Monday, October 29, 2012

Moses’ Fourth Objection To His Calling -- Exodus 4:10-12

Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  And the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”
It is easy to look at Moses and say, “What on earth are you thinking man?  Give your head a shake.”  How could he possibly give God objection after objection (this is number four and there’s one more to go after this) to God’s call on his life?  But all we need to do is consider our own hesitancy to follow God’s plan for us, sometimes to the point of it becoming an actual act of disobedience when we flatly refuse to follow His call for us.  So, let’s not be that hard on Moses.

In this particular objection, Moses turns to his physical limitations and basically tells God that he was given a speech impediment, perhaps what today we would refer to as stuttering.  And he says to God, “Look, this has been an issue for a while even before you reached me and tapped me on the shoulder for this job.”  And further adding to what God already knew, Moses says, “I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

I don’t know about you, but if I were God, I would be getting pretty steamed at this point.  Not only was this objection number four, but also this mere human was telling God what God already knew.  And perhaps there was even an element of, “Hey God, you made me this way; you can’t expect me to carry out this task for which you didn’t properly equip me.”  That would be enough for me to have blown my stack.

Some commentators believe that Moses was not like this from birth and use the reference in Acts 7:22 in the New Testament that speaks of Moses being “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians”, and that he “was mighty in words and in deeds” to make their point.  It was after killing the Egyptian who was beating up on a Hebrew, that he fled into the wilderness, and there started to be depressed, which brought on his stuttering.  I personally do not believe that the verse excludes the possibility of his being a stutterer from birth for one could be “mighty in words” without the ability to speak well.
Nevertheless, what does God do when Moses issues this objection?  He answers him with a series of questions more like a loving Father and less like an angry parent.  God basically asks Moses to think it through.  “Who made man’s mouth?” and implying his mouth in particular.  “Who makes a person dumb, or deaf, or blind, Moses?  I do, don’t I?”  The inference is clear – “Moses, don’t worry about that.  I’m fully aware of it and I’ll take care of it.”

We need to stop here for a moment because this introduces a very difficult concept for many to accept.  Why would a loving God make children that cannot hear, speak, or see?  I mean it does say that, does it not?  But why is that?  Well, first of all, we agree that God says it.  From there, for me at least, if God said, I accept it.  I am not prepared to challenge Him on what He does or does not do or say.  I believe He has His reasons that I do not understand.  If I understood everything that God did or said, I would not need any “faith” – it would all be logical, rather than supernatural, to me and I would not need even the faith of a muster seed.  Everything would be rational or obvious and thus acceptable.  Finally, is it not also possible that God here, in His anger, is really saying, “Moses, who allows a child to be born deaf, dumb, or blind?” while still taking responsibility for doing that?  I think so.  David Guzik suggests that this declaration is all about, and should be understood from the perspective of, the “sovereignty of God”.  He writes, “ . . . the point here is not to analyze the origin of evil, but to show that God is so mighty that He can even call the mute, the deaf, and the blind to do His work.  Moses' perceived inadequacies don't matter at all.”  Amen.

And then when God finishes setting Moses straight with respect to his fourth objection, He once again issues His call and now His command to him.  “Moses, just go now, and I, the Almighty, will be with your mouth and teach you what to say.”  God did not get angry.  He provided answers to Moses’ objection through rhetorical questions that Moses could easily answer for himself even though he might not like the answer.  And then God adds this wonderful reassurance that He Himself would be with “Moses’ mouth” and would “teach” him what to say.  Wow – what more could anyone ask for.  Not only does God promise to be with us, but also He is willing, if we let Him, to give us the words to utter in a difficult circumstance.  I do not know if you have ever been in that kind of situation where you need that kind of help, but I have, and to know that God will and does give us the right words is one of the greatest gifts that God gives to His children who seek to do His bidding.
And yet, Moses still has some doubts, and is about to issue his last and fifth objection, as we shall soon see.

What however, is the lesson for us so far?  I believe it is twofold.  First, I think that sometimes when we are looking for a message from God, we often miss it because the messenger He has chosen is not an eloquent speaker.  That really is a tragedy.  Oftentimes, one remembers the eloquence of the speaker or pastor or preacher much longer than the message he or she brings from God.  I can name more than one such speaker of years gone by in our city.   On the other hand, we tend to remember the message given to us, when the Spirit of God, lays it on our hearts, regardless of the lack of eloquence of the messenger He may use.  Extra-blessed is the man or woman who carries the message of God, and can also deliver it eloquently, but that is not a requirement to qualify as a messenger of His.

The second lesson for us is equally as important.  I think that oftentimes many Christians seek out the will of God but miss it because they are looking for a “perfect fit”.  We want something that we are absolutely confident we can handle and that we will enjoy.  Maybe something we have done before in our ‘secular’ work.  If we got that kind of an assignment, the question arises as to whether or not we would need God to be with us in performing it.  Whether we would move ahead on our own confidence or be reliant on Him?  Whether or not in the end we would take some or all of the glory and perhaps only give Him some honorable mentions or none at all?

What kind of calling from God are you looking for?  If you have been looking for a long time and still have not done anything, may I humbly suggest, you’re looking for a “perfect fit” when God wants to give you something that will build up your reliance on Him.  If any of us are there now, we need to prayerfully reconsider His existing, and still unanswered call, on our life.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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  1. I have been enjoying the details of your trek through Exodus. I also am 'Moseying" through Exodus along with others. What I love about your blog is that you relate it to our lives today and I am gaining much encouragement from your posts.
    Just a thought:Could it have possibly that Moses had been in Midian 40 years and his fluency in the Egyptian Language had deteriorated. Aaron was still in Egypt and probably used the language every day. Acts 7:22 is interesting.

    1. Thanks Truth lover for the comment and the nice words. I really enjoy studying my Bible this way and in the process offering my thoughts out there to help those that find them.

      As to your suggestion -- all things are possible. Do remember that it was likely the Midianites that sold Joseph to the Egyptians implying that many did trade with the Egyptians and many spoke the Egyptian language. In fact, if we consider Midian as a location, it is not far from Egypt, and on the Red Sea according to scholars. So again, Egyptian could well have been spoken. Then there's the question of could Moses not have remembered the language or tongue he was taught as a child in the Pharaoh's care? So, yes good thoughts and all possible. One day we can find out. Thanks for studying this great book with me and I look forward to more of your comments and views. Blessings, Ken Godevenos.