Maureen Wilson is a professional listener. A few years ago, she founded a ministry called Listen Well Scotland, which trains people to become good listeners at home, in counseling sessions, in the workplace, and in the church. She trains people to listen in a way that values the other person. Her organization also provides a listening service for every section of Scotland. After a career as a Christian minister and physiotherapist, she concluded that modern technology has transformed our world into a dysfunctional international system of talkers, declarers, posters, and bloggers but not listeners. She noted that as communication and information transfer have become more efficient, individuals, work environments and churches have become less healthy.
Wilson concluded that it is because we have forgotten how to listen. Adolescents in particular feel more estranged in the world because the artificial worlds of social media, texting, tweeting, RSS feeds, and earphones prevent real listening to another person. We have deluded ourselves into believing that communication can occur impersonally—that the deepest human feelings and needs can be transmitted virtually. Rachel Naomi Remen, Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Carolina said, “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned: “Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians because Christians are talking when they should be listening. He who no longer listens to his brother will soon no longer be listening to God either.”
As Moses talked less and listened more to the Lord, his life became a more powerful instrument of redemption. He finally heard God’s strategy, “The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (7:5). When Moses listened he “did just as the Lord commanded him” (7:6). That was the secret to his success. Quit listening to all the reasons your subconscience, your world, and the devil himself say you are disqualified from serving in his Kingdom. Listen rather to the Lord who delights to turn your greatest weaknesses and the most embarrassing details of your life into opportunities by which he can get a name for himself.
Superior to Pedigree (6:26-27)
This is such a critical juncture in Moses’ life it is worth backtracking a bit to remember some of the insights we have previously discovered. After the unexpected genealogy in vv. 14-25, the text reminds two times, “It was this same Aaron and Moses.” In other words, it is intended that we see a connection between the genealogy and the fact that the Aaron and Moses who share the above pedigree are the same Aaron and Moses whom God commissioned to confront Pharaoh and lead the people out of Egypt. Whenever a biographer provides someone’s family history, it is for one of two purposes: either he is explaining his subject’s greatness because of his impressive forebears or he is demonstrating his subject’s greatness in spite of his pedigree.
For Moses and Aaron, it is definitely the latter! Remember, Moses gives evidence of deep shame related to both his Egyptian and Hebrew heritage. Not only was Moses orphaned by his Hebrew family and adopted by Egypt’s royal family, his genealogy proves that he had a Canaanite relative (6:15). By the way, this would have been a particularly shameful fact for Shaul, the son of this Gentile woman, because one’s ethnicity was thought to come through the mother. Jews considered the Gentiles “fools” because they did not possess God’s revelation as they did. By Jesus’ day, the Jews referred to Canaanites as “dogs.” Having a Canaanite in Moses’ line was embarrassing enough, but surely the reader would remember that Moses also had a Canaanite wife and therefore a Canaanite child.
Now Moses’ heritage was more Jewish than Gentile, but the Jewish relatives he chooses to highlight are not necessarily Old Testament heroes. Korah and 250 his relatives attempted a coup against Moses (Numbers 16). They said, “Moses had gone too far” presumably by claiming to speak God’s very words to them. God vindicated Moses’ leadership by opening the earth and devouring these rebels. Moses was defended by God himself, but Korah’s name represented such a low point in Israel’s history, why would anyone claim to be related to him? Then the whole genealogy begins with Reuben, the oldest son of Jacob. Why list him first? Reuben’s incestuous relationship with his stepmother besmirched his reputation throughout Jewish history. Though he was the oldest son he cowed before his brothers and didn’t stand up for Joseph. And when his father needed assurance of Benjamin’s safe return from Egypt, he foolishly offered to murder his own sons if he didn’t. He was a coward and a fool. . .and the patriarch of Moses’ representative genealogy!
It is this same Moses that God persists to use to free his people from captivity. If we dig deep enough, all of us can find something in our family tree to be ashamed of, and most of us don’t have to dig deep at all. It’s a reality of sin in the world. However, God says, “I am superior to your pedigree.” Whatever past you’re ashamed of, I am greater. If God can use Moses, he can use you too.
