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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Exodus 4

Verse 1

SLOW TO OBEY

‘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 4:1

Our duty to our Lord in this world requires that we should do somewhat more than live a life of obedience to Him. Our obedience must be acknowledged obedience. We must never be loth to say ‘Whose we are, and Whom we serve.’ We may read this lesson writ large in the history of God’s sending Moses to deliver His people. Moses went through a trial on Mount Horeb, the exact opposite of the trial of Christ.

I. Moses was tempted to decline the contest with the world altogether, to shrink from action and from prominence, when God called him. Christ was tempted to take the world by storm, to overwhelm it with conviction.

II. Moses was full of sympathy for the poor, full of a desire to see God’s ancient promises realised; but when the time came, and God said, ‘Now go,’ then, for the first time, it flashed upon Moses that he was unfit to carry out what he had so aspired to be trusted with. His eighty years of life had been given him that in its vast experience he might learn that God was all, man was nothing. He had very nearly learned it in truth; the crust or chrysalis of self was very nearly ready to drop off; it needed just this interview with God to rid him of it entirely. He had seen the miraculous powers with which he had been endowed, but he had not fully understood them, and therefore his will was pausing still.

III. The voice of God within him and without him waxed more imperious. God sternly pointed out that such eloquence as he longed for was but a secondary qualification. ‘Thy brother, I know that he can speak well;’ the legislator need not be the orator. There is not one of us who ever complained to God of insufficient strength without finding his complaint answered either by ministration of grace or disappearance of difficulties.

IV. What interests trembled in the balance while Moses was debating! It is not for ourselves only that we shall be responsible if we debate till the time is gone.

—Archbishop Benson.

Illustration

(1) ‘God summons each one of us thus each new day if we could but hear.

“A door clanks loose; the gust beats by;

The chairs stand plain about;

Upon the curving mantel high

The carved heads stand out.

The maids go down to brew and bake,

And on the dark stair make

A clatter, sudden, shrill—

Lord, here am I,

Clear of the night, and ready for thy will.”

Is that our daily attitude of life?’

(2) ‘He who would right what is wrong must expect not only the hostility of open foes but the thanklessness of the men and women whose champion he is.

So Oliver Cromwell and John Milton found in England. They thought they saw a noble and puissant nation rousing herself, like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks—renewing her mighty youth at the fountain itself of heavenly radiance. But the one was tormented with fears of assassination, and the other lived, in darkness and neglect, to bewail the riot and godlessness of the Restoration.

Let me not be deterred from doing God’s work and man’s by the knowledge that probably I shall reap the ingratitude of the very souls I am eager to benefit. Let me confirm myself by the thought that I am treading the road heroes and confessors have trodden before me.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Exodus 4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/exodus-4.html. 1876.