I am scheduled to preach a sermon at the end of July and I have been studying Exodus chapters three and four in preparation. I love the story of Exodus and often turn there when asked to preach. In chapter three, we see our protagonist, Moses, admit some of his own flaws and express his fears to God in a transparent way that makes it easy for us to relate. God’s handling of Moses’ fears is encouraging and also revealing. Yes, it reveals that God is patient with us in our doubts and fears, but it also reveals something of God that I hadn’t seen in this story before. It’s funny how the Bible can never truly be exhausted, we just learn more and more.

Moses’ Fear

Moses was afraid that because of his own inadequacy, the people would not believe that God had sent him to lead them out of Egypt.

But Moses asked God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

Moses answered, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”

We’re quick to judge the failures of Biblical characters when they doubt or disobey God, but in reality, how much better would we have done? We doubt; we disobey. Some think Moses had a speech impediment, but at any rate, he certainly felt inadequate for the task at hand. I myself feel supremely unworthy of God’s call, but here’s the thing: it isn’t about me. It isn’t about Moses. When Moses turns the focus away from God’s will unto himself, he is committing a selfish act. He makes it about himself. Of course, the same is true of us when we allow fear to hinder us.

Specifically, Moses fears that the people won’t believe him. How easy is that to relate to? God has called the Church to “Go make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19), but often we doubt how effectively we can do this. The point is that we haven’t been called to be effective, just faithful. Of course, we want to be effective, but obedience is more important. God takes care of the effectiveness, and that is what stood out to me in the story, this time around.

God’s Response

So Moses doubts that the people will believe him and God responds, not in anger, but patience and affirmation.

The Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. “Throw it on the ground,” he said. So Moses threw it on the ground, it became a snake, and he ran from it. The Lord told Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grab it by the tail.” So he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand. “This will take place,” he continued, “so that they will 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.”  (Exodus 4:1-5)

Rather than chastise Moses for not “just having faith”, God gives Moses a sign to prove to the people that God has truly sent him. I’ve argued for awhile now that God doesn’t require faith without evidence, but I never realized how far back in the Old Testament this could be traced. God doesn’t expect the Hebrew people to believe Moses on a whim. He provides evidence. The evidence comes in the way of a miracle, just like Jesus in the New Testament. The disciples didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah because they “just had faith”, they believed because of the miracles they had seen, culminating in the Resurrection. The basis of faith is evidence, not ignorance.

God does not expect people to believe the gospel on a whim. As we go forth making disciples and preaching the gospel, of course people will doubt our claim that a man in the first century raised from the dead. How many people have you seen raise from the dead? Of course people would doubt that God spoke to Moses in a burning bush and that he was going to overthrow the power of Pharaoh. Pharaoh was the most powerful man in the world, and how many burning bushes have you seen speak? However, the evidence was compelling. And the evidence for the Resurrection is also compelling. God has not left us without evidence, he cares about the objections of the skeptic and so should we. Be prepared to give a defense.

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Posted by Haden Clark

Children's Minister / B.A. Business Administration / M.A. Theological Studies / M.A. Philosophy

31 Comments

  1. The basis of faith is evidence, not ignorance.
    I like this statement
    Thanks

    Liked by 5 people

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  2. Wow, this is refreshing!

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  3. Love this! We are called to be obedient and God takes care of the effectiveness. It’s not about us. So encouraging! Thank you for the reminder of this truth.

    Liked by 6 people

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  4. This is an interesting topic for me, especially, coming from a Christian tradition that tends to play down faith and expound on legalism and intellectualism. I think about Philip and Andrew who saw Jesus and were compelled to follow Him, not by miracles, but by His aura of power, purity and righteousness. They knew he was the Messiah by faith. And yet, later, after witnessing the “evidence” of who He was (the miracles) neither one of them followed Him to the cross–only John and His mother and aunt and Mary Magdalene were there.
    I am compelled to believe that it is faith that draws us to Him; faith that is encased by His love for us that we have known intrinsically, but it is love that keeps us near to Him. Our relationship and His power and influence in our lives is the evidence. Faith is a powerful thing. The faith of the Christians in the Roman coliseum that was witnessed by their tormentors convicted those same tormentors and compelled them to believe. That was the evidence made manifest by the demonstration of faith; so it goes hand in hand. I am not afraid of skeptics calling me ignorant. Nor am I afraid of fellow Christians calling me that either, though it hurts a bit more.

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  5. O. M! You have no idea how timely and encouraging this post is to me and my situation right now! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Liked by 3 people

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  6. Thank you for the encouragement! I needed to read this!

    Liked by 2 people

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  7. Nice post. I’ve asked myself that question many times. If I were in anyone’s “sandals” back then would I have been a believer? Also God’s response to Moses Is a great one. One of my favoriteß. What do you have in your hand? In Moses hand it was a rod, a staff, but God has the power to make anything happen. Thanks foe sharing. All the best

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  8. Classic problem: humans make everything about themselves instead of about God. Great text to dig into!

