Week 5, Exodus 3—4; 15:1-22: “Moses and Miriam”–Moses’ Call: Resistance

Wednesday, March 29

But Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  Then the Lord said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.”  But he said, “O my Lord, please send someone else” (Exod 4:10-13).

A common element in biblical call stories is what Robert Gnuse calls “prophetic denial”—the rejection of a prophet’s call, based on a sense of unworthiness or inability in the one called, or on anxiety about what the call implies (Robert K. Gnuse, The Old Testament and Process Theology [St. Louis: Chalice, 2000], 128). Jeremiah objects that he is too young (Jer. 1:6); Isaiah exclaims, “I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5); Jonah votes with his feet and heads for Tarshish (Jon 1:3). But Moses, in his persistent resistance to God’s call, outdoes them all! First, he demands that God reveal God’s name (Exod 3:13). Then, Moses asks for signs that will prove that he has come from God’s presence (Exod 4:1-8). Then, he protests that he cannot speak eloquently, or perhaps even plainly (the Hebrew permits either reading; Exod 4:10). Finally, in blunt, transparent honesty, Moses blurts out, “O my Lord, please send someone else”! I don’t want to do this! God does send Aaron, as Moses’ spokesperson, but Moses is not excused—he too must go.

Doubtless we resonate with Moses’ complaint. We would not have chosen to live in times that require us to stand up and stand out. We would have preferred a quiet, non-confrontational life. But we live in this time and place, not in some other, and by God’s grace we must prove equal to the demands of our season. We would prefer that God send someone else. But God has sent us.


“To serve the present age,

my calling to fulfill,

O may it all my powers engage,

to do my Master’s will!”

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(Hymn by Charles Wesley)