Protest or presumption?

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The world has schooled us to wonder, ‘Who am I?’ God yearns for us to ask, ‘Whose am I?’ How does your heart respond to these questions?

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Bible passage Exodus 4:1-17

Exodus 4

Signs for Moses
 1 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"

 2 Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"
      "A staff," he replied.

 3 The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground."
      Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 "This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you."

 6 Then the LORD said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.

 7 "Now put it back into your cloak," he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

 8 Then the LORD said, "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground."

 10 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

 11 The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

 13 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."

 14 Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 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. 17 But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it."

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

Explore the Bible

Me? Really?
God picked Moses for a monumental task (Exodus 3:10). Understandably, Moses feels overwhelmed, unworthy, unequal for the job. In the lengthy dialogue that ensues (3:11 – 4:17), Moses protests. First, he demurs, ‘Who am I…?’ (3:11); next, he questions whether he has proper authorisation for the task (3:13); and, in today’s passage, Moses worries about potential disbelief of his hearers (v 1) and deficiencies in his own public speaking skills (v 10).

God deals graciously with every one of Moses’ protests, assuring, reassuring, providing validating signs and promises (vs 2–9). But at Moses’ final protestation (v 13), God goes from gentleness to fierce anger (v 14). Why?

Crossing a line
Scripture declares, ‘Moses was a very humble man’ (Numbers 12:3). While acknowledging our unworthiness is an essential component of humility, second-guessing God or spurning his choices is like the clay presuming to tell the potter what to do (Isaiah 45:9).

God, in his wisdom and sovereignty, had chosen Moses for the job. When Moses asked God to send someone else to do it, he crossed the boundary between legitimate protest and sinful presumption.


Doubting oneself can be an opportunity to deepen trust in God. Are you hesitant about your adequacy, authority or ability to serve as God’s kingdom agent? Let today’s Scripture encourage you to climb out of a rut of doubt into a place of deeper trust.

Tanya Ferdinandusz

Deeper Bible study

Chapter 4 begins with another question, ‘What if they [the Hebrew leaders] do not believe me… ?’ (v 1) and ends with the information that when ‘they’ heard God’s message they ‘worshipped’ (v 31). In other words, they did believe him, at least at first! God continues to answer patiently, however, this time providing practical signs which first Moses and then the leaders would see before they took action. Even when Moses returns to the question of his own weaknesses, God remains patient, reassuring Moses that he, the ever-present, ever-active God, would supply the necessary communication skills and script. One wonders why, as he has had no speaking opportunities for years, Moses is convinced that even after this encounter with God he remains a poor communicator. The lesson that obedience needs to come before, not after, assurance had yet to be learned.

Moses then reveals that his questions and objections, which very understandably made him concerned about the task ahead, were not the whole story. Whatever God said, he still did not want to accept this job! The comment from Abraham in Jesus’ story of the rich man and the beggar is relevant here: signs can be helpful, but even someone rising from death will not convince those who don’t want to believe (Luke 16:31)! Now God has had enough. Genuine questioning is fine but refusing to listen is not! He stops gently persuading Moses, makes the statement that he will also empower Aaron to help out and closes the conversation. It is to Moses’ credit that at this point, perhaps God’s ‘anger’ (v 14) having finally persuaded him of the seriousness of the request, he seems to have accepted that this job really is for him!

Mary Evans


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  • Rachael Hampton | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    Reminds me of Peter telling Jesus He'd got it wrong about going to the cross. Jesus had told His disciples they were friends more than servants because He shared His plans with them. But Peter crossed that line Tanya describes so well. Lord keep us humbly accepting that You know best. May we enjoy the loving closeness of Your friendship without becoming presumptuous, always remembering that You are the great I AM.

  • Adam Julians | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Yes, and this anger that God had towards Moses showing a character flaw that eventually was to lead to him not entering the promised land. It was a form of narcissism he had, making it about him and not being open to what God could do through him. How often in the church is there a form of godliness that masks arrogance and denies God' greatness and power? Ego, tribalism in spite of all the comfort and encouragement given. What is there left but to strengthen with hardship. No more Mr nice guy. We know that all hardship is to be treated as God's discipline, and painful as discipline is, to be endured and the outcome being righteousness and peace. Much easier not to do this but rather be timid, arrogant and criticise the strong man while neither doing what he does with becoming victorious over impossible odds or if failing, fail while attempting great endeavours.

