What does it take to move a person from unbelief to faith? God! God alone! In Exodus chapters 3 and 4 Moses is moved by God from unbelief to faith for the task he was commissioned to undertake. Excuse was replaced with assurance of God’s power, presence, and provision for whatever lay ahead. The message of judgment and salvation would be delivered through ordinary means, and God would see to the extraordinary effects he promised.
In chapter 3 verse 13 God revealed to Moses that he was indeed the unchanging One, the eternal ‘I AM’ of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who were very much still alive, cf. Mark 12:26-27). He is not a God of changeless passivity, but one who makes himself known through creation and redemption history. To not go to Egypt, would be to not see and know God in saving action.
Called to lives of faithful obedience and action today, we too will never truly know him until we engage in his mission of judgment / salvation, until we employ the keys of the kingdom. The famous walk of Indian Jones (Harrison Ford), book in hand, across an unseen bridge to reach his father (Sean Connery), is a vivid illustration of the Christian’s need to step out and trust by faith the promises of the Book in our hand, along a path we yet cannot see. He will see to it.
As Moses sought exemption due to (possibly) a speech impediment (3:10), many another has underestimated what God can do despite our limits. God reminded Moses (and reminds us) that his use of us is not about making us great, but about his task, and serving his glory. Fanny Crosby remains an inspiring example of one so limited by her blindness. Memorizing the first 4 books of the Old and New Testaments, and writing over 9,000 hymns, little wonder it is that she could remain content to wait, and open her eyes to a sight of her Saviour.
Moses’ unbelief was further evident as he simply asked that someone else be sent (4:13). God would provide a brother to help him (Aaron) and would teach them both all they needed to know to fulfill the task assigned.
At each point of this process from unbelief to faith, God was informing Moses of truth concerning himself, eliciting assent to that truth, and confirming it through signs. Moses was moved to ‘the obedience of faith’ (Rom.1:5). A living faith in us is formed and functions in this same way. We still need his Word and Signs (baptism and the Lord’s Table) to feed and nourish faith, to know and serve him faithfully.
This narrative also carries a rich vein of thought that points the reader of Scripture to Jesus. One day God would provide for his people another ‘brother,’ one who would share our humanity, who through death would ‘destroy the one who had the power of death, that is, the devil [not a mere Pharaoh], and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.’ (Hebrews 2:14-15) The Christian’s journey from unbelief to faith is far removed from the caricature of taking a blind leap into the dark; rather, it is a step of informed confidence, a movement out of darkness into the light and truth of God.