Have you ever felt inadequate or unworthy to be a useful worker in God’s kingdom? If you have, join the club. Many of us aren’t nearly as self confident as we would like to project. Truthfully, many of us regularly feel like we are not up to the job. I have been reading a book on missions called, Send Me, I’ll Go! I particularly liked one quote: “You may not be able to imagine yourself as a missionary, but that might just mean you have a sorry imagination” (loc 1179). I think we could say this about many things. Paul said we have a treasure in clay pots (2 Cor 4:7). The value is in the treasure, not the vessel. We should be dreaming about how to get the treasure to more places, not concentrating so much on the inadequacies of our own clay pots. At the end of the day, a clay pot is just baked dirt. Some pots may be prettier than another, but they’re still fragile containers for an invaluable treasure. God designed it this way so that he gets the glory (2 Cor 4:7).
In the book of Exodus, from a human perspective, the main character is a reluctant leader named Moses. We cover many decades of his life in just a couple of chapters in Exodus. He had an unlikely deliverance at his birth, being raised in the Egyptian royal home, then he finds himself on the wrong side of Pharaoh after he killed the Egyptian abuser. He settles into life far away in Midian where he has a wife, a family, and apparently a good life set up for himself. It is here where God finds him and calls him into action. Moses isn’t crazy about this plan and lets Yahweh know why he can’t be the man to deliver Israel.
Moses’s Case Against Moses:
I don’t have Status (3:11)
I don’t have Credibility (4:1)
I don’t have Ability (4:10)
I don’t have Desire (4:13)
Moses didn’t think he had the clout to speak to Pharaoh. He had squandered his opportunity. He spent the first 40 years of his life in Egypt and seemingly, his time had passed. He was now a fugitive, 80 years old who was “content to dwell” in Midian (Ex 2:21). Moses had purchased the equivalent of Midianite mini-van and was happy to stay far away from Egypt and raise his family.
Do you ever feel like you’re a nobody in the kingdom? Maybe, like Moses, you ask, “Who am I?” Yahweh’s response to Moses is perfectly fitting. Yahweh does not assure Moses by handing him a mirror and telling him awesome things about himself, he assures Moses of who HE is. In essence Yahweh says to Moses: it’s not you, it’s me.
Ironically, Moses doubts Yahweh’s word while doubting Israel will listen to Yahweh’s word. (4.1) God had told Moses exactly who would respond to his word. Moses did not believe he had the credibility or authority to speak to the people. What gives him the right to speak on behalf of God?
Do you ever feel like you lack the authority to speak for Christ? When someone asks you, “Who gives you the right to speak into my life?” You can truthfully say, “Jesus does.” The Great Commission begins with a declaration of the authority of Jesus. The original commission was handed down under the direct authority of Jesus (Mt 28.18) and now by succession, we carry the weight and authority of Christ. Speak regularly of Jesus knowing you have been commissioned.
Whether Moses had some type of speech impediment or perhaps a tremendous fear of public speaking is not known for sure. Whatever the issue, Moses did not fancy himself a public speaker. Surely he was not the guy for this task! Interestingly, Yahweh never tries to talk Moses out of his self-assessment, and he even gives Moses a spokesman, his brother Aaron.
God’s response is again designed to draw attention away from Moses and towards God. “Who made man’s mouth?” Yahweh knows exactly what Moses can and can’t do. He made him.
On a personal note, had I made a list of potential careers at the age of let’s say 18, pastor would not have made the top 50. I had no idea how people stood up and talked for 30 minutes. Now I also wonder how to preach for 30 minutes, but that’s because I go longer!
What has the Lord put in front of you by way of ministry opportunity? You know he made you too, right? He knows what you can and can’t do. Move forward in faith and serve him well.
Moses is brutally honest, he just doesn’t want to do it. I asked one of my kids to do something recently and they said, “I don’t want to.” I applaud their honesty. But as my father-in-law likes to say, “Want is a user option.” God is patient with Moses, but he doesn’t let him off the hook. He has a mission for him and Moses will join with God in his plan.
If you and I have no desire to serve the Lord and join the mission of God to make his name known, there’s something wrong with our hearts. God’s people love God’s mission.
I love what DL Moody said about this passage: “Moses spent forty years thinking he was somebody; then he spent forty years on the backside of the desert realizing he was nobody; finally, he spent the last forty years of his life leaning what God can do with a nobody!”
Embrace your nobody-ness and join the mission!