MOSES: The Man of God
From Bondage to Riches and Rags
Long before the birth of a child, Christian parents often pray for the one that will be born. Many invoke their Lord for the early salvation of the baby soon to bless their home. Others pray that their offspring will be a great preacher, a missionary or a faithful servant of the Lord. God has graciously answered multitudes of these pleas. Pastors, missionaries, evangelists, workers and faithful Christians have blessed the Church in answer to the earnest prayers of godly parents.
There is no record that Amram and Jochebed prayed for their son Moses; but, on the other hand, we have nothing to tell us they did not. The biblical account in Exodus 2 would lead us to believe that as faithful Jewish parents, they were concerned about the bondage of the children of Israel. In the midst of outright persecution and with little or no inkling that this offspring would be the deliverer of his people, they surely looked to the Lord for the safety of the child who would soon grace their home.
The Man Of God
Little did they know that their son would be all that he became. The Scriptures call him “the man of God” (Dt. 33:1; Ezra 3:2). They declare him to be “the servant of the Lord” (Dt. 34:5). He is called a great prophet.
“And the Lord spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Ex. 33:11). Their son would have a very intimate relationship with God. He would be God’s man for his generation.
With the exception of his years in the home of Pharaoh, Moses knew little but difficulties and hardship. Once he left the courts of Egypt, he faced almost insurmountable problems for the remainder of his life. As the leader of the people, he repeatedly had to go before a vindictive Pharaoh; and as he led the people, he worked himself almost to the point of death. They murmured and complained and would have killed him had they been able. His own brother turned on him and led the people in the worship of a golden calf. To provide food and water for the two million or more people in the desert was mind-boggling until God miraculously intervened. During all his years of service, he never lived in a comfortable home, did not enter the Promised Land and died alone with only the Lord’s provision for burial. The God he loved had proven to be sufficient in life and was sufficient in death.
Kill all the sons born to the Hebrews! was the order of Pharaoh. The Jews were multiplying so rapidly at Goshen that the Egyptian ruler felt they would shortly outnumber his own people. In the four hundred years following the death of Joseph, the lot of the Jewish people had gradually worsened until, under the present Pharaoh, they were in total bondage. It was into this situation that the third child of Amram and Jochebed was born. Moses joined the older children, Miriam and Aaron.
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child, and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment” (Heb. 11:23). This passage is speaking not of the faith of Moses but of the faith of his parents. Not only did they desire this child, but they believed that God would deliver the Jews from Egypt very shortly. They were certainly aware of His promise to Abraham, “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come here again; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Gen. 15:14-16).
The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that a dream announced to Amram that Moses would deliver his people. Although this is only tradition, it is certain that his parents believed the promises given to Abraham, and, after all, this was the fourth generation, the one to whom deliverance was promised.
So, then, it was into a desperate situation that Moses, the man of God, came. Slavery, heartache and poverty were the lot of his people. The weak cries of a little baby in his mother’s arms came from the lungs of a child destined by God to be His deliverer of the Jews; however, eighty more long years would pass before this infant would lead God’s people. A sovereign Lord was making final preparations to keep promises He had made hundreds of years before. Moses, in essence, was a child of promise.
Try as she could, Jochebed could only muffle the cries of her newest son for three months. Something had to be done. If this continued, the men of Pharaoh would come and kill the baby.
A plan was devised. An ark of bulrushes was woven and waterproofed with pitch, the newborn was gently placed therein, and the tiny ark was set among the reeds at the water’s edge. Miriam was given the responsibility of sitting at a distance to protect her infant brother should Pharaoh’s men come by. Hers was a responsible position which she took very seriously. But, in reality, what could this teenage girl do if tragedy came upon the scene? Amram and Jochebed, however, had faith to believe that the Lord would be watching over their precious child.
To Miriam’s dismay, Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the river’s edge. When she saw the tiny ark, she ordered her servant to bring it to her. When she opened the little basket, the baby cried. Even though she recognized this as one of the Hebrew babies who should have been slain at birth, the Lord moved her heart with compassion.
Miriam stepped up and asked, “Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?” (Ex. 2:7). She recognized the situation and readily offered a solution. “Go”, Pharaoh’s daughter exclaimed. Of course Miriam went and got her mother who was then paid by Pharaoh’s daughter to nurse the child. It was the king’s daughter who gave the name Moses (“Moshe” in Hebrew) to the child. How appropriate, for it means to draw out of the water.
