Our lesson this morning focused on the events of Exodus 3. God met Moses at the burning bush and called him to be the leader of Israel. Although Moses was glad to hear of God’s intentions to free Israel, he was reluctant to accept the job himself. But God was specifically calling Moses on a personal mission. Although Moses offered excuses as to why he was not the one for the job, God was patient and persistent.
- Vs. 11 – When Moses asked, “Who am I” that I should go to Pharaoh, God responded by promising Moses His continual presence (“I will be with you”), and guaranteed success (“you shall worship me on this mountain”, v. 12)
- Vs. 13 – Moses resisted further and asked God to supply the name by which He could be known to the children of Israel. God’s self-designation as “I AM Who I AM” was a declaration of God’s independence and absolute sovereignty. The I AM could supply all of Moses’ needs and deliver Israel from oppression. The gods of Egypt were no match for the true God of Israel.
- But Moses offered further reluctance and intimated that Israel would not receive God’s intended message through Moses – “they will not believe me or listen to my voice…” (4:1)
- 4:2-5 – To encourage Moses toward obedience God provided 3 miraculous signs (two immediate, and one to come) that proved God’s ability to confirm the message through miracles. These signs also indicated that God would successfully use Moses’ talents and abilities to do his work. If they did not believe the first sign, God would send a second, and then a third until His purposes were served.
Our purpose in viewing this event to see ourselves in the words and attitude of Moses. We often neglect to talk to others about Christ. We offer our own excuses. How often doyou speak to your friends or neighbors about Jesus? If the opportunity arrives do you recognize the obligation God has placed on you? What is your excuse?
I. More of Moses’ Excuses: Moses’ faith is still being hindered by a self-focused rationalization. He simply continues to make excuses as to why he will not obey.
A. Moses’ Third & Final Excuse: Ex 4:10– Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” These words may ring familiar with you. Do you often feel inadequate to speak to someone about God or their salvation? Moses claims that he is inadequate for the job.
- Interestingly, Stephen later describes Moses as a man who was “mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22). It may be that He did not become eloquent until later, or that Stephen is describing the effect of His words, as he delivered God’s message and plagues on Egypt. Let’s make a couple of observations:
- Moses seems to recognize that God can make a slow-tongued person eloquent. Notice vs. 10: I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; This seems to indicate that Moses expected God to make him a better speaker since He had spoken to Him (given him the job of speaking). But nothing had improved.
- Moses makes the same assumption that we often do. God should only choose those who have special abilities to deliver His word. This false assumption has led many to neglect their responsibility.
- Would God expect an ineloquent person to speak for Him? Did God choose Moses in spite of his handicap? Or because of it? God often chose to do His work through those who were weak or outnumbered. (slew a Philistine giant with the stone from a shepherd boy’s sling; He conquered the thousands of Midian with Gideon’s 300. 1 Cor 1:21-29 – For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Glory Only in the Lord 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
1. God’s Answer: Ex 4:11-12 – 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? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” God’s response indicates that He gives very little weight to Moses’ objection. Again, He calls on Moses to focus on Who is going to make this happen. He repeats His promise to be with Moses (to be with his mouth). The lesson of God’s rhetorical questions:
a. “Who has made man’s mouth?” – God’s response harks back to the beginning. God declares through this rhetorical question that He is the creator of all things, even man’s mouth. In essence God is telling Moses, the reason you can speak at all is because I made man with a mouth. There are no anomalies or characteristics of the human body that God is not aware of.
b. “who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?” But God sas more. Notice the difference in the tense of the verbs in this verse. God made (past tense) man’s mouth; and he makes (present tense) the mute, deaf, seeing and blind. Not only did God create the first man, but he also goes on creating every single person just as he sees fit—whether dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind. God is in control. It is not as though Moses’ stuttering tongue was an unanticipated glitch in the plan, and God was taken by surprise.
- ·Adam Clarke suggests that God’s words here are a warning to Moses to not provoke Him who can make a person mute or blind. I often wonder how God puts up with all of our murmuring, complaining, and excuse making.
- Burton Coffman says… “The great lesson here is that one should not depreciate or despise the gifts which God has given, nor refuse to use those gifts which men may deem less perfect. Even the most gifted can find no grounds for pride and egotism, because, as Paul stated it, “What hast thou that thou hast not received?” (1 Cor 4:7). The answer to that question, of course, is – nothing! “ (from Coffman’s Bible Commentary,)
- Many Christians are eager to expose their lack of ability because it provides an excuse for doing nothing. (“I think we should leave that job to those who can do it best”) But God hasn’t given the responsibility only to those “who can do it best” He has given it to me and you!
- God does not need good material to do His work. He can make it good. In fact, every great person of faith was fashioned by God from a lost sinner.
c. “I will teach you what you shall say” – God further promises to provide the words to Moses. This promise of inspiration is similar to that given by Jesus to the apostles. He would give them the words at the moment they would need them. (Mk 13:11). Although God does not promise you ans I that same assistance, God has provided through the power of inspiration, the words that I need to say. 1 Peter 4:11 – 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
B. Moses’ Unbelief: When every excuse had been exhausted, and answered, Moses was still unwilling to go. He simply refuses and asks God to send someone else. Ex 4:13-17 – But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” 14 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do. 16 So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God. 17 And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.”
1. Keil and Delitzsch Commentary says …Moses’ difficulties were now all exhausted, and removed by the assurances of God. But this only brought to light the secret reason in his heart. He did not wish to undertake the divine mission. Sometimes all of our excuses taken together cannot hide the real problem. We do not want to do it, and we are going to do what we want.
2. Moses’ excuse ridden faith makes God angry. He is displaying the rebellious spirit of disobedience that he often sees in us. I almost expect God to grant Moses’ his wish and leave him in the desert to fend for himself. But God loves Moses. He is angry, but He does not reject Moses. He commissions Aaron, his brother to speak for him. Notice that Moses is not excused from his responsibility. He is just not going to do it alone. God is calling on Moses to trust Him to provide what He needed.
3. God tells Moses to pick up his staff. God was going to use His staff to provide the signs that would confirm the word that Moses would receive, and Aaron would speak. Moses obeys. This is what God was looking for all along.
4. Why does Moses refuse to accept his responsibility? Remember, every objection Moses raised God answered, by revealing His power and willingness to bless Moses in the accomplishment of His purposes by delivering Israel. God made it clear that there was absolutely no obstacle that could hinder Him. Moses’ problem was that he did not trust God. That is our problem too. We do not have enough faith.
5. How do we get more faith? According to the apostle Paul, faith comes from hearing the Word of God. It comes from seeing who he is and what he promises in his Word. It comes from putting our trust in God to the test. Is not the God of Exodus 3 and 4 worthy of our trust? Phil 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
6. Moses eventually learned to trust him implicitly. In the end, Moses is described as By the end of his life, Moses is described as one whom the Lord spoke to “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend”. (Ex. 33:11)
Conclusion: the Lord willing we are going to take a last look at the faith of Moses. Although he displays a weak faith here, we know the rest of the story. His willingness to meekly trust in God through difficult times was the avenue through which God accomplished His purposes for Israel.
- God has given you a personal responsibility to teach others and reach the lost. Are you doing it or making excuses? It is a matter of faith. We need to have a faith without excuses – a faith that obeys.