Have you ever heard someone say that if you’re doing what God wants you to do you’ll know because you’ll have peace with it? This is one of those Christian-ish sayings that sounds good at first, but doesn’t always hold up to more rigorous scrutiny.
Take Moses for example. When God called him to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt Moses did not feel peace with this mission. In fact, he tried to talk God out of picking him five times in this conversation. I find it interesting that God wasn’t angry with the fact that Moses didn’t have a peace with his calling at first. The Lord only got angry when Moses begged Him to send someone else.
God doesn’t need us to feel like we can handle what He asks us to do (He’ll help us out with that). He just needs us to be willing to trust where He’s leading and walk forward with Him. That’s part of what His responses to Moses’ five questions can teach us.
Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11, WEB)
It’s a reasonable question, one we would expect from the man later described as “very humble, more than all the men who were on the surface of the earth” (Num. 12:3, WEB). In fact, if Moses was the sort of person who thought he was perfectly qualified and able to do this God probably wouldn’t have chosen Him. Our Lord has a practice of choosing “the lowly things of the world … that no flesh should glory before God” (1 Cor. 1:28, 29, WEB).
He said, “Certainly I will be with you. This will be the token to you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” (Ex. 3:12, WEB)
God’s answer to the human question, “Who am I?” is “I will be with you.” It’s not about who we are when we’re called to do something for God. It’s about who He is and His power to work in and through humble, teachable people.
Moses said to God, “Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you;’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them?” (Ex. 3:13, WEB)
We don’t know exactly why Moses asked this question. Perhaps he expected Israel to challenge him (“Do you know the name of our God?”) or perhaps he thought they didn’t know God (“We have forgotten, who is He?”). I wonder if this question has to do with the Hebrew connection between a name and a person’s reputation. Israel had lost much of their faith while in Egypt. To suddenly be offered rescue might reasonably prompt the question, “Who is this God? What is He like?”
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You shall tell the children of Israel this: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God said moreover to Moses, “You shall tell the children of Israel this, ‘Yahweh, 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, and this is my memorial to all generations. (Ex. 3:14-15, WEB)
This is the first time we have record of God revealing His proper name — Yahweh. He also uses the interesting Hebrew phrase ehyeh asher ehyeh — “I am that I am” or “I will be who I will be.” Our God associates His essential nature with being itself. He is eternal, self-existent, and self-consistent. We can’t neatly define Him or put him in boxes, but we can rely on Him.
God follows this revelation of His name by sharing with Moses an outline for what Moses should do and how people will respond when he goes to Egypt. God doesn’t give him all the details, but it’s enough that Moses now has an idea of what to expect and how God plans to handle it (Ex. 3:16-22).
Moses answered, “But, behold, they will not believe me, nor listen to my voice; for they will say, ‘Yahweh has not appeared to you.’” (Ex. 4:1, WEB)
Moses is pretty good at anticipating Israel’s questions (either that or he’s great at coming up with excuses). It’s a valid fear, though, from a human perspective. Why should they believe this Hebrew raised by Egyptians who fled after killing a man and now comes back 40 years later saying God told him to free all the slaves? It sounds crazy.
Yahweh proceeds to give him three miraculous signs Moses can use “that they may believe that Yahweh, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (Ex. 4:2-9). He also demonstrated two of those signs for Moses right there so he could experience them himself.
Moses said to Yahweh, “O Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before now, nor since you have spoken to your servant; for I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” (Ex. 4:10, WEB)
I can relate to this one. It’s pretty much the same thing I said the first time someone asked me to speak in front of people. But God doesn’t accept our natural (or perceived) human deficiencies as a good excuse.
Yahweh said to him, “Who made man’s mouth? Or who makes one mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Isn’t it I, Yahweh? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth, and teach you what you shall speak.” (Ex. 4:11-12, WEB)
From this perspective Moses’ question is pretty ridiculous. Not a good speaker? The One who gave you a mouth and the power of speech can fix that. And by the way, you don’t have to come up with something to say on your own because He’ll take care of that, too. God wouldn’t give us an assignment without also empowering us to accomplish what He calls us to do.
He said, “Oh, Lord, please send someone else.” (Ex. 4:13, WEB)
God wasn’t angry with Moses for having questions. But when Moses begs to get out of this assignment, “Yahweh’s anger burned against Moses” (Ex. 4:14, WEB). He has answered all Moses’ questions, assured him of His power, and laid out the whole plan yet Moses still held back.
You’ll notice, however, that even though He’s angry God doesn’t just tell Moses to suck it up, be a man, and go do what he’s told. Instead, He does something that I find very curious. He accommodates Moses’ biggest personal worry by saying that his brother Aaron can act as spokesman (Ex. 4:14-17). The first plan was for Moses to speak, but he’s so uncomfortable with the idea that God changed the plan slightly. He still expected Moses to obey, but He worked with him where he was at and only pushed him so far.
Moses says nothing more in this conversation. He simply obeys. I’m not sure if he felt peace with his assignment at that point or not, but we know for sure that he wasn’t at peace with it at first. He did, however, come to a point where he decided to just go ahead and do what he’d been called to do and trust that God would help. And that’s something we can do as well.