Exodus 4 opens with Moses' fear. Interestingly, God answers his hesitation by forcing him to face three very different types of fear.
Fear of predator
The first is the snake. It's a predator. When you see a predator, you run away, and that's exactly what Moses did. Wasn't it just the last chapter when God promised to be with him? Didn't Moses remember that the God who had created the snake could certainly protect him from the snake? I would have run too. I know about fear of snakes. I lived in
Africa and was taught "all snakes are
poisonous until dead." The snakes I saw were too. I saw cobras and black
mambas and green mambas and vipers. I had enough close calls that to this day,
I can't look at a viper behind glass without feeling a
twinge of fear. And then God tells him to pick it up--by the tail of all
things! Moses is forced to face his fear. In a moment he'll be asked to face
his fear of public speaking. The snake is a good place to start. Gabon
Fear of physical affliction
The second is fear of physical affliction. This is a very different kind of fear. You can't run a way from this like you would run away from a snake. Moses pulls out his hand and it's white with leprosy. You don't hear much about leprosy today. It's a disease of the past. But when I lived in
Africa, there was a leprosy colony not far from
us. It is a current disease they still battle. A man in our village had leprosy.
I would see him in the market place. He had sores on his face. He had no hands.
We sometimes gave him money. As a child, I was frightened of him, of the
permanency of his condition. When Moses saw the leprosy, it was the realization
of his worst fear. It was more than an affliction. It would mean an entire life
change, a change of lifestyle, of culture, of social status. And in that
moment, the Great Physician shows his incredible power as he removes the disease
as easily as he afflicted him.
Fear of impending doom
The third type of fear is a contamination. It's the same kind of fear that stems from destruction or natural disaster. It's a large scale fear affecting not only your self, but everyone you know, everyone you love. God tells Moses that when he pours out water from the river, it will turn to blood. This would have been significant to people living in the desert. They understood the necessity of water. It was the life source of the city. A lack of water meant agonizing thirst followed by inevitable death for everyone. This is the sort of fear that turns into widespread panic.
His lesson on fear is only the beginning. Moses has a lot to learn about trusting God.