18th January

Exodus 4-6; Psalm 18

Bible in a Year
5 minutes

Exodus 4-6

Moses continues to complain to God that he’s not qualified for the job he’s been given. So God gives him three signs to show people so that they will know Moses comes in God’s name. Interestingly, the very first sign is based on “what is in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). 

We can very easily discount ourselves from the call of God by saying we’re not good enough or not skilled enough. But if God’s called you, then he will equip you, and he may even use what’s already in your hand, things you can already do. Start with what you’ve got and trust that if God’s called you, he will make away.

This is also the first time in the Bible we see God get angry (Exodus 4:14). We’ve read about the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah, but here, when God’s chosen person tries to reject God’s plan, is the very first time God is actually described as angry.

So what does God do in his anger? He accommodates Moses’ request. He suggests that Moses recruits his brother Aaron to do all the talking, so that Moses doesn’t have to. God’s anger doesn’t always work the way we would expect, so it’s useful as we read throughout the Bible to make a note of when it mentions his anger, and when it doesn’t.

Then we get a weird story where God attacks Moses and his wife is forced to circumcise their children and then throws their foreskin at him. Very weird. But in the wider context of the book, it makes a little bit of sense. Just before the story God tells Moses he’s going to end up killing all the first-borns of Egypt (Exodus 4:22-23).

Then we get this story on the need to be circumcised. The covenant (legal contract) that God made with Abraham many years ago was that he would be their God, and they would be he is people. The sign for this would be circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14). If Moses was serious about representing God, he must keep to this covenant.

We will read later that God gives the Israelites some teaching on circumcision as they are preparing to leave Egypt. After this he claims the first-born son of all Israelites for himself. They are to be his.

This format is known as a chiasm. Chiasms are used all the time in story telling, Psalms, and even the letters of the New Testament. It’s basically when a part of a story, poem or letter mirrors itself. So see this example below;

a) Exodus 4:22-23 - God promises to kill first-borns

b) Exodus 4:24-26 - Story on the Importance of Circumcision

b) Exodus 12:43-49 - Teaching on the Importance of Circumcision

a) Exodus 13:11-15 - God claims first-borns

Besides being a cool little feature, it’s there to emphasise the importance of circumcision. Circumcision was the sign that you belonged to God. If you belong to God, you will have life. If not, then you are choosing death.

Moses returns to Egypt and convinces his fellow Israelites that God has sent him. Next he heads to Pharaoh and the real battle begins. Pharaoh doesn’t believe him and the oppression begins to get worse.

Moses brings his complaint before God. God is the one that told him to speak to Pharoah, and now things are worse than ever. But God reassures Moses. He points to the covenant that he had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God had promised to give the land of Canaan to their descendants, and he is faithful to his word. 

The passage then takes a break from the story to recap how we got here. The common way to do this, as we’ve mentioned before, was through genealogies.

As you read each name, it is meant to call to mind the stories they were part of. On top of that, it shows us how Moses and Aaron fit into this story. The genealogy starts of copying the one we saw in Genesis 46:8-10. But when it gets to Levi, it expands through each of his descendants, landing on Moses and Aaron.

We are reminded that these two men are the ones chosen to bring God’s people out of Egypt.

Psalm 18

This psalm is a Royal Psalm, (see Psalm 20, 45, 72, 110, 144 for examples of other Royal Psalms). Royal Psalms are psalms that are focused on either God as king or on a human king. Attributed to King David, it is believed that this psalm was written by David when God had delivered him from Saul’s hand (2 Samuel 22).

Psalm 18:1-3 - Introductory praise

Psalm 18:4-6 - The psalmist calls out to God

Psalm 18:7-15 - God’s awesome presence comes down

Psalm 18:16-19- God’s protects the psalmist and defeats his enemies

Psalm 18:20-36 - God is good and generous to the psalmist

Psalm 18:37-48 - God lifts the psalmist above his enemies to a position of authority

Psalm 18:49-50 - Praise to God

The psalmist starts off with praise. He recalls of the time that it seemed he was close to death and he cried out to God. God heard and came down to intervene.

The psalmist then uses very visceral language to demonstrate the awesomeness of God’s presence. The earth and mountains shake. His anger is like a fierce fire, billowing smoke. He rode on the clouds, a common description of God (see Deuteronomy 33:26; Psalm 68:32-33; Psalm 104:1-4; Isaiah 19:1). His voice was like thunder.

This great and mighty God protects the psalmist and defeats his enemies. God then generously blesses the psalmist, revealing himself to them. He is loving and true. He strengthens their hands and feet, training them to be good at war.

All this allows the psalmist to defeat their enemies themselves. Through all this God exalts the psalmist as king, head over the nation. If the psalmist was David, we can see that he gives God the glory for all the successes he had in life.

And so the psalm ends, giving praise to God for his faithfulness and goodness. It’s God and his strength that established kings.

Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.

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  • THINGS GET WORSE | Bible Study | Jesus In All of Exodus 5-6

    Spoken Gospel

    This Bible study devotional covers Exodus chapters 5-6. Here we see things getting worse for Moses and Israel even when they obey God. But we also see God's faithfulness through the worst situations.

    As always, Spoken Gospel are committed to showing you how Jesus fulfills these specific passages. In Exodus 5-6, we see that Jesus obeyed God and still went through the worst situation of all - the cross. And, through it, God showed us his greatest act of faithfulness.

  • Podcast

    bibleproject podcast

    Naked Bible #264-266: Exodus 4-6

    The Naked Bible Podcast

    The Naked Bible Podcast is for those that want intense Bible study. Be warned, many will find these podcasts go too deep for them. There are three episodes, averaging an hour each, covering these three chapters. But for those that persevere this will be a rich source of teaching for you.

    Check the podcast out here
  • Further Study

    Overview: Exodus Ch. 1 -18


    Understanding the context of your passage is always important. BibleProject always do an incredible job of breaking down each book so you can see how your passage fits into the wider story.

    The Book of Exodus - Part 1


    BibleProject have done an animated recap of Exodus 1-18 to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Exodus.

    The Bible Explained: Exodus


    Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Exous and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.

    THE CALL OF MOSES | Bible Study | Jesus In All of Exodus 3-4


    This Bible study devotional covers Exodus chapters 3-4. Here we see God, the I Am, calling Moses to rescue Israel from slavery in Egypt.

    As always, Spoken Gospel are committed to showing you how Jesus fulfills these specific passages. In Exodus 3-4, we see that Jesus is the I Am, the new and better Moses, who rescues us from slavery to sin and death.

© Bryn Joslin