Old Testament Study:

Haggai 2:1-9

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Moses Balks at the Call of God

 

11But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12And 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.”

13Moses 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?”

14God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’”

15God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

16“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said:  I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’

18“The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.’ 19But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

21“And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”

 

When we think of Moses, we think of a strong leader, a faithful man of God.  We tend to forget that Moses resisted strongly the call of God, but this he did.  In Exodus 3:1 through 4:17, Moses puts forth to God five responses, resisting the call of God.  This is a little surprising, given that, before he fled from Egypt, Moses boldly sought to rescue his people (see Acts 7:25).  “Formerly he had volunteered his services as a patriotic defender of his countrymen.  But he had acted from impetuosity of temper, and without any authorized mission.  Having learned humility in the school of adversity, he had been led to distrust his own qualifications; and, especially considering his obscure condition as a shepherd, he felt himself too insignificant to wait upon Pharaoh” [JFB, 287].  “In Egypt, forty years before, Moses had acted like the impetuous horse and rushed ahead of God, but now he is acting like the stubborn mule and resisting God” [Wiersbe, 17].

Moses’ first response to God’s call concerned his own qualifications and reputation:  “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’” (vs. 11).  Moses had a point.  Moses had been a shepherd in Midian for forty years, so indeed, who was he to be the leader of God’s people?  However, in matters relating to the service of God, God Himself is the one who determines who is qualified and who is not.  “What Moses thought of himself, or what others thought of Moses, really wasn’t important.  God had spoken and that was all Moses needed for assurance that he was the right man for the job” [Wiersbe, 17].

God responded to Moses:  “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’” (vs. 12).  First, God gave Moses the greatest promise anyone could get from God as they serve Him:  “I will be with you.”  ‘I will be with you’ is all the assurance God’s servants need in order to succeed” [Wiersbe, 18].  Next, He promised Moses a sign.  The sign, though, was unusual.  The sign was that Moses and the Israelites would worship God on that mountain.  In other words, the sign that God was with Moses would be the success of Moses in leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  God was promising Moses success.

Despite this promise, Moses continued in his resistance:  “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?’” (vs. 13).  Moses first asked, “Who am I?”; now he says to God (in essence), “Who are you?”  The tone here, it seems to me, is that Moses felt a little embarrassed to serve a God that had no name.  Moses seemed to be saying, “The Egyptians worshiped gods who had cool names—names like Ammon (the Concealed), and Phthah (the Revealer), and Ra (the Swift).  Let me have a cool name to call you.”  Moses’ attitude here is the same as that of many nowadays.  People, at times, become Christians (in name) because it is the trendy thing to do.  There are times when being a Christian is fashionable.  Then also, there are times when being a Christian is very square.  What we all must realize is this:  the search for a religion should be a search for truth, not popularity.  I am a Christian because I know Christianity to be true, not to win points with my neighbor.

God’s answer to Moses is simple, yet very profound:  “God said to Moses, ‘I Am Who I Am.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I Am has sent me to you”’” (vs. 14).  If the True and Living God is to have a name, that name must be limitless and all-inclusive of all that God is.  The name “I Am reflects, all at once, the reality of God, the eternity of God, and the sufficiency of God.  “He is the self-existent One who always was, always is, and always will be, the faithful and dependable God who calls Himself ‘I Am’” [Wiersbe, 18].  He is all, and does all.  He needs no one else.

God also identified Himself as the personal God of His people, the children of Israel:  “God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.” This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation’” (vs. 15).  It is quite sad that the children of Israel would have to be reminded who their God—the Only True God—is, after all He had done for their forefathers.  But sadly, they had fallen into the worship of Egyptian gods (see Josh. 24:14).  Their true God, with the help of Moses, was to gather them together to be a nation literally under God.

The Lord told Moses exactly what to tell the Israelites:  “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.  And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey’” (vss. 16–17).  It is quite surprising that Moses continued to be reluctant to obey God, for God was making it very easy for him.  God was giving Moses the script to use when he was to speak to the people.  Moreover, God was once again guaranteeing success:  “‘The elders of Israel will listen to you.  Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us.  Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.”’’  God admitted to Moses that he would face opposition from Pharaoh, but He promised that Moses would have the full backing of the Might and Power of our Almighty God:  “‘But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him.  So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them.’”  And once again, God guaranteed success, this time before Pharaoh:  “After that, he will let you go.  And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed.  Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters.  And so you will plunder the Egyptian.’”  As we see, in the full wisdom of His foreknowledge, God had it all planned out.

 

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