But Moses said, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.’ Exodus 4:13, NIV
I have long held a soft spot for Moses. He represents hope for those who have led middling lives – whose stars have dimmed over time; who have not quite made it in life; or who have faced unexpected curveballs and not a few setbacks.
Moses, the Prince of Egypt, once known as a fine child with so much potential and God’s providence clearly on him had been poised to make his mark for God. He had access to power and the finest the world could offer. Considering human possibility; ideally placed to do something great.
One day, he tried to do something for his people in his own strength. It spectacularly backfired and he found himself on the run. Exile from Egypt, isolation from all he knew, alienation and presumed anger from the pharaoh and the ones who had taken care of him all his life up until that point followed. He had royally messed up.
Instead, he got life in the desert with some hapless and, sometimes, helpless sheep. After 40 years, perhaps, he felt washed up, but content with how life had panned out having a family of his own. No one would have berated those who murmured, “How the mighty have fallen.”
But then God called. When he was no longer in his prime … when he was ready to be used for God’s glory. God had not given up on Moses – he just needed moulding to be the man God wanted him to be. Yet, ironically, despite the passing of 40 years, Moses was, seemingly, not ready. After God had showed Moses some incredible signs, Exodus 4:13 reveals: "But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
And that infuriated God. Exodus 14:14-17 elucidates: "Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see 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. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.”
Moses is said to have had a speech impediment and had not spoken Egyptian in 40 years. Perhaps, he baulked at God’s response to his question in Exodus 3:11-12: "But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Perhaps, Moses just felt old and not up to the task. What if he messed up again? It had taken a long time to get his life back on track … Despite misgivings, Moses went and the rest as they say is history. Today, Moses’ life along with all his weaknesses is still revered around the world, especially among adherents of Judaism.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for not ever giving up on us. Thank you that you use us no matter our circumstances, age or limitations as long we remain willing to be your servants. Amen.