Their Problems And Ours

EasyEnglish Bible Studies that show that God is sufficient whatever the problem

Study 2

Moses: The Problem Of Feeling *Inadequate

by Raymond Brown, M.A., M.Th., Ph.D.

translated into EasyEnglish by Mary Read

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About these studies

 (Feeling inadequate means to feel the lack of necessary qualities.)

Bible Passages about Moses:

The Books of Moses: Genesis - Deuteronomy

John 3:14-16 and Numbers 21:4-9;

Matthew 17:1-3; Mark 9:2-4; Luke 9:28-31;

Acts 7:17-44;

Hebrews 3:1-4:13; 11:23-28;

Jude 9


Perhaps you have sometimes felt unable to deal with life. Maybe you can remember the awful feeling that you had then. There was total weakness. You just did not have those essential qualities for life. You had a true inner peace before. Now it is not there.

Moses knew that feeling. We will study some passages. They are familiar ones. They come at the beginning of Exodus. They tell how God calls Moses. He gives him a job to do. Moses feels unable to do it. He feels ‘inadequate’ for the task. (He feels the lack of the necessary qualities for the task.)

These are great chapters. They can encourage us. They can help us to be brave and confident. We can be like this whatever happens. God expects this from his people.

Feeling inadequate can come from:

1 Feeling guilty about our past failures

(Read Exodus 2:11-15.)

There is pain and despair about the future. This is because we feel upset about the past.

This could have been true of Moses. God made him the leader. This was a big responsibility. Moses was unable to accept it. Maybe this was because he did not trust himself. He remembered a terrible event. He had killed an Egyptian man. Then he had buried him in the sand.

Our past failures sometimes hold us back. They make us feel that we have no power. But it does not need to be like this. They need not stop us from doing great things for God.

However, there is a danger. The Bible warns us about it. It is in our story. (Read Exodus 2:11-15.) This story shows us how something good can become evil. Then Satan (the devil) can use it. Moses’ strong sympathy and pity for his people led to murder. Two things can be closer to each other than we think. They are our best and our worst qualities.

Remember Elijah. He was full of courage at Mount Carmel. (Read 1 Kings 18:17-40.) Then he became a complete coward. This was when he heard Jezebel’s evil promise to kill him. (Read 1 Kings 19:1-4.)

Moses had sympathy and pity for his people. This was right. But murder was very wrong. This was an awful event. It was probably a great worry to Moses. He may have had a certain fear. Leadership is hard. Perhaps he would not be able to control his temper. We cannot be sure of this idea. But read Numbers 20:7-12. The event there may suggest something. Perhaps he was impatient sometimes. Maybe he became annoyed at times.

We must realise something important here. Our failures in the past may have been serious. But God is kind and loving. He is eager to *pardon us. He will give us all that we need for our present situation.

Then, feeling inadequate can come from:

2 Refusing really to accept God’s word

(Read Exodus 3:6-12.)

God’s instructions were definite. Moses should not hesitate. The bush was burning. But the fire did not destroy it. Moses stood near it. He heard God’s voice clearly. Look again at God’s message:

2.1 God emphasises his total knowledge (3:7a)

‘I have seen...’. Remember this fact when you have problems. God sees your troubles. He knows everything about them. You do not know everything. We saw this in our study of Job’s problem. God reminds Moses that his knowledge has no limits. God knew all that had happened to the *Hebrew slaves. ‘I have seen...’. He sees your problem too.

2.2 God declares his great sympathy and pity (3:7b)

‘I know about their pain’. God not only saw their problem. He also felt sympathy for them in it. God makes this very clear to Moses.

We, too, must remember this when we have difficulties. We may feel inadequate. But the *Lord God knows all the details of our problem. He sees our need. He cares very much about us.

2.3 God promises his provisions (3:8)

‘I am come down to save...’. God knows about his people’s trouble. He feels sympathy for them in it. But there is more than this. God is able and eager to do something about it. God is saying to Moses: ‘You may feel inadequate, but I am not. I am able to help you in this situation and in every situation.’

2.4 God announces his purpose (3:10)

‘I will send you...’. The people of Israel were slaves. Their circumstances were awful. But God knew that he could change things. God was going to use a man to lead his people into freedom. That man was Moses. This meant much responsibility. But it was part of God’s great purpose for Moses’ life.

God’s word was direct and personal. ‘I have seen...I know...I am come down to save...I will send you...’. But Moses had doubts. He tried to delay things. It can be the same with us. We refuse to listen to what God has said in his Word. We do not need a new understanding. We need a new trust in what he has already said to us.

