Moses – learning to lead
Called to serve. Exodus 2-6 The preparation of Moses, the servant of God.
Read the following Psalms about Moses. Try to learn about his nature, character, and service. Psalms 77:20; 90; 99:6; 103:7; 105; 106
1. Birth and adoption. 2:1-10
a. Parents 2:1,2
1). Tribe of Levi. Refer to Exodus 6:20
2). Three children.
a). Miriam Exodus 2:4
b). Aaron. Exodus 7:7
(1). Born in dangerous time. Male infants were to be executed.
(2). Beautiful and so, saved alive. “…he was a goodly child…” Acts 7:20; Hebrews 11:23
b. Providence. 2:3-10 Refer to Acts 7:21,22
1). Care of Jochebed. 2:3. All seems to have been carefully planned.
2). Compassion of Pharaoh’s daughter. 2:5,6
3). Courage of Miriam. 2:7-10
a). The young girl watching over her baby brother.
The way Miriam is introduced in 2:4 implies that she was not much older than Moses, and this is confirmed by the fact that she was still living in her mother’s house at the time. She was therefore old enough to act responsibly in providing Moses’s own mother to nurse the infant, yet she was not old enough to leave her mother’s household. Furthermore, the relative ease with which Miriam approached Pharaoh’s daughter and the readiness of Pharaoh’s daughter to accept such a suggestion all lead to the conclusion that Miriam was probably in her early to mid-teens. Richard Niessen
b). The young girl boldly approached Pharaoh’s daughter and entourage.
c). The young girl’s courage assisted in God’s plan for her brother, Moses, even though most likely unknown to herself.
Pharaoh planned to deal wisely with the sons of Israel by keeping them in check (1:10). Yet God compelled Pharaoh to give board, lodging, and education to the very man who would accomplish the very thing he was trying to prevent. Pharaoh’s wisdom was turned to foolishness. Out of what Pharaoh intended for evil, God brought great good. Pharaoh paid the bill for an education beyond the means of Amram, but in doing so he gave Moses the training which was indispensable to his ministry. God was preparing Moses for his authorship of the Pentateuch, his leadership of Israel, and his administration of the Mosaic covenant and legal code. The Providence of God William. J. McRae
2. Break with Egypt. 2:11-15 40 years old.
a. Rejected his position. 2:11a. Refer to Hebrews 11:24-29
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:17-18
Moses realized that the allurement of this world would not last. If he enjoyed the world’s pleasures, it would be but for a season. In this he shows us something of his remarkable understanding of human nature and the true character of sin. Had he succumbed to the temptation of worldly preferment, he would have been like many of us today who prefer the luxury of our affluent society to the hardships of living for Christ.
George Romney (1734–1802), the famous British painter, was one of these. On one occasion he heard Sir Joshua Reynolds say that marriage spoiled an artist. Romney deserted his wife and family and went to London to make a name for himself. Toward the end of his life, broken in health and dying, he returned to the wife he had forsaken so many years before. It is to her credit that she took him in and cared for him until his death. In a poem charged with pathos, Tennyson depicts Romney’s wife as she tries to comfort him on his death-bed.
“Take comfort, you have won a painter’s fame!”
And from the bitter depths of his soul Romney replies:
“The best in me that sees the worst in me, and groans to see it, finds not comfort there.”
Like many before and since, Romney sacrificed everything for the sake of this world’s applause. He gambled and lost.
Dr. Paul Carlson had a well-paying surgical practice in suburban Los Angeles. He and his family were happy, and were busy working for the Lord in their church. They seemed to have everything going for them. However, in the early 1960’s Paul Carlson gave up everything to follow the leading of the Lord and serve as a medical missionary at Wasolo in the Congo. A communist-inspired rebellion shook the Congo and, with some other missionaries, Paul Carlson was killed. He faced the test of affluence and position in Los Angeles, and chose to obey the Master and go to the Congo. His obedience and dedication is the subject of Monganga Paul, a biography which has been used of the Lord to challenge other Christian young people for missionary service.
Like Moses, Paul Carlson had his eyes on the eternal. Unlike George Romney, Moses put principle before personal preference, saw things in their correct perspective, and made a decision to suffer hardship with the people of God rather than to enjoy the transient pleasures of sin. He considered the stigma that rests on God’s Anointed greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed upon the coming day of reward. He weighed the issues of eternity in his mind and decided that the temporal wealth of Egypt was of far less value to him than the “reproach of the Messiah.” Moses, like Paul many years later, and Dr. Carlson in our own day, considers that what things were gain to him, these he counted loss for Christ. Cyril J. Barber
b. Reacted to cruelty. 2:11b-14. Refer to Acts 7:23-25
1). He killed the Egyptian. 2:11b,12
2). He reproved the Hebrews. 2:13,14a
3). He realized his jeopardy. 2;14b
a). The Israelites rejected him. He was identified with Pharaoh.
