The medical doctors of our world tell us that fear is a very basic emotional response. It may even be present in us from birth. However, many fears are learned.
As we grow and mature, some fears spring from our inability to cope with the situations around us. Other fears arise because we do not know what lies ahead of us. The future always has a sense of the unknown, and for many of us, that unknown creates a real fear.
Still other fears arise because of what has happened. The past seems to haunt us. It follows us like a shadow. We are constantly shadowed by it, it lurks in the background, and we wonder, can we ever be delivered from such fears?
I am sure most of us have fears. Some are deeply embedded; some may only be on the surface, but we have our fears. My message is about OVERCOMING FEARS. To understand how to overcome fear, we will meditate on the Scripture portion in Exodus 4:1-9.
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.
This experience that Moses had with the LORD should teach us how the ordinary NECESSITIES of life can be used by the LORD to overcome fear.
Let’s get the setting first. Moses had a nagging suspicion. God called him to go to Egypt and lead out His people, to bring them out of the land of bondage into the land that flows with milk and honey. But Moses said, “They will not believe me.” It may well have been true as far as Moses could see. I have learned that acceptance is important to every person. Moses said, “They won’t accept me.” That created in his heart a fear of failure. He said, furthermore, “They will say the LORD has not appeared unto thee.” They may have said, “You just thought the LORD came to you. He didn’t, really.” Because Moses felt they would not believe, he said, “I don’t want to.” He tried to protect himself from the rejection that he thought would come. Rejection is devastating to any person.
His suspicion was grounded upon his past experience. You find in Exodus 2 that Moses would have delivered the children of Israel forty years earlier. Apparently, he didn’t go about it the way the LORD had planned. When he tried to make peace between two Hebrews as they fought with each other, one said to him, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?”
The thing that happened in the past haunted him. Perhaps you, too, have a nagging suspicion that your plans will not work out right. Maybe you need support right now. Turn to the LORD; He can support you and deliver you. But make sure that your plans are truly His plans.
Moses learned after he made that confession to the LORD that God could use ordinary necessities of life in an extraordinary way to help him overcome his fear. God said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
And so, the LORD used the first Necessity.
I. The Shepherd’s Rod.
God used what Moses had. He had his rod in his hand; so, God used that. God said to him, “Throw it on the ground.” He threw it on the ground, and it changed into a serpent. It was a miracle. That nagging suspicion faded into the background, and he became afraid of the serpent as it slithered in the dust.
A new fear now suddenly faced him. But the LORD said to him, “Put forth your hand and take it by the tail.” Now watch; follow carefully. Moses stretched forth his hand and took it by the tail, and it became a rod in his hand.
I wonder if there is not a principle here that we ought to be sure to get. It took courage on the part of Moses to grab that serpent by the tail. In so doing, he overcame his fear. Courage will overcome fear. To face a terrifying situation and win takes away fear. Fear is haunting. It is destructive. But by conquering the object you fear, as Moses did with the shepherd’s rod, you, too, will find strength of spirit.
Then God moved from the rod to
II. The Working Hand.
God had other uses for the very hand that had held the rod. God said now to Moses, “Put your hand into your bosom.” So, he did, and when he pulled it out it was leprous. What good would a leprous hand do with a rod that can be turned into a snake? That hand became useless, perhaps even more than useless, a disability. As Moses looked at his hand, the LORD said to him, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” He did, and this time when he pulled it out, it was restored again like the other.
Is there some principle here that we ought to understand? Yes, there is. God showed Moses that he had no power within himself. It was first the rod and then the hand. Moses must realize that to overcome fear, he would need to face the reality of his own inability. The ability of God would need to be powerfully evident. Jesus reminds of that important truth in John 15:5, where He told His disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
When it comes to this hand of Moses, he needed to realize that even the members of his body were controlled by the LORD. That will remove fear. That will remove fear from your heart when you know that God is in control so completely that He controls even the members of your body. Moses learned that. Moses understood that.
Then the LORD took yet another necessity of life to remove Moses’ fears:
III. The Quenching Water.
Moses understood the value of water. Water is very important in the life of a desert shepherd. This was the last resort. God said if they do not believe these two other signs, then you will take some water out of the river, and pour it on the dry land, and when it pours out on the dry land, it will become blood. Ugh, how disgusting! Think about drinking blood – it’s repulsive. Moses most likely knew what it was to quench his thirst by the cool springs of the desert, quite different from the water of the Nile, but most likely, he understood that. But turning water into blood? That was horrible to even think about.
You see, God was taking these common ordinary necessities in life and erasing, dispelling fear by them. Moses saw how God can overcome fear. God was building courage in Moses’ heart. Courage is the positive, fear is the negative. Courage overcomes fear.
Moses demonstrates the way to get rid of your fear: tell the LORD exactly what it is. Then God used the ordinary necessities of life in an extraordinary way to destroy Moses’ fears: his shepherd’s rod, his working hand, and the quenching water. With them, God was able to overcome Moses’ fear.
But God wants to remove your fear, too. Before He can do that, you must believe in Him; stake your faith in Him. Then, tell Him what your fears are. He won’t be shocked by them. He won’t ridicule you because of them. He won’t reject you because of them. He cares about you, and He loves you. Believe that He can help you overcome your fears, and He will.
Thanks, J. Mark, for teaching us more from Exodus, and thank you for being there. If you would like this teaching or if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us; I’ll give you our contact information shortly.
I love how Exodus teaches us that God is in control and He’s at work, He always has been, and He always will be. We can trust Him right now, no matter what we are experiencing. We won’t always understand Him, but we can trust Him. His timing might be different than ours; think about Moses. And He may not do what we think He should be doing; remember what happened to Joseph. However, we have the benefit of looking back at many years of history, and we can see God is Sovereign: His purposes will be accomplished. This is His story, and He is the author.
If you are interested, we have a study guide for Exodus available. It is a small booklet designed to help you learn more from each of these lessons. We call it the Hope Herald, and if you would like one, all you have to do is ask.
Here is how you can connect with us. One of the best ways is via email. Our email is [email protected]. If you don’t have email, you could send us a letter, our address is Hope for Today, Box 3, Breezewood, PA 15533. Or you can connect with us on our website. Our website is Heraldsofhope.org. While you are there, please look around for more teaching like this. On our website, you will also find other resources available from Heralds of Hope. Again, the website is www.Heraldsofhope.org.
Thanks again for joining us for today’s program. I encourage you to join us again next week as we continue our study in Exodus. We look forward to being with you then and will leave you with a verse from I Corinthians 10, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, Do it all for the glory of God!” Blessings to you as you glorify Him.
This episode is an exposition of Exodus 4:1-9 by J. Otis Yoder, re-recorded by J. Mark Horst, with an opening and closing by Arlin Horst.