Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 5/19/2016
(edited January 2021)
Moses wasn’t made out of plastic. Neither are any of us. That was Charlton Heston in the movie The Ten Commandments, not the real Moses. Moses wasn’t of European descent, actually! And I’m not putting down old Charlton Heston who was, actually, a Christian in real life. I loved him in the original Planet of the Apes movie, by the way! And later in life, he put out some good Bible videos. But my point is that before we look to Hollywood, or yell out “Holly Moses” when something weird happens, we need to return to the Word of God if we want the truth about what this fellow, Moses, was really like. Here in Exodus chapter 4, for instance, we see that right after God spoke to him and specifically called him to return to Egypt and lead the nation of Israel out of slavery, Moses had doubts:
Verse 1: “And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.”
He wasn’t doubting God’s existence—Moses believed in the Lord. I expect he would, for we know from chapter 3 that God was currently speaking with him in an audible voice from a burning bush! No, what Moses doubted, just you and I doubt today, was whether or not God could accomplish His will in this world.
Moses had every natural reason to be afraid to return to Egypt He had fled the country 40 years before as a fugitive from a capital offense.
Verses 2-4: “And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:”
In his own way, Moses had sought to deliver God’s people 40 years ago. That was his intent when he accidentally or carelessly killed an Egyptian slave boss. Trying to save the people in his own strength had turned out horribly. Now God must convince Moses that this time around He, The Lord, would supply the means and the strength required!
Verses 5-8: “That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.”
The Lord knows that Moses is still not convinced. Isn’t it a shame how difficult it is for any of us to justify fully turning something important over to God?
Verse 9: “And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.”
A doubting man needs a lot of backup plans, and that’s where Moses is right now. I can’t relate to the courage of Moses, or his wisdom, but when it comes to doubting, I may be his equal!
Verse 10: “And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.”
I, also, am real big on doubting myself, too. Are you? It must be so frustrating for God to live with the doubts of all of us:
Verses 11-12: “And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”
But old Moses still has doubts about doing this “alone”, even with the personal promise of God’s help every step of the way!
Verse 13: “And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.”
I think we are about to hear what God sounds like when He is frustrated (and maybe a little sarcastic?).
Verses 14-16: “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.”
God knows who can do what. He made all of us. There is no strength or weakness we can mask from Him. It may have appeared that the well-spoken brother of Moses, Aaron, was better equipped to deliver God’s message to the world. But that was just on the outside. The Lord searches deeper than that. Aaron was not at all ready to lead the Children of Israel. It was Moses who had the knowledge and the calling of God to fulfil His will and complete the task! Hey, if I were standing there looking, I would have picked Aaron too, probably. But actually, years later, Aaron did crash and burn as a leader out in the wilderness march when the ten commandments were first given to the People on Mt. Sanai.
Read Exodus chapter 32 sometime if you want to see some details that reveal what was lacking in Aaron as a leader and also the amazing reserves of character and courage that God knew Moses possessed on the inside!
Verses 17-23: “And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs. And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. And the Lord said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. And the Lord said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.”
Was Moses now ready to go back to Egypt and challenge the Pharaoh? Friends, maybe you and I aren’t quite ready to follow God’s will either. But what really matters for us, and what really mattered for Moses was that God WAS ready! He was VERY ready! You see, God was committed to seeing His People be free and prosper. And God alone, at that time, knew that freedom and prosperity for Ancient Israel would a make a way for Him to bring forth the Savior of the world through that nation.
God knows a lot of things we don’t know today. We need to walk in His ways and follow Him. But, it ain’t easy. Moses is really struggling at this point:
Verses 24-26: “And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.”
Moses not only had to conquer his own doubts, but also those of Zipporah. His wife wasn’t a Jew and she didn’t, apparently, want her children to be either. How many men and women of God today are getting little or no outward credit for the courageous battles of faith they must wage day after day in their homes? Moses had that problem, too.
God doesn’t “dabble” in faith and He won’t allow us to either. When it comes to His will you have to be all in or you are all out!
Verses 27-26: “And the Lord said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him. And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: And Aaron spake all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed: and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.”
Is your work for the Lord today plagued by doubts and, shall we say, humble beginnings? Remember, so was that of Moses. But, by the faithfulness of God, Moses eventually stood up to the Pharaoh. He faced the armies of Egypt at the Red Sea. He received the precious commandments of the Lord on Mt. Sinai. Why, the Bible indicates, that the ministry of this very real, very meek man has extended even beyond the grave. Peter saw him speaking with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Some Bible scholars have theorized that Moses may be one of the two final witnesses described in Revelation 11:1-12! My point is, Moses was just like us in that he had doubts, and fears, and flaws. Just like us. We should be inspired not just by the man, but by what the Lord can do with any man or any woman who will trust and follow Him, even when it’s hard or seems impossible! Not follow perfectly. Moses didn’t and we won’t either. Not perfectly, but purposefully and consistently. And what I mean by that is if you mess up, then you ‘fess up, and you get up, and you go forward with the Lord! Will anybody say “A-men” to that tonight?