Adventures in the Bible: Moses
Our adventures through the Bible series finds us with Moses this week. For our purposes we pick up Moses as a young man shepherding his father-in-law’s livestock. He sees a bush that is on fire but the bush is not consumed by the flames. Thinking this is an oddity he goes over to investigate. Then he hears a voice coming from the burning bush: the voice of God.
God tells Moses to go back to Egypt to tell Pharaoh that its time for the Israelites to go free. You see, in the time since Joseph brought Israel to Egypt, the Israelites have been fruitful and multiplied. This caused the Egyptians to get worried that the Israelites would take over so the Egyptians began treating the Israelites poorly. The Israelites became an oppressed people. God tells Moses He has heard the cry of the people Israel and is ready to rescue them from their bondage.
Moses has been given amazing news. Moses has been given an amazing story. Moses has been tasked to go to Egypt and say that God is on the move, God is ready to act, God is working. And guess what happens next…the excuses start.
Moses says, “God, if I go and tell the people Israel that their God has heard their sufferings and is ready to act and they ask me what your name is, what shall I tell them?” Moses starts off innocently asking a question he assumes God won’t answer. Then Moses will be off the hook. But God says, “I AM WHO I AM. Go tell the I AM has sent you.”
God 1, Moses 0.
Then Moses says, “Say I go and tell them that you have sent me and they don’t believe me.” So God tells Moses to throw down his staff which, when Moses throws it down, becomes a snake. God says, “There, if they don’t believe you do that.”
God 2, Moses 0.
Then Moses says, “What if I do that and they still don’t believe me?” God says place your hand inside your cloak. Moses puts his hand in his cloak and his skin comes off as leprosy. Then Moses puts it back on his chest and it is healed. God say, “If they still don’t believe you, do that.”
God 3, Moses 0.
And then, before Moses can object a third time (because God knew it was coming!) God tells Moses, “If they still don’t believe you, get some water from the Nile in a cup. When you pour it out, it will pour blood.”
God 4, Moses 0.
At this point a Mercy Rule should kick in, but Moses still has one excuse more. “But God, I am slow of speech, I’m not clever, I can’t go and speak for you.”
At this point we should be exhausted of Moses if he wasn’t just like each of us. How many of us, when called to go out into the world and share our faith, don’t find as many excuses as Moses?
God gives us the world changing amazing story of Jesus and tells us to go tell it to the world. But God, we say, what if people don’t believe us? So God works in our lives and gives us an amazing testimony of where He has moved and worked in us.
But God, we say, what if people won’t believe our own stories? So God gives us the testimonies of friends and family members.
But God, we say, we aren’t as clever as our friends or our family members. Certainly they would be better to go and tell your message.
Luckily God didn’t give up on Moses. He sends him a partner in his brother, Aaron. But what if God had given up on Moses? What if God had said five excuses was too many? Would the Israelites still have labored as slaves in Egypt? Would they still have suffered in their bondage?
There are people all around us who suffer as slaves to sin and regret. There are people all around us who are still in bondage to their past. They need love, they need grace, they need to know they are forgiven. They need to know that God stands ready to move in their lives, to work in their lives to heal them. To make them whole.
And if you won’t go, what will happen to them?
Moses came up with every excuse he could think of, but eventually he went. And Israel was freed. Will you go? Or will you keep on making excuse after excuse?