In Exodus 3 we have seen Moses express two concerns about his calling to go and deliver the people of Israel from Egyptian slavery. The first concern was a humble recognition that he is a nobody. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (3:11). God’s response was very simple. “But I will be with you” (3:12). Moses’ second concern was that he does not know what name to tell the people of Israel when he comes to them (3:13). God’s answer was again very simple. “I AM WHO I AM” (3:14). The eternal nature of God means that he is always with us, always sees what is happening to us, and is always able to save his people. God is with you and no one can overthrow God’s plans. But Moses has a few more concerns that he desires to ask of God before he goes on this mission.
They Will Not Believe Me (4:1-9)
Moses declares to the Lord that the people of Israel are not going to believe him or listen to his voice. They will say that the Lord did not appear to him. Now, recall that just a moment ago God said that the people of Israel would listen to him when comes to them. “And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt…” (3:18). God says that the people will listen to Moses. Moses says they are not going to listen to him. But I want you to observe the patience and love of God. God handles Moses’ question with a detailed explanation.
The Lord then tells Moses to throw on the ground the staff that he has in his hand. When he threw it on the ground, the staff became a snake, and Moses ran from it. Then the Lord tells him to pick the snake up by the tail and it became a staff in his hand again. This is the sign Moses is given so that the people Israel may believe that the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to him (4:5). What a marvelous sign God gives Moses to show the people of Israel.
But if this was not enough, God gives a second sign. For the second sign God tells Moses to put his hand inside his cloak. When he brought his hand out, it was leprous, white like snow. When he put his hand back in his cloak and brought it out, his hand was restored like the rest of his skin. Another marvelous sign God gives to Moses so that the people will believe that God has sent him.
Yet again, God gives Moses a third sign. Take some water from the Nile and pour it on the ground. The water will become blood on the dry ground. The Lord gives Moses three amazing signs to give Moses confidence for the task to go to the people of Israel. God answers Moses’ concern.
I want us to think about how often we may use this excuse as to why we think we should not try to teach others the gospel of Jesus. We think that they are not going to believe us. I cannot do a good job, so they are not going to listen to me. Yet this is never a reason for us to not tell others God’s message. Think about how many times God told his servants that the people they are preaching to would not listen, but he wanted to proclaim the message to them anyway. We know this is true of Noah, for only his family entered the ark though he was a preacher of righteousness. God told Jeremiah that the people would fight against him when he preached to them (Jeremiah 1:19). When God commissioned Isaiah, listen to what he told him.
And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, and the Lord removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. (Isaiah 6:9–12 ESV)
Even when Jesus preached, the perfect teacher, people did not listen to him and rejected him. We cannot be concerned that the response to teaching the gospel will be negative. It really is not to be our concern because they are not rejected us but rejecting God. Just because people will not listen to us does not mean that we are excused from the task of sharing the gospel with other people.
I Am Not Eloquent (4:10-12)
Now Moses says that he is unable to speak well. I cannot speak well now. In fact, Moses says that he has not ever been able to speak well. I am slow of speech and slow of tongue. Who has read about Moses in the scriptures and thought that Moses was not a good speaker? It does not seem like it when I read about his life. Yet this seems like a legitimate argument. If I am not a good speaker, how can I possibly proclaim God’s message to the people of Israel and to the Pharaoh in Egypt? But listen to God’s response.
Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Exodus 4:11–12 ESV)
Who made your mouth? God did. What are you saying about God when you say that you cannot go and speak for him? You are saying that God did a bad job in making you. In God’s assembly line of humans, God must have made a mistake with you. God is the one who made you. We cannot use our human frailty as an argument against the calling given us by God. How silly it is for the clay to complain to the potter regarding how it was made! God knows how he made us. God knows our abilities and our limitations. To say that we are old, that we are young, that we are male or female, or that we have some other condition in our bodies is not an excuse before God because he made us. But even with this, God gives us a sufficient answer and calms our concerns.
