EXODUS 4:1 – 6:30 and MATTHEW 14:1–36
The Lord commissioned Moses with the task of going before Pharaoh in chapter 3. It is important to note the difference in demeanour from 40 years earlier when Moses boldly assumed a leadership posture. No such bravado is evident now. God has to go to great lengths to assure Moses that he will be with him. In verses 1-9 the Lord had Moses do two different actions. The first is the incident of the rod. The rod speaks of authority and we will see the rod come into play at the crossing of the Red Sea as well as in other settings. Secondly, Moses is instructed to put his hand under his coat and pull it out again. His hand became leprous. He repeated this action and his hand came back to normal. Leprosy was a dreaded disease. It also has the connotation of sin. The fact that God could instantaneously heal such a disease should serve as further evidence of his ability to deliver His people from Egypt.
The Lord then speaks about the water of the river being turned into blood if they still did not believe. Moses has been humbled and now is coming to terms with the enormity of task being set before him. The Bible says that Moses was the meekest man in all the earth (Num 12:3). The pathway to meekness was the land of Midian. It was 40 years of being hidden, faithfully fulfilling nominal tasks. Meekness is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:23). Meekness is a garment that needs to adorn the believer of the last days (Col 3:12). It is a garment that is to be sought after due to its ability to preserve.
Zep 2:3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.
When you look around the world today you see that lawlessness is abounding everywhere. God’s laws are removed resulting in man living life on his own terms. The fruit of Meekness is not to be minimized. It is the ability to have a holy acceptance of circumstances (like being in the wilderness for 40 years). It is the ability to yield our rights even if we have been wronged. We see in these passages that Moses has indeed changed and is now in a position to step into the role that God has planned for him as a deliverer. Never, ever define meekness as weakness; it is controlled strength, the ability to turn the other cheek etc. It is a high quality that draws the attention of God.
In verses 10-17 we see that Moses is still struggling to accept his commissioning. It gets to the point where the Lord becomes angry with Moses (vs14) and informs him that He will send Aaron to minister alongside him.
Moses returns to his father in law and asks leave to return to Egypt (vs 18). You can see the respect that Moses had for Jethro. He was given this commission by God to go to Egypt, to stand before Pharaoh and to lead Israel out of their captivity. Yet, he sought Jethro’s consent seeing that he had been employed by him and had become part of the family. The Lord informs Moses that when he appears before Pharaoh that his (Pharaoh’s) heart will be hardened. This is an important point. It is God who will be hardening his heart. Moses knows ahead of time that there will be opposition and resistance. But here is the question. Why will God harden his heart? Does Pharaoh have a choice in this matter? Does God just selectively harden hearts to accomplish His purposes? This is a subject that will be addressed on several occasions in the upcoming chapters. As we have seen in previous commentaries the heart is the territory, the soil in which seeds can be planted. If our heart is tender and open to God it allows for the seed (The Word) to find fertile ground whereby allowing it to become fruitful. The soil of the heart can become indifferent, desensitized by continual CHOOSING to ignore God’s voice and overtures to respond to Him.
“Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (Psa 95:7, Heb 4:7)
The Pharaoh of Moses day was nothing the like Pharaoh of Joseph’s time. His heart continually became embittered at the growing influence of the Israelites in the land of Egypt. With each of the plagues that would soon come, Pharaoh had an opportunity to consent to their departure. The result of each plague was a heart that grew darker and more defiant. It allowed for iniquity to become ripe resulting in the devastating judgements that came upon the land. It is a clear portrayal of what is to come in the last days. We must have a seeking ear to hear what it is God is saying. We also must have a heart that is ever tender towards God.
Pro 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
Pharaoh was a product of his own choices. It is also important to note that God predestines based on His foreknowledge of the choices people will make. Like Pharaoh, we all are a product of the choices we make in life, a product of what is in our heart. One final comment on this chapter is to be taken from verse 24.
Exo 4:24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.
The question is often asked, would God have really killed Moses here? After 80 years of preparation of the leader who would take Israel out of their bondage would God just suddenly remove his appointed man? To me the answer is a definite yes, he would. What was the issue? Moses failed to circumcise his son and it was his wife that did the needful to spare God’s judgement. Does this make any sense? In verse 23 we see the Lord giving Moses the ultimate result of what was going to happen to Pharaoh if he resisted the demand to let God’s son (Israel) go so that they could go forth to worship Him. If Pharaoh refused God would destroy his firstborn. The circumcision of the male flesh was a TYPE of the true circumcision which is that of the heart. It is the New Covenant (Jer 31:33) and it was Moses that was going to be the messenger of this New Covenant in his coming role as leader. He would later be given the Laws of God, he would be given the exact pattern of the Tabernacle which conveys the message and meaning of the New Covenant and he was going to be one who would come into the presence of God himself upon Sinai. There is great responsibility in being such a leader. In scripture there are many TYPES that God jealously protects. The marriage covenant, The Ark of His presence, (remember what happened to Uzzah when he put forth his hands to steady the Ark) and the message of circumcision that was initiated with Abraham.
