Chip Stapleton Highland Presbyterian Church March 30th, 2020 Hunkered Down Devotions
Exodus 4:10-18; 29-31 The Voice (VOICE)
Moses: 10 Please, Lord, I am not a talented speaker. I have never been good with words. I wasn’t when I was younger and I haven’t gotten any better since You revealed Yourself to me. I stutter and stammer. My words get all twisted.
Eternal One: 11 Who is it that gives a person a mouth? Who determines whether one person speaks and another doesn’t? Why is it that one person hears and another doesn’t? And why can one person see and another doesn’t? Isn’t it because of Me, the Eternal? You know it is. 12 Go now, and I will be there to give you the words to speak; I will tell you what to say.
Moses: 13 Please, Lord, I beg you to send Your message through someone else, anyone else.
14 Then the Eternal became angry with Moses.
Eternal One: How about your brother—Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks eloquently. And look, he is already on his way to meet you. When he sees you, his heart will be delighted. 15 I want you to talk to him and put the right words in his mouth. I will guide your mouth and his mouth and instruct you both on what you should do. 16 He will address the people as your spokesman. He will serve as your mouth; and you will instruct him in what he is to say as if you were God to him.
17 Take this staff in your hand, and use it to perform the signs I have shown you.
18 Barely convinced, Moses went back to his father-in-law, Jethro.
29 Moses and Aaron then traveled back to Egypt and gathered together all of the elders of Israel’s people. 30 Aaron gave a speech that conveyed all the words that the Eternal had given to Moses and then performed the miraculous signs in front of the people. 31 The people believed Moses and Aaron. When everyone heard that the Eternal was concerned about the Israelites and that He had observed their oppression, they bowed down and began to worship with grateful hearts.
The story of God calling Moses to be his representative in Egypt and the leader of the Israelites that would guide them out of captivity into the promised land is, in some ways, a familiar one. At the same time, there are many elements of the story that we might be less familiar with, or that we just don’t focus on. It is one of those elements that we are looking at today, and there are three insights I want us to take.
In our lectionary reading from Exodus today, we pick up the story just as God has called Moses (in Exodus chapter 3) to return to Egypt and speak to the Pharaoh on God’s behalf, calling for freedom for the Israelites.
Moses is not exactly thrilled at this call from God. To be sure, he is in awe of God’s presence (the burning but not consumed bush in the desert in chapter 3), but he is pretty sure that God is asking too much of him, or more likely, just has the wrong guy.
Our passage begins with Moses explaining to God – as if he needed the explanation – that he isn’t a very good public speaker, noting that he’s never been good at it and that he speaks with a stutter.
God’s response to Moses here is the first insight I want us to think about. God listens to Moses talk about his ability or lack thereof and responds by pointing out what should be obvious: It is God who created you – and your mouth – and God that gives you the ability to speak, and things to say – or not.
What this means, and what is critical for us to remember, is that God will not call us to something unless he is also going to provide a way for us to accomplish it. God doesn’t make mistakes. When God calls you to something, to do something – and God will call you – there is a reason that it is you that has been called. No matter how inadequate or ill-prepared you feel you are – or you actually are - God will provide a way.
The second insight is found in verse 14. Even after reminding Moses that as his creator, he would empower him to do what God was asking, Moses still isn’t convinced. Scripture tells us that God got angry with Moses – I think the better word is probably exasperated.
The insight isn’t that God got mad at Moses, that is pretty easy to understand. The important lesson is that in the midst of his anger, his exasperation with Moses and his lack of faith, is that God still responds faithfully.
Which brings us to the final insight from this passage: God’s provision will not always come in the manner that we might expect. God tells Moses that he will give him the words to say and it might be natural to assume that God will miraculously heal Moses of his stutter, or perhaps even literally speak through him.
Instead, God provides a much more natural solution to Moses’ problem. And it’s one that we all have available to us as well: each other. God reunites Moses with his brother and together they fulfill God’s call and they become the instrument God uses to free his people.
In this time, and in every time, this is an important lesson for us to remember: when God calls us to something, the only way to get there is together.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Lord, as we are physically separated and disoriented by all the changes that are happening so quickly, remind us that you are always faithful and that you have called us to walk through this life together. Amen.