The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Exodus 4

Exo 4:1

Moses' objections: "Who am I?" (Exo 3:11); "What shall I say?" (Exo 3:13); 'They will not believe me" (Exo 4:1); "I am not eloquent" (Exo 4:10); "Send Aaron" (Exo 4:13); "They have not listened" (Exo 6:12); "I am of unclean (faltering, uncircumcised) lips" (Exo 6:30).

Vv 1-9: These two signs, alarming, even grotesque. Signs intended to shock and horrify. These miracles illustrate that that there are no barriers to God's power: one thing can spontaneously become another, human categories and physical givens can be transcended in an instant. He is supreme; He can make anything of anything He wishes. Any situation or set of givens may be transformed instantly by God into a whole new scenario.

These signs also show God's control over life and death. Inanimate objects can become alive; living things can become dead!

WHAT IF THEY DO NOT BELIEVE ME OR LISTEN TO ME...?: Moses could be forgiven for thinking that Israel would not believe him because they did not believe that he was the deliverer when he slew the Egyptian 40 years earlier (see Acts 7:25).

Exo 4:2

WHAT IS THAT IN YOUR HAND?: God can use even the most ordinary items to further His purpose.

Having just been commissioned to lead the children of Israel out of bondage, Moses was apprehensive about how the Egyptians, and even his countrymen, would react. But the Lord said to him, "What is that in thine hand?" "A rod," Moses answered. Then He said to him in v 17, "And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs." A number of great miracles were associated with that rod when Moses obeyed the Lord. It was insignificant in itself, but it became a powerful instrument when committed to the Lord.

We may imagine the following conversations: "What is that in thine hand?" asked the Lord. "A sling," said David. "It is enough; go up against the giant"... and the great Goliath fell before the shepherd boy. "What is that in thine hand?" "A sword," answered Jonathan. "It is enough," and the brave youth, followed by his armor-bearer, went up against an army, and the Philistines were defeated...

Don't sell yourself short. If God has called you to a task, He'll equip you for it. He merely asks, "What is that in thine hand?" Give it to Him, and you'll see what He can do with little things.

Exo 4:3

SNAKE: Sig Christ, of sin-nature, taken from ground, used as a rod to deliver God's people (cp Num 21; Joh 3:14).

Exo 4:4

"Moses looked down. He had forgotten his sheep and had been fingering nervously or gripping tightly the shepherd's rod in his hand. He cast it to the ground and ran from the serpent to which it was transformed, until at God's behest he took it by the tail and it lay still in his hand with its familiar feel. Yes, God can change the ordinary things, the things we use every day, to purposes beyond our imagination: if we trust Him. Have we learned the lesson? It is oft repeated. 'How many loaves have ye?' Even man himself can be changed. The leprous hand which Moses drew from his bosom depicted not only his own inner weakness and need of healing, but the power that lies around us and within if we trust the Lord. We may have but a rod, the everyday token of our normal life, but the Lord can work wonders with it. Nothing is ordinary when the Lord is around, neither the thorn bush in the wilderness, nor the shepherd's staff, nor the shepherd's hand" (MMS 31).

Exo 4:6

Moses is in God's stead. His hand = Christ, afflicted with leprosy, then cleansed. Moses, the appointed messenger of God (cp Christ), was afflicted with leprosy (sym sin-nature: cp Isa 53:2-4,10), but it was removed as a sign (Christ's resurrection to newness of immortal life).

Exo 4:10

LORD: Orig "Yahweh" altered to "Adonai" by Sopherim.

I AM SLOW OF SPEECH AND TONGUE: Did he grow up speaking another language? That is, was he more uncertain about speaking to Jews (v 16) than to Pharaoh? A direct contradiction to the words of Stephen: "Mighty in words" (Act 7:22).

A more literal translation: 'I am not a man of words, neither yesterday, neither the day before yesterday, neither since You have been speaking to Your servant -- for a man of heavy mouth and heavy tongue am I.'

"Moses may not have been a man of words normally, but he is quite verbose in depicting his lack of verbosity! There is something pathetically touching about his words. Most of us have moments like this!" (MV, Tes 71:343).

Examples of prophetic reluctance: Exo 4:10; Jer 1:6; Eze 3:14; Jon 1:3; 1Ki 19:10; Luk 5:8,10; 9:59; 18:23; Act 13:13; 18:9. Ct Isa 6:8.

Moses' objections: "Who am I?" (Exo 3:11); "What shall I say?" (Exo 3:13); 'They will not believe me" (Exo 4:1); "I am not eloquent" (Exo 4:10); "Send Aaron" (Exo 4:13); "They have not listened" (Exo 6:12); "I am of unclean (faltering, uncircumcised) lips" (Exo 6:30).

Exo 4:13

LORD: Orig "Yahweh" altered to "Adonai" by Sopherim.

SOMEONE ELSE: That is, "anyone else but me"!

Moses' objections: "Who am I?" (Exo 3:11); "What shall I say?" (Exo 3:13); 'They will not believe me" (Exo 4:1); "I am not eloquent" (Exo 4:10); "Send Aaron" (Exo 4:13); "They have not listened" (Exo 6:12); "I am of unclean (faltering, uncircumcised) lips" (Exo 6:30).

Exo 4:20

SONS: 2 sons: Gershom (Exo 2:22) and Eliezer (Exo 18:3,4).

THE STAFF OF GOD: Previously, it had been Moses' staff, but now it has become God's! God has empowered Moses to use the rod in His service to glorify His Name. The things that we once looked upon as our own are likewise no longer such when we take up God's commission. For we are His, and those things which were once ours are now His too, to be used in his service.

Exo 4:22

ISRAEL IS MY FIRSTBORN SON: Yet Pharaoh holds God's firstborn son captive as a slave; he is exercising a dominion that is not his to exercise. God thus makes a simple point of exchange. Unless Pharaoh lets God's son go so that he may serve/worship Him, God will slay (rather than take captive) the firstborn of the Egyptians.

Exo 4:24

THE LORD MET MOSES: Lit, "him"; could be "Moses' son", suggesting this whole narrative is about firstborn sons: God's, Pharaoh's, and now Moses'.

WAS ABOUT TO KILL HIM: Or, 'was on the verge of killing him.' Prob a sudden serious illness -- a reminder to Moses of something he needs to do. (How could God even think to kill Moses? Cp idea: Est 4:13,14; Exo 32:10.)

Exo 4:25

A BRIDEGROOM OF BLOOD: Fig name of the son who is "married" to the covenant with God by his own blood. Zip to son: "Surely you were very nearly a bridegroom of blood to me, because you almost caused the death of my husband." Zip does no evil. Apparently Moses' family returns to Jethro (Exo 18:2).

Exo 4:31

AND THEY BELIEVED: "But the belief comes too easily for us to be very sure of it. For we have read too many times of how quickly faith is tried -- as it will be in Exo 5, and with poor results. Nevertheless, for the time being their response is the right one" (MV, Tes 71: 380).

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