The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 22: Moses
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Moses saw before him difficulties that seemed insurmountable.
What proof could he give his people that God had indeed sent
him? "Behold," he said, "they will not believe me, nor hearken
unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared
unto thee." Evidence that appealed to his own senses was now
given. He was told to cast his rod upon the ground. As he did
so, "it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it." He
was commanded to seize it, and in his hand it became a rod. [p. 254] He was bidden to put his hand into his bosom. He obeyed, and
"when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow."
Being told to put it again into his bosom, he found on withdrawing
it that it had become like the other. By these signs the Lord
assured Moses that His own people, as well as Pharaoh, should be
convinced that One mightier than the king of Egypt was manifest
But the servant of God was still overwhelmed by the thought
of the strange and wonderful work before him. In his distress
and fear he now pleaded as an excuse a lack of ready speech:
"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." He had been so long away from the
Egyptians that he had not so clear knowledge and ready use of their
language as when he was among them.
The Lord said unto him, "Who hath made man's mouth?
or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind?
have not I the Lord?" To this was added another assurance of
divine aid: "Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and
teach thee what thou shalt say." But Moses still entreated that a
more competent person be selected. These excuses at first
proceeded from humility and diffidence; but after the Lord had
promised to remove all difficulties, and to give him final success,
then any further shrinking back and complaining of his unfitness
showed distrust of God. It implied a fear that God was unable to
qualify him for the great work to which He had called him, or
that He had made a mistake in the selection of the man.
Moses was now directed to Aaron, his elder brother, who,
having been in daily use of the language of the Egyptians, was
able to speak it perfectly. He was told that Aaron was coming to
meet him. The next words from the Lord were an unqualified
"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. And thou shalt
take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs." He
could make no further resistance, for all ground for excuse was
removed. [p. 255]
The divine command given to Moses found him self-distrustful,
slow of speech, and timid. He was overwhelmed with a sense
of his incapacity to be a mouthpiece for God to Israel. But
having once accepted the work, he entered upon it with his whole
heart, putting all his trust in the Lord. The greatness of his mission
called into exercise the best powers of his mind. God blessed
his ready obedience, and he became eloquent, hopeful, self-possessed,
and well fitted for the greatest work ever given to man.
This is an example of what God does to strengthen the character
of those who trust Him fully and give themselves unreservedly
to His commands.
A man will gain power and efficiency as he accepts the
responsibilities that God places upon him, and with his whole soul
seeks to qualify himself to bear them aright. However humble
his position or limited his ability, that man will attain true greatness
who, trusting to divine strength, seeks to perform his work
with fidelity. Had Moses relied upon his own strength and wisdom,
and eagerly accepted the great charge, he would have
evinced his entire unfitness for such a work. The fact that a man
feels his weakness is at least some evidence that he realizes the
magnitude of the work appointed him, and that he will make
God his counselor and his strength.
Moses returned to his father-in-law and expressed his desire
to visit his brethren in Egypt. Jethro's consent was given, with
his blessing, "Go in peace." With his wife and children, Moses
set forth on the journey. He had not dared to make known the
object of his mission, lest they should not be allowed to accompany
him. Before reaching Egypt, however, he himself thought
it best for their own safety to send them back to the home in
A secret dread of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, whose anger
had been kindled against him forty years before, had rendered
Moses still more reluctant to return to Egypt; but after he had
set out to obey the divine command, the Lord revealed to him
that his enemies were dead.
On the way from Midian, Moses received a startling and
terrible warning of the Lord's displeasure. An angel appeared to
him in a threatening manner, as if he would immediately destroy
him. No explanation was given; but Moses remembered that he
had disregarded one of God's requirements; yielding to the [p. 256] persuasion of his wife, he had neglected to perform the rite of
circumcision upon their youngest son. He had failed to comply with
the condition by which his child could be entitled to the blessings
of God's covenant with Israel; and such a neglect on the part of
their chosen leader could not but lessen the force of the divine
precepts upon the people. Zipporah, fearing that her husband
would be slain, performed the rite herself, and the angel then
permitted Moses to pursue his journey. In his mission to Pharaoh,
Moses was to be placed in a position of great peril; his life
could be preserved only through the protection of holy angels.
But while living in neglect of a known duty, he would not be secure;
for he could not be shielded by the angels of God.
In the time of trouble just before the coming of Christ, the
righteous will be preserved through the ministration of heavenly
angels; but there will be no security for the transgressor of God's
law. Angels cannot then protect those who are disregarding one
of the divine precepts.
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