Personal study Exodus 4:18-31

Monday, October 30, 2006

Exodus 4:18-31

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Last night as my finger hovered over the “submit” button, the power failed in our house and I lost the entire post. I really am pretty good about saving mid post, but it was late and my fingers were typing fast. If you haven’t had a chance to visit the site of one of our area pastors, I am again including the link to David Cordeau’s site. He has an incredible testimony on this site and talks about his missionary work in Cambodia and with Veterans. While we were talking yesterday, he mentioned that he is a bit vague when he talks about Cambodia so that the safety of those who are there aren’t compromised.

So we have been following the history of Moses. At this stage of life he is probably around 80 years old. Having fled from Egypt after killing a slave master, he has been in Midian tending sheep. We have seen that being a shepherd is valuable training for many of the Biblical leaders, teaching courage, caring, providing, and being aware of God and nature. God presented Himself to Moses in a burning bush and began to give Moses instructions about freeing the Israelites. Moses tried his hardest to convince God that he was not the man for the plan, but God knew otherwise. God gave Moses three signs and wonders to show to the people and Pharaoh. Moses was instructed to begin the process of liberating the Israelites, whom God considers His children,  by presenting these signs and wonders. God also revealed His wonderful name I AM THAT I AM to Moses. God has revealed more of Himself to Moses, and now we are going to see what Moses will do.

I am always impressed that God waited for the perfect moment to free the Israelites. When this rag tag band of Israelites (wait a moment that is Battle Star Galactica), moved to Egypt due to a famine, God knew that was the best place for Him to begin fulfilling His promise to Abraham. God knew that under the Egyptians, the 70 Israelites would be safe and could begin to multiply their numbers to be as many as the stars in the sky as God had told Abraham his descendants would number. They were safe under Pharaoh’s armies and fed. Once the Pharaoh that Joseph served under died, the memory of Joseph faded from the Egyptian’s minds and they started being threatened by the increasing number of the Israelites. Slavery and harsh treatment was their lot. Of course, if the Israelites had listened to their oral history, the fact that they were slaves for so long would not have come as a surprise. Genesis 15:13-14 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”

I find great encouragement in this, for God is true to His Word. He will not lie. Granted 400 years seems a long time to wait, but God did what He said He would do. This reminds me of Daniel and Nehemiah who also remembered a similar promise of God about deliverance of the Israelites from bondage – they could count the years and started praying at the end of that allotted time period that God would do what He said He would do. Jesus walked into Jerusalem at the exact timing that God predicted.

I have to teach myself to remember that when God gives a promise it is for a certain time, and that timing is His. It may be my lifetime or my children’s lifetime or my distant relative’s lifetime, but God will keep His word. We know that the Patriarchs are blessed, according to Hebrews because they believed a promise that they did not see fulfilled in their lifetimes, but they chose to believe God. It is good to believe God.

Exodus 4:18 So Moses went and turned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

I love this about Moses. He was 80 and he still was humble enough to go and ask his father-in-law’s permission to leave his shepherding job to return to Egypt. THAT is the mark of a good leader. When God gives a new call, the leader makes sure that the current position is filled, then moves to where God called Him. The humility of Moses makes it possible for God to trust him with great responsibility. If we do not obey in the little things, God cannot trust us in the big things. I have to remember this when I submit to my husband or to others around me, that instead of being irritated when their instructions do not always seem the best, it is also a lesson in humility. God can use even challenging circumstances to refine us for what He wants us to do.

Exodus 4:19 Now the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go, return to Egypt; for all the men who sought your life are dead.”

God is so good, the one big fear I am certain Moses had was walking into the local scribes’ office and seeing his face on a wanted poster. Moses had fled because of the murder of the slave master, and he had a price on his head. But now the men who sought his life are dead. I am glad that God relieved Moses’ fear about this before Moses walked into Pharaoh’s courts. But to Moses’ credit, he was going to do what God told him to do even if it could have cost his life. This brings to mind another time that God tells someone the same bit of information – Joseph, Mary, and Jesus had fled from Herod’s attempts at killing all infants. Once he died it was safe for the Holy Family to return to their home. They had fled to Egypt. It has dawned on me that perhaps because Egypt has been a refuge many times for Israel that that is why God will preserve them during the tribulation mentioned in Revelation. For whomever helps Israel will be blessed by God.

Exodus 4:20 Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

Another illustration of Jesus – the wife and sons on a donkey – humble donkeys play such a part in scripture. Jesus rides into Jerusalem on an ass, Balaam has a talking to by one, a jawbone is used by Samson to defeat Philistines. I love how God uses the simple things to confound the wise.

Exodus 4:21-23 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.'”

