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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Exodus 4

Verses 1-17

Moses’ Divine Commission In the story of Exodus 3:1 to Exodus 4:17, God breaks the silence of four hundred without a divine visitation to His people. God now calls Moses to bring His people out of Egyptian bondage and into the Promised Land.

Divine Commissions in the Holy Scriptures - We often find a divine commission at the beginning of the story of God’ servants in the Scriptures. We see in the book of Genesis that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob each received their commissions at the beginning of their genealogies which divide the book of Genesis into major divisions. We also see how Moses received his divine commission near the beginning of his story found within Exodus to Deuteronomy. Joshua received his commission in the first few verses of the book of Joshua. Also, we see that Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel each received a divine commission at the beginning of their ministries. The book of Ezra opens with a divine call to rebuild the Temple and the book of Nehemiah begins with a call to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which callings Ezra and Nehemiah answered. In the New Testament, we find Paul the apostle receiving his divine commission in Acts 9:1-22 at the beginning of the lengthy section on Paul’s life and ministry.

Each of these divine callings support God’s original commission to Adam in the story of Creation to be fruitful and multiply, a charge to produce righteousness offspring upon the earth, for these men were called to bring the about the multiplication of godly seeds. The patriarchs were called to multiply and produce a nation of righteousness. Moses was called to bring Israel out of bondage; but he missed his calling to bring them into the Promised Land. Joshua was called to bring them in to the land. Esther was called to preserve the seed of Israel as was Noah, while Ezra and Nehemiah were called to bring them back into the Promised Land. All of the judges, the kings and the prophets were called to call the children of Israel out of sin and bondage and into obedience and prosperity. They were all called to bring God’s children out of bondage and destruction and into God’s blessings and multiplication. The stories in the Old Testament show us that some of these men fulfilled their divine commission while others either fell short through disobedience or were too wicked to hear their calling from God.

One reason why these prophets received such a mighty visitation is understood in a comment by Kenneth Hagin, who said that when the Lord gives us a vision or a word for the future, it often precedes a trial, and is used to anchor our soul and take us through the trial. [17] If we look at the lives of the three Major Prophets, this is exactly what we see. These three men faced enormous trials and objections during their ministries. Their divine commissions certain were the anchor of their souls as it gave them strength and assurance that they were in God’s will despite their difficulties. We see such dramatic encounters in the lives of Moses and Saul of Tarsus, as God gave them their divine commissions for a work that was difficult and even cost them their lives.

[17] Kenneth Hagin, Following God’s Plan For Your Life (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1993, 1994), 118.

Note the New Testament reference to this passage in Acts 7:33-34:

Acts 7:33-34, “Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.”

Exodus 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

Exodus 3:1 Comments - Note that Moses has went from the most honoured position in Egypt to the most despised occupation of Egyptians, shepherding. In Genesis 46:34, a shepherd was an abomination to the Egyptians.

Genesis 46:34, “That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.”

Exodus 3:1 Comments - It is very common that the Lord pulls young Christians aside for periods of solitude. It is during these times that God teaches His children in order to prepare them for the work that He has called them to. Moses’ time in Arabia was not wasted time, but a time for the Lord to teach him the ways of God. Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts regarding Paul’s visit to Arabia:

“O My beloved, ye do not need to make your path (like a snow plow), for lo, I say unto thee, I go before you. Yea, I shall engineer circumstances on thy behalf. I am thy husband, and I will protect thee and care for thee, and make full provision for thee. I know thy need, and I am concerned for thee: for thy peace, for thy health, for thy strength. I cannot use a tired body, and ye need to take time to renew thine energies, both spiritual and physical. I am the God of Battle, but I am also the One who said: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. And Jesus said, Come ye apart and rest a little while.

“I will teach you, even as I taught Moses on the back side of the desert, and as I taught Paul in Arabia . So will I teach you. Thus it shall be a constructive period, and not in any sense wasted time. But as the summer course to the school teacher, it is vital to thee in order that ye be fully qualified for your ministry.

There is no virtue in activity as such neither in inactivity. I minister to thee in solitude that ye may minister of Me to others as a spontaneous overflow of our communion. Never labor to serve, nor force opportunities. Set thy heart to be at peace and to sit at My feet. Learn to be ready, but not to be anxious. Learn to say ‘no’ to the demands of men and to say ‘yes’ to the call of the Spirit…...Come away, My beloved, and be as the doe upon the mountains; yea, we shall go down together to the gardens.” [18]

[18] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 145-6.

