THE STORY OF MOSES
In my opinion, this man, Moses, probably has the most dramatic and powerful story in all of the Old Testament. I believe that he and King David were two of the greatest heroes that God had in the Old Testament. Their stories are dramatic and extremely powerful and there is much to learn from both of their stories.
I will go ahead and give you the basics of this man's story in God, and then end this writing with some of the things that we can all learn from his story and how each of these things can be applied in our own personal journeys with the Lord.
As you read the highlights of this man's story, just sit back, relax and use your imagination to visualize all of the events in this man's incredible journey with God. When it is all said and done, this man's story will go down as one of the greatest God-stories of all time!
The Birth of Moses
Before Moses was born, the Israelites were living in slavery in Egypt. The Pharaoh was afraid of the numbers and might of the growing Israelites during this time, so he had all of them put under extreme bondage and slavery so they could not rebel against him. It got so bad at one time, that the Pharaoh had put out an order to have all of the male children killed that were being born by the Israelites.
It was during this time that Moses was born. His mother was a "Hebrew," which is another name for Israelite. When Moses was first born, his mother hid him for 3 months so he would not be found and killed by the Pharaoh.
After 3 months, his mother then placed him in an ark made out of bulrushes and then placed him down by the reeds along the river banks hoping someone else would find him and raise him up safely. It just so happened that the daughter of the Pharaoh was the one to actually find him down by the river as she was getting ready to wash herself in the river.
Once she found him, she found out who the mother was and then asked the mother to nurse him during the nursing stage. Once the nursing stage was over, the mother then gave the child back to the Pharaoh's daughter in order that she raise him up as one of her own so the Pharaoh would not find out who he was and have him killed. Moses was thus raised up in the Pharaoh's house.
When Moses became full grown, he became very distressed at seeing his own people suffer under the hands of the Egyptians. During one of these times, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrew men. Moses became so furious at seeing this injustice, that he killed the Egyptian who had been beating up his fellow brother.
After killing this Egyptian man, the Pharaoh then finds out about it and seeks to have Moses killed. At this point, Moses flees into the desert into a place called Midian. He then lives in the desert for 40 years until God calls him out to deliver His people from their slavery to the Egyptians.
God Calls Moses Out To Deliver His People
After 40 years of Moses being in the desert, God hears the cries of His people under their Egyptian bondage. The Bible says that God acknowledges their cries and plight under the Egyptian rule and decides He will deliver them out of their bondage because of the previous covenant that He had made with their earlier forefathers - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God first makes contact with Moses through a burning bush. Initially an angel of the Lord appears to Moses in a "flame of fire from the midst of a bush." This bush is burning with fire, but the bush itself is not being consumed by the fire!
God then starts to speak directly to Moses. He tells Moses that He has heard the cries of His people in Egypt and that He is calling Moses out to be the one who will go in there and deliver them from their plight with the Egyptians.
God is going to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians through Moses! God then proceeds to tell Moses that he will be the one to deliver and lead them out of their captivity and lead them into a "good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and Hittites."
Moses' initial response to God was that who was he to go down and bring the children of Israel out from their Egyptian bondage? God then tells Moses that He will be with Moses during this entire deliverance and for him to tell the children of Israel, when they ask the name of their God, that His name is:
"I AM who I AM."
He further tells Moses to tell His people that He is the God of their fathers - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that He is going to deliver His people and bring them into a Promised Land flowing with milk and honey.
God then tells Moses to approach the Pharaoh after he has pulled his people together for this deliverance and to tell the Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people go into the wilderness for their three day journey into the Promised Land. God then tells Moses that the Pharaoh is not going to let them go on this first request. He then tells Moses to tell the Pharaoh that if he does not let His people go, that He will stretch out His hand and strike Egypt with all of His wonders. God tells Moses that after He stretches out His hand with all of these wonders against the Pharaoh - that the Pharaoh will then let them go.
After receiving all of the above instructions from God, Moses still questions the Lord about all of this. He then asks God "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you.'"
God then proceeds with miracle #1.
He tells Moses to take the rod that he is holding and to cast it onto the ground. Moses does so and the rod turns into a serpent!
God then tells Moses to pick up the serpent by the tail. When he does, the serpent turns back into the rod! God then moves into miracle #2. He tells Moses to put his hand into his bosom and then to take it back out again. When he takes it back out, his hand became like leprous snow. He then tells Moses to put his hand back into his bosom and to take it back out again. He does, and when he pulls it back out again, his hand is restored back to its original condition.
God then tells Moses that if they still will not believe him, that he is to take water from the river and pour it on dry land, and the water will then become blood on the dry land. After God shows Moses all of the above, Moses still questions God as to whether He has chosen the right man for the job. He proceeds to tell the Lord that he is not eloquent enough and that he is slow of speech and slow of tongue. God then responds back saying to him:
"Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say." (Exodus 4:11)
After God makes this powerful statement to Moses, Moses still questions God on choosing him and says to God "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send."