  • Angela Munday | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Yes, God's plans are His and His alone and are there for us to follow, using our own God-given abilities. We are God's ambassadors here on earth.......'O speak and make me listen, thou guardian of my soul". Amen.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Moses had led a normal life after he fled the Egyptians. He'd got married, got on well with inlaws etc so why upset the applecart. He’d failed trying to help God when he killed a man so it made sense to say ‘leave me here God where I’ve got a normal, safe life' We can all identify with that when we're encouraged out of our comfort zone. God called Moses, not whilst living in the palace but when he was a shepherd. How God values us is not how the world values us. Nobody is ordinary. He sees us as beautiful, precious and honoured. Meet beautiful people not druggies, homeless, fat, thin, thick, brainy, deserving or undeserving. So much to learn from Moses.

  • Jane Hill | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    It concerns me a little, Adam, that you often talk of a veneer of Christianity of some within the church. I would feel I was being judgemental if I took that line -as if I had 'arrived' as a Christian and they had not. Should we not pray for them if we feel that way and find ways to engage with them in love. God works to His time plan. My sister has just become a Christian at 68 having had no background of teaching. A local church with great concern for the community took her under their wing and 'loved' her into the Kingdom.

  • Teresa Ballard | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    I AM...mighty; I AM...omniscient; I AM...omnipotent; I AM...victorious; I AM...compassionate; I AM...your Father; I AM...from everlasting to everlasting; I AM...the same yesterday, today, and forever; I AM... ; I AM... ; I AM... The list of what GOD IS is endless; no wonder He is worthy of our praise. I just love His name I AM. Today's lesson from Moses' reaction reminds me to ask Is He my Master as well as my Friend? In all things, Lord, give me grace to accept Your will.

  • Teresa Ballard | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    How wonderful, JANE, that you can now be sisters in the loveliest way of all. God bless you both as you help each other in your journeys of increasing your love and knowledge of the great I AM.

  • Derek Forster | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Lead on, O King eternal, We follow not with fears; For gladness breaks like morning Where’er Your face appears; Your cross is lifted o’er us; We journey in its light: The crown awaits the conquest; Lead on, O God of might.

  • Garnet Mullan | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    When Moses was described as being "slow of speech and tongue" is this saying that he had a stammer or speech impediment and, if so, does it help our understanding of his reluctance to take on this leadership and public speaking role?

  • Adam Julians | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Jane I hear your view that I am being judgemental and that you perceive me as coming across as if I have "arrived as a Christian", being unloving and others not. Someone in church recently described me as being "difficult and opinionated" which I found hard to listen to. A lovely Church of Scotland lady at work said that this is what is nice about me. You can't please everyone. And if no one ever take offence to what I write or say then I have become a people pleaser rather than someone who is in word and deed acting according to the gospel. It tires me that the expectation of me frequently is to be "nice". I see in scripture the incumbency to try to be kind and for words to be seasoned with grace. Also to be comforting, encouraging and strengthening. Strengthening is what the body of Christ needs in order that none of it be lame or put out of point. And every athlete knows there is not gain without pain. We know God's discipline is painful but by enduring it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. thank you for your comment. I would ask respectfully for you to consider to what degree what your being "concerned" is a factor of me being spiritually arrogant unloving and to what degree it is you being resistant to God and risk adverse. The founder of the Vineyard movement John Wimbur is known for saying that everyone gets to play, your brother is not your enemy and faith is spelled R-I-S-K.

  • Lynda Spencer | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Prepare - "I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day." Loved with everlasting love, I am His and He is mine!

  • Lynda Spencer | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Whatever critical feelings one might have towards Moses at this stage in his life, let us not forget what is said of him repeatedly throughout the New Testament, and the inclusion of his name among the giants of faith in Hebrews 11. JANE, wonderful news about your sister! I so much related to the expression you used - "loved into the Kingdom." May we all exhibit that sort of love, as you describe it GILVIN, seeing people through God's eyes rather than labelling them as the world does. May the Lord bless you all today.

