Sermon

Moses: The Reluctant Deliverer (Exodus 2:11-4:31)

Our study of Exodus continues. Next week we will discuss the work of God to deliver the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, but we begin with a look at the man (Moses) the Lord used to accomplish His will.

Moses Fights & Flees

When we last left Moses, he was brought up in the household of Pharaoh. It is clear, however, that he knew that he was a Hebrew and still identified with the Hebrews and maintained an affinity with them. One day, he “went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren” (2:11). Moses was so upset about this that he committed premediated murder. He “looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand” (2:12). He, however, didn’t want to start a revolution so he hid the body where he thought no one would find it.

He was astonished to discover the next day a Hebrew man oppressing a fellow Hebrew. Moses was frustrated because he assumed that the problem with the Hebrews was solely the Egyptians, but here were two Hebrews fighting each other. Rather than kill the offending Hebrew and bury his body in the sand, Moses “said to the offender, ‘Why are you striking your companion?’” (2:13). The Hebrew, who was the offender, said to Moses, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (2:14). In other words, who put you in charge, Moses? Who made you judge?  Moses realized that his murder was known and became afraid and he feared for his life. Sure enough, “when Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses” (2:15). As we saw earlier, Moses was not interested in a revolution or leading a resistance against Egyptian rule; therefore, he “fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian” (2:15).

Moses Finds & Whines

While in Midian, Moses met Reuel (Jethro) and married his daughter Zipporah. Many days later, while tending the flock of his father in law, he saw a bush that was on fire but not consumed. Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up” (3:3). The Lord appeared to Moses in the bush and told him that He has heard the cry of Israel in slavery in Egypt. The Lord commissioned Moses to be His messenger to take the Israelites out of Egypt. The Lord said, “I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey” (3:8). 

The Lord then said, “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt” (3:10). Moses, however, is not interested and begins to offer excuses. For example: Moses asked, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” The Lord replied: “I will be with you” (3:11-12). Moses then asked, “I will say to them ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now when they say to me, ‘What is His name?’  What shall I say to them?” The Lord replied: “I AM WHO I AM…thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (vs. 13-14). Moses kept going, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?” The Lord replied by telling Moses that He will do mighty miracles through him (rod and hand). Moses was not done yet: “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent…I am slow of speech and slow of tongue”. The Lord replied by telling Moses that He made man’s mouth and tongue and will guide him to speak all he needs to say. Moses finally just gets to his point and says, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” The Lord responded in anger against Moses yet graciously told him that he could take Aaron with him. Moses told Jethro that he is returning to Egypt, met Aaron and went to Egypt.

Moses: Flawed & Loved

Sometimes we assume that the great men and women of the Bible are chosen by God because they are great. As if God scanned humanity and said to the angels: “Wow, look at Moses! He’s amazing, I better snatch him for my side so I can get some good things done.”  When we read the Bible, however, we discover that the great men and women of the Bible aren’t really that great. David committed adultery with a man’s wife and had him killed (and broke all 10 Commandments!). Solomon, his son, turned away from God. Paul persecuted the Church, Naomi was a complainer, Peter denied Jesus three times, Jacob cheated, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran away from God, Martha was bitter, Sarah was impatient, Thomas was a doubter, Samson was a womanizer, and Moses was a murderer.

God doesn’t choose the great to accomplish His will; He chooses flawed men and women to do great things. Christine Caine said it this way: “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” We see this in the call of Gideon. The Lord said to Gideon, “The Lord is with you, mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12). While Gideon tried to argue saying he was the least of the least (the runt of the pack), the Lord saw it another way. Similarly, with Moses the Lord called him to bring Israel out of Egypt and Moses tried to argue saying that he wasn’t qualified and/or willing. The Lord saw it another way.

Moses was a flawed and complicated man. All the following are true of Moses: He was bothered by the injustice of his people. He wanted to do something that made him feel better about himself during this injustice. Moses was afraid of consequences. Moses wanted to run away and forget his problems. Moses loved his comfort zone. Moses heard the call of God to do a great work and recoiled. Moses was a man of excuses. Moses submitted to the will of God.

What about Moses’ life in these chapters of Exodus speaks to you today? Where do you see yourself? Are you submitted to the will of God? Are you angry about injustice around you and wanting to do something about it? Are you comfortable being removed and distant from the problems going on around you? Are you making excuses for disobedience? Do you wish God would choose someone else to do what He has called you to do? Take time this week to pray about your trust in the Lord and prayerfully make any changes to grow in your faith.