George Methodist Church
Sunday 17th February 2019
8am and 10 am service
God with us in his promises
Life lessons from Moses
With Peter Veysie
A SUMMARY OF MOSES’ LIFE
Early Life in Egypt
Born into a humble Levitical slave family in Egypt, Moses’ life was immediately threatened when Pharaoh ordered all Hebrew male infants to be drowned in the Nile. Though his mother Jochebed hid him for three months, she was eventually forced to set him adrift in a basket. The infant was rescued when Pharaoh’s daughter found and adopted him into the elite of Egyptian royalty.
When he was forty years old, Moses was incensed by an act of Egyptian violence toward one of his enslaved countrymen. Killing the taskmaster, he hid the Egyptian’s body in the sand. The next day, realising that Pharaoh knew his deed, he fled to the wilderness. While in Midian, Moses met a priest – Jethro – and married his daughter, Zipporah. Moses had two sons with her, Gershom and Eliezer. The fugitive was content to live with Jethro, and he became a shepherd in the wilderness.
Confrontation with Pharaoh
Moses’ life changed dramatically when, at eighty years old, he came across a burning bush in the wilderness. Jehovah, speaking from the bush, commanded him to return to Egypt with a message of liberation for the Israelite slaves. Moses returned and met his older brother Aaron on the way. Yet despite his impressive signs, the Egyptians only responded with increased labor for their captives.
Moses then called down ten devastating plagues to demolish Egypt, culminating in the death of every firstborn Egyptian. Pharaoh, finally convinced of the futility of fighting God, freed the Israelites. But he changed his mind again and pursued them to the Red Sea. The Israelites escaped by crossing the sea on dry ground, while Pharaoh and his army followed them and drowned.
Lesson no. 1: God uses the humble, not the proud
The story starts in a very uncomfortable situation where Moses is separated from his mother and put in a basket and so becomes a “basket case.” He is picked up by the princess of Egypt and because his mother is a slave and she is working in the courts of the Egyptian Princess, she looks after her son. We know that Moses belongs to the tribe of Levi. He was born during the slavery of the Israelite people. When the Israelites grew in number, the Pharaoh commanded that every newly born male child shall be cast into the river and drown (Exodus 1:22).
Jochebed, the mother of Moses, put everything in the hands of God rather than letting his son die a certain death. Moses’ mother laid him in a small, woven, and waterproof basket and set adrift in the Nile River.
Little did the parents of Moses know that this Moses would change the course of history. God spared the life of Moses and he was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses was then raised as a prince of Egypt.
Number 12:3 tells us, “Now the man, Moses, was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth”. How would you like that to be said about you? The Bible records that Moses is the meekest man on Earth. Because of this, God chose Moses to be the physical leader of the Israelites.
But how did Moses developed this kind of humility? What are the circumstances that had led him to be humble?
During the first 40 years of his life, Moses enjoyed the life and benefits of being part of the royal family – the same family that ruled the world’s greatest empire at that time. God blessed Moses with good looks (Acts 7:20) and the natural charisma to find favour in the sight of men.
True humility is finding your confidence in God, rather than in yourself.
Moses has grown to be very popular among his people and according to Josephus, a Jewish historian, he could have been a general who led the Egyptian army. Not only that, “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).
With all these attributes, it is very easy for Moses to gain the illusion of grandeur and become proud in his own eyes. Certainly, God cannot use him in this state. God needs to humble Moses before He can use him.
Lessons no. 2: God will fight our battles for us
Moses, at some point, could even have thought that he was the chosen one who would deliver the Hebrew people out from the clutches of the Egyptians (Acts 7:35). As this might have been be true, he acted rashly and took things into his own hands. This led him to kill an Egyptian and became a fugitive.
This is when God started working with Moses. He fled to the land of Midian where he became a shepherd, a lowly job that even the Egyptians despised (Genesis 46:31-34). From being a mighty general of the Egyptian army, he was reduced to a mere shepherd. Instead of leading an army, he is now leading a flock of sheep. Instead of speaking to a great audience, he is now talking to sheep.
As days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months, and months turn to years, his confidence in himself started to fade away. Little by little, the proud and mighty Moses become a humble and meek shepherd.
Moses learned a lot during the 40 years he spent in the land of Midian. He learned to be loving, caring, and most importantly, humble before the sight of God. Though he became a fugitive, God used his circumstances to turn his life around.
Instead of finding confidence in himself, Moses found confidence in God. Now, Moses is ready to be used by God.
God NEVER loses a battle. The question now is, ‘which side will you be standing when the dust finally settles?’
Does this situation sound familiar to you? How many times in our lives have we found ourselves in the same situation? After the many miracles and proof of God’s power in our lives, we still come to the point that we doubt God.
With this in mind, we really can’t blame the Israelites. They are humans just like any of us. But what happened next is so astounding that it warrants our full attention.
The very words of Moses must be deeply inculcated in our hearts and in our minds. His words ringed true during his time and it is most certain that those words are also true today.
Moses powerfully said in Exodus 14:13-14:
“DO NOT BE AFRAID. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more – forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
As Christians, we must always remember that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. However, we are not alone because God has commanded that we must “be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Imagine, you have God, the All-Powerful, Almighty, Supreme Ruler of the vast universe, as your personal protector! He has promised that He will fight our battles for us.Therefore, as long as we are standing at the side of God, all we need is to just stand still, do what is right, follow God’s commandments, and surrender everything into His hands. You can always count on the FACT that God never loses a battle. He always wins and we will also reign victorious with him as long as we are on His side.
Sometimes we need go into the desert in order to learn the lessons of allowing God to fight our battles.