  • David Rogers | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    A gripping passage today, I ponder what was Moses's emotional state like or the negative thoughts/self talk swirling in his head? Moses hearing God's voice so clearly and seeing the miracles to get to the point of v13, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." It must have been intense. What makes a man called of God a coward? I'm looking forward to upcoming passages to see what will make Moses brave.

  • Barbara Sabin | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    TERESA I love your comments thank you God indeed said I AM not I was he said I will be with you which is an ongoing promise . I note JANE and ADAM that Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11The Message (MSG) 4-11 God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick. miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues. interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when. It seems that ADAM has the gift of distinguishing between spirits, and is sharing that with us as a spiritual community, Each one of us have differing spiritual gifting. We are given the gifting we do not ask for it .Moses was not a good speaker but his brother was and so they helped each other. I had a mentor who was a spiritual giant and learned much from her, but my spiritual gifts were different from hers. He's the same today as yesterday, My great unchanging friend; He's the same today as yesterday, Just the same unto the end. By his mighty power he holds me, In his arms of love enfolds me; He's the same today as yesterday, My great unchanging friend

  • Barbara Sabin | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    How often do we ignore our spiritual gifting especially in distinguishing between spirits. Where the great I AM spirit is manifested in a member of the church or a critical spirit how often do those of us with this gift go early to our church and walk around praying the spirits out by speaking out and asking in the name of Jesus that the spirits be sent away, this is our duty as a member of the body of Christ. We have to remember that Christianity is Spiritual .

  • Ruth Chisholm | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Life struggles, show our need for so much more of Jesus in our lives. Like Moses, for a time we can convince ourselves that we manage life with an element of self sufficiency, but his time came for full dependency on God, and the excitement and privilege of being chosen. We are ALL chosen and ALL in God's kingdom plan and in God's timing the spirit reveals to us, so much more. In the meantime, like Moses, we are called to testify to God's love and the work of God in our lives to encourage others whatever stage in their journey.

  • Ruth Chisholm | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    consider my cancer as God's discipline, whilst it is not a path I was expecting to travel, the great I AM leads me through it, walks beside me, and will do faithfully in each moment ahead. As David says, Psalm 23, "what I have in God is greater than what I don't have in life". For me this is not the God who disciplines me but who loves me so very much, maybe you could call it tenderly teaches or revealing more of his nature to me, just as I need.

  • Adam Julians | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Barabara - God bless you. I take your awareness as having come from God. It is painful if misunderstood but we must regard that as God's discipline for us if it happens and endure trusting by faith that the outcome of doing so is righteousness and peace. Ruth I love your attitude in the midst of your pain with cancer! Praise God!

  • Ruth Chisholm | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Sorry my second comment above should read "I don't consider .. "

  • Adam Julians | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    In that case Ruth if God didn't dispiline you, you would be illegitimate. Human parents discipline as they see fit, a parent who disciplines her child does so because she loves and God always disciplines for good. An athlete enters into the discipline of training to become strong and to win the race.

  • Peter Oliver | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    GOD discipline us in different ways depending on the type of person we are HEknows whats best for .I have expierenced GODS DISIPLINE my self for my benefit all praise to HIM.

  • Adam Julians | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    All praise to him indeed.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    What's all this about discipline today? What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!’ The God I know does not, will not, cannot give someone an illness to discipline them. God's discipline is nothing at all to do with confrontation and 'you could do better'. It's all about pointing us to our true identity of who we are in Christ. Mind you, plenty, plenty Christians could do with a bit of self discipline!

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    RUTH I scanned over yesterday's comments and mine made no sense at all. Glad I'm not the only one who adds bits or takes bit out without looking. Even now I'm typing in the dark as I can't be bothered to get up and put light on. Lack of self discipline!

  • Adam Julians | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Noone is suggsting God would give anyone an illness to discipline them. Gilvin again I am not going to let anyone say that what I know to be good that I do is evil. And it is painful to be misunderstood. Clearly what Moses did wss incur God's wrath. In the light of that it is entirely consistent with the passage to quote what Paul wrote to Timothy about enduring all hardship as disciple. That God does that for good and the outcome of enduring such is righteousness and peace. In that is comfort, encouragement and strengthening. Please consider what is written before taking it negatively and implying it to be ungodly. I'm getting a little tired at what amounts to rebukes for doing nothing wrong.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    ADAM I suggest you take your own advice and consider what is written before taking it negatively. If my comment was intended for you I would have written your name in the comment.

