FA C E T O FA C E
A Devotional Look at the Life of Moses, the Man God
Knew Face to Face
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2017 F. Wayne Mac Leod
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written
permission of the author.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007
A Special thanks to Proof Reader: Pat Schmidt.
CONTENTS
Title Page
Copyright
Preface
1 - Surrendered to God
2 - In the Land of Midian
3 - Zipporah
4 - The Fire of God
5 - I Will be With You
6 - Questions
7 - Why Did You Send Me?
8 - Go, Speak to Pharaoh
9 - Moses Cried
unto the Lord
10 - A Hand Lifted Up
11 - On the Mountain Top
12 - The Meekness
of Moses
13 - If Your Presence Does Not Go with Me
14 - Speak to the Rock
About The Author
M
PREFACE
oses was the man God knew face to face. What a title! He was
a privileged man. Many times, he was invited into the presence
of God to speak with Him. He saw and heard things that we
will only see and hear in the life to come. I do not believe that he was any
different from you or me, but the grace of God was poured out abundantly
on him. He was not perfect. He had problems in his family. He knew what it
meant to be discouraged in his ministry. He had, however, many qualities
that serve to inspire us in our walk with God.
This small study has been very enriching for me. I pray that it will be for
you as well. This book is not meant to be read in one sitting. I would
encourage you to take the time to examine your own life in relation to each
meditation. May the example of Moses be an inspiration for you in your
personal relationship with God.
F. Wayne Mac Leod
I
1 - SURRENDERED TO GOD
Read Exodus 1.1-2:10
t was a time of unparalleled suffering for the people of God. They
lived as slaves in a foreign land –the land of Egypt. Despite their
affliction, however, the Lord their God blessed them. By His grace,
they were becoming a numerous people. The Pharaoh of Egypt was
worried. He feared that one day they could become a serious threat to his
people. He decided, therefore, to take drastic action and restrict their growth
before it was too late. Pharaoh spoke to the midwives and said:
16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them
on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a
daughter, she shall live.” (Exodus 1)
The Bible tells us that these midwives feared God and did not respect the
wishes of Pharaoh. This caused the king to intensify his efforts. Pharaoh
called on all his people to join him in a national effort to rid the land of the
perceived Israelite threat.
22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is
born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let
every daughter live.” (Exodus 1)
Many parents lost their sons to the cruel hands of the Egyptians. Families
lived in fear. A few years prior to this, these same people enjoyed the
prosperity of their newly adopted land. They had now become slaves to the
people their father Joseph had saved from a famine that would have
completely devastated their land and wiped out most of their population.
It was in these circumstances that a woman of the tribe of Levi gave birth to
a son. One can only imagine the pain this mother felt in her heart as she
thought of the grim future that awaited her baby. As any mother would do,
she sought to hide her son. For three months, she kept him as quiet as
possible. She lived in the fear that one day an Egyptian would break
through her door and take away her beautiful child.
After three months, she could no longer hide him. What could she do? If
she kept him, the Egyptians would eventually find him and that meant
certain death for her baby. The only thing she could do was to place him in
the hands of her God. In His hands alone there would be hope.
The decision made, the child's mother made a basket from the reeds that
grew by the river. After waterproofing the basket, she placed her precious
treasure inside and took him to the river committing him into the hands of
her God. It was to this river the Egyptians would have taken him to be
drowned. The river was a symbol of death for her. In bringing him to that
river she was surrendering him fully to God.
She did not know what his future held. No doubt, with tears in her eyes, she
commended him to the grace of God. How I would have loved to hear her
pray as she committed her young boy to the Lord, not knowing if she would
ever see him again.
Maybe not having the courage herself, she asked her young daughter to
watch from a distance to see what might happen to her little child. What this
mother did not realize at the time was that this little child, was the
instrument of God for the deliverance of His people.
God's protecting hand was on the young child Moses. The daughter of
Pharaoh, who had come out to bathe in the river, noticed the basket and sent
one of her servants to bring it to her. Seeing the child, she had pity on him
and decided to raise him as her own.
Moses' sister, who was watching from a distance, dared to approach the
Pharaoh's daughter to ask her if she needed a nurse to care for the child. She
then offered to find her a nurse to care for the child on her behalf. It was by
this means that Moses was raised by his own mother as a child of the
daughter of Pharaoh. Could a mother in that day have wished any more for
her child? He had been delivered from the cruel slavery of his people. He
would live in the comfort and riches of the palace. He would receive the
best possible education. His back would not be scarred by the dreaded
Egyptian whip.
Moses' mother learned that in giving her child to God, she received him
back. This is a lesson we all must understand. Does it surprise you to learn
that God asks us to surrender our lives, our possessions, and our ambitions
to Him as Moses' mother surrendered her son? Our situation is not unlike
that of Moses' mother. If we keep what is ours, we will surely lose it. The
Bible tells us in Matthew 10.39:
39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for
my sake will find it. (Matthew 10)
Jesus went on to say in Matthew 16.25:
25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses
his life for my sake will find it.
For the mother of Moses, the surest way of losing her child was to keep him
for herself. The Egyptians would have killed him. She understood that, if
she was to save his live, she needed to surrender him to God.
One day a rich young ruler came to Jesus to ask Him how he might obtain
eternal life. Jesus told him that if he wanted life eternal he would have to
sell all his possessions, give them to the poor, and follow Him. Jesus knew
that the reason this young man could not experience the life of Christ was
because he clung so tightly to his material possessions. His riches kept him
from the kingdom of God. If only he had surrendered his possessions to
God how blessed he would have been. Jesus tells us in Matthew 19.29:
29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father
or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a
hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
Jim Elliot, missionary to Ecuador, prior to being killed by the Auca Indians
said: "He is no fool who gives to God what he cannot keep to gain what he
cannot lose." Is this true for you? Are you clinging tightly to your worldly
possessions? Have you surrendered your goals in life to God? Are you
willing, like the mother of Moses, to give to God what you cannot keep to
gain what you cannot lose?
Very early in his life, Moses experienced the sovereign care of God. What
he experienced is a lesson for us all. What He did for Moses He can do for
you. Mark 8.36 reminds us:
36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit
his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? (Mark
8)
Moses’ life began in trying times. From the very beginning, the hand of the
Lord was on him to protect and keep him for the task that lay before him.
