Today’s Bible reading: Exodus 4, 5:1-21 Matthew 18:1-20; Psalms 22:19-31; Proverbs 5:15-21
Yesterday God had given Moses instructions to return to Egypt and lead the oppressed Israelites out into their own land. Moses was to go to the leaders of Israel and explain that God was going to take them out of Egypt. Today in Exodus 4 Moses tries to get out of what God has asked him to do.
Moses is concerned that the people will not believe him. So God gives Moses the power to do three miracles. The first, changing his staff into a snake and back again, was to demonstrate power to the Egyptians who believed that power came from snakes. The second miracle was that Moses’s hand become leprous and then would be healed. The final miracle was the ability to change water from the Nile River into blood. The Nile was the source of life for the Egyptians so this miracle would demonstrate power over their life by God.
Moses apparently is content with these miracles because he no longer is concerned about the people doubting him. So he tried to get out of this assignment by claiming that he is not a good speaker. What I see happening here is that Moses simply does not want to do what God has told him to do. One thing to keep in mind… God will never ask us to do anything that He doesn’t think we can do. We may not think we can do it, but God has more confidence in us than we do, especially since He will always be with us (Exodus 3:12, 4:12).
After God doesn’t accept this excuse from Moses he (Moses) finally gets to the point – he doesn’t want to it (Exodus 4:13). Moses demonstrates a real lack of faith here. Is probably afraid to return to Egypt (understandably) or perhaps he doesn’t want to leave the life he now knows. But when God asks us to do something it is best to just do it. God will be with us throughout. And we will be better for it because we will have accomplished something that we never thought we could do. Growth only comes through change. If we stay where we are, we stay what we are.
In the end Moses goes back to Egypt but God allows his brother Aaron to go with him to speak on Moses behalf. Later on Aaron will make some big mistakes that will cause the Israelites trouble. We’ll read about that later in Exodus.
When Moses and Aaron get back to Egypt the Israelites believed them and worshipped God. They must have been thrilled to know that their days of slavery were coming to an end. Unfortunately, though, Pharaoh wasn’t convinced.
Unlike his predecessor who recognized the God of Israel (Genesis 41:38-39) this Pharaoh did not (“I do not know the Lord” he says in Exodus 5:2). Both Pharaohs had seen God at work but only one chose to believe. The same is still true today. Some people will see and hear the same evidence of God but not all will believe. Some will even be callous and outright defiant of God as this Pharaoh was.
This Pharaoh was only concerned about what he could get out of the enslaved Israelites. In response to this request from Moses, Pharaoh demands even more work from the people, making their situation even worse. He does this to teach them a lesson (Exodus 5:9). Notice that he calls the instructions from God “lies”. Does that sound familiar? We hear the same thing from non-believers today. Several months ago someone ridiculed me for believing in Jesus and the Bible calling Jesus my “mythical friend” and the Bible “lies”. Things haven’t changed in a few thousand years.
The sad outcome of all this was that the Israelites turned on Moses and blamed him for the deterioration in their working conditions. They believed when he showed them a couple of miracles. But when their situation got worse, they forgot (or maybe no longer believed) that God was with them and had made a promise to them. This is another good take-away for us. God has made promises to us which we are reading in the Bible. He isn’t going to abandon those promises. Just because things get worse before they get better is no reason to stop having faith. If anything it is a chance to demonstrate to an unbelieving world that God can be trusted.
Jesus teaches us today that it is all about humility. The disciples were concerned about position in heaven, but Jesus tells them not to be concerned with such things. Instead they should be concerned with serving others. As an example he uses a child. Children had no rights in this society and were not necessarily considered a blessing. So Jesus is saying that we should look out for those whose needs greater than our own and those who have no voice in society.
“Temptations are inevitable” (Matthew 18:7). Being tempted is not a sin. But being a tempter is. Notice that the world tempts people. But so does Satan (who we’ll read later is the ruler of this world). We should go to great lengths to remove sin from our lives. In verses 8 and 9 Jesus give an extreme metaphorical example. We shouldn’t mutilate our bodies because we know it is not our eye or hand from which sin originates – it is the heart. But we should go to extreme measures to remove sin and temptation. Sometimes this may mean giving up some friends, or a job, or a goal, or a boyfriend/girlfriend that gets in the way of us living the way God wants us to.
Psalm 18 reminds us that God hears the cries from the suffering and the needy. Just like He heard the cries of the Israelites in Egypt and He how takes care of little children He will not ignore or turn His back on anyone today.
Proverbs warns against adultery today. God made sex to be between a husband and a wife. Our wives should be considered a blessing. They should captivate us always.