The call of Moses as the deliverer
Exodus chapter 3 and 4 tell us about the meeting of Moses with God. It was probably the most important meeting of his life but he had no advanced warning about it. There, in the desert, Moses found that God had already set the agenda. There was no time to his ease, no time to think up ways of diverting God’s attention to other matters. When God confronted Moses, we find out what Moses was really made of.
A. The voice from the bush:
The scene is the slope of Mount Horeb, also called Sinai. On the summit of this mount, Sinai, Moses will later receive the Law. But Moses does not know this as he guides his flock in search of vegetation. Suddenly he comes upon a bush in perpetual flame and stops short in wonder. He is jolted a second time when a voice speaks from the bush, calling him by name.
When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him from within the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” God said, “Do not approach any closer! Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” He added, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:4-6
The inclusion of Moses’ father suggests the continuity of God’s relationship with His people. Moses is astounded and awed. In reverence he covers his face, for he is afraid to look upon God. After the divine revelation comes an announcement of what is to happen. God always reveals Himself for a purpose, never simply to create a show.
B. The five reluctant words:
The task of Moses was simply that of speaking out for God. But Moses came up with five convincing reasons for why he was not suitable. His reservations are ones we all would felt when confronted the same challenge.
I. Who am I? Moses is saying, “I am a nobody.”
II. Who are you? Moses is saying, “I do not know enough.”
III. What if they won’t believe me? Moses is saying, “I am afraid of failure.”
IV. I am not eloquent. Moses is saying, “I don’t have the gift.”
V. Send someone else. Moses is saying “I do not want to go.” Finally the truth is out!
God knows what has already happened and tells Moses about it.
The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. I have come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up from that land to a land that is both good and spacious, to a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3:7-8)
C. I am a nobody:
Now comes the biggest shock of all. God names Moses as the deliverer.
Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, or that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
Forty years before, Moses had tried to stop the oppression and had to flee for his life. Now he is an old man of 80, no longer impetuous, impulsive, passionate for justice and bold. After four decades in the wilderness he has learned his weaknesses. Once he might have complimented God for choosing him. Now he says sincerely, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, or that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
This is the person God can use, he has over the years learned humility.
Moses once needed humbling, but now he needs assurance.
He replied, “Surely I will be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: When you bring the people out of Egypt, you and they will serve God on this mountain.” (Exodus 3:11-12)
D. I do not know enough:
God’s assurance, however, is too far in the future for Moses. He must have something to say when he first appears before the children of Israel. He fears that they will not listen to him unless they are convinced that the God of their fathers has sent him. Furthermore, they will want to know the divine name as an expression of the character of God.
Moses said to God, “If I go to the Israelites and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ – what should I say to them?” Exodus 3:13
God said to Moses, “I AM that I AM.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14)
The “I AM that I AM” denotes God’s absolute and essential being. Moses is to announce himself as the messenger of the all-powerful God who cares for his people and is ready and willing to respond to their cries. God further tells Moses how to begin the mission. He is to gather the elders of Israel and announce the deliverance to them. But God advises that the deliverance will not be quick and simple. Pharaoh will resist and will not let the people go until after a demonstration of divine miracles. Then Pharaoh will be glad to send the Hebrews away and will even provide for their journey.
E. I am afraid of failure:
Moses is still unwilling to heed God’s call. He wants credentials, proof that he is acting under divine authority. God is patient and gives him two signs, the changing of the shepherd’s staff into a serpent and back again and the hand that becomes leprous and is restored.
F. I do not have the gift:
The two signs were still not enough for Moses. He feels ill-prepared to speak to the Hebrew elders and to Pharaoh.
Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not an eloquent man, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant, for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Exodus 4:10
The Lord said to him, “Who gave a mouth to man, or who makes a person mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? So now go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you must say.” Exodus 4:11-12
G. Send someone else:
But Moses said, “O my Lord, please send anyone else whom you wish to send!” Exodus 4:13
Moses pleads again with God to send anyone but him. The truth is out! Moses really don’t want to go!
But there was no escape route for Moses. God has the answers for all the excuses Moses presented before him. God said Aaron would be the spokesman. Aaron was God’s second choice. It would have been better if Moses had consented to be the speaker, for later events will reveal that Aaron is the weaker of the two. Nevertheless, God sends Moses with the signs of the rod-serpent the leprous hand. He is the man chosen and prepared for the task.
Today the need has never been greater for messengers to announce the Good News that Jesus saves and delivers from sin. We don’t have enough missionaries because we don’t want to leave the comforts of home, we are unwilling, we are undedicated and we don’t care. Other reasons are financial problems, lack of encouragement, no calling, and unqualified. Are not all these mere excuses not to go?
Not every Christian is called to be a full-time missionary, but all are called to be servants and witnesses of God. If God opens an opportunity for service, there is really no excuse for not responding in obedience. If you feel unprepared, ask him for help. Moses felt weak and inadequate, as has every Christian leader in history. God can do great works through us if we trust him and have faith in his divine provision, protection and power.