The Man Moses
“Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. (Num.12:3)”
Wow! What a statement to be recorded under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. One does have to wonder if Moses would even say this of himself or if someone later added the commentary.
There is another statement akin to this in Exodus 11:3:
“And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people. (Exo.11:3)”
Exodus is written by Moses, so why would he write about himself in the third person; as if someone else was writing these passages? It’s because of verses like theses some believe that another writer has come along and added theses verses; while others point out that Moses is writing under the inspiration of the Spirit of God; using God’s point of view to accurately tell the story. Therefore, most likely it is through the inspiration of the Spirit of God that causes Moses to write this way and not the addition of some other writer.
Since we are then seeing from God’s point of view and not mans; we get to see both the good and the ugly of people. We get to see the real side of people and not just the side that people want us to see.
Israel for example; why would they desire to have themselves to appear so foolish in the wilderness; or why would they want us to see themselves as such a rebellious nation; that is if they had anything to do with the writing of the scriptures themselves?
Even the greatest of heroes are seen with flaws and sin that make the average person say, “Why is that in there, if this is a person of God?”
Why? Because people are just that, they are people and no one is without some kind of fault or sin; given the right set of circumstances almost anyone will fall into some kind of sin; they don’t have to, but most will surrender to sin to avoid the constant struggle not to sin.
Plus, God gives us examples; to show at what great lengths he will go through in order to bring one to repentance and to bring them to the place were they can fulfill his plan, as well as the judgments or consequences that may fall on those who do not repent.
Through these examples, God shows that there are consequences to one’s sin; even if you are his, there are some consequences that will remain or continue in its operation, even after the person is forgiven by God.
So, if we look at one of the greatest men of God, Moses; we will see he is just a “man”; but, a man (or woman) in God’s hand is never just an ordinary man; but rather they become a people of destiny or purpose.
There are people, which are only known by their name in scripture within the lineage of Jesus; nothing written about whom they were or what they may have done; however they are a link in the chain that God used to bring Christ into the world.
As well as, there are nameless people in the scriptures, who in some way helped in bring about God’s plans by their giving to Christ’s needs while he was on the earth.
So when we speak of destiny or purpose, these are only found in or through God; we are not to be driven by destiny or purpose, but rather we should be driven by a relationship with God, that leads us into a destiny or unfolds our purpose with God.
Therefore, if one does not have a relationship or they restrict their relationship, then one’s destiny and purpose may not be fully experienced.
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. (2Tim.2:20-21)”
Paul shows that God uses every kind of vessel for his purpose; some are likened to gold while others are of a lesser or of a common value; like earth (clay). Some will find honor, while others find themselves in dishonor; it seem to be our choice what kind of vessel we will be.
There are times when we look at God’s people, that they are for the moment vessels of gold and then later they tend to be something of a lesser value. King David has his moments when he is doing really well to honor, and then there are those moments he stands in a place of dishonor.
The moment can never be redeemed, but the man can be; as we see David is called, “A man after God’s own heart.” A statement made before David was even called to be King, yet God knew that David (the boy) would be capable of fulfilling all of his will, in spite of his failings as he travels through his life.
“And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. (Acts 13:22)”
David had his dishonorable moments, but when confront by God, David repented and mourned over it and he was restored to a vessel of honor.
Does God condone our sins and faults? Absolutely not; even though forgiveness was found with God, David still paid a high price for his sin as a king, as a father and as a husband.
Did God predestined David to sin, in the sense of being the author of David’s sin? Once again, absolutely not; God is not the tempter, nor does he lead one into sin. However, God is omniscient; through his foreknowledge of David’s sin, God still chose David; and just as David is used as a vessel; God also used David’s sin to help mankind to know who God is.
God has revealed much of his character through our sin to show his sovereignty, providence, forbearance, judgments and much more; God uses everything to reveal his love for us and his ability to redeem from the very greatest depths of where man has fallen; but make no mistake there is a hell to be shunned and a judgment to pay for those who remain in their sin and God will not be lured into a game, nor will he be mocked when it comes to his salvation.
Little is known of Moses outside of scripture; it’s like history has done all it can to remove him from its memory. Moses lived a hundred and twenty years; forty years he grew up in the courts of Pharaoh; forty years as a shepherd of sheep in the land of Midian; and forty years as God’s servant, a shepherd over God’s people.
In the writings of Flavius Josephus, “Antiquities of the Jews”; Josephus gives us more possible insight on Moses and he fills in some of the blank spaces that history seems to have lost.
