Through the Word: Moses and Doubt

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Exodus 4

When God outlined his plan Moses had his doubts. He worried about not being believed or listened to.

What’s that in your hand?” God asked.

“A staff,” Moses replied.

God gave Moses some supernatural signs to use; one of the signs was with his staff.

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. “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.” Exodus 4:3-5

God can use whatever comes to hand when needed.

Even after Moses was given some powers, he still doubted his own ability;

I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

Obstinately, Moses turned God down; “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” Exodus 4:11-13

Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses. Exodus 4:14.

This is the first time we see the Lord having any emotion toward a person.

Why? It’s about faithlessness.

When he gave Moses’ ancestor Abraham the covenant of circumcision, he said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Genesis 17:1-2

God wanted Abraham to walk before him without culpability, fault, guilt, incrimination.  That’s what being blameless means. He wants no part of faithlessness.

Psalm 101 speaks of being blameless and it says, “I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.” Psalm 101:3

So acting with faith and making mistakes is better than deeds without faith. Doubt closes up the power flow.

The Lord had shown Himself to Moses, given him some powers, promised to help him speak and yet Moses still turned him down. But God already had a ‘plan B.’ He’d sent for Aaron to help in case Moses refused to cooperate, “He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you.” Exodus 4:14

God does have contingencies in case we don’t obey him out of our free will.

So far this is perfectly understandable. But now it gets weird.

So Moses headed for Egypt; “At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. 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. So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.) Exodus 4:24-26

What’s happened here? One minute God wants to use Moses and the next minute he’s about to kill him?

The Covenant

It goes back to a covenant that God made with Moses’ ancestor Abraham in Genesis;

“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.”

Genesis 17:7-14

God gave Abraham the rite of circumcision as the specific sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. The land covenant was unconditional, but the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision was conditional. Anyone not circumcised would break the covenant.

God said to Abraham, “Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” Genesis 17:14

God couldn’t have Moses breaking the covenant. Why did Moss not obey? Growing up as an Egyptian in the royal palace, he wouldn’t have known the God of Abraham. Was he following the faith of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian? Jethro was probably serving a different God from Abraham, ergo no circumcision.

Moses had to learn not to be faithless or think he could practise religion his own way.

Zipporah obviously knew about the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision, or she found out really quickly. Her obedience saved Moses.

Moses met Aaron at the Mountain of God, that would be Horeb, the site of the burning bush. Together they went to Egypt.

Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. Exodus 4:29-30

Related posts:

Through the Word: the “I AM” in Genesis

Psalm 101, The way that is blameless

Through the Word: Tamar

Genesis 38

The story of Joseph is interrupted by Judah and Tamar.

Have you heard the saying, “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relatives?”

God can, and he was watching the family line of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob and Leah, closely. This family line was going to be in the genealogy of Jesus through Judah, see Matthew 1.

But Judah mixed with the Canaanites and married Shua, a Canaanite woman. They had three sons, Er, Onan and Shelah.

Judah found a wife for Er called Tamar. Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord killed him.

There was a custom, later codified into Levitical law, where the brother marries the widow so the family line is continued and the property stays in the family. So Onan married Tamar.  

But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother.  And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; therefore He killed him also.” Genesis 38:9-10

So goodbye Er and Onan. Judah told Tamar to remain a widow in her father’s house till his son Shelah was grown – but Judah had no intention of marrying them off; “Lest he also die like his brothers” he thought. He’s obviously blaming Tamar for the deaths, not God.

Tamar went and dwelt in her father’s house while Judah ‘forgot’ about her. The years passed and she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given to him as a wife. So she took matters into her own hands.

Finding out Judah was going to Timnah to shear his sheep, Tamar took off her widow’s garments, covered herself with a veil and and sat by the road to Timnah. She must have known Judah well enough to know how he’d react.

When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, because she had covered her face. So Judah hired Tamar as a prostitute. They negotiated payment;

 And he said, “I will send a young goat from the flock.”

So she said, “Will you give me a pledge till you send it?”

Then he said, “What pledge shall I give you?”

So she said, “Your signet and cord, and your staff that is in your hand.”

Tamar conceived and went back to her home and her widow’s clothes. Judah turned up with the goat but couldn’t find her.

About three months later, Judah was told Tamar was pregnant.

So Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!”

He wanted her killed because she’d committed adultery against Shelah!

When she was brought out, she sent to her father-in-law, saying, “By the man to whom these belong, I am with child.” And she said, “Please determine whose these are—the signet and cord, and staff.”

So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.” And he never knew her again.

Perez

Tamar gave birth to twin boys, Perez and Zerah. Zerah put his hand out first and the midwife took a scarlet thread and bound it on his hand. But Zerah withdrew his hand and Perez was born first.

Perez is in the genealogy of Jesus;  Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Matthew 1:2-3

Normally the mothers aren’t mentioned in the genealogy, but Tamar is, along with Rahab a Canaanite, and Ruth a Moabite.

The Book of Ruth has this strange blessing;  where the the elders and all the people at the gate of Bethlehem Ephrathah said, “Through the offspring the Lord gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah.”

Why did Tamar get this special honour? Is it because she refused to be forgotten, and she held Judah accountable? Who knows, but God honours vows.


Perez became the ancestral leader of the Perezite clan (Genesis 46:12; Numbers 26:20). The family was well respected and when the Israelites returned from captivity in Babylon, 468 Perezites were chosen to live in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 9:4; Nehemiah 11:4, 6). The Bible says they were “all outstanding men.” Source: Got Questions

Five generations of the family tree of the Messiah are hidden within the text of Genesis 38. The names Boaz, Ruth, Obed, Jesse, and David are placed in chronological order at 49-letter intervals.

