Moses… one tends to think of a great man, a great leader, the man who defied the tyranny of a cruel pharaoh, the man who parted the Red Sea with a wave of his hand, he who saw God, heard Him, received the 10 Commandments that still apply…even today! Moses… the man who knew Yahweh, the Great I AM. This is the Moses everybody recognises…this is the Moses wishes they were. But, this same Moses is also the one who was initially a coward…fearing man more than God; Who had promised to be with him and anoint him for the task.
One fine day, Moses was tending the sheep of his father-in-law; Jethro a priest of Midian. He peacefully led his flock through the desert until he reached the mighty Mount Horeb….the Mountain of God. He had led his sheep here before, as it was a favourite spot..cool shades and plenty to eat. Little did he know, today he would encounter God.
Suddenly, a saw a twinkle in the corner of his eye. He rubbed his eyes… could it be? A bush that is on fire yet is not burnt? How peculiar! Moses went closer to get a better look. And then, he heard a voice calling him, “Moses! Moses!”. Moses jumped with fright. He looked all around him to see who had called him. No one was around! The voice called again, “Moses! Moses!”. He began to break out in cold sweat and timidly answered “Here I am “. Moses thought that he was losing his mind… he was talking to nobody and yet, the voice answered, “Take of your sandals for the place where you stand is holy ground”. Moses obeyed even as fear slowly crept into his heart. Then the voice continued, “I am the God of Your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob”. At the dawn of this revelation, Moses’ eyes widened… he was in the very presence of the God of Israel, the God of his people! The God whom he had brought up to fear with reverential awe. Moses quickly hid his face that he would not be able to see God’s face. If that were to happen, he knew that he would die!
The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave-drivers and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey….So now, go. I am sending you ti Pharaoh and bring my people out of Egypt”. Moses heard the decree and trembled. He? Moses the shepherd? Moses the murderer?! He questioned God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”. With this, Moses thought he could mask his reluctance and perhaps God would rethink his decision and elect someone else. Instead, God gave him the assurance saying, “I will be with you. And this is the sign to you that it is I who have sent you; When you have brought the people put of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
This was not enough for Moses, he just could not see himself leading about 2 million people; the chosen people of God out of Egypt. He could not imagine himself standing up against Pharaoh. What would the people think? Will the people follow him just because he claims God spoke to him? Moses didn’t think so. Fearful, Moses said, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them ‘The God of your fathers had sent me to you,’ and they ask ‘What is His name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” With a thundering voice, God answered, “I AM WHO I AM”. The LORD went on saying that He will lead his people out of Egypt in a mighty fashion and will lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey.
Even so, Moses was not convinced. He thought of the people and what they would do to him if they didn’t believe him. He asked “What if they do not believe me?” The answer from the Lord was spectacular enough… Moses threw his staff to the ground and there it turned into a serpent. Never seeing that before, Moses ran from it, fearing for his life. God then asked Moses to catch the serpent by its tail and it changed back into a staff again. God then asked Moses to put his hand into his cloak and bring it out again. Confused, Moses obeyed but was terrified to see that his hand had become leprous! God told Moses to put his hand back into his cloak again and much o Moses’ relief, his hand was restored. The Lord proclaimed, “If the people do not believe these two signs, show them a third….take water from the Nile and pour it unto dry land and it shall turn to blood”.
At this, Moses had no choice but to obey as the Lord had commanded him to… he tried one last way out, he said that his speech was not eloquent; that he was slow in speech and tongue. At this point, God had enough of Moses and His anger was aroused. The Lord finally decreed that Aaron, Moses’ brother, would accompany Moses in the task. With that Moses began his journey to deliver his people on an exodus out of Egypt.
From this account of Moses’ calling, one can find similarities to the situation today. Although many are called, some Christians try to make excuses and to justify themselves and ‘escape’ God’s calling. However, there are three lessons to be pointed out here:
When God calls us into ministry or to do His work, he doesn’t say “This is the path…walk it!”. Instead, he says (like He did to Moses) “I will be with you” (Exo.3:12)
When God calls, He also provides. Just as He provided Moses with the power to perform signs and wonders to convince the people (Exo.4:3-9), God has provided the Holy Spirit for us, to empower us as witnesses for Christ, to convince the people.
God can use anybody…whether they are slow in speech and tongue or they were previously murderers. Who would have thought God would use Moses? He was slow in speech, cowardly and was a murderer. But, God uses anybody and everybody!
I did this piece as an assignment for a class in the Pentateuch (Literally ‘5 Scrolls’, the term used for the first five books of the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). I took this class in a short-term Bible school called AIM – the Asian Institute of Ministries. This was one of the places that really helped define my life. The lessons of Moses still hold true, especially for those of us who realise that part of God’s plan for our lives is a calling to some sort of ministry.
Copyright © AIM 1st Trimester 1997, Wong Giok Leigh. All Rights Reserved.