The Lord Calls Moses To Deliver His People

As Exodus 4 begins, Moses is continuing His conversation with the Lord about his upcoming assignment to bring the Hebrews out of Egypt.  Moses’ response is typical of those who have to convince others that God has truly called them to a task:  “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.'”

When God calls His people to do something, the last thing they want to deal with is having to prove that God has called them, especially if they already suspect they won’t be believed.  We must understand that this is really a necessity because It keeps God’s people from being led astray.  On this occasion, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had a means to prove He had indeed called Moses’ to deliver His people – three miracles.

First Moses cast his rod to the ground and it became a serpent.  When he picked it up again by the tail, it became a rod once again.  Some say this was to demonstrate God’s power over the power of the Egyptian gods.

Second, Moses put his hand in his bosom and when he pulled it out, it was leprous or white as snow.  When he put his hand back into his bosom and pulled it out again, it was restored.  Some suggest this is to show man his sinful condition and how only God has the power to restore man’s spiritual nature.  Actually, no matter where man dwells, his spiritual condition is one of a leper who is clothed in the fleshly nature.  Only God can rescue, redeem, heal, and restore him to what He intended man to be.

Third, if the Hebrews refused to believe the first two signs, Moses could also take water out of the river and pour it onto the ground where it would become blood.  If you recall from Leviticus 17:14, the life of every creature is in the blood.  This would be like pouring out someone’s life on the ground.

By now we can see a progression of what these miracles show:  God truly intended to demonstrate His power over the Egyptian gods, redeem His people, and to destroy the lives of Pharaoh’s army in the sea and allow their dead bodies to wash up on shore.

The next issue Moses raised was his inability to speak well.  The Lord was certainly irritated with Moses by now yet He had this problem solved as well.  It is God who was really Moses mouth and it was God who would teach Moses what to say.  This is often true of God’s people today.  Instead of accepting that, Moses found the audacity of asking God to send someone else.

God was obviously angry but He did not give up on Moses.  Why?  I think it was because God had chosen Moses for this task since birth.  He was in many ways the ultimate type of the Messiah.  He had to be the one to do the job.  There was no other.

God continued by saying Aaron will speak for Moses.  God promised to give the words to Moses and in turn Moses would give the words to Aaron who would be Moses’ spokesman for the people.  In other words, Moses would be to Aaron as God.  It would be as if Moses represented the Heavenly Father and Aaron represented Christ.

With these issues settled, Moses received permission from Jethro to take his family to Egypt.

As we continue reading Exodus 4, we encounter a strange incident that involves the circumcision of Moses’ son.  Perhaps it would be best to read that section of the Palestinian Targum on the Book of Shemoth (Exodus) for a fuller explanation:

“But it was on the way, in the place of lodging that the angel of the Lord met him, and sought to kill him, because Gershom his son had not been circumcised, inasmuch as Jethro his father-in-law had not permitted him to circumcise him: but Eliezer had been circum-cised, by an agreement between them two. And Zipporah took a stone, and circumcised the foreskin of Gershom her son, and brought the severed part to the feet of the angel, the Destroyer, and said, The husband sought to circumcise, but the father-in-law obstructed him; and now let this blood of the circumcision atone for my husband. [JERUSALEM. And she circumcised the foreskin of her son, and brought before the feet of the Destroyer, and said, The husband could have cir-cumcised, but the father-in-law did not permit him; but now, let the blood of this circumcision atone for the fault of this husband.] And the destroying angel desisted from him, so that Zipporah gave thanks, and said, How lovely is the blood of this circumcision that bath delivered my husband from the angel of destruction! [JERUSALEM. And when the Destroyer had ceased from him, Zipporah gave thanks and said, How lovely is the blood of this circumcision which hath saved my husband from the hand of the angel of death !]”[1]

What we see here is that Zipporah is not despising the blood of the circumcision but is grateful for it.  In Exodus 4:25-26, Zipporah is making a statement of fact:  “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!” 26 So He let him go. Then she said, “You are a husband of blood!” — because of the circumcision.”

