You know, Moses lived forty years dining on the leeks and garlic, the delicacies of Egypt. And then he fled, he ran for his life like a terrified mouse fleeing into the desert to escape the Egyptian exterminators. He spent another forty years in the Desert University. There the desert sand blasted away the memory of Egypt. This handsome Mr. Egypt, now eighty years old, had a leathered, weathered, deeply wrinkled face. He was a tired, worn out eighty year old smelly shepherd. Sort of a failure. Life was about over. He had retreated from the Oval Office and had gone all the way down to the back corner of the desert.
In the first chapters of Exodus we read about his desert training. Exodus 4 is the subject of our study today.
The root Hebrew word for desert is da-bar which means to Speak! The desert is a place where God speaks to us. That's just what Moses needed. It's quiet there. God's still small voice can be clearly heard. Moses needed the desert.
You may be about to enter, or you may be in a desert chapter in your own personal life. Maybe the doctor just found a lump or perhaps you are single and have about given up hope of finding a mate. Deserts get lonely. Dry.
Maybe you're in a desert today. You may be going through a very difficult experience right now where all your plans for success seem to have dehydrated in the desert blasts of life. Your desert could be a failed marriage. Maybe you are journeying through tough times spending your energy caring for elderly parents. Perhaps some crisis has sidelined you and at your age you feel you can never again be used. You need to listen to the story of Moses because there are some real lessons here.
Maybe your desert ordeal could be an inadequate house trailer or a broken heart from a spouse that is unfaithful. Maybe your career was ruined or you were a flop in school. Whatever it might be, you need to know that God has not forgotten you., that God still loves you. God did not forget Moses.
Deuteronomy 32:10 This is a very exciting verse. In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye... God did that for Israel. He did that for Moses. Notice in this verse what God does.
God did that for Moses. So, remember God. Trust in God. And if you are in some bleak desert today, remember God, trust in God.
Last week we learned that God called Moses at the burning bush. That bush was flammable. Too many Christians today are made of asbestos. We would never burn for God. You have to be burnable to be used of God. God was looking for Moses to set him on fire. God had a lot easier time lighting that bush on fire than He did setting Moses on fire. Moses wasn't going to be involved in the exodus.
God's plan was simple. I will send you. We will bring my people out of Egypt. That's pretty easy. Ex. 3:10
But Moses was mousy. Desert life had changed Moses. He was withdrawn, backward and bashful. Forty years before he would have got out and changed the whole world. Now, he doesn't want to do things. So when God came to recruit him, he told God he was a conscientious objector. He couldn't do this. He threw out every excuse in the book. Mousey Moses looked for a mouse hole to hide in.
His first excuse: Exodus 3:11- I am a Nobody. God said, the important thing is not who you are but who I am. Now, isn't that the truth?
Second excuse is in Exodus 3:13 - I don't know enough. His knowledge wasn't where it aught to be he said. I don't even know your name. God said, "I Am who I Am." I will be your resource. You know, with God you don't have to know much.
Another big excuse: Exodus 4:1 Moses started the "What If" game. Have you ever played a "what if game?" What if I had just done this...? My husband wouldn't have died. What if I had just done that...? What if.... Hypothetical problems were brought up. "What if they don't believe me? They're not going to believe me. Lord, I've been there in Egypt. I know those people. One look at me and they will laugh. I am a worn out old man from the back side of the desert. I would look like Daniel Boone stepping into the Pentagon. Nobody would believe me. They will laugh me to scorn."
Do you use the "what if" objection with God when He calls you? Moses used it so much that he worried so much about what might happen and that he could not hear what God said would happen. We need to listen more to God than to our objections. God decided to back up Moses' weak faith.
Notice in Exodus 4:2-4 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied. The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground." Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand.
I think it was a big poisonous serpent. You don't run from a garter snake. Don't you know that? It took a heap of courage to reach out and grab that snake by the tail. Would you do that to a rattlesnake? Not me. I don't like snakes. When did that snake become a staff again? In his hand. Not until it got in his hand did it become a staff. There's a lesson in that.
