DIG: Why do you think Moses was so reluctant? Why was the LORD so angry? Why do you think He dealt with Moses’ final objection the way He did?
REFLECT: Moses and Aaron couldn’t do it alone and neither can we. God promised them that He would be with them every step of the way. Does He promise the same to you and me?
Moses’ fifth and final objection summed up all the others. Still shying away from using God’s personal name, he used the less personal attribute of Adonai (lower case), meaning Master or Owner, and said: Please send someone else to do it (4:13). He was not enthusiastic at all and his earlier reasons were merely excuses, because he did not want God to send him in the first place. ADONAI, though slow to anger (34:6), now became angry with Moses – not because He had lost His temper but because Moses needed to be impressed with the seriousness of God’s call and to learn that He is not to be put off.61
Then ADONAI’s anger burned against Moses. The Hebrew is quite emphatic. It literally reads: The nostrils of ADONAI burned. Moses was acting like a servant who seeks to evade his responsibility of carrying out the will of his rightful master. For Adonai, who is never an unjust Master, does not ask what cannot be performed, and never requires a task for which He does not equip His servants.62 Therefore, He provided Moses with a helper and companion. He said: What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? (This is the first time Aaron is mentioned). I know he can speak well. He is already on his way from Egypt to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you (4:14). Here we see God’s hand at work again. God knew what Moses would say, and had already sent Aaron to him. God was in control of the entire situation from beginning to end. He is the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:8, 21:6 and 22:13).
Now Aaron was given his own commission, which was to speak on behalf of Moses. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you, and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him (4:15-16). Aaron would act like the high Egyptian official called the mouth of the king. His duty was to act as an intermediary between Pharaoh and the Egyptian people. His principle activity was to speak Pharaoh’s commands to the people, in his exact words. Because Pharaoh was considered a god, his words were not to be altered in any way.63 Therefore, the order of communication would be this: God would speak to Moses, Moses would speak to Aaron, and Aaron would speak to Pharaoh.
Finally, the LORD told Moses to take his staff in his hand so he could perform his newly acquired miraculous signs with it (4:17). His staff was to be his emblem of authority and although it consisted of common wood, it was consecrated for that purpose. Moses was then ready for action. He was fully equipped and prepared to confront Pharaoh in Egypt. He knew the wilderness, he knew where Mount Sinai was located, he had his staff to perform miracles, his brother was to be with him as a mouthpiece, and God had commissioned him. As Moses left the burning bush, he knew what he had to do and prepared to leave Midian.
It is easy to be critical of Moses’ reluctance to return to Egypt. We ask, “Why didn’t he immediately obey and do what God commanded him to do?” We need to be careful here. Moses was a man of flesh and blood and he had all the human emotions, including fear. The Scriptures are truthful in their portrayal of him as a man with faults and weaknesses. He had murdered an Egyptian and was forced to flee. Now Moses was directed to go back and confront the warrior Pharaoh. Was there no room for fear?
In addition, if we look down deep in our own hearts we shall realize that we would have acted no differently. How easy it is to look at Moses’ life and say he should have done this or that! Let us be honest. Our own hearts would have weakened at such a frightening task. So let us be compassionate to a frail man who was just like us.64
The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2017