History is sprinkled with a few who defy normalcy. A handful of individuals who have left a legacy of an aurora-like experience to life. One so unique that their days spent on earth comprise a category all their own, in contrast to the billions who have called earth home.
Moses was such a man.
Life began in a whirlwind of immense conflict, yet unlikely compassion. An edict from the Pharaoh of Egypt had doomed his life to end just as it had begun outside the womb. Two merciful midwives would rise up to assists the enslaved parents against a heinous massacre, to save any son they could secretly deliver. A lone royal daughter would boldly protect beauty where her father brazenly only feared loss of power.
By worldly standards, Moses was the most unlikely to succeed. However, life holds a mystery that birth doesn’t dictate one’s legacy. The twists and turns in life dismantle expectations and seldom does reality fit nicely into the box of dreams we fancy.
Moses’s resume presents a formidable figure whose life necessarily must defy happenstance.
- Born into slavery. (Exodus 1:16)
- Survival defied a king’s ruthless edict (Ex. 2:2-3)
- Compassion named/adopted him into the King’s court (Ex. 2:6)
- Anger and murder exiled him to Midian (Ex. 2:15)
- Curiosity brought him before the burning bush. (Ex. 3:3)
- A divine commission he received on holy ground. (Ex. 3:5)
You know those defining moments in life that defy the odds? For Moses there was no “luck of the draw” kind of excuse, but an unmistakably divine ordination. Remember, Moses tried to reason his way out of God’s interview with him by pointing out his own weaknesses. As if the infinite mind of God was not aware of the fragilities of this particular man’s frailty. Moses was “a wanted man,” by the greatest kingdom to rule the earth at that time, and the Almighty God who ruled heaven and earth for all time.
The baby slave had been “drawn out” by Pharaoh’s daughter. A baby in a floating basket along the banks of the Nile. A beautiful child, whose weeping charismatically captured her compassion. The name Moses means “to draw out.” In Hebrew the word “draw out” is similar to the idea of “saved by the water.” Such a name sets us up for the amazing miracle of the burning bush.
Exodus 3 (exerpts)
“So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said,
(“Draw out, Draw out!)
[then as if to continue a play on names…God speaks]
“Do not draw near this place…”
As if, God was reminding Moses to keep to the identity of his name, “draw out,” not draw near. [Moses was first in need of transformation before he could draw near to holiness. Of course, in time Moses did draw near, very near, so near he would become deeply intimate with God “as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11-23).] God certainly would keep His name. What follows is an essential dialogue that would establish Moses’ confidence to press on, even in the midst of a wild wilderness and a stiff-necked people.
Naturally, Moses probes, “’What is His name?!’ What shall I say to them?”
God provides the endorsement,
“I am who I am…” ordered a simply reply, “I am has sent me (Moses – “drawn out”) to you.”
Moses was an ambassador through whom the Lord Himself would conduct, “My memorial to all generations” (Exodus 3:15).
While everything depended on Moses to carry out the responsibility he was given, nothing depended on Moses to make deliverance for himself or his people. Certainly, he was an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands to “draw out” a people God had chosen and promised to deliver. A people whom God Himself would come to earth through, to make Himself an offering, and deliver the entire world from the penalty of sin for anyone who believed (Matthew 1; John 3:16; 1 John 1:9).
Moses was a man whose life was a bewildering series of miracles which defy human expectations and reason.
- By birth, from the tribe of Levi (which became designated to serve as priests).
- By youth, an adopted son, a foreigner in the king’s court.
- By training, received an ancient world equivalent to Ivy League education.
- By exile, learned the discipline and art of shepherding.
- By name, would “draw out” a nation covenanted with God to be marked as a holy people.
What Moses experienced physically, every believer experiences spiritually. [Romans 3, 6, 8; Ephesians 1]
A royal son, a priest, and a prophet with no kingdom of his own, but rather a steward of the King of Kings to live loud Law and Deliverance. (Psalm 99:6; Deuteronomy 18:18; Exodus 2:10; Acts 3:21-23; Hebrews 3:1-6 & 11:23-26)
All that Moses’ life accomplished, there is a rightful reverence due his perseverance as a remarkable leader. He embodied the man who exhibits his strength in reliance on God, yet still wrestles to exercise his weaknesses when relying on himself. However, like our own lives, it is at the end of our life that marks a resounding legacy all its own.
In Deuteronomy 3:24-29 Moses petitions the Lord God with an eloquent and glorious worship.
‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on the earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds?’
Moses with everything he saw and did understood the fraction he had witnessed of the Great “I am who I am,”
- whose greatness is abundant and vast beyond measure,
- whose mighty hand stretches out the heavens, and laid out the earth. (Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:22; 48:13)
Moses with everything he saw and did understood the rich tactile intimacy of God’s touch on his whole heart. (Isaiah 48:17-19)
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”Deuteronomy 6:5
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”Psalm 139:13
Nevertheless, Moses is the man who pleased, praised, and prayed to cross into the Promise Land. God said NO!
The Lord answered, “Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.” (Deut. 3:26)
Would you side with the Divine “No!” or be tempted to strike up a protest on Moses’s behalf?
Why did God not accept Moses’s penitent plea?
In turning to rely on his own temper once again, to resolve the pressures around him, Moses had contrasted his own rashly spoken words, against the only One who keeps His Word. Moses let his temper and strong-will impede his obedience, and usurp the holy power of God.
I think this is one of the most amazing aspects of Moses’s life for me. Do not get me wrong, the miracles are awesome. The leadership of Moses is a marvel. The charisma of the man must have been incredible to witness first hand. Moses was truly a servant-centric leader history laments to not have consistently repeated.
For me, I find in Moses’s whimpered submittal to the earthly limitations of his end, the most moving. My soul stirs within toward a greater respect. Moses teaches us the lesson of Wisdom’s immovable strength and devotion. Why? Because, the hardest place to fully submit to God’s covenantal care, is when what you have given your whole life for, does not end with the triumphant reward you had set out to realize.
And he said to them: “I am one hundred and twenty years old today. I can no longer go out and come in. Also the Lord has said to me ‘You shall not cross over this Jordan.’ “The Lord your God Himself crosses over before you; He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as the Lord has said.” (Deuteronomy 31:2-3)
Sin in this world and in our hearts, when given reign, ruins the joys we might otherwise experience. However, faith is the courageous action of belief, which God works for our good.
Comfort does come with God’s firm “No!”
In the book of James we are assured, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
Where sin exiles us, as orphaned children from our identity and purpose, God offers Himself through a proverbial image of a father’s blessing. I envision Moses nodding, with tear-filled eyes.
“My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightlyHebrews 12:5-10
or lose heart when you are reproved by Him,
for the Lord disciplines the one He loves
and punishes every son he receives.
Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness.”
Moses did experience the proverbial blessings in a way that would have shattered all sense of his imagination, should he have been given the “NO!” with such a vision. His humility would never have expected the glorious honor God reserved for him. Although Moses was denied the opportunity to cross over the Jordan with the people of God, he was sent, in a sacred descent, from Heaven to join (Levi) and commune with Christ, the Messiah, on the mountain of Jesus’s Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36)
When God says, “No!” He always does so with an emphatic blessing in mind. We must learn to trust Him like Moses did.
Moses is a man whose wisdom always will defy the wisdom of the world. How cool would it be to have an AskMe session with Moses? Very.
But, the greatest piece of Moses’s heart he left for us, is a wisdom we are fools to ignore.
We cannot usurp God’s holiness; God delights to share holiness with us.