The book of Exodus is named thus because the word means exit or departure. The suspense of the story is somewhat taken away because we know that Israel is going to leave Egypt. However, we see in the verse leading up to our passage that the Israelites are so broken down in misery they cannot listen to the promises Moses brings from the Lord. At this point, leaving Egypt appears impossible to them.

Nevertheless, God instructs Moses to go to Pharaoh and direct him to let Israel go out of the land. Moses responds with two objections. First, he has just come from the Israelites, and they did not listen to him. In other words, Moses is saying,  “If I cannot persuade a people who I go to with great and precious promises, how do you expect me to convince Pharaoh to do a thing he is loath to even hear of?”

So Moses gives his second objection, “I am of uncircumcised lips.” He is repeating the objection we saw earlier in Exodus 4 when God first called him to go to Egypt and deliver Israel. Moses is painfully aware he is not good with words. His experience so far in his task has proved this; he has only made things worse. In his eyes his handicap has not improved. How is he going to do it?

Plainly, one of the points here is that what is impossible with man is possible with God. We are made to see Israel’s extremity and Moses inability so that we might learn and remember God delivered his people by his own power. We are slow to believe this about our own salvation, but it is often repeated in Scripture. The cross is the ultimate testimony of this truth. The application is to be humble and thankful when you consider your own salvation. It is entirely of God.

We also see another truth about God we need to consider carefully. God is a long-suffering God. “Long-suffering” is sort of an archaic expression, but it is a good description of God being slow to anger. The context is the one true living God who reigns over all earthly kings has given a command to Pharaoh who has responded by punishing the people the command was about. Rulers like Pharaoh have abused these people for centuries. Yet God sends Moses to repeat the command. He does not send judgment yet.

In Exodus 34, God reveals his glory to Moses in part and announces to him his attributes he wants indelibly marked in Moses mind: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for many, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” Moses would later appeal to God for mercy with these same words when God threatens to destroy Israel for their rebellion and unbelief. And God listened. His disposition is to be merciful, so he is long suffering with sinners.

We need to consider the long suffering of God. Pharaoh first responded to God’s command to release Israel with “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him?” We have many leaders and judges in our country who have the same mentality. We have reason to be thankful for the long-suffering of God.

If you were to take one city or town in our country and broadcast in the sky one days’ worth of  blasphemous language, immoral or ungodly even beastly acts, the malice, hate, violence, selfish greed, injustice, and much more that went on you would give thanks that God is a long-suffering God.

If you were to see the total accumulation of all your sins from the days of your youth until this day, you would give thanks that God is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. There is no one who can boast. All have fallen short of the glory of God and may seek reconciliation by grace alone.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” His people are to be shaped by having received mercy. They are to be like their Father in heaven. God will by no means clear the guilty, yet there is a season of grace for the guilty who would respond to God’s offer of forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ.  God is long-suffering to give opportunity to repentance. His kindness is meant to lead to repentance, before his long-suffering ends.