Raised in the house of Pharaoh. Note Exodus 2:19 “…an Egyptian…”
b). The Egyptians rejected him. He was identified with the Israelites.
Defended an Israelite by killing an Egyptian.
c. Ran from Pharaoh. 2:15
Moses fought the right battle at the wrong time. They all had to learn when to wield the sword, Exodus 17:8-13, and when not to, Exodus 14:10-14. Refer to John 18:10
3. Biding in Midian. 2:16-22
a. The heritage – Midianites.
A race dwelling S and E of Palestine, in the desert N of the Arabian peninsula. There are no trustworthy accounts of Midian outside the Bible. In Scripture, Midian appears in connection with (1) Abraham, (2) Joseph, (3) Moses, (4) Balaam, and (5) Gideon.
1. In Gen 25:1-2 Midian is the fourth son of Abraham by Keturah, and evidently one of those who were sent away into the east country with gifts by Abraham during his lifetime (v. 6). According to the Arab account, “Medyen are the offspring of Shu’eyb, and are the offspring of Medyan (Midian), son of Abraham, and their mother was Kantoor Ga, the daughter of Yukt Aan (Joktan) the Canaanite.” “Medyen is the city of the people of Shu’eyb,” who is “generally supposed to be the same as Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses,” though some deny it.
2. In the time of Joseph we find the Midianites associated with the Ishmaelites so closely that it is hard to define their relationship; perhaps there was a company of Midianite merchantmen in the Ishmaelite caravan (Gen 37:25,27-28,36). In all likelihood the descendants of Ishmael, and Midian, as well as of other exiled children of Abraham, had intermarried. In Judg 8:24 the Midianites seem to be called Ishmaelites. But this latter term may have come to be applied generally to traders of that particular kind, such as Canaanite (which see), which came to mean merchant.
3. In the early life of Moses (Ex 2:15) after killing the Egyptian he fled for refuge to the land of Midian. Here he married the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian, whose sheep he kept for forty years (2:16-21; 3:1; 7:29). At the time of his call he was at Horeb, in the peninsula of Sinai (Ex 3:1). As the Midianites were mostly nomads, this peninsula can have been only a temporary station for pasturage, unless, as is quite possible, it was then more fertile than now. But, according to the Arabians and Greeks, the city of Midian was on the Arabian side of the Arabian Gulf, where in all probability lay the true land of Midian.
(From The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)
b. The helper. 2:16-20
c. The home. 2:21,22
1). Moses the shepherd.
2). Moses the son-in-law. He married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro.
Note: Was Zipporah the woman mentioned in Numbers 12:1 or did Moses marry again?
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
…the wife of Moses, whose marriage to him provided an occasion for Miriam and Aaron to criticize their brother (Num 12:1). This problematic text suggests that the woman was either Zipporah, the daughter of the Midianite priest (Exod 2:21), or a second, otherwise unknown wife. If the former is the case, then the Midianites (or at least Jethro) were also considered Cushites. But there is no evidence in the Old Testament or elsewhere to support this equation. A second option is that this is an altogether different woman, Zipporah perhaps having died. The Cushite wife, then, could be truly a Cushite (as the text emphasizes), one whose origins could be traced to the land south of Egypt. The reaction of Miriam and Aaron to this relationship might have a racist motivation—they found racial intermarriage to be abhorrent—or at least they used this as a pretext for challenging Moses’ authority.
The third and best interpretation, however, seems to be that “Cushite” here refers not to the African Cush but to the area of Cushan. This region, as the parallel lines of Habakkuk 3:7 make clear, was essentially identical to Midian. In other words a Cush(an)ite was a Midianite. The quarrel between Moses and his siblings therefore had nothing to do with interracial but only interethnic marriage, one outside the covenant community. The reason Miriam and Aaron had never made it an issue before was that they had never before challenged their younger brother’s leadership. The Peoples of the Old Testament according to Genesis 10 Eugene H. Merrill
4. Behest to serve. 2:23 – 4:31 80 years old.
a. The cry of Israel. 2:23-25
b. The call to Moses. 3:1-4:23
1). God’s revelation of His will.
And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed (3:2).
What a unique phenomenon this is. It is more than a mere vision. It is more than a shrub with brilliant blossoms. It is more than sunset light falling full on a thorn bush and producing the effect of flames. All of these have been suggested. None of them, however, complement the text of Scripture.
It is clear from the text that Moses saw a bush, a humble acacia or thorn bush of the desert; it was on fire, but it did not burn. John J. Davis, in his excellent commentary on Exodus, tells of being amused and amazed at being shown in one “holy place” some of the original ashes from Moses’ burning bush!