Send Someone Else (4:13-17)
But Moses was not done. He has one more response. “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else” (4:13). We also feel this excuse, don’t we? Send someone else. Someone else can do it better than me. I do not want to do this work. I need a break. There are others who are cut out for this work. How does God respond to Moses now? Please think about how God responded to all of the other concerns Moses had. Moses has said that he is not worthy of the task. He has said that he does not know what to tell the people about God. He has said that the people will not listen to him. He has said that he is not eloquent in speaking. But now Moses flat out says to send someone else. Listen to God’s response now.
Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses… (Exodus 4:14 ESV).
God was not angry at the other concerns Moses presented. We can have concerns about how we are doing. We can have concerns that people will not listen. We can have concerns about the work given to us. We can see all of our limitations. But there is one thing we cannot do. We cannot tell God that we do not want to do this. We cannot tell God to send someone else. This is not an option. Yet how often do we think this is an option. How often do we think that we have good excuses so that we do not need to do God’s work in this world! How often do we think someone else would be better at the task and therefore we should not do it!
But I want us to see something. Even though Moses angers the Lord by trying to excuse himself from this work, the Lord even helps Moses with this. God tells Moses to take his brother Aaron with him. Aaron can speak. Listen to verse 15. God is going to speak to Moses and Moses is going to tell the words to Aaron and both of them will be taught what to do. Aaron will be Moses’ mouth just as Moses is the mouthpiece of God (4:16). Think about this answer. Is there anything stopping us to taking someone with us to share the gospel? Who says that we have to do this alone? We can go together with one another.
Here is the point I want us to consider. God has an answer to all of our excuses and reasons. Everything that we think is a reason why we cannot serve in certain capacities and do certain works in the kingdom of God are overcome by God. God overcomes our excuses. Which one of us is given a pass from the command to go into all the world proclaiming the gospel? God knows you and he has chosen you to work for him.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:14–16 ESV)
This is why we exist. We are lights shining in the world in this dark, crooked, and twisted generation. We are created in Christ Jesus for good works. We are his workmanship. We are to walk worthy of the calling to which we have been called (Ephesians 4:1). We have a mission and we cannot forget that God has placed us on a mission. We are here with a purpose and our purpose is not to be happy and healthy. Our purpose is to proclaim the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). We do not have an excuse for not working for the Lord. God overcomes our excuses.
This leads to the second point. We can do the mission given to us when we see that this is not about us but about God. Did you notice that every answer God gives directs the attention away from Moses and on to the Lord? Moses says that they are not going to listen to him. God’s response is to give him miracles to work so that they will see God had sent him. Moses says that he cannot speak well. God’s response is “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Moses did not have to worry about what to say because God would be with his mouth. Moses says that he cannot do it so send someone else. God’s response is that God will be with him, with his mouth, and take the staff so you can do the signs. Back in chapter 3 the two concerns of Moses are answered by God that God is with him.
God being the great I AM means we can fulfill the mission. It is not about who we are. It is not about our strength. It is not about our abilities. It is not anything about us. It is only about the power of God. God puts absolutely no pressure on us regarding results. We do that to ourselves. We evaluate in fleshly ways. We look at numbers and results because that is the way we measure success in a worldly way. But God’s definition of success is that we are sharing the gospel. The results are the works of God. The results come from the power of God’s word, not our talents or abilities. We worry about too much. God wants us to go and teach because God is with us. You are perfect for the task because God is with you.
Let me end by noting this final point. Moses is given signs to work so that Israel will see these signs performed by their deliverer and savior and believe. Jesus came as the new Moses, working signs among the people of Israel so that they would recognize him as their Deliverer and Savior and believe.
Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” (John 1:50 ESV)
Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11 NRSV)
This was the purpose of Jesus’ signs, so that people would believe in him by seeing his glory. Behold the glory of the I AM for through him we can fulfill our purpose on this earth.