The life of Moses and the events in which God used him serve as a roadmap for our lives or, rather, to be more modern and relevant, the events serve as a GPS that directs our path toward God. [There’s actually an entire message to be taught using this analogy: sometimes we follow the GPS instructions and remain on course, but other times we are either too distracted and miss a turn or stubbornly choose our own way and must subsequently be “rerouted”. However, we’ll proceed with Moses.]
Let’s summarize the start of Moses’ incredible journey with God in Part 1, then settle in on his time with Egypt’s Pharaoh in Part 2. I think we’ll see some startling similarities to our own lives.
- Moses was born into death. He was lost at conception; there was already a decree on his life. As a son, he was to be “cast into the Nile” and drowned (Exodus 1:22). It is the same way with us. We are born into sin and already lost at birth. We are born needing a savior.
- Moses was drawn out of the water (Exodus 2:10) and rescued into a brand new life: it was Pharaoh’s daughter who claimed him. Do you see the parallel to baptism as we are pulled from under the water and raised to new life in Christ?
- As a prince of Egypt, Moses “looked this way and that, and seeing no one” killed an Egyptian who was mistreating a Hebrew slave (Exodus 2:12). Moses chose violence and his own strength to right the wrong that he observed. In doing so, he was mistrusted by the Hebrews and exiled from his home by Pharaoh. We must lean on God, not our own strength, even when trying to help others.
- Moses’ situation transformed dramatically with this single act. Has your life ever been altered by an act of disobedience? The story does not need to end there, though. God remains at work. Moses’ fortunes changed from proud prince to humble shepherd. It took years for him to effect this transition, however; Moses was 80 years old when he first spoke to Pharaoh at God’s command (Exodus 7:7). God molded Moses in these wilderness years into a man that He could use mightily. Don’t despair if you find yourself in the wilderness. God works in the wilderness. Although Moses knew nothing of it, God heard the Hebrews’ cries for help and “God knew” (Exodus 2:25) His course of action during Moses’ time as a shepherd. You see, God already had a plan for Moses, but He needed Moses to be humble and willing to follow His instructions, not Moses’ own impulsiveness. Please hear this: God also has a plan to use you to save His people, but He is unable to put you into action as long as you remain proud and defiant. This is also true, though: God’s timing is always perfect.
- God announces his plan to Moses in an unmistakable way through Moses’ existing circumstances. He called Moses right where he was: tending sheep. He appeared through the burning bush that was not consumed (Exodus 3:2). To his credit, Moses responded “Here I am” to God’s call (Exodus 3:4). Even though Moses remained impetuous and filled with self-doubt, God was able to use him based on this simple response: here I am.
- God details His plans for the Hebrews’ deliverance from slavery as well as Moses’ role. God promises victory to Moses. Moses doubts. He questions God: “they will not believe me” (Exodus 4: 1). God responds with three signs. Moses questions God again: “I am not eloquent” (Exodus 4:10). God reassures Moses of His absolute sovereignty. Moses finally refuses: “please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13). At this third response and refusal, “the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses” (Exodus 4:14). God answers Moses’ refusal by choosing his older brother, Aaron, to speak for him. [Remember that Aaron was not with Moses at the time. He had spent his life to this point – he was now 83 – as a slave in Egypt.] This is the simple message: don’t resist God. Just don’t. The well-known hymn captures it perfectly: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey”.
- At this point, Moses’ fortunes shift again. He took his wife and sons, left what he had come to know as home, as safety, and returned to Egypt. He enters Egypt not as a prince, but rather as a stranger.
- God is now ready to use Moses to deliver His people from bondage. Aaron meets Moses in the wilderness and, together, they share the God’s good news of deliverance with the Hebrew elders (Exodus 4:29-31).
- Moses and Aaron meet with Pharaoh and present God’s demand “let my people go” (Exodus 5:1).
- Not only does Pharaoh refuse, but he also increases the people’s work by forcing them to gather the straw that they use to make bricks for their captors. The people accuse Moses and Aaron saying “you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh” (Exodus 5:21).
What? You mean that even in Moses’ obedience, there was still trouble, there were still obstacles to overcome? The answer is yes, but the answer is also that God will prevail if you remain obedient. We’ll continue with the Hebrew people’s rescue in Part 2.