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Here’s a true story about an endangered baby who becomes a cosmopolitan prince, then an out-of-the-way shepherd, then a great leader. 

By order of the Pharaoh, the baby was supposed to be killed at birth, but his family took extreme measures to protect him. Somehow, he was adopted by Egyptian royalty and named Moses (Exodus 1:1-2:10).

Moses, the cosmopolitan prince, kills an Egyptian and flees to a remote territory where he tends sheep for 40 years in obscurity (Exodus 2:11-25).

That’s when he saw something strange, and everything changed.

A strange encounter

While tending sheep in the desert, Moses’ curiosity drew him to a bush on fire that did not burn up.

His name was called out from within the bush as he approached: “Moses! Moses!” (Exodus 3:2-4). 

In this way, God revealed himself to Moses. Then, he gave him a task (3:10):

“Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 

It’s at this point that Moses begins to resist God. We use these same techniques. 

Here are five ways in which we resist God

1.      I am nobody

Moses responds with, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (3:11)— in other words, I am nobody. After all, for 40 years, I’ve been herding sheep— this is now my life, isn’t it? 

Do you try to avoid God this way?

You can’t see how you, as an individual, can do what he asks. So perhaps you anticipate what you’ll have to do and get uncomfortable. 

The LORD says, “I will be with you” (3:12).  

2.     I have no authority

Moses’ second point of resistance is (3:13):

“If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

We may attempt to dodge God’s call because we have no status or position. We have no established platform to do what God is asking. 

Perhaps it comes from your question, “What right do I have to do that?” 

God replies with a comprehensive statement of His name and His authority (3:14-22). The Lord’s name and authority are more than enough.

3.      I have no credibility

Even if you grant that God is with you and has given you His authority, you might still ask, “Who’s going to believe me?

This is Moses’ objection (4:1):

“But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’”

In other words, “I have no credibility; why would they believe me?” 

The LORD provides Moses with three physical signs— demonstrations of God’s power— that Moses can perform to convince anyone who doubts him (4:2-9). These signs should be more than enough to convince an honest skeptic.

4.     I have no talents

Moses is still not convinced (4:10):

“Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

We may say we don’t have what it takes: “I’m not a public speaker.” “I’m not strong.” “I’m not smart enough.” “I don’t have the necessary talent.” The reasons— or are they just excuses— are endless.

The LORD makes an obvious point to Moses (4:11-12):

“Who has made man’s mouth?” followed by a direct command, “Now … go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

We’ve drilled down through all Moses’ reasons for saying ‘no’ to God. God answers and promises His provision for each

Moses goes one more round— and that’s when God gets angry. 

5.     I don’t want to go

In his final point of resistance, Moses borders on rebellion: “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else” (4:13).

This left me wondering whether the earlier four reasons were actually excuses. We’ve drilled down to Moses’ ground zero: “I don’t want to go! Get someone else!”

How do you feel when God asks you to do something big and bold— something that takes you out of your comfort zone? Is this what you want to say? 

No God, get someone else!

At this point, “the LORD’s anger burned against Moses” (4:14).

Moses had gone too far in his resistance. It was no longer about his apparent inadequacies and felt needs; it was about the will of Moses versus the will of God

Three lessons for us

Here are three things we can learn from Moses’ encounter:

  • First, identify what God is doing. When God initiates something, discover what He is doing and join Him in His work. You need to get with His program.
  • Second, acknowledge that God provides what is needed to accomplish His purpose. This is captured in Hudson Taylor’s saying: “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.
  • Third, if you resist, examine your heart. You need to get honest with God and with yourself. What’s the real reason you’re resisting?

Has God been calling you, or your church community, to do something that is new to you? Something that requires change? Something that goes beyond your experience, even your capabilities?

How are you responding? 

What can you add?

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