Gen 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
This covenant was initiated with the message of circumcision and would continue to be reinforced along the way. One more TYPE that God was jealous over was that of the Rock as seen in the Book of Numbers:
Num 20:7 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 20:8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
Num 20:9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
Num 20:10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
Num 20:11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
Moses did not lose his life here but he did forfeit the privilege of entering into the land. The Rock was a picture of Christ and the fact that Moses struck the Rock twice was sending the message that Christ could be crucified multiple times. The message of circumcision has great meaning for the church today. This is why Zipporah did a marvellous act in the circumcising of their son. It spared the life of Moses and allowed the message of circumcision (The New Covenant) to go forward. We must never take our positions and responsibilities for granted. As leaders, we must also understand and jealously guard the established TYPES that God places in His Word.
Moses and Aaron now make their approach to Pharaoh. As expected Pharaoh resists and even makes a mockery of God. In the natural this must have looked like quite a spectacle. Who do these two men think that they are? We must marvel as to how God works and moves as well as consider the people He uses. To make matters worse for Moses and Israel, Pharaoh intensifies the work load. You often see this on the threshold of a mighty move of God. Busyness and increased tasks seem to become more the norm. The enemy knows that in such busyness people can easily lose heart and give up. The expression “when the going gets tough the tough get going” is appropriate here.
We must expect this kind of resistance as we move forward. Once again, this is why we need to have perspective, the ability to see the big picture. This can only come through intimate relationship. We must consider the state of our devotional life and time spent with God. Jesus worked hard and was oftentimes busy in His ministry work but he made time spent with His Father a priority. From this relationship He drew strength and perspective to meet the challenges of the hour. This is why he could speak in parables and encapsulate profound truths around childlike stories.
This account again helps us to understand spiritual warfare. This was not just Moses coming against Pharaoh. It was God coming against the leader of the earth who was inspired and empowered by Satan. Read these accounts prayerfully and try to make parallels to our day. The burdens and tasks continued to escalate causing the people to ask as to why this is happening. They (children of Israel) then confronted Moses and Aaron as seen in verse 20-21. Moses is now probably experiencing a measure of déjà vu in reflecting how he was received as a deliverer 40 years earlier. This had to be very difficult for both Moses and Aaron. They are despised and mocked by Pharaoh and Egypt as well as being rejected by the ones he was sent forth to deliver. It does seem like Moses is becoming acquainted with what the Lord Himself will go through as He prepared in going to the Cross. Moses is about to bring Israel to their Cross (Passover) as he now is being prepared to demonstrate God’s signs and wonders before Egypt and Israel.
In verse 3-4 the Lord reminds Moses of the covenant that was established through the patriarchs. It had to be of some comfort to Moses in seeing that he was in alignment with the outworking of that which was spoken hundreds of years before. There is an interesting statement in verse three.
Exo 6:3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
The name of Jehovah was not new here but it implies a practical outworking of aspects of His name that Israel under Moses is about to experience. For example, after the battle against Amalek in Exo 17 the Lord reveals an aspect of his name in Jehovah Nissi. (The Lord our banner) Moses is being given the privilege of entering into a new realm of relationship. The Lord continues His encouragement to Moses about that which he is about to do (vs 4-8).
Much of this was first spoken to Moses in chapter 3 but we see it is now more personalized. Jehovah God was now going to work through Moses in a level not even seen through the patriarchs. This had to embolden and encourage him. We have been hearing much of late about Courage and the need to be Bold in this hour. Are we up to the task? Are we ready to face the full fury and resistance of the enemy as we step more into God’s purpose? The enemy’s focus will be squarely upon those who pose the greatest threat to him. Detours around the vision of Zion are one of his tactics; an easier and more palatable message that does not offend the congregation is becoming more the norm.
Israel was content to maintain status quo but they were losing sight of the call that God had for them as a nation. There is considerable preparation for the development of a leader the likes of Moses. In the last days Moses and Elijah will again resurrect in the midst of the tribulation. Will we be aligned with them? Will we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the antichrist because of taking a righteous stand for Truth? Like the Lord Jesus Himself, Moses and Elijah will be killed for their testimony (Rev 11:7). Like the Lord Jesus, Moses and Elijah will resurrect and ascend into heaven after 3 1/2 days (Rev 11:11-12).
Perhaps in some way their ascension will coincide with the man-child group that goes up in Rev 12:5. In any case we see some of the qualifications in being part of the man-child company in Revelation which speaks to our day. Can you see the parallels between these accounts in Exodus with our day? Moses was coming face to face with the personification of evil in the form of Pharaoh. Moses has the backing of (JEHOVAH) as seen in verse 3. Pharaoh has the backing of Satan. This is a vivid portrayal of what is to come. Once again we see that the people reject Moses due to their cruel bondage. They were not in a position to see what God was preparing. This is why we must watch being overly busy in our day to day life. Busyness can justify what we do while yet missing the still small voice of what God is trying to say. Busyness in ministry can even be more damaging because we equate work and accomplishments oftentimes by worldly accounting mechanisms. I am sure that King Saul felt like he accomplished God’s objectives in his battle against the Amalekites (1 Sam 15). He won a victory and took great spoils. By worldly standards this would be a major accomplishment. Regretfully, it was not the fulfilment of what God required. (To obey is better than sacrifice-1 Sam 15:22) We must be very careful in allowing ourselves to be over-burdened. In Israel’s case they really did not have much choice in totally understanding what God was about to do. They were slaves under great bondage. We have the advantage of years and history; we are without excuse. May God grant that we not only be CALLED, but that we also be CHOSEN, (Isa 48:10) and ultimately FAITHFUL to the last day tasks that God has for us as a church and as individuals.
