Open Exodus 4:13-20.
Delivering ultimatums to a powerful kingdom is high-risk business. Moses has no desire to serve as spokesman of the heavenly sovereign.
Moses sought exemption because he had no power in his hand. Now he claims he has no power in his voice.
Moses doesn’t have a speech impediment; his complaint is that he isn’t persuasive. He doesn’t have a commanding voice. He doesn’t think quickly on his feet. He kinda proves his point: he isn’t even convincing enough to argue his way out of this appointment. 🙂
The problem is that Moses envisages himself doing all this alone. Here in the wilderness, accompanied only by animals, Moses cannot see himself persuading Israel’s elders, let alone Pharaoh.
Take a look next time you see a political leader speaking on the news. They always have at least one other person standing with them. The political parties don’t want to give the impression that their leader is acting in isolation. God promises that Moses will have someone standing alongside him — his brother Aaron (4:14). Aaron will be Moses’ spokesman, just as Moses is God’s spokesman (4:15).
These verses provide a definitive understanding of the nature of prophecy. Here on Mount Sinai, Moses hears God’s voice, and he must deliver his sovereign’s message to the elders of Israel and to Pharaoh. That is what prophecy is: hearing (or seeing) what our sovereign reveals, and declaring it, i.e. announcing what the heavenly sovereign has decreed. The revelation at times contains information about future events, but prophecy is not prediction. It is declaring revelation. The prophet is a spokesman of the sovereign, one who delivers God’s message.
Notice how this works. God calls Moses to be his prophet, his mouthpiece. Moses tries to wriggle out by claiming he’s not a very good spokesman, so God gives Moses a prophet of his own: Aaron will be Moses’ mouthpiece. Just as Moses is God’s prophet (spokesman), so Aaron is Moses’ prophet (spokesman):
15 You [Moses] shall speak to him [Aaron] and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.
And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.
Prophets, then, are spokesmen delivering a message from the heavenly sovereign to his kingdom.
Moses has no more argument. He accepts his prophetic role, as God’s spokesman. He gains release from working for his father-in-law (4:18). His new Master instructs him to return to Egypt, assuring him that those who wanted him dead are dead. He obeys. In his hand is God’s staff, symbol of the authority he represents (4:20).
Finally, Moses agrees to go and speak for God (4:18-20).