In my entire life, I have never been near a burning bush. I really haven’t. I mean, campfires, maybe. I’ve seen some brushfires from a distance. But just last week, only a day after revisiting Exodus 3 and Moses’ “burning bush moment,” I was stunned when my next-door neighbor accidentally set aflame a bush that borders our properties. A real-life burning bush right at my house! But alas, this bush did burn up. And the only voices I heard were my neighbors’ and the firefighters.
Moses, on the other hand, did have a dialogue with God, which began in ch. 3 and continues in Exodus 4:1-17. In this passage, Moses has three more issues with the calling God is giving him.
#1: Authority. “What if they don’t believe me?” Moses asks. It’s basically a question of authority. Moses has a valid concern that the Israelites would not recognize that he has any authority over them or Pharaoh. They have no earthly reason to trust that Moses was sent by God. And funny enough, God agrees! So he gives him the grace of three signs to validate his calling. God shows Moses that his calling is defined by God’s authority.
#2: Ability. “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” After God shows Moses how God would display His authority, Moses skillfully changes the subject to his lack of ability to speak well. Literally, the Hebrew means “I am heavy of mouth.” What a sensory image of how Moses experienced his limited ability! But God answers again, with this echo of God’s own name in Moses exact point of weakness. The Hebrew literally reads: “I am with your mouth” (the NIV reads “I will help you speak.”) God shows Moses that his calling is reliant on God’s ability.
#3: Action. “Please send someone else.” Finally out of arguments, Moses reveals his real feelings. He just doesn’t wanna. Maybe he’s scared, maybe he’s stubborn, and maybe a bit of both. But Moses doesn’t want to act. He easily forgets that God isn’t telling Moses to be in charge; he is telling Moses to be obedient. God is the one who initiated this exodus plan, and God would be the one to enact it. And Moses learns that his calling is enabled by God’s action.
And it’s a good thing, too. Later, God would send a “new Moses,” Jesus Christ, who would perform signs and wonders, pass through the waters, and suffer in the wilderness, just as Moses did. But Jesus would do more than lead people out of physical slavery in a nation — he would lead people out of spiritual slavery in sin and death. And his calling was empowered by the Father’s authority, ability, and action.
– Have you ever felt “called by God” to do something? What was that like?
– “Calling” can mean a lot of things; what do you think it means in the context of following Jesus?
– Have you ever felt called to something and not been able to say “yes”? Why not?
– Is it possible God is calling you to something in which you have no authority? No ability? Are hesitant to act?