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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

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blogstephen216

Pastor of The King's Church Boston Spa.

A Short Thought

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us” – Augustine

A short thought

I will be continuing our journey through Exodus in a few days time. Until then a little thought for each day : “Don’t be dependent on man, because they change like the wind. Depend on the Lord, and know that He is faithful to keep His Word.” – Matthew Hagee

Exodus 4:18-20: Open door

18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.”

Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well.”

19 Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

Verse 19 shows what preceded Moses’ request to Jethro, namely God’s instruction. Moses still observed what I presume was a courtesy in that culture. In so doing, he received his father-in-law’s words of blessing and found he had an ‘open door’.

If you believe God has told you to do a certain thing, you will likely find circumstantial confirmation: i.e. things will start to open up for you to do that thing. God will make a way; the Red Sea will part; a relative may affirm your direction! (Just one word of caution though: when Jonah was running away from the Lord, he went down to Joppa and found a ship bound for Tarshish – the very destination he wanted to run to. It could have been seen as providential. However, Jonah knew what God had said to him, and was aware he was being disobedient. So the opportunity alone doesn’t make it right).

A preacher said he stood on the bridge of a ship one night as it headed into a harbour. The captain said to him, ‘Do you see those three lights? They have to come into alignment and then we know we are heading in the right direction.’ At least three lights must come into line for us to be sure of God’s guidance: a.) His word to our hearts; b.) the written Word of God, the Bible, and c.) the providential ordering of circumstances.

Exodus 4:13-17: Batman and Robin?!

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”

Moses now revealed his true feelings. He didn’t want to do what God was asking. (‘Here am I Lord, send Aaron!’). He called Him “Lord” but didn’t want to do what He said. However, lest any of us start to feel superior to Moses, let’s remember he recorded all of this. He was an honest and humble man. (We see a similar pattern with Peter who, it is believed, was the eye-witness behind John Mark’s account in the second gospel).

How merciful God is, that He could be angry with Moses (“burned” seems quite a strong word: v.14) and yet condescend to make provision for him in his timid unbelief.

The humbling truth is that none of us are complete in ourselves. We need the help, the gifts, the abilities of others. None of us is an island. We are called to co-operation – to teamwork.

Leaders often want to be ‘super-heroes’, but even Batman needs Robin!! Even Moses needed Aaron, and both of them needed God (15). (But was it God’s ideal, in this case, that Moses should speak through Moses???)

Although the concentration of this section is on speaking God’s Word, remember God’s pattern is that “signs” should “follow” (or “accompany”) it (17; see Mark 16:17ff.)

Having said everything, we will do well to consider these wise words from Warren Wiersbe, who points out that Aaron was not always a help to Moses:

‘When God in His anger gives us what we selfishly want, that gift rarely turns out to be a blessing (Num.11:33; Hos.13:11). One of the most painful judgments God can send is to let His people have their own way.

Subsequent events proved that Moses was very capable of speaking God’s words with mighty power, both to his own people and to the king of Egypt. As the history of Israel unfolds, you find Moses delivering some eloquent messages in the power of the Lord. The book of Deuteronomy records his magnificent farewell speech.’ ‘Old Testament Commentary’, p.151.

Exodus 4:10-12: Powerful in speech and action

10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

Verse 12 is an encouragement to every preacher. God will give the content of the message and the courage to speak it.

But Moses really didn’t want to do this thing did he? His next excuse concerned a supposed deficiency in speech:

‘Moses no doubt had lost most of his eloquence after forty years of tending sheep! (Acts 7:22,29-30).

Patiently, through a series of rhetorical questions, God revealed to Moses that if He had given him his mouth, He surely would help him use it (Mark 13:11). Whatever inability Moses thought he had, God would overcome it.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.213.

Acts 7:22 says: “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.”  What he had once been, and maybe was no more, God could make him again – and even more so.

‘Moses completely missed the message of God’s name and God’s miraculous power. “I AM” is all that we need in every circumstance of life, and it’s foolish for us to argue, “I am not.”…The God who made us is able to use the gifts and abilities He’s given us to accomplish the tasks He assigns us.’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘Old Testament Commentary’, p.151.

Exodus 4: 1- 9: ‘He turns our weaknesses into His opportunities…’

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”

6 Then the Lord said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.

7 “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

8 Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”

Throughout the Bible God confirms His Word with signs and wonders. He gave Moses (potentially) three signs to back him up.

Thinking in particular about the staff already in Moses’ hand, I couldn’t get away from the thought today that the Lord may well surprise us by using gifts/abilities we already have, in quite extraordinary ways. In our heads, these may be such ordinary, even mundane, things, but we are thrilled to see the extraordinary work He does with them. It is so obviously God at work and not us, and He gets the glory. We may even finding ourselves looking on in wonder and awe at what God is doing through us. It’s almost scary!

‘Moses was but a rod, but what cannot a rod do if handled by an Almighty hand!’ F.B.Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.38.

Exodus 4:1-5: Confirming the call

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”

‘An excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.’ Billy Sunday.

As Moses continues to raise objections, let’s take notice that if God calls you to a ministry He will confirm the call. He will show that He is with you and that He has sent you. He will provide you with the credentials.

The other thought to consider is that while we may be bringing up all kinds of reasons why we can’t do what God is asking, He may already have placed into our hands something He is going to use in surprising ways:

‘If we give God what we have, He can use it for His glory:a rod, a sling (1 Sam.17:40), a net (Luke 5:1-11), or a little lunch (John 6:9). He can even use the hand if nothing is in it!’ Warren W.Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.50.

PRAYER: Lord, when I look at myself I tend to see only the ‘earthen vessel.’ I see my weakness and nothingness. Give me eyes to see and faith to believe that you have put ‘treasure’ in this earthen vessel.

Exodus 3:20-22: God’s surprising provision

21 “And I will make the Egyptians favourably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbour and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”

As we saw yesterday, God sent Moses back to Egypt with a message, and a clear picture of key events to unfold on the pathway to full release. But we didn’t look at this final part of the message. These two verses remind me of the dictum: ‘God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.’ The God who sent ravens with food for Elijah, and who fed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes, regularly surprises us with His provision – not only what He gives, but also how He gets it to us

We read Exodus 3 knowing all this did happen. But when Moses heard these words everything lay ahead of him. He was still in the desert. It must have seemed remarkable. But it did come to pass because God’s Word is true and none of His good promises will ever fall to the ground

Exodus 3:16-20: The end from the beginning

16 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’

18 “The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

The God whose name is ‘I AM’ – the eternal God – knows the end from the beginning. He who knows all things can, if He so chooses, reveal something of the future to any one of His people at any time. Here, he gave Moses reassurance about the ultimate success of his mission. Although Pharaoh would be resistant, he would not be successful. In the short-term, Moses would find a ready hearing among “the elders of Israel”, and he was not going to be alone. He and the elders were going to stand before Pharaoh together.

There are many parallels between Israel’s experience of salvation and ours. It is surely true to our experience that God has brought us “up out of” our “misery” into “a land flowing” with blessing.

One further thought: I wonder if the believers at prayer had this passage in the back of their minds, when they said in Acts 4:20:  “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

When God’s people speak His Word, and God stretches out His mighty Hand remarkable events take place.

PRAYER: Lord, as we endeavour to speak your Word, we look for your power, that your Kingdom will come and your purposes unfold upon the earth.

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