Lessons from Israel: No.10 : God of Enabling
Ex 4:11,12 The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
So the Lord has shared with Moses His general plan – for Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that he lets the people go to worship the Lord, but Pharaoh will refuse and then God will do signs and wonders so that Pharaoh will have to let them go. That’s the basic strategy. When Moses then started worrying about not being believed, the Lord gave him a series of miraculous demonstrations to perform – we only looked at the first one in the previous meditation. But Moses hasn’t finished with his ‘escape pleas’; we find, “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.” (3:10) This always makes me laugh, it seems such a clear bit of communication which denies what he is saying.
Now, as we come to today’s verses, note again that the Lord doesn’t chide him. He knows this man and He knows that Moses really does need encouragement, which is why the Lord patiently explains some basics to Moses: I am God and I give people their abilities so don’t worry, I’ll help you speak. Jesus instructed his disciples similarly: “But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Mt 10:19,20) i.e. my Holy Spirit will give you the words when you need them.
I believe there is a very real lesson here for Christians who say, “I don’t know what to say” when it comes to giving a testimony or sharing the Gospel with others. The first thing to say in reply is, think about it and learn what you could say. It’s not an option to be silent. The church is called to be a witnessing community. Think about it, work on it, learn what to say. That bit you can do, but when it actually comes to it and you have an opportunity to speak, quickly pray and ask the Lord for help and then trust Him to give you words. Remind Him – Lord you said you’d give me words to speak by your Spirit. Please do it now.
But the story doesn’t end there. Moses may have run out of excuses but he still doesn’t want to go: “But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” At this point we might legitimately wonder why the Lord bothered to call him, when the Lord knows that He was going to get all these excuses and refusals. But therein is the truth: the Lord does know Moses and does know that he can do the job like no one else. Even more He knows the sort of man Moses is going to become. This man is going to become one of the most famous men in history in what he achieves. Oh yes, the Lord knows!
So we find, “Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses.” (3:14) Now I think most people don’t understand what is happening here. Can I give a personal illustration? We have several young grandchildren and I love them all very much. One of them we have once a week, while her mum does some coaching. This little girl who is about two and a half has a mind of her own. As much as possible we say ‘Yes’ to her but there are times when ‘No!’ has to be said. The other day when she was with us, my wife was having to stop her doing something and she resisted and was just about to throw a tantrum. Sitting along the table from her, I just cleared my throat loudly. Instantly the possible tantrum was gone and she complied. What had just happened? Her granddad, who always appears loving and gentle to her, suddenly appeared angry and fearsome. Was I? No, I am still the same loving grandparent but anger appeared the name of the game.
So now Moses gets the same treatment but see what the Lord actually says: “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him.” (3:14-16) How might we summarise that? OK Moses, if you don’t want to speak we’ll get your brother to do the speaking but you’ll still be the one who directs him! Isn’t that amazing! We might have given up on Moses but the Lord knows Moses’ potential and He doesn’t give up on him. He accommodates him!
There’s a big lesson here. We see it elsewhere in Scripture as well, in the story of Deborah and Barak (Judges 4, esp. v.8,9), where second best is accepted. The Lord will provide for us if we will go in faith, He is the Lord who will enable, but if we keep on opting out, He’ll take another course which still involves us, but isn’t as good as the original option. Please, let’s learn the lesson. God WILL enable you. If He puts something before you, He WILL enable you to do it: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13). Amen!