In a way, this passage prepares us for the idea that blood atonement is going to be the means of deliverance of God’s people forevermore.  Isn’t it strange how many Christians are grateful for the blood atonement of Yeshua Messiah yet they despise the Levitical sacrifices?  It should not be that way!  If our Bridegroom was not a husband of blood to us, we would not be able to stand in the presence of God.  Instead, we would spend eternity in the lake of fire.  Praise the Lord because He has given us a means to cut off the fleshly nature and live according to the Spirit of the Lord!

Exodus chapter 4 ends as the Lord commands Aaron to meet Moses in the wilderness at the mountain of God.  Moses was able to spend time with Aaron there and tell him everything that the Lord had said.  After that, they went to Egypt, gathered the elders of the children of Israel together, demonstrated the miraculous signs, the people believed what they had been told, and they all worshipped the Lord.

 

[1]Palestinian Targum on the Book of Shemoth, of Exodus  http://targum.info/pj/pjex1-6.htm

 


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Moses and the Burning Bush

In Exodus 3, Moses was tending sheep in Midian for his father-in-law and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  The Angel of the Lord revealed Himself to Moses in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush.  This bush was burning with fire yet it was not consumed.  Moses found this sight amazing and turned his attention toward it.

Now when we think of a burning fire, we may think of the fact that God is both a consuming fire and a purifying fire (Deut. 4:24; Is. 30:27; Mal. 3:3).  In addition, believers who have experienced the “anointing of the Holy Spirit,” often describe it as a warm but pleasant burning and relaxing sensation that spreads throughout the body complete with flickering flame-like sensations or electrical pulsating sensations.  Personally, I think is better to say it the presence and power of Jesus Himself who has joined Himself with man for a specific purpose.  The average Christian may never have this experience in their lives and it is not equivalent to receiving the Holy Spirit upon salvation or the “baptism of the Spirit.” 

God gives these temporary times of His presence and power during special times of ministry and during times of deep intimacy with cleansed vessels who are set apart for His purposes.  No one can make it happen.  It’s occurs according to God’s timing and desire but you can always ask Him to come to you.  Incidentally, it is also what it feels like for Jesus to quickly come upon you as a shield during times of demonic attack (2 Sam. 22:3).  It can also leave your face bright pink for days.  For me, this came after a literal Revelation 3:20 experience. 

Once God knew He had Moses’ attention from the flames of a burning bush, He called Moses over and told him to take off His shoes because he was on holy ground.  Further, He introduced Himself as the God of Moses’ father—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

We might wonder why Moses shouldn’t wear shoes on holy ground.  We can look at this in a couple of ways:

  • It may be helpful to recall that the High priests did not wear shoes when serving in the Tabernacle either.  Their job was to be a mediator of peace between God and man.  When considering our spiritual armor, our feet must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (without a hindrance) because we are ambassadors for Christ.
  • The High Priest had to wash his hands and feet before approaching God so he would not die (Ex. 30:19-20).  In a practical sense, shoes tend to track filth into our house, so we take our shoes off at the door.  Our shoes can also represent the sin and filth of the world that can’t be allowed to separate us from God.

The Lord began telling Moses that He has seen the oppression of His people and that it was time for them to be delivered from Egypt and to be brought to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perzzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.  God then explained He was sending Moses to take care of the job.

I think Moses was really taken by surprise because he said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11)  I’m sure his mind was thinking back to when he tried to take things into his own hands the first time he was in Egypt and he most likely didn’t want to repeat any previous mistakes.

God assured Moses that He would be with him and gave Moses a sign—that he and the people who come out of Egypt would worship Him on the mountain of Horeb—the mountain of God.

When God has prepares us for an assignment, it’s encouraging whenever He gives us a sign to go with it.    It’s something to look forward to because we know God is faithful to keep His promises. 

Moses then asked God what His name is.  God said to tell His people that He is called, “Eheyeh asher Eheyeh” or “I am that I am.”  He’s really saying “He Is” the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

God then gives Moses detailed instructions on how to carry out His tasks and what to expect. 

Moses was to gather the elders and explain:

  • God had appeared to him.
  • They would be brought out from under their affliction in Egypt and be brought to the land of the Cannanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivittes, and Jebusites.

God told Moses:

  • The people will listen and come.
  • Go to Pharaoh and request a 3 day journey into the wilderness to make sacrifices to the Lord.
  • The King of Egypt will not let you go.
  • God will force him to let everyone go by stretching out His hand and striking Egypt with His wonders.
  • The people would not leave empty-handed but will plunder the Egyptians.