The account of John the Baptist and how he stood for righteousness is recorded in verses 1-14. Some points of note: 1) John’s life obviously made an impression due to Herod thinking that Jesus was actually John being raised from the dead. This does give great insight as to how effective John’s ministry was. May this be said of us! 2) He stood against the ruler (Herod) regarding his desire to marry his brother’s wife. 3) John’s righteous stand ended up costing him his life.
Imagine the limelight John had in his visible ministry prior to the Lord coming on the scene. All eyes were upon him. At the pinnacle of his ministry he recognized the Lamb of God and quickly stated that “he must decrease” (John 3:30). This is worthy of some thought and meditation. Can some of today’s limelight leaders who are being used mightily, come to such a place if the Lord required it? Could such a leader accept imprisonment and ultimate death for taking a righteous stand for TRUTH? How shallow and weak we are today. I feel this is one the reasons why Jesus went to great lengths to speak of the greatness of John. John the Baptist knew his boundaries in ministry and did not go beyond them. It is sad today when ministers who are greatly used of God and because of success and favour seek to push the limits of the kingdom beyond God’s appointed boundaries. If God is speaking expansion then by all means pursue it but there is a need to know what we are called to do and flow in that calling in alignment with His Spirit. John the Baptist was truly a great man for more reasons than we often give him credit for.
The balance of Math 14 is primarily the account of when Jesus fed the multitude with the loaves and fishes. This will be developed further when we look at John 6 however I would like to highlight a familiar verse regarding Peter. In the midst of a stormy night upon the sea the disciples saw Jesus walking towards them upon the waters. This must have been a frightening sight because at first they did not recognize Him. (vs 25-26) The 4th watch would have been between 3 AM to 6 AM. Once Jesus made Himself known we see Peter speak up with an unusual request.
Mat 14:28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
What a question to ask, is this normal? I believe the Lord was placing a measure of Faith into his heart that then prompted the question. The Lord responded to Peter by saying “COME”, If Peter would have stepped outside the boat prior to that Word of faith being given he would not have stood. In some languages (Like Hindi) the word for faith and believe are the same. (Biswas) They are different words and they are illustrated here. Faith is a substance. (Heb 11:1) Faith is a noun, it is a tangible thing. Faith must be coupled with an action. The word “believe” is a verb which is something that we can do. I believe The Lord put Faith into Peter’s spirit to prompt the question, if it is you, bid me to come unto you. The Lord then said “COME” which then allowed Peter to put “belief” into action by stepping out of the boat. The woman with the issue of blood is another good example of this:
Mat 9:20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
Mat 9:21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
Mat 9:22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
This woman saw Jesus in the distance and felt that if she could but touch the hem of His garment she would be healed. She obviously heard about Jesus and knew of His reputation but on this day there was a measure of “Faith” that God placed in her spirit. She saw Him, She had the faith but there was still an action required. She believed that as she pressed through the crowd and touched Him she would be healed. In the midst of the crowd Jesus turned around and asked who had touched Him? Because this woman touched the Lord in Faith, virtue went out of Him; She got his attention and in so doing the Lord could say, that FAITH had made her whole.
Peter could walk on water because of faith and because of his obedience to respond to that word “COME”. Immediately his faith was put to the test when he saw the storm rising up in fury against him. He took his eyes off the Lord who was the source of faith, and his ability to walk on water, and allowed the storm to overwhelm him. He no longer was standing on faith but by circumstance. What a lesson for us. The initial breakthroughs of faith will be followed by challenges and tests. It should be our prayer that we be able to continually keep our gazes upon Him at all times. This is the reason why the Lord said “O ye of little faith” after he rescued Peter. What Peter tasted and experienced was a very small foretaste of what faith is all about. This is also the reason why the Lord challenged the 70 disciples after being sent forth to heal, deliver and raise the dead. They were overjoyed at the power that they had over demons etc. Jesus reminded them to not miss the big picture, rejoice rather that your names are written in the Book of Life. (Luk 10:20) This also helps us to know the distinction between the gift of faith and the fruit of faith. We desperately need to see the miraculous and the demonstration of God’s power upon the earth but we must also remember that this is not the primary objective of the gospel. It is Christ crucified for the salvation of men and the power of the Cross to redeem each of us to the uttermost.
Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
This is a picture of the fruit of faith. Jesus was constantly pointing His disciples towards this goal hence “O ye of little faith” reminders along the way. He did not want them to settle for less. Do we have the measure of “Faith” that will draw His attention? (Luk 18:8)