Introduction to Moses:
For the next two weeks we are going to dive into a close study of Moses and the Israelites... Specifically, their Exodus from Egypt! It is one of the most well-known Bible stories of Sunday School history, but we so often miss the gemstones hidden in the pages. This story represents the greatest miracle ever performed by God, for the Jewish people... (Other than Salvation) and it powerfully tells of Jesus Christ's sacrifice for mankind in illustration through the events that occur and literally through fulfilled prophecy in foreshadowed dates and times. The story is packed with awesome life-lessons that we need to hear right now in our lives.
Let's first understand where this takes place in the Bible timeline, and how we arrived at this event in context! The Book of Exodus, where this story is found, is believed to have been written somewhere between 1440-1400BC, and the actual event is believed to have occurred around 1446BC. The story opens with between 2 and 2.5 million Israelites, being held as slave laborers in Egypt in a land given to them by the Egyptians, called Goshen. How did we get to this point? Remember when Joseph (coat of many colors) was sold into slavery by his brothers, and taken to Egypt? There he eventually became ruler of all Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh himself, saving Egypt from a time of terrible drought, as foretold to Pharaoh in a dream by God, and interpreted by Joseph; and later, forgiving and inviting his family to Egypt so they might also be saved from the drought! Exodus 1:5-14 When Jacob brought the rest of his family there, they numbered 70 people. (Genesis 46:26-27; and they were given the land of Goshen in Egypt to live there as a gift of thanks to Joseph for saving them. But, the king that appreciated Joseph and the Israelites died and much time passed (Hundreds of years!), until eventually there arose a king that did not know or care about them. He saw that they had continued to grow in numbers, until he felt they may rise up and help an enemy overpower them one day. So he put taskmasters over them and began to force them into slave labor, treating them ruthlessly while using them for construction and fieldwork. Then Pharaoh gave the command to kill all male children born, by throwing them into the Nile River, to prevent the population from growing any further! Exodus 1:22 So, at this point in time the Hebrews have been in Egypt for a total of about 430 years, and are now enslaved, abused, and having their children killed at birth. When you realize the timeline involved, the next obvious question is, "Why did God allow them to be trapped, and even enslaved in another country for so long?!" 1) understand that God is all knowing, and all powerful...So nothing is by mistake. 2) listen closely as we actually hear God speaking to Abraham over 400 years before Moses, revealing this entire plan beforehand...Telling Moses, how his descendants would be in captivity for four hundred years before taking the Promised Land in Canaan. That they would be released after four generations in that nation... And then, God even reveals some of the reasons that He is moving in this way. Genesis 15:13-16 The reasons God put them into captivity under another nation for so long was...1)they would come out of this land in great numbers, and with great possessions. (Remember, they were a small unprotected, starving group of seventy in the beginning. God took them to a powerful, rich nation and gave them protection, food, and a safe place to grow their numbers for many years. Then, when they did leave, they plundered the Egyptians for all the gold, silver, jewelry and clothing they could care for... Giving them many riches.) 2) Because a group of gentiles, which the Hebrews would be conquering to take the new land, was not evil enough for God to punish yet! (God is fair, loving and just!) And He didn't want to punish, even a non-believing nation, until their sins were severe. (slow to wrath, not joyful in the death of any) So God waited another 400 years for their sins to grow unbearable. 3) God was separating an entire group to be His people before the world... And after this group spent 430 years under the authority and provision of another country, they came out humbled and lowly... After years of serving others, they came out with no military forces, equipment, or training & experience to protect themselves (rely on God); no established form of government, & no laws to govern themselves (God was to be their King, and God's Law their law); they came out with no possessions which they had gained on their own in any way (God started out providing everything); they started out with no land to call their own, and no nation they could boast that they had established. God had created a Nation and people with a completely, "Blank Slate" with which to mold and grow in faith and knowledge of Him... And His ways! (They needed complete trust in God for provision and guidance!)
A hotly debated topic between scholars, is whether the Hebrew slaves were used to build the great pyramids?! Secular archeologists say the Hebrews could not have built any of the pyramids, because they were not in Egypt until long after the construction had occurred. And for some of the greater pyramids this is true...but, this assumption is based upon a model of the Egyptian Dynasties built around the theory of evolution. According to Genesis 10:6,13, the first settlers of Egypt descended from Mizraim, son of Ham. So, the very first dynasty would have suddenly appeared with skill, intelligence, a form of writing, and the ability to have crafted a masterpiece as awesome as Noah's Ark. With this Biblical look at the dynasties, Joseph and his family may have come to Egypt in the 12th dynasty, during a period so-called the Middle Kingdom, and Moses may have been born before this dynasty ended. Exodus 5:6-8 Did Moses' people build the Great Pyramids of Egypt? Most assuredly no...but, besides the store cities of Pithom and Raamses, did the Hebrew slaves build some of the lesser pyramids of later dynasties? Evidence & ancient historians strongly suggest they most probably did!
