02(Exodus 04,01-17) Trying to Give God a Good Excuse
Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if excuses for church related things were used elsewhere, such as at a ball game? Someone came up with a list of church excuses if applied to a ball game: 1) Every time I went, they asked me for my money. 2) The people I sat by weren’t very friendly. 3) The seats were too hard and uncomfortable. 4) The coach never comes by to visit with me. 5) The referee made a decision I didn’t agree with. 6) Some games went into overtime, and I got home late. 7) The band played music that I wasn’t familiar with.
Let’s look at the excuses of Moses and see if they compare with some of our own.
I. What if they will not believe me? (4:1-9)
A. Moses had his doubts (4:1).
§ God had not appeared to any man, as far as we know, in over four hundred years.
§ It should have been enough for Moses to have had the divine assurance of 3:18: “The elders of Israel will listen to you,” but Moses wanted to play the “what-if game.”
§ He was not certain what would be the response of his brethren in Egypt.
§ Graciously, God put into Moses’ hands 3 signs to be used as credentials with the people of Israel.
§ Moses was by no means a shining model of faith and trust in God.
§ But how gracious God is in responding to questions that men may consider to be real and legitimate roadblocks to faith, even though there is enough basis for action in the Word of God alone!
B. The First Sign (4:2-5).
§ God’s prophets were accredited by “signs and wonders” (cf. Deut 13:1-3) with the sole purpose of validating the messenger and the message—that both were truly from God.
§ Accordingly, Moses was given a “sign” to perform “so that [lema‘an] they may believe that the LORD ... has appeared to you” (v. 5).
§ This was to be no stunt or caper aimed at entertaining or building a personal following.
§ The principle behind the miracles was to operate just as it did for the Zarephathite woman when Elijah raised her son from the dead in 1 Kings 17:24: “Now I know that you are a man of God [= prophet] and that the word of the LORD [spoken] from your mouth is the truth.”
§ Moses needed first to observe that the staff in his hand was ordinary and unspectacur.
§ But when it was thrown on the ground as God commanded, it became a snake.
§ As if to underscore its supernatural nature, Moses was instructed to grasp the serpent by its tail to further prove the divine source of this miracle; for one would normally pick up a serpent by the neck.
C. The Second Sign (4:6-7).
§ The Hebrew word for leprosy covered a number of assorted diseases much as our word “cancer”.
§ Any small or ordinary skin annoyance would hardly be of any “sign” value for Moses to show.
§ It had to pose a greater threat to the life and health of Moses if the instantaneous cure was also to reflect the greatness and majesty of God’s power.
§ The significance to Pharaoh: this God who had sent Moses had the power to inflict or to save what he would with just a word or a gesture from his ambassador.
D. The Third Sign (4:8-9).
§ Moses was to take some water from the river and turn it into blood.
§ The Nile which flowed with the blood of innocent Hebrew victims, would itself witness to its involuntary carnage with this miracle.
II. What about my slow tongue? (4:10-12)
A. Moses doubts he could win an argument (4:10).
§ Means “a man of words, a talker.”
§ It did not mean he had a speech impediment, but meant he was not quick with the comeback.
§ Not quick with the language, either Hebrew or Egyptian, to find the right words.
§ “I have never been good at handling objections.”
§ Though he does quite well with God!
§ The Egyptian “Tale of the Eloquent Peasant” underscores the importance of eloquence in the Egyptian culture.
B. God answers Moses’ doubt with a queston (4:11-12).
§ It takes on the proverbial status of a wisdom saying.
§ The gifts of speech, sight, & hearing are from the same Lord who was sending this hesitant leader.
§ He had the power to meet any emergency Moses might have suggested.
§ So God announced, “I will help you speak” (lit., “will teach you what to say.”)
§ Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
§ Matthew 10:19-20 "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 "for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
III. Why can you not find someone else? (4:13-17)
A. Moses reveals the true nature of his heart (4:13-14a).
§ God had met every excuse point by point.
§ Moses revealed that he wished anyone else but him could go. (NIV: please send someone else).
§ God is finally angered by Moses groundless opposition.
B. God is still yet gracious (4:14b-17).
§ by sending his brother, Aaron, to supply any deficiency Moses might have felt.
§ However, Moses had a price to pay for his intransigence: Aaron would receive the honor of leading the priesthood.
§ That appears to be the only reason for including this reference to “the Levite” (v. 14b).
§ There is a risk in declining the call of God; it may be a forfeiture of divine blessing even though there is grace and mercy for the obstinate.
§ The omniscience of God is seen again in that Aaron was “already on his way to meet” Moses.
§ Whether Aaron came with the news that the king who sought Moses’ life was dead (2:15) or for some other reason is not known.
C. The arrangement.
§ Moses was literally “to become God” to Aaron.
§ Aaron was to become Moses’ mouth (or “prophet” according to 7:1).
§ Nothing defines more accurately the intimate relationship between God and his prophet than 4:16.
D. There were to be no more excuses or discussions.
§ “You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth” (v. 15).
§ Further, God would teach both of them (“you” pl.) what they were to do.
As for action and deeds, it would be the very humble staff in Moses’ hand that God would use to perform the miracles he already had begun to speak about (3:20) and to show to Moses (4:2-8).