“Who has made man’s mouth?”

Daily Scripture readings for July, set #2:

– Exodus, chapters 4-6
– Psalm, chapter 25
– Matthew 11:1-19
– Acts 16:1-15

Although Psalm 25 is one of my favorites, there’s so much stuff going on in today’s Exodus chapters that I’m just going to comment on those.

First, there’s the burning bush incident, where Moses keeps dodging God’s call. Even after the staff turns into a snake, Moses is still dragging his feet. Moses offers the excuse that he is not eloquent enough, and the Lord responds: “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (4:11). When I thought about this response, I realized that it’s not really an answer to Moses’ excuse, but rather a statement about the issue BEHIND Moses’ excuse. Moses says: “hey God, it might be an issue that I don’t speak very well.” God replies: “I know you don’t speak well. I made you that way.” Obviously it’s implied here that Moses’ speaking ability won’t be an issue, but God goes further than that in answering him, claiming responsibility for not only making Moses to be exactly the speaker that he is, but also having made ALL MANKIND in their respective physical characteristics (even disabilities).

Much of the first half of Exodus revolves around Pharaoh and his “hard heart” in refusing to let the Israelites go, and verse 21 of chapter 4 shows the origin of Pharaoh’s stubbornness: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.'” Now, later in Exodus, Pharaoh is described as hardening his OWN heart, and there is much debate about the order of these two parallel descriptions of how his heart became hard. It seems worth noting then that, at least in the Exodus account, it is recorded first that God hardens Pharaoh’s heart.

I really have no comment or insight into the strange “Bridegroom of blood” thing in 4:24-26. Chalk those verses up alongside other things in Scripture that I don’t yet understand.

As Moses first encounters Pharaoh in chapter 5, it’s interesting to note the difference in THIS Pharaoh’s reaction to the name of the Lord, as opposed to the Pharaoh that Joseph worked for in the end of Genesis. “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go” (5:2). Compare this to Genesis 41:39, when Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream: “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, since God has shown you this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.”

Lastly, I am struck by the despair in Moses at the end of chapter 5. Moses cries out to God after the people of Israel’s situation is worsened as a result of Moses doing exactly what God told him to do. God says in verse 1 of chapter 6: “NOW you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh.” It is as if God wanted the situation to become more desperate, in order that his power in delivering the people would be more evident.

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