When was the last time you shared the gospel? What was it like when you heard the gospel for the first time? How did u respond? Different people hear the same gospel but have different responses. Today, we'll read in this passage too how God's Word came to 2 groups of people who responded in different ways.
(A) God’s Word is Truth (Exo 4:27-28)
A series of events happen in Exo 4:27-28. Let's compare it with what God told Moses would happen in Exo 4:14-15.
What can we see from here? We see how things happened as God said they would! Moses reunited with his brother Aaron, and this was a joyful reunion, not a bitter one. We know this from how they exchanged kisses. To make sense of this, we can read of another reunion when Jacob met Esau (c.f. Gen 33:1-4). Though Jacob was initially worried, but this was a joyful reunion and they too exchanged kisses (Gen 33:4). It was and still is common to exchange kisses to express joy and welcome at meeting the other! Moses also conveyed the word of the Lord as God had spoken and he did so in obedience to God (Exo 4:28).
From just these verses, we can see a few things about the word of God:
- The Word of God is faithful. God cannot deny Himself what He had said.
- The Word of God is consistent. God didn’t just speak in broad overtones. He gave a detailed account and it happened as He said.
- The Word of God is trustworthy. What God said will happen did happen.
- The Word of God is true (c.f. John 17:17b). This is proven over and over again in the Bible. Right at the beginning in Gen 1:3 already we see how what what He says comes true.
- The Word of God is effectual. It calls into existence light and all creation. Truth, when we encounter it, requires us to respond to it. Moses had to obey what God had revealed to Him.
(B) A Right Response to Truth (Exo 4:29-31)
Following their reunion, Aaron and Moses gathered all the elders of the people of Israel and spoke to them the words of God (Exo 4:29-30). From these verses, the obedience of Moses and Aaron stand out, and we read of how they obediently carried out God's instructions. The Word of the Lord was also transmitted faithfully, as God instructed and intended. A prophet of the Lord must be careful to only proclaim the word of the Lord, and not to remove or add from it. This was the formula repeated later on in the prophets.
Exo 4:31 told us that the people believed, and we are not given any other details about that. We are not told that the people doubted or were cynical. This was unlike the responses of their descendants to Jesus’ miracles and signs. Again, this was as God had revealed to Moses (c.f. Exo 3:18). We realise that the people believed not because Aaron was a good, persuasive speaker. They believed because God said they would.
Gen 15:4-6 also shows us a similar pattern of hearing and believing. This was God interacting with Abram and God makes a promise that his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abram believed, and God counted it to him as righteousness.
The verse also shows us that they didn’t only believe, but also "bowed their heads and worshipped” (Exo 4:31b). Bowing our heads can symbolize shame, especially shame of surrender if you’re a prisoner. But more broadly, it represents humility, a submission to a higher authority. More importantly, it can symbolize reverence for a king or a lord. This is less common today, where bowed heads is a mark of the use of phones, where our phones have become our gods. Why did the people adopt this posture of worshipful humility? This word from God meant that their God has heard their cry and will rescue them! Remember that this was after years of prayers and slavery. Now, finally God will work. This promise of deliverance came to a helpless people in bondage and slavery! This is the right response when we encounter truth.
(C) A Prideful Heart Denies the Truth (Exo 5:1-9)
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh next to convey the word from God. In Exo 5:2, we read of the first hint of a people and nation, and God’s claim over this nation. God also claimed the people as His as He identifies Himself with the people of Israel (Exo 5:2-3).
Yet, Pharaoh makes a series of absolute statements. He says “I do not know YAHWEH.” (Exo 5:2) and “I will not let Israel go.” (Exo 5:2). Pharaoh's question "Who is the LORD?" is also the central question in Exodus! This book has God revealing Himself and
showing who He is, not only to Egypt but also to Israel and the nations around. Here Pharaoh could be responding out of ignorance or mockery, but in any case Pharaoh is proud. He is after all a king of a great empire and is worshipped by his people. Likewise, we may not be that far off from Pharaoh after all! When we sin, we are effectively saying this: I do not know God and do not fear Him enough. Pharaoh’s pride is also present in our lives.
We also see signs of fear, a fear of giving an inch and losing a yard. The kings of Egypt seem to be consistently worried that the people of Israel will become a strong force and gaining a sense of autonomy and escaping. This was a common fear that the kings had about their slaves. Note that this request to take time off was not uncommon. But it must have taken Moses and Aaron a lot of courage to do so! See also that they did not request for freedom! They only requested for a journey to offer a feast to God. Moses and Aaron persisted with another appeal (Exo 5:3). They did it in obedience to God, and they also feared the consequences of disobedience to God. Their fear of God was greater than the fear of the consequences of going against this king. Their need to honor God outweighed the potential backlash of going against Pharaoh. Can we say the same of our lives? Do we persist when we face persecution or mockery? Who do we fear and what are our priorities? Do we fear God or do we want to please man?
Upon hearing their request, Pharaoh presupposes a motive. He thought that they were trying to skive. Because of this assumption, he decided to make their lives more difficult (Exo 5:6-9). Apart from his hardness of heart, we also see that Pharaoh was
preoccupied with productivity. His unbelief led to the wrong assumption, and led him to assume that the Word of the Lord brought by Aaron and Moses are lies. In looking at Pharaoh's response, we see how a heart filled with pride is blinded to the truth, and can also deny the truth, even if the truth is staring you in the faith. Pride is at the root of so many problems in our world today. Rebellion against God often has pride at its root. Look at Cain. Look at the Pharisees and religious leaders in Jesus' time. Pride leads the fool to say in his heart “there is no God”. And pride prevents us from acknowledging our sin, and not accepting the Saviour.
In contrast, we had a Saviour who though in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. He emptied Himself and obeyed, even to death on a cross. In Jesus, God didn’t just give as a word, but He was the Word made flesh. Just as the word of God came to the people of Israel and Pharaoh, it also comes to us today. How will you respond? Will you respond in humble worship or will you respond with a prideful, stubborn heart?