No Eloquence and No Speak

“Then Moses said to the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

You can see the patience of God running a little thin. How can we say this? Look at verse 11 of chapter 4.  So the LORD said to him, “who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

Hey Moses, what did I do for you?  I turned your rod into a serpent and protected you from the serpent when you picked it up by the tail.  You stuck your hand in your bosom and got leprosy. Then I cured you in the same way. And now you dare to think I will not protect you and give you the words to speak after all, who created your mouth.

Christ used this same line of reasoning when he was on earth.  Look at the miracles he performed. He healed the mute, the deaf, the blind and even raised people from the dead.  How then could they not believe in Christ?  But we are way ahead of ourselves.  Moses has seen these two miracles, and Yahweh is asking.  Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have Not I the LORD?  Moses could answer yes to all these questions. So God continues by saying. “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

Moses, what are you doing.  After all this, in verse thirteen, you say, “O my LORD, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”

“So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and He said; ‘Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.’”

In verse fifteen, God gives us an illustration of what would be illustrated in the life of Christ.  “Now you (Moses) will speak to him (Aaron your brother) and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth. And I will teach you what you shall do.” So, he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth (prophet) for you, and you shall be to him as God. And You shall take his rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.

From Yahweh to prophet, this form of communication remained in effect throughout the rest of the Old Testament. Perhaps a better way of stating this is, From God the Father to the Pre-incarnate Christ to the prophet, and from the prophet to the people.  God illustrates his chosen method of communication, which will hold true throughout the rest of the Old Testament. 

Previous to this, God communicated directly to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.  But now, the people of Israel were about to become a nation.  They were to become a nation to bring all the nations of the world back together again (Genesis 12:1-3). So, for the most part, God chose to communicate to Israel through Prophets and then through the people of Israel to the other nations.  As we can see, this did not work. It was not a failure on God’s part, but man’s part.

In the four gospels of the New Testament, God the Father chose to speak directly to the people through Jesus.  Jesus became God’s mouthpiece to communicate directly to the people to dispel the unbelief and superstition surrounding who God really is. After his resurrection and ascension, God speaks to people through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes the lives of you and me to reflect Christ’s love to others.  Then, in turn, this is how God still communicates with His people today.  Like Israel of old, he is using his church of today to carry the message to others.

Verse 16, “So Moses went and returned 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.’”

Now the LORD said to Moses, in Midian, “Go return to Egypt; for all the men who sought your life are dead” (Exodus 4:16-19). 

So Moses departed (Exodus 4:20).

What if They Will Not Believe

“Then Moses answered and said, ‘But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice;’ suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’”

Moses’s reluctance is understandable.  When he was in Egypt, he lived in comfort, wearing soft clothes, and lived in the lap of luxury.  Moses fled from Egypt and had now been gone forty years.  The people of Midian had did not speak the same language as the Egyptians.  By being a sheep farmer, there would have been little contact between himself and the Egyptians. So Moses had some reasons for concern.  Would he still be able to talk with the Egyptians? Would his life be in danger even though all those who sought him were now dead? Could he trust in God?

The Lord said to Moses. “What is in your hand?” Moses responded, “A rod.”  Logically the rod would be a shepherd rod or staff used to guide, direct, and protect the sheep.  God then directs Moses to cast his rod upon the ground. “He cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses fled from it” (Exodus 4:3b).

The word used for the serpent, in this case, is “naw-khawsh.” Naw-khawsh means serpent or snake. The word does not specify the type of serpent or snake it was.  The implication from the text is it must have been poisonous because Moses attempts to flee from it.  We will see later in the Exodus story that the word used for serpent will momentarily change.  With that change will come a completely different meaning.  But for now, Moses threw his rod or staff down. It became a serpent, and he began to run from it.

God said, “Moses, reach out your hand and take it by the tail.”   You don’t grab a serpent by the tail, for when you do, it will turn its head toward you and bite you.  But the instructions by God was to “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” Moses did as commanded, and it once again became a rod (Exodus 4:4).  God continued talking, “That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

God then instructed Moses to put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out behold, his hand was leprous, white like snow. This must-have scared Moses terribly.  Leprosy was a long, slow death, and now Moses had it.  But God was not through.  “Moses, again, place your hand in your bosom. Moses did, and when he again removed his hand, it was healed.  The leprosy was gone.

“Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land (Exodus 5:8, 9).

Why these two signs?  Why would God have Moses pick up a serpent by the tail and cause his land to become filled with leprosy?