Even before Moses was aware of the purpose of God for his life, God was
working out that purpose in him.
For Consideration:
Are trials the absence of God’s blessing or can we experience the richness
of God’s blessings during our trials. Consider the life of Israel as slaves in
Egypt.
How does God sovereignly protect Moses from harm? How has God
protected you in your life?
How important was is that Moses’ mother be willing to surrender her child
to God? What would have happened had she not placed him in the basket in
the river? How did her surrender of Moses bring victory for her child?
What do you need to surrender to the Lord today?
For Prayer:
Take a moment to thank the Lord for the evidence of His blessings in your
life, despite the hardship you have had to face in life.
Thank the Lord for how He has worked out circumstances in your life for
good.
Ask the Lord to show you if there is anything in your life that you have not
fully surrendered to Him. Take that time now to ask that He would give you
courage to surrender all you are and have to Him.
M
2 - IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN
Read Exodus 2.11-15
oses grew up in the home of the daughter of the Pharaoh in
Egypt. We know nothing of this period of his life. We can only
imagine that he received the very best education. He lived amid
great wealth and influence. He enjoyed the good life while his brothers and
sisters in the Israelite camp were being mistreated and abused by their cruel
Egyptian masters.
The Bible tells us that "when he was full forty years old, it came into his
heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel" (Acts 7:23). After forty
years of living among the Egyptians, Moses was truly Egyptian. He was
well accustomed to their traditions, and no doubt spoke the language as well
as any Egyptian. The Bible does not tell us why it came into his heart to
visit his Jewish brothers. Hebrews 11:24 tells us that "by faith Moses, when
he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter"
(Hebrews 11:24). What caused him to turn his back on the people who had
raised him? Who told him of his roots? The Bible does not give us the
answer to these questions. It is very likely that his mother played an
important role in shaping his mind.
When Moses visited his Jewish brothers, he saw an Egyptian beating a
Hebrew slave. This was not an extraordinary thing, it was an everyday
occurrence. Seeing this abuse, however, angered Moses to the point that he
attacked the Egyptian slave master and killed him, burying his body in the
sand to hide the deed.
We are left to wonder why it was that Moses was so angered by the abuse
that took place that day. Was the Lord giving Moses a burden for his own
people? To understand what Moses did that day, we need to examine Acts
7:23-25:
23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his
brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being
wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by
striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would
understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but
they did not understand. (Acts 7)
According to this passage, the reason Moses avenged his Hebrew brother,
by killing the Egyptian, was to prove to his people that he was on their side.
He believed that, by this act, his own people would put their confidence in
him to deliver them. He was a very powerful man in Egypt. He had
tremendous influence. If there was a person in Egypt who could come to the
rescue of the people of God it was Moses. Moses hoped that the Israelites
would understand this and put their confidence in him as their deliverer.
The slaying of the Egyptian was an attempt to gain their confidence and
respect.
The Israelites did not respond as Moses had hoped. They refused to put
their trust in him. The day after he killed the Egyptian, Moses went out
again to see his people. This time he saw two Hebrews quarrelling among
themselves. He asked them to explain their action. Their response is
significant:
13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were
struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do
you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a
prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed
the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the
thing is known.” (Exodus 2)
The Hebrew was really saying this: "Moses, among the Egyptians you are a
prince. You are a man of great position and authority, but among us you are
nothing. You are not our prince. Who are you to judge us? Go away and
leave us alone." These were bold words from an Israelite slave who could
have been beaten for his insolence to the prince of Egypt. They were words
that hurt Moses. They were words of rejection and hatred from his own
people.
Notice also how the Hebrew asked Moses if he was going to kill him like he
killed his fellow Egyptian. They saw Moses as a traitor to his own people.
Who would put their confidence in a traitor? They also saw him as an
Egyptian who solved his problems by violence. They had seen too much
violence. They wanted nothing to do with Moses.
This response was very troubling for Moses for two reasons. First, because
he realized that his desire to deliver the Israelites would be difficult to
realize if he did not have their confidence. How can you deliver a people
who wanted nothing to do with you? Second, now that the news of what
Moses had done to the Egyptian was out, he feared for his own life. When
Pharaoh heard what Moses had done, he sought to kill him. The last thing
Pharaoh wanted was a Jewish revolt.
Pharaoh realized what Moses was trying to do. He could not risk losing the
Hebrews. There could be no doubt in the mind of Pharaoh now about
Moses' position regarding the Hebrew slaves. Pharaoh needed to get rid of
him. Moses had no option but to flee for his life.
What a disillusioned man he must have been as he left the land of Egypt.
He had a legitimate desire for his own people and their delivery from
oppression. There was a genuine need among the people of Israel for a
deliverer. There was no one more qualified to do the task than Moses. Why
had God closed the door?
The problem seems to be the fact that Moses wanted to deliver the people
by means of his own strength and influence. He believed himself to be
strong enough to deliver the people. God was not looking for this kind of
man. He did not want Moses' influence and strength. He needed a man with
different qualifications. He needed a man who knowing his own weakness
would trust in Him for strength and leading. The task of delivering the
Israelites from bondage and establishing them as a nation in their own land,
required more than human strength. It required a miracle of God.
God did not give up on Moses. Moses would still be the deliverer of His
people, but not in his present state. He was not yet ready to be used. God
needed to refine him. God sent Him into the desert of Midian. According to
Acts 7:30, Moses remained in the desert for forty years. Humanly speaking,
there was no more hope of Moses being the deliverer. He was not the man
who left Egypt. Forty years had passed, he was now an old man of eighty
years. The Hebrews, who had known him forty years ago as a man of power
and influence, had either died or had forgotten all about him. He could no
longer count on his influence in Egypt. Any confidence he had in himself
when he left Egypt was gone. Humanly speaking, all hope of Moses being
the deliverer was gone. As God looked at this eighty-year-old man,
however, He saw just the man He needed.
God did not want Moses' strength and influence. If Moses had delivered the
people in his own strength, the people would have never seen the power of
God at work in their deliverance. God would have never received the glory.
The people would have never understood the compassion and mercy of God
towards them.
God does not need our greatness. He is not particularly interested in our
ideas. He wants our simple obedience. He wants a man or a woman who
puts their trust fully in Him. He wants an empty vessel He can fill with His
power and strength.
