A little while ago we looked at a sincere lady in the Bible who mistakenly believed that God gives us things like death and poverty. As I explained in that post, God does not give us bad gifts. Not ever. But what about Exodus 4:11? This time it’s not a misguided person speaking, but the Lord himself:
“Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?” (Ex 4:11, NIV)
This time we can’t use the excuse, “the speaker didn’t know Jesus,” or “this is what God looks like from a distance,” because it is God himself who is doing the talking.
Neither is this an obscure scripture recorded by some prophet whose name no one can remember. These words were spoken to Moses by the Lord out of the burning bush. It’s one of the most famous dialogues in the whole Bible!
But does God really make people deaf, mute and blind? And if he doesn’t, how are we to account for this Scripture which seems to say that he does? Surely God is good and his word is true. Thankfully we don’t have to choose. God is very good and the Bible is accurate.
Here I will outline four reasons proving that God doesn’t make people deaf, mute and blind. Working from this foundation, I will then give you an interpretation for this “problem” scripture that is consistent with God’s character. As we will see, instead of setting limits to God’s goodness, this Scripture massively affirms that God is good and that he loves us.
God does not give people physical handicaps
1. Whenever we have any confusion about what God might or might not do, we should look to Jesus. Jesus is the “perfect imprint and very image of God’s nature” (Heb 1:3, AMP). Can you imagine Jesus going around and making people deaf, mute or blind? No. In fact, Jesus did the exact opposite:
“Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.” (Mt 15:30)
“People were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He has done everything well,’ they said. ‘He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’” (Mk 7:37)
Jesus did not make healthy people sick; he made sick people well. And Jesus is just like his Father (Jn 14:9).
2. If God is not making people deaf, mute or blind, who is? Physical ailments are a part of the death-dealing curse we inherited from Adam. God made man glorious, good and immortal, but man rebelled and chose the way of death. Sickness in any form is part of the corruption that we chose, not the life God gave us (Gen 3:19).
Physical handicaps can also be demonic in origin:
“When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. ‘You deaf and mute spirit,’ he said, ‘I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.’ (Mk 9:25)
Physical illness and handicaps also arise from guilt and self-condemnation.
“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly… My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body… I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth.” (Ps 38:4-13)
Some people are born disabled. Others become disabled as a result of accidents, injuries and sickness. Wicked people were blinded by Elisha (2 Kgs 6:18), Paul (Acts 13:10) and angels (Gen 19:11). But these were relatively rare instances of godly men and angels prevailing over evil (see Is 54:17). An angel rendered Zechariah mute for a time (Lk 1:20) and Saul was temporarily blinded by a light from heaven (Acts 9:9). But no one has ever been crippled by God.
3. In the passage above, God is speaking to Moses. If God was in the business of afflicting healthy people with physical disabilities and imperfections, surely Moses would not have later said this about God’s character:
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” (Deu 32:4)
Even without knowing Jesus, even living under the Old Covenant, Moses knew that God is the author of perfection, not imperfection. God is good and everything he does is good. He is light and in him there is no darkness at all (1 Jn 1:5).
4. Here’s a simple question: Is there deafness, muteness, or blindness in heaven? Of course not. If God does not permit these things in heaven, why would we think they are his will here on earth? Isaiah prophesied that one sign of the kingdom of heaven coming to earth would be the end of physical handicaps:
“In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll, and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.” (Isa 29:18)
God is not an under-cover agent. He doesn’t operate one way in one place and another way in the other. He is the unchanging Rock. His will on heaven is the same as his will for earth. Moses knew it, the prophets declared it, and Jesus showed it.
What did God really say in the burning bush?
The Scripture I quoted at the top of this post comes from the New International Version of the Bible. Let’s take a look at the same scripture as translated in the New King James Version:
“So the LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?’” (Ex 4:11, NKJV)
Did you spot the difference? One version says “the Lord makes him deaf or mute,” while the other version says “the Lord makes the deaf and the mute.” Big difference! God does not make people deaf or mute, but he does make all people – including those who, for whatever reason, happen to be deaf or mute.
If you have grown up with a physical handicap or deformity, you may think that you are a mistake. Perhaps society has told you that you are an imperfection or a drain on its resources. But you are not! God’s message to you today is, “I made you! You are mine and I am with you!” God is not surprised by your weaknesses. He knows you inside and out. He knit you together inside your mother’s womb. God made you and everything God makes is good.
God’s abilities are greater than your disabilities
Moses considered himself a handicapped person. He complained to God, “I am slow of speech and tongue” (Ex 4:10). Evidently he had some kind of speech impediment. Perhaps he stuttered. Whatever it was, his impediment caused this prince of Egypt do draw back from speaking in public. Look at God’s response to Moses’ complaint:
“I made mouths and I made yours! Go, I will help you speak.” (Ex 4:11-12, my paraphrase)
There is a double revelation for us here. God is both our Maker and our Helper. You are not a cosmic accident and you are not helpless. You are God’s handiwork and he is with you!
Moses was slow to get it, but eventually he learned to rely on God’s goodness in his hour of need. After years of trusting in God’s help, Moses declared to the whole assembly of Israel:
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he… Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?” (Deu 32:4,6)
God doesn’t make people deaf and mute, but he did make you. In whatever state you find yourself in, know that he is your Father and Creator with abundant grace to help you and heal you.