Although Moses is most remembered for repeatedly confronting Pharaoh and eventually leading the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt, his life has much more to offer us if we look further back in time. Reading through Exodus 3 and 4, it appears that he’s hesitant, to say the least, to follow through with God’s commands to approach Pharaoh and bring His people out of Egypt. There’s quite a bit of dialogue between Moses and God, and most of it is Moses desperately grasping for God to release His call on Moses to execute His plan. At first glance, perhaps Moses’ attempts to talk God out of holding him in charge appear to be based with humility. As though Moses thought so lowly of himself to be unable to do what God had asked, pleading from different angles for God to change His mind, by presenting himself as humble, doubtful, and weak. As is usually the case, there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Back in Exodus 2:11-12, Moses murdered an Egyptian that he’d witnessed beating a fellow Hebrew. Though this rage is what lead him to flee to Midian, in fear of retribution by Pharaoh (2:15), it’s also evidence that he was filled with an anger towards injustice and physically capable of killing a man, presumably with his bare hands. This action does not fit well with one who makes claims of humility as Moses does when replying to God’s directions in 3:11, “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'” or when the questions, or rather excuses, pour out of his mouth in asking God, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you?'” (4:1), or the straight up statements making a clear case that he’s not interested in pursuing Pharaoh and preparing for the exodus in 4:10, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” and, the final plea, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (4:13). All sorts of reasons come out from Moses as to why he doesn’t want to be the man to do the job God had called him to do. All but the last is cloaked in a layer of humility, but as I read into this passage, this is a false humility from Moses where underneath lies laziness, lack of trust, and utter disobedience.
The most amazing aspect of this disregard for God is that Moses was privy to audibly hearing His words as they engaged in a dialogue, where God was unmistakably clear in His directives, and all of this stemmed from a visual encounter as God called to him from the burning bush (3:2-4). To persist in trying to bargain his way out of his assigned duties astounds me, but not to the point where I can’t comprehend the audacity of Moses in his direct disobedience. Even though we aren’t given sight to see our God, or hear Him speaking directly to us, we do as Moses did, and blatantly claim a humility that is false when we’re directed to perform an action that we’re uncomfortable with, or that we wish were laid upon someone else to take on. Surely, several instances can be recounted as we look back, and even today, where we have been given crystal clear messages from God throughout the Bible that we just…don’t…want…to…do. The Holy Scriptures are our burning bush, the printed words on each page offer the dialogue we seek with God, and though we have His Word to direct us, we argue with Him, just as Moses did. And, some of the time, our one sided arguments against what He’s called us to do are camouflaged as a humility towards God and man, but when transparently unpacked, the remaining pieces are anything but humble; they’re downright self-serving.
So God hasn’t asked me to lead a people out of exile, or dedicate my life to spreading the gospel in a foreign country full of animosity towards our Savior, or prophesy in His name, but what He has charged me with is the command to “Be holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7; 1 Peter 1:16). This, all alone, is a high calling, richly described as to how to go about in striving towards it on each and every page of our Bibles; God Himself, speaking to us, commanding us, teaching us, guiding us, directing us, convicting us, and compelling us to follow Him out of the slavery unto ourselves and into genuine humility in seeking His will before our own. Let us remember how foolish Moses sounded in his disobedience, how obviously selfish and futile our motives are before the God who knows every fiber of our being, and strive to accept what He says to do and be without hesitation. If we will not abide, let us at least be real about our reasoning as Moses was in his last statement, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (4:13). No excuses, no false humility, just plain ol’ disobedience. It took him awhile to get there, but he finally owned up to why he didn’t want to do as God commanded and, take note, he did it anyway.