Moses: Foolishness and Foreskins – Crazy Bible Stories 5
It has been a while since I published one of my most popular topics. Crazy Bible Stories. I’ve focused on other things and modern culture, but repeatedly the most popular articles to show up in Google are my Crazy Bible Stories. So, let’s get back to doing a few of those. Today, we have a story about Moses. It starts off as what appears to be a regular Bible story, with subtle craziness, but then it ends with an incredibly bizarre verse or two thrown in there that makes you say, wait, what in the world is this? Therefore, I encourage you to read Exodus 4 in its entirety. Either pull out your Bible yourself, or take a moment to read it here: Exodus 4 CSB (Exodus 4).
Moses, beyond brave? Or simply a dummy.
For a little bit of added context, in case you didn’t notice this chapter starts at the end of Moses’ burning bush encounter. This in and of itself is actually a bit crazy. Moses is out in the middle of the desert, and a plant suddenly catches on fire. Sure, let’s say that this could happen today. It’s really hot in the desert, maybe someone accidentally left their magnifying glass on the ground and poof a cactus explodes into fire. Only, fire is generally known to consume plants and basically, anything stuck in it for some time. That’s not the case for this bush. Nope. Instead, there is just fire surrounding the bush. Even to simpleton Moses something wasn’t right about this so he somehow, bravely approaches the abomination.
You’d like to think that someone brave enough to approach a burning but not burning bush would have a little bravery in him, but it turns out this was just a onetime deal for Moses. For some reason, when he finds out that it is God speaking to him through a bush, he crumbles and loses any sense of strength. I think an important part of this story for us today is to recognize that God’s work, God’s plans for us and his desires for us are not easy. They are going to be tricky. They are able to take a man who is comfortable approaching something foreign, unknown, and impossible; to losing all confidence in themselves and questioning if they are the one God has called.
So what’s crazy about this?
To some extent, Moses could be justified in his lack of confidence. He is talking to God, the creator of the universe. I don’t know what he thought he was approaching in the burning bush, (Aliens? Magic? Demons?) but whatever it was, he wasn’t ready for a life-changing encounter with the All-Mighty. The funny thing, is that God isn’t about to take no for an answer. He took the time to set this bush on fire without consuming it and he’s not going home empty handed no matter how hard Moses tries.
The first thing Moses does is say “Okay God, that’s all well and good but no one is going to believe any of this stuff that you are saying.” Fair enough. God gives him this one. After all, none of this is exactly normal. Then God does some clarifying for Moses. He’s like “Okay, throw your staff on the ground.” Moses does and it turns into a snake and he runs away from it. I don’t know about you, but when I drop a stick, I always believe that there is a zero percent chance it’s going to turn into anything other than a stick. In fact, just yesterday, I threw a bunch of sticks and all of them remained sticks.
Pressing your luck, Moses.
God could tell that Moses was still not convinced. After all, he had probably seen some of the things that Egypt’s magicians could do. Therefore, God tells him to put his hand in his cloak and viola, Moses hand is leprous. Moses puts his hand back in and its back to normal. This is crazy! Maybe Moses thought he was suffering from smoke inhalation. Maybe he thought he was dehydrated and delusional. Either way, to a normal person these things would have been pretty convincing that something supernatural was going on here.
God also gives him another promised miracle in case those two don’t work. However, this still wasn’t good enough for Moses. Instead, he complains that he is slow of speech. As if God, the one who created him, didn’t already know this. So God tries again and says, no it’s you go deliver this message. To which Moses flat out tells God no. Bad idea. Now, it wasn’t just the bush that was burning, but also God’s anger against Moses.
At this point, God has had enough and he says fine. “I will send your brother Aaron with you to speak, but I am going to speak to you, and you can speak to him. Don’t you mess this up like some schoolyard telephone game.” Apparently, defeated Moses goes to leave but not before God is like. “Moses! Seriously? Come on man, ‘But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it (v. 17). Was Moses really about to run off without his staff? I don’t know, maybe not.
It gets crazier.
As if that interaction between Moses and God wasn’t crazy enough, this story gets weirder. After all, there are actually a lot of people who barter with God and go directly against his wishes or what he says. We frequently see people make excuses to God’s face and live to tell about it (Jonah, Gideon, Abraham, Sarah, and the Disciples). That said, this next part just doesn’t make any sense at all.
We just saw God appear to Moses in a burning bush. It would have been very easy to just kill Moses right then and there. In verses 18-20 Moses is miraculously obeying God. In verses 21-23, God is telling Moses exactly what to do and what is going to happen. Then, in verse 24 God is going to kill him. Uh. Wait. What? I get the feeling Moses did something bad here. After all, Moses is credited with writing the book of Exodus. He must have decided to leave out a bit of the story because it just doesn’t make sense that after all that happened God would just kill Moses before completing the mission. Oh but wait, it gets crazier.
Moses’ wife for the win?
In order to prevent God killing Moses, his wife intervenes. How did she even know what was about to happen? And even more importantly… How… Did… She… Know… to cut her sons foreskin and touch her husband’s feet with it to keep him alive. What? The foot(no pun intended)notes in the NIV even literally states “The meaning of the Hebrew for this clause is uncertain.” This is one of the strangest paragraphs in the entire Bible. Something has to be missing or culturally lacking in the explanation. The transitions between these paragraphs are just bizarre and weird. Sure, sure you can make an argument that the penalty for such a sin was death (See Here). However, the timing here is just really weird. Shouldn’t this have all happened before the burning bush incident? On the other hand, was Moses’ sin overlooked until he was back on mission for God?
Ready for more? Check out the previous crazy Bible story!