The apostle Paul understood this when he went to the church in Corinth. He
told them: "I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling"
(1 Corinthians 2:3). Somehow this is not the impression I had of this great
apostle of God. Paul, however, did not depend on his own strength and
wisdom. He went to Corinth as a man trembling in his boots, realizing that,
in himself, he was powerless to do anything of lasting spiritual value.
Paul told the Corinthians:
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the
surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4)
The person God uses is a fragile jar of clay. The power of God, however, is
revealed in this fragile container. God displays His glory through us as
weak and ordinary people. For Moses to be the man he needed to be, God
spent forty years humbling him and emptying him of his own ideas and
pride. Only than could he be useful for the Master.
For Consideration:
Moses grew up in the lap of luxury. Why did God bless him with this
richness only to take it away from him when Moses fled to the desert? How
important it is that we be willing to surrender all to the Lord?
What evidence is there of the call of God on the life of Moses at the age of
40? What do you think it would have been like for Moses to leave Egypt
and sense the death of his dream to be the deliverer of his people?
How did the influence and position of Moses in Egypt get in the way of
what God wanted to do? Can our strengths and gifts keep us from trusting
and obeying God?
Have you ever been guilty of taking the glory due to God for yourself? Why
do we have such a need to seek praise and glory for ourselves?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to show you if there is anything in your life that you need to
surrender more fully to Him.
Ask the Lord to forgive you for times you believed that you could do the
work He has called you to do in your own strength and wisdom. Ask God to
teach you to wait more on Him and to trust in His leading more than you
own wisdom.
Take a moment to seek the forgiveness of God for times when you believed
that your success in ministry was due to you, your wisdom and skill. Ask
God to give you grace to walk in deeper fellowship, confidence and trust in
Him and His way.
Ask the Lord to empty you as He did Moses, so that you can be a useful
vessel in His hands. Ask Him to remove anything that would keep you from
trusting Him more fully.
W
3 - ZIPPORAH
Read Exodus 2.16-22; 4.18-26; 18.1-8
hen Pharaoh sought to kill him, Moses fled into the desert,
leaving everything he knew behind. After many days of
wandering, Moses arrived in the land of Midian. He stopped at
a well to rest and refresh himself. It is here at the well that he met the seven
young daughters of Jethro who had come out to draw water for their father's
sheep. As the women drew water and watered their sheep, some men also
come to the well. To the astonishment of Moses, these men chased away the
young girls’ sheep.
When Moses saw what happened that day, anger boiled up inside him and
he took the defence of the young girls. He chased away the men and helped
the young women gather their sheep. Moses did not seem to be able to sit
by when an injustice was taking place before his eyes. He felt the need to
do something. This is what had gotten him into trouble in Egypt when he
saw the Egyptian beating the Hebrew slave. In this instance, however, this
act of compassion on Moses part would work out for his advantage.
When the daughters of Jethro returned home, they told their father what had
happened at the well. Jethro told his daughters to find this man who had
helped them and invite him to the house so he could show him his
appreciation. It was by this means that Moses came to the home of Jethro.
We do not know anything about the conversation that took place around the
table that evening. We can only imagine that Jethro was very curious to find
out all he could about this stranger. During the conversation, it was made
known to Jethro that Moses had no home. He invited him to stay with them
in return for his services as a shepherd. A man around the home would be
very helpful to Jethro who had no sons. Moses decided to accept the
invitation.
This new life was a real change for Moses, the prince of Egypt. Genesis
46.34 explains to us the attitude of the Egyptians towards shepherds: "for
every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians." In many ways, Moses
had reached the very bottom. This profession was the lowest of all
professions in the mind of the Egyptian.
Among the seven daughters of Jethro was a young woman by the name of
Zipporah. Jethro gave her to Moses as his wife. Together they had a son by
the name of Gershom. The name Gershom means "stranger." Moses was
conscious that he was a stranger in this foreign land. His thoughts were still
for his people under oppression in the land of Egypt.
Forty years later, the Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush. He told
Moses to return to the land of Egypt to deliver the Israelites from slavery.
After some intense wrestling with God, Moses accepted the responsibility.
We will examine this time of Moses’ life later. For now, I want to focus on
Moses’ family life.
When God called him to return to Egypt, it appears that Moses took his
wife Zipporah and children with him on this long journey (Gen 4.20). As
they travelled, the Bible tells us that the Lord God attacked Moses.
24 At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to
put him to death. (Exodus 4)
What was the problem? Why did the Lord decide to put Moses to death?
The answer is found in the response of Zipporah. Zipporah knew only too
well what the problem was and if Moses was not going to do something
about it she would do it herself. She took a stone knife and circumcised
their son. It was only then that the anger of the Lord subsided. The problem
was that Moses had never circumcised his son.
Zipporah was angry with her husband. She threw her son's foreskin at the
feet of Moses and cried out in anger to him: “Surely you are a bridegroom
of blood to me!” Moses had been very concerned for his people in slavery
but he had never taken the time to make sure his own family was right with
God. Zipporah was justly angered with Moses for this and though she was
not of Jewish nationality, she rebuked him for his unfaithfulness to God and
to her son.
The Bible does not give us the response of Moses to this incident. The next
time we read about Zipporah, however, is in chapter eighteen of Exodus
after the deliverance of the people from slavery. The passage tells us that
Jethro came to visit Moses and he brought Moses' wife with him. It appears
that Moses had sent her away.
2 Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’
wife, after he had sent her home, 3 along with her two sons. The
name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a
sojourner in a foreign land”), 4 and the name of the other, Eliezer
(for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me
from the sword of Pharaoh”). 5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came
with his sons and his wife to Moses in the wilderness where he was
encamped at the mountain of God. 6 And when he sent word to
Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your
wife and her two sons with her,” (Exodus 18)
We are not told why Moses sent his family away, when they had started out
together. Was it a result of her anger with Moses over not circumcising their
son? There may be an honest and noble reason for Moses sending his
family away, but what we do know is that for a period of time, Moses was
not available to his family.
We discover also in Numbers 12:1 that Moses was later to marry another
wife. This woman was a Cushite woman and not an Israelite. Moses would
later write down the Law of God which forbade the marrying of an Israelite
with foreign women. He would write this law, however, realizing that he,
himself had married women who were foreigners. In fact, Moses’ own
sister and brother would rebuke Moses for taking a Cushite woman to be his
wife:
1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite
woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman.
