Exodus 4:18-31

EXODUS 4:18-31


Ask God to guide your discussions and to experience his presence as you read his word together.

Share about a time when you had to leave somewhere/something to enter into something new. How did it feel to embark on this change, and how was your relationship with God through it?

The book of Exodus continues the story of Genesis. In a nutshell, Genesis tells the story of how God created the heavens and the earth, and everything God created was good.

At the pinnacle of this good world, God created humanity to live in a perfect love relationship with him and to image his glory to the world. The first man and woman were given a mission: to multiply and fill the earth with image-bearers of God so that the glory of God would cover the earth like the waters cover the sea (Gen 1:26-27). But an enemy crept into God’s creation, that ancient serpent, the Devil. And he deceived the man and woman, and the world was plunged into sin and death. God promised that one day a descendant of Eve would come as a deliverer, and he would crush the serpent’s head and lead humanity back into God’s presence forever. But until that day, there would be a battle between the Serpent's descendants and Eve's descendants (Gen 3:15).

The rest of Genesis tells the story of how God began to fulfill this redemptive promise through a specific descendant of Eve named Abraham. God came to Abraham and promised that through his family line, all the peoples of the world would be blessed (Gen 12:1-3). In other words, God was telling Abraham that the promised descendant of Eve, who would crush the serpent’s head and bring humanity back to God, would come through his line. Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob, and Jacob had twelve sons, and God began fulfilling this redemptive promise.

But Genesis ends with a threat. A famine comes upon the land, and this family, chosen to be the family through whom the deliverer would come, is threatened with extinction. It appears that God’s promises hang in the balance. So they flee to Egypt and find relief there for the next 400 years. The chosen family is spared. This is where Exodus picks up. 

In Exodus 1-3, we read of the birth and call of Moses, the man God had chosen to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt. In Chapter 4, we read about Moses’ reluctance to serve as God’s deliverer and how God promised to be with him and display his power through him. In our focus passage, Moses prepares to return to Egypt to step into God’s plans for him, ending with Aaron speaking on Moses’ behalf to Israel.


Read Exodus Chapter 4:18-31 aloud.


Begin by examining the text together. What do you notice? What stands out? Who are the main characters? How are they characterized in the passage? What is surprising or hard to understand?1


  • Exodus 4 features reassuring words from God to Moses, yet Moses would still be concerned about approaching Pharaoh to request that he let his people go. Sometimes, we don’t receive all the reassurance that we had hoped. Where have you experienced this?
  • Exodus 4 shows us that despite eliminating some risks, we are called into the unknown to some extent. What situations is God calling you into where the unknown presents a daunting challenge? What does faithfulness look like? How can you grow in faith as you step into the unknown?
  • In Exodus 4, God continually shows kindness and compassion regardless of Moses’ reluctance to obey. He gives Moses reassurance regarding the end to the immediate threats upon his life, he provides Aaron to speak for him to Israel, and Israel responds with worship as they hear of God’s compassion. Where have you seen God’s kindness and compassion in your life recently?


Close your time by praising God for his kindness and compassion. Pray for confidence to step into God’s plans for your lives, even where there are unknowns.
 1Example Observations:
  • Moses asks his father-in-law for a blessing before departing, honoring him for his extended hospitality (v18)
  • God reassures Moses that his life is no longer in danger since those seeking his harm in Egypt have died. These would likely be the Pharaoh and any survivors of the deceased seeking vengeance for striking down the Egyptian beating down a Hebrew in 2:11-12. (v19)
  • God explains that Moses will be endowed with God's power to perform miracles and gives him an idea of what to expect. God demonstrates his sovereignty and omniscience. (v21)
  • Moses will go before Pharaoh, the head of Egypt, so that he will go right to the "Serpent King" himself rather than his subordinates - a daunting prospect for Moses. (v21, cf. Genesis 3:15)
  • God will harden Pharaoh's heart so that he will not let the Israelites go until God decides it is time. The temporary hardening of Pharaoh's heart draws attention to his sinfulness. In view is Pharaoh's choice to disobey God and God's sovereignty. (v21)
  • God relates to Israel as his firstborn, his precious possession, which is why he punishes Pharaoh by threatening his firstborn if Pharoah will not let Israel leave Egypt. (v22-23)
  • God implicitly offers Pharaoh the choice to let Israel go of his own volition, avoiding punishment. (v23)
  • Israel must be set free to serve God, worship him, and work for the right master. (v23)
  • God seeks to put Gershom (Moses' son) to death due to his uncircumcision (circumcision was a symbol of belonging to the people of Israel, God's people). (v24)
  • Zipporah, therefore, performed an emergency circumcision on her child in obedience to the law. (v25-26)
  • Moses and Aaron work together as a team appointed by God. (v27-31)
  • Aaron speaks on behalf of Moses to Israel, as Moses speaks on behalf of God to Aaron. (v29-30)
  • The people respond with initial trust toward Aaron and Moses. (v31)
  • God is portrayed as compassionate toward Israel in her suffering. (v31)
  • Israel responds with praise and worship to God's display of compassion through Aaron's words. (v31)
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