Monday, June 20, 2011

The Reluctant Leader

But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"     
                                                                                                                             Exodus 3:11

Moses started as a reluctant leader. He became one of the greatest leaders of all time. How did Moses get from reluctant shepherd to mighty leader? Lets look at his first direct interaction with God in Exodus 3-4. God laid a foundation in this first discussion with Moses for their relationship in years to come. God was plain and straight-forward. God built His confidence, not by showing Moses his strengths, but instead by showing Moses His strengths.

Lets look at Exodus 3-4 play by play:

1. God calls Moses. God went to great lengths to speak specifically to Moses. He had a plan for Moses. He wanted Moses, and not just anyone.

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Exodus 3:2

God also has a specific calling for each of us. He will make it clear to us if we just pay attention.

2. God calls him by name. God knows Moses' name. He wants Moses' attention. He wants Moses to have no question that He is speaking to him, specifically. 

God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" Exodus 3:4

Our God is a personal God. He knows us deeply, intimately. He knit us together in our mother's womb (Psalm 139:13). He isn't suprised by our personality. And He knows our name. Listen, you may hear Him calling you by name. What is He saying to you?

3. His presence was there. God was clearly THERE with Moses; why else would He tell Moses that this was holy ground?

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”    Exodus 3:5

Where is the holy ground in your life? What is sacred, or needs to be sacred? Have you set aside some holy time or holy place to be alone with God?

4. God identifies Himself. God clarifies which God He is - not some pagan god. By reminding Moses that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He is reminding him of His faithfulness to the forefathers. He is reminding Moses of the mighty deeds He has accomplished, promises fulfilled, and the relationships He had with those families. Its like taking a walk back through Genesis in just a name.

Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Exodus 3:6

Don't we sometimes need to be reminded who God is? I certainly do. When we are doubting ourselves, we need to look back at this amazing God and what He has already done. We need to look at His faithfulness to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Esther, Ruth, Gideon... and know that He will be this faithful to us as well. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. His faithfulness lasts through all generations (Psalm 100:5).

5. God tells Moses His plan. God also tells Moses His intentions and even His motivation to do these things.

The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.   Exodus 3:7-8

6. God tells Moses his job in His plan. God is specific in His intructions for Moses:

"So now, go, I am sending you to Pharoah to bring my people the Isrealites out of Egypt." Exodus 3:10

7. God tells Moses His name. 
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM."      Exodus 3:14

8. God tells Moses what to say. Moses didn't even have to come up with his own words. God gives him the words.
“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’        Exodus 3:16-17

9. God tells Moses what will happen. There will be no suprises for Moses. God prepares him ahead of time.  God clearly wants to prepare Moses for this journey He has chosen Moses for.

“The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.’ But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.
   “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”                       Exodus 4:18-22

10. God shows Moses the tools he has access to. Moses has not yet seen the power of Yahweh, the God of his fathers. God wanted to let Moses know who was calling him to do amazing things. But this God also had the power to do amazing things, and could give Moses this power. God did this also to build Moses' confidence.

    Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?”
   Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
   “A staff,” he replied.
   The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.”
   Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”
   Then the LORD said, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow.
   “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.
   Then the LORD said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”        
             Exodus 4:1-8

11. God reminds Moses who he is. This is another reminder for the doubting, reluctant leader. God reminds Moses who he is, and in contrast, who He is.

Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, 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.”
   The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”  Exodus 4:10-12

When we doubt our abilities to do something for the Kingdom of God, don't look to God to encourage you in your strengths. Instead, ask Him to remind you of His strengths. We are nothing, and can do nothing apart from God (John 15:5). But with God, all things are possible (Luke 2:37).

Lord God, show us yourself so that we may believe.