Exodus 3:2 Comments - The angel that spoke to Moses was manifested as a flame of fire (see Acts 7:30, Hebrews 1:7).

Acts 7:30, “And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.”

Hebrews 1:7, “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.”

Exodus 3:5 Comments - The only other time when the Lord told man to take off his shoes was when the Captain of the Lord of Hosts met Joshua to lead him into the Promised Land.

Joshua 5:15, “And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.”

Exodus 3:5 Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Note the New Testament reference.

Acts 7:33, “Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground.”

Exodus 3:6 Comments - God revealed Himself unto Moses as “the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”.

Exodus 3:6, “Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”

This revealed to Moses that his office and ministry was to bring God’s people out of Egyptian bondage. Moses’ name, which means, “drawn out”, indicates his ministry and anointing of bringing out God’s people from bondage. However, unto Joshua the Lord revealed Himself as the “Captain of the Host of the Lord”. This name indicated that Joshua was to walk under this anointing as a warrior and lead God’s people into battle.

Abraham was a stranger in the land of Canaan. Therefore, God revealed Himself to Abraham as a stranger in this land so that Abraham would better understand his office and calling.

Exodus 3:6 Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Note references to Exodus 3:6 in the New Testament:

Matthew 22:32, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Mark 12:26, “And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?”

Luke 20:37-38, “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.”

Acts 3:13, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.”

Acts 7:32, “Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.”

Exodus 3:7 Comments - God heard the cry of the children of Israel when they were in bondage in Egypt. However, they had been in Egypt for four hundred thirty (430) years, and it was not until the bondage became so intense that they cried out to God in tears. In fact, their firstborn were being thrown into the Nile River, and this moved them to prayer with tears. This is the prayer that moved God to deliver them from their bondage.

I bring out this point because there are a number of examples in the Scriptures where God does not move until a person sows in tears. For example, we see that Rachel was barren until she cried out to her husband, “Give me children, or else I die.” (Genesis 30:1), and “God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb” (Genesis 30:22). We see how Hannah was barren for years, until she cried before the Lord, “she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. She vowed a vow…” (1 Samuel 1:10-11). God gave her a son. It was the intense cries of the Sodomites that brought God’s judgment upon those wicked cities, “And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it.” (Genesis 18:20-21)

Exodus 3:8 “unto a land flowing with milk and honey” Comments - We find in Exodus 3:8 the first use of the phrase “a land flowing with milk and honey,” a phrase that will be used twenty times in the Old Testament to refer to the Promised Land, with fifteen of those uses in the Pentateuch, one use in Joshua, and another four uses in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. We can quickly observe that milk was a sweet drink, containing lactose, and honey was the sweetest of foods to eat. The word “flowing” means abundance, of more than what is needed. Thus, it implies an overflow of blessings into the lives of other people and other nations.

We can also note a common factor in the nutritional benefits of milk and honey. Milk is necessary in a new born for develop of its immune system. Honey is found to assist and give support to an immune system because of the plant pollen that is used to make it.

Exodus 3:9 the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me Comments - Perhaps not every individual Israelite cried out to God for deliverance; but enough of them cried out to Him that it moved the heart of God to deliver them.

Exodus 3:10 Comments - Egypt is a symbol of being in bondage to pleasures and worldly lusts (Revelation 11:8).

Revelation 11:8, “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”

Exodus 3:10 Comments - The Lord told Moses to perform a great task. He revealed His name to Moses. As revealed in these next chapters, the Lord is going to equip Moses and show him how to perform this great task. Moses will use the name of God to perform this task.

Exodus 3:11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Exodus 3:11 Comments - Moses immediately looks at his own ability. It had failed to deliver the Hebrew children forty years ago in Exodus 1:11-15. Rick Joyner calls this a form of false humility in Moses that is actually the same pride that caused man to fall in the Garden of Eden. [19]

[19] Rick Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1999), 143-4.

Exodus 3:12 Comments - Note the New Testament reference to Exodus 3:12 in Acts 7:7, “And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.”

Exodus 3:14 Word Study on “I AM” Strong says the Hebrew word ( הָיַה ) (H1961) is a verb that literally means, “to be, to become, to come to pass.” The Hebrew name for God, YHWH ( יְהוָֹה ) (H3068), which means, “the self Existent or Eternal One,” is a derivative of this verb.

