So, as we saw on Monday, it’s possible that Moses had a valid argument about not being eloquent. But Moses wasn’t trying to make an argument about Egyptian rhetoric. He simply didn’t want to go to back to Egypt. And he finally said to God, “Please send someone else.”
There it is. An honest prayer.
And a frustrating prayer for God. Because honest argument with God is still argument with God. And after a bush that isn’t consumed by fire, a shepherd’s staff that turns into a snake and back, a hand that becomes leperous and not, water that turns into blood, assurances that the creator of mouths and of ideas will speak through him, Moses is still unswayed.
It turns out God is willing to reason, but not to allow Moses to walk away after the conversation. Moses has been trained for eighty years to be comfortable in Pharaoh’s court and the wilderness, to herd sheep and handle the loneliness of leading. Moses doesn’t get to say, “I’m not competent enough.”
But let’s leave Moses finishing a conversation with God and awaiting the arrival of Aaron. Let’s go back to Stephen, defending himself in court.
Actually, he was teaching the religious leaders what their sacred texts really meant. When he talks about Moses being powerful in speech and action, he was talking about a Moses who was forty years older than the one at the burning bush, the one arguing with God.
Stephen knew how the story turned out. How Moses lead the people, provided wisdom, published several books. How Moses recruited leaders, trained his successor, directed the armies. How Moses talked with God, defended truth, ended well.
Many of us identify with 80-year-old Moses. We’re incompetent. But I’d love to be 120-year-old Moses. Strong in word and action.