“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Who made man’s mouth? Who makes him dumb or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?'” Exodus 4:11
The first thing this verse means is this: Moses, the God you have been talking to, who has made you all these promises of success, who wills to grant you a share in his glorious deliverance—this God is the creator of the world, the inventor of the human body, mind, and emotions. He thought it all up out of nothing and designed it. But that’s not all. The most amazing, the most devastating, the most reassuring thing comes next: not only did God create the first man, but he also goes on creating every single person just as he sees fit—whether dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind.
The Bible always holds two things together that some theologians have tried to separate: God’s act of creation and his activity of sovereign providence, his initiation of the world and his superintendence of its on-going events. You may have heard the word “Deism.” That was a view popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, in which God created the universe, endowed it with changeless laws, and then withdrew, like an absentee landlord, to let the world run its own course. So if you trip over the box hockey game in the laundry room like I did Friday, you don’t concern yourself looking for God’s sovereign purposes in it. You just get mad at whoever left it there.
But you can’t read the Bible long with an open mind and keep that view. God is the creator. He made man’s mouth, and God’s providence rules over all things. Ultimately, it is he who makes a man dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind. One day Jesus’ disciples asked him in John 9, “‘Rabbi, who sinned . . . that this man was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be manifest in him.’” God always has a purpose for every event, whether we can see it or not. “Who makes him dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?”
Here was God’s last argument to Moses’ last excuse: “If it is not enough to hear me say, ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,’ and to see a bush burn and not be consumed; if it is not enough to hear me say, ‘I will be with you’; if it is not enough to know me as ‘I am who I am,’ and to hear me say, ‘I will bring you up out of affliction’; if it is not enough to see me turn a rod into a snake and make a hand leprous and clean; then listen to this, Moses. I made and I control everything. Now, go! And I will be with your mouth and teach you in the moment what you shall speak. No rehearsals, Moses; just the promise. And remember who it is who gives the promise!”