Read His Words Before Ours!
What comes to mind when you think of Moses?
He’s probably one of the most famous Bible “heroes.” Maybe his name conjures up an image of a man with arms stretched high over the Red Sea, holding back the waters; perhaps you picture him standing boldly before Pharaoh demanding freedom for the Israelites; or possibly you think of him on Mount Sinai with thunder crashing and smoke billowing around him as God draws near to give him instructions for his people.
Moses is often remembered as a mighty, powerful leader whose example we should emulate, but while strength and boldness are certainly part of his story, when we look a little deeper there are also elements of his story which aren’t quite so heroic.
After being miraculously rescued by God as a baby and raised in the luxury of the palace, Moses flees Egypt after killing a man. (Exodus 2:11-15) He spends many years in Midian, living in obscurity as a shepherd.
When God reveals Himself to Moses in a burning bush and calls Moses to lead the Israelites to freedom from slavery, Moses’ response isn’t what you might expect from a mighty hero.
Instead of responding with faith or courage, he is full of excuses.
Even when Moses finally accepts God’s call and steps out in obedience, his leadership is far from perfect. Despite securing the freedom of the Israelites and leading them through the wilderness, he isn’t permitted entrance to the Promised Land because of his failure to trust God and obey Him. (Numbers 20:1-13)
The true picture the Bible paints of Moses is not one of a mighty hero, but one of a human being, with moments of greatness and achievement, but also with flaws and weaknesses.
Personally, I find that comforting. Moses was able to accomplish great things for God not because of his own power, but because of God working through him, even in his weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:6-10) I am encouraged that if God could use Moses, perhaps He could use me.
I relate all too well to Moses’ hesitation at the burning bush and the sense God is calling me to something far beyond my own ability, for which I feel inadequate. I share his experience of being called to speak for God while feeling I lack the skill.
And I love how God responds to Moses.
When Moses protests no-one will listen and he is not skilled at speaking, God doesn’t answer by encouraging Moses he is good enough or he has what it takes. Instead, He reveals Himself to Moses.
Moses’ excuses are all about himself and his own perceived inadequacy, but God points Moses back to what really matters. He reassures Moses of His presence, He provides signs to demonstrate His power, and He promises to help Moses complete the task.
He directs Moses’ focus away from his own weaknesses and onto God’s strength.
In the end, Moses rises above his fears and apprehensions and steps out in faith, confronting Pharaoh and leading the Israelites to freedom. He comes to realise that success does not depend on his own ability, but on the fact that God has called him and is with him.
When the Israelites finally leave Egypt, God’s presence goes with them in a brilliant cloud by day and pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22), providing a visual reminder they are not alone.
Moses comes to recognise the importance of God’s presence with him and the people. This is what marks them out from others, and enables them to take possession of the Promised Land.
“‘If Your presence does not go,’ Moses responded to Him, ‘don’t make us go up from here. How will it be known that I and Your people have found favor with You unless You go with us? I and Your people will be distinguished by this from all the other people on the face of the earth.’” (Exodus 33:15-16)
It is encouraging to remember that, if we have put our trust in Jesus, we have the same distinguishing mark. God’s presence is not only with us, but in us through the Holy Spirit. We have God’s promise, “I will never leave you or abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Like Moses, we can look to God for direction, and we can know His strength working through us, even in our weakness and despite our perceived inadequacy.
This, not our own ability, is what will empower us to be used by God and fulfill His calling.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!