Exodus 4:11

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.

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Related posts:
- Does God give and take away?
- Building ramps for the mentally ill
- God is good, but how good is he?

Comments

  1. My thanks to Andre van der Merwe for circulating Exodus 4:11 to a group of grace-friends and asking us for our take on it. Thanks also to Cornel Marais for suggesting Is 54:17 in connection with Paul’s blinding of Elymas. And thanks to everyone who has provided feedback on the E2R site on “Gracebook” (ie: Facebook, for the uninitiated). I am really enjoying the dialogue!

  2. this is excellent.

  3. Moses might have had a speech problem before he met God, but that is not his legacy.

    Acts 7:22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.

    Moses is recorded in Acts to have been mighty in words. Whatever your ‘weakness’ might be, Jesus is the solution. When you are weak, then He is strong. He doesn’t make you weak only to make it look like He is stronger, He shows Himself strong by overcoming your weakness. If there exists disability or lack, no matter what the cause, deliverance and abundance is to be proclaimed and enforced.

    Awesome article Paul!

  4. Paul…Great explanation of a difficult portion of scripture. Your blog has been a catalyst for me loving God even more than I already do! I’m so glad we serve a Good God who gives good things to his children.

  5. Hi Paul, interesting explanation. I wonder what you think of Acts 13 “9Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10″You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” Who made the man blind? Looks to me the HS is dishing out some judgement on an unbeliever. The works of the HS. Here’s one from left field. Who made Paul blind on the Damascus road? Me thinks God’s glory. Remember he needed to be healed of this blindness. Any thoughts/explanations? Be interested to hear

    • Re: Elymas. My friend Cornel Marais has an interesting interpretation for this along with Ananias and Sapphira’s death. The short version is that our words hold the power of life and death. Peter heard Jesus curse the fig tree and saw the fig tree wither and die. This same Peter tried to kill in Jesus’ name when he swung his sword at a guard’s head. Combine Peter’s passion for Jesus with his powerful words and maybe, just maybe, his words were the reason A&S dropped dead. Like the fig tree, they weren’t bearing fruit. Peter rebuked them and they died. On Cyprus, Elymas opposed Paul. This is serious stuff. If Elymas prevails, people are going to go to hell for lack of hearing the gospel. But Is 54:17 says that our heritage, as servants of the Lord, is that we shall condemn every tongue that rises against us. So right there you know that Paul’s words have more power than the words of Elymas. It’s no contest because God is on our side. So Paul speaks and Elymas is emphatically silenced. It is an amazing vindication of Paul and his message. I’ve heard that Smith Wigglesworth did similar things to people who heckled him when he preached.

      BTW, if you want an example of an unbeliever running smack into a painful judgment because of their sin, take a look at Herod (Acts 12:23). The grace of God that spares wicked men from the consequences of their sin does not last forever.

      Re: Saul/Paul on the Road to Damascus. Acts 9:3 suggests it was a heavenly light that blinded Saul, but I have no problem if you interpret that as God’s glory. If so, then the glory may have spared Saul from death for it hindered him from seeing God’s face. Isn’t it interesting that both Saul and Elymas were opposed to Christ and both were blinded for a few days? Sometimes God has to knock us off our high horse to get us to pay attention. But there is a big difference between God stopping a hell-bound sinner in his tracks in order to save a life and permanently handicapping someone (which is how some interpret Ex 4:11). On the Damascene Road, Saul had a life-changing encounter with God’s power. If he had been momentarily dazzled, he might have shaken off the incident as nothing more than an emotional experience. But he had three days of being led by the hand for the lesson to sink in. He learned well that Jesus is more than able to turn a sinner around. For the rest of his life Paul would preach and demonstrate the power of God.

