Excusinator Maximus Meets Graciator Deo
How did Moses become the leader of the people of God? How? It was not an easy process and was one in which God formed Moses through a lot of grace.
Those were the words being called out from a burning bush. This man Moses was being called by name in the desert from a bush that was burning, but was not being burned up. It was not being burned up because an angel of the Lord was in the bush causing the miraculous event. The fire indicated the holy presence of God. What a miracle! What an extraordinary event! “Moses! Moses!” were not the only words being called out from the bush.
God also said in Exodus 3:6-10:
“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. 7 The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey– the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (NIV 1984)
What a call to service! The God of the Universe is calling Moses, the boy set adrift in a basket when he was a baby, to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. The God of Israel is calling Moses, the man who fled Egypt because of murder, to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. What is God calling Moses to do?
God is calling Moses to go to Egypt and command the Pharaoh (king) to release his nation of slaves.
God is calling Moses to lead that nation of slaves to freedom in a new land.
God is calling Moses to lead God’s people into a new way of living based on His law.
God is calling Moses to spend the rest of his life leading God’s people.
We might think that when Moses was called to serve God that he jumped in with both feet to serve God and do as He commanded. He did not. Moses was in the presence of the voice of God burning commands into his heart and Moses balked at serving God. I find his unwillingness completely amazing. Moses is in the presence of the Holy God and through the course of his calling gives excuse after excuse why he could not and should not and did not want to do as God was calling Him.
Moses lays out 5 excuses over the course of his conversation with God why he cannot serve. Now, to be honest, I feel like these excuses are pretty good, but in the end, God does not accept excuses when it comes to calling us to serve. He didn’t accept Moses’ excuses and He does not accept ours.
I AM NOBODY (3:11)
In response to the call of God, Moses excused himself because he felt that he was nobody. Exodus 3:11 says, “But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (NIV 1984).
Moses is thinking that there is no way he could accomplish what God had laid out before him. Moses did spend the first 40 years of his life in Egypt, but he fled in disgrace and never wanted to go back. Moses had spent the last 40 years after Egypt being a shepherd and living a simple life. He had a wife. He had family responsibilities to his sons. His life was not one of a national leader, but a simple desert dwelling shepherd that focused on family. Moses knew he was not the person for the job.
God did not accept this excuse for one reason. God shares with Moses very simply in verse 12: “I will be with you.”
Moses needed to understand the same thing that we do. When it comes to the calling in our lives to serve God, it has very little to do with us. Moses was right… he ain’t nobody. God was right… He is Who matters. The presence of God in our lives enables us to serve God in the way that He has called us. The presence of God gives us direction in decisions and strength to step forward and the presence of God nullifies any doubts we have about ourselves.
God always works this way:
To Jacob God said (Genesis 28:15): “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (NIV 1984)
To Joshua God said (Joshua 3:7): “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.” (NIV 1984)
To His people through Isaiah He said (Isaiah 41:10): “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV 1984)
To Jeremiah and His people, He says 6 times (Jeremiah 1:8): “For I am with you and will rescue you.” (NIV 1984)
To believers Jesus says (Matthew 28:20): “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV 1984)
I HAVE NO AUTHORITY (3:13)
In response to the call of God, Moses added the excuse that he had no authority to go before the people and begin this process of getting them free. Exodus 3:13 says, “Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (NIV 1984)
Moses felt like he would be showing up out of the blue stating that God has spoken to him and was releasing them from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. He felt he would be ignored. He felt no one would listen.
I honestly think he was right. The Israelites had been under the authority and thumb of the Egyptians for over 4 centuries and one man showing up from the desert spouting freedom talk is going to do nothing for them.
God did not accept this excuse for one reason. God shares with Moses in verses 15-22 that the authority to do any of this does not come from Moses, but from God Himself. God gives Moses His name which is “I AM WHO I AM” (YHWH). The name of God is incredibly important and deserves a sermon all in itself. God is the Creator. God is the Forever Father of Israel who keeps promises and God is sending Moses to keep those promises. None of what needed to be done would be accomplished through authority Moses had, but rather because of God’s will and God’s will is always accomplished. It was God’s will that His people be freed therefore it would happen based on nothing else but God’s authority. Moses needed to understand the same thing we do and that is that God’s will is accomplished in all ways perfectly.
God always works this way:
Psalm 40:8 reflects, “I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” (NIV 1984)
Proverbs 16:4 reminds us, “The LORD works out everything for his own ends– even the wicked for a day of disaster.” (NIV 1984)
Proverbs 19:21 tells us, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” (NIV 1984)
James 4:15 teaches us, “You ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (NIV 1984)
I HAVE NO POWER (4:1)
In response to the call of God, Moses added another excuse! Please note this is excuse 3 of 5! The next excuse is that Moses had no power to force the issue or no way to overcome the objections of the Egyptians. Exodus 4:1 says, “Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?” (NIV 1984)
Moses knew that the proposition to allow all the slaves in Egypt to go would be a proposition not welcome by Pharaoh (the king) and the people of Egypt. 400 years is a long time and we are talking about instant social change. Moses knew Pharaoh would say no. I would take strength and power to move the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people to let the Hebrews go. Not only that, he would have the doubts of the Israelite people to deal with.
