Anyone but Me
We all know the moment when someone asks for a volunteer and everyone either shrinks back into their chair or get two feet taller with their hands waving around. In one instance the person with the hand waving, ecstatically jumping would love to be chosen, the other person lower in their chair is merely saying, you can pick anyone else if it is not me. In today’s passage, we see the lack in Moses that is only found in Christ.
Moses has given his list of questions and excuses to the Lord, in these passages. God appeared to him and called him to be his prophet and speak to God’s people and Pharaoh. He has questioned why God would send him, who is it that is sending him, and what happens when they will not listen. Today we see one more statement by Moses, and we finally see the reality of all of Moses’ questions and comments.
The fourth excuse Moses explains to the Lord is that he is not eloquent in speech. He is called by God to be his mouthpiece, but Moses says I am not good at speaking. Now some have said that Moses had some speech impediment such as a stutter, while others believe that Moses is referring to his lack of the Egyptian language. This might be more Moses’s point as he makes a similar comment in Exodus 6:12. We see similarities between the calling of Moses and Isiah, and some have suggested that Moses here is pointing not to some physical difficulty in speech but that he, as Isaiah puts it, has “unclean lips.” Jeremiah says that he is but a youth (Jer 1:4-10). However, to get hung up on the details of Moses’ comment is to miss the point. Moses is still focusing on who he is, he just saw the Lord change his staff to a serpent, and his hand to be covered in leprously and restored. He is standing before a bush that is burning but is never consumed. Moses has been told that God will show his great might and power and that Pharaoh will let God’s people go. And Moses is worried about his speech. He has already been told that Pharaoh will not listen to him. Moses will have about 15 interactions with Pharaoh with the largest speech in Exodus 9:13-35, with 135 words. Out of these speeches, Moses will only utter about 782 words to Pharaoh, with an average of 52 words. Now to put that in perspective, Moses says about 260 to the Lord in chapters 3-4 telling him why he shouldn’t go. Like our children who spend 30 minutes complaining about cleaning up when it would take them five minutes to do it. The focus will be on the great signs and wonders done by God. However, Moses is worried about himself.
The Lord responds and up to this point God has addressed Moses by telling him that He will be with Moses, he has told Moses his name, and last time by showing him the signs, but this time he asks Moses questions. This is often God’s way of showing grace to his people. To Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9) “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Gen 3:11). To Cain after he killed his brother, Abel, “Where is Abel your brother?” (Gen 4:9), “What have you done?” (Gen 4:10). To Hagar when she fled from Sarai, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” (Gen 16:8). To Jonah after he was swallowed by the great fish, “What do you mean, Jonah, by this furious anger about the plant?” (Jonah 4:9). To Job from the whirlwind, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2). It is God’s turn to ask questions of Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Ex 4:11–12). The Lord reminds Moses what he has forgotten. Moses is a mere man sent by the almighty God. Again, this is not the response that would be given in today’s world. When we are downcast or questioning if we are up for a task the world would point us back to ourselves. Moses don’t be so down on yourself; you have got this. Moses, you have a beautiful voice. Moses, you have it in you to speak eloquently. Moses, believe in yourself. God does not point back to Moses, God points Moses back to himself. Moses, I am the one who knitted those lips together in your mother’s womb. I am the one who saved you from the hand of Pharaoh. I am the one who providentially has been preparing you for this task, I am with you. I am the LORD, the one who keeps his promises, the one who fulfills them. I am the Almighty God who will display my might and power to Pharaoh.
The Lord gives another promise to Moses, these magnificent statements that God makes to his people, I will… God had promised in Exodus 3:12 that I will be with you. Now he comforts Moses, with the words that I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak (vs 12). Moses looks at his weakness and God specifically points out that he will be with him, in his weakness. Stephen says that Moses was powerful in speech (Acts 7:22).
We see the lack in Moses that is found in Christ, Moses has his failures, but Christ perfectly carries out this promise. “For I have not spoken on my authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 12:49–50). This was promised in the book of Deuteronomy, “I will raise for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him” (Deut 18:18). Jesus is the promised prophet who came to speak God’s words perfectly and the Father gave him utterance. Christ speaks God’s word to his people, some will listen others will not. But we will speak about this more later.