  6. Hi Paul, I do not understand the second to final part of your post”What did God really say in the burning bush?” .. What do you say is the difference betwen God making people deaf & mute; to God making deaf & mute people? I understood what you said about God’s perfect representation being Jesus, and Jesus did not go around making people sick on earth. I also understood your saying that God’s will in Heaven is the same as His will on earth, so sickness is not his will on earth. Thus, basically you are saying he does not make healthy people sick, but he DOES make people with sickness/disability from when they were born?

    I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much…

    • If he DOES make people with disability from when they were born, because the Bible says, “I knit you from your mother’s womb”. Why would God, the potter, who is perfect make something that is not perfect, e.g. a genetic disorder, chromosomal imperfection (e.g. Down syndrome)? Adam’s chromosomes are XY, why would he make children with a third chromosome or lack a chromosome? Medical sources say Down syndrome or other certain genetic syndromes are 100% due to chance, there is absolutely no relation to mother or father having a defective gene. It just happens randomly to healthy parents (some cases are related to mothers being old, older mothers having higher risk of babies with genetic disability; however young and perfectly healthy parents also have such babies). As Christians, we do not believe things randomly happen. There is God’s plan and will for everything…

      Would you understand what I am trying to say……?

      • Hi, I just read your “About” page and was surprised to find out you live in Akl. You mean New Zealand AKl right? I live in Auckland too. How cool!

        Anyway, I would love to hear back from you regarding the above.

        Also, in the same line, in Job’s story (job 2:5,6), the devil said Job would curse God if God struck his flesh. God replies ‘go ahead, he is in your (devil’s) hands, but save his life.’ Doesn’t this mean God allowed the devil to give Job sickness? ‘God allowed’ mean ultimately it was in His will.

      • Hi Annie, thanks for your comment. What I believe God is saying in Ex 4:11 is that God makes all people, including those who are presently battling afflictions and living with handicaps. I am not saying that God afflicts people with handicaps or birth defects. Jesus never gave anyone a disease or handicap – He healed them. And Jesus is just like His Father.

        We live in a messed up world. Creation is suffering the effects of Adam’s sin and this means that bad things happen to good people. If medical sources saying Down syndrome is a random event, then I say science has a big knowledge gap to fill. Most effects have causes. Maybe in 50 years we’ll realize it was the chemicals in the air fresheners or the fluoride in the water. I don’t know what causes half the things in the world, but I’m not about to start saying God is the author of evil.

        Even though we live in a messed up world, God is ultimately in control. There is absolutely no way of denying that God is on the throne and that nothing happens without His full knowledge and His implicit permission. I like how Steve McVey puts it: “Does God allow evil? Of course, He does! How else would it happen?” Did God allow the devil to afflict Job? He did. Does this mean it was God’s will to afflict Job? Hmm. I would’ve said it was the devil’s will, not God’s. I don’t believe God was looking for a patsy to do His dirty work. Neither do I believe, as someone said on FB, that the devil is God’s sheep dog. The devil is a destroyer and it’s in his nature to harm and kill and cripple and afflict. This is not God’s nature at all.

        Can God prevent evil? Of course. So why doesn’t He? I don’t know. Why didn’t God stop the Holocaust? I don’t know. Why didn’t God stop that drunk driver who killed my grandmother’s sister? I don’t know. I may never know. But this is all beside the present point, which is this: If you are sick, handicapped or suffering, you can know with 100% certainty that God wants to heal you right now. You do not need to doubt this. It is His express intention. Or else why did He send Jesus?

  7. Hi Paul, Thanks for your reply. This idea is really interesting and new to me, because I’ve always thought and heard preachings on how God could allow sicknesses in your life, but ultimately it is for your good and He works all things for good in the end. Recently, I heard Pas. Bill Johnson say in his healing cd that it is wrong to say “God allowed sickness in my life.” because that is not true. Did you hear of that and do you agree with him?

    I think God allows pain and suffering in one’s life, e.g. Joseph getting sold by his brothers, going to jail for no reason… However, are you saying this is not His will, it is a result of human corruption and sinfulness, am I on the right track with you? Illness, pain, and suffering are all not His will?