So, let's dive into the story, with a close eye on Moses as we continue. Deuteronomy 34:7 says Moses died at the age of 120yrs old, still strong and alert at his death. His life can clearly be divided into three major periods of forty years each:40 years growing up in a Royal Egyptian family, 40 years living as a humble shepherd on the backside of the desert, 40 years leading God's chosen people after the Exodus. Exodus 2:1-10: Moses was not actually set adrift in the Nile as many imagine; he was placed in the water among the reeds, along the river's edge, where the daughter of Pharaoh would soon come to bathe in the river. It was probably no secret where the Royal Family bathed; the Pharaoh's gardens extended to the banks of the Nile and the Royal Family may very well have built, "bath houses" close by that area. Then, Moses' sister (Miriam, age 10 to 12yrs) hid close by to see the reaction. The basket was placed, his sister sat at watch...Now, what would be his fate? Think how desperate and pitiful this mother was in reality—her son could be hidden no longer, and would soon be discovered and murdered! She placed him where he would be found by the only one with the authority to spare his life and the potential instinct of choosing to do so; but the odds were severely stacked against her that a Hebrew slave baby would find anything but ruthlessness from the, "superior" Egyptians—especially in light of the proclamation to kill the male children! Moses' mother had to literally release her son into the hands of her God, in complete faith and hope! First of all, the name Moses, literally does mean, "To draw out!' What a fitting name for the one chosen to draw God's people out of the same situation Moses was plucked from; helpless and trapped. When the 12 year old girl, pretending to come up on the situation by chance and curiosity, was given permission to take her baby brother, unbeknown to the Egyptian princess, back home to her mother to be raised and nursed...How, "on-top-of-the-world" do you think that little girl felt at that moment?! And think for a moment about Moses' mother, and her relationship to God: How easily she could have been bitter, and spit at God for the situation in which she was placed, but she trusted Him with what she loved most in the world. And this child she gave up, not knowing if she'd ever see again... Was brought back to her to nurse and raise, and she received wages for doing so from the very people that promised to kill him! God gave her abundantly more than she ever expected! Ephesians 3:20-21. And lastly, think about this: God is totally in control, and He has His plans; and yet, He gives us freedom of choice in our lives. How does that mix? Because in His Omniscience, He uses our free choices in executing His Divine Plan. With that being said, BUT... How often could we be the instrument of His will, and works, IF we would CHOOSE to step out and be the one, by desire?! God WANTS to use those desiring Him... Desiring to be used for Him! God could have used anyone or anything to save the Israelites, but these people (Moses & his mother) became part of God's sovereign plan; because they lived separated lives for Him; because of their faithfulness and perseverance! Hebrews 11, "Hall of Fame", is full of those heroes used by God... Because they CHOSE to act by FAITH! Our times are fast becoming as dire—what kind of instrument are you? 2 Timothy 2:20-21 Are you pure & usable?
Moses was raised as the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter. Egypt was one of the most academically and scientifically advanced cultures in existence at that time; Moses was, no doubt, raised with the best education possible; probably with learning in geography, history, warfare, grammar, writing, literature, philosophy and music. As Royalty, he lived with all of the pleasures, luxuries, and respect of the Pharaoh's family. Acts 7:22 Moses may very well have been trained and groomed as a possible heir to the throne; but, even besides this great possibility, he had incredible wealth, comfort, power, and a promising future for himself and his offspring. With all of this to lose, Moses recognized the place & time in which he lived, he recognized the call from God to rescue his people, and he chose God's will, and his place with the poor, homeless slaves that were his people over selfish pleasures, and an easy life... Even for his future children. Exodus 2:11-15 It was at this point that Moses first stepped out in his great calling... The line was drawn, the die cast. But the first problem came with this fact: It is clear by this text that the Israelites didn't see or want Moses as their God-given deliverer at this time... And they rejected him, just as many reject Christ who has come to offer them deliverance. Acts 7:25 (ESV) The second problem, though Moses tried to do the right thing for his brethren, in his good intentions, he makes the mistake of trying to do God's will—in his way; in the way that makes sense to men; in the way that seems wise in his own eyes; in the way that brings his ability and position to the forefront. God did not count Moses out because of his immature thinking. (If your heart is given to God in faith and passion, He will not give up on, or abandon you.) He simply had to teach Moses, grow him, humble him, before he could be used mightily. Scriptures make Moses' heart and intentions clear about this event, even if he went about it improperly at first. Hebrews 11:24-26 We might see Moses as a failure in his premature attempts, but God had already seen him as a hero of faith; simply because of his heart & passion. Moses gave up more than we will ever think of having in this life to do God's will, because he was real in his faith. Why do we find it so hard to sacrifice or lose something for His sake? Will we be the ones that He uses when we act this way? Moses has already shown us some extremely important lessons thus far in history: 1) God has a plan, but He will so often leave it up to you, as to whether you are part of it. He is just waiting for us to have the passion and faith to step out and be, "the ones" He uses for His Glory. Moses and his mother could have sat on the sidelines like everyone else and waited for something to be done, but they both stepped out on faith, and God let it be THEM He used mightily because of their obedience. 2) Moses gave us a wonderful example that no blessing or security on earth is more important than following God's plan. 3) Do not count anything that you bring to the table, as the reason God chooses you to be used. All the position and power that Moses wielded at this point in life, and God saw fit to use none of it; but would use him much later, when he had nothing left to offer. (No position, no money, no power!)
So, the questions to ask yourself are... 1) Am I desperately trying to be part of God's Plan, or am I sidelined while waiting for others to act?! 2) Does my love of a blessed life keep me from, "Risking it" for Christ?! 3) Am I too proud and reliant on what I can do, to trust God for His provision? You may be hindering God's work and Glory in a much bigger way!