Feeling inadequate can also be because of:

3 A failure to accept the *sovereignty of God

(Read Exodus 3:13-22.) The *Lord God declares his name to Moses. This was important to the *Hebrew people. Names were special in their world too. One example is in religions. The name showed the nature of a god.

Read Genesis 32:29 again. ‘Please tell me your name’, asks Jacob. Someone struggled with him all night. Jacob knew that the man was someone special. Jacob wants to know more about this person. He wants to know his nature. He seems to be more than an ordinary man.

With Moses, God declares his name. Actually, he is declaring his nature. God needs to remind us, too, of his nature. He is the ‘I AM’. Let us think about what this name means. In this passage, there are 3 basic parts of his nature. They are also his good qualities. ‘I AM’ is:

3.1 The ever-present God (3:14)

‘I am who I am.’ The tense here has 3 equal meanings. They are: ‘I was’, ‘I am being’, ‘I will be’.

John wrote the book of Revelation. It is the last book in the Bible. He was a lonely prisoner, far away from home. He was on the island of Patmos. John needed to hear the same message as Moses. God promised to give John help and peace. The special message came to John. It was from ‘the One who is, who always was, and who is coming’. (Read Revelation 1:4.) He is ever-present. He is always with his people.

3.2 The never-disappointing God (3:15)

This records the great evidence from the past. God describes himself to Moses. He is ‘the *Lord God of your fathers...This is, and always will be, my name.’ In past centuries, God’s people had hard times. God reminds Moses that he did not fail them then. Now he promises that he will not disappoint Moses.

3.3 The all-powerful God (3:16-17)

‘I will take you away from the troubles.’ This is the God of all power who is speaking to Moses. Nothing is too hard for him. He intended to do this great work. He would bring his people into a new land. Nothing could stop him doing this. Nobody, not even Pharaoh (the king of Egypt), could spoil God’s purposes.

There was danger for Moses. He was forgetting three important things about God. First, God himself was with Moses. Then, he could always trust God. Third, God was all-powerful.

I may be feeling inadequate. There could be a definite cause for it. I may be refusing the *sovereignty of God in my life.

There is another truth about feeling inadequate.

4 It always pleases God to use people who feel inadequate

The *Hebrew people were slaves in Egypt. There would have been many brave men among them. But they were not suitable for God’s purposes. God wanted Moses. Yes, Moses felt weak. He felt inadequate. But God knew that Moses was the right man to do the job.

Notice similar reactions in other people. God called Gideon (Judges 6:12-16). He called Jeremiah too. (Read Jeremiah 1:6-8.) Do not forget Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3:5; 4:7.

Notice Moses’ 5 excuses:

4.1 ‘I am not important enough.’ (3:11)

Every Christian should be humble. But it is bad to have no sense of our worth. That is not being humble.

4.2 ‘What shall I say?’ (3:13)

‘I would do this task *Lord. But I lack the necessary qualities...’

4.3 ‘They will not listen to me’ (4:1)

Moses is full of doubts. ‘Suppose that I was able to do this work for you, *Lord. I am sure that it would not be successful.’ It is the same for us too. Doubts will stop us being successful in our service for God.

4.4 ‘I am not a good speaker’ (4:10)

Moses continues with one excuse after another. ‘You can find someone better than me, *Lord.’

4.5 ‘Please send someone else’ (4:13)

‘I know that someone must do the work. But find somebody else for this leadership.’

God gave Moses such a great promise (4:11-12). But Moses still has all these excuses. Perhaps you try to avoid God’s work in the same ways.

Perhaps you feel inadequate. If you do, then remember the facts of Christian history:

5 God has helped his people in the past

Remember what God said as the bush burned with fire. (Read Exodus 3:6.) God encourages Moses in his first statement. He calls himself the God of 4 people. The first is Moses’ father. Then there are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Let us think about the kind of God who came to help them.

5.1 The God of Moses’ parents

(Read Hebrews 11:23.) He is the God who gives courage. Moses’ parents were brave. They are heroes.

5.2 The God of Abraham

(Read Genesis 15:5-6.) God supported Abraham. He is the God who rewards *faith. Abraham started his journey with *faith. He needed God. Moses had a journey too. He needed God in the same way.

5.3The God of Isaac

(Read Genesis 26:24. Compare Genesis 26:28.) It was natural for Isaac to be afraid. But he chooses to have *faith in God. He trusts the God who promises to be his companion. God makes the same promise to Moses later. (Read Exodus 33:14.)

5.4 The God of Jacob

(Read Genesis 28:13, 15.) Jacob had to learn to trust God. He is the God who provides help. ‘I will not leave you until I have done what I promised.’

