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Moses' Excuses and God's Assurances

Updated on July 7, 2018
Moses at the Burning Bush
Moses at the Burning Bush | Source

Moses Meets God At Burning Bush

This is a familiar passage. You have probably heard it many times before in Sunday School, in Bible Study and in sermons. This familiar passage is about the call and commission of Moses when he was working as a shepherd and he talked to God through a burning bush.

In Exodus 3, we are witnesses to what Moses experienced when God called him to go back to Egypt to set his people free who were slaves under Pharaoh. Moses was reluctant to accept God’s calling and his commission. In fact, Moses gave God a whole list of excuses.

Moses was now 80 years old, and he didn’t want to go back to a place that he fled from 40 years ago after killing an Egyptian. So, Moses gave God excuses why he couldn’t go back. Every time Moses gave God an excuse God gave him an assurance. It was not unusual for people in the Bible to give God excuses, but Moses stands out as the one who gave God the most excuses.

Moses took off his shoes as God commanded.
Moses took off his shoes as God commanded.

Moses' First Excuse and God's First Assurance

In Exodus 3:11, Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Moses saw himself as a nobody. He said he was just a shepherd, a low-class worker. How many times have you said, “I am just a secretary, a waiter, a carpenter, or whatever you do for a living.”

Moses had been working for 40 years and he had nothing to show for it. No gold watch. No silver plaque. No 40-year pin. No trophy. So Moses thought of himself as worthless. Moses saw himself as just a shepherd, but God saw him as a capable leader.

It is no wonder Moses asked God, “Who am I to go to the ruler of Egypt to make such a request.” Moses’ first excuse was that he was not worthy enough to take the assignment. God gave Moses assurance that “I will be with you.” Moses had used the excuse of being unworthy, and God has assured Moses of His divine presence.

Moses' Second Excuse and God's Second Assurance

In Exodus 3:13. Moses wanted to know who should he say sent him. Moses wanted a reference letter or a letter of commendation. He wanted to know whose name should he drop. God tells him to tell the people "I Am Who I Am" sent you. With the first excuse, God gave Moses his divine presence. With the second excuse, God assured Moses of His divine name.

Moses' Third Excuse and God's Third Assurance

Moses hasn’t run out of excuses yet, so he gave God another excuse. In Exodus 4:1 when Moses said he didn’t think anybody would believe him, it was at this point that God gives Moses three signs foreshadowing what would happen in Egypt. However, Moses has two more excuses.

Moses' Fourth Excuse and God's Fourth Assurance

With these signs, one would think Moses had run out of excuses, but he hadn’t.
Excuse #4 is found in Exodus 4:10. Moses told God he couldn't go because he did not speak eloquently, and he was slow of speech. In other words, Moses stuttered. God assured Moses that he would send his brother Aaron along as Moses’ spokesperson.

Moses' Fifth Excuse and God's Fifth Assurance

The final excuse found in Exodus 4:13 is different from all the others. After God had assured Moses with the previous four excuses, Moses summarized the conversation by telling God what He should do. Moses said, “O, My Lord, please send someone else.”

Up to this point, God had been patient with Moses. But this objection kindled anger in God. He had assured Moses of His divine presence, His divine name, showed him signs, assured him of a spokesperson, and Moses still did not agree to return to Egypt.

Moses was pleading with God to send someone else in his place. Moses was asking Moses to send someone else to do what God had prepared Moses all his life to do. In case you don’t know the rest of the story, Moses ran out of excuses when God said He would teach him what to do along the way.

Moses' Excuse
God's Assurance
Exodus 3:11
"Who am I to go to the ruler of Egypt?"
Divine Presence - "I will be with you."
Exodus 3:13
"Who should I say sent me?"
Divine Name - "Tell them I Am sent you."
Exodus 4:1
"Suppose my own people don't believe me."
God gives Moses three signs foreshadowing what was to come.
Exodus 4:10
"I am not an eloquent speaker. I am slow of speech."
God promised to send Aaron as Moses' spokesperson.
Exodus 4:13
"O, My Lord, please send someone else."
God assured Moses He would teach him along the way.

Moses tried to get out of doing what God had created him to do. Let's not make excuses like Moses when God calls us from our very own burning bush to complete an assignment!

Moses Did Go To Egypt

Moses did go to Egypt to deliver the Israelites out of slavery. The task wasn’t easy, but God never said it would be. However, God kept His promise to be with Moses every step of the way. God kept His covenant with Moses that a whole nation would return to the mountain and worship Him. While Moses was giving excuses, God was giving Moses assurances.

Jesus Made No Excuses

Unlike Moses, God’s only Son did not make excuses. He was not reluctant to go to the cross. Jesus did not object. Jesus did not rationalize. Jesus did not tell God to send someone else. Jesus went to the cross willingly.

  • He died on the cross without making any excuses.
  • He was buried without making any excuses.
  • He rose again on the third day without making excuses.

It was God’s plan of salvation. Like Jesus, we should make no excuse when God asks us to do something. Like Moses, He has given us His divine presence. Therefore, He will never leave us nor forsake us. We have His divine name to call on anytime night or day. We don’t need to ask God to send someone else when He calls us for an assignment. So instead of giving God excuses, let’s depend on His assurances. After all, we will run out of excuses, but God will NEVER run out of assurances.

Like Jesus, we should make no excuse when God commands us to do something!

No Excuses
No Excuses

Did you know about the five excuses and five assurances before reading this article?

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Life Applications

Several life applications can be gleaned from Moses' excuses and God's assurances.

  • When God calls and commissions us, we can expect His divine presence. He will never leave us nor forsake us.
  • We can use God's divine name as our letter of reference.
  • God performs miracles when he sends us on an assignment.
  • We see ourselves as worthless, but God sees the potential in us.
  • To tell God to send someone else is to insinuate that God made a mistake by giving us the assignment.
  • God has prepared us all our life for the biggest assignment of our life.
  • God often has other people in place to help us like Aaron was sent to help his brother.
  • Finally, God will teach us along the way as we fulfill the assignment He has given us.


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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      2 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Mugu, for the blessing!

    • profile image

      Mugu Philip 

      2 years ago

      This is very inspiring, may God bless and inspire you more and more.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      4 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I preached this a couple of Sundays ago and the congregation was very attentive as I explained each excuse and assurance.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Beautiful and touching presentation! The message is clear. God gives us assignments that He has prepared us to do. We should just trust Him to help us be effective. Thanks.


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