Comments - In this passage of Scripture, God reveals Himself in a more personal way to Moses than He had ever revealed Himself to any other man on earth, including Abraham (see Exodus 6:2-3).

This name for God reveals that God is neither subject to time nor space. He is eternal, and does not live in the present, as man does. God sees the past, present, and future all at once.

John 8:58, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

Afterwards, God reveals three of His divine aspects to Moses and the children of Israel at a time when the people needed this aspect of God's blessing. In other words, as the people of Israel faced needs in their wilderness journey, God revealed Himself by His names. We see these three aspects of the Lord in:

Exodus 15:25-26 “I am the Lord that healeth thee”

Exodus 17:15-16 - The Lord thy victor or banner

Exodus 31:13 “I am the LORD that doth sanctify you”

This order follows Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

A person must first have a personal experience with God. Then, the Lord begins to reveal Himself to those who seek Him.

YHWH:

Exodus 6:2-3, “And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”

The Lord our Healer:

Exodus 15:25-26, “And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee .”

The Lord our Banner:

Exodus 17:15-16, “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it

Jehovahnissi: For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

The Lord who Sanctifies:

Exodus 31:13, “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you .”

Jealous:

Exodus 34:14, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous , is a jealous God:”

Exodus 3:14 Comments - The Lord is the very “life that exists in creation.” He is even the life within the enemies of God. He is ‘the beginning and…the end of all things.” [20] He is the Lord of Hosts and the Prince of Peace, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God. He is “I AM” because He is our God of the present. We cannot know Him as the God of the past or future, but we must seek him daily in order to abide with him. He is our life and without Him we would die. He is our light and without Him we would walk in darkness. [21]

[20] Rick Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1999), 59.

[21] Rick Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1999), 59-63.

Exodus 3:15 Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Note New Testament references to Exodus 3:15:

Matthew 22:32, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Mark 12:26, “And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?”

Luke 20:37-38, “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.”

Acts 3:13, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.”

Acts 7:32, “Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold.”

Exodus 3:19 Comments Exodus 3:19 can be interpreted in two ways.

(1) The Hand of God This verse is usually understood to say that the king of Egypt will not let the children of Israel out from bondage except by the mighty hand of the Lord.

Brenton, “But I know that Pharaoh king of Egypt will not let you go, save with a mighty hand.”

DRC, “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go, but by a mighty hand.”

NIV, “ But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him.”

(2) The Hand of Man This verse can also be interpreted to mean that no one has the strength or power to make Pharaoh let the children of Israel out from bondage. John Durham gives the following paraphrase of this verse, “The Pharaoh will have no thought of granting such a wish and could not even be forced to do so by any power men could muster.” [22] We find additional support for this view in Exodus 6:1, “Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.”

[22] John I. Durham, Exodus, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 3, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 3.0b [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2004), notes on Exodus 3:19-20.

Exodus 3:21-22 Comments The Wealth of the Egyptians - Where did the Egyptians attain all of this wealth? Much of this gold and silver came into the nation of Egypt during the time of Joseph, when the Lord used Joseph to obtain its wealth. Here, we see how God is providing the needs of the children thru Joseph (Exodus 11:1-3; Exodus 12:35-36).

Exodus 11:1-3, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether. Speak now in the ears of the people, and let every man borrow of his neighbour, and every woman of her neighbour, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold. And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants, and in the sight of the people.”

Exodus 12:35-36, “And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.”

Exodus 4:1-3 Comments - God Gives Moses a Rod to Perform Miracles - Many evangelists have preached to the heathen. When they gave no response to accept Jesus, the preacher performed signs and wonders in Jesus’ name, just as Moses performed signs and wonders with the rod so they might also believe. In fact, when Jesus preached in Judea to the many Pharisees and others who challenged His ministry, He operated in the gifts of the Spirit, while in His Galilean ministry He preached to people who received His message, so that they were healed because of their faith in Him.

Exodus 4:15 Word Study on “Aaron” Gesenius says the Hebrew name “Aaron” ( אַהֲרֹון ) (H175) means, “mountainous.” Strong says it means, “light bringer,” and is derived from an uncertain origin. BDB says, “light bringer.” PTW interprets this word to mean “enlightened, rich, mountaineer.” Hitchcock reads, “a teacher; lofty; mountain of strength.”

