Exodus: New Direction, New Life #5
Signs, Sayings and Sons Text: Exodus 4
Introduction: The Stolen Turkey
Ducking into the pastor’s office with a turkey in his arms, Brian said, "Forgive me, Pastor, for I have done a terrible thing. I stole this turkey to feed my family. Would you take it back and so I won’t fell guilty?"
"Certainly not," said the Preacher. "The right thing to do is to return it to the one you stole it from."
"I tried," Brian sobbed, "but he refused. Oh, Preacher, what should I do?"
"If what you say is true, then it is all right for you to keep it for your family."
“Oh, thank you so much, Pastor. And then Brian hurried off with the turkey in his arms.”
Then the pastor locked up the church and returned home to see his wife in tears.
“Why dear, what’s wrong?”
She looked up with tears in her eyes and said, “Someone stole the turkey I was making for you!”
Its not easy being a pastor in God’s service. I’m sure Moses realized this and though they didn’t have turkeys to steal back in Exodus 4 they still have turkeys who had to be ministered to. Let’s look at the fourth chapter of Exodus and see what it took for God to bring Moses into His service and lets look for those things that would apply to any leader for God, be it in the church, the family or in life.
Signs Exodus 4:1-9
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. And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. 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. 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: 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. 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. 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. 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. 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
God Gives Moses Signs
Review last week in Exodus 3, Moses left the sheep while he went to see the burning bush. From that fire God spoke to Moses and told him it was time to bring God’s people home. Time to deliver them from slavery and cruelty. Time to set His nation free. Now in chapter 4 God begins to convince Moses that he is God’s man for that world changing task.
He begins by showing Moses His power through Moses. He turns the shepherd’s rod into a serpent and then back again. Followed by turning Moses hand leprous. Two signs that I’m sure go Moses attention very quickly. These two miracles showed that God was empowering Moses, making Moses THE man of God. Later, even great signs would be given by the hand of Moses and his brother Aaron to deliver Israel from Egypt.
What signs show God’s men today?
There are many that still claim miraculous signs today. They make this claim to try and prove that they are God’s leaders. Though now that I think about it I haven’t seen any turning staffs into serpents or giving themselves leprosy. I wonder why that is? Actually, those who claim miracles today in the same way that Moses, Elijah or the apostles did are charlatans and liars. I say that without any reservations or fear of contradiction. I do not say it to be mean, but it needs to be understood clearly.
Why can I be so sure? Because a full exhaustive study of God’s word shows that miraculous signs are used by God during critical times of his plan for mankind, not at the quim of someone putting on a show or trying to get rich. Here are those “times of signs” in the Bible.
- Miracles of Creation.
- Miracles of the Exodus and Conquest.
- Miracles of Elijah and Elisha.
- Miracles of the Messiah and early Church
- Miracles of the Tribulation.
Yet these constitute a very small amount of the total time since creation. The vast majority of the Bible is not about people believing God by miracles but people believing God without miracles.
What of our own Biblical time? Do we live in a time of great signs and miracles or a time of faith in God’s promises? Should we expect God to prove Himself to us as he did to Pharaoh?
What did Jesus say? Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them and departed.
What did Paul say? Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
We are called not to seek signs but to walk by faith.
The signs of God’s reality, of his transcending His creation and involving Himself in the lives of mankind today are still evident though, they are the touch of His Holy Spirit upon a heart. They are the working out of His love though a lifetime of service. They are the signs of sacrifice and faithfulness on behalf of others. These are the signs which should mark the leader, the parent or the teacher who God has called.
Paul said, in Galatians 6:17 “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.”
If you want signs from God to mark the true men of God? Look for the scars of their service carried in their life and in their body. They are not hard to find and they are impossible to counterfeit.
