Yielding to the Call — Exodus Chapter 4
This blog post will cover the devotionals #22-26 for Exodus Chapter 4.
**Pictures will be added at a later date.
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 Exodus 4:1-12,27-31
Moses still had his doubts, even after God had reassured Moses that He was going to work it all out (the elders would believe him, Pharaoh would deny him—but God would overrule it, take them out of Egypt and to the Promised Land, and they’d leave with provisions for their journey). Moses said the elders wouldn’t believe God had appeared to him (though God said they would in Exodus 3:18). So, God decided to give him some assistance. He told Moses to throw his rod on the ground, and when he did, it became a serpent. Moses distanced himself. Then God told him to pick it up by the tail, and when he did, it became a rod in his hand once again. This sign was for Israel, not just for Egypt. He gave him another miracle, telling him to stick his hand into his bosom. When he pulled it out, it was completely leprous. He told him to stick it back in, and when he pulled it out again, the flesh was perfectly restored. God told Moses to use the second sign if the first wasn’t enough, and if they doubted both, then a third sign would be given. He’d pour water taken from the river onto dry ground, and it’d become blood. God had to reach the hearts of His own people before He could convince the hearts of the heathen. God used signs that appealed even to Moses—the man who’d spent forty years developing absolute faith in God. The Egyptians would be so astonished by these signs alone that they wouldn’t dare harm Moses. As Moses prepared to head to Egypt, God told his brother, Aaron, to meet Moses in the wilderness, and to listen to his instructions—as he’d be a part of God’s plan of deliverance. They met at the same mountain and greeted each other with a kiss for the first time in forty years. Moses informed Aaron of all God had told him, and of the signs He’d perform. Together, they went and gathered Israel’s elders, and Aaron told them all Moses had shared. Verse 30 says that they did the signs before them, which may imply that they did indeed doubt at first. At the end, they believed, and when they understood that God had heard their cries and was answering, they worshipped Him. After God had given Moses three signs to convince Israel, he was still struggling. His next excuse was, “I am not eloquent, neither until now, nor since You have spoken to Your servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” Strong’s Concordance defines ‘slow’ as ‘dumb’ or ‘stupid’. If you recall from Acts 7:22, we saw that Moses was both educated and mighty in words and deeds. He was also an incredible general. He certainly had no trouble with knowledge or speech. Pharaoh had plans to give him the throne, which he wouldn’t have done if Moses was slow of speech and ineloquent. He’d been away from Egypt for four decades, so he felt that his knowledge and use of their language was not fresh. God was patient with Moses, reminding him that He was the One that made the mouth, as well as the dumb and deaf. He reassured him that He’d be with his mouth and teach him what to say. Isaiah 50:4 says, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakens morning by morning, He wakens my ear to hear as the learned.” 1 Peter 3:15 says, “…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (see also Colossians 4:6). Moses had plenty of answers to give for his hope of Israel’s deliverance, and those answers would include miraculous signs. God wouldn’t leave him speechless before the people or the king. He didn’t need to delay his departure to prepare his speech. Mark 13:11 says, “But when they will lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what you will speak, nor premeditate: but whatever will be given you in that hour, speak that: because it is not you that speak, but the Holy Spirit.”
