Exo.4:1 – Faith is integral to the mission-task. Faith in God is primary to Mission; whether people will believe or not is not what the missionary should worry about. Of course their unbelief is a hindrance to their salvation; but, the missionary is called first to begin with faith in God and must not allow fear of human rejection to prevent him from obeying the divine commission.
Also, God’s missionary is not worried about credentials, recognition, security, and human support. The Call is his motivation, his direction, his qualification, his identity, and his goal. (Phil.3:13,14). A man recognized by God needs no recognition from men (Gal.2:6). He calls men to belief, but his calling is not affected by their response.
“Suppose…” This is Moses’ lack of confidence in himself, which is good in a way because our confidence must be in God and not in flesh; however, here, Moses has not yet been able to replace lack of confidence in self with confidence in God. He is troubled by his low self-image because he is still not able to derive his identity from his relationship with God. While humility and meekness is a great virtue (for self-emptying allows God to fully work through our lives), self-humiliation and poor self-image that proceeds from not taking God into account can hinder a person from obeying God fully.
Also, Moses seems to feel very much unqualified for the task that God is calling him to. As much as we understand, Moses knew the Egyptians and also he knew the Israelites very well (Acts 7:21,22; Heb.11:24-27). God’s task was not just to deliver out a people; it was to lead them, to bring them to the Promised Land. Any expert in politics will understand that to lead a people who have been in bondage for 4 centuries; to organize, to convince them to obey, and that without force or power (or by vile means of deception), was not humanly possible. Also, to convince the Egyptians to let these slaves go was a task equally difficult. And then, why should the people believe the words of Moses? Jonah didn’t ask that question. He knew that if God was sending him, what mattered was whether people believed his words or not; and if they believed, they were going to repent and be saved; so, he fled because he didn’t want God to have mercy on the Ninevites. In Moses’ case, however, it seems to have been different. It seems that Moses, because of his experience in the past, knew that these people were a generation of unbelievers (Acts 7:27,28, 35,36,39,51) and the mission of salvation could not be accomplished if the word was not received with faith (Num 14:11; Heb.4:1,2; 3:16-19; Jude 1:5; 2Chr.20:20). The objective work of God must be received subjectively by the free exercise of faith. Unbelief is the barrier to Mission.
But, more definitely, Moses was thinking that there was nothing to back his claim to have listened from God. What if they said that Moses did not hear from God? How would he be able to convince them? Contrast this to the approach of Jesus: Jn.5:23-24, 30, 36,37,38; 6:44; 8:16,18,29,42; 10:36-38; 12:47-50; 20:21-22).
Exo.4:2 – God answers by granting Moses three signs to perform that He said would unquestionably convince the people that Moses was sent by God. First, he asks him what is in his hand. Moses replies, “A rod.” The rod becomes God’s first sign. In fact, it is a living sign; for the rod that became a snake becomes a rod again and would become a snake again if the people wouldn’t believe. The rod was no longer a dead wood.
Also, there was a possessive transformation in the rod that till now belonged to Moses. In Exo.4:17, this rod is assigned a place in the mission-task; in Exo.4:20, it is referred to, henceforth, as “the rod of God”.
When God calls a person, He takes all that belongs to him; he is no longer his own, all that he is and all that he has belongs to Christ.
Exo 4:3 – God’s missionary has to learn to leave his false sense of security behind; he has only one security: God.
Moses felt very insecure about himself when God told him to go to Egypt. Here, in the wilderness, he felt secure with his rod in hand. He used this rod to protect himself and his sheep. The rod was a symbol of security to him. But, God tells him to cast it down. And, when he does that the rod becomes a serpent, the very opposite of security. Earlier, if Moses would have seen a snake, he would have killed it with his rod; but, what would you do when your only source of security becomes a threat? Moses fled from it.
Firstly, we can’t just stay anywhere or go anywhere else and still be secure if we have rejected the will of God. If God desires me to go to Nineveh, and I think Nineveh is violent and dangerous, Tarshish can never be more secure.
Secondly, unless I let go off my present securities for Christ, I can never serve Him. Peter had to leave his secure business in order to become a fisher of men. But, before that he had an experience of true security in Christ that he never could forget–the fruitless toil of the night and the miracle of the fish catch at Jesus’ command. Their business had loss risks, but with Jesus supernatural provision is assured. Jesus told the disciples whom He sent to carry neither purse nor extra baggage. In other words, He wanted them to learn that God’s ministry can only be done with resources provided by God.
What is this rod that I think gives me security greater than God? What is this rod that I need to cast to the ground in order for it to become the rod of God?
Exo 4:4 God wants us to take hold of our object of fear by its tail. That is not the worldly way of doing it. That is foolishness in the world’s eyes. You don’t catch a serpent by its tail; you have to nib its head, demobilize it or crush it. But, God tells Moses to grab the serpent by its tail. Why? Because God holds the serpent’s head. The serpent cannot harm the believer (Mark 16:17).
God doesn’t rebuke Moses for his fear. God helps him overcome it. After this episode, Moses will never fear serpents. He is also going to overcome an inner fear more vicious than the external one. God’s first sign addresses the problem of Moses’ fear. I think it is a sign more useful for Moses than for the Israelites or for Pharaoh; for, Moses has to learn that God holds the head of our object of fear so that fear can have no power over us.
Exo 4:5 – Fearlessness is the primary virtue of the missionary. Fearlessness, courage, or boldness is an attribute of faith, hope, and love. The one who has faith doesn’t fear because he knows the truth. The one who loves doesn’t fear because love gives a person confidence before the beloved. This love is not that carnal love that is afraid of rejection and so is slavish. The love of God fearlessly and freely loves; the only fear is not of being hurt but of hurting (filial fear). Similarly, the one who has hope cannot fear because the future is not dark for him anymore. He has light, the light that hope lights in the darkness. Thus, the man of God is fearless with regard to the present and the future.
“The God of Abraham….” the only God who has ultimate creative power. The One who created the world can also turn a rod into a snake, a real snake that would eat up snakes of the Egyptian magicians. But, more specifically He is the God of Covenant, not a God that a tribe chose, but the God who chose the tribe and created her. He alone is worthy and able to redeem her.
In the NT, it is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without the New Covenant of Christ, NT mission would have been impossible. Because Christ died, He is the Redeemer of the new Israel; but, as it was in the old so also in the new, only those who believe will enter the rest.
There is a Past rootedness (God of….), Present mission, and a Future vision (the Land).