God calls us to a holy vocation — not a vacation. He works hard on our behalf, and it thrills him to see us working hard in grateful response. Some call this obedience; some call this duty; others call this worship. As God’s redeemed children — saved by grace and without any contributing works of our own — we are to celebrate his love through a life of worship. We are his ambassadors, heralds, soldiers, farmers, runners, children, servants, and slaves. We are called to be living sacrifices seeking to do those things expressly commanded by him in his Holy Word and prompted by him through his Holy Spirit.
So what is God calling us to do? God calls some to remain single, and others he calls to remain married in a less than ideal environment. Some are led to spend extra money on Christian education; others are internally called to pursue the office of elder or deacon. God calls some to work oversees as missionaries, and he calls others to send their children to foreign lands. Within the church, some are called to struggle with same-sex attraction by walking away daily from that which their sinful flesh craves. God calls some to walk away from a job promotion or phenomenal deal due to matters of principle or personal priority. God calls men and women to walk away from certain relationships, and he urges others to move a father, mother, or in-law into their domicile? Perhaps some reading this devotional are being led to confess their sins to our brothers or sister and seek their aid in beating temptation. God calls all believers to give regular offerings to churches, ministries, and needy individuals, and he commands his church to to obey, respect, and honor authority figures who are often so unwise, dishonest, and damaging. Jesus summons us turn the other cheek, give away our cloak, forgive a grave offense, and take up our cross daily. Yes, the list could go on and on and on. Quite often God disrupts our fantasy of a Christian vacation and reminds us of our Christian vocation, and quite often he summons us to do that which seems incredibly hard and even impossible.
So how will we respond? In the day of our Scriptural revelation, illumination, interpretation, and application, will we be humble? If so, God will be so pleased with such a response. It is the wise man who sees his weakness and proclaims, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they builders labor in vain.” Friends, we are not that sharp, smart, talented, consistent, disciplined, strong, wise, and holy. Left to ourselves, we are not able to accomplish the objectives put before us by the Lord.
However, while God is pleased with our expressions of humility, he grows weary over our expressed excuses and immobility. When God calls us to do that which is hard, costly, fearful, and seemingly foolish and impossible, he is stirred to fatherly anger by children who make excuses and refuse to obey and worship. And where do we see this in Scripture? Moses, in writing his own inspired autobiography, informs us of the day in which his expressions of humility transitioned into dishonoring excuses that angered his God. Moses records this for us in Exodus 3 and 4.
In this text, Moses is before the flaming bush, and the Angel of the Lord communicates his great commission. God was going to go to work on behalf of his people, and Moses was to make this happen. Moses was the shepherd-servant God would use to being his Chosen People out of Egypt. Some have fear of heights, water, and sharks. Julia Roberts, in “The Runaway Bride,” feared marriage. Howie Mandel is notorious for his fear of germs and disease. Some have fear of tight spaces; some have fear of needles; others have fear of public speaking. On this particular day, Moses has a fear of Egypt. At this point, the “Yes sir” became a “Sir?” At the age of 80, he is being called to walk into the most powerful nation on earth, before the most powerful man on the planet, and escort his workforce our of the building. Fear becomes a factor for this minister.
To this summons, Moses responded with “Who am I?” At this point in the conversation, Moses is not responding in an ungodly manner. He is conscious of his own impotency and knows he is not sufficient to find success. Moses is incredibly meek (Num. 12:3), and this is an example of his wisdom. He really was too old. His army was too small. His resources were too poor, and the Israelites were too hard. The Egyptians were too powerful, and Pharaoh was far too arrogant. Moses is worshiping well by not over-estimating his ability to accomplish something meaningful for God, and at this point God does not appear to be angry with Moses’ question. To Moses’ query, God responds with, “Who cares who you are?” Basically God replies, “I know who I am, and I will be with you. You are right Moses. You are not capable of completing this task. You cannot keep my Commission without me, and you are not expected to do so. Take your eyes off yourself and focus on me.”
