Wednesday Studies No. 4
Takeaway for the study of Moses (part 2)
After the forty year sojourn in the Midian desert, Moses hears God and after a lot of discussion, heads back to Egypt.
3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” * Bright shiny object tactic. *
4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” *the tactic worked! and Moses’ response was simplistic and reminds us of Abraham.*
5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
10 “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”
13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “*I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. 16 “Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 “So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”‘ 18 “They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.’ 19 “But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. 20 “So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go. 21 “I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. 22 “But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians.”
1) But Moses said to God, “Who am I,
2) they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”
3) What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?
4) Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent,
5) Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.”
14 Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 “You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16 “Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. 17 “You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”
After all that he still doesn’t go, he asks his father-in-law’s permission.
Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”
I’m thinking The Lord let this pass but was less than pleased and may have influenced His decision to kill Moses while on his way to Egypt. It was his wife Zipporah who intervened.
“Let My Son go,” God said to Pharaoh, “or your son will die.” Two sons are being talked about, the son (Israel) and the son of Pharaoh (first born of Egypt) but there are three sons in the story, for Moses had a son as well.
And Moses couldn’t pronounce judgment on Pharaoh’s house while his own house was in error (1 Peter 4:17). You see, in Genesis 17:11, God instituted circumcision as an outward sign of an inward belief-its counterpart seen in the New Testament ordinance of baptism (Colossians 2:11; Colossians 2:12). Circumcision was given to the Jewish nation as a mark between them and every other culture round about them. Yet Moses never circumcised his son. A descendant of Abraham, Moses certainly knew the significance of this act. Why, then, wouldn’t he have circumcised Gershom?
It could be that he was preoccupied with his occupation. It could be that he was so into watching sheep that he forgot about the spiritual needs of his son. And before we wonder how watching sheep in the desert could be that consuming, we would do well to ask ourselves why we expend so much time and energy simply to make another sale, to get another client, to climb another step, to make another dollar? When we get to heaven, on the other side of eternity, we will surely say, “What was I thinking? Why did I take my career so seriously? Why wasn’t I there for my son, helping him to grow in his walk with the Lord?”
Or perhaps the reason Moses didn’t circumcise his son was a little more subtle. Perhaps it was because he was caught up in ministry. Listen carefully. There is no ministry in which you will ever be engaged that is more important, more fulfilling, more satisfying, gratifying, or thrilling than discipling your own children. God tapping you on the shoulder and saying three million people will listen to you would be incomparable to seeing your son or daughter discipled and trained. And lest you think your family isn’t a big enough ministry for a man of your skills and abilities, consider this: Jesus, the perfect Man, the ultimate Minister, chose only twelve disciples into whom to pour His life. Therefore, one, two, or three kids are more than enough for even the best of fathers.
Preoccupation with his occupation or a false understanding of ministry could have been factors in Moses’ failure to circumcise his son. But I believe there is a third, more likely reason. Moses’ wife, Zipporah, whose name means “sparrow” was a Midianite. The language is clear she wasn’t into the rite of circumcision. Therefore, it is speculation that Moses didn’t circumcise his son because of pressure from his wife. And his capitulation nearly cost him his life. Some interpretation is that Moses fell sick and nearly died.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” Joshua declared (Joshua 24:15). And he didn’t ask Mrs. Joshua’s permission. Because Moses failed to take a similar stand, in seeking to kill him, it’s as if God is essentially saying, “Moses your life will be basically meaningless if you continue to neglect your primary ministry, your family.” Seeing the severity of the situation, Zipporah did something she wouldn’t have had to do had Moses taken the leadership earlier. And his life was spared. But his wife walked away bitter.