(Numbers 12)
Moses was not perfect. He had failed to be the father he should have been
by not circumcising his son. He had to be rebuked by his foreign Midianite
wife for this. He had a great vision for his people but failed his own son.
Moses did not have the time he needed with his family. Not only did he
send his wife and children away (Exodus 18:2-5) but even when they were
with him, he spent all his day in the service of the Lord. Moses’ father-in-
law would challenge him on this matter:
13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood
around Moses from morning to evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-
law saw all that he was doing for the people he said “What are you
doing for the people? Why do you sit alone and all the people stand
around you from morning to evening? (Exodus 18)
Moses did not have the time for his wife and children. He concentrated all
his time on serving the Lord. How easy it is for busy fathers and mothers to
fall prey to this temptation. We have all experienced this tension between
family and work. The apostle Paul, though he was not married, wrote:
32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is
anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But
the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his
wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or
betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be
holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about
worldly things, how to please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7)
Paul reminded the Corinthians that the married man or woman needs to take
time for his or her family. The apostle recognized the importance of the
family when he told Timothy:
8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for
members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an
unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5)
The Bible exhorts us, therefore, to care for our families. Moses, though he
was a great man of God, was not always the father and the husband he
could have been. He did much for the extension of the kingdom of God but
his own family suffered. May God teach us to find the balance between our
God-given family obligations and our ministry responsibilities.
For Consideration:
What evidence is there in the life of Moses that he had a strong sense of
justice? What is his response to situations where people were being treated
unfairly?
Why do you suppose Moses did not circumcise his son? How was this an
obstacle to him as he went to Egypt to release the Jewish slaves?
Moses was married to two foreign women? How was this an obstacle to his
ministry among the Jews? What does the fact that God still used him teach
us about the kind of people God can use?
What evidence is there that Moses did not have much time for his family?
Have you been able to have the time you need with your family? How
much does your work and ministry interfere with your family life?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that He does not need perfect people to do His work. Thank
Him that He can use us with all our shortcomings and failures.
Take a moment to pray for your family. Ask God to show you what you can
do to bless, encourage and support them.
Ask God to give you grace to make the changes necessary in your life when
he reveals issues that hinder your walk with Him. Ask Him to give you
humility to listen to the rebukes and corrections of friends, family and loved
ones.
A
4 - THE FIRE OF GOD
Read Exodus 3.1-6
fter forty years of silence in the desert, the calm is broken. It
happened when Moses was caring for Jethro's flocks. He saw a
very strange sight. Before him was a bush. What was strange
about the bush was not the fact that it was on fire but that, although it was
on fire, it was not being consumed. Out of curiosity, Moses approached the
bush to get a better look. As he approached, he heard a voice calling out his
name. "Here am I," responded Moses. The voice continued: "Do not come
near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are
standing is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). In holy fear and reverence to this
voice, Moses fell to his face on the ground.
That day God revealed Himself to Moses as the God of fire. This was a
very powerful image. What is the significance of fire? Why did God present
Himself to Moses in this fire? There may be at least four reasons for this.
Firstly, as a God of fire, the Lord was a light to His people. The path the
children of Israel were to tread through the wilderness on the way to the
Promised Land was to be lighted by the very presence of God in fire. The
Bible tells us:
21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them
along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they
might travel by day and by night. (Exodus 13).
The fire represented the guidance of God as He led them through the night
of their wilderness wanderings. The God of fire went before His people to
light their path and show them the way that they should walk. The God of
fire is a guiding God.
Secondly, fire has no form. In like manner, the God of Moses had no form.
Moses would later warn the people against idolatry by using the imagery of
the God of fire:
12 Then the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard
the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13 And
he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to
perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two
tablets of stone. 14 And the Lord commanded me at that time to
teach you statutes and rules, that you might do them in the land that
you are going over to possess. 15 “Therefore watch yourselves very
carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to
you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act
corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of
any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any
animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies
in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the
likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth
(Deuteronomy 4)
The God of fire could not be represented by any form. Any such
representation would not do Him justice. As the God of fire, He was not
limited to a physical body as man. He was far greater than the artist's
imagination or the sculptor's creativity.
Thirdly, fire represents the judgement of God.
22 For a fire is kindled by my anger,
and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
devours the earth and its increase,
and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. (Deuteronomy 32)
During their wilderness wanderings, when the Israelites complained about
their lives, God came upon them in a burning flame to judge them for their
sins.
1 And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their
misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and
the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some
outlying parts of the camp (Numbers 11)
The God of Moses was a God of fire, wrath and justice. He was not to be
taken lightly. His anger against sin was very real.
Finally, fire represents purity and holiness. Fire purifies without ever being
contaminated. It burns away impurities. Fire must be treated with respect.
Our God is like this. He is never contaminated by sin. He is pure and
separated from sin. We do not dare approach Him in our sinful state lest we
be consumed.
17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a
devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people
of Israel. (Exodus 24)
God revealed himself to Moses as a fire in a burning bush. Why did He
choose a bush? The bush was a very common object. The very fire of God
was being manifested to Moses in a common object. God was making a
very important statement. He wanted to reveal His presence through
something ordinary. Moses was going to become that ordinary object in
which the fire of God was going to blaze.
None of us can ever pretend to understand why God wants to show forth
His power and holiness through ordinary instruments like you and me. We
will never be able to comprehend how God would be willing to enter our
lives and burn in them like He did in that ordinary desert bush. This is,
however, what the illustration of the burning bush teaches us.
What is important to note here is that the bush is not consumed. This was
something that astounded Moses. Listen to what he told his people in
Deuteronomy 4.33:
33 Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the
midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? (Deuteronomy 4)
The God of Moses was a consuming fire who descended on His people
without consuming them. Moses entered the fire of God's presence without
being consumed. The God of fire descended on him and yet he lived to tell
the story. I can think of no greater mystery than this. We will never
understand how a holy God can take up residence in the life of a sinner
without the fire of His holy presence devouring that individual but this is
what He wants to do.
What an encouragement this illustration is to us. I can know this God of
fire. Through the blood of Jesus, I can approach the devouring flames of
God's holiness without perishing. I can allow the fire of His holy presence
to blaze within so that the world might see through me His holiness and
power. His light in me, like a lighthouse, can guide the sinner home. I do
not understand this mystery, yet I believe it to be true. I, like Moses, am
called by God to be a burning bush, an ordinary object on fire with the very
presence of God, yet never consumed. Are you a burning bush?
