Exodus Chapter 4

The Lord extended a call to Moses, to go back to Egypt and ask Pharaoh to let the Israelites be free. Moses, who had been preserved for this great purpose, did not understand how he could do what the Lord was asking of him. There was a history already, with the Israelites, and they had not seem him as one with authority. He had been told by God, to tell them that he had been sent to do this thing by the God of their fathers. The story of Moses continues:

1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.
2 And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
4 And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
5 That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.

Moses questioned the idea that the Israelites would believe what he had to say. Then God gave power to Moses with the rod he had by making it something he could use as a sign to them.

6 And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.
8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

These were additional signs for him to show to the children of Israel, so that they would know that he had been sent by God to lead them. He could show them the power of the rod he held, or show them his skin changing to leprous skin and then back to normal again, or water from the Nile river becoming blood on the dry ground. All of these things would have been seen as great miracles by those who saw them. A rod turning into a living serpent was not a standard thing. Leprosy was a life-altering disease for the Israelites. Once one had it, he was banished as if he had been given a sentence to death. He was shunned from society and never expected to return, as there was no cure for it. To have it and then return to normal would have been amazing to them, which is why this miracle performed later by the Savior, was so amazing then as well. Finally, to change water to blood showed a power over an element of nature, which no man naturally had. Surely someone who had faith in the Lord, would recognize his power displayed by Moses.

10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
11 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.
14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

Moses felt that he would not be able to speak well enough to do this work, and God reminded Moses that He is the creator of all and can do all things. Moses was still unsure of how he could do this, so the Lord told him that his brother, Aaron would meet him on his way. Aaron would become the spokesman for Moses and Moses would use the rod for signs. I think that Moses would have been capable of speaking well to the people, but they probably would believe the words coming from the mouth of Aaron, who had lived among them and known them better. Moses had faith in God and went forward with the work he was called to do. There are many times when we may have fear and doubts also, but if we go forward in faith, the Lord will bless us greatly. It is always a wonder to me, that the Lord would take the weak things of the earth, and do such great and marvelous things. I am sure there were other hebrews who would have been all too eager to do this work, but the greatest lessons can be learned from the humbleness of the servants of God. Moses was blessed to have the spirit of the Lord with him as he served. We too can have the spirit with us as we are promised when we make the sacred covenants of baptism. There is no work that the Lord would ask of us, which we cannot accomplish if we have the guidance of the spirit.

18 And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.
19 And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.
20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.
21 And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:
23 And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

Moses received Jethro’s blessing to go back to Egypt and was then told that those who wanted to kill him were dead. Before leaving, The Lord told Moses that those who wanted to kill him were dead. Moses took his family with him to Egypt. He was told again to make sure he used the power that God had given him, to show the miracles of God to Pharaoh. The Joseph Smith translation gives clearer understanding to verse 21. Moses was told that the Pharaoh would harden his heart and not allow them to leave, not that God would harden the heart of Pharaoh, which is what it sounds like here. The Lord told Moses to tell Pharaoh that his firstborn would be slain if he did not allow the Israelites to go.

24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him.
25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
26 So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
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.
28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.

The Joseph Smith Translation reads as follows:

24 And it came to pass, that the Lord appeared unto him as he was in the way, by the inn. The Lord was angry with Moses, and his hand was about to fall upon him, to kill him; for he had not circumcised his son.
25 Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and circumcised her son, and cast the stone at his feet, and said, Surely thou art a bloody husband unto me.
26 And the Lord spared Moses and let him go, because Zipporah, his wife, circumcised the child. And she said, Thou art a bloody husband. And Moses was ashamed, and hid his face from the Lord, and said, I have sinned before the Lord.
27 And the Lord said unto Aaron, go into the wilderness to meet Moses, and he went and met him, in the mount of God; in the mount where God appeared unto him; and Aaron kissed him.

The Lord expected his chosen servant to make and keep covenants and circumcision was an outward expression of the covenants the Israelites made with God. If the son of Moses had not been circumcised, he would not have been acceptable of the Lord and would have remained cut off from His presence. The son of Moses was circumcised by his mother, before they arrived in Egypt. Once the son of Moses was circumcised, the Lord let him continue on his way. Then, Aaron received inspiration from the Lord, to meet Moses. Moses told Aaron what had happened to him and what he had been called to do for the Lord.

29 And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:
30 And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.
31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Aaron joined Moses in his work, and they gathered the Elders together just as the Lord had told them to do. Aaron spoke to the elders and Moses showed the signs, and the people believed them and worshipped God.

I am well aware of many of the weaknesses that I have. I know that God wants us to serve Him and that as we do, He can help us to find strength where weaknesses once were. As an example, I have a very difficult time remembering names. I was recently called to serve as Secretary in our women’s organization, the Relief Society. This would require me to know the names of all the women in our group and be able to take attendance during our Sunday meetings. While I knew this was a weakness of mine, I had faith that the Lord would help me to be able to do this. I am still working on it, but in the weeks since I have started doing this, the Lord has given me a lot of help and I now have the majority of the names in my mind along with what those individuals look like. I am so grateful for the help that the Lord gives us to be able to accomplish His work, even if the task may seem really simple. Prophets are people too. They have weaknesses and fears, which they are able to overcome through faith in the Lord. If we can also move forward in faith, we will be able to overcome our own weaknesses and fears. We would do well to recognize with humility, that we are not perfect as God would have us become. In order to help us to become more like Him, God needs to allow us to work on our weaknesses. In His infinite wisdom, God extends challenges to us, so that we can learn and grow. I am so glad that God can see my potential and has a desire for me to be able to reach it. Even though facing my weaknesses can be really difficult, I know it will be a much greater blessing for me and those I love.

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