Next God showed Moses how He could heal. Leprosy was unhealable. But our God specializes in doing the un-do-able. And He can do that in your life.
Moses was still unconvinced. He stammered still another excuse: I am slow of speech. Verse 10. I have been around sheep twenty- four hours a day and all they say is Baa! I am no longer articulate in the Egyptian language. I doubt if I can read hieroglyphics any more. I am not your man.
Exodus 4:13 But Moses said, "Please Lord, send someone else to do it" send anybody but me! Excuses! Excuses! I am too old. I have a family now. The journey is too long.
We are like Moses. Lord, I am so sleepy, I will skip church today. I don't have time to pray. I am too old to teach the children a Sabbath School lesson. I'm getting too... get anybody else but me. Excuses!
So God said, "I will get your brother, Aaron, to help you." Only after Aaron was added to the task force did Moses become yielded to God's will. Actually Moses didn't need Aaron. All Moses needed was God. You don't need somebody else. What you need is the "I AM." We don't need more time or money... If you have God you are fully equipped.
Moses probably thought How am I going to feed two million in the desert? What are they going to drink? I know what this desert is all about. It's hot out here. You can't have two million people out here. There's nothing to eat except grass and there's not much of that. What plan do you have to protect all these people? I need to see what's going to happen here. Can you share with me the whole picture? How often God chooses not to share the whole map with us. Have you noticed that in your life? God doesn't share the whole map. The largest part is missing. And not until you get to the edge of the map are you given a little more map. God says: "When you get to the end of part one, part two will be in view. Just trust Me. I am the Way. If you're following Me you're on course." Our duty is to follow.
We learn as we obey God. Just enough light is given for us to do His will and no more. One ray of light, surrounded by darkness falls in a faint circle around our path. Why ask for more? If we had more, it might scare us. If we could see the future we might not be able to handle it. Let's be satisfied with the light we have.
MOSES RETURNS TO EGYPT:
Moses returns to Egypt, but before he does, he must inform somebody so look at Genesis 4:18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, "Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive." Is that the reason he wanted to go ? He knew they were alive. He's not telling the truth here, is he. At least not the whole truth.
When God calls you to ministry you need to communicate it to your household. He needed to tell Jethro. Moses' family had not had the blessing of the burning bush. In all your zealousness don't forget to prepare your family for what could be a major change in their life. Before Moses could lead out in the great Exodus he must properly manage his own exodus from Jethro and from his own family.
You might expect Moses to say to Jethro, "I was watching sheep one day and suddenly I saw a bush burning as bright as lightning and God has commissioned me to be the deliverer and lead two million people in a grand Exodus out of Egypt to the promised land." But Moses didn't say that. He was mousy.
Instead, he said, "Let me go see my friends in Egypt. I might tour the Pyramids and take a cruise down the Nile. I have worked for you forty years and I need a vacation." Moses did not tell his father-in-law the whole story. And did you notice that God allowed him to do it. God doesn't expect you to have unblemished perfection yet. Moses was growing and that is what God looks for.
Now, Jethro was a flexible man. Notice his response: Genesis 4:18 Go, and I wish you well. In the King James Version the word "peace" is used. That beautiful Hebrew word "Shalom." Do we use that word sometimes? What a blessing to have a kind Father-in-law.
Notice how considerate God is. Look at verse nineteen. Exodus 4:19 Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead." Your wanted poster is no longer on the wall in all the Egyptian post offices. They're not looking for you anymore. Your enemies are all dead, it is safe to return. Now He tells him that. Now that he's agreed to go. Isn't God considerate? God knows what we worry about. Not a single fear escapes Him. He wants to answer those worries.
I Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. NLT
Exodus 4:20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and headed back to the land of Egypt. In his hand he carried the staff of God. Do you see something shocking in this verse? This is an eye-opener. I missed this. When we are suppose to study the Bible we are supposed to compare scripture with scripture, line upon line.... Isaiah 28:10 KJV Look at verse 2 of Exodus 4. What did Moses have in his hand? "A Staff." Look at verse 20... what did Moses have in his hand? "The staff of God." See that?! The same piece of wood. Now it's been transformed. It's not just a staff anymore, he's got the staff of God in his hand. Do you see that?? Whatever you place in God's hands becomes God's.
