Here’s question from Jim M.
I was wondering if you knew what the sages had to say about the 3 signs Moses was given by God to authenticate his ministry. God could have chosen rainbows, butterflies, and the Hallelujah chorus to send back with Moses. Instead He chooses a poisonous snake, leprosy, and water into blood. To me these signs all speak of rebellion, sin, and death.
Here are my thoughts:
Exodus 4:3, Serpent. A serpent can be a biblical metaphor for Satan or demonic powers (e.g., Gen 3:1; Luke 10:19 cp. 9:1 and Mark 16:18; Rev 12:9; 20:2). Pharaoh as ruler over Egypt (a metaphor for this world) was a type of Satan who is the ruler of this world. A rod or a staff can be a biblical metaphor for power, authority, rulership or judgment (Gen 38:18; Exod 4:17, 20; Ps 2:9; Rev 19:15). In this verse, it seems evident that YHVH was giving Moses authority over the powers of Satan and his forces. When Moses cast down his rod, it became a serpent, and Moses was immediately able to assume control over the serpent at will for the purposes of advancing YHVH’s spiritual kingdom. This seems to have been YHVH’s way of showing Moses that he was giving him supernatural authority over Pharaoh (Satan) in fulfilling his divine commission to liberate the children of Israel. The staff changing into a serpent reminds us of the authority Yeshua gave his disciples to cast out demons and to heal diseases (Luke 9:1; 10:19; Mark 16:15–18). Furthermore, YHVH instructed Moses to construct a bronze serpent and place it on a pole so that when the Israelites looked on it, they were healed of the bites of the fiery serpents (Num 21:8). The serpent represents sin, since it is Satan the serpent who introduced sin to man in the Garden of Eden, which brought upon man the curse of death. Yeshua took that curse on himself when he was lifted up on the cross of judgment as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14). Yeshua defeated Satan the serpent at the cross, even as Moses’ serpent defeated the serpents of the satanic Pharaoh’s magicians.
Exodus 4:6, Put your hand in your bosom. This second sign was to demonstrate Moses’ authority over sickness, disease and sin. Leprosy is as biblical metaphor for sin and the fact that it’s highly contagious (Lev 13–14). Only the Yeshua’s death on the cross can heal men of this spiritual disease as the Torah’s cleansing ritual for leprosy metaphorically points to (Lev 14:4–7).
Exodus 4:9, Blood on the dry land. This was the third sign or witness that YHVH gave Moses as confirmation of his divine commission. The Scripture instructs us to confirm things in the mouth of two or three witnesses (2 Cor 13:1). The Nile River and god to the Egyptians and was the source of much of Egypt’s economic wealth, since it watered that country’s crops. Bringing the judgment of death upon the Nile’s waters was a judgment against one of Egypt’s gods and its economic might.
Exodus 4:3–9, A summary. The three signs that YHVH had Moses perform to Pharaoh were merely warning shots against a wicked and unrepentant nation instructing them to submit to YHVH’s will. YHVH was telling the Egyptians that if they refused to obey his prophet, he would unleash demonic spirits, plagues of sickness and economic destruction on that nation. These are YHVH’s judgments against a nation that refuses to repent. Of course, Egypt refused to obey YHVH, and so he not only brought these judgments against Egypt, but much more, such that Egypt was totally destroyed. The same fate befalls the Mystery Babylon the Great worldwide system of the end times as we read about in the Book of Revelation.