At this point, the Bible says that the anger of the Lord was kindled as a result of Moses questioning His decision to call him out for this task. However, seeing Moses lack of self-confidence in himself, God then proceeds to tell Moses to take his brother Aaron with him. God says that Aaron can speak well and for Moses to convey God's message to Aaron and that God will be with the both of them and will teach them both what to say and what to do.
God tells Moses that Aaron will be the spokesman to the people, that he will act as Moses' mouth, and that Moses shall be to Aaron "as God." What God just did, in order to help Moses out with his lack of self-confidence, was to make Aaron his spokesman for when he would be too afraid to speak, but that God would still deliver the orders and instructions as to what was to be done directly to Moses.
There is an awful lot to learn from this dialogue that just occurred between God and Moses. I will touch on all of this in part 2 of this story.
Moses Goes Into Egypt
The Bible says that Moses was 80 years old and his brother Aaron was 83 when they go into Egypt to rescue their people from the Pharaoh.
When Moses and Aaron first approach the Pharaoh, they tell him that he is to let their people go so they can go into the wilderness to hold a feast with their God. The Pharaoh obviously refuses to even consider this first request, so God does His first miracle in front of the Pharaoh and his court.
Aaron takes the rod of Moses, throws it to the ground and it becomes a serpent. However, several of the Pharaoh's magicians threw their rods down and they also became serpents. However, God then proceeded to show them whose power was greater. God then caused the rod that Aaron had thrown down and had turned into a serpent to devour all of the other rods that had turned into serpents from the Pharaoh's magicians and sorcerers.
After seeing this display of God's power, the Pharaoh's heart starts to harden and he refuses to let the children of Israel go. It's at this point that God will start to release a full set of 10 powerful judgments against the Pharaoh in order to break him so he will let His people go from his captivity.
Here are the 10 specific plagues that God will strike Egypt with. As you will see, some of these plagues will be the same ones that God will be releasing once again during the 7-year Tribulation - just before Jesus returns back to us for His second coming.
1. Water Turns Into Blood
Moses takes his rod and strikes all of the waters in Egypt turning all of the water into pure blood. All of the fish in the waters are killed and the Egyptians are loathe to drink from the river due to its stench!
God literally strikes and turns into blood all of their streams, rivers, ponds and pools of water. This blood ran throughout all of the land of Egypt. However, several of the Pharaoh's magicians were apparently able to do the same thing with their enchantments and the Pharaoh still refuses to let the children of Israel go free.
Since Pharaoh would not release them after the first plague hits them, God then hits the Pharaoh and Egypt with the second plague - frogs! God says He will smite the land with frogs. God then causes frogs to come up abundantly from the river and these frogs then enter the people's houses, their bed chambers, on the people themselves, into their ovens, into their kneading bowls, etc. Just imagine such a scene!
After Pharaoh sees this display of power, he initially tells Moses and Aaron to call off this plague and that he will let his people go. God then causes all of the frogs to die out of the houses and the courtyards. They were all then gathered together and the Bible says that the land stank with all of the dead frogs now in one big heap. However, after seeing all of this take place, the Pharaoh changes his mind and still refuses to let the Israelites go. So God is now forced to go plague #3.
God then tells Moses to have Aaron stretch out his rod and strike the dust of the land so that it may become lice throughout the land. The lice then falls on both man and beast.
Then the Pharaoh's magicians tried to do the same thing with their enchantments - but this time they could not do it. The magicians then told Pharaoh that this work was the finger of God since they could not duplicate this miracle themselves. However, the Pharaoh still refuses to let the people go.
So now God is forced to release the next plague - a swarm of flies that will come upon all of the Egyptians and into their houses! These flies come into all of the Pharaoh's houses, into his servant's houses and over all of the land. The Bible says that the land became corrupted because of the huge swarm of flies that attacked the land, the people and all of their living quarters.
Once again the Pharaoh relents, tells Moses to have God call off the flies, and that he will let his people go. Moses does so, God pulls back the flies and Pharaoh once more changes his mind and still refuses to let the Israelites go. Talk about a battle of wills!
5. Pestilence on the Livestock
In this next judgment, God causes all of the Egyptians livestock - all of their cattle, horses, donkeys, camels, oxen and sheep to be stricken with a pestilence that kills all of them dead on the spot. Still, the Pharaoh refuses to give in and let God's people go.
In this next judgment, God tells Moses to tell Aaron to take a handful of ashes from a furnace and to scatter it toward all of Egypt causing boils and sores to break out on all the men and beasts. These boils also hit the Pharaoh's magicians and they could not even stand before Moses due to the effect that the boils were having on them. But once again, the Pharaoh still refuses to give in.
In this next judgment, God causes heavy hail to rain down on every man and every beast that is not brought inside. In addition to the hail, God also causes fire to mingle with the hail. The Bible says that when this hail and fire were released, it struck the entire land of Egypt - both man and beast who were in the fields and every herb, along with breaking every tree in the fields.
Again, just imagine such a catastrophic scene taking place! Once again, this judgment causes Pharaoh to relent. Moses then asks God to pull off this plague. And no sooner does God pull this plague off of them, the Pharaoh once more changes his mind and still refuses to let the Israelites go!
