The burning bush, part two

As the Moses Moments series continues, we’re with Moses as he’s come face to face with the presence of God via the burning bush.  These events are all in Exodus Chapter 3 and Chapter 4.

So here’s Moses, engaged in conversation with God via a burning bush. And as God starts laying out this mighty mission for him, the mission to go into Egypt and demand that Pharaoh releases all the enslaved people of Israel, Moses does something I wasn’t expecting. Moses basically refuses. He’s suddenly full of excuses and worries.

Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

I want you to remember that verse, because I’m going to come back to it in Thursday’s post. So as Moses starts voicing all of these concerns and excuses to God, God gives him some beautiful assurances. God tells Moses that He’ll be with him every step. He also tells Moses exactly what to say to the people of Israel to convince them of the divine nature of his mission, assuring him that they’ll listen and believe him. God also tells Moses that Pharaoh will be hesitant but that He’ll perform mighty deeds and wonders that will eventually convince Pharaoh to release the slaves.

As you move into Exodus Chapter 4, Moses resorts back to some of his earlier excuses, saying nobody will believe him or listen to his voice. This time, God doesn’t just give Moses assurances, he performs two miracles. He has Moses throw down his staff and it turns into a serpent. God then turns Moses’ hand leprous, then heals it. He tells Moses that if people don’t believe him, he can perform these miracles to convince them. So while being represented in miracle form (the burning bush), God performs two miracles to help calm Moses’ fears over this mission. God then tells Moses that if those two miracles don’t convince people, he can pour water from the Nile onto dry ground and it will become blood. So Moses is worried no one will believe he has divine authority, and God performs two miracles, then gives Moses the power to perform three miracles if needed.

After this incredible look at the supernatural, unexplainable, undeniable power of God, you’d think Moses would be confident and ready to get to work. But no, he’s got another excuse. He’s not eloquent, and tells God that he’s a bad talker. I really felt like this was the moment when you could start to sense God’s patience running out.

Exodus 4:11-12 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? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

So yeah, how’s that for a conversation ending response? God reminds Moses just who created that mouth on his face and then tells him that He’ll take care of the talking. And yet… Moses continues to object.

Exodus 4:13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

So at this point, Moses is asking God to just find someone else to do the mission. And as you can expect, this is when the Bible says God got angry with Moses. But God does say He’ll send Moses’ brother, Aaron, along with him to do all the talking.

When I first read this I was blown away, because I just couldn’t believe how reluctant Moses was. Here’s God, talking directly to you and giving you a mission. It’s GOD! And He’s saying to go do something and laying out all the details of how you’ll be victorious in doing this thing! And yet here’s Moses running down his long list of excuses, trying to get out of being sent, remaining unconvinced of his ability to carry out the mission despite God’s assurances and miracles.

I have to be honest, I was really not a Moses fan at this point. Putting myself in his shoes, I felt like I would’ve been halfway to Egypt already! Let’s be honest, if God shows up to you in a miracle fashion, shows you miracles, gives you authority to use those miracles if needed, and sends you on a mission that He assures you will succeed, don’t you think you’d be thrilled to do it? God never said, “Here’s an easy mission for you” but He does say that it will succeed and that Moses will have all he’ll need to pull it off. Seriously, I’m just being completely honest, I think that if I was in that same situation I would be excited and confident to set off on that mission for the Lord. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but I don’t think that I am, I think I’d be thrilled to do it.

So why wasn’t Moses excited and confident to set off on this mission? As I studied this I think there’s a pretty clear answer. Moses was getting pretty old. As a younger man, he’d felt destined for big things for God, but that ended badly. Moses killed someone, then took off and lived for decades as a simple shepherd in a foreign land. His big dreams and big plans as a young man were dead and gone. I think Moses saw himself as a broken down old man. He feared that nobody would believe in him, he feared that nobody would respect his authority, and he flat out just didn’t feel like he was the right guy for this job. In Moses’ eyes, he was inadequate for the mission.

God didn’t see it that way. God didn’t look at this old shepherd who’d fled his home and spent decades just working and getting by and see someone who was inadequate. God saw the perfect man for the job.

I’m going to pick up right here on Thursday with a look at where we draw our identity from and the vast difference between what we see in the mirror and what God sees when He looks at us.  I hope you’ll come back and check it out, it’s something that’s been big for me.  Learning about my true identity, the one that comes from God, is one of the most powerful and life changing things I’ve experienced over the past year.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, thank you for the patience you show us.  Just like Moses, I’ve spent a lot of time in my life feeling inadequate.  It’s something so many people struggle with.  We’re a people filled with excuses and perceived shortcomings, and you love us all the same.  Not only do you love us, you put us to use.  You work mighty things through weak people, in the process showing yourself to be such an awesome and awe inspiring God.  You worked through people in the Bible, just as you work through people today.  Thank you so much for these examples and accounts, what comfort they provide to us to know that we’re not alone in feeling inadequate and full of flaws.  And what beautiful pictures they paint of what you can accomplish when we submit to you and do your will.  In my heart today, I just feel so thankful that you use people.  You don’t have to have people, Lord, your power is limitless.  You are an unlimited God.  Yet you work through us.  You allow us to play a role.  I don’t know why you do it, but I’m so thankful that you do.  Father, before I close this prayer I just want to pray on behalf of all those people who don’t feel worthy to be used by you.  Just like you did with Moses, I pray right now that you deliver assurances and power to those people, let them know that while they may be flawed, their God is not.  There’s nothing better than doing your work and your will, Lord.  Nothing at all.  Thank you for loving us and including us.  In Jesus’ precious name I pray, amen.

Well, I love you wonderful friends out there and I hope the week is treating you all fairly.  I’m finally feeling better after a weird weekend fever sickness thingy (scientific diagnosis), which is nice.  God’s with us, you guys, He’s truly and absolutely with us.  Carry that knowledge with you this week because it’s a victorious thing to know.

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Published by: Aaron Hall

A lifelong writer, I now spend my days working in communications for city government. I love Jesus with all my heart, and I love sharing my thoughts on the Bible here on this blog.

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