Facing Our Insufficiencies

Exodus: Captivity to Covenant  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro: I think a lot of us here today know Moses. Whether its from a church background, reading your Bible, or even just from pop culture. And sometimes we can put guys like Moses in the Bible on a pedestal. And then we stop and come to texts like this, and we begin to read and ponder, and then we begin to realize that this guy isn’t much different from us. Moses is a human being, and you know what, he acts like us.
Can we be a little honest this morning here at church, but have you ever felt incapable of the things that the Bible describes that a Christian is called to do. Does evangelism cause a sense of anxiety in you, a feeling of inadequacy and insecurity? Does the prospect of trying to teach a class or sit down with someone and talk about the Bible cause fear in you?
If we are all honest here today, I think every one of us would say that. And as we come to this text today, I hope that it will be both an encouragement and a challenge to us that God knows these things, yet still promises and chooses to use people like Moses, you, and me to carry out His plan and purpose.
CTS: Face your insufficiency by turning to the all-sufficient Savior.

I. Face Your Insecurity (1-9)

Explanation: We are still in the middle of the same conversation that we began last week in Exodus 3. Remember, God has shown Moses his own nature and name through the burning bush and the revelation of his name. He also told Moses what he was going to do, to deliver God’s people out of Egyptian slavery, that this was rooted in his promise he made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His identity of the “I AM,” the self-existent, infinite, and all-powerful Creator who also keeps His promises should be all that Moses needs to go and do what God called him to do. That calling was to “go and deliver my people.”
As before, we are going to see a conversation between Moses and God, and the text is broken up into a question and response between Moses and God.
Moses objection: Yet Moses as a few more objections to the task. Verse 1 of chapter 4 reveals that though he might reveal who he is and the plan that God has, they won’t believe me. Is this an insecurity that Moses is facing, that who is he that anyone would believe him, of all people?
God’s response: First, let me say that God is showing great patience with Moses. And it reminds me that the same God who shows patience to Moses shows it to us as well. Second, God deals with the objection. He shows Moses three signs that he is to show the Israelite elders that he indeed is speaking on behalf of God and that God will do the work of saving His people.
1. Sign of the staff (power over the Enemy) The very tool that Moses had in his hand, part of his own livelihood as a shepherd, is pointed out by God. He tells him what to do with this staff, to throw it on the ground and as he does, it turns into a serpent. I hope I have said it enough times, but anytime you see a serpent theme in Scripture, pay attention. As it turns into a serpent, and Moses runs from it. Like Indiana Jones, why did it have to be snakes? Probably more than that though is that Moses recognized the this snake was dangerous. We don’t know what kind of snake it was, but it must have been one that caused fear in Moses. Remember, Moses is a shepherd, and he has dealt with all kinds of dangers protecting the flock of his father-in-law. This wasn’t a garden snake. And I will venture to say, reading between the lines, that this could have been a cobra, since the symbolism is going to be clear that God has power over Pharaoh and the Enemy.
Moses then was commanded by God to grab the snake by the tail. Ok, if you have any experience with snakes, do you every grab a snake by the tail? No. Why? Because it would then be free to strike you. But God commanded it, and Moses trusted, and when he did so, this very dangerous maneuver with a dangerous snake would completely transform the snake into a simple staff, eliminating its danger and its threat.
Then God said in verses 4 and 5 that this sign was for the elders of Israel to see and believe that Moses was speaking on behalf of him, to remind them that he is indeed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This power over the snake should have brought in their minds that God is the God over the enemy, that as God delivered and promised victory over the seed of the serpent.
The sign is striking. God has power over the enemy. God has the power to save his people from their captors, from the enemies that enslave them!
2. Sign of leprosy (power of disease) But God wasn’t done. He was going to give another sign of his own power and to prove to the Israelites that He is who He says He is. He tells Moses to put his hand inside his own cloak, and as he did so, it would turn into leprosy. And then to put the hand back, and it would be healed of its disease.
There is a two-fold purpose to this sign. First, it shows that God has power over disease. God has power over that which has broken the world. He has power over things that seem incurable. Skin disease was all over Egypt, and with this sign, God is showing power over the disease that the seemingly multitude of gods could not seem to fix and address. Why? Because he is the only true God. Second, it shows personally to Moses that he has an issue of his own soul that must be addressed. Moses put that hand in his cloak, inside of him came out this disease. It is a reminder to Moses and to the rest of the Israelites that God has power over not only the external diseases but the disease that lives within us. Sin.
The second sign is just as striking as the first. God has power to cleanse and remove disease. The skin disease and the disease of our own souls!
3. Sign of the Nile (power over life and death) The final sign was to be in case they didn’t believe Moses after the first two signs, which again, God know that they wouldn’t. But this final sign was a direct challenge to the gods of Egypt. The Nile was the source of life, and in the life of the Egyptians, they worshiped the Nile as a god. Why? Because the Nile was what their life was dependent on. The concentration of the nation was around this river because anywhere outside of it was arid and desolate. The water brought crops and life. This final sign would show the Israelites that God has power over the Nile, that the gods of Egypt are nothing and not life sustaining. As a matter of fact, they only bring death.
The third sign is a declaration by God that he has power over life and death. Only he has that power, no gods of our own making.
What God is doing here is to show Moses his power in order to remind him that it isn’t his own ability that will cause anyone to believe. It would be these miraculous signs that would remind the Israelites that God is the one to be believed.
God has shown over and over again his power throughout Scripture. He saves. He cleanses. He gives life. The objection has been deemed illegitimate. Why? Because the objection is rooted in Moses himself and not in God.
The insecurity he has is answered by the fact that he is correct in saying, they won’t believe me. Because its not him that they have to believe. They have to believe in the God whom sended Moses.
Modern problem: What does this objection look like for us today?
Do you ever feel insecure in your call? They won’t believe me. If I go and tell my friends about Jesus, or my family, or my coworkers, they won’t believe me. And that can be a hard thing to have to face. What if they reject me? What if I’m not enough to convince them of what we believe? What if they say, God isn’t real, and I don’t know what to say to that? What if go and be a Sunday School teacher and they ask a question that I don’t know the answer to?
And the issue we face, that Moses face, was that he was correlating the message himself, when it should be merely a proclamation, a message not of ourselves or our own ingenuity, but just an obedience to proclaim who God is and what He has done. These signs that were given to Moses are given to us, though not in this form. What are those signs of power that we tell others today?
Application: How does God show his power today?
He shows His power through the Gospel: Show how God has defeated sin, death, and Satan through Jesus Christ. Show that it is him alone that brings salvation.
He shows His power of God through how he has transformed you and others: Give testimony of how he has cleansed you and others.
He shows it through miraculous interventions today: Health, but also, miraculous restored relationships
He shows His power through the church: The testimony of the church can be powerful, when we live transformed lives, living lives of repentance and restoration towards God and one another.
He shows His power through His revealed Word: God has shown us through the Scriptures, and we proclaim these things. It is the power of God unto salvation.