For Consideration:
God revealed Himself to Moses as a God of fire. What did that fire
represent?
What is the significance of the fire of God being revealed in an ordinary
bush?
Is there evidence of the fire of God in your life? What do you expect to see
happen when the fire of God is revealed in the life of an individual?
What hinders the manifestation of the fire of God in your life?
How does knowing that the fire of God is burning in you give you courage
and boldness in your calling?
For Prayer:
Take a moment to thank the Lord for His gentleness in our lives. Thank
Him that while He is a consuming fire, He does not consume those who
know His Son.
Ask the Lord to help you to understand what it means to have the fire of His
presence in your life.
Ask the Lord to fill you even more with the fire of His presence so that you
can become all that He wants you to become.
Thank that Lord that when He calls us He also fills us with His presence to
do all that He asks us to do.
D
5 - I WILL BE WITH YOU
Read Exodus 3.7-22
uring his encounter with Moses before the burning bush, God
revealed that He had heard the cries of His people in Egypt and
had come to deliver them from their bonds. We do not know why,
after so many years, the Lord chose this precise moment to answer the
prayers of His people. Moses is now eighty years old. Ever since his birth
the people of God had been pleading with God for deliverance. God
answered their prayer in His time. We must never think that, because the
answer does not come right away, He is not going to answer.
There are two sentences that interest us in the passage listed above. The
first is found in Exodus 3.8:
8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the
Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad
land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the
Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites,
and the Jebusites. (Exodus 3)
The second is in Exodus 3.10:
10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people,
the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3)
At first glance, these two verses seem to contradict each other. Who was
going to bring the people out of Egypt? Verse 8 tells us that God would
"bring them up out of the land." Verse 10 tells us that Moses was to "bring
the people out of Egypt." How do we reconcile these two verses? I believe
the answer is to be found in Exodus 3.12. In this verse God told Moses:
"But I will be with you."
We encounter this expression in the New Testament. The Lord told His
disciples in Matthew 28.19,20:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And
behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28)
Jesus told His disciples what God told Moses: "I will be with you." How are
we to understand this phrase? All too often we understand it to mean: "If
you have any difficulties I will be there to hold your hand and give you
courage. I will wipe away your tears. I will help you as you strive to do
your best."
When God told Moses that He would be with him, what did He have in
mind? As Moses went out to deliver the people from the bondage of Egypt
what role did God play? Was the promise of God's presence to be
understood in the sense that God would stand on the side-lines cheering
Moses on as he faced the enemy? If that were the extent of God's role,
Moses would never have left his father-in-law's flocks. If there was one
thing that Moses was painfully aware of, it was the fact that the task to
which the Lord had called him would never be accomplished in his own
strength even if God did cheer him on. The task was an impossible one for a
mere human like himself.
Moses needed far more than a helping hand from the Lord. He
needed the Lord to do the task. The task of delivering the people
from slavery was the Lord's work. He told the Lord one day:
And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us
up from here.” (Exodus 33:15)
"Lord" said Moses that day, "If you don't go with me than don't even bother
to send me." He cried out again to God in Exodus 34.9:
9 And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord,
please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked
people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your
inheritance.” (Exodus 34)
Moses knew the people to whom the Lord had called him. He understood
the hardness of their hearts. He saw how they did nothing but complain day
after day. He saw how quickly they could be lead astray into sin. For this
reason, he cried out: "Lord if you love me, if I have found grace in your
eyes, if you are at all concerned about me, then walk with me, I cannot do it
without you." Moses was in constant need of the Lord's wisdom, strength,
and patience. He did not want to be, for a second, separated from the
enabling presence of the Lord.
The presence of the Lord in him, like the flames that blazed in the burning
bush was his strength for the task. While Moses was powerless to deliver
the people, with God's presence in him, nothing was impossible. When God
sent Moses, He went with him. It was God's strength and wisdom in him
that empowered him to do the task. Controlled by the indwelling Spirit of
God, Moses was able to accomplish the mission to which God had called
him. Moses was the lamp but God was the flame that burned in the lamp.
Moses was the body but God was the life of the body. They were intimately
associated.
The New Testament uses the illustration of the vine and the branches:
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by
itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide
in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me
and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you
can do nothing. (John 15)
I believe that the secret of success in the ministry of Moses was the fact that
he understood this vital principle of the vine and the branches. Apart from
God he could do nothing, but with the sap of God's life flowing through
him, nothing could stop him. He did not dare count on his own resources.
Nothing short of the presence of God in him would do. Without the
presence of God, Moses was a lamp with no flame, a body with no life. The
power in his ministry was not his own.
Could it be that we need in our day to be reminded of this truth? Could it be
that we are powerless to face the foe because we do not understand what
Jesus meant when he said: "I will be with you?" The example of Moses is a
very important one for us to follow. I praise the Lord who says: "I will be
with you." Without Him our efforts are in vain. May we cease to depend on
our own strength, so that His power might be evident in us. The presence of
God in us is our only guarantee of success in ministry and service for the
Lord. God has promised His presence, not just to cheer us on as we labour
in our own strength, but to bring vitality to our lifeless and impotent souls.
Do you know the power of this presence in your life?
For Consideration:
God promised to be with Moses. How important was this for Moses?
What is the difference between God cheering us on and God being our
strength or God giving us a helping hand and God being the fire inside us?
How much do we realize our need of God’s presence in us to accomplish
the task at hand? How much do we attempt to do in our own wisdom and
strength?
How much courage do you think that presence of the Lord gave Moses as
he stood before the impossible task of delivering his people from Egypt?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to help you to see your need for His presence in everything
that you do.
Thank the Lord that He is willing to be our strength and wisdom for all the
tasks that He calls us to do.
Ask the Lord to teach you what it means to trust in Him and His strength
and purpose. Thank Him that with His presence in us to strengthen, nothing
is impossible.