Unhindered by Disability (6:30-7:4)
Not only did God choose a man with an embarrassing pedigree to prove his superiority, he raised up a leader with a physical disability. Until the seventh century, biblical scholars understood Moses’ “faltering lips” as a physical handicap. Three times Moses insists neither the Israelites nor the Egyptians will listen to him because of his “faltering lips” (4:10; 6:12, 30). The first time he uses this excuse he literally says he has a “heavy mouth” (the other two times he says his lips are “uncircumcised”). Archaeologists have discovered Akkadian medical texts with prescriptions for “heavy mouth.” This together with God’s answering Moses’ first excuse with references to other physical disabilities like deafness, blindness and muteness seems to prove that Moses had a speech impediment.
God chose a man with a speech impediment to be “God to Pharaoh.” That is the literal translation; Moses stood before Pharaoh as the authoritative spokesman for God. God incarnated his authority and sovereignty in Moses to humiliate Pharaoh who claimed divinity. Moses’ words were God’s words and Moses’ miracles, worked by God’s power, proved that his God alone was sovereign over darkness, flies, gnats, frogs, and water.
Commentator Peter Enns describes what God is doing this way:
In Egyptian royal ideology, the pharaoh was considered to be a divine being. So by calling Moses God, Yahweh is beating Pharaoh at his own game. It is not the king of Egypt who is god; rather, it is this shepherd and leader of slaves who is God. And this Moses-God defeats Pharaoh in a manner that leaves no doubt as to the true natures and source of his power: He controls the elements, bugs, livestock, fire from heaven, and the water of the sea; he even has authority over life and death. Moses is not simply like God to Pharaoh. He truly is God to Pharaoh in that God is acting through Moses.
Of course, Moses was not divine; his human frailty is manifest. However, God proved through Moses that he uses human instruments to accomplish his redemptive plan. Moses in particular prepared God’s people for the work of Jesus Christ, the perfect God-man who won our salvation. He was not God in a sense like Moses; he is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), the “exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3). Now this Christ indwells you and empowers you to be Christ to the world. God is unhindered by any disability, real or imagined.
Stronger than Age (7:5-6)
There is something else delightfully new in this passage; Moses states his and Aaron’s ages. Moses was eighty and Aaron eighty-three “when they spoke to Pharaoh.” This is how old they were when they faced the greatest test of their lives. This is how old they were when they were wrestling with God who was growing their faith. They were in their eighties when they learned in a fresh way to be immediately obedient rather than argumentative and resistant. Now you might say, “Well this sounds old to us but those guys lived longer in those days. Eighty was more like forty.” Not according to Moses! Apparently, he thought at one point in his life eighty years were as long as anyone could expect to live (Ps. 90:10). Just when Moses expected to be dead, God gave him the biggest job in his life as well as the most significant redemptive event in the Old Testament.
Caleb and Joshua were also inspirational warriors as octogenarians (Joshua 14:6-12). When the Israelites finally reached the Promised Land, Caleb approached his commander Joshua and asked for the hill country of Hebron as his inheritance. Maybe it was because he saw a doubtful look in Joshua’s eye when he declared his intention to take the hill from the Anakites that he made the following speech—one of the best in all of Scripture— “So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Is that not encouraging? In God’s army, age is an irrelevant consideration when it comes to your calling to extend the borders of the Kingdom. In fact, it could be argued from Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb that the last third of your life is the most important. In their lives, everything up to that point was preparation for the last, greatest and most effective leadership of their lives. D.L. Moody said famously, “Moses spent forty years in Pharaoh’s court thinking he was somebody, forty years in the desert learning that he was nobody, and forty years showing what God can do with a somebody who found out he was a nobody.” Perhaps we are most useful in the last third of our lives because it takes God that long to convince us we are nothing and he is everything. When you recognize God is everything and you are nothing, he can use you to accomplish unimaginable things. He gets a name for himself.
God is superior to our pedigree, no matter how embarrassing it might be; he is unhindered by disability; and he stronger than any of the limits of age. God will get a name for himself despite our limits, but he delights to use us to show his great glory!
This Sermon in Short is a summary of the message preached by Dr. George Robertson in the morning services on March 12, 2017. Click here to see the full service and the sermon in its entirety.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (London: SCM Press, 1954), 97-98.
 Stuart, D. K. (2006). Exodus (Vol. 2, p. 180). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
 Peter Enns, NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 181 as quoted in Ryken 195.