All this should have encouraged Moses. These four men were very different people. God declared himself to Moses as the God of these four men. He did this right at the beginning. He wanted Moses to understand something. He is saying, ‘I am the God who can help. I can help all kinds of people. I can help them in all sorts of difficulties.’

There is a solution to feeling inadequate.

6 We overcome it by actions of *faith

We defeat our feeling of weakness when we act. This is why God often makes his servants do something. ‘Now therefore go...’ (Exodus 4:12). But this is the hardest thing to do. We all want to feel capable before we act. However, this does not often happen. That sort of confidence could easily become trust in oneself.

‘Go’ said God to Moses. He expects us to act too. We must take a risk and act. Then God will come with the power that we need. The Holy Spirit often acts in human lives at the time of their action. This is when all can see the Holy Spirit’s activity.

One final thing: God can use another way. This will help us not to feel inadequate. He can do it by:

7. Bringing other people to support us

(Read Exodus 4:14-16, 27-31.)

How kind God is. He sends Aaron to meet Moses (4:27). The *Lord always deals with us in love. He knew that Moses could not do this work alone. So, God promised a companion and helper for him.

God knows what we can do. And he knows what we cannot do. He does not deal with us in a hard way. He is patient with us. He is gentle too. We should always be glad of this. David knew about it. He said: ‘Your gentle help has made me great.’ (Read 2 Samuel 22:36.)

It was like that for Elijah. He needed to have a helper. He needed someone who would encourage him. So, God gave him Elisha, who was young. He was able to help the older man, who was the leader. (Read 1 Kings 19:16.) Then Elisha was able to serve Elijah too. He did this in practical ways. (Read 2 Kings 3:11.)

God is loving and kind. He cares about us very much. He provides us with helpers and partners. He gives us loyal companions. We know that God will help us. He has promised us human friendship too. So, nobody needs to feel inadequate.

For Discussion

1.    Moses had superior qualities (Acts 7:22). He had many special abilities. So why was he afraid to do what God wanted him to do?

2.    Moses had much knowledge of God’s great kindness and power in the Jewish people’s history. Why did Moses find it difficult to think that God could also use him?

3.    How did God help Moses to do such a difficult task?

4.    What good things might come out of a feeling of weakness?

5.    God could have chosen to speak quietly in Moses’ own mind. But he chose to use something that was dramatic. He used a bush that was burning in the desert. Why do you think that God chose this way?

For More Discussion

1.    Moses wanted God to send ‘someone else’. So, God appointed Moses’ brother, Aaron, as Moses’ helper and his partner (Exodus 4:10-17). Like Moses, we might hesitate about service. Then how can we discover the things that we might do best? Also, are there  some things that ‘someone else’ might do better or in a different way?

2.    God told Moses that he was his father’s God (Exodus 3:6). How do you think that Moses’ father might have influenced his young son? (Read Exodus 2:1-10. Remember that the boy Moses was only with his father until he went to live in Pharaoh’s palace).

3.    Moses was a refugee and a shepherd during the many years that he was in the desert. What lessons do you think that Moses had to learn during those years? In future years, he had to lead a vast group of refugees. How could those lessons have helped Moses for that future time?

4.    Moses was glad that Aaron was beside him in his service. Do you know someone whom you could support during a difficult time? How might you do it in the best way?

5.    Why did God describe Moses as a ‘man of God’ (Joshua  14:6)? And how was Moses like ‘a friend of God’ (Exodus 33:11)?

6.    Other people from the Bible were unhappy about what God wanted them to do. Name some of them. How did they respond to God?

7.    Name somebody from the New Testament who had sinned. But God chose and used that person. What were those sins or failures? How did that person recover from them?

Word List (Words with a *)

faith ~ complete trust in God; total confidence in God; an attitude that leads to action; read Romans 4, Hebrews 11 and James 2.

Hebrew ~ a nation, a people and a language; Jew is another name for a Hebrew person.

inadequate ~ to feel inadequate means to feel the lack of necessary qualities.

Lord ~ a name that we call God or Jesus; we call God or Jesus Lord when we do what they say.

pardon ~ this word can be a noun or a verb; the act of someone in authority; it means that a guilty person escapes punishment; man is guilty; God, the Judge, pardons him; this is because of who God is; it is also because of the cross; read Micah 7:18, 19 and Matthew 26:28.

sovereignty ~ God’s absolute right to rule everything, in the way that he chooses; but God always does things that fit with who he is; he will never act in any other way; so we can trust his sovereignty completely.


By full permission of author

EasyEnglishÓ TRANSLATION: Mary Read


© 1999-2014, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

May 2003

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