Mission Impossible—Exodus 6:9-13

Have you ever been in an impossible situation? But if you’re following the Lord’s plan, he’s got your back.

The Lord summons Moses to go back to Pharaoh, so that Pharaoh will let God’s people go (6:10-11). God does not promise that Pharaoh will comply on the next try, but he is sending Moses nonetheless. Already rejected by the Israelites at this point (6:9), Moses protests that this is an insane predicament. His own people have not listened to him, and does God think that Pharaoh will listen to him (6:12)? Moses is still not very persuaded; from the beginning, he has insisted that he is not qualified, and Moses probably does not understand why God is still not listening to Moses’s objections.

Moses reminds God that Moses cannot speak well (6:12). Moses had already explained this to God in 4:10, but now he uses even more shocking language. Moses literally describes himself as one “uncircumcised in lips.” Perhaps he evokes his previous resistance to God’s demand that he circumcise his son (4:24-26), or implies that his lips are like those of Gentiles. But it is probably simply a way of depicting his lips negatively, so that his speech cannot persuade Pharaoh, before whom ambassadors would present skillfully prepared speeches.

Many of us can probably sympathize with Moses. We can be grateful for communicators who provide slick, precisely-timed presentations, but most of us are not at that level. Some people have great content and are great communicators, but most of us think of ourselves as fairly average. Yet God chooses whom he wills for particular tasks. Many of Billy Graham’s jokes fell flat, but God commissioned him with a mantle of authority in evangelism that drew people to Christ. Some people gifted in healing are terrible preachers, and some who preach well do not have great track records with healing gifts. God has gifted me to write after thinking matters through, but I don’t think quickly enough to excel in debates. When God calls us to do something we’re not great at, we might still not be great at it. But it is something that God wants done.

Undoubtedly much to Moses’s dismay, the Lord simply reiterates his instructions (6:13), this time to both Moses and Aaron (the latter initially appointed to compensate, if need be, for Moses’s reticence to speak, 4:14). These instructions pertain to both resistant entities: Israel and Pharaoh (cf. 6:12). Moses and Aaron are to bring the Israelites out of Egypt—something humanly impossible for them to achieve.

Only the Lord can make that happen, and, from Moses’s erroneous perspective, the Lord’s meddling so far has only made things worse. Pharaoh will surely not listen to YHWH. But Moses does not yet understand what YHWH can do to persuade Israel, Egypt, and, last of all by God’s design, Pharaoh himself. Along the way, Moses himself will come to understand. God’s instructions do not always make sense to us, even in Scripture, but God knows exactly what he is doing.

Moses faced opposition not only from Pharaoh but even from his own people. We should not expect all our service for the Lord to be easy. When you face discouragement and doubt as to why God would call you, remember that you are not the first to face this.

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