Signs and Speeches
God my Father, You are my Maker, Sustainer and Redeemer of my life. On life’s hectic journey, I find rest in You.
Read EXODUS 4:1–17
Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”
6 Then the Lord said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.
7 “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.
8 Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”
10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“You’re my servant, serving on my side. I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you. Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God” (Isa. 41:9,10, The Message).
Chapter 4 begins with another question, “What if they [the Hebrew leaders] do not believe me…?” (1). It ends with the information that when “they” heard God’s message they “worshipped” (31). In other words, they did believe him, at least at first! God continues to answer patiently, this time providing practical signs which first Moses and then the leaders would see before they took action. Even when Moses returns to the question of his own weaknesses, God remains patient, reassuring Moses that he, the ever-present, ever-active God, would supply the necessary communication skills and script. One wonders why, as he has had no speaking opportunities for years, Moses is convinced that even after this encounter with God he remains a poor communicator. The lesson that obedience needs to come before, not after, assurance had yet to be learned.
Moses then reveals that his questions and objections, which very understandably made him concerned about the task ahead, were not the whole story. Whatever God said, he still did not want to accept this job! The comment from Abraham in Jesus’ story of the rich man and the beggar is relevant here: signs can be helpful, but even someone rising from death will not convince those who don’t want to believe (Luke 16:31)! Now God has had enough. Genuine questioning is fine but refusing to listen is not! He stops gently persuading Moses, makes the statement that he will also empower Aaron to help out, and closes the conversation. It is to Moses’ credit that at this point, perhaps God’s “anger” (14) having finally persuaded him of the seriousness of the request, he seems to have accepted that this job really is for him!
Asking questions is not wrong, but arguing simply for the sake of arguing with no intention to change is not acceptable! When have you done that with the Lord?
Lord Jesus, thank You that You’re able to do in and through me what I could never do by myself.
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