God uses little people—Exodus 6:28-30

The last post discussed how Exodus uses Moses’s genealogy (Exod 6:14-25) to underline the weak sort of vessel that God chooses to use. Exodus frames that genealogy with Moses’s fearful protest in the presence of YHWH: “I’m uncircumcised in lips; so how is it that Pharaoh is going to listen to me?” As with some other framing devices in ancient oral literature, this one is somewhat inverted, transposing the order of the two clauses (6:12, 30).

Because Exodus emphasizes the point by repeating it, it seems fair for us to do the same.

Yet the Lord had already answered Moses’s objection earlier. “I’m not a good speaker,” Moses protested, “and my mouth and tongue are heavy!” (4:10). “Who made a person’s mouth?” the Lord demanded. “I will go with your mouth and teach you what to say” (4:11-12).

Who are we to question God’s call? Who are we to evaluate by the world’s criteria? God will back up what he calls us to do. Some speakers who do not sound eloquent are nevertheless anointed by God in such a way that people’s hearts are changed. Eric Liddell did not have the best form, but God made him fast. Unlike George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards was not the most eloquent speaker, but the Spirit could fall when he simply read a sermon. Natural gifts are a blessing, but for God’s call we cannot depend solely on them. We depend on the one who called us, and he can gift us in new ways as he chooses.

If God gives you ways to fulfill your calling better, take advantage of them. But don’t think that God cannot use you because you are too small. God uses especially those who know they are small. As mentioned earlier, someone once introduced Hudson Taylor, nineteenth-century founder of a very effective ministry to China, as a very great man. When Hudson got up to speak, he countered that he was a very small man with a very great God. He understood the ministry principle revealed in this passage.

Ultimately we are called to speak whether people will listen or not (as in Isa 6:9-13; Jer 1:17-19; Ezek 2:5-7; 2 Tim 4:2-5). Sometimes the fruit comes later (cf. Acts 7:58). It is not our role to predict which seed will bear fruit, but we can trust that it will always be enough; God’s message will bear fruit in its time (Isa 55:10-11; Mark 4:14-20, 26-29).

Jeremiah lived to see his land devastated and his people enslaved; yet a generation beyond him, God’s people recognized the truth of his message and never again turned to physical idolatry (2 Chron 36:21-22; Ezra 1:1; Dan 9:2). Paul lamented that all Asia—the place of his greatest ministry (cf. Acts 19:10, 17, 20)—had turned away from him (2 Tim 1:15). Yet his writings have shaped and challenged the church for two millennia.

Moses could not enter the promised land, though God did allow him to see it (Deut 34:1-6). The next generation, growing up under God’s revelation, apparently treated Joshua much better, but Moses faced opposition even from his own people. Yet God fulfilled the purpose for which he raised Moses up. We later see the same principle regarding David: he died, “after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation” (Acts 13:36). We should never forget that we are each only part of the story. Yet we can also celebrate the privilege that God has given us, that we do get to be part of his story, a story that will echo throughout the ages of eternity.

Whether our role seems to us big or small, let us fill that role with our whole hearts, and give all the honor to the story’s Author, to the Lord himself.

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