I had such a challenge with these few verses when I first read the Bible. I thought it was really cruel of God to harden Pharaoh’s heart. So I brought that up to Pastor Don in one of my attempts to discredit God’s love of men – I contended that God loved some people but that He didn’t love others and I was one of those others that He didn’t love. Pastor Don pointed out that there were many times that Moses came before Pharaoh, and in the first times it was Pharaoh who hardened His heart, and later after Pharaoh made it quite clear that he wanted a hardened heart God honored that request. Just like we, if we keep rejecting God, will one day have that desire to reject God honored. God will keep trying, but at some point He will not force Himself where He is not wanted. It will break His heart, but He will honor our desire. When God predicted this, he knew that that was what Pharaoh was going to do, but that is because God is outside of our dated time frame. God knows the end from the beginning, sees all at once what we have progressively revealed to us. God will never force Himself on us if we do not want Him. He will wait patiently, hoping that we come to our senses, and He will send messengers and people into our lives to try and help us to see that we really need God. God is not the great abandoner that I once thought He was.

Also, notice that God tells up front the price of disobedience. For Pharoah if he keeps the Israelites in bondage and does not let them God, God will kill his firstborn son. God never does an action without ample warning of consequences for disobedience.

Exodus 4:24 And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him and sought to kill him.

Say what????? God met Moses seeking to kill him????? Didn’t God just tell Moses to go and do his will? Again, I thought here is another example of the fickleness of God. But let’s see what the situation is.

Exodus 4:25-26 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” So He let him go. Then she said, “You are a husband of blood!” because of the circumcision.

Now it is more clear. God had instructed Abraham and all of his descendants that as a sign of their obedience to God they were to circumcise their males. Moses had not done this with his sons, and because of this act of disobedience, God would not have been able to use Moses. A leader who represents God must be careful to obey God. Disobedience could have led to Moses’ death (physical or spiritual). Zipporah, a pagan wife, knew of this practice of circumcision, and being a godly wife, stepped in and corrected the situation. It was a distasteful act to her, but it preserved her husband’s life. Moses was again in right standing with God and God could use him.

My parents used to tell me, do as I say, not as I do. It is not a great saying because so often people do what they see their parents doing. Our testimony and leadership is compromised when we make compromises in our lives. Be sure our sins will find us out. That is why Pastor Don always tells us to make sure we are prayed up, confessed up, and have repented for our sins. Because if we haven’t, while God can still use us, it can end up hurting us. In today’s day and age, there are so many pastors and priests who are being called out for their sins – be it child molestation, lifestyle sins, or theft. God needs representatives that do not compromise Him. When a saint is caught in a sin, it compromises the Gospel message. People begin to think that all Christians are like that. When we give into sin, when we compromise on what God has told us to do, we become spiritually dead and blind. Samson saw that when he dishonored the Nazirite vows and disobeyed God, Saul discovered this when he did not do what God told him to do and he lost his kingship to David. I have to keep reminding myself that so often my actions are the only gospel that people will see. It is so important to remain in right standing with God.

Exodus 4:27 And the LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him on the mountain of God, and kissed him.

Beautiful! God promised Moses that He would bring Aaron to him, and God honored that promise. It dawned on me on reading this that it also says something about Aaron. That Aaron listened to God, and was willing to obey God, even to the point of going to the wilderness.

Exodus 4:28 So Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him.

This agrees with Exodus 4:16 where God told Moses that Aaron would be his spokesperson, but that Aaron would get these words from Moses, who got them from God. There would be an order of revelation God to Moses to Aaron to whomever Aaron was instructed to speak these words.

Exodus 4:29-31 And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Well the signs and wonders did convince the Israelites and they believed. They were very grateful that God had “visited” the children of Israel and noticed their afflictions, so they bowed their head and worshipped. This is worship that is connected with the signs and wonders. Unfortunately the signs and wonders will soon be forgotten when Pharaoh reacts to the situation and increases the Israelites’ hardship. Their worship will turn to anger when deliverance is not immediate.

Isn’t this just like us? We pray to God, and then when times are tough we begin to blame God for our situation. How often on the television do we hear about “acts of God?” What I am learning is that when God moves on a situation in my life often the circumstances seem to worsen, and it is at this time that praise and worship is crucial – for it is only through praise and worship that the situation will change. It is the sacrifice of praise. Satan always tries to take away our victory before we fully claim it, and he does it through the guise of difficult circumstances. The fact that Pharaoh increased their difficulties shows that on some level he knew that he was defeated in this. It is much the same today, satan knows his days are numbered and he is turning up the heat on God’s followers, hoping that some will turn away from the truth of God. If we hold fast to our confession of faith, if we trust God in spite of circumstances, satan will finally leave us alone and move on to easier prey. I just had the three word thought come in my mind: PRAY or PREY. Let us pray and hold onto the truths of God no matter what our circumstances try to get us to think.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Heather

 

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About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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