I was reading in Acts not too long ago, and I came across this verse: And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds (Acts 7:22). Hmmm . . . .
Why does it say he was mighty in words? I mean, I thought he had a speech impediment, like a lisp or a stutter. This is the same man who said, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue (Exodus 4:10). Was he lying? Was he really a powerful orator—in the Egyptian tongue?
God answered Moses and said, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say (Exodus 4:11-12).
That should have been the end of the excuses. Moses should have understood that God could help him in every way. After all, God had made his mouth—and ears and eyes.
But Moses tries another tack: O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send (Exodus 4:13). He asks God to send someone else.
Now, we see God’s angry and just reaction. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God (Exodus 4:14-16). In spite of God’s anger, He provides Moses with Aaron as a mouthpiece.
I’ve often wondered about God’s anger. If Moses had indeed had a physical difficulty with speaking, wouldn’t God have understood his reticence about representing the Hebrews to Pharaoh? I think so.
So, why did God get angry with Moses?
- Because Moses was perfectly suited to his calling!
- Because God had already prepared him to be a powerful orator in the Egyptian language.
- Because He was the best person for the job.
But, not only that! God always equips those He calls. It’s His work, after all. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24). God reminds Moses He made his mouth.
I think of Joshua, the leader of the Hebrews after Moses. God repeatedly encouraged him and told others to encourage him. Why? Obviously, he needed it. He didn’t feel worthy or able. He was somewhat insecure. But God fills him with power and helps him out. (Deuteronomy 1:38, 31:7, 34:9)
I think of Gideon, who had legitimate doubts about the task ahead. God accepted his offering by consuming it with fire and later honored his fleece idea not once, but twice! Why? Because Gideon was trying to make sure God was calling him. He wasn’t making excuses; he only wanted to be sure. (Judges 6-7)
It seems to me—personal thoughts here—that God helps people out when they have genuine reasons for concern or doubt. When they’re only giving excuses not to do what God commands, God is not happy.
Thankfully, the story of Moses continues. Moses appears before Pharaoh and liberates God’s people. God uses him greatly. Later, the Bible says that there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10; similar in Exodus 33:11).
Moses’ name is found eighty-one times in the New Testament. He figures in the list of heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. Jesus referred many times to Moses and his writings (the first five books of the Bible). The last reference to Moses is in Revelation, where angels in heaven sing:
And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God,
and the song of the Lamb, saying,
Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty;
just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints (Revelation 15:3).
What do you think? Do you think Moses had a real speech problem, or was he only trying to excuse himself from the task God asked of him? (It’s okay if you differ with me. I’d like to hear from you.)