The Dilemma Of Moses

God calls Moses. Moses is diffident. “Moses did not feel in his heart the courage to obey and for seven days he rejected the will of the Eternal One.”

The first day, Moses looked at himself. ‘Lord, who am I to save your Hebrew people? A shepherd, lost in the desert’. God answered him: ‘The weaker the one that I use, the more my strength is manifested’. Gosh, this is comforting!

The second day, Moses looked at the sheer size of the task and he paralyzed himself. ‘God, you are sending me to my own enemies, the ones who are seeking for my life.’ Moses, remember, was a fugitive from justice. God answered: ‘Fear of me guides the one I guide’. Fear of God is the guarantee of His being-there.

The third day, Moses brought in a fresh argument. ‘I, your servant, am hesitant to obey you, how will Pharaoh ever obey me? My tongue stammers and my lips are clumsy. Where will I find the words to speak to him?’ God answered in his inspired way. ‘Do you think Adam knew how to speak when he gave a name to all the animals of the earth? Who made him speak? …. I made the mouth that says words; you will speak, as if my word is on your mouth.’ Relax, Moses!

The fourth day, Moses looked at the past and wondered. ‘You swore to their fathers to save their children and now you want me to save them! To save Lot, who was only a man and Hagar, a simple woman, you sent an angel; to save Isaac, who was only a child, you sent an angel. And you want me, a poor man, more fearful than a woman or a child, to save a people! Save them yourself, Lord, or send your angel, or if a man comes to your mind, send the Messiah of your peace and justice!’

But God knows how to instill courage in his weak servant. ‘The Messiah will come at the end; you are his beginning. Certainly I could save them from Egypt on the four wheels of my heavenly chariot... But you are the one they are waiting for and I am waiting for. The outcome is in your hands; if you don’t do it, it won’t be done. I want you to do it, but I will not force you…’ The uniqueness of every person!

The fifth day, Moses tried the disparaging approach: ‘Lord, Lord, do they deserve salvation? Are they not full of sins?’ God did not buy into that: ‘Put your hand on your breast and draw it out again.’ Moses put his hand on it and drew it out: it was covered with leprosy. ‘Put it on your breast again and draw it out.’ Moses did it: his hand was whole. And God continued: ‘Just as I can take leprosy from your hand, so I can take sin from their souls as well’. No one is better than anyone!

The sixth day, Moses assailed again: ‘But how can I give them food for such a long journey? Where will I find food and drink for an entire people? They have provisions only for grieving and tears, and the path that leads to you passes through a desert.’ God answered: ‘Was there grain when the earth did not exist, was there water? He, who created earth and heaven from nothing, can produce water and bread from the desert.’

The seventh day, Moses tried frantically. ‘But if I follow you, Lord, will they follow me? Will they believe me, if I believe you? Give a sign that they may follow me; give me your name, that they may believe me.’ God answered: ‘My names are infinite, like my powers: when I give my strength my name is Sabaoth; when I give my patience, my name is Shaddai; when I give my justice, my name is Elohim; when I give my pardon my name is Adonai. But look at the four unutterable signs impressed on your sapphire staff: they give the name which contains all my names and powers, and which means: I am He who is. Go and say to the Hebrews: He who is, is with me.’

This is all we need to know. On your journey of faith, his presence will never diminish. With I AM accompanying us… we are certain of the final outcome.


Edmond Fleg describes this interior battle raging inside Moses in his book Moses According to the Wise.

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.