W
6 - QUESTIONS
Read Exodus 4.1-17
hen Moses heard the call of God to return to Egypt, his first
reaction was to say to the Lord, "who am I that I should go to
Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt" (Exodus
3:11). Although God had explained to him that He would be with him,
Moses is still not convinced that he is the right person for the job. In
Exodus 4.1 he said to God:
1 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or
listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to
you.’” (Exodus 4)
"Lord," said Moses, "anyone can say that he has come from You. What they
really need is a proof. How can I prove to the people that I have really come
from You?" We can ask this same question today. How are men and women
in our day and age to know that we are really the messengers of God? What
will it take for them to accept what we say as truth? Moses is convinced that
the Lord was sending him, but he is not convinced that the Israelites and the
Egyptians would see things in the same way.
God gave Moses three signs. He asked him to throw his rod on the ground.
Moses obeyed and his rod becomes a serpent. God told him to pick up the
serpent by the tail and it turned back into a rod. He asked him secondly, to
put his hand into his cloak. When he obeyed, his hand became leprous. In
putting his hand back into his cloak, it was healed. Finally, the Lord told
him that if the people did not believe these last two signs, he was to take
some water from the Nile River and pour it on the land and it would turn
into blood.
It was by means these three signs that Moses would prove to the people that
he was a prophet sent from God. Notice, however, what Moses told the
Lord after receiving the three signs:
10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent,
either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am
slow of speech and of tongue.” (Exodus 4)
Despite these powerful signs of God, Moses still struggles. What is that
nature of his struggle? He is looking at himself and not at God. He is failing
to see the significance of the illustration of the burning bush. He is still
trusting his own ability. Moses was not fully understanding that God was
promising to fill Him. God would be the strength in him. God would do
what he could not do. Moses is feeling the weight of responsibility and
knows his own unworthiness and inability. He can’t imagine being able to
speak to the people and have them believe what he said. He had already
been rejected by the Hebrew slaves and couldn’t imagine that they had
changed their mind. He is still struggling with the rejection of his past effort
forty years earlier.
There was, in the heart of Moses, a tension between the call of God and his
understanding of himself. We understand very well what Moses is feeling.
We see our weaknesses all to clearly. The problem is that such a focus can
keep us from stepping out into God’s greater purpose. God does not always
want us to do what is comfortable and familiar to us. There are times when
He will stretch us in ways we never thought we could be stretched. He will
put us in situations where the only one we can trust is Him.
God gave Moses three signs but those signs were no substitute for trusting
Him. Until Moses got his eyes off himself, he would never be able to step
out into the unknown. God was casting him into a ministry that was bigger
than him and his gifts. This would require faith in God and not in himself.
God became angry with Moses because of his lack of faith. God wanted
Moses to trust Him. Moses was certain of the call of God on his life. He did
not doubt what the Lord was asking him to do. The doubt, for Moses, was
about what the Lord could do in him. Moses just could not see himself as a
burning bush, full of the fire and glory of God. He did not feel worthy of
this.
Though Moses was not completely qualified for the ministry to which the
Lord was calling him, the Lord would meet him in his need. God provided
Moses with a co-worker. Moses was sensitive to the voice of the Lord,
Aaron was an able speaker, together they were to become a powerful team.
Like Moses, we live in a world that needs to be delivered from the bondage
of slavery. God wants to deliver His people from this bondage. He is ready
to equip us for the task and provide us with support in other people. He will
stretch us as He stretched Moses. We will find ourselves over your head in a
ministry that is bigger than our gifts and experience. We will be cast
completely on Him for strength, wisdom and grace. He will fill us with His
fire. He will burn in us and through us bringing light to those around us.
This fire of His presence will overpower the sin that surrounds us. The
burning fire of God’s Spirit will be our strength and confidence. He will do
through us what you could never do in our own ability.
While the humility of Moses was admirable, it could also be a hindrance for
him. He could not envision the presence of the Lord God in Him. He could
not imagine the victory God promised ever becoming a reality in him. God
will do more than we could ever imagine. Moses could not at this point
imagine God making the people of Israel listen to his words. He could not
imagine God using him to be the instrument of release for His people.
“What if they don’t believe me?” was the question Moses asked.
All the while God’s purpose for Moses was clear. He would be the
instrument to deliver the people of Israel from bondage. The victory would
be obtained by hard work but it would be given to Moses. What does God
want to do in you? Will you be hindered by your inability to imagine how
God could ever use you? Step out boldly in the leading of the Lord and you
will be surprised at what God wants to do in you and through you.
For Consideration:
What kind of signs does the Lord give today to confirm the truth of His
Word?
Are signs and miracles enough to convince people of the truth? Did the
miracles of Jesus always convince the people of His day that he was the
Messiah?
What is the danger of trusting in our gifts and experience? Is it possible for
us to put more confidence in our gifts than in the Lord?
Has the Lord ever stretched you beyond what you felt you were able to do
in your own strength and wisdom? Explain
Are you aware of the fire of God’s Spirit in you? What is the implication of
knowing that the fire of God burns in us?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that He promises to be our strength and wisdom for every
task He calls us to do.
Ask the Lord to give you more willingness to follow Him and His calling
into areas that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable.
Ask the Lord to forgive you for times when you were not willing to step out
because you failed to see how God could ever use your gifts and talents.
Take a moment to commit yourself afresh to the Lord, to go wherever He
wants you to go and to do whatever He wants you to do.
Ask God to give you a greater faith to believe that He is able to do even
greater things in your and through you.
A
7 - WHY DID YOU SEND ME?
Read Exodus 5.1-6.5
fter a long journey to Egypt, Moses, along with his brother
Aaron, gathered the elders of Israel. Aaron explained to them that
the Lord had sent them to deliver their nation from bondage.
Moses performed the signs the Lord had given to him to prove that they had
come from the Lord. The response of the people was encouraging:
31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had
visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they
bowed their heads and worshiped. (Exodus 4)
Moses and Aaron were confirmed in their calling by the people of God. The
people worshipped the Lord in response to His sending of Moses and Aaron
in answer to their prayers. How encouraging this must have been for Moses
and Aaron.
With a certain confidence, the two men went to the palace of the Pharaoh of
Egypt. Pharaoh's response was not so encouraging. When Moses and Aaron
asked him to let the people go into the desert for a celebration in honour of
their God, Pharaoh responded:
4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you
take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.”
