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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Exodus

(Return to Old Testament Contents)


FRAMEWORKS: Exodus 4: More at the burning bush and Moses' return


v.1-9 Moses THIRD question about this call & God's answer [about Israel]

v.10-12 Moses' Objection & God's answers [own ability]

v.13-17 Moses' Request & God's Answer

v.18-20 Moses starts off for Egypt

v.21-23 The Lord tells Moses what will happen (2)

v.24-26 Moses Life is threatened for his disobedience

v.27-31 Aaron is sent to meet Moses and together they speak to their people



v.1-9 Moses THIRD question about this call & God's answers [about Israel]


v.1 Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you'?”


Miracle 1: A Staff into a Snake into a Staff

v.2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand? “A staff,” he replied.

v.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.

v.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.

v.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.”


Miracle 2: His hand made leprous and then restored

v.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.

v.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.

v.8 Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second.


Miracle 3: A third option if belief is not forthcoming

v.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.”


[Notes: Moses suggests that words will not be enough for the elders of his people. Why should Pharaoh believe? The Lord replies by giving him two miracles of transformation to be repeated for the elders.]



v.10-12 Moses' Objection & God's answer [own ability]


v.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.”

v.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 ?

v.12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”


[Notes: Moses has run out of questions – about himself, about God and about Israel – and so now simply objects that he's not up to the job, he's not a speaker. [Having been in the desert for forty years with no company, it's a fairly reasonable comment now]. With three questions the Lord points out that He is the one who provides abilities for human beings and He will help Moses speak.]



v.13-17 Moses' Request & God's Answer


v.13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

v.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.

v.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.

v.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.

v.17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”


[Notes: Having run out of questions and objections, he simply asks for someone else to go. The Lord's patience is running thin and says Aaron his older brother can be his mouthpiece, but Moses can perform the miracles.]



v.18-20 Moses starts off for Egypt


v.18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.” Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well.”

v.19 Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.”

v.20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.


[Notes: Moses tells Jethro and receives his blessing and goes with the slight assurance that the previous Pharaoh who wanted him killed is now dead. He takes his family and leaves.]



v.21-23 The Lord tells Moses what will happen (2)


v.21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.

v.22,23 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'”


[Notes: The Lord adds a further bit of disconcerting information: when Moses speaks to Pharaoh, the Lord will harden his [already hard] heart. He considers [the nation of] Israel as His firstborn son and so if Pharaoh seeks to wipe out His firstborn son He will kill Pharaoh's firstborn son – another bit of disconcerting information. Note how the knowledge of what is going to happen builds up.]



v.24-26 Moses Life is threatened for his disobedience


v.24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him.

v.25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said.

v.26  So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)


[Notes: It would appear that a life-threatening illness strikes Moses [to catch his attention]. Almost certainly as a Hebrew, he would have been circumcised as a baby in conformity with the covenant made by Abraham [Gen 17:10] but he had never bothered to circumcise his son. Presumably they have talked about this in the past for now his wife, with understanding, quickly circumcises the son and touches Moses feet as he lay there approaching death, as if to identify him with his son, and Moses is saved and recovers. If Moses is to represent his people, he is to be wholehearted in the way he does it.]



v.27-31 Aaron is sent to meet Moses and together they speak to their people


v.27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him.

v.28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.

v.29-31 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.


[Notes: God has already said Aaron is on the way [v.14] and we find it is because the Lord had spoken to him and, significantly, they meet at Mount Sinai where Moses recounts all that has happened. They return to Egypt and tell the elders of Israel who, initially at least, believe and worship God.]



Continue to Chapter 5