    And about your last comment, “God wants to heal you right now” I don’t understand.. like what you said about your grandmother’s sister, He wants to heal, but for some, he doesn’t heal. The whole church congregation had been praying months for one of their church member’s cancer. She herself believed God would heal, but he didn’t in the end. So, how are you to hold onto the message “God wants to heal you right now.”…? He may let your illness stay there, but what he may want more is your spiritual health e.g. how close you are with God and how much you know Him personally, rather than your physical health…

    Hope you had a blessed Sunday~!

    • I hope it’s clear from what I write that God NEVER gives us sickness to teach us things. What kind of father would inject his children with disease or run over their legs to teach them stuff? That’s not how God operates. Jesus came to reveal our good Father, not a child abuser.

      Remember, if in doubt about these things – just look to Jesus. Jesus took leprosy off people, he didn’t give it to people. If God the Father wanted people sick but God the Son wanted people healed, they would be a house divided.

      When Jesus healed the sick He was also giving us a prophetic picture of what he was going to accomplish through His death: “Surely he took our infirmities (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses)…” Surely means surely. He did it. All He asks is that we believe it and enforce it in our situations.

      You mentioned the church member who died of cancer. My father died of cancer as a young man. God allows these things to happen but that doesn’t mean they are his will. You quoted Bill Johnson. BJ has also said that Jesus raising people from the dead shows that “not everyone dies in God’s timing.” What is God’s timing for healing? I’ll give you a clue – it’s the same as his timing for salvation. Right now. Today. My friend Cornel Marais has written more about this here. I hope this helps.

  8. First of all let me Just say I did like the perspective of this article. But lets get something clear, if God is in control of everything then he is responsible for it all!! If He has the ability to respond, then it’s His Responsibly either way; But if he gave us that responsibility then it’s our choice, God has given us all things that pertain to life and GODLINESS. So we have been given the ability to respond towards the work of the enemy.

    • Your conclusion follows logically from your premise, but your premise is unBiblical. Or rather, it is unformed by the New Testament. The ancients attributed everything that happened to God or Fate and that mentality is certainly evident in books like Job. If you had talked to Job about Satan, Job would’ve said “Who?” Jesus came to reveal the Father and part of that ministry meant distinguishing the Father from the “father of lies.” Jesus came to give life; the thief comes to steal and destroy, said Jesus. If you are being robbed or destroyed, that’s not God having an off day. That is the work of another. The apostles understood this which is why they wrote about the powers of darkness and said things like “We know that … the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1Jn 5:19). So although it is popular to say God is in control of everything, this is not what Jesus and the apostles claimed. It is, in fact, a spectacular abdication of personal responsibility by mankind.

  9. on fire for the word says:

    still confused how you are gettng that interpertation that God did not cause a person to be handicapped

    • Confusion is inevitable if you read the written word without reading it through the lens of the Living Word. How many people did Jesus inflict with sickness? None. How many able-bodied people did Jesus handicap? None. How many sighted people did Jesus blind? None. In fact, Jesus did the very opposite. How many sick and disabled people came to Jesus and were healed? All of them. Jesus is the exact representation of his Father’s being. If Jesus was healing people his Father had made ill, they are a house divided. Jesus clearly says he came to give life and he distinguished himself from the thief who robs and destroys. I understand that plenty of people are saying God did this evil thing and that bad thing. So you will have to choose whom you will listen to. Choose Jesus and the confusion ends.