II. Face Your Inadequacy (10-12)

Explanation: Moses then comes back, but not with a question this time, but rather, a statement of his own self. What was revealed in his last question was his insecurity, a questioning of what will people think of me. This statement is a statement regarding inadequacy.
What is the issue now? Moses thinks his speech will hinder the call. God, you can’t use me. I am not eloquent. I am slow of speech and tongue. What does Moses mean by this? There are many options presented. Some think that he had a speech impediment, but there isn’t clarity if that is the case. It could be that Moses thought his own speaking ability wasn’t on par with others, that he wouldn’t be able to address the elders and Pharaoh well. It could be that Moses spoke just fine, but that he just doesn’t think he should be the one speaking.
Whatever the case is, God graciously addresses the statement, again. This time, he assures Moses with his own sovereignty over the mouth of Moses and the mouth of all men and women. God knows exactly who Moses is, his speaking ability, because he is the one who created him. It’s funny that Moses would even state this excuse and even think that God wouldn’t know of such a thing. Again, Moses has been in the wilderness for a while, grew up in Egypt. He may have to be reeducated about God. God created Moses and he knew exactly his abilities when he called him.
So, God reiterates the call again. Go. I will be with your mouth. I’ll give you the words to speak. I’ll give you the ability you need to effectively speak what I am going to teach you. In other words, I got this.
What does this objection look like for us today?
I think this can be a common objection even today. We can often correlate ability with effectiveness. Many might say the same thing as Moses did. Lord, I can’t speak very well. I stutter and stammer. I can’t talk in public. I can’t share the Gospel because I don’t talk well. I would look foolish.
Or maybe we could take that idea of ability and take it further. I am unable to do what God asks me to do because I don’t have the looks, the smarts, the book knowledge. I don’t feel like I’m smart enough. I am inadequate, and there are so many others that are better at things that I am. Again, its the idea that ability automatically means effectiveness. If I was this or that, maybe people would listen, but I’m not, so why would you want to use someone like me?
But the reality is that God never judges someone’s effectiveness according to their ability. As a matter of fact, it’s often the opposite. There are a lot of people in our Christian culture that can speak well, draw a crowd, and have notoriety, but that means nothing. Why? Because the power is not found in the messenger, but rather, the message itself.
Paul says in Romans 1:16
Romans 1:16 ESV
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
And if we wonder if we are eloquent enough, adequate enough, when we witness or make disciples, remember these words.
Romans 10:17 ESV
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
1 Peter 1:23–25 ESV
23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
What does the Word proclaim? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, perfectly sinless and the sacrifice that was without blemish, that died to pay our sin debt on the cross, that those that repent of their sins and believe in who He is and what He has done, are forgiven of all sin and given eternal life, and Jesus becomes Lord of our lives, individually and corporately as his people, the church. That’s the power of God unto salvation. The Gospel. Jesus Christ.
It isn’t you. Just as it wasn’t Moses’ words or ingenuity. It was God and His Word that had power. It is the Gospel that has power.
Application: How does God use seemingly “inadequate” people today for His glory?
Paul makes clear in 1 Cor 2:1-5
1 Corinthians 2:1–5 ESV
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Shepherds. Fisherman. Gentiles. Samaritans. Tax collectors. Fools.
He uses the shy, the outcast, the tall, the short, the person with a disability, the person with health issues. God uses often men and women who are unimpressive in the eyes of the world to bring his message.
Farmers, teachers, businessmen and businesswomen, stay at home moms, mechanics. But all are called to this same task. Go tell of the God who saved you. Farmer, he made your mouth so you could speak to your farm hands, the guy you buy fertilizer from. Teacher, he uses your mouth to show love and compassion, and when the time is appropriate, to share the Gospel with kids and their parents. Stay at home mom, when you feel like you don’t get out enough, he made your mouth for when you engage people at the store or at the church. You are enough. Not in of yourself. But because God made you as you are and made you for the very purpose to evangelize and make disciples.
He makes people Sunday School teachers you would never expect. He makes pastors and missionaries out of shy introverts. He makes deacons out of men who may seem uneducated, but are surrendered to the will of God through word and prayer. He calls us all to live our our faith, proclaim our faith, and make disciples in some way, and he has promised himself through it all. And what do we all proclaim, often in weak and feeble attempts? The Word of God, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

