Moses’ first deliverance excursion didn’t go particularly well. He and Aaron have gone to Pharaoh as the LORD had commanded them to go. They have asked of Pharaoh what the LORD commanded them to ask. If ever there was a duo in the will of God, it’s these guys. And yet, disaster. Not only does Pharaoh refuse them but he retaliates against their people. Not only does he not release the Israelites from forced labor, he makes the labor harder. By any scorecard, this first attempt at freeing his people was a failure. No wonder Moses turns to the LORD shaking his head and asks, “Why did You ever send me?” (Ex. 5:22).
It sets up an interesting conversation in Exodus 6. An instructive conversation, I think. A conversation about who’s the deliverer and who’s the vessel of deliverance. About who’s the rescuer and who’s the messenger. It strikes me this morning as a battle of the I am’s.
Repeatedly in this chapter, the God who has enlisted Moses reminds Moses, “I am the LORD.” Five times He identifies Himself as Jehovah, the existing One. The one true God. The One without beginning or end. The Creator. The Sovereign.
I am the LORD who appeared to Abraham and gave him a promise (6:2-3). I am the LORD who has purposed to redeem Israel “with an outstretched arm” (6:6). I am the LORD who has determined to take Israel as My people, and I will be their God (6:7). I am the LORD who will bring you into the land of promise (6:8).
On the day when the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, the LORD said to Moses, “I am the LORD; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.” But Moses said to the LORD, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me?”
(Exodus 6:28-30 ESV)
Jehovah’s promise. Jehovah’s plan. Jehovah’s power. And Moses responds with a “but.” Hey all-knowing God, there’s something You may have overlooked to factor into Operation Exodus. It all sounds like a good plan on paper, but did You know?
In case as Creator You didn’t notice, I was created with a speech impediment. Though You are the Word, I have a problem with words. I am not eloquent, never have been. In fact, don’t You remember that I’ve already let You know that “I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Ex. 4:10)? I don’t talk so good. Sure, I believe You are the LORD, BUT I also know that I am of uncircumcised lips.
Uncircumcised lips. Less than perfect speech. Far from free-flowing rhetoric. A stammer perhaps. A stutter that compromised the weightiness of the request. A pretty minor tweak of the tongue was all that was needed — a simple task for the One who had fearfully and wonderfully made Moses. And yet, God sends Moses to Pharaoh uncircumcised lips and all. As if to say, Yes Moses, you are of uncircumcised lips, BUT I am the LORD.
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for Me?”
(Jeremiah 32:27 ESV)
Nope! In a battle of the I ams, Jehovah wins. Every time. Hands down.
Whatever our “I am” might be, it pales in comparison to His unchanging I AM. In fact, He delights in His I AM trumping ours. His power manifest through our weakness. His sufficiency more than sufficient regardless of whatever thorn in the flesh we think might define us.
In a battle of the I am’s, the I AM always wins. And I am so glad He does.
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(2Corinthians 12:9 ESV)
In His grace. For His glory.