Illustration: The Man with the Scarred Hands asks for the child
Let me tell you a story that should illustrate this. In a small village one dark night there was a terrible fire that engulfed a house where a man, his wife and child lived. The flame seemed to come up instantly and before anyone even knew there was a fire the bottom floor was fully aflame. As the town gathered to try and help, someone asked if anyone had seen the family when they heard above the sound of the flames a baby cried. Suddenly a man from the crowd and began climing a drain pipe on the outside of the house to the baby’s room. The crowd watched him disappear inside and then reappear with the baby in his arms. He then slid down the metal pipe handed the baby to the pastor of the church and disappeared. They could not save the house or the parents. This was a long time ago before child services or child care agencies and the village had to decide what to do with the child. Who would care for it. So a few weeks after the fire they met at the church to decide who should adopt the infant. One man and his wife came forward they had a nice farm and had lost a child a few years ago and they would be willing to adopt the baby. Another man stood up and said that he would be willing as well. When asked what he offered to show he would be a good father to the child, he said, “I have nothing to offer except these hands” He held out his hands palm outward for all to see the burns and scars that he would carry all his life, received when he had climbed the hot pipe to rescue the crying baby. The village voted to give the man the son he had saved. They could not argue with his scars.
When Jesus appeared after his resurrection, do you remember what proof He offered to Thomas? John 20:27, “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.”
Transition: Look for the scars of service to know a person in real service to God.
After God show Moses signs, He then begins dealing with Moses speech.
Sayings Exodus 4:10-17
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. 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? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. 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. 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. 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. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.
God Gives Moses Speech
Moses was afraid to speak publicly, or some believe that he might have had a stammer. Whatever the reason he did not feel adequate to the task of calling God’s people together or of speaking before the court of a King. It is interesting that Moses seems to have a greater fear of the disbelief of God’s people than he does of Pharaoh not believing him.
Here God give him two assurances.
First, God gives himself to empower Moses speech.
Verse 11-12 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? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
God promised Moses He would speak for him. He would put the words that needed to said in Moses mouth.
Secondly God also gave Aaron to empower Moses heart.
Still Moses was afraid, so much so that he asks God to send someone else.
Vs. 13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
God until now had not been angry with Moses but this near refusal after God’s promise stirred the Creator to anger. Yet he does not give up on Moses, even in that anger. Aren’t you glad God can control his anger, especially when he’s angry at you?
So, God then gives Aaron to empower Moses’ heart.
God’s Promises To Us
Do you realize that in this case Moses was not at all unique? We have been given precious promises that should give us the courage we need to serve God in every situation.
Just like Moses, He has promised us the words when we need to speak for him. He has promised to bless our speech.
Look at Matthew 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
He has also promised us one to walk with us, one who will bless our hearts, even more than Aaron was a blessing to Moses.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
With the promise of Jesus to be with us, what task for God can we not face? What challenge can we not meet? What obstacle can we not overcome?
As Paul said, “If God we for us, who then can be against us?
Illustration: I Just Helped Him Cry
The Most Caring Child - Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old child, whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry." – By Ellen Kreidman from A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Sometimes that exactly what we need to make it through. We just need to know that God is aware of what is happening, and that Jesus is there to walk with us though the trial and the challenge. That confirmation of God’s knowledge and Jesus’ presence is often in the form of one of God’s children being sent by Him to give that comfort and hope.
Sons Exodus 4:18-31
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. And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. 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. 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. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 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. And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. 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. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. 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. And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him. And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. 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.
God Claims Moses’ Family
This is a very interesting turn of events we see now. Moses has left Midian and is traveling back to Egypt when very suddenly the Bible says that God meets Moses and seeks to kill him. This seems to be because of the objections of Zipporah his wife to circumcising their sons.
While Moses then is sick or in some way threatened by God, she takes a flint knife and performs the circumcision. Wow what a story. Have you ever heard anyone preach on this? Well, maybe I shouldn’t either. But you can’t help but wonder.
Why would God take such an unyielding stand against the man he had just commissioned to save His people?
I think the key is in verse 22, Where the Lord says, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn.”
Foremost in God’s priority was his relationship with the nation of Israel. He viewed them as his son.
To mark that relationship He had instituted the rite of circumcision upon all the males of Israel. The removal of the foreskin was the mark of a people trusting God and not in their own strength.
Now God has called Moses who is destined to be the greatest leader of God’s people until the Messiah and that is not an overstatement.
Moses, this great leader of the Hebrews, has neglected his own son’s circumcision.
We are not told why but it seems that Zipphorah did not want the rite performed upon her son.