Josephus says, that through prayer, Moses’ father had a dream where the Lord tells him that his unborn child will be the deliverer that the children of Israel are crying out to God for and he is to be the foretold ruin of Pharaoh’s kingdom (Book 2, chap.9); It was for this reason the new-born sons of the Hebrews were to be killed, to prevent the fulfillment of this dream. (As we look at the N/T we can quickly see a similarity to his birth as a foreshadow of Christ.)
(Book 2, chap.10) Tells how Moses grew up and was trained and educated and he was made a general over the armies of Pharaoh and overthrew the greatest of Egyptian enemies; The Ethiopians.
“However, while Moses was uneasy at the army’s lying idle, (for the enemies durst not come to a battle,) this accident happened: – Tharbis was the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians: she happened to see Moses as he led the army near the walls, and fought with great courage; and admiring the subtility of his undertakings, and believing him to be the author of the Egyptians’ success, when they had before despaired of recovering their liberty, and to be the occasion of the great danger the Ethiopians were in, when they had before boasted of their great achievements, she fell deeply in love with him; and upon the prevalency of that passion, sent to him the most faithful of all her servants to discourse with him about their marriage. He thereupon accepted the offer, on condition she would procure the delivering up of the city; and gave her the assurance of an oath to take her to his wife; and that when he had once taken possession of the city, he would not break his oath to her. No sooner was the agreement made, but it took effect immediately; and when Moses had cut off the Ethiopians, he gave thanks to God, and consummated his marriage, and led the Egyptians back to their own land.”
Stephen is recorded as saying in Act 7:22-23: And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.”
Though scripture does not confirm Josephus’ account; it does affirm he was mighty in deeds prior to him leaving at the age of forty. As the men looked on Stephen they saw his face as an angel; Josephus says that Moses had a divine countenance on him all his growing up; which caused the people to believe, God’s favor was on him.
It appears that Moses himself, the Hebrew people and the Egyptians all knew that Moses had a divine destiny; forty years the Hebrews looked with hope; forty years the Egyptians looked with suspicion; while Moses may have looked for opportunity or timing to become the deliverer that he was foretold to be.
The Hebrews may have grown weary of waiting; seeing their slavery remaining, while Moses grows to be great in Egypt and lives in Pharaoh’s house for forty years. Moses may have grown weary through time himself, and in doing so, may have seen the wrong opportunity and killed a man and unsuccessfully tried to hide the fact; which then sends him fleeing to the land of Midian.
Being driven by destiny or a believed purpose alone can led people to the wrong conclusions and failures; this is why one needs to first be in a relationship with God and through the relationship God reveals the right timing and the right path to the purposes and destiny he has for us. This way we flow with God, rather than getting ahead of him.
Moses a great man; now has become a shepherd of sheep and cattle. For forty years, (now being eighty years old), Moses may have had time to question if he really had a divine destiny or purpose; as a great general over the armies of Pharaoh, he may have thought he could overthrow Pharaoh, but now as an outcast and a shepherd, how could it ever happen now? Moses’ father may have told Moses of his dream; where The Lord said Moses would be a deliverer of his people, but he never said how it would be done or when!
Forty years of looking for the opportunity to free his people, then forty more years wondering if he had missed it and possibly losing hope that it may ever happen. In a way Moses tried to be God’s man of the hour without really being in a full-blown relationship with him or his people.
Many people have tried to be a man or woman of God, without having a full relationship with God’s people; operating more on the sidelines; as a kind of “Lone Ranger” for God. Moses was born into this situation so it is not altogether his fault that he is in this situation; however these things are written for our benefit so that we can learn from them and prosper through Moses’ failures and successes, if we can understand what God is showing us through the big picture of Moses’ life.
When the Lord appears before Moses and speaks of sending him to Pharaoh, Moses seems to question his own ability by saying, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
At forty he was a great general, but now at eighty he was only a shepherd; what Pharaoh would listen to an eighty year old shepherd? The Lord was not dependant on Moses’ youth, nor of the wisdom of Egypt that Moses had or the power he had as a general; neither was Moses’ present age a hindrance to God to use Moses to deliver his people.
In Egypt, Moses is declared as being “very great” (Exodus 11:3), after he crosses over the Rea Sea he is declared as being “very meek” (Num.12:3); these two terms seem to contradict one another in most people’s way of thinking. The Hebrew word used for meek is an adjective meaning poor, oppressed, afflicted, humble.
