Lessons on Leadership: Moses, Passover and the Call of God. (Thoughts on Exodus 3 & 4.)

Moses-Pharoah

MountNebo

In late March, as readers of this blog know, Lynn and I had the joy of visiting the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan at the invitation of King Abdullah II. On our second day, we went up to Mount Nebo. This was Lynn’s first trip to Jordan, so what a special thing to do. But this was my seventh, and yet I had never gone up to the mountain where the Lord took Moses to show him the Promised Land.

Wow! What a view. It was a beautiful, clear, crisp Spring day. Lynn and I could see the entire range of the Jordan River Valley. We could see Jericho, and Bethlehem, and — in the distance — the Judean Hills, the eastern sides of the Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus, and the lights of the holy city of Jerusalem.

In the weeks that followed, I found myself thinking a great deal about Moses — about the tremendous miracles the Lord accomplished through him, to be sure; about his great courage before Pharoah, the evil tyrant of the Middle East at that time; and about the powerful prophecies that Moses both proclaimed as God directed him, and those that he fulfilled, as well. At the same time, I also found myself reflecting on the sadness Moses must have felt at not being allowed by God to enter the Promised Land with his people, the nation of Israel. This was Moses’ own fault. He had been unable to control his anger, and there were consequences, even for such a great Biblical leader.

Fortunately, of course, Moses eventually made it to Israel. In Matthew 17, we read the remarkable account of Moses standing on the Mount of Transfiguration, talking with the Lord Jesus Christ and the prophet Elijah. Amazing. Talk about an exciting first visit to the Holy Land!

That said, I also found myself meditating a great deal on the man Moses was when the Lord first called him to this important mission to set His people free. I began studying Exodus chapters three and four day after day, trying to understand God’s call on Moses’ life, and why Moses resisted it so intensely.

Last Friday night, Lynn and the boys and I gathered with dear Israeli friends and celebrated our second Passover here in the Land of Israel since moving to the Land in August 2014. Yet again, like every year, we spent an evening thinking about what God did to rescue and save His people. The following morning, I preached at a congregation not far from Tel Aviv. The message the Lord put on my heart came from Exodus three and four. Here are my sermon notes. Hope you find them helpful and take some time to answer the questions below. God bless you, and Happy Passover from Israel!

WHEN GOD CALLED MOSES: Lessons on Leadership from Exodus 3:1-22 and 4:1-17

Today, we think of Moses as a great hero of the faith, and the Passover story as his most dramatic accomplishment. That’s true. But let’s step back and see the man God called into His service.

To begin, please read Exodus 3:1-22 and 4:1-17 in full.

Then, let’s look at a series of excuses Moses made, telling the Lord why he couldn’t possibly respond to God’s divine call.

1.) Moses asked God, “Who Am I?”

Exodus 3:11 – “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”

Translation:

  • I am nothing.
  • I am no one special.
  • I have failed many times.
  • I’m not the right one to do this.

So, how did God answer Moses? Read here.

2.) Then Moses asked God, “What Shall I Say?”

Exodus 3:13 – “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”

Translation:

  • I don’t know what to say.
  • I don’t know God well enough to speak for Him.
  • I’m not the right one to do this.

So, how did God answer Moses? Read here.

3.) Then Moses asked God, “What if they won’t believe me?”

Exodus 4:1 – “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say?”

Translation:

  • No one is going to listen to me.
  • No one is going to believe me.
  • I’m not the right one to do this.

So, how did God answer Moses? Read here.

4.) Then Moses told God, “I’m not eloquent.”

Exodus 4:10 – “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

Translation:

  • I’m not a good public speaker.
  • I’m slow to form my words. (Note: it is widely believed that Moses stuttered.)
  • I get “tongue-tied.”
  • I’m not the right one to do this.

So, how did God answer Moses?

5.) Finally, Moses essentially told God, “No.”

Exodus 4:13 – “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.”

Translation:

  • I’ve heard everything you’ve told me, but it doesn’t persuade me.
  • I don’t know what to say.
  • I don’t know how to say it.
  • I can’t do this,
  • I won’t do this.
  • I’m not the right person.
  • Find someone else.

How did God respond? Read here.

In Exodus 4:14, we read: “Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses…”

Still, the Lord showed tremendous grace and mercy to Moses. He provided Aaron, the older brother of Moses (by three years), to assist Moses in this vital mission. And despite Moses’ lack of faith — his sinful obsession with his own flaws and faults rather than trusting in the Lord’s love and power and greatness — the Lord redeemed him and used him in spite of himself to save the nation of Israel and bring them out of terror and tyranny and into freedom.

God’s Grace

Have you ever stopped to consider that all of Moses’ excuses were essentially true? He didn’t really know the Lord well. He didn’t know what to say? Pharoah didn’t listen to him or believe him. And after forty years on the backside of the desert, tending sheep, thinking about his worst failure — murdering an Egyptian and having to flee for his life — perhaps it’s no wonder Moses was not eloquent, and perhaps even someone who stuttered.

But have you also ever stopped to consider that maybe all of Moses’ weaknesses and failures were precisely why the Lord chose him to be His servant and His spokesman? By choosing a weak and sinful and desperately self-conscious person, the Lord showed Himself great and powerful, loving and wise. This way the Lord — not Moses — could receive all the praise and glory and honor, because it wasn’t possible for Moses to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt on his own. He wasn’t capable. And he knew it.

What does the Bible say about the man that Moses eventually became?

  1. “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3)
  2. “Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, for all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, and for all the mighty power and for all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)
  3. Moses was included in the “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews chapter 11.

Questions For Us Today

I was deeply moved by these passages. They contain some tremendous lessons on leadership for all of us.

  1. What is God calling you to say?
  2. Where is God calling you to go?
  3. What excuses are you giving to the Lord?
  4. What promises has the Lord made in His Word to those who love Him and want to obey Him?

The Bible is clear: the Lord is calling you to serve Him and take His Word — the special message of the Scriptures — to people who need rescue and salvation, freedom and redemption. He is calling you and I to “go and make disciples of all nations” and to be His “witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and even to the ends of the earth.” Will we be faithful to this high calling? Or will we give God a list of excuses why we’re the wrong people for the job?

May you study Moses carefully, and learn from the lessons he learned the hard way.

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