Saturday, October 27, 2012

More Signs To Accompany Moses -- Exodus 4:6-9


And the Lord furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.  So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow.  Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.”  So he put his hand into his bosom again; and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.  “And it shall come about that if they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign.  But is shall be that if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

Did God think that Moses’ throwing his staff on the ground, having it turn into a snake, then picking the snake up by its tail, and having it turn back into his staff was not going to be sufficient for convincing the children of Israel that he had heard from the God of their fathers?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps God was just showing a little bit of frustration here when He then told Moses what else he could do to prove that his authority was coming from on high.

Whatever the case for more proof, God told Moses to put his hand on his chest (one imagines through his outer coat) and then to take it out again.  As Moses obeyed, the hand became leprous and turned white.  We don’t know what Moses’ reaction to that was.  Was it fear similar to when he saw the snake?  Or was he now willing to expect and accept anything that God would do or could do?

It really does not matter, for God did not require him to dwell long on the situation and immediately told him to put his leprous hand back on his chest and to pull it out again.  Although, if Moses were as sharp as we believe him to have been, then what happened next was less of a surprise to him, and more of an re-assurance of God’s power.  The leprous flesh on his hand returned to its normal look, similar to that of the rest of his body.

And then God says something interesting, perhaps beating Moses to another question.  God says, “Look, and if they don’t believe this sign or the first one, here’s a third one.”  God then proceeds to tell Moses what he will need to do at that time.  In examining that statement more closely, I find its structure a little puzzling.  The ‘western’ mind would ask, “Why would God say ‘if they will not believe you’?  Did God not know whether they would or not?  Does God not know everything?  The ‘Judaic’-thinking mind, however, would have no problem with this.  Of course God knew and knows everything that has, is, and will occur.  Judaic-thinking would lead us to say that God here was projecting himself into the circumstance from Moses’ point of view.  Moses is really the one asking, “what if they don’t believe even this?” and it is just that God was asking it for him and answering it as well.

For his final display of proof that God had met with him, Moses was to get some water from the Nile River and pour it on the ground and it would turn into blood.

These three miracles that Moses was given warrant some further comment.  The first two – staff to snake and back again; and his own hand turning leprous and then back to normal – were indeed miracles of what David Guzik in his Study Guide on this text calls “miracles of conversion”.  The third – taking water from the Nile and turning it into blood but not back again into water – was a “miracle of judgment”.  Guzik says the first miracle also conveys to Moses that if he obeyed God, his enemies would be made powerless.  The second miracle, involving his own hand, was to convey to Moses and us who read of it, that his own sin (his own polluted body or self) could be made pure.  There is an inference here as Matthew Henry suggests, that the Israelites had polluted their lives in Egypt, turning to other gods and worshiping them.  Are we guilty of the same thing?   Here God is showing that they can become pure again.  If we ourselves have any doubt in God’s power to defeat our enemies and to make us pure, then there is no way we can minister to others, or on behalf of others.  So, God shows that to Moses (and through him, to us) first before Moses (and by inference, us) was to convince others of the same truths.

There is also a possibility here that the first miracle was somehow symbolic of how Moses was going to take the ‘governing power’ away from Pharaoh (when Moses first held this own staff), through God’s help, and vest it in himself (when the staff was given to him at the end of the miracle), in order to be able to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.

With the second miracle, the leprous hand, there is also the possibility of a symbolic foreshadowing of some of the plagues that were going to impact the land of Egypt.  Matthew Henry points out that this second miracle might also have been intended to make sure that Moses understands that he could not boast about anything that results and that all the glory should always go to God – for his hand too was leprous.

But taking water from the Nile and turning it into blood was a little different.  It was not to be turned back into water.  Guzik writes, “if the miracles of conversion (the first two) did not turn the hearts of the people, then perhaps the sign of judgment will.”  Matthew Henry reminds us also that later on in our story of Moses, God does turn the entire Nile into blood, later making it a plague, and perhaps this miracle was a foreshadowing of that event.

Moses now had his three miracle-weapons intended to destroy both his own doubts, and those of the children of Israel.  And with that, Moses’ latest objection (number 3) is refuted.  [You will remember, objection number one was, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh?”.  Objection two was “What if they ask me your name?”]   Has he had enough?  That remains to be seen.  But let us focus on you and I for a moment?  How many ways, and how many times does God need to refute our objections to something He wants us to do?  If we each stop long enough to ask ourselves that very question as we read this, then I think that we have gained much from the text.


[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

No comments:

Post a Comment