“Now, therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say” (Exodus 4:12).
I love the sass we hear coming from Moses.
Is that too strong a word? It probably is, since my dictionary defines sass as “disrespectful speech.”
Gentle backtalk. Assertiveness, maybe.
Toward the end of his exchange with the Lord who spoke to him from the burning bush, as God called him to confront Pharaoh and deliver Israel from Egypt, and after Moses has run up excuse after excuse, only to be shot down by the Lord, Moses adds one more. (I love that sentence! smiley-face here)
“O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant, but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
Something about that resonates with me.
“Lord,” Moses was saying, “Even though it’s mighty special being talked to by the living God and all that, meeting You like this has not suddenly made me a gifted, eloquent speaker. I’m still the tongue-tied stammerer I was an hour ago. I’m still me.”
That’s Joe’s paraphrase.
“And the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now, therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
What, I wonder, does it mean for the Lord to “be with my mouth”?
These are some thoughts that come to mind. You’ll think of others….
1) When the Lord is with your mouth, you will sometimes be amazed at what comes out.
Where did this wisdom come from, you wonder. And you remember Matthew 10:20 says: “It is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.”
Every teacher and every preacher wants the Lord to be with his/her mouth before they open it to declare God’s truth.
2) When the Lord is with your mouth, you will sometimes stand in awe of what you did not say (and would have otherwise). Self-control. What James called “putting a bit into the horse’s mouth” in order to control it (James 3:3).
We are all so capable of misspeaking ourselves, as the politicians put it. That’s why we pray Psalm 141:3. “Set a guard upon my mouth, O Lord…”
3) When the Lord is with your mouth, your words bless people. Your words are helpful, healing, wholesome.
“Your words have steadied the one who was stumbling, and braced the knees that were buckling” (Job 4:4).
4) When the Lord is with your mouth, you are not left to your own devices, not limited to your own understanding, not caged by your own inadequate wisdom.
“Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).
5) When the Lord is with your mouth, you will get credit for things you never said and acclaim for messages you do not recall speaking.
“O pastor, I’ll never forget the time you preached on (whatever). That sermon helped me more than any I’ve ever heard.”
You have no memory of preaching any such sermon. Is she mistaking you for Charles Stanley? David Jeremiah? Or did the Lord simply empower your words that day, both as they left your mouth and as they arrived in her heart?
6) When the Lord is with your mouth, you will never again be satisfied with speaking on your own.
You can tell the difference when He is no longer nearby and empowering your words. Unlike Samson who “knew not that the Lord had departed from him” (Judges 16:20), you will know. And you will long for that closeness you once enjoyed.
7) When the Lord is with your mouth, Jesus Christ makes Himself known.
“(The Holy Spirit) will glorify Me,” said Jesus in John 16:14. “He will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26).
Like Moses, unless the Lord be with my mouth, I am a stammerer and given to stage fright.
Unless the Lord be with my mouth, I will speak only of myself and help no one; my inclination is to be completely self-centered.
Unless the Lord be with my mouth, I will leave in darkness everyone I find there.
At first, Moses remained unconvinced and asked if his brother Aaron could go along as his mouthpiece. God agrees to this (Exodus 4:14-17) and the story goes forward. Interestingly, once Moses begins to obey, we hardly see Aaron again.
God knew His man. He knew whom He was calling.
The presence of the Lord made all the difference.
Later, Moses was to tell the Lord, “If your presence does not go, don’t make us go up from here. How will it be known that I and your people have found favor in Your sight unless You go with us? I and your people will be distinguished by this from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16).
Jesus said, “I am with you all the way. Even to the ends of the earth” (Matthew 28:20).
That is our only hope.