In Exodus 4:11-17, Moses is arguing with God. Up to this point, there is no mention of God being angered. Thought Moses does say a few things that we assume displeased the LORD, ultimately Scripture does not attest to that. It is here, and here alone, that mentions Moses causing the Lord’s anger to be kindled. And what, exactly, is it that caused for God to be upset? Can we simply say that because Moses didn’t believe God could do this thing through him that God was angered, or is there another reason?
The import of this question is obvious. If Moses made God angry, what exactly was it that angered God, and how might we avoid such? I believe that what Moses kindled is the same anger that we will find later when God declares that the generation that comes out of Egypt shall not inherit the land, but shall die in the wilderness. The same thing that Moses is guilty of here is what Israel shall at a later time be guilty of. It is this selfsame sin that many today are guilty of.
What precisely am I speaking of?
There is a certain kind of unbelief that really irks God. It is the kind that can witness God manifesting Himself most impressively, and yet still refuse to be united with him. Moses’ disregard is not in that he simply doesn’t want to go to Pharaoh, nor that he fears what might happen to him back in Egypt. These things might be true, but that isn’t the driving reason why Moses is objecting. I know this because I’ve been the Moses who has objected to God’s call.
There is an inconvenience, a place of freedom that makes larger demand than our bondage, unto which God calls us. In Egypt you might have severe oppression, but at least you have figs, pomegranates, lush fields for your sheep, different meals every day, wine, and all of the things that represent our modern conveniences and luxuries. All the while we’re in bondage to such things, and even in bondage via other mediums.
But we don’t know our bondage. Who would know that they have an addiction to orange juice unless they come to the place where they can’t afford orange juice anymore? Who would know that they don’t simply like meat, but are actually in bondage to the need of having meat unless they come to the place that they can’t afford it? Who would know that they can’t tolerate spending day after day with their spouse, not knowing how to communicate with them anymore, when they both go off their separate ways for 8 or more hours of the day every morning?
It is not that Moses is objecting directly to going before Pharaoh, but that God is calling Moses to something beyond what he is capable. These reasons that Moses give are not the real issue, for if they were, God wouldn’t have gotten angry. I know God well enough to know that much. What really angers God is when we use silly excuses to cover over the real reason we don’t want to do what He has called us to. God has called us to community. Moses wasn’t supposed to speak to Pharaoh alone. We just read that God was telling him to go with the elders of Israel. God has called us out of Egypt, out from our sin and death, to come unto a mountain (in our case it is Zion, and not Sinai), where we might meet with God face-to-face.
Zion is heavenly. It is the throne of God. It is where brethren dwell together in unity. It is the beauty of holiness. It is the union of Deity and flesh. It is the place where we see God’s face and yet live. It is where we hear God speak directly to us. It is where angels cry in joyful chorus. It is where angels cover their faces. It is where the twenty-four elders lay down their crowns. It is where the congregation of the Firstborn, the eternal Church of Jesus Christ that stems from righteous Abel unto all generations future, gather in ecstatic worship and adoration. Zion is what the heart longs for, but doesn’t know how to express.
It is unto Zion that we have been called, and that is our problem. We don’t want Zion. Just as the Israelites told Moses to go speak with God, but they would rather not hear Him for themselves, we too have forfeited glory for shame. We have rejected eternality for temporality. We have scoffed the eternal covenant for the sake of law. We have cast off freedom for the comfort of bondage. We gnash our teeth at Zion, because Zion requires that we LIVE by faith. Instead, we desire Sinai, where we can say that Zion is too scary, too much to handle, but with these rules and regulations, and the traditions of our denomination, we might attain unto life everlasting.
Because Moses is now standing before God, speaking with Him as you would speak to a human being, and is coming up with lame excuse after lame excuse, God gets angry. Is He “the Lord”, or is He “your Lord”? Are you willing to heed the call, or like Moses are you going to banter? Ultimately, God doesn’t allow Moses to walk away. It almost seems like God bargains with Moses. I do believe something similar has taken place in our own day and age. We have rejected what God has called us to, that glory we read of in the book of Acts, and so God has allowed us the grace to continue according to our willingness. I do ask, though, where the saints of God are that they might reveal that what we’re doing is not the original intention of God, and therefore we need to reevaluate what precisely we’re doing.
Are you willing to live your life in convenience, a nice Christian culture, which has moral warrant, but lacks the authentic and apostolic reality? Are you willing to dwell in cliche and truism, while declaring that you believe there is truth beyond such cliches and truisms? Are you willing to embrace a social norm, a status quo, established by who knows who from centuries past, based entirely off of a Catholic and pagan tradition?
Are you waiting for the “or”?
There is none.
Either you are willing to embrace such things, or you’re not. If not, then why do you continue to embrace them? It isn’t like you have no alternative. The alternative is to seek through the Scriptures prayerfully to understand what God’s intention truly is. For Antioch it was that these men, who’s names suggest different backgrounds and races, would be able to gather together, and not simply next to each other, to worship the Lord in unity. For Jerusalem it was that the apostles would teach daily at Solomon’s Porch, and that the Church might go from house to house daily breaking bread. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians suggest that they were established with prophets, who Paul said were to be able to speak to the entire Body, but their words must be weighed by the other prophets, and not simply by the pastor, teacher, or layman.
My point is that every specific city seems to have its own nuance. Yet, the bare bones are the same. It is still coming unto Zion instead of Sinai. It is still perceiving the eternal covenant, eternal because it stems from before Sinai, and living according to that instead of law. It is still embracing the reality of God, that the just shall live by faith, and to every day, in every moment, live and move and have your being in God. This is what Exodus 4:11-17 speaks to us. Are we going to embrace what God has called us unto, or are we going to hesitate and argue? Ultimately, there will come a day and age when we will dwell in Zion. If you have built your life around Sinai, and utilized God’s grace as a means to live cheaply, then you will find yourself out of place, or outside of Zion altogether. As always, the choice is yours.