Tuesday, February 21, 2012

120221 - Exodus 03-04 - Moses' questions: doubt of self and doubt of God

Tuesday SOAP: Moses drifts from helpless questions betraying his own insecurities to actively questioning God's will. Did it result in a humbler role for him? Does it teach us a great deal about God's nature and His call to service? How can I openly express my self-doubt to God while maintaining proper faith and reverence for His revealed will?
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S: And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. (Exodus 4:13-16).
O: This was actually the final of five questioning excuses Moses gave God. Here are all of them.
  1. Who am I to go to Pharoah? (3:11)
  2. What will I say to Israel? (3:13)
  3. Israel won't believe me. (4:1)
  4. I'm not a man of words. (4:10)
  5. Please pick someone else. (4:13)
Four protests resulted in God's merciful revelation:
  1. I will be with you and you will worship God on this mountain. (3:12)
  2. The name "I AM." (3:14)
  3. The initial miraculous signs. (4:2-9)
  4. I, the Maker of the mouth, will teach you what to say. (4:11-12)
But the final one stirred God's anger, and the result was the interposing role of Aaron between Moses and the people, while Moses was between God and Aaron. Some think if this had not happened, Moses would have essentially served as a type of Prophet-King as well as priest and there would have been no Aaronic order of the Levitical priesthood. This would make Deut. 18:18 all the more apt. We may never know whether that was God's perfect will. Yet the exchange teaches us a lot. Just a few more observations:
  • My humble questions may bring me more revelation from God.
  • His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I may receive more grace for it, and others may receive more witness because of it.
  • He is patient with my questions, understanding that they come from this infirmity.
  • Still, I must not reach beyond to question the direction He gives me. I may disqualify myself from some role He intends me for.
A: How quickly I can shift from a skeptical view of myself to a skeptical view of God's own direction! It's easy to look at poor Moses with a critical eye, thinking he should have understood that if God could do all these things, He could certainly work effectively through Moses, overshadowing his limitations. But I lose perspective in the very same way myself, and for the exact same reasons, though I have the advantage the indwelling Holy Spirit and 66 books of written revelation that he did not have at this point. Yet, like the story of Job, in which Job's suffering brings us comfort and insight on our common struggle because his words were written and printed in a book (Job 19:23), Moses' dialog with God proves invaluable to those of us with these internal struggles with self-doubt, because they help us see ourselves -- and they help us see God. I have a leaf from an ancient King James Bible, around 400 years old, with this exchange on it, (Exodus 4), passed down to me by God's providence, to serve as a reminder that He Who calls me is faithful and will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
P: And yet, Lord, do I not question you all the time because of my twisted perspective on my own shortcomings -- as if you aren't aware of them? Thank you for your patience, for your grace, and for your promise that your strength is made perfect in my weakness.
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