That they may believe
“Perform this sign, and they will believe you,” the LORD told him. “Then they will realize that the LORD, the God of their ancestors––the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob––really has appeared to you.“ – Exodus 4:5 NLT
The story of Exodus is about redemption – God redeeming His people from slavery and setting them free to serve Him. But it also a story about belief. In it you see the constant battle of belief as the chosen people of God struggle believing in the reality and reliability of God. It is a book filled with signs and wonders, plagues and miracles, incredible events and unexplainable stories of God’s intervention in their lives. Yet they refuse to believe. They doubt, fear, grumble, whine, moan, and refuse to do what God tells them to do. Even Moses, the one God chose to lead His people out of captivity struggles with belief. As he debates with God over his role as the great emancipator of the people, Moses tells God, “Look, they won’t believe me! They won’t do what I tell them. They’ll just say, ‘The LORD never appeared to you.’” (Exodus 4:1 NLT). Thus begins Moses’ long list of excuses for not doing what God is calling him to do. Moses’ real problem is not that the people wont believe him, it is that he is having a hard time believing God. His own doubt is a sign of unbelief. He is basically telling God, “You can’t do this!” When he says, “They won’t believe me!”, he is telling God that this plan of His will not work. But God gives him a sign, and it was a sign that came with a cost or risk to Moses. God turned his wooden staff into a poisonous snake. Then he told Moses to pick it up by the tail, not something anyone who had lived in the desert for long would ever do! But it was that risky step that would cause not only the people to believe, but Moses. Belief is faith in action. It involves a degree of risk.
God gave Moses another sign, He told Moses to put his hand inside his cloak, then remove it. When he did, it came out covered in leprosy. Can you imagine the shock and fear Moses went through. He knew about leprosy and he knew it wasn’t good. It never ended well. But God told him to put his hand back in his cloak and when he removed it, it was clean again. God told Moses, “If they do not believe the first miraculous sign, they will believe the second” (Exodus 4:8 NLT). But this sign was really aimed at Moses. He had a personal stake in it. It was designed to help Moses believe. But in spite of what he had just seen, Moses continued to struggle with his unbelief. He uses his own personal flaws as a reason to doubt God. How could God use someone like him, a man who was a lousy public speaker, to be His spokesperson. At first glance, this would appear to be a case of Moses doubting himself, but he is really doubting God. He believes God is limited by his own limitations. That’s unbelief. That’s doubt. But God tells Moses, “Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say” (Exodus 4:12 NLT). Stop doubting and go! God even agrees to give Moses his brother Aaron as his right-hand man and mouthpiece. But he does not let Moses off the hook. He is still going to have to go and do what God has called him to do.
This is going to be a journey of belief and disbelief, trust and doubt, faith and failure, reliance and rebellion. And through it all, God will be revealing Himself in unbelievable ways so that His people will believe in Him. But isn’t that the journey of faith we find ourselves on? Every day we are being forced to put our faith to the test. We find ourselves in situations and circumstances where we have to find out what it is we really believe. Do we believe in God or do we believe the lies of the enemy? Will we lean on God or our own limited understanding. When Moses returned to Egypt and gathered the people together, he and Aaron told them what God had said and performed the signs God had given them. The result was that the people believed. “So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.” (Exodus 4:31 NASB). They believed and worshiped. But the next day would bring with it renewed doubt. Their belief was going to be tested. The worth-ship of God was going to come under fire. Could He really be trusted? Was He really worthy of their praise and honor? Today will hold the same thing for you and me today. Will we believe? The truth is, we believe in all kinds of things. We believe sin will bring pleasure. We believe our way is better than God’s way. We believe we are smarter than God. We believe we’re not usable by God. We believe. But we don’t always believe God.
Father, life is all about belief. Will I believe You today? Will I worship You today? In spite of the circumstances and situations I encounter. Will I see You in the midst of all that is going on in my life? Will I believe Your promises and Your Word regardless of what I see happening around me and to me? I want to believe. I want my belief to be more than an intellectual assent. I want it to be real. I want my belief to be in You and not myself or the world around me. Help me learn to believe You as I read through the story of Exodus. Open my eyes. Change my heart. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men