But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Exodus 4:13
There he is, responding to God’s call to go deliver his people from Egypt. His life began some 80 years before, shortly after Pharaoh told the Jews to cast their sons into the Nile. Moses’s mother surrendered him to the river like all the other boys, only she first placed him on a raft. Pharaoh’s daughter pulls him out of the water and adopts him as her own. Nobody knows what his real mother named him, because it is his attempted murder’s daughter who called him Moses. Though he was sheltered from the slavery that his people faced, he was still raised as a Hebrew in the house of the foremost anti-Semite of the land. He witnessed the suffering of his people. He wanted to help them. He tried to deliver them. But he had to flee for his life when his attempt to save his people goes terribly wrong. And then came decade rolling after decade of herding sheep in the desert.
Then, when it really seems like it’s too late, God appeared to Moses as the burning bush. God told Moses that he wanted him to go back to Egypt to deliver his people. Moses, however, didn’t want to go anymore. He didn’t want to help. He made excuses. “They will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ ” And what does God answer? What proofs does God give to Moses? He has Moses throw down his staff and it turns into a deadly snake. He tells Moses to stick his hand into his shirt, and when he takes it out he is infected with a terrible disease. He has Moses pour out water onto the ground, and it turns into blood. What? Those are plot twists from a horror movie. But I’m not kidding, look at Exodus 4. It’s as if God said to Moses, “Go to my people, Moses! And when they ask you to prove that I sent you, show them danger! Show them disease! Show them death!”
At this point, I think I would have said something along the lines of, “God, your signs are… uh… lame. Can’t we have water from a rock? Or bread from heaven? Maybe a cloud by day, and a fire by night to lead us?” But Moses went to Egypt. He showed Israel the signs that God gave him, and they believed. Of course they did. They were slaves. They were being beaten, forced to work, forced to kill their own children. What else would they have believed? What else would they have understood? It turned out that God was right. He sent Moses with just the right signs to convince the Jews in Egypt. In the coming years, Israel would have a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night to lead them. Bread would fall from heaven. Water would gush from the rock. And they would be riddled with doubt. Danger, disease, death, they understood these things. They could relate with God on that level. It turned out that God was right about Moses as well. A discouraged old man was just the right sort of leader for a downtrodden people.
And so, consider Moses. God made a bitter man to reach a bitter people. What is he making you?