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Devotion for February 05, 2008


Many people today have become uncomfortable with the mention of God’s anger. As those familiar with the message of forgiveness through the cross of Jesus Christ, we don’t know in what category to put the stories of God’s wrath. Was the God of the Old Testament more vengeful, more intolerant of human failings? Scripture tells us that He doesn’t change (cf. Num. 23:19), so that explanation is insufficient. We learn something about God’s holy anger in our passage today.

God responded with anger to Moses’ reluctance to be the man He had chosen to deliver His people. Moses doubted that the Hebrews would find him credible as their leader. The first time he had tried to assume any kind of leadership, they had rejected him. And now, what kind of legitimacy could he hope to have as a man who had been running from the law for forty years?

If that weren’t sufficient reason for not getting involved, Moses reminded God of his inability to speak eloquently. Some have reasoned that perhaps Moses had a speech impediment. It’s more likely that this was a feeble attempt to avoid God’s call. Stephen, for example, in Acts 7, speaks of Moses as a man “powerful in speech and action” (v. 22). The real reason surfaced in verse 13: when it came down to obeying God, Moses didn’t want to.

God was angry with Moses for his lack of faith. Every excuse Moses had named said less about his fear and more about his lack of faith. Throughout chapters 3 and 4, God continually reassured Moses that this was a job they would do together. Moses didn’t have to go it alone. God would be with him. God promised to equip him both with supernatural capabilities as well as endow him with natural abilities.

So Moses’ final plea for God to send someone else was ultimately disbelief in all that God had promised. Moses didn’t take God at His word. His sin foreshadowed the continual sin of the Israelites in the wilderness.

Apply the Word

Consider how Jesus responded to people who lacked faith. John 20:24–31 shows a sympathetic Jesus, offering His nail-pierced hands to Thomas as proof of His identity. As a contrasting example, Jesus reproved the Pharisees who demanded a sign (cf. Matt. 16:1–4). Here is the difference: God responds to the condition of our hearts. When we cry out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” God hears and responds with compassion. When we reject the promises He’s already given, He will not tolerate our hard hearts.

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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