Moses was very fortunate God told him these things.  If he hadn’t, perhaps Moses would have waivered or started to doubt his assignment and give up prematurely.  Discouragement did come, but at least he had been forewarned.

There is a lesson for us here.  Whenever we believe the Lord is leading us to do something, ask Him:

  • For confirmation including the correct timing for the task.
  • To reveal to you ahead of time what to expect so you can remain strong and committed to the task you are called to do when things become difficult.
  • To freely use you to bear witness of Him by various signs, wonders, miracles, and with gifts of the Holy Spirit which he distributes as He chooses.

A Prophet Like Moses

Deuteronomy 18:18-19 says, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you [Moses] from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” 

As we consider this verse, we should realize that there are so many amazing similarities to see between the life of Moses and that of Jesus.  I’m amazed that many of us have never noticed them before.  This was God’s way of showing His people the fulfillment of God’s promise to Moses. 

In Exodus 1, Pharaoh ordered all male babies to be thrown in the Nile River.  The Talmud teaches that this was a result of his astrologers warning him that a child would be born that would overthrow him.[1]  The Targum Onkelos says it was because Pharaoh had a dream which was interpreted to mean that an Israelite child would be born that would eventually destroy Egypt.[2] 

As we read the New Testament, we notice that King Herod was warned by wise men from the east of Jesus’ birth and His kingship.  Even though Herod asked to be informed of the child’s whereabouts, the wise men did not return to him because they had been warned not to in a dream.  Matthew 2:16-17 gives us Herod’s response:  “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.”   This event in Jesus’ short life was to parallel that of Moses’.

There is more to see about Jesus in the life of Moses.  Moses most likely lived with his family in Goshen until he was weaned (~2 years old).  After that, he lived in Egypt with Pharaoh’s daughter.  After Moses grew up, he left Egypt after the death of an Egyptian and eventually dwelt in Midian. 

After Jesus was circumcised and brought to the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus lived in Nazareth until Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt.  This would have been about the time Jesus was 2 years old (Matt. 2:16).  After Herod’s death, Joseph was notified in a dream that it was safe to return to the land of Israel; therefore, Jesus came out of Egypt and grew up in Nazareth.  We can see another parallel here — the death of someone caused Moses and Jesus to come out of Egypt.

In the latter half of Exodus 2, Moses was in Midian.  He sat down by a well and soon met the seven daughters of Reuel, the priest of Midian.  Moses came to their rescue when other shepherds came and drove them away as the young ladies were trying to water their father’s flock.  Zipporah, one of these daughters eventually became his wife.  Isn’t it unusual that Abraham’s servant chose Rebecca for Isaac when she came to a well and Jacob fell in love with Rachel when he met her a well?  It should be no less surprising to note that Jesus met the woman from Sychar at a well and that she believed in Him and became part of the Bride of Christ.

During Moses time in Midian, I’m sure he had plenty of time to think about his former life in Egypt.  At some point in Egypt, he found out he was Hebrew and he identified with his people who were in slavery.  He sensed the need to help them but he stilled required skills he did not have.  While in Midian, he learned how to be a shepherd in rugged terrain.  This prepared him to lead the mixed multitude that would come out of Egypt and enter into a long period of wandering in the desert.

Even at birth, Jesus was God incarnate.  At some point in His physical development, He had to know who He really was.  The Scriptures tell us that He grew in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and man.  He studied the Scripture in order to prepare Himself for ministry throughout Israel and to fulfill the prophecy that had to be finished during His first time on earth.  Meanwhile, He learned carpentry and experienced a life similar to that of most Jews so He could relate to those around him and explain the Kingdom of God in parables they could relate to.  He saw that His people were in slavery to sin and He earnestly desired for them to break free and come back to God.  He knew His ultimate destiny was to be the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.  He remained focused on that until His task was ultimately accomplished.

