Today we will be reading about God’s instructions to Moses. However, before we begin, the thing that stood out greatly to me today was TRUST in God (or lack of) so I thought I would begin with a couple of Scriptures about TRUST.
Proverbs 3:5-6 states:
Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight
Proverbs 16:7 states:
When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
Keep those tucked in your heart and mind as we read today’s Word. 🙂
Moses had expressed his concerns/excuses to God “YHWH” as we ended Chapter 3 yesterday. In doing some research on “I AM WHO I AM” from Chapter 3 and “I AM THE LORD” from Chapter 4, I found what I think is a great explanation of this by Charles Swindoll in an old study guide titled “Moses, God’s man for a crisis” page 33. Swindoll states (most CAPS are mine for emphasis):
“In the Hebrew language, the divine name “I AM” is ONLY written with the consonants “YHWH.” Many Bible scholars believe that this name was probably pronounced “Yahweh.” However, no one is certain about its pronunciation because the Jews came to REVERE it so highly that they STOPPED VERBALIZING it. In place of this word, they pronounced the term Adonai, which means “LORD.” The name translated “I AM” comes from the Hebrew verb for “to be.” Thus, the name “YHWH” is a declaration of God’s eternal and immutable self-existence. He is a pure being. Nothing has brought or could bring Him into existence. Nor could anything ever cause Him to cease to be. He has always existed and will always exist because He IS existence. There is NO other attribute of God that better stands as the summation of HIS nature than this one. Moses apparently realized that, for he did not pursue his first excuse any further. He understood that the living God was offering Himself in ALL of HIS fullness to him, an eighty-year-old shepherd.”
In Chapter 3 we saw Moses speaking to God and I have paraphrased:
- Moses – I will NOT have all the answers, I’m not spiritual enough!
- God – But you will have ALL OF ME!!
- Moses – What if they don’t believe or respect me?
- God – But you will have ALL of MY powers!!
- Chapter 4 – Today we begin with a few more of Moses concerns/excuses:
- Moses – I do not have the ability.
- God—But I will supply you with ALL your needs!
- Moses – I am not as qualified as everyone else and I can’t speak as well.
- God – But you are MY choice .. however, I will send someone with you. (God’s anger burned against Moses for not trusting Him, but He gave him Aaron in His compassion. Unfortunately, we will later read WHY God ONLY wanted Moses for the job.)
All of Moses’ concerns come out of FEAR and a lack of TRUST (OOOOUUUUUCCCCHHHHHHH!!!)!! I’ve had the SAME excuses/reasons …. like when God planted the writing of this blog in my heart last May…. ummmm God … ARE YOU SURE…. and HE responded… I WILL BE WITH YOU!!!
OK… before you gloss over Moses’ excuses or judge him too harshly consider that his Hebrew training was limited. He was a MAXIMUM of 6 years old when he moved into the Pharaoh’s palace. So, for the past 34 to 37 years he has been living life as an Egyptian …. Luxury, fine clothing, fine jewelry, the best education available which I am SURE included some information on ALL the gods of Egypt, a great gymnasium, warrior training, as well as exposure to the disgust the Egyptians had for the Hebrews. Also keep in mind that over the past 400 years, the Hebrew traditions, and faith had possibly been watered down as well; and I am sure the Hebrews had some exposure to all the pagan gods of the Egyptians. The song “Walk Like an Egyptian” keeps going through my mind!!
At the age of 40, Moses … “hits the road Jack” to avoid being killed for his murder of the Egyptian. He becomes part of the Midianite family, and learns shepherding since this is their profession. NOW, here Moses is at the age of 80 and God calls on him (Acts 4:30). I am sure much of his Hebrew training was barely a memory. YET he KNEW God was speaking to him and after all the excuses… I so loved the way God showed Moses His power through his shepherd’s staff, and the leprosy (now it’s here… now it’s gone). Moses told his father-in-law, Jethro, he needed to see if some of his people in Egypt were still alive. Ummmmmmmmm… NOT TRUE!!! Another indication Moses was not truly TRUSTING God’s plan. (I hate to admit it, but can relate!!)
Yet God’s love and compassion still shines through. Immediately after Jethro gives his blessing to Moses God tells Moses: “Go back to Egypt for ALL the men who wanted to kill you are dead.” God KNEW this was a concern to Moses and He comforted him.
Moses and his family set out for Egypt and “the Lord was about to KILL him” (verse 24). WHHAAATTTTT???? Did I read that right??? YEP…. that is exactly what the Scripture said. OH MAN!!! We are not told if Moses had become deathly ill or exactly what happened. However, Zipporah his wife immediately circumcises their son. Moses immediately gets better. But Zipporah is NOT a happy camper as she said: “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me.” She was speaking about the Hebrew practice of circumcision and threw the foreskin at Moses’ feet!!! So WHAT is all this about??? Moses was considered disobedient by God for NOT circumcising their son (Gen 17:9-14). Apparently Moses KNEW this was part of the Abrahamic Covenant but was not living it with his son. God held him accountable. And don’t forget that Zippie (what I am calling his wife… not out of disrespect but simply because it is easier for me to spell and… it might put a smile on your face) was a Midianite and Midian was a son of ABRAHAM with his wife Keturah (after Sarah had died). So… I think Zippie also knew about the importance of circumcision. My personal assumption is that he and Zippie had this conversation in the past. There is NO indication that she didn’t know what needed to be done, nor was there any hesitation indicated. Possibly this simply was not her custom, she didn’t want it for her son and you know the saying “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” may have been the attitude Moses took after a possible past discussion. HOWEVER, Moses’ near death experience caused Zippie to zip off that skin. So something tells me she knew about it before this moment in time. What do you think???
