In his final sermon, deacon and first Christian martyr, Stephen, described Moses as being “no ordinary child” (Acts 7:20, NIV), “beautiful in God’s sight” (CSB). You see, “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his speech and actions” (v.22). Powerful in speech and actions! If you’ve read Moses’s story, those are amazing words.
When God first called Moses at the burning bush, the Israelites were in great need of a deliverer. A new king had come to power in Egypt, one who dealt treacherously with the Israelites and oppressed them by forcing them to “abandon their infants outside so that they wouldn’t survive” (Acts 7:19). God explained that He would work through Moses to rescue the Israelites from slavery, but at that moment, Moses was far from powerful in his speech or action.
God’s call on Moses to speak for the vulnerable in the face of great political power left him afraid to say or do anything. Instead, he stammered and complained again and again, telling God he was not up to the task:
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11).
“What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?” (4:1).
“Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since you have been speaking to your servant—because my mouth and my tongue are sluggish” (v.10).
Moses was a faltering mess, but God answered every one of his objections. He told Moses, “Now go! I will help you speak, and I will teach you what to say” (v.12). God kept that promise too. He gave Moses His Holy Spirit, who strengthened Moses to testify before the king and perform miraculous signs (Isaiah 63:12). Because of the Spirit’s work through him, Moses became the people’s public advocate, a prophet and leader who was truly mighty in word and deed!
Later in his life, Moses predicted that God would raise up for the Israelites another prophet like him (Deuteronomy 18:15,18; Acts 7:38). Moses looked forward to Jesus, the greater prophet who was “powerful in action and speech” (Luke 24:19). When we were helpless, Jesus spoke up for us. When we were oppressed by sin and death, He went to the cross to deliver us.
And now, by His Holy Spirit, we can speak up for and act on behalf of others as well. Just as God gave Stephen the strength to speak the truth and show compassion in the face of great hostility, the Spirit will also teach us what to say and fill us with His great mercy (Matthew 10:19–20) .
Father, make us bold, powerful in speech and action. Amen.
Written by Jared Kennedy