Finally, Moses is very clear, Send someone else. Isaiah stands with his hand raised when God asks the question, whom shall I send? Pick me, pick me. But Moses is reluctant and unwilling. All of Moses’ excuses might be valid questions, but each has been answered by the Lord. Finally, Moses says, please send someone else. He is unwilling to go. The Hebrew is more ambiguous, “O Lord, send now by the hand of whom you will send.” Moses could be saying send me, but the Lord’s response, which we will look at shortly, implies Moses is unwilling to go. God had commanded him to go (vs 12), and Moses is saying no. Maybe in a more respectful manner than screaming no. Sometimes our children will respond in an outwardly defiant manner, other times they will say, “No, thank you.” Now one is more pleasant and sometimes adorable, but both are still defiant. Adding please and thank you to a refusal to do something is still refusing to do something. Moses does not want to go.
This passage has been building to this moment. Moses is sent by God to deliver his people, but there is a lack, there is a void. Moses is unable and unwilling to do this. As we have pointed out in this passage that Moses is just like the Israelites who are in the wilderness. And we see that here. The anger of the Lord was kindled. Now we know that God is slow to anger (Ex 34:6). So shows the extent of Moses’ sin, something we see as small, is great in God’s sight. This happens throughout the wilderness wanderings of the people of God. They question, grumble or complain against God and his leaders. Well, this is what Moses has done, in the wilderness, questioned, grumbled, and complained against God. Moses is just like the people who he is called to lead. Moses is not only a type of Christ in that he is the foreshadowing of Christ as the prophet. Moses is a type of God’s people, unable and unwilling to listen to God. This is where the story gets even better. Because we see a lack in Moses but the provision from God. Moses, the prophet, with ineloquent speech, paired with Aaron, the Priest, who we will see lead the people astray in worshiping God falsely (Ex 32) and even questioning Moses’ leadership (Num 12). The sinful prophet needs the sacrificing priest. Moses is told that Aaron will be his mouthpiece, we will see that Aaron does not do much talking, as God’s promise is fulfilled that Moses will speak to Pharaoh. Moses needs Aaron to make sacrifices for his sins. Aaron needs Moses to tell him how to make the sacrifices. We will see this more in the latter part of the Book of Exodus.
However, unlike Moses who needs an Aaron, and visa versa. Christ fulfills the office of the Prophet, priest, and king perfectly. Unlike Moses who refuses to be sent. Christ willingly and faithfully carries out perfectly what he was sent by the Father to do. Moses can sometimes point us to Christ as a type and a shadow, but Moses can also point us to Christ as one who needs Christ. This is what we see in this passage. Christ willingly came, sent by the Father (Gal 4:4-5). Paul explains in Philippians that Christ “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:5-8). The author of Hebrews points out, “[Christ has] come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:9–10). He does away with the shadow, to fulfill the promise that the shadow points to. Christ is the better Priest, better than Aaron as the author of Hebrews points out in chapter 10. Christ is a better Moses, as he points out in Chapter 3, “Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (Heb 3:5–6).
We will see this throughout the book of Exodus but let’s see in one specific way. Moses cries out “Please send someone else.” But Christ when placed in a situation where he did not want to face and endure the pain of the cross, did not ask for another, for there is no one else. He said, “Not my will but yours be done.” Christ spoke what God the Father told him, and he died as he was sent to do. Christ went to the cross, not to free us from the oppression of Pharaoh, but to free us from the bondage of sin. Christ went to the grave as the payment for our sins, as the sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God, the anger kindled by our rebellion and sin. Christ rose victorious and was triumphant conquering our sin, Satan, and death.
Now we can stop and point at Moses and be the person who shrunk back in the chair and said send anyone else but me. But do we go like we are commanded, do we come up with excuses, who am I, who are you, what if they don’t listen, I don’t know what to say? Oh, please Lord, send someone else. We too need Christ, but we are also commanded to go, that Christ has promised us that he would be with us until the end of the age. Let us go to the byways and the highways, let us go to the places of work and learning, let us go to our friends and our family proclaiming the great story of redemption found only in Christ.
 John D. Currid, A Study Commentary on Exodus: Exodus 1–18, vol. 1 of EP Study Commentary (Darlington, England; Carlisle, PA: Evangelical Press, 2000), 107.