      • Hi Paul, I respect your views and am glad we can agree that we have an all loving God but your error is that you are afraid to believe God is truly in control of all aspects of our lives and he purposes all things to glorify his name. By denying the fact that God gift’s people with certain ailments and handicaps is not Biblical. I think of the angel that wrestled with Jacob (Genesis 32:25). The angel dislocated Jacobs hip which caused him to limp for the rest of his days giving Jacob a permanent reminder of his encounter with God. Jacobs life long policy was to run. His final Glory is that he learned to lean (Hebrews 11:21). There is a difference in causing something to happen and allowing it to happen, but when god allows something to happen that he could have prevented you must accept that as the sovereign will of God. We can not deny that God blesses us with all kind’s of trial’s of pain to strengthen us and those around us, ultimately bringing glory to his name. Yes, satan does make people sick because unfortunately a lot of humanity is living under the influence of this world and its evil ways, but those of us who willingly choose to abide by God can not and will not believe satan has the power to make us sick whenever HE chooses. In whatever condition I am in I will accept it as God’s sovereign power (not satan’s) and continue to praise him through the storm, knowing I will come out stronger.

        A wound is a good thing if it is accepted as a stewardship from God, appropriated as a channel of God’s strength and consecrated to God’s purpose. Where dependence is the objective dependence is the advantage.

        We can’t assume all sickness is evil only because we don’t understand it. God does not owe us an explanation for anything he does in our lives. It was not Jesus mission to come and make us sick. He came to save the world and while he was here he healed people because that’s just what God does. He also showed us that we can do the same.

    • Being handicapped is a result of sin decay. So I ask you this “How can the perfect holy God who cannot sin use the decay from sin as a creative force?”

      • that’s a great question. and one that we often can’t understand until we receive a revelation of the good thing (life) that was birthed from “decay.” a seed grows well in fertilized soil: fertilizer is “decayed” matter… too little is ineffective and too much is toxic – but just the right amount, combined with other essential elements (i.e.: Holy Spirit), causes rigorous growth.
        i have to trust and believe God’s Word when He says: “He makes ALL things work together for good” (and ALL means the good, the bad and the ugly.)
        perhaps the best example is to look at how God used death (the ultimate result of decay) to bring forth new life… Jesus’ death made our resurrection life possible. think about it: Jesus used satan’s own weapon (death) against him – to conquer satan AND to set us free from his kingdom of darkness! halleluiah!

  10. Jesus tells us why God allows people to be born with physical infirmities and disabilities, when He answers the disciples questions about the man born blind in john 9… so that the works of God might be revealed in them! (vs3)
    He chooses the foolish and weak things of the world to shame the wise and the strong. He chooses the despised and lowly things, and the things that are not – to bring to nothing the things that are… (1 cor 1:27-28)

  11. Wow, very interesting discussion. I’d have to say I truly agree with the simplicity of God’s goodness toward us. Little kids play and understand that there is evil and there is good without any complicated doctrine.

    We complicate it. I was talking to my wife last night and we both just shook our heads realizing how many Christians seem to WANT God to be the direct cause of suffering and pain. It truly is bizarre. These same people would never do anything to hurt their sons or daughters but for some reason God’s plans are “beyond our understanding” (which is true) but somehow that includes hurting us on purpose.

    A couple analogies- You want your kids to ride bikes to have fun, be free, get places, so you take off the training wheels. He tells you what you need to do and then helps you get started. You may fall, you may not. God does not intend for you to fall but there is risk, the world has bumps in the pavement and on top of it their are bullies who want to knock you over.

    Coaches and commanders train their athletes and battalions. They prepare them for competition and war. Never do these coaches or commanders purposely inflict pain or harm on their groups of people. Yes, they are ALLOWED to go through rigorous training and trials but only so they will be battle ready.

    What kind of coach and commander would purposely hurt one their own? It makes no sense. We need to get back to the simplicity of God’s goodness. Last analogy-

    Satan attacked God’s character in the garden, bringing into question his goodness. Ever since then we have been trying to make sense of it. The Lord told me once very clearly that he is good ALL THE TIME and that (the context of this) it actually hurt him when we think otherwise.

    God is good, all the time.

  12. Excellent. Excellent. EXCELLENT

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