Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Exodus 4:6-9 Flesh and Blood Signs of Moses' Authority

"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.
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.'

The LORD gives Moses two more signs to convince the Israelites that it is indeed God who has sent him to them.  I can just picture Moses' reaction when he sees that his hand has turned leprous like snow.  [I also think that it would have been interesting to see the speed at which he plucked his hand from his cloak the second time to see if it was restored.]

This was an impressive sign of God's power.  Leprosy was a serious disease, with no known cure.  Sufferers were isolated from society and generally lived a lonely and humiliating existence, with the added pain of having to warn others not to approach their diseased bodies.  Yet God was able to immediately call for Moses' flesh to be restored.

God is not only powerful, but also patient.  If the Hebrews do not believe Moses when his staff changes into a snake, or when his hand changes from leprous to whole flesh again, God is willing to give them the additional sign of water from the nearby Nile River being turned into blood before their eyes.

I think I will take a moment to share one of the NIV Study Bible's observations on these verses:  In its note on Exodus 4:8 (page 94), where these events are called miraculous signs, it says that such signs are designed to:

  • demonstrate authority,
  • provide assurance,
  • bear testimony,
  • give warning,
  • or encourage faith.

So signs are about a whole lot more than just "proof".  The fact that signs bear testimony to what God has said, and also warn against unbelief gives them a very solemn aspect indeed, particularly to those who would ignore their message.  These signs are not carnival tricks.  They are an assurance to God's servants and a warning (as well as an invitation to faith) to those who oppose Him.


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