MOSES HAS SOMETHING
TO SAY TO US
Generally, most Christians give little or no thought to Moses. Who Moses was or
what Moses said has no significant place in our thinking. If Christians want to consider
"important spiritual matters," rarely will those matters include Moses. We identify Moses
as "the voice of the old covenant." We are very quick to inform people that we are under
the new covenant. We shift the spotlight dramatically and exclusively to Jesus Christ as
we focus their attention on the new covenant.
Moses was not the Son of God. Moses did not reveal eternal atonement for the
sins of all people. Moses did not inform Israel or anyone else about God's eternal
Because that is true does not mean that Moses is insignificant to Christians or
unimportant to Christianity. It certainly does not mean that Christians should pay no
attention to the man and the message that God gave him.
Moses can teach us invaluable lessons about loving God and being devoted to
the will of God. Moses will teach us these lessons if we will only listen. Just as Moses
taught Israel essential lessons about being the people of God, Moses has essential
lessons to teach us about being the people of God.
- Our impressions of Moses are heavily influenced by the negative occasions
that occurred in his life.
- We are likely to be familiar with these facts.
- Moses fled into the wilderness to run away from life and hide when he was
forty years old (Exodus 2:11-25).
- Moses did every thing possible to say, "No," to God when God instructed him
to return to Egypt (Exodus 3, 4).
- Moses struck a rock to provide water for Israel while in the wilderness, and
God had instructed him to speak to the rock (Numbers 20).
- The last forty years of Moses' life were devoted exclusively and entirely to leading
Israel out of the slavery of Egypt to the promised land of Canaan.
- These were by far the most difficult, demanding, frustrating, exhausting years
of Moses' life.
- His first forty years were lived as a part of the royal family--a time of
privilege and easy living.
- His second forty years were lived as a shepherd who tended a flock in the
isolation of the wilderness--a very simple, uncomplicated existence.
- His last forty years were an adventure in frustration and exasperation.
- Few of us have ever considered the depth of Moses' frustrations as he led
- I want you to consider how exasperating being Israel's leader was from beginning
- Moses returned to Egypt convinced that God had given him a simple task.
- God had given him the power to perform some miracles to impress and
convince both Israel and the king (Exodus 4:1-9).
- He would get an audience with the king.
- He would make his request and perform his miracles if necessary.
- The king would release Israel.
- They would leave.
- He successfully convinced the people of Israel that was what would happen
- That was Moses' expectation, but that is not what happened (Exodus 5).
- The king rejected his request.
- The king immediately made the Israelite slaves' work next to impossible.
- When their work became an impossible burden, the leaders said to Moses,
"May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious
in Pharaoh's sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their
hand to kill us."
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Exodus 5:21).
- And Moses said to God, "O Lord, why have You brought harm to this
people? Why did You ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to
speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not
delivered Your people at all"
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Exodus 5:22,23).
- And God said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for
under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive
them out of his land"
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Exodus 6:1).
- That was just the beginning of forty, long, frustrating years.
- When Israel was trapped between the King's army and the Red Sea, Israel
said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have
taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this
way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in
Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it would
have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)
- As Israel began their journey in the wilderness, they grumbled at Moses
saying, "What shall we drink?"
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Exodus 15:24).
- When Israel was hungry, they grumbled against Moses and Aaron saying,
"Would that we had died by the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat
by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out
into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger"
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Exodus 16:3).
- While Moses is up on Mount Sinai receiving instructions from God, Israel
convinced Aaron to build a golden idol, and they said of the idol, "This is your
god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!"
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Exodus 32:8).
- Moses' own brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, challenged his leadership
saying, "Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not
spoken through us as well?"
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Numbers 12:2).
- Moses led this people to Canaan, sent out spies to prepare for an invasion, but
when the spies returned, ten of them said, "The people of the land are too
powerful for us to conquer."
- Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron saying, "Would that we had died
in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is
the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our
little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to
Egypt?" So they said to one another, "Let us appoint a leader and return to
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Numbers 14:2-4).
- Korah led a rebellion again Moses and Aaron saying, "You have gone far
enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is
in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Numbers 16:3).
- Dathan and Abiram joined the rebellion and said to Moses, "Is it not enough
that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have
us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us? Indeed, you have
not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor have you given us
an inheritance of fields and vineyards."
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Numbers 16:13,14).
- Nothing more clearly reveals the depth of Moses' frustration as does Numbers
- People began to ask, "Who is going to give us some meat to eat?"
- They began thinking about the vegetables and fish they ate in Egypt.
- They were sick of eating manna day after day after day.
- So everybody began crying in their tents--a whole nation of depressed people
- And Moses reached "the end of his rope."
- Listen to Moses' frustration as he talks to God: "Why have You been so hard
on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have
laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this
people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, 'Carry
them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You
swore to their fathers'? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For
they weep before me, saying, 'Give us meat that we may eat!' I alone am not
able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are
going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your
sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness."
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Numbers 11:11-15).
- Note that he did not ask for God to kill Israel; he asked God to kill him.
- God did not rebuke him or get angry with him, but provided him some help.
- Let me give you some insight into the spiritual measure of this man.
- When his own brother and sister challenged his leadership, they angered God.
- It states of Moses that no man on earth was as humble as he was.
- When God punished Miriam with leprosy, Moses prayed that she be healed.
- That is characteristic of Moses.
- When Israel built the golden calf as an idol, God wanted to destroy the people
and begin again with Moses.
- It did not happen; it did not happen because Moses interceded for the people.
- When the people refused to trust God enough to enter the land of Canaan,
God wanted to destroy the people and begin again with Moses.
- It did not happen; it did not happen because Moses interceded for the people.
- I want you to note a powerful, marvelous evidence of the depth of Moses' personal
devotion to God.
- When God wanted to destroy faithless Israel, God did not care what
unbelieving, wicked people thought or said about Him, but Moses cared what
unbelieving, wicked people said about God.
- Listen to Moses reason for interceding for Israel and note that it had nothing to
do with Israel or Moses; it had everything to do with God.
- At the incident of the golden calf: "Why should the Egyptians speak, saying,
'With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to
destroy them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your burning anger and
change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham,
Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said
to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and
all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and
they shall inherit it forever.' "
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Exodus 32:12,13).
- At the incident when Israel refused to enter Canaan: "Then the Egyptians
will hear of it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from their
midst, and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard
that You, O Lord, are in the midst of this people, for You, O Lord, are seen
eye to eye, while Your cloud stands over them; and You go before them in
a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if You slay this
people as one man, then the nations who have heard of Your fame will say,
'because the Lord could not bring this people into the land which He
promised them by oath, therefore He slaughtered them in the wilderness.'
But now, I pray, let the power of the Lord be great, just as You have
declared, 'The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness,
forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the
guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the
fourth generations.' Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to
the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this
people, from Egypt even until now."
(The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.) (Numbers 14:13-19).
If we had the devotion, the commitment, and the concern for God
that Moses had, what God could do with us and through us! And we have
something Moses never had. We have Jesus Christ.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 20 September 1998
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