One of my college professors kept “The All-Time Creative Great Excuse List” as a poster on his office door. An excuse for not doing an assignment had to be something he had not heard before. Naturally, his students rose to the occasion to try to come with a new reason for a late paper or missed assignment.
In Exodus 3:10, God gives Moses a ministry assignment—Return to Egypt and lead the nation of Israel out of slavery. Moses responds by stating his objections and reservations about God’s plan. God patiently addresses each concern.
The interaction in Exodus 3:10-4:18 impresses me that God can handle our objections, reservations, and fears. What he wants is our obedience … not our excuses.
|“Who am I?” (3:11)
Moses’ question echoes the challenge back in Exodus 2:14, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us?”
His question reflects a fear of inadequacy. Moses felt inferior and worthless, and lacked self-confidence.
|Rather than give a flippant, “Of course you’re qualified,” God tells Moses, “I will be with you” (3:12). God places the burden for success on himself.
God promises to bring Moses back to Mt. Sinai to worship him. This is significant because the mountain is not on the direct route to the Promised Land.
|“Who are you?” (3:13)
Moses’ question reflects a fear of ignorance and inability. “What if they ask me a question I can’t answer?”
|God responds, “Tell them Yahweh sent you” (3:14).
God explains that Yahweh is his personal name (3:15). It reveals the fact that God is unchangeable (3:16), compassionate (3:16-17), and has the power to deliver and provide (3:17-22).
Where Moses was inadequate, God was more than able to make up the difference.
|“What if they won’t believe me?” (4:1)
Moses starts to imagine hypothetical “What if” scenarios to worry about. It reflects a fear of ineffectiveness.
|God responds by giving Moses three convincing proofs (4:2-9). The staff/snake represents God’s power over nature. Moses’ leprous hand represents God’s power over sickness and disease. The water/blood represents God’s power over the gods of the Egyptians. God can use ordinary things to accomplish the extraordinary.|
|“I am not qualified.” (4:10)
Moses’ statement about not being able to speak contradicts Acts 7:25 where he is described as mighty in word and deed. Perhaps his skills atrophied after 40 years in the desert talking to sheep. Regardless, his statement reflects a fear of incompetence.
|“I am sovereignly qualified.” (4:11)
God reminds Moses that he was the one who created his mouth. Our abilities, inabilities, and even our disabilities are ordained by God. He has given us exactly what we need to succeed for his glory.
|“No. Send someone else.” (4:13)
No matter what—signs, gifts, promises—Moses refused to obey.
“No, Lord,” is probably the biggest oxymoron of all.
|God was angry. (4:14)
“You will work through your brother.” (4:14-17)
While God allowed Moses to compromise, Aaron was not a helpful addition. In fact, he would be a hindrance when he led Israel into idolatry with the golden calf.
Moses finally gets the picture and asks his father-in-law Jethro for a leave of absence (4:18).
If God nudges you to do something, do it. Step out in faith. Don’t make excuses. Follow God’s voice without distraction.
“Lord, I am willing. I am willing to receive what you give. I am willing to lack what you withhold. I am willing to relinquish what you take. I am willing to suffer what you require. I am willing to serve wherever you ask.”
Are you willing?
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 9, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.