Moses, the Premier Prophet: Excuses, Excuses

Moses, the Premier Prophet  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Like Moses, we too often makes excuses when we hear Him calling us to ministry or service.

Text: Exodus 3:11-4:17
Theme: Like Moses, we too often makes excuses when we hear Him calling us to ministry or service.
All of us, from time to time, have made excuses for not doing something. Here are some real excuses people in Great Britain have made for missing work.
• My girlfriend threw a WiFi remote at me and it’s chipped my tooth.
• I slept funny on my arms and now they’re asleep.
• I rolled out of bed and knocked myself out so I missed the alarm.
• My dog is depressed and I need to stay with him.
• My goldfish is ill.
• I had a dream that my cat died and now I’m afraid to leave her.
• A random man broke in to my house last night and he’s asleep on my couch.
• We think the house is haunted so we’ve called a priest.
• I need a few hours to get the alcohol in my blood dow to a legal level.
• My psychic told me not to go to work today.
• I’m stuck under the bed.
We’re all familiar with excuses. We get them and we give them. In fact, we've all done it more times than we care to admit. Rather than owning up to a mistakes or shortcomings, we make excuses:
• "What I did wasn't as bad as what he did."
• "I can't help being the way God made me."
• "I know it hurt her feelings, but I only told the truth."
There is nothing new or creative about this approach. It is as old as Eden and deeply ingrained in the processes of human thought and speech. What are excuses? Simply put, excuses are reasons for not doing something, or justifications for doing what we did. We all make them from time to time. Some small, some big, some unimportant, some very important. If, like Moses, you're hiding behind a smokescreen of excuses, it is time to step into the light of honesty. Let’s examine the five excuses Moses gave to God.

I. EXCUSE #1: I’m a Nobody vv.11-12

“But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 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.” (Exodus 3:11-12, NIV)


1. God had no sooner said, "I will send you…" than Moses replied, "Who am I that I should go…?"
a. Moses at 40 felt well equipped and anxious for the task
b. Moses at 80 felt completely insufficient for the task
1) age does that doesn’t it?
2) hopefully the older we get, the more humble we become
3) when we are young we think we have all the answers
4) when we get older, we realize we don’t even know all the questions
ILLUS. Mark Twain said, "I left home at 18 convinced my father was the most ignorant man I had ever known. I returned at 21 amazed at what the old man had learned in three years."
3. Moses’ response was just the humility of his years
a. he did not feel up to the task


1. underline God’s promise
a. He said to Moses, I will certainly be with you
2. when God said, I will send you to Pharaoh Moses got the wrong idea
a. he thought God wanted him to deliver Israel
1) Wrong!
b. God was going to deliver Israel; He was simply going to use Moses to do it
c. Moses would be a tool in the hands of the Almighty
1) a tool doesn’t do the work!
3. God could have used a variety of tools for the task
a. He didn’t need Moses, but He chose to use Moses
1) He could have sent an angel to Pharaoh
2) He could have placed a burning pyramid smack in the middle of Egypt and spoke to the Pharaoh directly
a) I’ll tell ya what, if I were Pharaoh and a burning pyramid suddenly appeared in my back yard, and I heard a voice from Heaven saying, “Let the Hebrews go,” I think I’d let the Hebrews go!
b. God doesn’t need us, but He chooses to use us
1) He invites us to join Him in His work
ILLUS. John Durham said, "Who Moses is is not the question; it is rather who is with Moses."

II. EXCUSE #2: I Don’t Know Your Name vv.13-22

“Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13-15, NIV)
1. Moses is like us
a. he was worried because he didn’t have all the answers
b. he tells God, “When the people ask what your name is, what am I to say?”
2. the Lord identified Himself in v.6 as "the God of your father, the God of Abraham… Isaac and… Jacob."
3. I think that what Moses was really asking was not so much "What is Your Name?" but "What are You like?" "What kind of God are You?"


1. God said that His name is I AM THAT I AM and Moses was to say to the Hebrews, I AM has sent me to you
a. this is the first revelation of God’s name in the Scriptures
b. names are always important in Scripture because they reveal the person’s character
1) the name I AM comes from a Hebrew form of the verb to be
2) it is spelled in Hebrew with only four letters "YHWH" — we pronounce it Yahweh
c. the Jews considered "the name" so holy they would not write it or say it
d. let’s take a few moments to consider what the name Yahweh or I AM means
2. I AM means God is a person
a. God is not some kink of abstract force
b. because He is a person, we can have fellowship with Him
3. I AM means God is self- existent
a. He has no beginning and no end
b. when God says I AM THAT I AM He is telling Moses, “I always was, I am now, and I always will be.”
4. I AM means God is self-sufficient
a. all creation depends on God for continued existence
b. as "I AM" God depends on no one or nothing for His existence
5. I AM means God is eternal
a. the name speaks of His eternal nature
b. God is, has always been and always will be
6. I AM means God is unchangeable
a. it means that who God was yesterday, and who God is today, He will be tomorrow
1) this is the Doctrine of Immutability and means God is changeless
b. there are two consequences of this
1) 1st God can be trusted
a) what He has been He is today
2) 2nd, God is inescapable
a) He will not go away
b) you can ignore Him or reject Him, or like Jonah in the Old Testament, you can try running away from Him, but He still remains
7. When Moses said, "Who am I that I should speak to Pharaoh?" God said, “It doesn’t matter who you are.”
a. God said “What does matter is who I AM, and I AM THAT I AM.”
b. Moses said, I am nothing.
1) God said, I AM everything.
c. Moses said, I have nothing to offer.
1) God said, I AM all you need.
d. Moses said, I am not someone they will listen to.
1) God said, I AM, I AM, I AM.
8. a man who has an awareness of who and what he is (a nothing and a nobody) and an awareness of who God is (everything and all we need) that is a man God can use