(Exodus 5)
Not only does Pharaoh send Moses and Aaron away, but he also decided to
increase the burden on the Israelite slaves. The Egyptians had always
supplied the straw necessary to mix with the bricks the children of Israel
were making for Pharaoh. After the visit of Moses and Aaron, however,
Pharaoh decided that the people would gather their own straw without
reducing the quota of bricks required per day. This was a harsh blow to the
already overworked Israelite slaves. Pharaoh was expecting the impossible.
The Israelites did not have the time to find straw required for Pharaoh's
bricks. The Bible tells us that they replaced the straw with stubble instead
(Exodus 5.12). Even by using stubble they were not able to produce the
quantity of bricks required each day.
Because the quota of bricks was not being met, the Egyptians began to beat
the taskmasters. The life of the taskmaster became more difficult. They
begin to ask the question: "why?". They did not understand why Pharaoh
had increased their load. They decided to go to him to find an answer.
When the taskmasters ask Pharaoh to explain his actions, Pharaoh responds:
17 But he said, “You are idle, you are idle; that is why you say, ‘Let
us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ (Exodus 5)
When the taskmasters heard Pharaoh mention the sacrifices to the Lord,
they understood the problem. It was because of Moses and Aaron that
Pharaoh was oppressing them. Leaving the palace, the taskmasters met
Moses and Aaron. The Bible tells us what they told Moses and Aaron that
day:
20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they
came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look
on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of
Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill
us.” (Exodus 5)
The words of the taskmasters were harsh. They must have deeply hurt
Moses. The last thing in the world that he wanted to do was to make the
conditions for the people of God worse by putting a sword in Pharaoh’s
hand. This, however, was just what was happening. Moses only had to go to
the Israelite camp to see that the morale of his Israelite brethren had
seriously declined. Ever since his arrival, the conditions had only gotten
worse. That day Moses cried out to God:
22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you
done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I
came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this
people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” (Exodus 5)
Moses was a discouraged man. Things were not unfolding as he had hoped.
Why had the Lord sent him when conditions were only deteriorating for the
people since he came? It would have been far better for the people if he had
stayed in Midian.
Moses is not the only person to be discouraged in the work of the Lord. 1
Kings 19 tells us the response of Elijah, when he heard that Jezebel had
sworn before her gods to kill him:
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came
and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die,
saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no
better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19)
Job lost all his earthly possessions. Satan also killed his children and left
him sitting on an ash heap covered with ulcers. That day Job cried out to
God:
11 “Why did I not die at birth,
come out from the womb and expire?
12 Why did the knees receive me?
Or why the breasts, that I should nurse?
13 For then I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have
slept; then I would have been at rest (Job 3)
A few years later, the prophet Jeremiah, discouraged in the work of the
Lord declared:
14 Cursed be the day
on which I was born!
The day when my mother bore me,
let it not be blessed!
15 Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father,
“A son is born to you,”
making him very glad.
16 Let that man be like the cities
that the Lord overthrew without pity;
let him hear a cry in the morning
and an alarm at noon,
17 because he did not kill me in the womb;
so my mother would have been my grave,
and her womb forever great.
18 Why did I come out from the womb
to see toil and sorrow,
and spend my days in shame? (Jeremiah 20)
How often have we, in our spiritual service, asked ourselves if it would not
be best to simple throw in the towel. Maybe you have been persevering
without result in your ministry. Maybe you have been misunderstood. Every
servant of God comes to this point in his or her service for the Lord.
Why do we, as God's servant, become discouraged? In the case of Moses,
was it not that he was looking too much at his circumstances? As he looked
around him he could see only oppression and despair. He had heard the
harsh words of the taskmasters. These words had cut him deeply. His eyes
for a moment wandered from the Lord to his circumstances. He forgot that
he served a sovereign God. He forgot that the Lord, who was in control of
the situation, had already told him that these things would happen:
19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless
compelled by a mighty hand. 20So I will stretch out my hand and
strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he
will let you go. (Exodus 3)
As long as his eyes were off his Lord, Moses would remain a very
discouraged man.
Isaiah tells us:
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55)
God's ways are very different from our ways. When all around us begins to
crumble, more than ever we need to turn our eyes to God who is not only
bigger than these circumstances but can also use them to accomplish His
greater purposes.
In his discouragement, Moses cried out to God. "Why is all this
happening?" What is the response of God to Moses? Exodus 6.1 tells us:
1 But the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to
Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a
strong hand he will drive them out of his land.” (Exodus 6)
God reminded Moses that day that He was a sovereign God. Moses would
soon see what the sovereign God would do. The work belonged to God, He
would intervene in His own time. How refreshing it must have been for
Moses that day to be reminded that His God was sovereignly unfolding His
plan. It is true that Moses had come to the end of his personal resources but
God had not finished. Moses would, in God's time, see a mighty working of
His God.
Are you discouraged? Lift up your eyes to the sovereign Lord who has not
yet finished the work He has begun in your life. Nothing is impossible for
Him. He will intervene in His time. He who has called you is faithful (1
Thessalonians 5:24). He did not make a mistake in allowing your
circumstances. He knows what He is doing. You can trust Him fully. In His
time, you too will hear him say: "Now you will see what I will do."
For Consideration:
Should we expect that because God is with us that people will listen to us?
Should we expect that the ministries to which God has called us will always
be easy? What are some of the struggles you have faced in ministry?
Have you ever been discouraged in ministry? Explain.
Is there cause for hopelessness when we understand that God is a sovereign
God who controls and has authority over all things? What comfort do you
find in the fact that God is bigger than your discouragement?
How does knowing that God’s ways are different from ours, help us to deal
with the discouragements that come our way?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that He is bigger than our greatest discouragement.
Ask the Lord to help you to understand that He is in control of the
circumstances that you face today.
Ask God for the grace to persevere when things do not turn out as you
expected.
S
8 - GO, SPEAK TO PHARAOH
Read Exodus 6.10-12, 28-30; 7.14,15; 8.1,2; 8.20; 9.1; 9.13; 10.1
ince Moses and Aaron had arrived in Egypt, the living conditions
of the children of Israel had only gotten worse. The people, who
had put their confidence in them at their arrival, were now cursing
them. This was a painful time for Moses. It was not what he had expected.
