Saturday, September 20, 2014

Three signs the Lord gives Moses for the Israelites

After Moses was called by God to deliver Israel from bondage in Egypt, Moses has some doubts that Israel will believe that he is the one to do this great work.  The Lord gives him three signs to use to help convince the Israelites of his qualifications.

1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.
2 And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod.
3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
4 And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:
5 That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.
6 ¶And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow.
7 And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.
8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land. (Exodus 4:1-9)

The signs are interesting, not only for their miraculous nature, but because of the messages they send.  They have a teaching function, and it can tell us something about God and the power He gives to prophets if we understand them better.

The first sign is throwing down the rod and it becomes a snake, then taking it up again and it becomes a rod again.  The second sign is putting his hand in his bosom, and it becomes leprous, then repeating the gesture and his hand is healed.  The third sign is taking some water from the river and pouring it out on the land where it would become blood.

The question these signs were meant to answer was that of doubt that the Lord really had appeared to Moses.  How were these signs to dissolve those doubts?

At its most basic level, these signs communicate Moses has acquired a miraculous power to change things.  He can change things because he has been changed by his encounter with God.  If he has the power to change things, then he can certainly help change their situation.

Moses has gained through God the power of life.  This power can make a dead rod alive and change it into an animal.  And it can change it back the way it was before.  With our scientific knowledge, we know how profound this change is.  It happened on the molecular level, changing wood fibers into bones, flesh, blood, muscles, scales, and all the DNA change with that, the creation of a brain and maybe even putting a snake’s spirit into it, all in the time it took the rod to fall from Moses’ hand to the earth.  And then changing it back again in the time he picked it up by the tail.  It implies that Moses has been given keys to spiritual life as well.

The signs also teach that Moses can now do what God can do.  Or rather, he does what God tells him to do and then miracles happen.  This message is an important one for us to learn about our church leaders and to trust the Lord ourselves.  It teaches how important obedience is and how blessed we may be when we obey without hesitation. 

The miracle of the leprosy coming and going teaches about God’s power of healing and power over the human body.  In the time it took for Moses to put his hand into his bosom and pull it out again, God formed the virus or bacteria in Moses’ hand and caused it to multiply and spread in his skin until it was visible.  And then, in the time it took for Moses to repeat that motion, the Lord removed the disease or changed it into healthy tissue.  We should have no doubt that whatever our physical afflictions or handicaps or medical issues, the Lord has the power to fix them immediately.  It is also to suggest the Lord’s power to heal the wounded soul and remove sin.

The miracle of drawing some water from the river and pouring it out on land and having it turn into blood teaches about the Lord’s power to change what the Moses sets apart.  To take the water out of the river was to separate it from the other waters, essentially setting it apart.  By this, the Lord hoped to teach that He had given Moses the power to take the Israelites from among the people and set them apart, and that they would be changed by that. 

This can help us today as we consider that we members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are set apart from the world.  We are also called and set apart for different church callings and we are changed by that. 

It is neat to me to know that we have a prophet on the earth today who has the same priesthood power that Moses had.  If President Monson were commanded by the Lord, he could do the same miracles Moses did.  It is also neat to me that we have these stories preserved for us so that we can learn the lessons the Lord wanted to teach through the miracles he had Moses do.

How have miracles in your life taught you?