Do you ever wonder where your life is heading, or what might have gone through the mind of Moses as he tended his flocks? It was a huge come down from Egypt though he might of thought that in the wilderness, he had not a care in the world. Or possibly that the world was passing him by, and he had missed the boat and he could have lived out his days in royalty. Moses was 80 and he had a family. He was an Israelite raised in Egypt. Perhaps Midian was a quiet, yet comfortable existence.
God’s Training Ground
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Moses’ experiences, preparation, occupation, and location were ordained by God. He was at Horeb (Sinai) the mountain of God and there he would see God. He had many years to reflect and his mixed background and experiences would prove extremely useful when later approaching Pharaoh and wandering through the wilderness. But before that, he might have thought, what am I doing here?
For around a decade I desperately wanted to be either a Pastor or an Evangelist. I believed wholeheartedly in God’s sovereignty though felt like my working hours were wasted. I was desperately concerned that I would never be able to work full time in that capacity. I had several ‘near misses’, and I was wondering whether I might have missed the boat.
Little did I realise that a decade of street outreach would be invaluable in my later role. Or that I would be doing some of the outreach in the same place but just in a slightly different way. Or that my new town would be so much like the other one in size and demographics, or that my previous paid work taught me many lessons about how to relate to Joe public. A decade of writing took place before the website was set up and having a close Messianic friend for over 20 years would be invaluable training for the current ministry.
Can you relate to Moses’ experience? Can you see the way ahead for the next chapter in your life? Maybe you feel like you are wandering in the desert just watching over your flock. We make our plans though the Lord directs our paths which means that our location and our occupation are not random occurrences and some of the mundane experiences in our lives have value that we realise later on. God is sovereign and exercises His purposes in our lives.
Meeting God at the Burning Bush
Moses meeting God at the burning bush was an encounter he would always remember. A burning bush must have been an astonishing sight. No doubt you or I would have moved in closer to investigate. He would have heard the sound of the fire crackling, felt the warmth of the fire and when he returned his clothes would have smelt which would remind him this was more than a vision, it was an actual event. God was present and when God acts in our lives it changes us.
Though the bush was in the fire it was not consumed. Though Israel was enslaved they somehow survived. Isaiah 43:2 speaking of Israel says “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned.” Moses led the children of Israel through the Red Sea and he saw the burning bush. Daniel’s three friends walked through the fire and the Son of God was with them and their lives were preserved. Messiah in preincarnate form had saved them. Undoubtedly, they would have been encouraged by both passages before their fiery trial.
Moses was promised that God would be with him and similarly Joshua was promised, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” When the believer faces a trial, they should remember that God is with them and will never leave them nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5). How did God call Moses? “Moses, Moses!” When the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham to withhold his hand from Isaac, he called out “Abraham, Abraham!” (Genesis 22:11) When the Lord came and stood before Samuel he called out, “Samuel, Samuel!”(1 Samuel 3:10) God’s call on a person’s life is relational, it is personal since God knows us.
Moses was instructed to remove his sandals. Worship must precede work. We can do many things for the Lord, but we are called to worship the One worthy of worship. In Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua did the same when he met the Captain of the Lord’s hosts. This shows us how to approach a holy God and never to take intimacy with God for granted.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
The Lord revealed Himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yeshua spoke about the resurrection and explained to the Sadducees who are just like the modern- day liberals who deny the resurrection, that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was not the God of the dead, but the living (Matthew 22:29-32).
Moses enquired “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” Where is the emphasis? It is not so important who I am but rather, who ‘I AM’ is. Do we ever respond with “who am I?” when the Lord asks us to do something? Does God ever call us to do something that He has not equipped us to be able to do? Does God ever choose the wrong people for the task? Does God ask us to do that which is unfair?
The way of the world is this. Let us employ the most eloquent, self- assured, dignified, noble individual with a magnetic personality. Do we restrict ourselves in our use for the Lord because we think our spiritual CV needs a bit of work? God gave Moses 80 years training for his assignment and initially it appears that he could not see that.
Moses wanted to know when the children of Israel asked the name of God who sent him, what he should tell them. Does this seem like an unnecessary question? God’s name reveals His character and attributes. I AM was not a localised tribal God but the One who was, is, and always will be. The Egyptians had gods for every occasion and situation, other nations were terribly superstitious, and Israel constantly battled with loyalty to the true God.
