We have seen that the record of the call of Moses is the most complete record in the Bible pertaining to God’s calling. When Moses came to the back side of the desert and met God there, he beheld the sign of a thorn-bush that burned without being consumed. Although this sign was marvelous, it was somewhat objective. In this message we shall consider the three signs in chapter four, signs which are very subjective.

It is important for us to see why these three subjective signs were given. At the end of chapter three, God’s calling of Moses seemed to be complete. Moses had seen the objective sign of the burning thorn-bush, and he had heard God speaking to him. God gave to Moses a full revelation of Himself. Thus, on God’s side, the calling of Moses was complete. However, on Moses’ side, it was not complete. Exodus 4:1 says, “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.” This word indicates that although Moses had seen a most marvelous sign and had heard the voice of God, he had not been inspired or moved. For this reason, the three signs found in chapter four were given. These signs were to be conclusive evidence that Moses had truly been called by God. The principle is the same with God’s called ones today. Whoever claims to be called by God should have the mark of these three subjective signs.

It is significant that the Lord showed Moses three signs, not two, not four, nor any other number. In the Bible the number three is a meaningful number. Because God is triune, the number three is related to God’s economy, to God’s dispensation. In Luke 15 there are three parables, related to the Son, the Spirit, and the Father. But in Exodus 4 there are three signs, dealing with the serpent, leprosy, and blood.

As every reader of the Bible knows, the serpent represents Satan. In Genesis 3 we see Satan, the subtle serpent. The serpent in Exodus 4 is the very serpent in Genesis 3, the one who is called “the ancient serpent” in the book of Revelation (12:9; 20:2). It is not adequate for the called one just to know God; every called one must also know the serpent. Not only should we know how to deal with God, how to contact God, how to have fellowship with God, and how to trust in God; we must also be able to deal with the serpent.

The leprosy in the second sign is a matter of the rottenness, corruption, and uncleanness of the flesh of sin. According to the Old Testament, every leprous person had to openly declare that he was unclean. The sin signified by leprosy is not the outward sin, but the subjective sin, the sin in our flesh. It is out from this sin that there is rottenness, corruption, and uncleanness.

The third sign is that of water which turns into blood. Blood here signifies the death brought in by the world with its enjoyment. Therefore, blood in the third sign is related to the world.

The serpent, leprosy, and blood are related respectively to Satan, to sin in the flesh, and to the death brought in by the world. Those who have been called by God must have not only the objective sign of the burning thorn-bush, but the subjective signs of the serpent, leprosy, and the blood. As called ones, we need some subjective experiences, some subjective evidences, to substantiate to others that we have truly been called by God and sent by Him. These evidences are the ability to deal with the Devil, the ability to deal with the sinful flesh, and the ability to deal with the death brought in by the world. Suppose a certain person comes to you claiming that he has been sent by God. If he does not know how to deal with Satan, the flesh, and the world, you should not believe that he is a sent one. The sign of a burning thorn-bush is not adequate proof that one has been called by God. A sent one must be able to deal with the serpent, with leprosy, and with blood.

We have pointed out that Exodus is a book of pictures. What marvelous pictures are in chapter four! In these pictures we see Satan, the sinful flesh, and the world of death. If we know how to deal with these things, then we are truly God’s sent ones. It is crucial that we all know the significance of the three subjective signs in this chapter and have such subjective experiences.