Old Testament Study:

Haggai 2:1-9

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Moses Continues to Resist God’s Call

 

4:1Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

2Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

“A staff,” he replied.

3The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4Then 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. 5“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.”

6Then the Lord said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.

7“Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

8Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. 9But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”

10Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

13But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”

14Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. 15You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it.”

 

Moses has just received the call of God to bring His people out of Egypt.  However, Moses has been resisting God’s call.  So, God laid out His entire plan to Moses, telling him everything that would happen in Egypt (see Ex. 3:15-22).  Moses’ response to all this must surely have been exasperating to God:  “Moses answered, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The Lord did not appear to you”?’” (vs. 4:1).  Was Moses listening?  Did he hear what God had just said?  God had just promised:  “The elders of Israel will listen to you” (Ex. 3:18).  Yet, Moses continued in stubborn resistance.

God, in all patience, graciously gave three signs for Moses to use as proof that God had spoken to him.  The first sign:  “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.  ‘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’” (vss. 2–5).  This sign demonstrated the presence of God with Moses, for who else could transform a wooden staff into a living snake.  True, as we will see later, the magicians in Pharaoh’s court imitated this sign.  But key here is that God used Moses own staff, not a prearranged trick staff.  In the case of God’s sign, there was no illusion involved.

The second sign:  “Then the Lord said, ‘Put your hand inside your cloak.’  So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.  ‘Now put it back into your cloak,’ he said.  So Moses put his hand back into his cloak and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.  Then the Lord said, ‘If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second’” (vss. 6–8).  God here used Moses’ own body, his hand, to perform a sign.  Interestingly, but not surprisingly, we have no evidence that Moses used this sign.  I can understand that Moses would hesitate to want to turn his own hand leprous! 

Many see in this sign a symbol God’s redemptive power.  Leprosy, in the Bible, is used as a symbolic type of sin.  For God to clear the leprosy, so that the skin showed no more sign of it, is reflective of His ability to forgive our sins, as if they had never occurred.  This is truly a sign we should delight in.

The third sign:  “But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground.  The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground” (vs. 9).  This sign would show that God has power over the existence and sustenance of the Egyptians.  It would also show that God has dominion over the false gods of the Egyptians.  The Nile River was crucial to the survival of the Egyptians.  If God could taint the waters of the Nile, despite the prayers of the Egyptians to their gods, this would demonstrate His power over the false gods.

Even after being given these wonderful signs, Moses continued in his stubbornness:  “Moses said to the Lord, ‘O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.  I am slow of speech and tongue.’  The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth?  Who makes him deaf or mute?  Who gives him sight or makes him blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’” (vss. 10–12).  Moses felt that he didn’t have the verbal skills to serve God in the way he was being asked.  Yet God, who sees the end from the beginning, knew that Moses would be successful, and already told him so.  Certainly, God knows what means of service are suitable for us.  And even if we are not suited for some means of service, God is certainly capable of giving us the skills to be successful.  “Moses completely missed the message of God’s name and God’s miraculous power. ‘I Am’ is all that we need in every circumstance of life, and it’s foolish for us to argue, ‘I am not.’  If God can turn rods into serpents and serpents into rods, if He can cause and cure leprosy, and if He can turn water into blood, then He can enable Moses to speak His Word with power” [Wiersbe, 19].  Indeed, the signs God gave to Moses for the people to see should have been signs for himself as well.  As we find out in the Bible, Moses did turn out to be a great leader—one of the greatest the world has known—and any defect he had in verbal skills did not hinder him from being a great leader.

God had answered all of Moses’ protestations, so finally Moses spoke his true feelings:  “But Moses said, ‘O Lord, please send someone else to do it’” (vs. 13).  Moses just did not want to interrupt his peaceful life in Midian, and go and serve his Lord.  “Moses calls Him ‘Lord’ and yet refuses to obey His orders” [Wiersbe, 19].  We are lazy.  We like the status quo.  We are slow to get up and change things in our life, even when our Lord is calling us to.  Yet, what is better in life than to serve the Lord of the Universe?  What could be more fulfilling than to do His bidding?  Years later, do you think that Moses regretted heeding the call of God?  Most certainly not!

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