When God calls twice: Moses! Moses!

God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

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Moses was tending his Father in Law’s flocks at the back side of the desert and this particular day he was at Mt. Horeb. How did Moses get himself here? Moses had a history. Born and raised by his mother up to the age of 12, he spent the rest of his life in the Palace, being prepared to be the next Pharaoh.

Stephen before he was stoned to death so powerfully summarized his life in Acts 7:17-29 

But when the time of the promise drew near, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, Till another king arose, who knew not Joseph. The same dealt craftily with our kindred, and ill-treated our fathers, so that they exposed their infants, to the end that they might not live. In which time Moses was born, and was exceedingly fair, and was nourished in his father’s house three months: And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and reared him as her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. And when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have reconciled them again, saying, Sirs, you are brethren; why do you wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Will you kill me, as you did the Egyptian yesterday? Then fled Moses at this saying, and was an exile in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons.

Moses was not only exceedingly fair (handsome), but also very learned. He was educated in Pharaoh’s courts to prepare him to take over from Kingship over Egypt. As historian, poet, philosopher, general of armies, and legislator, he stood without a peer.

Moses however had learnt a lot of things he needed to unlearn. God was going to use him, but not yet. God was not going to use Moses’ might and his academic and military skills and qualifications. Moses was not prepared for his great work. He had yet to learn the same lesson of faith that Abraham and Jacob had been taught–not to rely upon human strength or wisdom, but upon the power of God for the fulfillment of His promises. And there were other lessons that, amid the solitude of the mountains, Moses was to receive. In the school of self-denial and hardship he was to learn patience, to temper his passions. Before he could govern wisely, he must be trained to obey. By his own experience he must be prepared to exercise a fatherly care over all who needed his help.

     Man would have dispensed with that long period of toil and obscurity, deeming it a great loss of time. But Infinite Wisdom called him who was to become the leader of his people to spend forty years in the humble work of a shepherd. The habits of caretaking, of self-forgetfulness and tender solicitude for his flock, thus developed, would prepare him to become the compassionate, longsuffering shepherd of Israel. No advantage that human training or culture could bestow, could be a substitute for this experience. 

Such lessons that are so key in life cannot be learnt in any classroom but from Time Alone with God. The call of Moses came after 40 years this of training in the school of Christ.

When God called Abraham’s name twice, it was after he had failed in trusting God’s providence, when he lied about his wife Sarah, not trusting that the Word of God alone was able to shield him from any apparent danger. It was also after he had made the mistake to trust to his own strength, and Sarah’s to ‘help’ God fulfill his promise, by taking Hagar as a mistress. Whenever we feel we have failed by trusting our own strength, as we see our failures, God calls us higher to trust His unfailing arm

As we also saw in my last post, when God came to Jacob, it was after much prayer at Beersheba, when Jacob was faced with a tough decision to make- to go to Egypt or not to. When the way ahead of us doesn’t seem clear, He will call us as we set aside all things to have special time with Him.

And now Moses, after his failures in Egypt, trusting the arm of flesh, after his dream of rescuing Israel by military conquest were shut in Egypt, when he had to flee to this ‘menial’ work for forty years, God called his name twice. I cannot help but pen out the lesson for us. There is no folly so great as the folly of trusting in our own powers to do that which can only be accomplished by divine power. Moses had to learn this lesson that I have come to learn bitterly. God does not call us because we are qualified. He calls us despite ourselves.

The burning bush.

–          It was but a shrub, burning yet not being consumed. Here was a source of great consolation for Moses. He in the desert and the Israelites under Egyptian oppression were lowly, and under the fierce fires of distress, but thank God they were not consumed. The Lord was there with them. God trains us in the school of affliction and want, but thank God that We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed..(2 Cor. 4:8-10) 

The call.

–          When Moses turned, God called his name twice. Now he could get Moses’ attention. His reply was “Here I am.” God comes to us where we are. Whether in affliction, or running away from God as Adam and Eve, or working with zeal for a wrong purpose like Saul on the Damascus road, or in our daily duties like the disciples fishing by the sea, or when hiding in our shame like the woman at the well. Where are you today? You can never go so far as not to hear the voice of the One who is altogether lovely.

–          God proceeds to reveal to Moses His plan to send him to Egypt. Moses is reluctant. When we have been with the Lord, more often he sends us to our own, starting from our Jerusalem, our own kin, and there is nothing as difficult as witnessing to your own, those who have known your other darker side. Moses is reluctant. In Moses’ conversation with God, God seeks to let Moses understand: HE DOES CALL HIM BECAUSE HE IS QUALIFIED EQUAL TO THE TASK, BUT HE WOULD QUALIFY HIM FOR THE WORK.

–          To every excuse Moses offers, God has a response.

–          He objects his own insufficiency for the service he was called to (Ex 3:11): Who am I? He thinks himself

  • Unworthy of the honour, and not equal to the task.
  • He thinks he wants courage, and therefore cannot go to Pharaoh, to make a demand which might cost the demandant his head:
  • He thinks he wants skill, and therefore cannot bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt; they are unarmed, undisciplined, quite dispirited, utterly unable to help themselves; it is morally impossible to bring them out. 1

–          Moses was incomparably in human terms the fittest of any man living for this work, eminent for learning, wisdom, experience, valour, faith, holiness; and yet he says, Who am I?

  • Note, The more fit any person is for service commonly the less opinion he has of himself: see Judges 9:8.
  • Moses had formerly been very courageous when he slew the Egyptian, but now his heart failed him; for he saw himself as he really was, weak and dependent only on God.

–          The difficulties of the work were indeed very great, enough to startle the courage and stagger the faith of Moses himself.

  • Note, Even wise and faithful instruments may be much discouraged at the difficulties that lie in the way of the duties ahead.

Where are you today? God can reach you where you are.

You think you are unqualified for the work? You are right, and such are the ones God seeks to use, totally emptied of self.

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