Moses has resisted answering God’s call to lead God’s people out of Egypt.  A humble sheepherder has replaced the courage of Moses’s youth.  God had Moses trained in Egypt for such a task and then refined him as he leads sheep.  But at 80, Moses no longer felt qualified.  Therefore, God was trying to show Moses that He, the Great I AM that I AM, will protect you in all ways.  The poison of Egypt and the sickness of the people will not affect you.  I will be with you and will guide you and direct all that you do.  Yes, the Israelites who have been groaning under the burden of sin might reject you.  The choice is theirs, and if they do, that is not upon you, it is upon Me as their God.

The last part of verse 9 is very interesting.  “The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.” If they reject you, Moses, it is on them and their choice. Since blood is the source of life, by pouring the water from the Nile upon the dry land and it turning to blood would indicate that these people have made up their minds to die in the country of Egypt rather than to live in the land which I promised to their Father Abraham.  They have chosen to be slaves rather than enjoy the freedom that trusting in God brings. 

Moses should have gotten the meaning himself. It should have woken him up. But once more, he has an excuse. An excuse we will look at in our next post.

Moses – and The Great I AM

Moses is on the verge of accepting the call. But he asks of God, “When I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

Although there was little resemblance of the integrity of Joseph left in the people, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would not have been completely lost from their memory.  Therefore, asking by what name Moses should use to tell them who had sent him seemed like a foolish question.  Or is it? The nature and power of the One who sent Moses would be expressed in that name. Since names meant much to the Semitic mind, it was important for Moses to reveal to the people the true nature of their God. A God who was now ready to deliver them from bondage.

God explained to Moses the name He had made Himself known to Abraham at the making of the covenant in Genesis 15:7.  In Hebrew and English, this name is a form of the verb, “To Be.” “To Be” implies that its possessor is the eternal, self-existing One. In the book of John, the disciple John brings this idea out in John 8:58.  This God, when compared to the Egyptian god’s “To Be,” was to be thought of by the Hebrew people as more powerful than all the Egyptian gods put together.  In the Egyptians form of deities, they needed many gods to possess all the power that the “I AM” possessed.  This is something that the Israelites should have remembered and understood. Therefore Moses was instructed to say, “I AM hath sent me”  It was a way of saying, “I AM that I AM and I have sent Moses.”

From the Hebrew word translated as “I AM” comes the derived form of Yahweh. Yahweh is rather consistently rendered “LORD” by many translations with the whole word in capital letters.  Interestingly the American Standard Version of 1901 transliterates Yahweh as “Jehovah,” This was done by trying to understand the Hebrew word, or letters, “YHWH” in which some ancient Hebrew manuscripts had the word “odini” under the letters “YHWH.”  The Hebrews would not use the name of God, so they only used the constinents. But the translators tried to incorporate “YHWH and Odini” into a single word. They thus came up with something that became known as Jehovah.

Interestingly, throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh is used as the name for God the Father and God the pre-incarnate Christ.  So a careful study of the context of the passage can reveal who is actually speaking or being referred to when we see the word LORD or Yahweh is used.  Interestingly, the Old Testament uses LORD or Yahweh to reference the pre-incarnate Christ more often than it does God the Father.

I just used the phrase, “Now ready to deliver them from bondage.”  It makes one think that God delays and does not hear us or act on our behalf until he is ready. Because God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and able to be everywhere at once, we think he should be able to respond and act on our behalf immediately.  But Isaiah 55:8 – 9 gives us tremendous insight into the workings of God.  “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”

Looking at the history of Abraham’s family, it seems clear they had not lived up to their potential. Therefore instead of being a blessing to the people of Canaan, God moved them to Egypt. In Egypt, they once again did not live up to their potential.  They, like Moses, tried to do things their way.  But now, through Moses and the mighty acts of God, he would teach Israel and Egypt just who the God’s of heaven is.  He is the Great I AM, now looked down and said, now is the appointed time to rescue Abraham’s family.  What I am about to do for them will show Egypt and the land of Canaanites what a mighty God I Am in comparison to their many gods.  Therefore Moses, tell the people, I AM that I AM who will bring you out of Egypt to the land I promised to Abraham.  It is time to put together that which was ripped apart at the flood and the tower of Babel.  It is time to make all people one people again.  Therefore Moses, lead them to Canaan, and I will go before you in both Egypt and Canaan and all along the way. For I AM that I AM.

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