Exodus 4:24 from Matthew Henry commentary
God met Moses in anger. The Lord threatened him with death or sent sickness upon him, as the punishment of his having neglected to circumcise his son. When God discovers to us what is amiss in our lives, we must give all diligence to amend it speedily. This is the voice of every rod; it calls us to return to Him that smites us. God sent Aaron to meet Moses. The more they saw of God’s bringing them together, the more pleasant their interview was. The elders of Israel met them in faith, and were ready to obey them. It often happens, that less difficulty is found than was expected, in such undertakings as are according to the will of God, and for his glory. Let us but arise and try at our proper work, the Lord will be with us and prosper us. If Israel welcomed the tidings of their deliverance, and worshipped the Lord, how should we welcome the glad tidings of redemption, embrace it in faith, and adore the Redeemer!
Now, God extends his communication to the Hebrews by contacting Aaron.
27 Now the LORD said to Aaron, “Go to meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him.
I’m thinking it was fairly miraculous that Aaron thought Moses was still alive, it had been a long time.
28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do.
Moses still had to sell the concept to Aaron. And Aaron believed.
29 Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; 30 and Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people. 31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.
The three signs? The staff/snake, the leprosariums hand, the Nile water to blood.
So we know that they were in the land of Goshen, near the river.
The Ten Plagues
1 blood. The staff into snake was duplicated by the priests, but the Nile into blood, yes but not to the complete effect of all Nile water, even water stored in vessels.
2 frogs. The Egyptians considered frogs to be sacred, as evidenced by the discovery of frog-shaped amulets in recent archeological digs in the Nile River region. One of their goddesses was Heqt, a fertility goddess whose face was frog-like. Not only did frogs speak of fertility to the Egyptians, but also of productivity, for it was frogs that kept the insect population from destroying the crops in the Nile River region. But that which was once a blessing to the Egyptians is about to become a burden. That which they once honored would become a horror. That which once pleased them is about to plague them.
As when they turned water to blood, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate the miracle of the frogs, but were unable to eradicate the mess. All they did was make the situation worse.
3 gnats. Up to this point the magicians were able to duplicate every miracle wrought by the hand of God. For some reason they were powerless to reproduce this plague. If it was by trickery that they duplicated the miracles, at elast during this plague they finally acknowledged the finger of God in the plagues. Gradually God was convincing the Egyptians the He alone was God. The worship of these gods entered into the very life of the Egyptians and into their daily routines. This judgment brought loathing upon Geb, the earth god. Geb was closely related to the earth in all of its states. Geb was the one who made his report to Osiris on the state of the harvest.
The word gnat could mean lice or mosquitoes. Its root means to “cover” or “nip” or “pinch.” It is interesting that the nipping, pinching, or covering could not be fulfilled by a gnat or a mosquito. It is, however, a good description of lice. A leading zoologist has said that the mites form an enormous order whose leading function, to a large extent, is to play the scavenger. You can well imagine with the land stinking of frogs that there were crowds of lice. The lice could eventually rid the land of the frogs and could therefore become a blessing as well as a curse.
Regardless of the apparent help the lice might have been, one man tells about his experience with them in Egypt: “I noticed that the sand appeared to be in motion. Close … inpection revealed … that the surface of the ground was a moving mass of minute ticks, thousands of which were crawling up my legs … I beat a hasty retreat, pondering the words of the Scriptures, ‘the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.'” The plagues of lice could not be duplicated by the Egyptian magicians. God is beginning to level His judgment against life itself in the land of Egypt.
4 flies. Up until this time the plagues had touched both the lands of Egypt and Goshen where the children of Israel lived. Many people were probably telling Pharoah that since Goshen was also affected by the plagues, the phenomena of the plagues had a natural explanation. Maybe they attributed the vexation to one of the Egyptian gods. Everything becomes crystal clear at this juncture, however, when God declares that from now on there is to be a distinction, and none of the following plagues will touch the land of Goshen, the home of Israel. From now on, judgment will fall only upon the land of Egypt. The fourth judgment is the plague of flies. These “flies” were most likely the sacred beetle or scarab as they were known in Egypt. These scarabs, many of gold, are found in the tombs in Egypt. They were sacred to the sun-god Ra. The severity of this plague is reflected in the fact that Pharaoh was willing to reach some sort of compromise with Moses at this time. Notice the proposal that Pharaoh made as the sacred beetle invaded the land.