Discern, I pray thee, whose sign this is?

The Bible codes or Torah codes are hidden texts within the Hebrew texts, discovered by Israel mathmetician Eliyahu Rips in the 1990s. Hebrew characters have a numerical value and it was with these and computers that messages were discovered using equidistant letter sequences. It’s like a watermark or stamp of authenticity. The codes are not needed as the plain meaning speaks for itself, but the codes are real, they’re interesting and they prove the Bible is the inspired word of God.

Here we have the text from Genesis 38:25, “Discern, I pray thee, whose sign this is.”

The hidden text spells out, “God encoded, God is truth.

Veiled Faces

It’s interesting that in Canaanite practise it was harlots who covered their faces. Don’t the Mohammedans know that? They’re all descended from Abraham.


Related post, the scarlet thread …

The gift of the Shepherd

The Lord is My ShepherdTired and drained, she stood by the fire inside in her father’s house, trying to get warm, and trying not to look at her father’s empty chair.  The shepherd’s staff leaned in the corner near the chair, unnoticed. 

In the land of the Kingdom, she wearily trudged through the Valley of the Shadow of death, stopping at her father’s house for the sad task of sorting out his belongings.  “One of you girls can take that,” Sally his widow said, suddenly noticing the staff. She recognised it.

“That’s my old crook” she remarked.

“It was down in his workshop,” Sally said, “He’d made it down there the other day, but he was too weak to walk back up the path.  I found him leaning on it, unable to move. It’s yours, please take it.”

Her sisters gave her his car.  As she got the engine running, a thin stream of water shot out of the radiator, landing in an arc on the concrete in front of her sisters.  Sighing, she cracked an egg into the radiator water, praying it would hold until she could get the leak fixed.

Obviously her father had been too ill to maintain the car.  It still had all his stuff in it, the paperback he’d been reading was face down on the seat where he’d left it. Putting the crook in the back of the car with the rest of his stuff, she concentrated on getting the car back to Wanganui.

At home she put the crook in the corner of the room and cried.  It was more than she could cope with. The endless winter days felt like a long, dark valley where she did not laugh and she did not smile.  Again the humble crook stayed unnoticed until finally, the God of all comfort came.

Her tear filled eyes were drawn to the staff.  She noticed it had been varnished.  Mindful of the care taken in its preservation, she asked “Does this crook have some significance?”

The Shepherd replied, giving her some dates, and a number.  “From the day you left Napier on the 4th day of August 1971, to the day of your Father’s death on the 4th day of August 1994, 23 years were written in my book. When your father leaned on the staff, I was there.  Now the time for your father has ended, and you will go on. Read Psalm 23. It will be familiar to you.”

   The Lord is my shepherd,
   I shall not want;
He makes me lie down in green pastures.

   He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness

   for His name’s sake.

  Even though I walk through the valley
   of the shadow of death,
   I will fear no evil;
   for you are with me;
   Your rod and Your staff comfort me.  Psalm 23

Carried back to the place where she had first encountered the Shepherd in the valley, she smiled at him through her tears.  She could see the hills, the sheep, the creek and the quiet pool by the willows. “This is the place where we first met” she said, wiping away her tears as her eyes lingered on the crook, the shepherd’s staff.

Taking the staff in her hands she ran her fingers over the smooth wood, remembering.  The staff had come back to her as a great gift from the Shepherd, and it comforted her.   She wiped her eyes and said “It’s true. Your rod and your staff … comfort me.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” the Lord replied. (Matthew 5:4)

Encounter in the valley

The road leading to the farm was a narrow gravel road that few bothered with unless they had a reason to travel it. 

The farm

‘Mount Zion,’ a neighbouring farm lay further up the road.  In the Kingdom of God, Mount Zion is both the city of David and the city of God, “the Jerusalem above that is free.”  Galatians 4:26

The farm lay in a lovely valley.  It was hard hill country, a land of rugged slopes crowned with flat topped hills.

Joanna’s favourite place on her farm was a field named ‘Swamp.’  It lay at the bottom of the hill, over the fence from the wool shed and the farm cottage they called the ‘Whare’.  Swamp was bordered by a willow lined creek on one boundary, and a narrow poplar lined gravel road on the other.

Kapok and elm trees grew by the bridge.  The Kaukatea creek ran into a silent pool which the sun drew pictures on with its fingers.

She liked it there because it was very green, even in summer, and the voice of the water was easy on her ears.  The shadows and rustle of leaves through the Kapok trees made it a quiet, soothing place.  Purple Pukeka birds with their bright orange beaks liked it there too, making their homes in the rushes.

The King chose that quiet place by the creek for their first real meeting.

Joanna was at work helping her father move some sheep, positioned to head them off by the gate.  It took a long time for the sheep to move her way.  Waiting, she stood idle in the sun.  Lulled by the birds and the gurgle of the creek, she leaned on her crook and thought about nothing, until He came.

His warm presence added to the peace and felt like sunlight, filling the pleasant and soothing place where she stood.  She felt totally safe with him.

Afterwards she recalled the words having a feeling attached to them, although she could not remember exactly what was said.  He talked about growing up – she remembered that, and he talked about women.  It was almost like having a talk with a really loving mother, except this was a ‘He’.  She didn’t know who it was.

By the time she heard the dogs and the sheep coming, she had begged him to stay.  She never told her parents – they would have scoffed at her and her ‘big imagination’, but she did tell my younger brother and sisters about it.

They didn’t know who he was either.  “Perhaps it was Mother Mary?” one of her sisters said.  They weren’t Catholic; it was just that the song “Let It Be” by the Beatles was popular at that time.  “No, He just spoke like I imagine a loving mother would” she replied.  Who was He?  It would be years before she found out.