Exodus Chapter 4


God gives Moses power to work miracles. (Verse 1-9.)

Moses is loth to be sent, Aaron is to assist him. (Verse 10-17.)

Moses leaves Midian, God’s message to Pharaoh. (Verse 18-23.)

God’s displeasure against Moses, Aaron meets him, The people believe them. (Verse 24-31.)

1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.

2 And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.

3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.

“a serpent” – remember that the devil appeared as a serpent in the Garden of Eden and is called a dragon and a serpent throughout the Bible (note Rev. 12:9); Many similarities can be found between the devil and the king of Egypt as well as between the antichrist and the king of Egypt.  This is also the first miracle in the Bible performed by human.

Study Question

who else is called a “dragon” or a serpent in Ezek. 29:3?

4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:

5 That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.

notice that the PURPOSE of this “sign” (vs.8) was to CONFIRM that God had really appeared and spoken to Moses – ie. what Moses was saying was really the word of God; this has always been the purpose of signs (see Mark 16:20 and Heb. 2:4) despite the claims of today’s “charismatics.”

Since Moses was looking for excuses God had a little fun with him. Notice it says that when he cast the rod onto the ground and it became a serpent that Moses fled from before it.

No doubt it was a large deadly serpent that the people of that area would recognize, most likely a cobra. I would have fled too but I would have had a lot of discourse with God about picking up the serpent.

6 And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.

7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.

8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.

9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

signs do not necessarily produce belief.  This should be obvious in that Jesus came producing many signs and the Jews rejected him; the early church apostles could do many of the miraculous signs and though many did believe, far more rejected the message they preached as being from God.  After reading the Bible, one would have to be quite naive to think that valid miraculous signs would convert the multitudes.  Thus we find the Holy Spirit placing the emphasis today on the preaching of the word and his accompanying conviction. 4:11-12 – the Christian should never be afraid to testify on behalf of the Lord!  God has made your mouth and will fill it through the power of his Spirit when needed (assuming you are obedient and faithful). The NT quite clearly points out that the outward evidence of the filling and power of the Holy Spirit is not some miracle, but BOLDNESS (Acts 4:13 & 31)

God had all the bases covered. He knows the end from the beginning, and he knows how others will respond to our following the word of God in our life.

10 And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

[Jer 1:7, Matt 10:19, Mark 13:11, Luke 12:11]

13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

Moses would rather have another sinner go with him than the power of God – just as we often would rather have some other sinner at our side in many situations rather than just trusting the Lord!

Moses is finally resolved to go and do as God says, but God knows Moses heart, that there is fear and doubt in it, but he commits to it because he knows God will see him through.

14 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.

15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.

17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

The Jew requires a sign and God gives them two and if that was not enough, God would show the rest his power as he delivered the people through ten terrible plagues.

18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.

19 And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.

20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

“sons” – Moses had two sons; Gershom and Eliezer was born in  (ex 18:3-4)

Moses receives a Gentile wife and Christ receives Gentiles into the church which is his body today. Moses’ wife remained in exile with him until he went to deliver his brethren at the end of their four hundred and thirty years of suffering.

This is another picture which proves the church will not go through the tribulation period!

Will Christ say to his father the same thing that Moses said when he returns at the end of the tribulation period? Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren …, and see whether they be yet alive? Hmm.

21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:

23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

Again, and again God tells Moses what he will do and what he is to tell people of Israel as well as Pharaoh and yet they do not listen or as in the case of the Israelites, they only listen for a little while.

24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

[Gen 17:14, Josh 5:2]

no individual Jew is ever called a “son of God;”  In the OT this term is reserved for the nation of Israel collectively.

25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.

Moses at some point obviously failed to circumcise his older son (Gershom) as required in the book of Genesis.  God had just essentially appointed Moses the spokesman and head of the nation of Israel and yet Moses still failed to take care of something that he should have done years before; God therefore almost kills him for disobedience.

27 And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.

28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.

29 And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:

30 And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.

31 And 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.

Everything sounds good for Moses right now, everyone is following him, people are worshipping the God of their fathers, but that is before trouble comes. The people will believe the Messiah when he returns a second time because of all the signs.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 1-9 – Moses objects, that the people would not take his word, unless he showed them some sign. God gives him power to work miracles. But those who are now employed to deliver God’s messages to men, need not the power to work miracles: their character and their doctrines are to be tried by that word of God to which they appeal. These miracles especially referred to the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. It belonged to Him only, to cast the power of the devil out of the soul, and to heal the soul of the leprosy of sin; and so it was for Him first to cast the devil out of the body, and to heal the leprosy of the body.

Verse 10-17 – Moses continued backward to the work God designed him for; there was much of cowardice, slothfulness, and unbelief in him. We must not judge of men by the readiness of their discourse. A great deal of wisdom and true worth may be with a slow tongue. God sometimes makes choice of those as his messengers, who have the least of the advantages of art or nature, that his grace in them may appear the more glorious. Christ’s disciples were no orators, till the Holy Spirit made them such. God condescends to answer the excuse of Moses. Even self-diffidence, when it hinders us from duty, or clogs us in duty, is very displeasing to the Lord. But while we blame Moses for shrinking from this dangerous service, let us ask our own hearts if we are not neglecting duties more easy, and less perilous. The tongue of Aaron, with the head and heart of Moses, would make one completely fit for this errand. God promises, I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth. Even Aaron, who could speak well, yet could not speak to purpose, unless God gave constant teaching and help; for without the constant aid of Divine grace, the best gifts will fail.

Verse 18-23 – After God had appeared in the bush, he often spake to Moses. Pharaoh had hardened his own heart against the groans and cries of the oppressed Israelites; and now God, in the way of righteous judgment, hardens his heart against the teaching of the miracles, and the terror of the plagues. But whether Pharaoh will hear, or whether he will forbear, Moses must tell him, Thus saith the Lord. He must demand a discharge for Israel, Let my son go; not only my servant, whom thou hast no right to detain, but my son. It is my son that serves me, and therefore must be spared, must be pleaded for. In case of refusal I will slay thy son, even thy first-born. As men deal with God’s people, let them expect so to be dealt with.

Verse 24-31 – 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!