  • Peter Oliver | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Ruth in 1 Corinthians children 11 Paul speaks of Christians suffering illness because their Christian lives were poor some even died because they did not repent. Hebrews ch12 makes similar statements Hebrews says it's for our benefit so that we can be partakers of His Holiness sorry top line should read chapter 11 .

  • Adam Julians | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Gilvin, I think the implication was there. I am sorry but I don't believe what you wrote was not a response to what I have written about discipline. Do you wish to say that "what's all this talk about discipline today... God's discipline is nothing to do with confrontation" is not an implicitly a rebuke? Can you image the Lord's anger burning without confrontation being involved. When Jesus turned over tables and drove out money changers with whips, called people hypocrites, whitewashed tombs, etc it was done without confrontation? I can't. I stand by what I say about it being appropriate to talk of God's discipline and the reality being that all discipline is painful at the time. But again enduring it results in righteous and peace for those trained by it. I am sorry I can't imagine it always being a case of an easy pain free "pointing us to our true identity of who we are in Christ". Would that it were!

  • Ruth Chisholm | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Sorry all, but I'm sticking with tenderly teaching or nurturing, dictionary definition "care for and protect (someone or something) while they are growing" I'm walking this difficult path with the Good Shepherd, who has plans to prosper me not harm me, he's certainly teaching me loads about how much he loves me. GILVIN my excuse is tiny mobile phone screen, but it seemed to mean everyone agreed with me for a time, as no-one knew what I was saying!

  • Barbara Sabin | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Discipline is surely spiritual discipline, practising self control, meditating on the word of God and prayer. Reading the scriptures and prayer changes us. The definition of Discipline is training or teaching to obey rules. The rule of God's discipline is love. I remember disobeying my parents and my Father kept me in for two weeks. My Mother and Father said' it is because we love you that we are punishing you.' They never laid a finger on me in punishment but I had to learn the right way of behaviour of the rules of the home. As Christians we have to learn the rules of God and how to live with other Christians by studying The Word of God and praying. The Rabbi in Jesus time chose those who were the brightest in the class to be trainee Rabbis they had to shadow the Rabbi stick close to him. We will be disciplined if we shadow Jesus walk in his footsteps keep close to him then we will be disciples. Moses was immature he had lived with the Egyptians he knew they had many Gods, he was afraid, but we will see how he is disciplined and follow God's instructions.

  • Oakley Bookworm | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    JANE, how lovely that you are now able to share your faith with your sister. You are not alone in the point you raised, which you did kindly and carefully.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Just read your response referring to me a liar ADAM. A gracious response would have given me the benefit of the doubt. There were several comments on discipline and you shouldn't flatter yourself that I would pick on yours!

  • Adam Julians | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Givin - you have not held back before about expressing your opinion when it differs. I was just doing the same. I think the implication was there that you were making my comment that I know to be good (about God's discipline in this case) out to be evil or at least inappropriate. and I am tired of being spoken to like that. So we have a difference of opinion. It is your perception that I am making you out to be a liar. Your perception about you, not me. I am going to respectfully ask you to take ownership about that. In addition, your claim that "God's discipline is nothing to do with confrontation" does not match up to scripture. Consider Jesus when turning over the tables in the temple, and making whips to drive the money changers out with also when God burns with anger as mentioned in today's reading. Again please consider before making a comment. I will make this my last comment here and I hope in future for there not to be an exchange as we have had.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Can't argue with you Adam as you're always right in your own eyes.

  • WordLive Admin | Saturday, 11 February 2017

    Dear WordLive users, we feel that the recent discussion has continued longer than it should have done and is not following the WordLive guidelines (such as disagreeing respectfully with gentleness). We don't like restricting conversations but please can all involved leave the matter in God's hands and refrain from commenting further on this session's page. Thank you

  • Charlotte Woodbridge | Friday, 17 February 2017

    I know I am behind but... I have a son with Down Syndrome - I have never believed that this an intentional act of God - am I wrong?

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 17 February 2017

    Charlotte my husband said the only intentional act of God is to love your son unconditionally. I'm sure you do so know you are in the will of God

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