God is Enough (Exodus 4).
Moses, the great man of the Old Testament, had his less than impressive moments. In Exodus 4 he comes across as a whinging weakling. He’s understandably afraid of what God is asking him to do, but by verse 13 you just want to thump him and tell him to just get on with it. At least that’s what I want to do. I mean how many reassurances does one man need? When you’ve got God literally in front of you promising it’ll be OK, it makes you wonder at the unbelievable audacity of humans to beg to differ.
We all need reassurance though, don’t we? As a species we are emotionally frail and quicker to doubt than to believe. It’s OK for me to criticise Moses here because I do so strongly suspecting that I would have outdone him on the pathetic scale had we swapped places. Moses makes three excuses in this chapter (five if you count the two from chapter 3 as well), and I can readily identify with all three. I suspect we all can. But identification is not enough. It doesn’t end with empathy. We must hear God’s responses and learn. Learn to believe and obey quicker than Moses did. That’s why we’re told the story. If we don’t learn from it, it’s just a story, no more use to us in real life than a fairy tale.
Objection no. 1: “What if they do not believe me?” (v. 1) He’s talking about the elders of Israel (3:16) – what if his own people don’t believe him? This is a worry about the reaction of others, a doubting of our own credibility. Strip away the unfamiliar setting from 3,000+ years ago, and consider just that. Sound familiar? The world has a crisis of credibility at the moment, so much so that we’re deemed to be in a ‘post-truth’ age now, where no one knows what to believe. Doubts abound. We waste much worry on what other people will think about us or how they will respond.
How does God respond? He gives three tangible, supernatural signs. The Israelites can believe Moses because he can change his staff into a snake and back, and because he can make his hand leprous or healed at will, and because he can turn river-water into blood. Three signs, because people are that reticent to believe. Now we probably won’t be able to do any of these things, but what remains true is that God will back us up. He will give us the credibility we need. If He’s sending you somewhere, if He’s making you His messenger for someone, He will lend us His authority. He’s not flustered by people’s doubts nor limited in how He can dispel them. Our part is just to be faithful and speak the words given to us. So speak up.
Objection no. 2: “I am slow of speech and tongue.” (v. 10). I’m not a good speaker. I’m not eloquent. This is a worry about our own abilities. It is self-doubt. We’ll never be as able as we want to be, or think we need to be for a certain task, but our ability is never so lacking that God can’t use it. What we lack He provides; where we’re limited He’s limitless; when we doubt ourselves He believes in us.
How does God respond? “I will help you speak and teach you what to say.” (v. 12). It’s about God, not us. The giver of all ability will give us the ability we need. Moses says ‘I can’t’; God says ‘I can’. It’s time to stop looking at our own resources and look at His. God will never ask you to do anything that’s beyond you. Because the things beyond us come right within reach when we trust in God. This Moses went on to preach to an entire nation and confront the world’s then-most-powerful man. We’ll never know what we’re capable of until we try and we’ll never witness growth in our lives if we don’t allow God to place us where He wants us.
Objection no. 3: “Send someone else.” (v. 13). If the first two objections had some justification from a mortal perspective, this one has none. This is just pure unwillingness. Moses didn’t want to go. This is about wanting to do things our way, to avoid the scary, the uncomfortable and the inconvenient.
How does God respond? With anger and with grace. He’s rightly annoyed with Moses’ persistent demurrals, but He also graciously bears with Him and offers further help. If grace was lacking then God would have dismissed or destroyed Moses right then and there and found someone else. God didn’t need Moses. He wanted him. God chases after us no matter how much we run away. He loves us too much to let us suffer in our futile self-sufficiency. And remember how it’s not good for man to be alone? (Gen 2:18). Or think ahead to Ecclesiastes 4:8-12: ‘Two are better than one’… ‘Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.’ Both these passages are usually thought of in connection with marriage, but there’s also application in ministry too. Who was the man who struggled on his own in Ecc. 4:8? The one ‘with neither son nor brother’. But Moses had a brother, and God brought him in on the plan too. Together they had the courage to defy Pharaoh and lead a nation to freedom.
Guess what? If you have no brother or no wife, God will still provide a companion, a helper, a comrade. You’re not meant to be alone. Alone is never very good in God’s eyes. Don’t be too proud to accept help – we all need it.
Here endeth Moses’ objections. He objects no more. When God finishes speaking in verse 17 Moses in verse 18 goes back home to begin his mission. Three times he made excuses and thought up obstacles, but three times God had the answer and provided the solution.
Why did Moses take such convincing? Why not the immediate willingness of Isaiah in Isaiah chapter 6? Because Moses had a back-story of failure that didn’t burden the later prophet. Moses tried to do things his way and in his strength in chapter 2, and the failure haunted him. His failure bred fear and doubt in him, fears and doubts which then had 40 years to mature before God cut them away like entangling vines. If we go our own way it can sometimes be harder and take longer for God to bring us back. Far better to do it God’s way from the start.
God is enough. He is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). He is able to make good any shortcoming and overcome every obstacle. We just need to take Him at His word and trust Him. What missions from God are we refusing for inadequate reasons? What areas of our lives do we not trust Him with?
Whenever we think we can’t do something, we need to remember that with God we can do all things (Philippians 4:13)
To take away:
Is there something God is asking you to do that you’re turning down? What reasons are you using, and are they valid?