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Arguing With God

God won’t take “no” for an answer.

Most of us know the story. Moses was asked by God to be a deliverer for millions of Israelites. Among so many excuses that Moses gave the Lord, God wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. It’s amazing to me that God did not vent His anger at the amount of Moses’ negotiations. Rather, God continued to show him mercy. But it was a severe mercy. God didn’t snuff him out, but He did make things more difficult for him. God teamed up Moses with his brother Aaron in Exodus 4:14-16. “So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and He said: ‘Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well.'”

Yes, Moses was spared, but, no, things wouldn’t get easier for him. It was now no longer the original plan of God speaking to Moses speaking to Pharaoh. With Aaron on the team, it was now God speaking to Moses who translated the message to Aaron who then communicated it all to the king of Egypt. The series of mediations between God and man became longer than was originally envisioned. This is the story of what happens when stubborn people say no to God.

I have learned that stubbornness makes for long transactions between us and God. It is amazing that God continues to work in the lives of stiff-necked, contrary people like you and me. More slowly, but He does work. He just won’t take “no” for an answer. And that fact alone begins to shed light on another more amazing fact: if God is heaven-bent on using us, even when we resist Him, then He must have something extraordinary in mind. We must be destined to fit in a great and godly plan!

Think of it. We are worth the effort. We are not easily discarded by our God. We are people for whom God will go the third mile and the fourth mile. It is true, “He is merciful and tender toward those who don’t deserve it (Psalm 103:8).”

But there is something additionally from the story of the call of Moses that has been ministering to me recently. It is the reality of how God made Himself irresistible to Moses. I’m learning that there is a clear reason why God must make Himself irrefutable, undeniable, and irresistible to us. Moses couldn’t figure it out at first. All he knew was that the Lord was determined to have His way in liberating His people from Egypt in spite of all the objections Moses provided.

At the end of this extended exchange, the Bible tells us that “Moses went and returned to Jethro (Exodus 4:18). God had prevailed. The arguing ceased. The bargaining with God was over. Moses left the burning bush “and took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the STAFF OF GOD in his hand” (Exodus 4:20). That phrase has deeply moved me.

God had won. Did you catch that? Moses no longer called it “his staff”; it was “the staff of God.” The stiff-necked attitude erased into quiet submission to an irresistible God. He was the balky and bullheaded, now tamed. What “ordinary” gift do you possess that God wants to make useful for His purpose?

God has been teaching me this is where change happens. This is why God asks the impossible of Moses and of us. This is why the Lord, when He has set His designs on us, won’t take “no” for an answer. This is also why He makes things more difficult, God must make Himself irresistible in our eyes. God must hear us echo the song of Moses in Exodus 15:11: “Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”

When we finally come to the place where we realize we cannot resist our destiny, when our stubbornness is broken, when we, the wayward sheep, walk lowly next to the Shepherd, change happens; we then finally realize that everything we say and do depends on trust in the Lord alone. For Moses and for us, God becomes compelling. And we become relentless in pursuing Him.

What is the result? Moses becomes ruthless toward himself and his people, and even more so toward the mighty Pharaoh. The emphatic “NO”” at the beginning of Moses’ call has become a resounding “YES!” The weakness has become the strength. The frustrated plan has become more gloriously perfect. The tragedy has become triumphant. The coward has become enabled.

And it’s this kind of resolve that would be urgently needed as Moses went up against Pharaoh. There had to be no room for second-guessing. No self-doubts. Standing in front of the throne of the King of Egypt, harassed by the Hebrews, questioned by his family, assaulted by his enemies, Moses needed rock-solid determination, his heart unbreakable, his mind unyielding.

This is the astounding reason why God makes Himself irresistible. It is for our sakes. It is for the sake of advancing the Kingdom. So where are you arguing with God? Like the prophets and priests of the past, God will keep courting and chasing, pursuing and hounding you until you are gripped. Might as well surrender fully to His call on your life. The world is waiting.