God did not accept this excuse for one reason. God shares with Moses in verses 2-9 of chapter 4 that He would give Moses power to do amazing things to grab the attention of the Pharaoh and to express the power of God in the command to let His people go. God gave Moses the power to change his staff into a snake. God gave Moses the power to change his skin from leprous to healed. God gave Moses the power to change the water of the Nile to blood. If you know what happened during the process of getting the people out of Egypt, you know that God used Moses to bring miraculous plague after miraculous plague on the people of Egypt starting with the Nile turning to blood and finishing with the death of the first born. Each plague showed God’s power and His supremacy over the gods of Egypt and that God is ultimate in power.
God is always omnipotent:
Job 37:23 states, “The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.” (NIV 1984)
Jeremiah 32:17 reminds us, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (NIV 1984)
Romans 4:17 speaks about Abraham and then God, “As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed– the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” (NIV 1984)
I HAVE NO ELOQUENCE (4:10)
In response to the call of God, Moses added another excuse! I have to tell you at this point in the conversation, this now being the 4th excuse, I would have smote Moses to a pile to dust and then went and picked someone else. God is not like that. God is slow to anger and wonderful in His grace to us. God is gracious when we are frustrating. God is patient when all we have are excuses. God lavishes His grace on Moses even though the next excuse that Moses gives is that he can’t speak well. Exodus 4:10 says, “Moses said to the LORD, “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.” (NIV 1984)
The job that God was calling Moses to do required him to speak well. Moses would have to speak well to the people of Israel and convince them that he had been sent by God. He would need to address group after group to accomplish this. Moses would need to address Pharaoh (the king) in court to persuade him to let the people go from slavery and from the country. Moses would need persuasive appeal, political shrewdness, and a charisma that would enable him to lead well. Even after leading the people from Egypt, Moses would need skills to address the people and keep them on the right track. It was a tall order.
God did not accept this excuse for one reason. God shares with Moses in verses 11-12 that He made Moses and will give him the skills, talents, and words needed to lead the people well and to persuade Pharaoh to let the people leave Egypt. God as the all-powerful Creator who is still personally involved in His creation is able to accomplish this. God is personable and knows us. He knows what we can do and what we cannot do. God also gives skill and blessing and talents to accomplish what He assigns us.
God always works this way:
Psalm 25:12 tells us, “Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him.” (NIV 1984)
Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” (NIV 1984)
Luke 12:11-12 teaches us, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” (NIV 1984)
James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (NIV 1984)
I DON’T WANT TO (4:13)
In response to the call of God, Moses has one final thing to say and it is probably what he should have said first. Moses has offered excuses about him being nobody, about having no authority, about having no power, and about not being an eloquent speaker. Now Moses gets right down to it with his last excuse. Moses honestly says he just doesn’t want to do it. Exodus 4:13 says, “But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” (NIV 1984)
I believe that Moses was comfortable in his life away from Egypt. For 40 years, he had dedicated himself to his wife and sons and family and shepherding life. He did not want to do what God was calling him to do. He finally asked God to send someone else.
I would like you to notice verse 14 right after Moses says to “send someone else.” Verse 14 says: “Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses…” God did not accept this excuse for several reasons. God became angry with Moses because of his excuses and his whining and his objections to what God was calling him to do. God shares with Moses in verses 14-17 that other people are counting on him. Not only that, others that God will bring into Moses’ life will be talented and will help. God tells Moses He will provide all that Moses needs to accomplish the task.
God always works in this way:
Psalm 34:10 teaches us, “The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.” (NIV 1984)
Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV 1984)
Philippians 4:19 reminds us, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (NIV 1984)
Here is the Truth about serving God that we find from Exodus 3-4. There are tasks, events, relationships, ministries, volunteer efforts, and groups of people that God calls us to serve. God called Moses to lead His people out of slavery to the Land of Promise. God also calls us to serve Him in many different ways.
Who is God calling you to serve?
What is God calling you to do with your time?
When are you listening to God to find out what He wants you to do?
Where does God want you to serve Him?
Why are you perhaps not serving Him?
How has God gifted you to serve Him?
Excusinator Maximus Meets Graciator Deo
God desires that His servants be willing to do anything for Him in advancing His kingdom or making Him known to those who do not believe. God has a specific plan for us. He gifts followers (us) to serve according to His will and makes us equal to the task He gives us. It doesn’t work to not listen or to offer excuses.
We must lay aside our excuses when it comes to serving God. We must lay aside our will when it comes to serving God. We must trust that if God is pushing or pulling us in a direction that He will make a way for His will to be accomplished. God will see to it that you have the skills and talents needed to serve Him. Excuses don’t work.
You and I are great at giving God excuses as to why we cannot serve Him. We may use the excuses that Moses used. We may use our own very inventive excuses. We like Moses are often “Excusinator Maximus” (yes, I made those words up).
“I am nobody and so someone else should do it”
“I have no authority to do that kind of thing”
“I don’t have the spiritual power to do something like that”
“I can’t speak well in front of others”
“I really don’t have the time to serve in that area”
“I have never done it before so I won’t do it”
“That’s the minister’s job”
“I already served and now it is time for someone else to take a turn”
“I still don’t know enough or have enough experience yet”
“I am too young”
“I am too old”
“I have been hurt before so I want to avoid that”
“I am too busy doing other things”
Excusinator Maximus Meets Graciator Deo
The thing about excuses is that God does not accept them. God does not accept them because He is “Graciator Deo” (yes, I made those words up). God in His grace to us equips us, motivates us, and gives us words and talents needed to serve Him. God eliminates excuses in His Kingdom because He empowers us through His Spirit to serve.