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    1. Isn’t the day of judgment everything about the individual human? Why then would everything else not be?

      Proverbs 15:3 King James Version (KJV)
      3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

      If God takes time to watch each of us at all times then we must be very important.

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      1. You could also perceive the day of judgement about God establishing His throne.

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      2. Are you saying his throne does not exist right now?

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      3. I did not say that. A day of judgement is an unavoidable confrontation with the reality that God is seated on the throne. Lord of all.

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      4. It is an encounter with God but it is not, as you stated, “about God establishing His throne”.

        I wanted to make that clear since we don’t actually perceive it that way. We don’t want to just say anything as a possible way to perceive something, that only muddies the water.

        Again, everything about the individual human is important and the Bible makes that clear.

        Jeremiah 1:5
        5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
        before you were born I set you apart;
        I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

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      5. God has great care for humanity, made in His image – knowing the number of hairs on our head. I get it. However esteemed we are by a kind and generous God, this existence is certainly to glorify Him. Not us. It appears we disagree on this matter. That’s o.k. Your blog is very fascinating and I suspect we have other things in common. God bless you Lander7.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Really good thoughts, here. I especially liked your conclusion: “we haven’t been called to be effective, just faithful.” Too often WE define our Christian experiences by “success.” But this has never been promised. I find it fascinating that most of the O.T. prophets were told: “Go… they won’t listen to you… but go anyway.” Faithfulness is the key… not success.
    Thanks for all your work posted here. I find it meaningful, challenging and extremely helpful.

    Liked by 4 people

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  10. Thank you for this post. I struggle with social anxiety, which challenges my ministry efforts. This passage in Exodus has been helpful for me through the years. I especially like 4:11-12: “And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”

    Liked by 3 people

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  11. This is amazing. Thank you for this wonderful message. It moved me. All praises and glory to God.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. This is so amazing and timely.
    When we focus on ourselves we realized how inadequate but fixing our eyes on Jesus we realize He’s more than enough.

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  13. I needed this today. I just wrote about this- my own feelings of inadequacy to hold the title of Christian. What a beautiful demonstration. I always enjoyed the study of Exodus as well – I just need the reminder. Thank you.

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  14. “Faith I a the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

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  15. Really good exegesis. I really enjoyed this and it just might show up in one of my sermons one day!

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. The one thing that stood out to me was Moses’ transparency. People, even Christians, are not always transparent with God. It’s ironic that although we are that was, God knows. He knows before it escapes our lips in prayer. We can wear our masks and hide from other people, but we can never hide from God. I hope your sermon goes (went) well!

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  17. How cool is this! I’ve always loved seeing how patient God is with people who ask (or even THROW) questions.

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  18. I love this: God does not expect us to believe Him on a whim. He provides evidence.

    John 10:38 says as much: “But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”

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  19. You stated — “Moses was afraid that because of his own inadequacy, the people would not believe that God had sent him to lead them out of Egypt.”
    You stated — “Moses answered, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?””

    Q — Wasn’t he correct? They didn’t believe him.

    Q — Why would you assume he was afraid rather than wise? He used to live in Egypt and knew the mindset of the people there. Why would you not believe he was just being honest while having a conversation with God?

    It seems to me that you are making an assumption rather than a conclusion based on evidence. Wasn’t the point to harden Pharoah so the people could see the power of God? Wasn’t this much more effective with Moses since he lived there once and people knew him? They would naturally not believe him.

    Wasn’t this point clearly made with Jesus also:

    Jesus Goes to His Hometown
    6 Jesus left and went back to his hometown. His followers went with him. 2 On the Sabbath day Jesus taught in the synagogue, and many people heard him. They were amazed and said, “Where did this man get this teaching? How did he get such wisdom? Who gave it to him? And where did he get the power to do miracles? 3 Isn’t he just the carpenter we know—Mary’s son, the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And don’t his sisters still live here in town?” So they had a problem accepting him.

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  20. You are so right! There are so many examples in the Bible of Jehovah God providing evidence to base faith upon. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities that are not seen.” The footnote by “evident demonstration” points out that the phrase in the original language means “convincing evidence”. Moses, Joshua, Paul, Peter and so many more showed proof of their backing by God.

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  21. Many blessings with your sermon Haden or did you gave it already ? Anyway, if you need some testimonies of God who still who still wants to use us; He’s just waiting on us to step out! You can check my blog! I’ll leave here my last post! Have a look ! Much courage and peace in Yeshua’s name!
    https://disciplelife.blog/2018/06/26/tuesday-26-06-18-today-i-visited-a-church-building/

    Liked by 1 person

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  22. Moses actually said more than a staff….he said “it is my staff…for with it ..i beat the bushes and guide my flock!”
    Glory to God

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  23. […] Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link Link […]

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