What a remarkable symbol of the nation of Israel is this burning bush. As Arthur Pink observes, it is not in a majestic tree of the forest that God appeared to Moses, but in a humble acacia bush—fittingly representing the lowly origin of the Hebrew people (Deut. 26:5). Rather than fruit, the people have borne thorns and fallen under the chastening hand of God. For more than two centuries they have been suffering in “the iron furnace of Egypt”(Deut. 4:20). Fiercely the flames have burned against them, yet they are not consumed. And why? Is it not because the Lord Himself is with them?
When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God (3:4–6).
And so, from the midst of the burning bush, “the Angel of the Lord” speaks to Moses. Here is one of those rare theophanies of the Old Testament—a pre-incarnate appearance of the second person of the Godhead.
Following the instruction of the Lord, his shoes are removed from his feet. He is standing on holy ground. In response to the self-revelation of God Moses hides his face. He is afraid to look at God. Here is an important lesson for every servant of God. The One with whom we have to do, the One whom we serve, is a holy God, Who is to be feared above all men. Realizing this checks the lightness and levity of the flesh.
With feet bared, with face hidden before his holy God, Moses is now ready for his commission. William J. McRae
2). Moses’ objections to serve. 3:11-4:23
a). He needed assurance in himself. 3:11,12 Depend upon God!
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16
“…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20
b). He needed authority to stand upon. 3:13,14
“…Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” He had heard this before.
c). He needed encouragement that the people would believe. 4:1-9
Why would they believe – He had “been there and done that” before.
d). He needed ability to speak eloquently. 4:10-12
Serving God is not based on ability, it is based on availability! 2 Corinthians 10:10
e). He needed another person to go instead of him. 4:13-17
Moses just did not want to go. He had tried and failed.
(1). A time to learn in the desert.
(2). A time to leave the desert. Obedience is the key.
c. The commitment of Moses. 4:18-23
1). He requested a leave from Jethro. 4:18-20
2). He received a warning from God. 4:21-23
…from the outset Pharaoh was an obstinate rebel whom Yahweh kept alive so that He might reveal His greatness through humiliating and defeating him. Six times Yahweh gave Pharaoh a window of opportunity by issuing a demand and warning, but each time Pharoah closed it. In the middle of this process, he even hardened his own heart. When he closed these windows, he placed himself in a position to be hardened. His first refusal (5:2 ) brought two rounds of divine hardening (7:13, 22 ), his second refusal (8:1–4 ) brought two as well (8:15, 19 ), his third and fourth refusals
(8:20–23 ; 9:1–5 ) brought one (9:12 ), his fifth refusal (9:13–14 ) brought one (9:35 ). The sixth refusal (10:1–11 ) brought three rounds of divine hardening (10:20, 27 ; 14:8 ). Yahweh was more than patient with him.
Second, though Pharaoh did harden himself (8:32 ; 9:7 ), it is not correct to say he initiated the hardening process. Yahweh was the first to harden him (in response to his autonomous rejection of Yahweh) and this hardening activity continued throughout the narrative in response to Pharaoh’s rejection of Yahweh’s command. Nine times the hardening prevented Pharaoh from responding positively to a sign or plague. There is a rhetorical shift as the story unfolds. Early on, the writer observed that Pharaoh’s heart was hard “as the Lord had said.”Later, the hardening was attributed directly to Yahweh. In 4:21 and 7:3 God, the divine “Puppeteer,”announced the program; in the early stages of the narrative one barely sees the puppet’s strings, but by the end of the narrative the curtain covering the platform is pulled aside to reveal the Puppeteer in action.
Third, divine hardening was a form of judgment, which on five occasions even went so far as to reverse a seemingly positive response by Pharaoh. An initial act of refusal precluded repentance later. Any move toward repentance was aborted by God. But four of these “reversals”(in which Yahweh hardened a yielding Pharaoh) came after the king’s fifth refusal, and three reversals came after the sixth refusal. Once more Yahweh’s patience is apparent. Also Yahweh’s hardening activity ironically forced Pharaoh to act in accord with his deep-seated nature. Any yielding on Pharaoh’s part was born out of expedience and panic, not a genuine fear of Yahweh (cf. 9:30 , the truth of which is validated by 10:1–12 ). Divine Hardening in the Old Testament Robert B. Chisholm, Jr
d. The conditions of service. 4:24-26
1). Partial obedience is disobedience.
2). Complete obedience brought peace.
a). With God. “…he let him go…”
b). Not with man. Zipporah returned to her home with their children.
Obedience to God does not often bring peace with man unless they are united in the Lord.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. Luke 12:51-53