gave in on it but showed the bitterness that she had concerning the thing.

So the Lord let Moses go: and again she said, A bloody husband you are, because of the circumcision ( Exodus 4:26 ).

So here Moses was going to lead God's covenant people out of the land, and he had not even fulfilled that covenant mark in his own children, his own sons. Because of Moses' failure, God was just impressing on him that He meant business. Moses' wife suddenly realized that God meant business but she still sort of blamed Moses for it and seemed to be angry with him.

Now the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness and meet Moses. And he went, and he met him in the mount of God, and he kissed him. And Moses told Aaron all of the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all of the signs which he had commanded him. And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all of the elders of the children of Israel: And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. 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, they bowed their heads and worshipped ( Exodus 4:27-31 ).

Here's deliverance and they're excited. They bowed their heads and worshiped. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Exodus 4". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/exodus-4.html. 2014.
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