Introduction: We return after celebrating Easter to Bible notes on Exodus 4, focusing on the three miraculous signs which God gave to Moses, as God’s way of removing the doubts of both His own people and the Egyptians. This is the first time in the Bible that God bestows miraculous power on man, and the occasion was the threat of the destruction of His people at the hands of the Egyptians. May these notes encourage us, therefore, by showing us the lengths to which our God will go in order to save His own from a harsh and threatening world.
Monday: read Exodus 4:1-5 and 10:7. The proof that the miraculous power of God was convincing even to the most calloused of Egyptians is proven by the words of the wise men to Pharaoh in Exodus 10:7: How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined? They were convinced that Moses’ humble shepherd’s “rod” was more mighty than the “serpent” symbol of Pharoah which sat literally on Pharaoh’s crown. It was only the hand of Moses which, under God, was able to vanquish the serpent, using it as a rod by which to shepherd God’s people Israel! And this is what Egypt became for those who by faith followed Moses: Instead of a place of fiery plagues, it became a place of saving wonders, blessing, protection and deliverance!
Meditate and Pray: Have you learned this lesson about God – that He is able to turn fiery trials into sources of blessing? If Moses was able to grab the “serpent” by the tail to reclaim as a rod of shepherding care, how much more is our Jesus able to transform the Roman symbol of torture, the Cross, into the symbol of love and blessing? And does He not also transform our afflictions into shepherding tools by which to guide our wandering feet? Sing about God’s wonder-working power to turn our trials into sources of blessing in the words of Hymn # 94 from our Trinity Hymnal:
|How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
|When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Even down to old age all My people shall prove
Tuesday: read Exodus 4:6-8 and Job 14:4. Exodus 4 is full of firsts. For the first time in the Bible, man is given the power to do miracles. For the first time in Scripture, leprosy is cleansed. This miracle is never performed by the hand of man in the rest of the Old Testament! (Yes, Naaman the Syrian is healed of this disease, but it is not by the hand of the prophet of his day, Elisha, but rather by the hand of God using the waters of the Jordan river (2 Kings 5:1-14). Leprosy, symbolizing the deep impurity of sin, can be healed only by God! No wonder the sorcerers of Egypt (who imitate Moses with “serpent rods” and water turned to blood – see Ex. 7), are unable to cleanse the leprous hand of Moses or produce any miracle like it.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that He reserves the most profound and needful miracles for Himself to perform alone. Only He can raise the dead. Only He can cleanse the leper. Only He can forgive sins (Mark 2:7). Only He brings something “clean out of the unclean” (Job 14:4). As hymn # 82 puts it:
Great God of wonders! All Thy ways
Are matchless, Godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace
More Godlike and unrivaled shine,
More Godlike and unrivaled shine.
Crimes of such horror to forgive,
Such guilty, daring worms to spare;
This is Thy grand prerogative,
And none shall in the honor share,
And none shall in the honor share
Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Wednesday: read Exodus 4:6-8 and Numbers 12:5-10. In God’s second sign, Moses is commanded to put his hand “inside his cloak.” He then takes it out – and behold: Leprous and as “white as snow” (Ex. 4:6)! Scholars tell us that this was the most serious kind of leprosy and most difficult to be cured: see Leviticus 13:1-3. It was this kind of “white” leprosy which afflicted Miriam, Moses’ sister, when she, along with her brother Aaron, rebelled against Moses in Numbers 12:10. Notice especially how it was that Miriam was afflicted, in order to learn what leprosy meant: It was when the “cloud lifted from above the Tent” (Num. 12:10) that the leprosy came upon Miriam. This cloud symbolized the Presence of God, by which He would meet with His people at the “Tent of Meeting.” When the cloud departed, this symbolized God’s displeasure and distancing Himself from Miriam’s and Aaron’s sin. The lesson? As Matthew Henry says: “When God’s Presence goes, evil comes. Expect no good when God departs.”
Meditate and Pray: Lord, please do not depart from us. We, like Aaron and Miriam, often complain and even rebel against you. Help us not to grieve your Holy Spirit, but, instead, to make His dwelling with us a pleasure to Him and to you. Heal of us of all our diseases, that we might be fit dwellings for you to dwell in, with “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17). Amen.
Thursday: read Exodus 4:6-8 and 1 Peter 1:6, 7. What a shock for Moses to see leprosy affect him directly! What do you think went through his mind when he took his hand out of his cloak, full of this disease? How helpless Moses must have felt as he held up that leprous hand! Surely God’s ways of testing faith can be perplexing at times! After all, Moses had asked for reassurances from God that he would be accepted when he returned to Egypt… now God had given him a disease which would ensure that he would be an outcast! It must have seemed like an eternity to Moses until God commanded him to return his hand to his cloak, bringing it out restored once again! And think of this: Would you want to put a leprous hand back in your bosom, thereby contaminating the rest of your flesh and clothing? What a test!
Meditate and Pray: Ask God to help you accept the testing of your faith. As Martin Lloyd-Jones puts it in his book, Spiritual Depression:
Scripture is full of this idea of the trial of one’s faith. Take the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews… Every one of those men was tried. They had been given great promises and they had accepted them, and then everything seemed to go wrong… God gives the gift of faith and then the faith is tried. Peter, in 1 Peter 1:7, says exactly the same thing. He says of these trials: “These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold… may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” That is the theme of all the Scriptures.
Friday: read Exodus 4:6-8 and Matthew 28:11-15. Do you think that the three signs which God gave to Moses were impressive in the world’s eyes, or that Moses would have considered them to be exactly what he needed in his contest against Pharaoh? A shepherd’s rod changing shape; water turned into blood and leprosy of the hand? Surely Moses may have preferred the miraculous power to create chariots, horses and a whole army! But, true to form, God chooses weak instruments by which to reveal His miraculous power. Consider, for example, the contempt which the Egyptians had for Moses’ leprosy. Some great historians, including the Roman Tacitus, cite Moses’ leprosy as the shameful reason for the expulsion of Israel from Egypt! They say that it was the diseases among God’s people which made the Egyptians drive them from the land – instead of God’s mighty hand of deliverance! Such is the way of the world, to pour contempt on even the most glorious of God’s miracles!
Meditate and Pray: Lord Jesus, we believe in your miraculous power, and in every one of your signs by which you wrought our salvation. We do not accept the slander which your enemies heaped upon your miraculous life, when they said that it was by the power of Satan that you cast out demons (Mark 3:22); that your virgin birth proved you were illegitimately born or that your tomb was empty because disciples stole your body (Mt. 28:13). Give us courage to stand unashamedly on the supernatural foundation of our Christian faith, believing that in every miracle, you did all things necessary for our salvation. Amen.