And [Moses] said, “Oh, Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send” (Exodus 4:13).
It is not every day that you come upon a burning bush that is not really burning.
Then again, it is not every day that the LORD commands you to deliver an intransigent nation from the clutches of the most powerful empire of the day, either.
Yet this is the situation in which Moses finds himself, at eighty years old, in the middle of the desert wilderness, almost 3500 years ago, according to Exodus 3:1-4:13.
He has left Egypt as a fugitive, having killed an Egyptian (cf. Exodus 2:11-15). Now God has asked him to return to Egypt, for God is about to fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Israelites will be redeemed from bondage and be given the land of the sojourning of their forefathers. And Moses will be their leader.
Moses, however, is not so sure. He professes humility (Exodus 3:11), wants to have the name of God revealed to him (Exodus 3:13), is confident that the Israelites will not believe him (Exodus 4:1), and declares that he is not eloquent of speech (Exodus 4:10). Yet with every complaint and concern God more than abundantly provides reassurance for Moses.
And then we get to the heart of the matter in Exodus 4:13– Moses is resisting the call of God. Moses would rather God send someone else. For this Moses will gain the anger of God (Exodus 4:14), and Moses finally gets the hint.
This does not seem to be an auspicious beginning. Nevertheless, as the narrative unfolds in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, we see that Moses grows into the position of leader, and God abundantly provides. Through God’s power the impossible is achieved. Through God’s power Moses is able to lead intransigent Israel out of Egypt, through the Wilderness, and to the Jordan River in triumph.
Yet we should be able to sympathize with Moses on Mount Horeb. The proposition before him sounds extremely daunting. He does not know the future and how it will all turn out. Let’s be honest with ourselves: if we were in Moses’ position, would our answer really have been that much different? Would it not be easy for us to resist God’s call?
We may not be called to lead a nation out of the hands of a powerful empire, but God calls all of us to participate in the greatest work of all time (Ephesians 1:3-11, 3:10-11). God calls all of us to put our trust and confidence in Him and to do as He directs us– and promises that He is able to do more abundantly than we can ever begin to imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). He calls us to holiness and godliness and to make disciples of all the nations (Romans 12:9, 2 Peter 3:11, Matthew 28:18-20)– daunting challenges indeed.
There will always be plenty of reasons that we can imagine for resisting the call, to ask God in some way or another to send someone else. But if everyone asks God to send “someone else,” who will accomplish God’s purposes? We must come to terms with the reality that we are the ones who have been entrusted with the Gospel to preach it and live it. We must rise above the excuses based in a walk by sight and learn to trust that God is able to do what God has promised to do, and that if our work is in the Lord it is not in vain and it will bear fruit (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58, Isaiah 55:11).
We must stand firm against the cosmic forces of darkness while seeking to exhort all men to faith and repentance. The tasks are mighty and daunting. Will we stand up for God or shrink back? Will we answer the call or will we resist? Let us learn from Moses’ example that God is faithful and we have no need to resist His call for His purposes. Let us seek to serve God, trusting in Him, and we will be astounded at what God is able to accomplish!
Ethan R. Longhenry