God speaks to Moses through the burning bush in Exodus 3. God has heard the cry of the Hebrews slaves, and remembers his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The affliction and time table described in Genesis 15 has been accomplished, and God is ready to lead his people out of Egypt and to the promised land. The only thing standing in the way of Moses leading them is out is… Moses. He goes point/counterpoint with God, listing new objections as God responds to each.
Point – Who am I? Moses was Hebrew by birth, but had been raised in Pharaoh’s house as the adopted son of his daughter. He fled to the land of Midian after killing an Egyptian, to escape Pharaoh who was seeking to kill him. Somewhat trapped between two worlds, he was both Hebrew and Egyptian but liked and respected by neither.
Counterpoint – I will be with you. It doesn’t matter who Moses is, only who God is. He is the one that will bring the Hebrews out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Little is much when God is in it.
Point – They will ask who sent me. Moses argues that he cannot simply say “the God of your fathers” or else the people of Israel will want to know his name.
Counterpoint – I AM WHO I AM. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is always present tense, his very name the verb for being. When Jesus says to the Pharisees “Before Abraham was I am” he is not just claiming to be eternal. He is using the name of God to describe himself. God tells Moses to say to the people of Israel “I AM has sent me.” He also identifies himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and declares that his people will know him as such throughout their generations.
Point – They will not believe or listen to me. Moses claims that no one will believe the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has spoken to him. No one has heard from God in hundreds of years, why would Moses hear from him now? We already know that Moses himself believes he is no one of consequence.
Counterpoint – I will show them signs and wonders. God has Moses throw his staff to the ground and it turns to a serpent. When he takes it by the tail it turns back into his staff. Moses then witnesses his hand become leprous and then be healed. God says if those two signs are not enough he will have water poured out on dry land and then turn it to blood.
Point – I am slow of speech and tongue. Moses’ next claim is that he is not an eloquent speaker, that he is both slow of speech and tongue. I had a friend suggest that perhaps James Stewart should have played Moses in The Ten Commandments and not Charlton Heston.
Counterpoint – Who made man’s mouth? God asked Moses who it is that makes man able to speak, or the dumb to not speak. He explains to Moses that he will be with his mouth and he himself will teach Moses what to say.
Point – Send someone else. God has replied to each of Moses objections, and he is out of arguments. He finally just asks God to find another man for the job.
Counterpoint – No. By this time God is getting angry. He tells Moses that his brother Aaron is already on his way out to meet him, and that Aaron is a great speaker. The two of them together will appear before Pharaoh, once Moses has filled him in on all that he has been instructed.
Moses had a lot of seemingly rational objections, but none of it mattered to God. Just like with Jonah he had chosen a specific man for a specific job. His will was to bless many people, and he an instrument in mind to bring it about. We bring our talents and abilities to the table, but whatever those are they were given by God in the first place. It has been said that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. I’ve also heard (and said) that God is not interested in our ability but in our availability.
When God calls, answer. Consider Moses. Remember Jonah. Look at the sort that Jesus chose as Apostles. Read through the faithful Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11. God uses the small, the weak and the broken. God uses the foolish things in this world to confound the wise. If we are willing to serve, God can and will use us in his service. When God calls, answer. There’s no point in arguing with him anyway.