God’s people are being held as slaves. It is time for God to liberate them. Who should He choose to do this great work? Who would you choose? An accomplished military leader? A person of political influence? A great orator who can move the masses? If you could choose from the entire population on earth, who would you choose? Would you have chosen Moses?
- He was 80 years old
- A fugitive from justice, wanted for murder in Egypt (the very place God wanted to send him)
- His days of political power or influence were gone.
- He had been isolated in the Midian desert for the past 40 years.
- Despite these seeming hindrances, Moses is just the person God wants for the job.
Return to Exodus 3 – Moses’ commission at the burning bush. No doubt, Moses was excited to hear that God had not forgotten His people (seen their oppression; heard their cry v. 7) and that He had “come down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians” (v. 8) ” But then came the difficult part –
Moses’ faith was hampered by his excuses to not do what God called him to do. Is yours?
I. Moses’ Personal Mission: Exodus 3:10 – Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” God had a personal mission for Moses. He was commissioned to “bring… the children of Israel out of Egypt”. Of course we recognize that God Himself would free Israel with a mighty hand. But Moses was such a vital part of what God was going to do that God says Moses will bring them out.
- Today we are going to make some parallels and comparisons between Moses’ call and our responsibility to reach the lost (evangelism). Consider this first. God has a personal mission for you. It is one thing to recognize that God wants to save the lost and convert every sinner. It is another to recognize that He has called me to do it. When it was apparent to Moses that God wanted to send him, Moses began to back away. Out came the excuses why he was not the one for the job.
II. Moses’ Excuses – God’s Answers – Moses is not unlike us. This is precisely why he is included in the list of the faithful in Hebrews 11. He was called to live by faith and trust God in all things. Like us, his faith was tested. Like us, when he expressed his faith, God rewarded it. But we can also see the similarity to ourselves in the times when Moses’ faith was weaker and when he faltered. Moses was initially reluctant to obey God and go to Pharaoh. He responds to God’s call with a few familiar excuses here. God’s answers are a lesson in themselves and address our own reluctant faith.
A. Moses’ First Excuse: Ex 3:11 – But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Moses first attempts to excuse himself from this job by pointing out his lack of qualification. Who am I?
- The voice of humility – Some excuses are simply lies, and intended to deceive. (My dog ate my homework). But Moses’ question here is born out of humility. He truly felt unqualified – He had no confidence in himself (40 years ago, he assumed he was the man, but not now).
- Moses cannot yet be accused of disobedience. He recognizes his weakness. This is praiseworthy, and exactly where God wants Moses.
Note: This was a great opportunity to deal with Moses’ “self-esteem” problem, but God ignored the solutions we usually use regarding this “problem.” Moses only had a self-esteem problem when he was too confident in his own ability to deliver Israel.
- Notice that God does not answer Moses’ question (Who Am I?). That was not the right question. The right question was “Who is God?”
1. God’s answer – Ex 3:12-14 – 12 So He said,”I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” 13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel,’I AM has sent me to you.'” God answer to Moses’ reluctance came in the form of two promises:
- “I will be with you” – This is always God’s answer to our lack of confidence. God promised His presence throughout – Abraham (“to a land I will show you”); Isaac (Gen 26:24); Jacob (Gen 28:15); Elijah, Isaiah, Hezekiah, etc.
- Psalms 23:4 – 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
- Rom 8:31 – 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
- “ you shall serve God on this mountain.” God called this promise a “sign” to Moses. God assured Moses that he would succeed and their return to this very mountain to receive the law would confirm that. God would not fail, therefore Moses would not fail. (“When you have brought the people out of Egypt”)
2. In my personal responsibility to teach others about Jesus, I cannot excuse myself because I do not feel qualified for the job. God has promised to be with me. His word has the power to convert the sinner, and will not return to Him void. We will not fail, because God will not fail. True faith is confidence in God , not ourselves. It comes by hearing the words of God, not by rehearsing our own abilities. 1 Cor 3:5-9 – 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
3. “What shall I say to them” – Moses continues his resistance. He is concerned that the Israelites will not recognize that God was speaking through him. He asks God to make known His name (identify Himself). God’s answers “I Am Who I Am” (vs. 14)
a. As we mentioned last week, the name I Am declares the eternal existence and sovereignty of God. He is completely independent; that He relies on nothing for life or existence ( Isaiah 40:28-29 – 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. )
b. God’s name depicts His ability to meet our every need. He becomes whatever is lacking in our time of need. As Jesus utilized this language, He not only declared Himself to be God, but proclaimed His ability to provide for us. When we are in darkness, Jesus says I am the light; when we are hungry, He says I am the bread of life, when we are defenseless, He says I am the Good Shepherd. God is enough.
B. Moses Second Excuse: Ex 4:1 – “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.'” Even after God assurance that he would not fail, Moses expresses doubt that the Israelites will believe him. What is our most common excuse for not telling others about God? They will not believe.
- There is some irony here. God has just told Moses that His people would believe Moses. (vs. 18 – they will heed your voice). Pharaoh would not respond until God had stretched out His hand and afflicted them, But God’s people will listen. It is Moses that is not listening to God.
1. God’s Answer: Ex 4:2-5 – So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” 3 And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), 5 “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” I am impressed with God’s patience here. He does not rebuke Moses. He simply gives him a series of signs. Moses is asked to act by faith.
a. Moses is asked to utilize what he has already, but put under God’s control – a shepherd’s staff (rod) This may have been Moses’ most prized possession. He used it everyday. It was truly his staff. God called on Moses to throw it down. Give it up.
b. His rod into a snake and back again. – The staff (a shepherd’s tool to ward off snakes) becomes a snake, Moses runs away from it. God calls him back and tells him to pick it up by the tail. This is the wrong way to pick up a snake. The snake can bite you. When Moses complies he gets his staff back. – vs. 5 – “That they may believe” – but this sign was for Moses as well. It was now clear that Moses’ staff was under God’s control.
c. His hand to leprosy and back again – (v. 6-7) God can take what is whole and make it diseased. He can also take what is diseased and make it whole. Moses’ hand was under God’s control.
d. If not one sign, then another. Ex 4:8-9– Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. 9 And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.” What was the message of God’s response?
- Moses is not going out to preach empty-handed. God would continue to provide the power to confirm and convince. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Conclusion: Tonight we will look at the rest of this dialogue and see how God responds to Moses’ continued reluctance to obey. What is your excuse this morning? What do you think God expects of you now?