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.
God had just given explicit detail for how Moses would succeed in his calling and lead the Israelites to their freedom. Even temporary snags, like Pharaoh’s initial refusal to release the people were foretold of and accounted for.
And yet, Moses still doubted. In spite of what God had proclaimed would happen, Moses was frozen by what could happen. Notice the certainty that Moses spoke with. He didn’t say that the Israelites “might not” hearken to his voice, he said that they “will not.” Here we see an example of how fear is the opposite of faith. Whereas faith is confidence in an unrealized good thing, fear is anticipation of an unrealized bad thing. And while we “hope” in faith, all too often we are “certain” of our fears.
Moses was cynical and pessimistic. Perhaps this was because he had already tried to help the Israelites and it had ended in failure, or perhaps God’s promises were simply too lofty for him to accept. In either case, he tried to smother the miracle before it even happened, unwilling or unable to believe in God’s assurances. Fortunately for Moses—and for the Israelites!—God wasn’t going to give up on him that easily.