Just how long Jochebed nursed and trained Moses is not known, but it must have been a considerable length of time, probably until he was ten to twelve years of age. At the agreed time, Moses’ parents brought the young lad to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. Isn’t it ironic? The very Pharaoh who wanted the Jewish male children killed so no leader would ever come from them had the future deliverer of God’s people raised in his own home. In all probability, Moses called Pharaoh Grandfather. Moses was raised right in the mouth of the lion.
“And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him as her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:21-22). Stephen referred to this as he retraced the history of Israel in his defense immediately prior to his death. The culture, history and religion of Egypt, as well as military training, were given to the lad. Moses had all the world could offer to a young man of his day. Trained as a statesman (in the military and in leadership), he was ready to move into rulership of the land.
According to Dr. Theodore Epp’s research, while Moses was still a young man, Pharaoh died. The culmination of his life and training soon came. Since Pharaoh’s daughter could not reign, the opportunity for this Hebrew to rule over Egypt arrived. A choice had to be made. He could become the ruler of the greatest power on earth, but Moses simply said, “No!”
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:24-27).
The early training given by Amram and Jochebed prevailed. Moses could not forsake his Lord in spite of all Egypt had to offer. He cast his lot with the Lord and his people, not knowing where it would lead him. He was well aware of the faith of his parents. Now he, too, exercised faith in his Lord. It was a living and vibrant faith.
From Riches to Rags
Having refused the throne of Egypt, he returned to his oppressed people, the Jews. He soon learned the extent of their miserable bondage. Seeing an Egyptian punish a Jew, he stepped in and killed the Egyptian, hiding his body in the sand (Ex. 2:11-12). He probably felt that the Jews, sensing his concern and seeing his leadership, would immediately look upon him as their deliverer, and they could then be freed from their oppression.
Instead, when he came upon two Jewish men quarreling the following day, he found that his people were not behind him. Trying to resolve the differences between the two, he learned they did not respect his leadership. Furthermore, his people were aware of the murder.
He was probably placed on the ten-most-wanted list of Pharaoh, who sent men to slay him. He had no choice but to leave his own people. Quickly he departed from Egypt and fled to Midian.
Instead of having wealth and the respect of Egypt, he became a hunted man. Rather than being the protected baby in the ark, he was looked down upon by his own people. This one, who had an opportunity to be Pharaoh, found himself a lonely fugitive in a faraway land. He sat down by himself next to a well in Midian and began to reflect on all that had happened. Moses had gone from riches to rags. He had no country; he had no people; he had no friends. Had he not followed the Lord? Had he not defended His people? Had not the Lord brought him here? Was it all in vain?
The Lord had brought him to this point in his life, and although he was already forty years of age, God was not finished with him yet. He still had forty more years of training ahead, and only then could the Lord begin to use him to deliver the seed of Abraham.
Lessons to be Learned
First, there is the lesson of parental faith. In spite of all odds, Amram and Jochebed trusted the Lord when He gave them this son. They believed that the Lord would protect him even when he was in the household of the wicked Pharaoh.
Another lesson we desperately need to learn today is the importance of the early training of our children. Most of our habits and lifestyles are formed when we are very young. A great percentage of Christians were reached for Christ before graduating from high school. So often parents train a child without realizing they are doing so. In a hedonistic, materialistic, secular, humanistic society, early parental training of children in the things of the Lord becomes even more important.
We should also heed the lesson of accepting responsibility. Moses took the responsibility of learning seriously. Although he was never to lead Egypt, he was being prepared to lead God’s people. He accepted the rigorous training of Pharaoh’s court. Had he led Egypt and known the riches of this world, his name would have been lost in the sands of time. Instead, by obeying the Lord, he became Moses the Lawgiver, the prophet, the leader and the man who met God face to face. He penned a goodly portion of the Word of God and became a pillar of Judaism, the recipient of respect. Moses was a man of God.
Dear believer, we are declared by Peter to be royalty, We are called to “show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). Are we as royalty willing to forsake the riches and pleasures of this world to honor the King of kings? As Moses forsook the court of the king, we need to forsake all that glitters in this world system today. Our Lord wants faithful servants in the midst of a faithless society. Dare we be a Moses in the Egypt of the day in which we live?
Finally, we need to learn that friendship with the world only leads us astray. Moses may have wound up alone, seated by a well in Midian, but the Lord, his greatest Friend, was by his side. He may have gone from riches and respect to rags and rebuke, but the Lord had only begun to do His work in the life of His servant. Much more was to come.