As I consider my life, I realize where I’ve come from and have a sense of God’s leading for my future.  I’m sure where I’ve been has prepared me for the present and my ultimate destiny at least to some degree.  As I consider ministry options, sometimes I wait.  Occasionally, I take a step of faith only to find out I still lack the skills for what I think God wants me to do and/or that it is not God’s timing yet.  No matter what I do, each day requires faithfulness to God’s commandments.  God often sets doors before me that I must walk through.  Sometimes there are times of blessing and other times I encounter trials but I know that I’m being shaped for whatever lies ahead.

How about you?  What do you think God wants you to do?  Have you made an attempt at something and feel like a failure?  Perhaps, only your timing is off or maybe you need to develop some more skills first.  Training in knowledge and spiritual warfare, gaining wisdom, walking with discernment, and waiting on the Lord can be frustrating and difficult.  Even the actual tasks that lie ahead of us can be very challenging so don’t always feel like you have to rush.  Ask God for discernment and take one step at a time.  God orchestrates everything around you and will draw you in at the right time.  As you fulfill His plan, you will bring glory to the Lord.  At some point, you might be amazed at how much your life has in common with Moses and Jesus.  After all, one of our goals is to reflect the image of Christ.

The Birth of Moses

Exodus 1 begins by saying the children of Israel continued to increase after the death of Joseph and his brothers and they filled the land of Goshen.  By that time there was a new Pharaoh in Egypt that did not know Joseph.  The Hebrew word for “know” in Exodus 1:8 is yada.  It has a wide variety of meanings but here it more likely means “acknowledge.”  This man obviously knew who Joseph was.  He just had no regard for Joseph or the laws he had decreed.  The Targum Onkelos is an Aramaic version of the Hebrew Bible compiled from the Second Temple period to the Middle Ages.[1]  It confirms this idea by saying, “But a new king arose over Mizraim who did not hold valid (or confirm) the decree of Joseph.” [2]  

There was obviously something that happened between the time of Jacob’s death and the time when this new Pharaoh arose in Egypt that caused the Egyptians to fear the strength of the children of Israel.  The Targum Onkelos also indicates that this fear was that the Israelites would join their enemies, completely destroy all of the Egyptians, and leave the land.  To keep this from happening, the Egyptians forced the Hebrews into harsh slavery.

The Targum Onkelos also explains that Pharaoh had a dream of a balance scale with Egypt (Mizraim) on one side which was outweighed by a lamb on the other side.   Two chief magicians named Jannes and Jambres interpreted Pharaoh’s dream to mean that a child would be born to the congregation of Israel that would destroy all of Egypt.  For this reason, Pharaoh told the Hebrew (Jehudith) midwives to kill any Hebrew male children when they were born. 

The Targum Onkelos also tells us that Shiphrah was Jochebed and Puah was Miriam.  Since these women feared God and did not obey Pharaoh’s command, he commanded the male babies to be thrown into the river.

Exodus 2 continues by telling us a man of the house of Levi married a daughter of Levi and had a son who was eventually named Moses.  If Moses had an older sister named Miriam and an older brother named Aaron, when would they have been born?  The Targum explains that Amram had previously put his elderly wife, Jochebed away on account of Pharaoh’s decree but that he returned to his marriage relationship with her at this time.  Obviously, Miriam and Aaron were born prior to Amram putting his wife away.

Miraculously, once they were reunited, a male child was conceived and later born.  He was hidden three months but it eventually became necessary to obey Pharaoh’s command and put him in the river—but he was put in an ark or basket that had been sealed with tar and pitch (bitumen) so that it would not leak but float.

As we consider this historical account, isn’t it interesting to realize how numerous children died in the river just like many people died in the flood that covered the whole earth during the time of Noah?  At the same time, God in His mercy and grace allowed this child to survive in an ark that was miniature in size compared to the one built by Noah.

Many years later, another child – one of Noah’s descendants would die for the sins of the world; however, at this point in time, the baby in the little ark would be a type of Jesus (Yeshua), the Promised One to come.

Miracle upon miracles, this baby who was hidden for three months was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, lifted up out of the water, and saved from certain death.  It is awesome to realize that the Son of Man was also lifted up onto a cross, His dead body was hidden in the grave for three days, and it was raised up from the dead so that anyone who desires can experience God’s mercy and grace and escape eternal death if they choose His way instead of their own.

Time is running out.  The pattern of the Exodus may have already begun in our time.  You must decide to stay in Babylon the Great or come out of her.  What will you do?