Lesson no. 3: With great power comes great accountability
Moses was humble and submissive to God’s commandments, but he was still human and bound to commit mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes of Moses is his rebellious act against God in Kadesh.
The Israelite people are hard-headed and proven to be naturally hostile against the commandments of God. Because of this, God has told them that they will wander in the wilderness for 40 years. When the right time comes, they arrived at the land called Kadesh, the same place where the Israelites rebelled against God 40 years ago.
These four decades have been very difficult for Moses as the leader of the Israelites. Now, the Israelites have not changed even after 40 years wandering in the wilderness. They gathered together and complained to Moses that they had no water.
We will never come to a point in our life that we are too perfect and we don’t have anything to learn.
God gave a very specific and easy instruction to Moses. God commanded Moses to simply take the rod, gather the assembly, and speak to the rock so the people will see (Numbers 20:8). However, Moses, at this time, did not follow the specific instructions of God. Instead of speaking to the rock, he struck the rock not once, but twice! In essence, Moses was striking Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 10:4).
After so many years of enduring the rebellious and stiff-necked attitude of the Israelites, Moses finally had it. He was fed up with their habitual complaining to the point that he went down to their level.
This incident has cost Moses his chance of entering the Promised Land. God said to him and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12).
God is very particular with the instructions and warnings He gave to His people. It is not that Moses did not have faith that God was not able to bring water out, but he might not have believed the seriousness of God’s instructions. He might have thought that his closeness to God and his position give him some leeway.
We must realise that those who are in a leadership position are held in a stricter accountability. It doesn’t mean that if you are a leader, you have the right not to follow the law of God. Leaders in the church, family, and community are expected to set the right example for everyone else to follow.
Because Moses let his anger and emotion get the best of him, he became a bad example to the congregation of God. This should also tell us something: we are never too old to be tested. We will never come to a point in our life that we are too perfect and we don’t have anything to learn. No matter who you are and no matter what position you are in, no one is exempted in obeying God’s commandments.
Lessons no. 4: Choose the treasures of heaven rather than the treasures of this world
Though born as a slave, Moses was wrapped with a garment that only royals used, the day he was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter. He grew up in the royal palace of Egypt and become one of the mightiest men in the land. He had all the riches he could ever wish for and a more comfortable life than any slave would dream of.
With all these earthly pleasures and treasures, Hebrews 11:24-27 has this to say about Moses:
“It was faith that made Moses, when he had grown up, refuse to be called the son of the king’s daughter. He preferred to be a son of the most high God to SUFFER WITH GOD’S PEOPLE rather than to enjoy sin for a little while. He reckoned that to suffer scorn for the Messiah was worth far more than all the treasures of Egypt, for he kept his eyes on the future reward. It was faith that made Moses leave Egypt without being afraid of the king’s anger. As though he saw the invisible God, he refused to turn back” (BBE).
Moses knew that there was more to life than meets the eye. He used his eyes of faith to recognise that the true treasures are not found on earth, but in heaven. He goes back to the people at 80 years old and has no treasures in terms of this world but he does have treasure from above.
Jesus Christ commands Christians today:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19).
So what occupies our life? Is it about money-making? Are we so obsessed with earning a living that we forget what truly matters in our lives? How easy it is for us to be fooled by the riches of this world. Jesus asked us a very important question that we must all ponder upon. He said:
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul” (Matthew 16:26)?
As Christians, our worth is not found in physical success. Our worth is found in the eyes of God.
We need to remember that we will all one day stand before the judgment seat of God. He will not ask us about how much money we have in the bank or what model of car we drive. He will not ask us how beautiful our house is. On that day, He will judge us according to our works, our heart and whether we have really made God our top priority.
So be like Moses. Though he had the chance to have a comfortable life, he chose to suffer for the glory of God. Therefore, lay treasures in heaven, not on earth.
Lesson no. 5: Developing a personal relationship with God
It is all very well to do all these things but unless we develop a personal relationship with God it is not worth much. It is impossible to do the things of God without a personal relationship.
Like any other faithful men and women, Moses had a very close relationship with God. We need to realise that it is impossible to be faithful to God if we don’t have a close relationship with Him. Faith will start with establishing an intimate relationship with God.
There are at least two verses that testify the closeness of Moses to God:
“So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11)
“But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10).
Imagine if the same words would be used to describe ourselves. It would really be incredible. Yet, we see that Moses remained humble, which is something that made him even closer to God.
Like in the life of Moses, God is interested more than anything else to be closer to each and every one of us. God initiates the relationship (John 6:44) and it is up to us how we will respond to that calling.
Once we answer God’s calling, we need to nourish and enrich our spiritual relationship with God. Jesus commanded, “You shall love the LORD your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
In order for us to really develop a strong relationship with God, we are expected to TOTALLY surrender our lives to Him – 100%. This means every ounce of our being. We need to be ready to follow the perfect will of God in our lives.
When we develop a close relationship with God, all things will fall into its right place. Illustration of Mom and Dad
Our relationship with God will never grow without spending time with Him. We can spend time with God through prayer and Bible study. We talk to God through prayer and God talks to us through Bible Study. We also need to occasionally fast to further move closer to God.
The most important things in this life are really not physical things, but it is our spiritual relationship with God. This will surely make our life worth living for. At the end of the day, nothing else will matter but how close have we grown to God.
Moses is no doubt a man destined to deliver God’s people from bondage and slavery. God humbled him to the point that he became the meekest man on earth. His life teaches us vital lessons that will not only benefit us physically but also spiritually. Pray to God that He will grant you wisdom and the courage to apply these lessons in your everyday life.