Summary: This is on Moses’ God encounter.
Don’t you love excuses? Nine GI’s were late for morning roll call. The first arrived at 7 PM. He had a date missed the bus, hired a cab then it broke down. He went to a farmhouse and bought a horse. Ten miles from camp it fell over dead. “I walked the last ten miles.” The CO wasn’t happy but he let it slide. The next 7 guys came with the same story: date, missed bus, cab, broke down, horse dead, walked ten miles. When GI number 9 came back the CO was fuming. The soldier said, “Sorry, sir, I had a date and missed the bus, so I hired a cab…” “Don’t tell me,” the CO yelled, “It broke down.” “Oh, no, sir,” the GI replied. It’s just that there were so many dead horses in the road that we couldn’t get through.” Don’t you just love excuses?
Dramatic reading of Exodus 3:1-4:17.
Set the stage: Moses in on the backside of nowhere chasing sheep in the desert for his father-in-law. He is 80. Moses had his share of excuses when he had his God encounter. He had five excuses that he threw in God’s face. Let’s look at those excuses and God’s response.
Excuse #1: “WHO AM I?”
Moses thinks of himself as a nobody. He grew up in Pharaoh’s house, but that was long ago. He was a shepherd now, forty years removed from the last time he set foot in Egypt.
Moses is right. He couldn’t do it on his own. That’s why God responds with…
Answer #1: “I will BE with YOU.”
Quite simply and comfortingly God reassures Moses, “I will be with you.” Much like Abe’s reassurance of God’s promise when he reached the Promised Land.
The truth is that not one of us is fit to do anything for God. Our abilities come not from within ourselves, but from God’s power.
Excuse #2: “WHO ARE YOU?”
Moses says he is concerned about the people not believing he met God, but it’s really a thinly veiled attempt to find an out instead of doing something for God. Moses can’t see past the end of his nose.
Answer #2: “I AM WHO I AM.”
This could also be translated I AM THAT I AM or WHAT or WILL BE. Someone put it this way, “What does it matter who I am?” The point is that God is all we need. He is perpetually our Source of grace, love, holiness, strength, protection, etc., etc. This is where the name Yahweh or Jehovah comes from.
Excuse #3: “No one will BELIEVE me.”
Again, Moses transfers his whining to the people of Israel. Moses is attempting to blame his own fears, shortcomings, etc. on someone else. He doesn’t even mention any fear of facing Pharaoh.
Moses is playing the blame game here. When we’re asked to do something and we don’t want to do, we like to pass the buck. The same is true when things don’t go the way we planned. We blame someone else. As a whole the Church in America is ineffective, and has been for a long time, so we like to blame our personal ineffectiveness in sharing Christ at the feet of the Church thinking that relieves us of any personal responsibility.
Answer #3: “I will give you and them SIGNS.”
The signs that God performed for Moses: snake and leprosy, were as much for Moses as anyone. Moses had a serious problem. Was he lacking faith? What he not self-confident? Was he lazy? For whatever reason, he didn’t want to do what God wanted him to do, so God gave him these three signs. The signs that God performed for Moses: snake and leprosy, were as much for Moses as anyone. The ordinary was used to do the extraordinary. The vile plague of leprosy was used to the miraculous. God is in control.
Excuse #4: “I AIN’T no kind of GOOD TALKER.”
Moses again turns back to himself for excuses not to do what God wants him to do. This is a last ditch effort to avoid the trip back to Egypt.
To some extent Moses is right, in the human sense. Someone called to do such a great task should be eloquent.
No one is sure about his speech problem. It could have been stuttering. It could have been that after 40 years chasing sheep his Egyptian was rusty. There is a serious battle of the “I’s” here. Moses is more concerned about his “I.” God says, “My ‘I’ is bigger.”
Answer #4: “Who made your MOUTH?”
This is the battleground of “I”-wars. God says, “I made your mouth, and I will take care of you.”
Excuse #5: “I CAN’T do it.”
Moses, having run out of excuses, flat out refuses to do it. This is the continuing battle with God over the “I”-wars. Isn’t that really the crux of our problem with God: who’s in charge? It really doesn’t matter if Moses concerns about the people believing him, his speaking ability or whatever were legitimate. The point is God is able to help us through those things.