 Exodus 4:13-17
Was Moses finally ready after his first two fears were relieved? No, he wasn’t. He told God: “Oh my Lord, I beg You, send by the hand of him whom You will send.” In other words, he asked God to send someone else (more qualified) to do the job. God wasn’t pleased about that, but still met Moses where he was. Up until that point, Moses’ concerns pleased God as they revealed his new view of his own ‘qualifications’—mingled with humility. Now that God had reassured him of everything, including divine aid, Moses’ complaints came from a place of distrust in God Himself. Was God not able to qualify Moses (whose life He’d preserved for this very task), or had He made the wrong choice in a leader for His people? God told him that He knew his brother, Aaron the Levite, could speak well—as he’d been living there his whole life, and the language was fresh in his mind. At that point, He told Moses that Aaron was coming to meet him and would be glad to see him. God told Aaron that Moses would relay God’s words to him to speak (in other words, Aaron would be his translator/interpreter), and that He’d be with both of their mouths. Aaron would speak on Moses’ behalf to others, and Moses would direct Aaron on God’s behalf. Moses had a great knowledge of their ways. Isaiah 51:16 says, “And I have put My words in your mouth…” and Isaiah 59:21 says, “As for Me, this is My covenant with them: My Spirit that is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, will not depart out of your mouth…” What God told him here left him no more room for excuse or debate. It was a command, and Moses could resist no longer. Aaron could’ve been chosen in place of Moses—he was a capable speaker. However, he was more inclined to give into the people, and wanted their approval (as we’ll see with the golden calf, etc.), and wouldn’t have courageously stood firm in the face of wrong. He couldn’t discipline his own sons (resulting in their deaths), let alone over a million people. God knew what He was doing when He chose Moses. God reminded Moses to take his rod to use to do the signs. God had a great purpose for that rod. Moses would exchange his shepherd’s hook for a rod of authority. He’d leave his sheep to lead his people. Yet, he was going to be led himself by the invisible Shepherd. As the rod was in his hand, he was also to be a willing instrument in Christ’s hand. Moses could’ve argued with God about the right way to do things (based on his former education), or about how His way seemed illogical or impossible—but he chose to submit with absolute trust. Imagine knowing you were going to have to lead over a million people from slavery. What an overwhelming task to undertake! Moses didn’t know every step ahead of time, or how it could be done, but he did know that God would take him step by step. He distrusted himself as God’s mouthpiece and instrument, but once he accepted his responsibility, he put his whole heart into it. The fact that he felt unqualified revealed an understanding of the sense of the importance and magnitude of his task. He trusted God to know what He was doing and saying, and he didn’t think twice or worry about the consequences when God told him to do something. God blessed his faithful obedience, and gave him the eloquence, strength, hope, and qualification to do the greatest work.
 Exodus 4:18-20,24-26
Moses finished speaking with God and returned immediately to Jethro (his father-in-law). He asked him to relieve him of his duty as shepherd so he could return to his people in Egypt. It’s amazing how similar this story is to that of Jacob and Laban, and yet, how different the response was. Jethro, a righteous priest of God, didn’t hesitate to release the man who’d tended his sheep for forty years, while Laban fought hard to keep the shepherd he’d taken advantage of for twenty years. Jethro told him to “go in peace.” Moses had secretly dreaded returning for fear of those who wanted to kill him. Now that he was obeying, God comforted Moses, saying that all who’d wanted him dead in Egypt had all died themselves. Moses made his journey with his family. He never told Jethro his true mission, fearing that his wife and sons would be withheld from joining him. On their way, at an inn, an angel appeared in an intimidating manner to him—and Moses’ wife assumed he’d be killed. He wasn’t told why—but knew there must be a reason. He was on his way to Egypt, but he knew that God sent him there—so that wasn’t it. Then he remembered that he’d failed to keep one of God’s requirements. Zipporah hadn’t wanted to circumcise their youngest son, and Moses had given in to her request. Now afraid for his life, his wife quickly acted to remedy this issue herself. She circumcised their son and threw his foreskin at his feet. She revealed her disgust for the whole situation, calling him a ‘bloody husband’. One of the conditions in God’s covenant with Israel that entitled his child to the blessings was circumcision. If the leader, chosen by God, neglected to comply in his own family, it’d only diminish the force of the law with the people. Moses was going to be at great risk dealing with Pharaoh, and he could only be protected by God’s angels. Yet, he couldn’t be secure in that while neglecting a known duty. If he did, the angels couldn’t protect him. God was merciful in making his danger known to him before it was too late. His life was spared and he was permitted to continue his journey.