Sometimes we expect that if we are ministering in the name of the Lord,
everything will flow smoothly. The reality, however, is that we are engaged
in an intense spiritual battle. This battle will have its struggles. At times, the
enemy will seem to be winning. This was one of those times. As Moses
looked around him and saw the intensifying agony of his people, he cried
out to God, "why did you send me." There is a sense of disappointment in
his voice. God had told Moses that He would break Pharaoh and he would
be forced to let the people go. While this would indeed happen, it did not do
so immediately. Before the breaking of Pharaoh, there was an intense battle
to be fought.
Why doesn’t God give us victory without a fight? Why does there have to
be disappointment and discouragement in the battle before us? What pastor
has not faced the criticism of people in his congregation? What church has
not had people leave in anger? What parent has not been disappointed with
the actions of his or her children? How easy it is in these times to feel like
giving up. As Moses cried out to God that day, “why did you send me?” he
was feeling disappointment in God and his calling. God, however, had not
finished with him. In fact, God told Moses that day to get back on his feet
and return to Pharaoh.
Hearing this Moses replied:
12 “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How
then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?”
(Exodus 6)
Moses did not understand why the Lord would ask him to return when
Pharaoh had been so hostile toward him and the Israelites. Even his own
people had lost confidence in him because of that meeting with Pharaoh. It
was evident that the heart of the king of Egypt was hardened. What good
would it do to return? Moses already knew the answer Pharaoh would give.
Beyond this, however, was the fact that Moses simply felt that he was in
over his head. “I am a man of uncircumcised lips,” he told the Lord.
Circumcision of young males was a means of consecrating them to God. It
was a sign that they belonged to God. By telling God that he was a man of
uncircumcised lips, Moses is telling Him that he was not gifted to speak.
His lips were like the lips of those who did not belong to God. These lips
did not demonstrate the power and anointing of God. What could he do
without that anointing? How could he ever expect to break the power of
Pharaoh with uncircumcised lips? He had already tried, and that attempt led
to serious failure and disappointment.
The temptation for Moses here was to give up and admit failure. God told
him to get back on his feet and go back to Pharaoh. He called him to
persevere.
Pharaoh’s heart was very hard to the things of God. He was not ready to
listen. There have been times when I have preached to people who had no
desire to listen to what I have had to say or who did not like what I had to
say. God often called His prophets to go to those whose hearts are hardened
and who did not want to hear what they had to say. Listen to the call of God
on the life of Isaiah:
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and
who will go for us?”
Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to
this people:
“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. (Isaiah 6)
From the outset of his ministry, the prophet Isaiah understood that people
would not listen to his message. God was calling him, however, to preach
until the “cities lie waste without inhabitants.” It is difficult to be faithful
under such terms. These, however, were the terms of Isaiah’s ministry
calling.
The angels of God came one day to the town of Sodom. They warned Lot
of the impending danger to the city. They told him to warn his family of the
coming destruction of their city. Lot went right away to speak to his family
but his family did not take him seriously (Genesis 19.14). Why did God
send Lot when He knew his family would not listen?
What purpose is there in preaching to the hardened hearts of sinners who
will never listen? God not only sends us to proclaim deliverance; He also
sends us to proclaim His judgement. The Lord knew that the words of the
prophet Isaiah would not change the hearts of the people to whom He sent
him. God sent Isaiah, however, to pronounce His judgement.
In the case of Moses, the Lord did not send him back to the king of Egypt
because He felt that the heart of Pharaoh would be changed. Ten times
Moses went to Pharaoh, ten times Pharaoh's judgement was pronounced.
Each time Moses returned, the plagues became more serious. With each
refusal of Pharaoh to listen to the word of God, his land was plunged more
deeply into destruction. The judgement of God, proclaimed against Pharaoh
and the Egyptians was clear.
The fact that God sent Moses back proves to us that our God is a God of
justice and compassion. He is a very patient God. He could have given
Egypt only one opportunity before proclaiming His final judgement but He
sent Moses back ten times. Pharaoh had no excuse. He had every
opportunity to repent. His tenfold refusal sealed his judgement.
Like Moses, we too are sent by God. We are sometimes the savour of life
and sometimes the savour of death.
15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are
being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a
fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to
life. Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2)
Sometimes we are called to proclaim the deliverance of God, sometimes to
proclaim His judgement. Moses lived with this tension. To the Israelites, he
was the savour of life and deliverance, but to the Egyptians he was the
savour of death and condemnation.
The apostle Peter tells us concerning Jesus:
6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not
believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
8 and
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined
to do. (1 Peter 2)
The Lord we proclaim is precious to those who believe, but a rock of
offense and a stumbling block to those who are disobedient. Like Moses,
we place life and death before those who hear our message. The promise of
God is that His word will never return void:
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55)
The words of God through Moses to Pharaoh were not in vain. By them the
judgement of God was
proclaimed and released in Egypt. Though people may never believe, they
still need to be warned. These were difficult lessons for Moses to learn. As
a spokesman of God, Moses did not get to choose the message. He was to
deliver the message God gave him to deliver. Sometimes people would be
richly blessed by that message. Other times they would reject the message
and the messenger who brought it. Sometimes we proclaim the blessing of
the Lord. Other times we must proclaim His judgement and curse. The
faithful messenger will proclaim both the blessings and the judgement.
I admire the patience and the courage of Moses who persevered despite
such great obstacles. He returned again and again with the message of God.
What a difficult ministry it was to be a proclaimer of judgement. How much
more pleasant it would be to be a proclaimer of deliverance. Whether it be
to proclaim judgement or to proclaim deliverance, the ultimate call of God
on our lives is to be obedient and faithful servants, proclaiming the message
He gives us to proclaim at the right time.
For Consideration:
Does God ever promise that when He calls us, everything will be easy?
What struggles did Moses have with his calling?
Have you ever been disappointed because your ministry did not turn out as
you had anticipated?
How does understanding that we are in a spiritual battle temper our
expectations in ministry?
Why should we preach to those who will not listen? Why do they also need
to hear the Word of God?
Does the messenger get to choose the message he or she speaks? Will the
message we share always be pleasant for those to whom it is intended?
Are we called to “success” or to faithfulness? What is the difference
between setting our focus on success rather than faithfulness? How did
Moses struggle with this?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to give you the perseverance necessary to keep going when
you feel like quitting?
Ask God to help you to put aside all your own expectations in ministry so
that you can let Him bless as He sees fit. Ask God to forgive you for
coming into ministry with your own ideas. Ask Him to keep you faithful to
Him and His purpose always.