Verses 1-31

Israel’s Justification (Exodus 1:1 to Exodus 15:21 ) The emphasis of Exodus 1:1 to Exodus 18:27 is Israel’s justification before God through the sacrificial atonement of the Mosaic Law. The Passover was the time when God cut a covenant with the children of Israel, and the Exodus testifies to His response of delivering His people as a part of His covenant promise of redemption. Israel’s justification was fulfilled in their deliverance from the bondages of Egypt. Hebrews 11:23-29 highlights these events in order to demonstrate the faith of Moses in fulfilling his divine commission. These events serve as an allegory of the Church’s covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ and our subsequent deliverance from the bondages and sins of this world.

The Exodus Out of Egypt Exodus 1:1 to Exodus 18:27 describes God’s judgment upon Egypt and Israel’s exodus from bondage. In comparing the two Pharaoh’s discussed in this section of the book it is important to note that the pharaoh who blessed the people of Israel during Joseph’s life was himself blessed along with his nation. In stark contrast, the Pharaoh who cursed God’s people was himself cursed with the death of his own first born, as well as his entire nation. God watches over His people and blesses those who bless them and He curses those who curse them (Genesis 12:3).

Genesis 12:3, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

Verses 18-31

The Beginning of Moses’ Public Ministry Exodus 4:18-31 records the beginning of Moses’ public ministry towards the children of Israel. Aaron travelled into the wilderness and escorted his brother Moses to Egypt and introduced him to the Jewish elders. There Moses used his rod to perform signs that accompanied Aaron’s message to them, and the people believed. As Moses presented himself to Israel by coming out of the wilderness, he will depart into the wilderness to die in Deuteronomy 34:1-8.

We can compare this event of Moses’ presentation to Israel to the presentation of Jesus Christ to the Jews at the beginning of His public ministry. Jesus also came from the wilderness and was water baptised, with the testimony of his cousin John the Baptist, accompanied by a miracle of God speaking audibly from Heaven. In fact, John the Baptist dwelt in the wilderness and presented himself to the Jews from this location.

Exodus 4:18 “Let me go, I pray thee” - Comments - Moses, by marriage, had become a son-in-law of Jethro. Thus, Moses entreated him in such a manner of respect.

Exodus 4:19 Comments The Lord will make a similar statement to Joseph, telling him to return with Mary and Jesus to the land of Israel (Matthew 2:20).

Matthew 2:20, “Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.”

Exodus 4:20 “and Moses took the rod of God in his hand” Comments - This rod was simply a wooden stick before Moses laid it before the Lord. Now, it has become a mighty instrument that will work signs and wonders, an instrument of judgment upon the nation of Egypt. It will be used to defeat the Amalekites, to part the Red Sea and to bring water out of a rock. It became the mighty rod of God.

Exodus 4:24-26 Comments - The Circumcision of Moses’ Son - Circumcision represents the removing of the fleshly, carnal nature of man. Zipporah understood this was the covenant of the God of the Israelites, thought she did not like having to circumcise her own child. She had the wisdom to do what Moses had failed to do. Moses was going to have to walk in the spirit and crucify flesh. Just as Eli had failed to discipline his sons and bring the judgment of God upon him, his sons and the nation of Israel, so had Moses failed to discipline himself and his sons in obeying the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision.

It is interesting to compare the parallel story in The Book of Jubilees (48.2-3) which tells us that it was a demonic angel named Mastema who came against Moses to slay him.

Exodus 4:24 Word Study on “the Lord” The Hebrew word “YHWH” ( יהוה ) (H3068) is translated “the Lord” throughout the Old Testament

Exodus 4:24 Comments - Note that the sin for not being circumcised was to be cut off from the people of Israel (Genesis 17:14).

Genesis 17:14, “And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.”

Exodus 4:27 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.

Exodus 4:27 “And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses” - Comments Exodus 4:27 reveals the fact that Moses knew his biological family while being raised in the house of Pharaoh, for Aaron goes out to meet his brother Moses.

Exodus 4:27 “And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him” - Comments The meeting place was Mount Sinai, to which Moses would bring the children of Israel after their Exodus from Egypt.

Exodus 4:30-31 Comments The Purpose of Signs and Wonders - Signs are displayed and then faith follows. Israel received this good report. However, during the wilderness journey, when their circumstances required that they walk by faith, they went by sight, and not by faith.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Exodus 4". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/exodus-4.html. 2013.