 Exodus 4:21
God reminded Moses of what we saw in Exodus 3:19, 20. Pharaoh wouldn’t let them go, and God would need to step in and convince him. Exodus 4:21 shows us a phrase concerning this that could be highly controversial. “I will harden his heart, so he will not let the people go.” We’ll study exactly what this means when we get to Exodus 7-11, 14, but I want to briefly discuss this and lay some foundations using common sense and Biblical principles. God’s people had suffered as slaves for years, and He was going to go through all this trouble to deliver them—sending people to ask Pharaoh to let them go (rather than just bypassing him and miraculously releasing them). But, according to verse 21, He was then going to turn around and make sure that Pharaoh wouldn’t let them go? Doesn’t that seem to be a bit counter-productive? Well, some might argue, ‘Maybe God’s doing that to create an opportunity for His power and miracles to be revealed.’ God doesn’t need special circumstances to reveal His might. He can do it regardless of the state of our hearts. Furthermore, as we see with Christ in the New Testament, He used His miracles and power to help convict people about Him (John 4:48)—He didn’t need to (and often didn’t) use miracles when they already were convicted. Jesus said in John 20:29, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” God also didn’t do miracles for show or honor. He actually avoided doing them when He knew that it wouldn’t change their hearts (Matthew 13:58) or if they just wanted to be entertained (Luke 23:8, 9). He also often told people not to talk about His miracles, seeking no honor or glory for it (Mark 1:40-44). God wasn’t trying to ‘impress’ or intimidate Pharaoh or Egypt. The signs that God would ‘give’ him would be consequences of Pharaoh’s sin of rejection—with sad results. God’s miracles were consequences of faith—with happy results (SeeLuke 9:56). God wouldn’t lightly allow bad things to happen to people just to reveal His power—especially if they were already willing to surrender to / accept Him. He wouldn’t harden Pharoah’s heart just to do something that’d soften it. That’d be pointless. Furthermore, God wouldn’t intentionally cause someone’s heart to harden for the mere fact alone that each time someone rejects Him (hardens their heart), the harder it is to reverse those effects (re-soften the heart). God doesn’t toy around with people’s hearts, or risk losing someone He wants to save just to reveal Himself (for any reason / motive). And God did indeed want to save Pharaoh and every other Egyptian. God told Moses to do the wonders because Pharaoh wouldn’t let them go, and mentioned the final thing that He would allow to happen as a result of his hard-heartedness.
 Exodus 4:22,23
God told Moses what to tell Pharaoh would eventually happen if he refused to release Israel. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is My son, even My firstborn: and I tell you, let My son go, so he may serve Me: and if you refuse to let him go, look, I will kill your son, even your firstborn.” God had a reason for saying this. If Pharaoh wouldn’t let God’s firstborn go (to live and worship), God would let Pharaoh’s firstborn go (to die). God didn’t wait for His people to have victory at the Red Sea before He called Israel His firstborn son. He did it while they were still oppressed, degraded, beaten down, and suffering all that Egypt created to embitter and destroy their lives. It was then that God stood for them to Pharaoh, calling them His firstborn son. He did this because He’d chosen them, of all people, to be the treasury for His law. If they obeyed it, they’d be kept pure in the presence of idolatry. They were granted special privileges that were akin to those usually bestowed on the firstborn son. The dedication of the firstborn son began at the beginning of sin when God promised to give Heaven’s Firstborn to save us. The consecration of the firstborn son in the home was an acknowledgment of that gift. The firstborn would be devoted to the priesthood—Christ’s representative. When Israel was still in Egypt, the dedication of the firstborn was again required. We’ll see, in devotional #58, how they were to do this. But we can see that the law concerning the dedication of the firstborn would become very significant. Yes, it’d become a memorial of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt—but it foreshadowed an even greater deliverance, which’d be accomplished by the only-begotten (firstborn) Son of God. Unfortunately, the warning concerning Egypt’s firstborns was lightly regarded by the proud Pharaoh, and we’ll see exactly how he responded in devotional #27.