Moses and the burning bush

With much to be modest about

It was Winston Churchill who engineered the ultimate putdown of a political foe when he said of Prime Minister Clement Attlee, “He is a humble man with much to be humble about.” Apparently the charismatically-challenged leader of the Labour party was not known for his quick repartee, eloquent speeches or brilliant political strategy.

Humans, too, are individuals with much to be humble about. We are weak, sinful and fickle as a politician in our loyalties. We have all sinned (Romans 3:23). We love God when in times of trial, but forget him more quickly than the light of a firefly. We have the spiritual attention span of a puppy on a walk.

Have you looked at the encounter of Moses and God at the burning bush recently? Famously Moses piles excuse upon excuse for his non participation. Who is he that he should lead Israel (Exodus 3:11)? Whom should he say sent him (Exodus 3:13)? What if the Israelites will not believe him (Exodus 4:1)? He does not have the talent for such a job (Exodus 4:10). Finally, he asks, “Lord, send someone else” (Exodus 4:13).

While it is true we shouldn’t make excuses to God, while it is true we should respond when God calls, did you notice something about what God does, and does not do in this account?

This is what God does: He provides the ingredients. When Moses asks why me, God declares, “Surely I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). When Moses frets that the Israelites will not believe, God gives signs to provide evidence of God’s approval (Exodus 4:2-9).

But did you notice what God did not do?

God didn’t disagree.

He didn’t argue with Moses. “Oh, don’t say that, you are too talented!” As it turns out, God already knew Moses’ inadequacies! But, and please take note of this, what God did do was to supply for Moses what was missing. No wonder the Bible itself describes Moses as “very meek, more than all the people who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3, ESV).

Moses was a humble man with much to be humble about.

There are indications that Moses was not always that way. As a young man he took the life of an Egyptian slave master (Exodus 2:11,12). He acted as the spoiled prince of Egypt might, hastily, and as if he felt himself entitled.

Once he had consorted with kings and princes. Now following forty years as a shepherd, with sun and dust for companionship, Moses was seasoned, mature and humbled.

Are you a modest person with much to be modest about? Then lean on the Lord, who can make a modest person marvelous.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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