God revealed His eternal qualities and His unchangeable character. This would be His memorial forever and is carried forward into the Brit Hadasha (New Testament). John’s Gospel is centred around seven I AM statements which are all a clear reference to the divinity of Jesus the Messiah. I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the door, I am the good shepherd, I am the resurrection and the life, and I am the true vine (John 6:35; 8:12; 10:9,11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). When Yeshua was asked whether He was greater than Abraham he said, before Abraham was, I AM (John 8:58).
Coming Out of Egypt
The Lord saw His people, heard their cry, and knew their sufferings. The Lord hears our cries and sees everything. He knows our pain and sorrows. He is the omnipotent Lord but also the Man of sorrows. He would take them from Egypt to a better land and would remove their enemies en route. We are also on a pilgrimage although we do not know the exact path our lives will take, we can know exactly where we are going if we trust in the Lord. The answer to many of our questions is that God knows the way, He is with us and is working out His purposes continually.
The Israelites had been oppressed and God sent Moses to lead Israel our of Egypt. Since Egypt is representative of the world, is it any wonder that we are at times at enmity with the world? Should we love the world? The people absolutely, but not the way of the world. The standards of the world swing, fluctuate, and are often culturally or ideologically determined. If someone wants to walk the righteous path, then their standards need to be derived from the Bible.
We live in a society that denies truth and tries to systematically erase history. People today like to re-imagine, recontextualise or explore a so- called progressive view, but this is nothing new. The Egyptians often chiselled out the memory of the leaders who did not agree with their views and there are Egyptian artefacts today with the faces of kings that have been defaced in a crude attempt to rewrite history. More recently people have taken to pulling down statues, but again this is no surprise. Isaiah 40:8 reassures us, “The flower fades, the grass withers, but the word of God stands forever.” Malachi 3:6 states, “I am the Lord and I do not change.” Hebrews 13:8 speaks of the Saviour, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”
Moses was required to make speeches to Israel and then Egypt, hardly something he would have relished. I remember at University being nervous before delivering a presentation in the lecture hall in front of the students. I was struck by the fact that another student was sipping vodka before his presentation. Some of the difficult things God asks of us have a deeper purpose that we discover later and refine our character and help us to rely upon God. Imagine if Moses enjoyed making great speeches. His countrymen would probably have emulated his mannerisms and it could have inadvertently been a hindrance.
Moses was to ask Pharaoh to make a three- day journey to sacrifice, though initially his request would be refused. What was the purpose of Moses making that request when arguably Pharaoh’s response was predictable? Because God asked him to. We do not need to ascertain all of God’s purposes. Why? Because we are not God and do not know the future, we are limited, and God is righteous. Therefore if we do not know the future and our knowledge is limited, we should trust God who has perfect knowledge and foresight.
One day we may be called to stand against societies ills and our requests may be refused. But we are still to make a stand even when we are out of our comfort zone. We may need to challenge free speech, abortion, the school curriculum, or modern- day slavery which is often hidden.
God would use wonders to lead Israel out of Egypt and had a purpose for the miracles. They would show sovereignty over Egyptian gods and magicians. Egypt would no longer be considered all powerful, answerable to no one and the centre of the known universe. God would emphatically reveal to Israel and Egypt His sovereignty and Passover would memorialise that.
Our Lord’s miracles were an essential part of His ministry, proving that Jesus is the Messiah. Isaiah prophesied about the lame walking, deaf hearing and the blind seeing in Isaiah 35:5-6 and that is exactly what Yeshua did. His miracles were not ambiguous since the lame walked, the deaf heard and the blind could see. In addition lepers were healed and the dead were raised to life, the storm was abated, and food was multiplied. It is noticeable that the celebrity ‘faith healers’ do not frequent the hospitals during the current pandemic.
The Israelites would even plunder the Egyptians. The Lord knows human nature and knew there would be the complainers and grumblers. If God delivers us from Pharaoh we will probably die in the desert! If we escape from Egypt, we will die drowning in the Red Sea. What will we eat and wear? What if we get lost? What if we become slaves in the Promised Land and they treat us worse than the Egyptians? The complaining cycle surfaces in Exodus even though God provided for them and continued to do so.
One more thing. Do not get too comfortable in Egypt and do not get too attached to the world. We are only passing through it and it is not our eternal home. All we need to do is to turn to the Lord, confess our sins to Him, follow Him and stay close to Him and His people, and He will lead us to our real home.