III. Face Your Disobedience (13-17)

The final objection is not really an objection, but rather a plea. And that plea is the culmination of the fear of Moses. It is a rejection of all that God has revealed and promised. He says, “Oh my Lord, please send someone else.” In other words, the response of Moses to the burning bush, the revelation of his name, the promise of deliverance of God’s people, his promised presence with Moses as would deliver God’s people, his promise of accompanying signs, and the promise that God will give him exactly what to say, is no. God is angry with Moses, but even then, shows his grace. He says Aaron, his brother, is on his way (as though God knew that Moses would say this very thing). He graciously gives Moses another means to help him carry out his task.
What about us?
Now, before we jump on Moses here, let’s think about this. Every one of these promises made to Moses is generally made to us as well. God has revealed himself clearly through His Word, revealing His nature, His salvation, and ultimately His Son. God has revealed the promise of deliverance through Jesus His Son, a new exodus for us. Jesus has promised His presence with us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, and the promise that we would be given the exact words that were needed, the Scriptures, the proclamation of the Gospel.
And Jesus, the Great I Am commands us to go and make disciples.
Yet we often say “send someone else”
We say, send someone else because we aren’t sure if we are good enough to do it. You’re not, but Jesus is in you.
We say send someone else because we are afraid of rejection. That’s ok, Jesus was rejected too.
We say send someone else because it will take us to a place far away from home. Jesus left glory in order to save you and his church.
We say send someone else because it might make us uncomfortable. Remember, Jesus suffered for your salvation.
We say send someone else because we are afraid of losing time with our grown children or grandchildren if we don’t stay where they are at. Jesus told us that our love for him should make our love for our family and friends seem like hate.
We say send someone else and make sure we write a check for someone else to go, and maybe, just maybe, you need to heed that call. Maybe God is calling you to the mission field. Maybe God is calling you to pastor, to be an elder in the church, to plant a church, to revitalize a dying church, to go across this state, this nation or across this world.
Jesus never said there wouldn’t be a cost. He never said it would be easy. God never made that promise to Moses. He doesn’t make it for us. But He does say, I’ll be with you. I’ll empower you. And I’ll use you to make an impact for my kingdom. And that should be our desire. To enlarge his kingdom, not our own. Not our comfort. Not our retirement. Not our American dream. No, His kingdom.
And yet in all of this, let me remind of you of this. You aren’t enough. You aren’t eloquent enough. You aren’t inadequate to save people and to disciple them by yourself. I say that with great pastoral love. Because I want you to see that it isn’t you. It’s Jesus Christ.
Jesus has power over the serpent, and has crushed His head.
Jesus has power over disease, the disease of sin and death in us.
Jesus has power over life itself, because he defeated death and sin through His resurrection and offers living water.
Jesus contrasts with Moses. Where Moses doubted God, Jesus did not, and obeyed His Father perfectly. And even Aaron is a picture for us. Aaron would be the priest that would intercede on behalf of God’s people later in Exodus and Numbers. We have a greater high priest that is perfect and intercedes for us. Who stands beside us and speaks through us. The companion, the friend that sticks closer than a brother.
See, you are insufficient for the task, for the call. But God called you anyway. He knew every bit about you, but still chose to save you and use you for His glory. Did you here that? His glory. Because He wants us to trust Him. To trust His Son, Jesus Christ, who is sufficient for our salvation, our sanctification, and our glorification. He is the sufficient message we bring, and we let Him do the work. We are merely weak and feeble messengers, with a perfect and all-sufficient Savior to proclaim, Jesus Christ!
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