Josephus seems to point that Moses was afflicted above all people and says, “But as for Moses himself, while the multitude were irritated and bitterly set against him, he cheerfully relied upon God, and upon his consciousness of the care he had taken of these his own people; and he came into the midst of them, even while they clamored against him, and had stones in their hands in order to despatch him. Now he was of an agreeable presence, and very able to persuade the people by his speeches;”
Though Moses at times was afflicted by the people through their murmurings and complaints; his meekness has more to do with self inflected oppression of his emotions and actions; rather than getting angry Moses stayed agreeable and played the peacemaker between The Lord and his people.
Moses was poor only through the fact that he relied on God’s ability and not his own and he oppressed his own right to be angry or outraged at the people; in order to sanctify God before the people he oppressed his own rights and emotions; in doing so he became the very face of God’s love and intercession to an ungrateful and unloveable people at times.
It is always better to reason with (for) God, than to reason with (against) God. To reason with (for) God: is to bring ones self to agreement and to line ones life up with what God has said. To reason with (against) God: is to try to get God to compromise in what he has said, or to try to get God to agree with you and for him to line up with your life and actions.
Though The Lord did say. “Come and let us reason together.”(Isa. 1:18); he is not looking for a debate on the issues at hand or for a compromise to be worked out. He is looking to help us to understand why we are to be obedient to his word, but he is not going to help us to find a way around or a way out of being obedient.
Moses may have found this out the hard way in Exodus 4:24; as soon as you read this account in scripture, one is brought to the conclusion that they have just entered into the tail end of a conversation between The Lord and Moses. Where much of the pertinent information is missing; leaving one to ask, “Just what happened here and why?” It’s not clear who the Lord sought to kill; whether it was one of Moses’ children (the uncircumcised child) or Moses himself; the actual Hebrew writing does not clearly say it was Moses that the Lord sought to kill.
Even the great Jewish Rabbi’s of the 2nd century could not agree: Rabbi Joshua ben Karha says it’s Moses: while Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says it’s Eliezer that the Lord sought to kill. Rabbi Yudah bar Bizna says that two angels appeared and subdued Moses, (One called Af, meaning Anger, the other one called Hemah, meaning Wrath).It appears Moses had not as yet circumcised one of his male children (How old this child is at this time we’re not told).
There are two commands that stand at this moment: The first command, given to Abraham and his seed to circumcise all male children. The second command, given to Moses to go and return to Egypt.
It may be that Moses (or his wife) reasoned it out (most likely without God), that to circumcise this child now would cause health problems on the way to Egypt; so it is either; delay the journey or delay the circumcision. I say this because it appears through Zipporah’s actions that the issue of circumcision must have already been brought up prior to this event or how else does she know to circumcise the child.
So with reasoning in hand they started to travel and when they come to a place of rest; the Lord gets involved and mans reasoning goes out the window, as the Lord seeks to kill Moses or the child.
If the Lord wanted Moses dead, then he would have been dead, end of chapter. No, the Lord gave some time here and a way out; and it appears the both of them knew the way out, (they knew they were wrong and why.)
Zipporah’s actions tells us; that she knew why God was angry and through her throwing the foreskin down, it tells us she was probably was not very happy about circumcising her child, but knew it was needful for the moment in order to save Moses or the child life.
For what ever reason Moses is not able to perform the circumcision himself; whether he is held by an angel or it is he himself who the Lord has sought to kill and thereby, he may be incapacitated through illness of some kind.
Zipporah is the only one left to circumcise this child; the reason circumcision falls to her, is she may have played a large part in why the child was not circumcised and now the Lord was showing her what her decision could cost, but she was also given a chance to repent and be obedient in both of the commands of God.
Moses was about to go to Pharaoh and make some demands in God’s stead: It wouldn’t look very good for Moses (a Man of God) to say obey God’s commands, if he himself wasn’t being obedient himself.
If Moses was going to speak of pending judgments from God to Pharaoh; then how could Pharaoh take this seriously, if Moses wasn’t taking God’s judgments seriously in circumcision?
In almost every Jewish discussion about circumcision, one will eventually end up here to show that even “the great man of God” Moses himself could not neglect or delay the command of circumcision: no matter what his reasoning was!
Moses made mistakes along the way; one even prevented his own entry into the promise land. He was allowed to bring the people to the very brink of entering into the promise land, but he would have to let another lead them across the river Jordan into the promise land.
