There is a chiastic structure which follows God’s paragraph divisions in today’s reading (visit The Hebrew Bible in English to record God’s paragraph divisions in your Bible):
1A: Exo 2:23-25, The LORD heard the groaning of the children of Israel;
1B: Exo 3:1-4:17, The LORD met Moses on the mountain of God + words/ signs of the LORD;
1C: Exo 4:18-21a, return to Egypt + Moses’ wife and sons + rod/ signs/ wonders;
1D: Exo 21b, The LORD will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he will not let Israel go;
CENTRAL AXIS: Exo 4:22, Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD: Israel is My son, My firstborn.”
2D: Exo 4:23, If Pharaoh refuses to let Israel go;
2C: Exo 4:24-26, encampment on the way to Egypt + Moses’ wife and son + circumcision;
2B: Exo 4:27-30, Aaron met Moses on the mountain of God + words/ signs of the LORD;
2A: Exo 4:31, The LORD looked on the affliction of the children of Israel.
Look at the prevalence in these two chapters of the signs and wonders of the LORD!
Burning bush (that drew Moses’ attention) – Exo 3:3;
The sign that the LORD had sent Moses – Exo 3:12;
The LORD will strike Egypt with wonders – Exo 3:20;
Moses is given three signs to perform – Exo 4:1-9;
Moses will take the rod with which he will do the signs – Exo 4:17;
Moses took the rod of God in his hand – Exo 4:20;
See that Moses does all the LORD’s wonders before Pharaoh – Exo 4:21;
The signs which the LORD commanded Moses – Exo 4:28;
He did the signs in the sight of the people – Exo 4:30.
This is the first place in Scripture where God gives the power to do signs to someone He has called. God giving His people power to do signs is not only a New Testament occurrence (although in the New Testament, the Spirit is poured out on all flesh, Act 2:17, not leaders only)! The signs of the Spirit first operated under Moses! In fact, Scripture combines the word or instruction of the LORD to Moses, with the signs of the LORD that Moses is to do, in a single strong paragraph, Exo 3:1-4:17, in order to highlight that God’s Word of instruction and His Spirit of power are joined together and not at odds!
The purpose of the first sign, the burning bush, is to draw Moses’ attention. Once God had Moses’ attention, He could tell him His instruction and expect to be heeded. The purpose of the signs which God gave to Moses is revealed in the narrative:
And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of all the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped. Exo 4:30-31
Belief in the truth of the Word of the LORD is the fruit of miraculous signs. And the fruit of belief, is worship. The signs of the Spirit always have as their purpose, opening the door for the Word of the LORD to be heard, heeded, believed, and obeyed!
For further study: Study the life of Moses revealed so far in Exo 1-4. What elements of his life are repeats of elements in the patriarchs’ lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph? If you wrote out the chiastic structure which the lives of the patriarchs followed when we studied Gen 29-30, fill in any elements from the sons of Jacob revealed thus far.
Finding Messiah: These chapters are FULL to the brim with signs of the Messiah! There are at least three mentions of the number three, and at least one instance of restored life from death! Also there is at least one other prophetic reference to Messiah from yesterday’s chapters that I completely missed yesterday! But the one I want to focus on is a prophecy of Messiah revealed by thematic analysis in today’s reading:
Now the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go, return to Egypt; for all the men who sought your life are dead.” Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand. Exo 4:19-20
Where have we heard a narrative like this before?
Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. Mat 2:19-21
Now this is not to say that Egypt = Israel. But just that, Moses, as a type of Messiah, was in exile in a land that was not his (Midian), just as Messiah Himself was in exile in a land that was not his (Egypt). The LORD told Moses to return to his land, for those who had sought his life were dead, just as the LORD told Joseph to return to his land, for those who had sought the Child’s life were dead. And just as Moses put his wife and sons on a donkey to return to Egypt, Joseph put his wife and Son on a donkey to return to Israel.
This example of thematic connection and analysis allows us to see that Scripture is once again revealing prophecies of Messiah in the life of Moses!
For further reading:
Egypt and the Bible (Assoc. in Biblical Research)