Faith over Fear- Part II
In this three-part series, we are looking at three examples in Scripture of times when God called someone to do something and that person had a choice: faith or fear? Last time, we looked at Abram’s act of faith to go into the land God had promised him. This time we will look at another “giant of the faith” who was asked to go into a land.
“One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. ‘This is amazing,’ Moses said to himself. ‘Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.’” (Exodus 3:1-3)
Notice that Moses isn’t amazed that the bush is on fire, just that it isn’t burning up. It is fairly common for dry bushes to suddenly burst into flame in the hot desert. As with anything, the fire consumes the bush and it burns to ash. What made this amazing was that the bush wasn’t burning to ash—it simply stayed on fire. This event was enough to draw Moses close, to pull him in. God often uses ordinary things in extraordinary ways to draw us close to Him.
“When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’
‘Here I am!’ Moses replied.
‘Do not come any closer,’ the Lord warned. ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.” (Exodus 3:4-6)
As Moses moved closer to God, he heard His voice. People often complain over the fact that we don’t hear the audible voice of God like we assume people did in Biblical times, but this complaint ignores the fact that we have the Holy Spirit—God in us! We can hear God as a whisper in our heart and it will work the same way it worked for Moses—it will be much easier to hear God when we draw near to Him.
God told Moses that He had seen the oppression of His people and He told Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. Now Moses faced a choice: would he choose his faith over his fear?
“But Moses protested to God, ‘Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?’” (Exodus 3:11)
Fear it is. But this was only the beginning of Moses choosing his fear over his faith.
“But Moses protested again, ‘What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?” (Exodus 4:1)
“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, ‘O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.’” (Exodus 4:10)
“But Moses again pleaded, ‘Lord, please! Send anyone else.’” (Exodus 4:13)
Three more times Moses protested to God, first posing the “what if” question. How many times have you chosen that route of fear? The what if game is one that gets played in my head more than I would like to admit. It’s always driven by the fear of the unknown and it comes out of a lack of faith in God. Then Moses tried to make an excuse based on an issue he had with speaking. This is the “I’m not good at this” excuse, claiming you haven’t been equipped for the thing God is calling you to do. Have you ever tried that one? Arguing about the way you were made to the One who made you. “I can’t serve in the nursery at church. I’m not good with kids.” “I can’t go on a mission trip. I get sick when I travel.” Finally, Moses drops all excuses and just asks God plainly to send someone else. At some point in our lives, we’ve probably all been here—no more excuses, we just simply ask God to go away, to choose someone else.
“Then the Lord became angry with Moses. ‘All right,’ he said. ‘What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.’” (Exodus 4:14-17)
Through all of Moses’ protests, God gently reassured his worries and fears. God spelled out the different signs and wonders Moses would perform to convince Pharaoh. God even performed them for Moses right there to remove all doubt that He would do them. Yet Moses still chose his fear. On this last attempt, the Lord finally gets angry. But He doesn’t smite Moses or yell at him—God alleviated at least some of the worry and concern Moses had by telling him that he could bring his brother Aaron with him to speak on his behalf. After seeing how many times and in how many ways Moses allowed his fear to control him, we have to wonder: why was Moses so afraid to go to Egypt? Was it really because he couldn’t talk well? Was he truly concerned that no one would believe him? We have to know Moses’ history in Egypt to get at why the fear within him might have been so great.
“Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand. The next day, when Moses went out to visit his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. ‘Why are you beating up your friend?’ Moses said to the one who had started the fight. The man replied, ‘Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’ Then Moses was afraid, thinking, ‘Everyone knows what I did.’ And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened, and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian. (Exodus 2:11-15)
While Moses was living in Egypt, he had killed a man and tried to cover it up. But like all unconfessed sin, it gets found out. Moses thought he got away with it but soon realized that others knew about his huge mistake. So Moses ran away. Now this puts him in the right spot to hear God’s call, but the call of God is for Moses to return to the land where he had committed the murder. Moses was probably afraid to return to that situation. What if people still knew? What if they were just waiting for him to return so they could kill him? These are not small concerns but even with Moses protesting the Lord’s call four times, he still ultimately chose his faith over his fear by returning to Egypt and leading the Israelites to freedom.
In Moses’ example, just as in Abram’s, we see that even though these “giants of the faith” chose their faith over their fear, they did so imperfectly. There were still times when they doubted and when they acted out of fear or frustration. On Good Friday, we will study the time when Jesus was so overcome with fear and anxiety that He sweated blood and we will see the only perfect example of faith over fear.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.