Mousy Moses becomes Mighty Moses! It is no longer Moses' staff but the Staff of God. God had touched his staff and his life. Here is a great lesson. Whenever you recognize that the assets that you have belong to God you've come a long way. You've taken a major step, a quantum leap. Whatever you place in God's hands becomes His.
If you are a carpenter your hammer becomes God's hammer to do His work. If you are a mechanic, that wrench in your hand becomes God's wrench. Do you see the difference? Moses' staff became God's staff. It was a constant reminder that weak things become strong when they are given to God. Place yourself in God's hands and He will strengthen you immeasurably.
Now, here's a strange verse: Exodus 4:24. This verse is really strange. Exodus 4:24, 25 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. Did you get that? They're at Motel 6 or wherever it was that they were staying. God was about to kill Moses! Why would He do that? Let's read on... But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said. What's all that about? Well, you bloody husband. That's all you want is blood.
I think what happened here is that Moses comes down with a fatal sickness that God allowed because he's dying. His wife would be a widow, his children would be fatherless, and his people undelivered. When you are dying you examine your life to be sure all your sins are cared for. His conscience searched every corner of his heart with her lighted torch. And suddenly there in a far dark corner crouched a hidden sin.
Something he had not taken care of. Moses had apparently not circumcised his youngest son. He should have done that. Here he's going to make sure all of Israel is circumcised, his own son is not circumcised. How could God bless Moses when he had neglected known duty in his life? It seems that Zipporah feared that her husband would be slain and so she got the knife and performed the surgery that he had failed to do. You wives, if your husband fails to have family worship which is his duty, you must lead out in Bible study and prayer to save your family.
Is there an area of neglect in your life that is disappointing God? Some secret sin that is limiting your spiritual success? Maybe God is saying: You can't grow in your walk with Me until you are willing to deal with this problem. Moses would never have been our hero while there was private known sin existing in his family. The boy was circumcised and the family went back home while Moses journeyed on by himself.
The next thing that happens is in verse 27. Moses had sent his family back home. Afterwards he went on alone. But God knew that he needed a companion. And so, who did God send? Aaron. Moses' older brother. And where did they meet? There in the corner of the desert, back behind Mount Sinai. The desert summit was held at a remote location in the wilderness near Mt Sinai. (Exodus 4:27) How did they know to do that? Was Moses carrying a pager or a cell-phone? There were no phones, or pagers. You know, God knows where we are at every stage of life. He knows where we're going to be on every certain day. Yet God was working behind the scenes to accomplish His purposes. He knew exactly where Moses would be and when to schedule the surprise meeting. Moses might have thought, what a coincidence. Here comes my brother. How often in our life what we would call a coincidence is really God trying to work for our benefit! God knows where our Aarons are. Our brother-like companion and assistant.
They met, they hugged, they kissed. Exodus 4:28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform. Aaron bought into the idea. Now there was a team of two to go and see Pharaoh. Jesus sent His disciples out two by two. It is easier when there are two of you that are together in your efforts to serve God.
From the foot of Mount Sinai they headed off to tell the Israelite leaders about the secret plan. Moses would be their deliverer. This time they did not scoff at Moses. They didn't jeer at him and say, who appointed you as our leader. They accepted him. This time it was in God's timing. Things go so much better when we wait for God's leading. Exodus 4:31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. Praise God for that.
They were touched almost to tears that God had heard their prayers and was going to rescue them. Now, the devil would have you think that your prayers are not going past the ceiling, that God has forgotten your problems. "Lord, I need a job...My teenagers are going the wrong direction...The doctor told me I might die from this disease...I am almost ready to give up under the load I have...Lord please help me. Have you forgotten me????"
Has He forgotten? No, God hears and God will answer. But He answers in His time. He has a solution to your problems. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and to give you a future.
Our part is to trust God and have patience. His answer will come.
Opening Hymn: 8 Scripture: Exodus 4:1-5 Closing Hymn: 524 'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus 990501Gettys#458
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last updated 5/04/99 by Bob Beckett.