Summary: Moses, Pt. 3
LET GO AND LET’S GO (EXODUS 3:1-4:17)
My wife always teased me about my resistance to change. When we first met, I declared to her that I already had a Master of Theology degree and that I did not need more study to do the work of ministry. Within a year, I left Los Angeles for studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. When she asked me to obtain an e-mail account when the Internet was the rage in 1998, again I simply brushed aside the suggestion, remarking, “Is that the way to communicate?” Now I wonder how people can live without it! Another time she referred a Bible software program (PC Study Bible) to me, I looked at her funny, thinking out loud, “Why do I need computer software to study God’s word?” Now I use it for sermon preparation without fail and require my students to learn it.
The list goes on and on, from refusing to replace a problem car to replace worn-out clothes. I go from ridiculing or lampooning the suggestion to stonewalling and resenting the person. Usually the emotional and mental wall of resistance crumbles by itself within a few minutes, a few days or, at worst, a few weeks after groaning and moaning.
Of all the people receiving God’s commission in the Bible, Moses’ resistance was unmatched. He was an expert in saying no; he began with a submissive “Here I am,” but the moment he heard the word “go” he dug in his heels and resisted like a mule. He said the Hebrew “No” four times (4:1, 1, 1, 10). In the beginning he protested, “No, not me!” and at the end he whined, “Anyone but me!” (4:13) He argued cleverly, passionately and fearlessly, portraying himself as a victim, a failure and a misfit, but through it all God showed His mercy to Moses, His faithfulness to Israel and sovereignty over all things.
God desires His people to let go of past circumstances, unpleasant history and lame excuses. For forty years Moses had severed his ties to royalty, his sense of justice and his aspiration for reformation, but God directly said “Go” to Moses three times in their exchange (3:10, 3:16, 4:12). Altogether, the word “go” occurs ten times in chapters 3 and 4 – four times in chapter 3 (3:10, 16, 18, 19) and six times in chapter four (4:12, 18, 18, 18, 21, 29).
How does God unchain us from the past? What is His use for us in the present? Why is trust in Him never a letdown?
God’s Deliverance is Present
10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” 13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?" 14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’" 15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers--the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob--has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation. (Ex 3:10-15)
Several years ago Charles Killian, professor at Ashbury Theological Seminary, admitted that he had failed to understand God’s unconditional love, Christ’s atoning death and the meaning of grace. Many nights when he was young, he cried himself to bed, apologizing for failing to measure up to God’s standards, including failing to read the Bible, praying enough or being the right kind of person. He was raised in a godly but strict home, attending church twice on Sunday and once during the week and often stepping forward when the altar call was given.
One day he heard an evangelist preached a powerful message that hearers like him were the ones who nailed Christ to the cross. That image stuck in his mind and that evening he cried himself to sleep, apologizing to God for killing his Son. For the next twenty to thirty years, he aimed for perfection, mastered spiritual disciplines and served God faithfully as a seminary professor.
One time, during a difficult period in his life, his wife tried to help him see the meaning of grace. He came home and found yellow ribbons wrapped around the family coat rack that was placed in the middle of the hallway, with a note attached to the tree that said: “So what if it’s not a real oak tree. Any old tree will do. I love you.” For the first time he saw that God loved him unconditionally. (Leadership, Fall 1993 “Spiritual Disciplines for the Undisciplined”)