In Num.20:1-13, we find that Moses’ sister had just died and was buried in Kadesh; we are then told that there was no water there so the people quarreled against Moses, therefore Moses seeks instruction from the Lord.
The Lord said, “Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.”
Moses may have still been mourning Miriam’s death when this happened, plus forty years of the people’s murmuring, due to their lack of faith in God’s provisions; may have cause Moses to fail in carrying out God’s word to the exact letter.
When the Lord spoke to Moses, there was no anger or displeasure shown towards the people’s want for water. However, when Moses spoke to the people, he spoke harshly to them; calling them rebels and saying, “Should we fetch you water from this rock; in an almost reluctant manner he speaks of fetching water and then he struck the rock twice with the rod, instead of just speaking to the rock.
This displeased the Lord and he said to Moses and Aaron, “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
Wow! Forty years of service and this happens. The unbelief here seems to stem out from both, Moses and Aaron; where they failed to understand that they were God’s representatives, not just in position, but in attitude also; which would have declared who God is and how he responds to people or situations.
In other words they misrepresented God’s character; also they did not obey the direct word of God in their actions and added their own signs of displeasure; therefore they marred the image of God’s character before the people.
Some people believe the Lord was angry at Moses and Aaron for marring the imagery of Christ that is seen throughout the O/T; Christ being the rock as Paul describes in 1 Corn.10:4; and striking the rock twice mares the image of Christ going to the cross only once and through Christ all spiritual blessings are poured out.
Therefore, Moses striking the rock twice was a sign of unbelief; where more works of man are required to receive the blessings of God, rather than receiving them by grace through the one work of God.
Moses is called a prophet; however it is doubtful that he understood the imagery being laid out that would proclaim who Christ is or that he knew that he was playing a part in laying out that imagery. If we are to see the rock as Christ, then; Moses attitude may have marred Christ’s attitude of going to the cross for mankind, which changes the character of God’s grace from love to anger.
It’s not clear just what Aaron’s (the high priest) part was; whether it has to do with the golden calf or the fact that he just idly stood by as Moses spoke harshly to the people; which would have marred the image of Christ as our great High Priest.
In any case the Lord said they failed to sanctify him in the eyes of the children of Israel; so it appears that the main reason was they marred the image of the character of God and his grace.
In doing so they were not allowed to enter into the land. Not just Moses, but all of the older leadership; Moses, Aaron, Miriam; they all in some way failed to enter into the promise land. (It’s clear that it wasn’t Moses age or health that prevented him from entering.)
The Exodus from Egypt is a shadow or picture of God grace delivering his people from sin; where Egypt is our bondage to sin and the Red Sea is a picture of our death through the blood of Jesus whereby we enter into freedom from the bondages of sin.
“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. (Exo 13:17-18)”
God’s grace is designed to get us from point (A) to point (B); however, God doesn’t always take us the shortest route; in fact most of the time he takes the longer route in order to work something into us or out of us.
The wilderness is not a picture of heaven, neither is the promise land. The wilderness is a place where ones faith is tested; both in trusting God for his provisions, as well as standing in faith for the long haul and not just for a moment; and we learn to faithfully declare God’s image in our actions.
Failure in this testing time for some; shows they have no faith or no enduring faith at all in God, which may bring forth eternal judgment or at the very least the lost of ones own physical life, which means; some or all of the promises of God may not be manifested due to a lack of faith.
While for others, such as Moses; where he retains eternal life, but his failure causes him to be eliminated from going on into the promises of God. Many people will find themselves in Moses shoes; where failure to stand in or acting out the character of God may not cost them their salvation, but it can cause them to fail in accessing some of the blessings of God or they may not be able to go farther into to plans of God.
In some cases if repentance takes place a person may be restored and access may be regained, but for some like Moses and Aaron access will be denied, though their salvation will remain intact.
The promise land is a picture of our faith walk; though the land was given to the people of God, they had to take possession of the land through warfare (faith); and in order to achieve success, one will need to pass the wilderness test; with the knowledge of knowing that in the promise land there will be other tests that will be very much like those in the wilderness; tests that will try to prevent one from enjoying the promises or the fullness of God’s grace.
Moses, as great as he was; was not above the consequences of his own failures or reasoning’s; and we should take a good look at him as an example; these are the principles by which God has used in the past through Moses and others; knowing that God does not change, he may use these same principles today as they apply to our circumstances.
So, if we desire to walk in the fullness of God’s grace and promises, we need to not only look at our actions, but also the attitude that we demonstrate during our actions as God’s representatives.