God called Moses to leave his own story and step onto God’s stage, to follow God’s script for His purposes. The call was for Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (3:10).
Yet, throughout the narrative we read in Exodus 5-14, we find 12 setbacks in the calling, with the 13th attempt being the successful. All in all, it took at least a month if not much longer, 10 plagues, multiple signs, and many disappointments and unmet expectations.
Afterall, this is God’s calling and His script, why are there so many setbacks and unsuccessful attempts? Put in another way, why does God take so long to accomplish his will? Why does it take so many twists and turns and detours and setbacks for us to accomplish what God has called us to do?
We find the answer to that question by looking at what changed in the Exodus narrative. What was different before the Exodus and after the Exodus?
- It was not Pharaoh, his heart was still hardened at the end.
- It was not Israelites, they still had doubts and complained after the Exodus, even in the wilderness.
- It was Moses that changed. The journey took so long because of Moses. Because God wanted to change and grow Moses.
There are at least 3 notable changes that we can see in Moses’ life before and after the Exodus.
- Moses was afraid to talk and to speak to Pharaoh and the Israelites, so it was always Aaron that did the talking at first (4:30).
- At the end, it was Moses that did the talking, with conviction, courage and faith. (11:4)
- Moses' response to the Israelites’ first complaint (5:21) was one of doubt. He wanted to quit. Moses’ response to the Israelites’ last complaint by the Red Sea (14:11-12) was encouragement - reminding them of God’s power and faithfulness.
- When God first called Moses at the burning bush, Moses didn’t know God’s name (3:13).
- When Moses crossed the Red Sea, he wrote a song of praise in which he praises God’s name - “The Lord is His Name.” (15:1-3)
What we (and Moses) experienced as a setback in the calling is not a step-back from the calling. It was a necessary step towards the calling - for Moses to grow and develop to be a person worthy of the calling. There is purpose in the journey. It was in the script that God wrote in His play for Moses’ role.