25 Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” 26 But Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the LORD our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us? 27 “We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He commands us.” 28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Make supplication for me.” 29 Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you, and I shall make supplication to the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.”
30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the LORD. 31 The LORD did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants and from his people; not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.
The Egyptian scarab spoke of eternal life. Imagine this most sacred thing becoming a curse to the people and a plague upon the land. Pharaoh wanted to work out a compromise; he made four compromises in all before the plagues came to an end. Moses and Aaron wanted the children of Israel to go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice. Pharaoh said, “All right, you may sacrifice, but stay in the land .” This is the same kind of compromise that many Christians make. It is always satanic. This compromise says we can be Christians but not narrow ones. Be a broad-minded Christian and don’t change your life.
5 murrain. God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that his cattle, sheep, oxen, and donkeys would all come down with a deadly fever. This meant that the Egyptian economy would be affected adversely without livestock to perform the tasks necessary in an agrarian society. Not only is Pharaoh being hit with plague after plague, but he realizes that the Israelites aren’t. It’s hard enough to go through difficulty, but doubly hard when it seems like others aren’t. Yet even this realization was not enough to soften Pharaoh’s heart.
6 boils. Exodus 9:8 Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of soot from a kiln, and let Moses throw it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh.” And the soot created boils. The furnace referred to here is generally believed to be that of the god Typhoon wherein humans were sacrificed in order to stave off boils and sores for the remaining population. The Lord telling Moses to throw the ashes of Typhoon’s furnace into the sky was as much a slap in the face of Typhoon as the abundance of frogs was to Heqt. “I require obedience, not sacrifice,” declared the true and living God. “I don’t want you to burn your people in the fire, Pharaoh. I want you to let My people go.”
For the first time God is touching man as well as beast with judgment. He is afflicting man’s physical body. The priests who served in the Egyptian temples had to be clean, without any type of breaking out or sickness. Suddenly this plague of boils comes upon them and they are unclean, unfit to serve in the temples. This brings to a halt all of the false worship in Egypt.
7 hail. Egypt is essentially a land of little rain. The average is less than an inch in one year. God tells them that they are going to have rain- but a kind they can do without. This plague was directed against Isis (sometimes represented as cow-headed), goddess of fertility and considered the goddess of the air. She is the mythical daughter of Set and Nut, the sister and wife of Osiris, and the mother of Horus. It is said that the tears of Isis falling into the Nile River caused it to overflow its banks and bring nourishment to the land. Isis was a prominent goddes in Egypt, and the plague of hail was directed against her. It is important to take note that this plague touches mankind, as well as the animals.
8. Locusts. The locusts are going to swarm over the land in a way you have never seen in all of your nation’s history. They’re going to fill your houses, destroy your crops, devour your trees. If you don’t let My people go, God declared to Pharaoh, your land will be destroyed. Pharaoh’s servants try to reason with him, “Don’t you realize that Egypt is destroyed? How much longer are you going to permit it? Let them go!” So, once again, Moses and Aaron are brought into the presence of Pharaoh.
9 darkness. They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days. For three days there was total darkness, even as there would be three hours of darkness when Jesus hung on the Cross. The disciples would go on to experience three days of inner darkness between Good Friday and Easter Sunday until they understood that hope was not lost, that death had been conquered, that the Light of the world had indeed risen from the dead. The light flooding the homes of the children of Israel must have been that of the Shekinah, the chabod, the glory of God.
10. The death of the first born. God knew it was going this far. 23 “So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”‘”
The word “borrow” in this passage simply means to collect back wages. The Israelites had served for years as slaves and had never received any payment for their labor. Now they were going to get their money. They were literally to go to their neighbors and ask for their back wages. The Lord gave the Israelites favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, and they were glad to pay the children of Israel their just payment.
The deliverance was not by Moses, it was by the Blood of the Passover. The Lamb was slain and the Blood was to be from the basin to the lintel and the door posts. And Death will be defeated and the people freed.