Moses is not satisfied with the response of God. From this point on in the dialogue, it is probably fair to assume Moses is treading on thin ice. Moses rebuts God and asks, “If your people ask, ‘What is his name?’ how am I to respond?” Graciously, God enlightens Moses as to his name. God replies, “I Am who I AM,” or “I am The Great Being who is The Great Being; Tell them I am the God of their fathers.” God then gives Moses more details on how this mission impossible will ultimately shake out.
So by this point in the story, Moses has seen a burning-but-not-burning bush. He has heard the voice of God and has been assured of success. Moses should take his remaining questions with him, and begin talking to God while making progress down the desert road, but this is not the case. Basically, Moses looks at God and responds, “You are wrong; they will not believe or listen to me.” Interpreted favorably, Moses is accusing God of being overly optimistic. In the worst light he is accusing God of not being wise or lacking integrity. Like Job, Moses crosses the line and his honest questions turn into irreverent accusations. One wonders if the flame became a bit brighter or hotter at this point. However, God is slow to wrath, and loves to assist his children in developing faith and faithfulness. He commands Moses to throw his shepherding crook on the ground. When he does so, it becomes a dangerous serpent. In response, Moses hits his feet and runs. The LORD commands Moses to pick it up by the tail, and in faith he does so. Instantaneously the serpent becomes a shepherding crook again. Additionally, the Lord showed Moses how to make his hand leprous and turn Nile water into blood. Moses is given three visible signs to be used to encouraging others to bow the knee before Moses’ sovereign God.
Yet, Moses is still not ready to walk on in obedience. He argues with God, and says, “What if I have not the needed skills? I is not a good speaker. Eloquent I aint. I be slo-slo-slow of speech and tongue.” Perhaps this is not true, for Luke presents the following summary of Moses’ skills and abilities:
At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.” (Acts 7:20-22)
However, perhaps this is true, and Moses struggles in this regard. Either way, Moses’ lack of speaking ability is of no consequence to God. (Perhaps church ordination committees should remind themselves of this passage before speaking slighting God’s Spirit and harming the would-be future minister?) Quickly the Lord dismisses Moses’ excuse by reminding him of who constructs the body. God intentionally makes some people handicapped or challenged. He creates some perfectly mute, deaf, or blind. Moses’ job is not to assess his personal ability but to obey God’s command. Moses was simply to worship.
Moses puts forth his fifth excuse, “Send someone else, please!” Frankly, he doesn’t want to do it. Despite burning bush, wiggling rod, spotted hand, and bloody canteen; despite hearing God’s voice, knowing God’s name, and receiving God’s promise; Moses does not want to go back to Egypt and face pharaoh. He has asked questions, expressed doubts, and accused God. He has treaded on the long-suffering patience of God and is rebelling. Therefore, notice what happens next:
Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses …. (Exodus 4:14)
At this point, I envision the burning bush as a raging inferno. But, God tempers his wrath and reminds Moses of his brother. Aaron will be his assistant and aid him in his work. God then tells Moses to take his rod, and hit the road. To this command Moses obeys.
Therefore friends, the question at hand is, “While being humble and meek, are we ready to cease making excuses and get about the business of worship?” It is true that Satan is bad and the world is against us. It is true that the Christian path is filled with tribulations, temptations, trials, and tests, and oft times God calls us to do that which the world considers ludicrous and we think impossible. It is true that we are not that good, knowledgable, wise, gifted, skilled, and strong. Our humility and meekness is honorable, but we can never allow our humility to act as a hinderance to worship. Therefore, let us learn the lesson of Moses and follow his life-long pattern. In this text we see Moses humbled further; he is then hastened on his way to do the seemingly impossible put before him by God. Brothers and sisters, let us be “strong and courageous. Let us be unceasingly in prayer while ceasing to make excuses. The Lord is our Shepherd, and while under his care nothing is impossible. Greater is the Holy Spirit that is in us that he that is in the world.
In Scripture, there is a long history printed for us of how God uses under-qualified individuals to do supernatural work. Outside of Scripture, there is an even longer list of heroes and heroines who worshiped God with reckless obedience. Friends, let us be humble and meek, but let us cease making excuses and get about the business of worship.