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.
Our duty to our Lord in this world requires that we should do somewhat more than live a life of obedience to Him. Our obedience must be acknowledged obedience. We must never be loth to say, "Whose we are, and Whom we serve." We may read this lesson writ large in the history of God's sending Moses to deliver His people. Moses went through a trial on Mount Horeb, the exact opposite of the trial of Christ.
I. Moses was tempted to decline the contest with the world altogether, to shrink from action and from prominence, when God called him. Christ was tempted to take the world by storm, to overwhelm it with conviction.
II. Moses was full of sympathy for the poor, full of a desire to see God's ancient promises realized; but when the time came, and God said, "Now go," then, for the first time, it flashed upon Moses that he was unfit to carry out what he had so aspired to be trusted with. His eighty years of life had been given him that in its vast experience he might learn that God was all, man was nothing. He had very nearly learned it in truth; the crust or chrysalis of self was very nearly ready to drop off; it needed just this interview with God to rid him of it entirely. He had seen the miraculous powers with which he had been endowed, but he had not fully understood them, and therefore his will was pausing still.
III. The voice of God within him and without him waxed more imperious. God sternly pointed out that such eloquence as he longed for was but a secondary qualification. "Thy brother, I know that he can speak well;" the legislator need not be the orator. There is not one of us who ever complained to God of insufficient strength without finding his complaint answered either by ministration of grace or disappearance of difficulties.
IV. What interests trembled in the balance while Moses was debating! It is not for ourselves only that we shall be responsible if we debate till the time is gone.
Archbishop Benson, Boy Life: Sundays in Wellington College, p. 212.
References: Exodus 4:2.—J. Van Oosterzee, The Year of Salvation, vol. i. p. 233; S. Cox, The Bird's Nest, p. 179; F. Tucker, Rainbow round the Throne, p. 17.
Exodus 4:10(with Jdg 6:15, Jeremiah 1:6, 1 Samuel 9:21, Luke 14:18)
I. God proposes great things to men. In proportion as any call in life is great, let the heart pause and consider whether its very greatness is not a proof of its divinity.
II. We are not to look at what we are, but at what God is. When He calls He qualifies for the work.
III. What is right in itself may be perverted and abused. Timidity is right in itself, but it may be pushed into cowardice; then it becomes wrong. Self-distrust is right in itself, but if it degenerates into atheism, then it is the plague and destruction of the soul.
IV. God's call to faith is the greatest call to His universe. Our duty is to go forward to the unknown and the invisible, and live by faith. "We walk by faith, not by sight."
Parker, The City Temple, vol. iii., p. 493.
References: Exodus 4:11.—H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2677. Exodus 4:17.—J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year, Holy Week, p. 463. 4:18-7:7.—W. M. Taylor, Moses the Lawgiver, p. 61. Exodus 4:20.—J. Van Oosterzee, The Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 388. Exodus 4:21.—Parker, vol. ii., p. 44; W. Landels, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 148. Exodus 4:22, Exodus 4:23.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv., No. 1440.
Exodus 4:27This text shows us—
I. The brotherhood and affection subsisting between the different members of God's family. And this is twofold. God's people stand in a twofold relation to one another, as natural and spiritual men. As being creatures of God's hand, and common descendants of Adam, they are linked together in brotherhood. But the great brotherhood and bond of union between God's people is their brotherhood in Christ, their affinity to one another as redeemed by the same Blood, sanctified by the same Spirit, and pursuing their pilgrimage towards the same heavenly city.
II. Notice the breaches of intercourse brought about in this world between those members of God's family who have seen and known one another in the flesh. (1) Many interruptions of intercourse are brought about by providential arrangements. (2) All direct communication between brethren in the Lord is cut off by death.
III. Consider the need of and consequent yearning after each other's society and assistance which, while parted, the members of God's family experience. The need is based upon, and flows from, their spiritual constitution in one body. We are, in the design of God, constituent parts of a whole, and we are continually evincing our consciousness of this truth.
IV. Consider the blissful reunion of the sundered members of God's family in the realms of glory. There shall be a day when all the yearnings of the Christian's heart after the society of his brethren shall be satisfied to the full, when his joy snail receive its entire complement in his recognition of and intercommunication with those whom he has known and loved in the Lord.
E. M. Goulburn, Sermons in the Parish Church of Holywell, p. 205.
References: Exodus 4:27-31.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 63. 4.—Parker, vol. ii., p. 40.
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.
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.
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.