Exodus 4:17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.
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.
Moses’ rod would be an important tool as he moved from shepherding four legged sheep to leading two legged sheep. The Bible tells us that we are all like sheep. We need a shepherd. Jesus Christ is the Great Shepherd of the sheep. Under Him, He has designed and chosen certain men to be “under” shepherds. The “under” shepherd does not call the shots. God directs him and he simply follows God’s lead and obediently leads the sheep according to God’s will.
The rod is not a tool that the “under” shepherd uses against the sheep. It is the tool that God gave to Moses to lean on and to demonstrate the power of God. The elders needed to know that God had chosen Moses to be their leader. The Pharaoh also needed to know that he was fighting against God when he would resist Moses’ words.
In verse 18 we see that there is always a proper order to everything. Moses did not just leave the sheep and take off. He went back to his father-in-law and told him what his plans were. Moses did not give great detail to Jethro, because that was not necessary. He gave him a summary of events. Moses was not even sure of what all would take place when he returned to Egypt. We see that Jethro was not going to interfere with Moses’ plans. He wished him well on his journey back to his homeland.
In verse 19 God assured Moses that it was safe for him to return to Egypt. Those who knew of his killing of the Egyptian in self-defence, were all dead. As we have noticed before, the Egyptians were lazy people. They did not read their history. They just went with the present and thus it was safe for Moses to return.
In verse 20 we read that Moses took his wife and his two sons with him. We are again reminded that Moses took the rod with him. Notice that the rod is now called “the rod of God”. We remember that God had told Moses to cast that rod on the ground and God turned it into a serpent. Moses later was commanded to take the serpent by the tail and it became a rod again. That rod was no longer just a stick. It was now a rod that God took charge of and He would use that rod in a very important way in the life of Moses.
In verse 21 the LORD continued to give Moses instructions. Moses needed to understand the importance of obedience to the LORD. This was necessary with the smallest of details. God cannot bless if man wants to interfere in His plan.
We have talked before about the interference that has taken place with regard to God’s Word. Many men and even some women have been involved in putting together many perversions of God’s Word. The Nestle/Aland Greek text that underlies the perversions is a corrupt text that has been changed many times over the years. The various copies of it do not even agree with each other. How can they then be from God?
The LORD further reminded Moses that His wonders would be in Moses’ hand. Moses did not need to go out and invent anything. He simply needed to use what God gave him. The same is still true today. We do not need to invent anything. Those who try to pervert God’s way of doing things may gain a following but to what benefit? Those who try to win the lost through all kinds of activities will find that they need to keep finding new activities to keep those “converts” coming. Those who are won to the Lord through the faithful preaching of His Word will find that the preaching and teaching of God’s Word will keep them coming. God’s Word is satisfying to those who are won through It. God’s Word is what saves and It is also what guides the saved person.
Moses was further reminded that his task would not be easy. Pharaoh was a stubborn man. He was not going to give in just because God would turn the rod into a serpent. He would not give in just because Moses turned water into blood. Moses would need to learn patience and he would need to learn to walk by faith. He needed that Godly conviction that would keep him faithful to the LORD regardless of the results or lack of results that he saw.
He had been told that he would lead the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. He would need to trust God that this would happen. The details of how this would come about was in God’s hands. If Moses obeyed God, he did not need to concern himself with whether he had made a mistake. He needed to trust God and he needed to ignore the naysayers within the nation of Israel. He also needed to understand that even though Pharaoh’s magicians would duplicate some of the signs that God gave him, they could not stop God’s signs from continuing until Moses would call them off. Moses was the vessel that God would use. The Egyptians would come to see that he was a formidable challenge for them. They would come to see that he was untouchable by them and that the LORD was unstoppable. It would cost them greatly. Sin is always very costly. It is of far greater cost than those who participate in it realize, until it is too late.
We can learn the importance of obedience to God once we are saved. We can understand that our obedience does not enhance our salvation. We can learn that God must be exalted. He is in charge. He is the Saviour and He is the Judge. Those who defy Him through His chosen servants are in big trouble. His plan will go forward. Those who are saved do themselves no favours in resisting His plan. They are greatly blessed in walking by faith in a God Who cannot fail.
Those who are lost need to turn to God in repentance and in faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the way of blessing. Then get into a true church and get to know the true God through the faithful preaching and teaching of His Word.