EXODUS 4: DOES GOD WANT TO KILL ME OR SAVE ME?
READING EXODUS 4
13 But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else.” 14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “What of your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he can speak fluently; even now he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you his heart will be glad. (Exodus 4:13-14, IEB)
God had just shown Moses many convincing miracles to prove He would be in good hands in Egypt, speaking truth to power.
God turned a cane into a snake and back. God turned Moses’ hand leprous and then restored it. These were given as proofs to Moses to perform for the Egyptians but they would ‘prove’ to be parlor tricks compared to the truly convicting divine actions of the ten plagues.
Even after God showed Moses his power in several forms, Moses focused on his own powerlessness. “Please Lord, I’m not a good speaker. I never have been. My tongue and my words are not quick, even from the moment you started to speak to me.”
Let’s be clear. God is the hero of the Exodus, not Moses. But the Moses story follows some familiar lines of hero stories, and part of hero stories is the rejection of the call to adventure.
God calls Moses. Moses rejects the call. God focuses on Moses’ hands. He asks, “What’s in your hand?” A staff. God shows Moses how his staff will turn into a snake. We don’t want to call it a magic wand because that’s associated with witchcraft, but here’s another way to look at what God is doing: working with what people already have.
God seems to always want to partner with flawed humans, and maybe that’s because God wants to demonstrate power and authority, that the hero really isn’t human technology, ingenuity, or cunning.
God even tries to kill Moses, and I don’t know why. You probably won’t find the reason on web search, either. Some will make up reasons, but the text doesn't tell us why God tries to kill Moses. We can only imagine Moses might have been thinking what we tend to think sometimes: Does God want to kill me or save me?
God, you called Moses to use what is in his hand. Show us what is in our hands to do that you want us to stop making excuses for and give you glory.
God who makes our mouths, you asked Moses “who made man’s mouth?” You told him you are the one and that you would “be with [your] mouth.” And you said, “I will teach you what to say.” Still, Moses needed his brother Aaron to speak for him. Many of us are unable to speak boldly. Some don’t have a voice, crushed under the “powers” of this dark world that believe they control speech, or can silence the voice of justice and love.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.