By Mark Mayberry
We are familiar with the story where God called Moses from the burning bush (Exod. 3). The attitudes that we observe in Moses are not all that different from our own. Admonitions are given to him that can help us.
God calls Moses from Horeb, a place also known as Mt. Sinai. This mountain was where the Law would later be delivered. The precise location is uncertain, but tradition has long identified Mt. Horeb/Sinai with Gebel Musa, a 7,363 ft. tall peak on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
In passing, we should note that Exodus 3:6 is later used by our Lord to teach (by necessary inference) that man has an existence beyond the grave. Necessary inference is that which must be true even though it is not stated. Jesus condemned the Sadducees for not concluding that there is a resurrection from God’s statement that He is God of the living and not of the dead (Matt. 22:23-33).
Moses’ 1st Objection
Offering an initial objection, Moses says, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” However, God offers reassurance, saying “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain” (Exod. 3:10-12).
We should never view ourselves as unable to obey God’s will. We are simply earthen vessels to be used in His service. Moses is now much less confident than he was 40 years earlier (Exod. 2:11-12). Five times he tried to excuse himself from God’s call (Exod. 3:11, 13, 4:1, 10, 13). Yet, God assured him of divine guidance and help, and promised that the Israelites would one day worship Him at that very mountain.
Moses’ 2nd Objection
Offering a second objection, Moses says “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”
God reveals himself as the God of their ancestors, and the God of the present: “I AM WHO I AM.” The meaning of Yahweh, or Jehovah is “I Am The One Who Is.” This emphasizes His active self-existence. This is the most significant name of God, occurring 6,823 times in the O.T. In later years, this Hebrews name for God was not pronounced by godly Jews because of their great reverence for this divine name. Instead they substituted some lesser name for God (such as Adonai, i.e., Lord) whenever Yahweh occurred.
The initial request that Pharaoh grant permission for a three day journey is not an attempt to deceive, but a test of Pharaoh on a small scale. How we react to small matters is revealing of our attitude. Perhaps their departure could have been peaceful, if Pharaoh had granted this reasonable request, but God could foresee that Pharaoh would respond with defiance. Moses is warned to not expect immediate results. There is a progression from the request from a three day’s journey to the demand for a complete departure (Exod. 5:1; 7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1; 10:3). Also, the assurances that Israel would leave Egypt with great wealth is but partial compensation for their years of slavery. This would fulfill the promise that God made unto Abraham (Gen. 15:13-14).
Moses’ 3rd Objection
Offering a 3rd objection, Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” In other words, Moses feared the people would not listen to his voice, or would deny that Jehovah had actually appeared to him. However, the Lord offers three signs to convince them that he acted with divine authority.
Moses’ 4th Objection
Offering a 4th objection, Moses said, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” In other words, Moses felt that he was not fluent, but halting of speech, and thus unqualified to approach Pharaoh. However, his excuse was not convincing. For 40 years he had been trained in the royal court. However, God reminded him that He was the Creator of heaven and earth, fully capable of meeting any inadequacies which Moses might possess.
Moses’ 5th Objection
Offering a 5th objection, Moses said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.” The KJV statement, “O my Lord, Send I pray thee by the hand of whom thou wilt send,” is better translated by the aforementioned NASB rendition. The NIV is even more plain spoken: “Lord, please send someone else to do it”
God had met all prior objections by saying, “I will be with thee.” However, Moses does not evidence an obedient attitude. Therefore, being fed up with excuses, God became angry. Aaron was chosen to help Moses (Exod. 7:1-2). Aaron was 3 years older than Moses (Exod. 7:7), presumably born before Pharaoh’s edict to kill all male-children. Miriam was older than them both.
We sometimes think of Moses and other Old Testament characters as “GREAT MEN OF FAITH,” and forget that they had human failings, insecurities and anxieties that we do.
As Christians, each of us have obligations to fulfill. None of us have such a dramatic mission as did Moses. He was to appear before the Pharaoh of Egypt, demand that God’s people be released, and then lead them forth from captivity. We operate on a much more ordinary plane than that. Yet, we all have a distinctive task to perform.
This realization is both consoling and frightening. It is consoling to know that we have a purpose in life, and that there is a reason for our existence. We are to be laborers in the Lord’s vineyard. Paul said, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). We are workers together with God. We should view this as a privilege. Yet at the same time, there is something frightening about all this. Being a Christian is a weighty responsibility. Yes, we could walk away, turn our backs on the Lord, and say “Forget it!” But one day we must give an account of our lives.
At times, are we not like Moses, making a variety of excuses, saying “Let Someone Else Do It!” Let someone else teach the lost, encourage the weak, restore the fallen, visit the sick, give liberally of their means, participate in the worship, teach a Bible Class, faithfully attend the services and be a positive influence on the brethren, etc. However, each of us have a personal contribution that we are expected to make for the cause of Christ. We are to be an influence for good on the lives of other men. Instead of thinking, “Let someone else do it,” let us ask what are some things that we can do?
It takes considerable effort to have an active and functioning church. There are jobs for all of us. While we would make excuses, we cannot escape our responsibility. Someone once said, “He who excuses himself accuses himself.”[i] God wants you and God wants me. We must fulfill our duty. We have the responsibility of growing each day. He wants us reach maturity. He does not expect us to do things beyond our power. He expects us to use the abilities that we have. If we do our very best, even if it is hesitant and faltering, yet we can surely hope to see the promised land in the life to come.
Sources: Adapted from an article by Bob Walton, “The Moses In Each Of Us,” Vangard Magazine, Date Unknown.
[i] Gabriel Meurier [1530-1601], Tresor des Sentences, quoted in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, 15th ed., (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1980), p. 163:8.