The Midianites were descendents of Abraham through his wife, Kittorah and so probably practiced the rite of circumcision though perhaps not at the same time. It may have been at 13 years old according to the example of Ishmael. The Muslims who are descendants of Ishmael, still circumcise at 13, just in case you know of any teen boys thinking of converting that would probably convince them not to.
Perhaps Zipporah just didn’t want it done and Moses let it go, but God would not let it go.
When they stopped to rest God sought to kill Moses. This may have been through sickness, or perhaps as dramatic an event as the burning bush with a drawn sword in the hands of the Angel of the Lord, as Joshua was confronted and the prophet Balam.
Whatever way it happened Moses was incapacitated, and Zipporah had to circumcise her son with a stone knife in order to save her husband’s life. She then threw the foreskin at Moses feet and said, “You are a bloody husband to me.” She complied but did so in anger at having to do in order to save her husband’s life. Moses may have let her go back at this time to Jethro to wait until he returned from Egypt as we do not hear about her again until Moses and Aaron leave Egypt and meet Jethro once they are out.
God Claims A Pastor’s Family
This is a passage I don’t readily preach on. Its not one I would quickly pull out when I get asked to preach at a conference. It is difficult in its interpretation and difficult in its application but I believe it is a very important aspect of God’s calling to service.
God in this passage is making it very clear that when he calls a man into leadership he calls his family as well. It is also very clear that this will often bring problems and resentment.
There is no getting around it, no way of ignoring it for long as Moses found out. When God calls a man to follow Him it also means He is laying claim to that man’s family.
This is what God’s word says
1 Timothy 3:1-13
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Many of God’s leaders have been called to serve only to find that their families will not follow.
The conflict and hurt we see in this incident with Moses and Zipporah is a small reminder of the conflict and pain that is seen in a leader of God whose wife will not submit.
Pastors have left the ministry, missionaries have left the field because of this terrible sorrow.
Worse perhaps are the men who God called but they could not respond because their wives told them “I will not go with you!” Oh to stand before God one day and have to explain why they would not submit to God’s will for their husband’s life and for their family.
A pastor is only as faithful as his family enables him to be. I thank God every day for mine which have blessed me by honoring me as both their father and their pastor. I never had to choose between my love for God and my love for my family.
Wives, children of pastors and missionaries listen again, “A man of God is only as faithful as his family enables him to be.”
Illustration: The Puppy with the ruined leg
A store owner was tacking a sign above his door that read "Puppies For Sale." Signs like that have a way of attracting small children and sure enough, a little boy appeared under the store owner's sign. "How much are you going to sell the puppies for?" he asked.
The store owner replied, "Anywhere from $30 to $50." The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. "I have $2.37," he said. "Can I please look at them?"
The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, "What's wrong with that little dog?"
The store owner explained that the veterinarian had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn't have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame. The little boy became excited. "That is the little puppy that I want to buy."
The store owner said, "No, you don't want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I'll just give him to you."
The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner's eyes, pointing his finger, and said, "I don't want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I'll pay full price. In fact, I'll give you $2.37 now, and 50 cents a month until I have him paid for."
The store owner countered, "You really don't want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies."
To this, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the store owner and softly replied, "Well, I don't run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!" By Dan Clark - Weathering the Storm
That’s what a good wife and family do, they know you in all your faults and failures and the all the things the rest of the world doesn’t ever see, but they stay with you anyway. God knew that the family was needful and that His called servants would need them every day of his service. Thank God he claims the pastor and the family for Himself and I believe He will reward them according to that great sacrifice and service.
Servants of God, those called by God to lead, let me conclude by asking you.
Do you have the real signs of God’s calling in your life?
The touch of the Holy Spirit,
The outward work of love?
The signs of sacrifice and faithfulness?
Do you lean upon those God has place in your life to overcome your own weakness?
Do walk daily with Jesus Christ?
Do you nurture and cherish the friends God has blessed you with?
Finally, Men of God what you doing to insure you will always have a faithful family?
Moses almost lost everything because he failed to lead his family.
Zipporah submitted but almost too late.
I believe that it is your responsibility to make sure your wife, sons and daughter are faithful to God. You do that by being faithful to them.