The Excuses of Moses

Moses is one of the greats in Biblical history.  He is by name more than 800 times in the Bible (only Jesus and David are mentioned more).  He is included among the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11).

 However, when God initially appeared to Moses saying, “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10), Moses was reluctant.  He made excuses.  Let’s notice…

 1.  “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

“Why me?”  (a) Perhaps, this excuse came from not wanting to get involved.  He had had, very likely, a quiet, peaceful life for the last 40 years (Exodus 7:7 cf. Acts 2:23).  He had a wife and children (Exodus 2:21-22; 18:2-4).  He had a job, keeping the flock of his father-in-law (Exodus 3:1).  (b) Perhaps, this excuse came from self-doubt.  He had fled Egypt, 40 years earlier, in fear (Exodus 2:11-15).

God did not accept Moses’ excuse.  He reassured Moses, “I will certainly be with you” (Exodus 3:11).

He is with us today when we do His will.  Let us boldly say, “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6 cf. Luke 12:4).

We can do what He has asked us to do.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).

2. “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me ‘what is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13).

“I do not know what to say.”  (a) Perhaps, this excuse came from a sense of inadequacy.  “I don’t know enough.”  (b) Perhaps, this excuse came from authority.  “From where do I get my authority to speak?  How do I answer?”

God provided an answer.  Tell them “I AM WHO I AM… I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).

What do we say today?  We need to proclaim His Word.  “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11).  “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

We need to develop ourselves into teachers.  We should not remain unlearned.  Let us “proclaim the praises of Him who called (us) out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).  We are commanded to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  The writer of Hebrews rebuked some saying, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12).

3.  “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you’” (Exodus 4:1).

God took away this objection.  He provided miraculous evidence, “that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:5).

He has provided us with wonderful evidence as well (e.g. Isaiah 53 cf. Acts 8:26-ff; Luke 24:26-27; Acts 17:1-3; 18:4; 19:8; 28:23).

Not everyone is going to receive the message.  Pharaoh didn’t.  Jesus told a parable of four soils, in which only one received the word, as it should be received (Luke 8:4-8, 11-15).  Not everyone received the word when it was preached in the book of Acts (e.g. Acts 13:48-50, 17:1-5; 17:11-13; 17:32-34; 18:4-8; 19:5-10; 28:24).  However, it is our duty to preach (cf. Hebrews 5:12; 2 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9).

4.  “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

“I am not good with words.  I am not good at delivering speeches.”  (a) Perhaps, this was merely an excuse.  The New Testament has the Spirit-filled Stephen declaring, “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).  (b) Perhaps, there was, in Moses’ mind, some truth to these words.  He had not been in a position of speaking in such a grand setting in 40 years.  He may have been “out of practice.”

God rejected this excuse.  First, He reminded Moses that He created man.  He knows what a man is capable of doing (Exodus 4:11).  Second, He promised to be with Moses, saying, “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say” (Exodus 4:12).

Let us remember that God has provided to us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).  He has, through His word, “thoroughly equipped us for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  It is not eloquence that is essential, but a heart that cares enough to present God’s word.  It is the gospel message which is “the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16).  “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

5.  “O My Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send” (Exodus 4:13). 

“Won’t You send someone, anyone else, other than me?”  This is the meaning.

God replied, “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother?  I know that he can speak well.  And look, he is also coming out to meet you.  When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.  Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth.  And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do.  So he shall be your spokesman to the people.  And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God” (Exodus 4:14-16).  Moses had exhausted God’s patience.  He was angry with Moses.  He wanted no more excuses.  He wanted action.

Sometimes we wait for someone else to act.  There is a story entitled, “Whose Job is it, Anyway?”  It involves four bodies: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.  There is a job to be done.  Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  In the end, Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could do.”  If there is a cause, let’s get to doing it.  If we don’t do it, then who will?

If you feel inadequate to do the task alone, then get someone to help you.  But get the task done.  Moses had Aaron.  Jesus sent the twelve out in pairs on the limited commission (Mark 6:7).  He did the same with the seventy (Luke 10:1).  In India, some of the song leaders in the church seem nervous about trying to lead a song by themselves. Therefore, I have seen them recruit another member to stand with them and help them lead singing.  One does not have to do everything alone.  But let’s do what needs to be done, and not make excuses.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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