The Passover Story: Moses the unlikely leader

I think Moses is the most important character in the Bible. He not only leads his people out of slavery, but he somehow keeps them together and alive through forty years of wandering through the desert. And yet, while he’s introduced as a virtuous character, he’s also introduced as an unlikely, unwilling leader. Here’s his first response to being called:

Exodus III:11 “And Moses said unto God: ‘Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?'”

God keeps pushing him, but he doesn’t even believe he can convince the Israelites to take him seriously:

Exodus IV:1 “And Moses answered and said: ‘But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice; for they will say: The Lord hath not appeared unto Thee.'”

Exodus IV:10 “And Moses said unto the Lord: ‘Oh Lord, I am not a man of words, neither heretofore, nor since Thou hast spoken unto They servant; for I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue.'”

Which all seems fair enough given that Chapter II implies that he’s been shepherding in the boonies since he got married, which has been a long enough time that one Pharaoh’s died and his successor’s been crowned. God even accepts this, telling him he can have his brother Aaron do all the talking—a rare instance of God compromising. And yet, once the Moses-Aaron double act actually goes to rally their people, they have no trouble:

Exodus IV:29-31 “And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. And Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed…

That’s all it took! It was much harder work for Moses to accept his mission and get started than for him to actually achieve the first thing he didn’t believe he was capable of. Then once he’s got started, even though it takes the next 7 chapters for him to finally bludgeon Pharaoh into letting his people go, and even though he does complain about how hard the task is, we never again hear of him trying to wriggle out of the mission.

We can’t all be Moses, but Moses wasn’t really Moses until events caught up with him. His lack of any relevant talent—his complete unspecialness, really—strikes me as the main message. Everyone can do some good in the world, even if we ourselves don’t believe it, and the biggest obstacles are often self-imposed barriers to starting. What call are you hiding from because you don’t believe you’re good enough, or you don’t think it can be done?

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