III. EXCUSE #3: No One Will Believe Me vv. 4:1-9

“Then Moses answered, “What if the people of Israel do not believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” (Exodus 4:1, NCV)


1. he had left Egypt a young, pampered, powerful, and a cultured prince
a. now he returns to Egypt as an 80-year-old, weather-beaten, time-worn Midianite shepherd
2. imagine Moses telling the Hebrew slaves, "Okay folks, I’m the answer to your prayers. I’m your deliverer. I’m your man"
a. I can just see the Hebrew leaders going, “Yea, right. Who are you and who do you think you are?”
b. Moses knows this is going to be their response and so he asks what is he supposed to do if they say, "The Lord has not appeared to you."
1) translation: Moses wants to know what to do when the Hebrews look at him and say, “You’re nuts.”


“Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. 3 The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 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. 5 “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.” (Exodus 4:2-5, NIV)
1. Moses is going to be a conduit of God’s mighty hand
a. through a simple instrument — Moses’ shepherd’s rod — God will perform supernatural acts of power that will convince the Hebrews that God has indeed sent Moses
2. what do you hold in your hand?
a. you might say, "Pastor, I don’t have much to offer. I don’t have time. I’m too tired. I don’t have enough money. I’m too young. I’m too old. I don’t have the contacts. The economy is bad. I have no support at home. I’m not good enough, smart enough, tall enough, outgoing enough, attractive enough... you get the idea. I’m not very talented. I’m not very important."
1) that’s good!
b. God uses simple things and simple people to accomplish His plan
1) when God set out to deliver Israel, He didn’t use a King’s Scepter but a Shepherd’s Staff
2) when God wanted to defeat a giant, He didn’t use a King’s Armor but a Boy’s Sling
3) when He began to build His kingdom, he didn’t choose Israel’s Ruling Class, but Simple Fishermen
c. your life and your possessions, abilities and relationships can be mighty tools in the hands of God if you’ll throw them down

IV. EXCUSE #4: I Can’t Do it vv. 10-12

“Moses said to the LORD, “O 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.” 11 The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:10-12, NIV)


1. He tells God that he was not eloquent
a. further, he says, "I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."
b. Moses tells God, "Please, Lord, I have never been a skilled speaker. Even now, after talking to you, I cannot speak well. I speak slowly and can't find the best words."
ILLUS. Moses is saying “God, I’m not a fluent, silver-tongued, articulate speaker. You’d better find someone else.”
2. this exchange is almost comical
a. Moses is attempting to persuade God that he was not very good with persuasion!
b. maybe during that 40 years in the wilderness his talents had been so withered that Moses didn’t remember ever having them
c. or maybe it was just an excuse


1. Moses didn’t need a speech pathologist or Hooked on Phonics
a. he needed to trust God’s promise
2. God said, "Who has made man’s mouth?"
a. in other words, "You think I don’t know about your impediment?"
b. He said, "I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say."
3. it’s the same with us
a. if God has called us, God will equip and empower us to do the job

V. EXCUSE #5: Someone Else Could Do it Better

“But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” 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 his heart will be glad when he sees 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 . . . “ (Exodus 4:13-17, NIV)
1. this is the typical Baptist excuse
a. it’s what the members of the Nominating Committee frequently hear when they begin enlisting people to do the work of the church
b. But someone else could do it better!


1. I love the way v.13 reads in the NIV
a. it says, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."
2. Moses called God Lord but didn’t want to bow to His Lordship
ILLUS. Where the heart is willing it will find a thousand ways, but where it is unwilling it will find a thousand excuses.
a. He is either Lord of all or not Lord at all
3. but God is gracious and He does give Moses a helper and it turns out to be his own brother Aaron
a. when God calls us to a task, He will always give us the physical and human resources we need to accomplish the task for which He has called us


ILLUS. Consider William Wilberforce. He was an English politician in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Following his coming to Christ as a young politician, he devoted himself to the seemingly impossible task of ending slavery in the British Empire. Now slavery was so entrenched in the British Empire and had such special interest support that the opposition to abolition was able to politically maneuver and defeat the abolitionist movement for 15 years. But Wilberforce never lost faith and faced the fears of not being liked by men and trusted in God’s power to persuade people to work through him. It was ultimately because of Wilberforce’s faith and obedience that the slave trade was abolished in 1807 and ultimately slavery was abolished in 1833.
Just as God called Moses, He is calling each of us. Every time Moses offered an excuse, God answered. Don’t offer God your excuses offer Him your obedience.
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