Moses and Aaron reunite and follow God’s command in meeting with all the Israelite elders. Things went well during that announcement and demonstration of God’s power. SO FAR…..SO GOOD
Chapter 5 – Moses and Aaron are obedient and make the announcement to Pharaoh which goes over like a lead balloon!! God told Moses in 4:21 “I have given you the power to do (wonders before Pharaoh). BUT I will harden his heart and he will not let the people go.”
And, God certainly keeps his promise.
God said he would “harden” Pharaoh’s heart. There are three different Hebrew words translated “hardened” in relationship to Pharaoh’s refusal to let the Israelites leave. These are:
- “Hazaq” (Exod 4:21) means to “make strong, to strengthen, to harden”.
- “Kabed” (Exod 7:14) means “stubborn and is expressed as “dullness or insensitivity”
- “Qasha” (Exod 7:3) may be defined as “stubborn, stiff-necked”
Pharaoh already had a strong hate for the Hebrew nation… they were taking over his land (remember 100% of the people in Egypt live on 4% of the land because of so much desert land)… Even prior to this increase in the Hebrews, Egyptians found then detestable. So, I am sure Pharaoh had his own natural tendency to have a hardened heart, after all his first response to Moses and Aaron was something like WHO IS THIS GOD, I do not know Him, why should I listen to you OR HIM???!! Pharaoh confirmed himself in his established course of action while on other occasions God gave him the added courage to continue in his stupidness… I mean stubbornness!! 🙂
Once Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh with God’s announcement of “let my people go;” not only does Pharaoh REFUSE to grant their petition but his reaction was to make the work conditions even worse on the Hebrews. Another reaction was by the Hebrew foremen who approached Pharaoh to ask … (my words)…. “Dude, Sir….. please renege on your decision.” THEN the foremen became angry at Pharaoh and of course BLAMED Moses and Aaron.
Moses returned before the Lord to ask Him ….. WHY Lord??? This is definitely…definitely not working. Moses blamed it on his inadequacy of speech.
Chapter 6 – Then the LORD said to Moses NOW you will see what I will DO to Pharaoh because of my MIGHTY hand.
In this chapter God tells Moses “I AM THE LORD” (“YHWH”) FIVE times!! Usually in church, we are told if God says something three times it is IMPORTANT!! THIS IS FIVE TIMES!!! YEP YEP YEP…. IT IS DEFINITELY IMPORTANT!! (Go ahead… count them… I’ll wait 🙂 )
THEN the LORD makes Moses SEVEN promises!! In HIS SEVEN promises the term “I WILL” is used SEVEN times!!
- ‘I am the Lord, and I will BRING YOU OUT from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
- I will FREE you from being slaves to them, and
- I will REDEEM you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
- I will take you as my own people, and
- I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
- And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.
- I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”
AND HE DOES!!!! Do these PROMISES REMIND YOU OF ANYONE… MAYBE JESUS 🙂 (Free from sin, REDEEMED, Take us as HIS own, BE OUR GOD)!!
James 1:2-8 shows us how God employs struggles as character builders in our lives.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
The contrast in the characters of Pharaoh, Moses, and God really struck me today so I made a small chart so you could compare for yourself. Did anything else strike you??
|CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS OF THE MAIN PERSONALITIES IN EXODUS 5-6|
|VERSES||CHARACTER TRAITS||VERSES||CHARACTER TRAITS||VERSES||CHARACTER TRAITS|
|5:2||Does Not believe in the ONE TRUE GOD||5:1||OBEDIENT to go to Pharaoh||6:2||Reveals more of HIMself to us — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob know God as GOD ALMIGHTY (El Shaddai), but God revealed Himself as YHWH to Moses|
|5:5||Selfish – their actions were keeping the Hebrews from working||5:3||OBEDIENT to Lord and being persistent to ask question to Pharaoh a different way||6:4||Fatihful — Reminds of Covenant he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob|
|5:6||Mean, rebellious, cruel, torturious||6:3||Afraid and not trusting God completely||6:5||Hears the cries of His people, has compassion, and remembers His Covenant|
|6:9||Moses tells OBEYS YHWH and tells the Israelites what he says a 2nd time but they refuse to listen||6:6||I will bring you out, I will FREE you|
|6:12 & 30||Doubting, not fully trusting God||6:7||Redeemer|
|6:8||Will keep promise for Promised Land|
I’d love to hear your comments… anything touch you today??…. anything jump off the page at you in the Word???….anything you saw for the first time??…. any research you have done that reveals something extra??
Sharing HIS love,