A RELUCTANT HERO
God has chosen Moses to be His point person to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. But Moses is not very gung ho about this. In fact, he comes up with 5 questions and excuses why this is a bad idea.
11 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”
12 God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”
Moses’ excuse is that he does not feel qualified to do this task. Notice that God does not answer his question by telling him how he’s qualified. Instead God tells Moses something about Himself. Moses is qualified because GOD IS WITH HIM.
An old saying is “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” We’re not anything on our own, but with God we’re everything we need to be.
13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”
14 God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name,
my name to remember for all generations.
Moses is asking God who He is. Moses is afraid that his own people will not want him as a leader, so he is asking God to help him show them that God is on his side.
God answers by giving Moses his personal name: “YHWH.” In Hebrew it sounds a lot like the Hebrew for “I AM.”
The significance of God telling Moses His name is huge. This is the first time in Scripture that God tells someone His name.
Up until this point, people have given God different names based on their encounters with Him. And God has always identified Himself generically through relationships with people: He is the God OF Abraham… Isaac… Jacob.
Why do you think God chooses to wait until this moment in history to reveal His name?
But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?”
2 Then the Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied.
3 “Throw it down on the ground,” the Lord told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.
4 Then the Lord told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand.
5 “Perform this sign,” the Lord told him. “Then they will believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—really has appeared to you.”
6 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out again, his hand was white as snow with a severe skin disease. 7 “Now put your hand back into your cloak,” the Lord said. So Moses put his hand back in, and when he took it out again, it was as healthy as the rest of his body.
8 The Lord said to Moses, “If they do not believe you and are not convinced by the first miraculous sign, they will be convinced by the second sign. 9 And if they don’t believe you or listen to you even after these two signs, then take some water from the Nile River and pour it out on the dry ground. When you do, the water from the Nile will turn to blood on the ground.”
Moses is not convinced that a name will be enough, so he asks for more evidence to prove that God is on his side.
God gives him some miraculous signs that should be convincing to just about everyone.
Aren’t we like this, too? We have such a hard time trusting and having faith. If we could just see something with our eyes, then we wouldn’t doubt. Then we would know for sure that God is real and is working…
But faith is required when we’re unable to see something with our eyes. When we’re unable to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that something is true: for example, that in Christ our sins are forgiven.
When we struggle with our faith, it is good to ask God to strengthen our faith and even to give us “signs” that will make it easier to believe.
10 But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
11 Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
Moses is running out of excuses now. His last one is that he’s not a great public speaker. He still doesn’t think he’s got what it takes.
God answers him by saying, “Hey, I am with you. How many times do I have to tell you that? I just turned your staff into a snake! Don’t you realize that I can make you the greatest public speaker this world’s ever seen if I want to? I’ll take care of you. Don’t you get it, man?”
13 But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”
14 Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. 15 Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. 16 Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. 17 And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.”
This time, Moses comes straight out and begs God to find someone else.
Ever felt that way? I have.
God gets angry with Moses, but what you should notice is that He does not give up on Moses. When God chooses us, He does not give up on us. No matter how messed up we are. Isn’t that encouraging?
God strikes a compromise with Moses: He allows Moses to have his older brother Aaron be the public speaker, but tells Moses to hang onto his staff and perform the miraculous signs.
Finally Moses, our reluctant hero, agrees.