Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Slow of Speech, Enoch and Moses

Enoch and Moses were both great prophets of God. They both had a similar experience when they were called by God to do His work. Both initially had the same response to the challenge issued explaining that each was “slow of speech” and simply not up to the task given. Their acknowledgment of weakness in this area was, however, followed by two different approaches to the problem. It is interesting to study them together to gain insights into the way the Lord makes our “weak things strong.”

In the Pearl of Great Price, the account is given of Enoch and his great calling. Look for Enoch’s initial response to the directions given by the Lord:

Moses6: 27 And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their fears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off;

28 And for these many generations, ever since the day that I created them, have they gone astray, and have denied me, and have sought their own counsels in the dark; and in their own abominations have they devised murder, and have not kept the commandments, which I gave unto their father, Adam.

29 Wherefore, they have foresworn themselves, and, by their oaths, they have brought upon themselves death; and a hell I have prepared for them, if they repent not;

30 And this is a decree, which I have sent forth in the beginning of the world, from my own mouth, from the foundation thereof, and by the mouths of my servants, thy fathers, have I decreed it, even as it shall be sent forth in the world, unto the ends thereof.

31 And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?

Enoch must have been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the calling he had just received and simply inadequate to do the great task ahead. The Lord knew what Enoch was capable of doing even if Enoch didn’t fully realize his own potential.

Moses 6:32 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good.

33 Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you.

34 Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.

Enoch, who was humble and submissive, took the Lord at His word and obeyed His command.

Moses 6: 37 And it came to pass that Enoch went forth in the land, among the people, standing upon the hills and the high places, and cried with a loud voice, testifying against their works; and all men were offended because of him.

Because Enoch was willing to “go and do”, the Lord made his weak area his strength.

Moses 6:47 And as Enoch spake forth the words of God, the people trembled, and could not stand in his presence.

Moses 7:13 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the drivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.

When Moses was called by the Lord to be the deliver of the Children of Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh, his initial response is exactly the same as Enoch’s.

Exodus 3:3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

7 ¶ And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

11 ¶ And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Moses must have felt inadequate and ill equipped for his new calling, the same as Enoch did, so Moses pressed the Lord further.

Exodus 3:13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

The Lord then explained to him exactly what he was to say to the Children of Israel to make them understand that he had received his call from the Lord but even after the explanation, Moses still queried.

Exodus 4:1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee.

At this point, the Lord showed Moses the power of his word in the form of a miracle when He turned Moses own hand into a leprous state and then cleansed it. He showed Moses that He could take Moses' weakness or imperfections and make them perfect, but still Moses feared.

Exodus 4:10 And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

Still patient with Moses the Lord responded:

Exodus 4:11 And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

It is at this point that the two prophets, Enoch and Moses, differ. Enoch simply obeyed and his weakness in speech became mighty. Moses, however, still had his doubts at his ability and asked for the Lord to send someone else.

Exodus 4:13 And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

Unlike Enoch, who the Lord blessed with powerful speech, Moses lost the ability to have that gift because of his fear or lack of confidence, either in the Lord or in himself, and the Lord provided Aaron to be his spokesman.

Exodus 4:14 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.

15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.

17 And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

Do we ever lose out on blessings because we are too fearful to heed the calling of the Lord? Do we recoil at assignments given to us because of our lack of confidence? Can we gain all the strength the Lord has to offer us if we give in to that fear of inadequacy?

President Monson instructed us in a talk he gave in the October 2008 Priesthood session of General Conference called “To Learn, to Do, to Be” how we can be profitable servants in the sight of our Lord. He explained:

“First, learn what we should learn. Second, do what we should do. And third, be what we should be. By so doing, the blessings of heaven will attend. We will know that we are not alone.”

Although I believe that Moses was one of the greatest prophets that the Lord has sent, and that he is a Priesthood keyholder of prominent importance even still today, something can be learned by this example. For me, it shows us how fear and a lack of confidence can prohibit us from gaining the strength the Lord is willing to provide for us if we are faithful and obedient to his will. After all, the Lord promises, “he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong.”

Enoch was blessed immediately with mighty speech, Moses just had to wait a little longer to gain that blessing. This is one of the reasons I really love Moses. He simply had to learn some things the hard way. Perhaps I can relate much more easily with Moses.

1 comment:

Michaela Stephens said...

Fabulous insights! I love it! Thanks for this post!