In this next plague, God causes locusts to swarm the face of the earth so that no man can see the earth. The land of Egypt was completely darkened. Again, God pulls back the plague after Pharaoh says that he will let His people go, but then changes his mind once again after this plague is pulled off.
In this next judgment, God tells Moses to stretch out his hand toward heaven and this then causes complete darkness to cover the entire land of Egypt. This thick darkness lasts for 3 days. People could not even see one another nor could anyone rise from their place because they could not see even one inch in front of their faces.
Again, just imagine complete and total pitch darkness where no one could see anything - even to the point that you could not even get up and walk because you could not even see one inch in front of your face! Again, the Pharaoh only partially gives in. So this now sets the stage for the last and final judgment.
10. Death of All the Firstborn
In this last judgment, God will have all of the firstborn stricken dead by an angel of death. However, God tells His people to sprinkle the blood of a blemish free lamb on their door posts in order to keep this angel of death from killing their firstborn. At midnight, this angel strikes, killing all of the firstborn of the Pharaoh, his servants, all of his people and all of his livestock.
This judgment finally breaks the Pharaoh and he agrees to let the Israelites go. The Bible says that the Israelites had been kept under Egyptian bondage for 430 years. The Israelites then start to leave - but there is now one more big event that must happen before they are finally set free for good!
The Parting of the Red Sea
This next miracle by God has to be one of the most dramatic and spectacular in all of Scripture. The children of Israel have now left Egypt. The Pharaoh, after allowing them to leave, once more changes his mind and decides to pursue them with all of his army in order to try and get them back. When the children of Israel see this, they start complaining to Moses.
They end up getting stuck before the Red Sea. They have no where else to go. They are literally at the end of their rope. If they try and move forward, they will drown in the Red Sea. If they try to move backwards, they will be caught by the Egyptian army that is moving in on them. The only thing that can save them now is a powerful miracle from God Himself.
Moses then steps forward in this hopeless situation and says to the Israelites:
"Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14:13-14)
God then says to Moses:
"But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea." (Exodus 14:16).
The Red Sea is literally parted by dry ground! The Israelites then proceed to cross over the Red Sea on this dry ground mass that God has now miraculously provided for them in order for them to escape from the Egyptians.
As the Israelites were crossing over on this dry ground mass, the Bible says that the "waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left." Just use your imagination to visualize such an incredible scene!
After all of the Israelites had safely crossed over to the other side of the Red Sea, God then tells Moses to "stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen." At this time, the Egyptian army had just entered onto the dry land mass that God had just provided for the children of Israel.
Moses then proceeds to stretch out his hand over the sea and then the sea returns to its full depth while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. The Bible says that the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea! The waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen and all of the army of the Pharaoh and not one of them was left standing! God had literally wiped Israel's enemy right off the face of the map with this one incredible act of deliverance!
After the Israelites had crossed over and saw this miracle take place right before their very eyes, they then saw all of the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. The Bible says that all of the children of Israel now believed in Moses and the Lord after having witnessed all of these incredible supernatural events.
The Wilderness Experience
Before God decides to take the children of Israel into the Promised Land, He first decides to test them by keeping them out in the wilderness for about two and half years. Mind you, this was only a 3 day journey to get to the Promised Land of Canaan.
However, God apparently took them on the longer route in order to test their patience, their resolve and whether or not they would stay faithful and loyal to Him during this journey. Again, there is much to learn from this part of the story. I will touch more on this in part two.
1. Moses Receives the 10 Commandments
During the time of testing in this wilderness experience, the first thing God wanted to see was whether or not His people would keep His laws and commandments. So God then proceeds to lay out all of the laws that He wants the Israelites to abide by.
In the third month after being delivered from Egypt, God tells Moses that He will literally come down Himself onto Mount Sinai in the presence of all of His people.
When God comes down, the Bible says that Mount Sinai is completely enveloped in smoke. There were thundering's, lightning's, thick smoke and the entire mountain "quaked greatly."
God then descends upon Mount Sinai "in fire." The smoke was like the smoke of a furnace the way it was ascending off of the mountain. Just imagine such an event - that God the Father Himself is descending from His throne in heaven to visit these people with His manifest presence!
God only calls Moses to come to the top of the mountain to meet and talk with Him. No one else was allowed to go up. God then proceeds to tell Moses what the basic 10 commandments are going to be. In addition to the 10 commandments were other specific laws that He wanted the children of Israel to abide by. Moses then comes back down to deliver all of this to the Israelites.
Shortly after this first event, God then calls Moses back to the mountaintop once again. Moses stays on the top of the mountaintop this time with God for forty days and forty nights. The Bible says that the sight of the Lord at the top of the mountaintop was like a "consuming fire."
In this second meeting with God, God gives Moses specific instructions on building a tabernacle where God's manifest presence can dwell with the Israelites out in the wilderness for the 40 years they were going to have to stay out there. It was during this second meeting that God gives Moses the 10 commandments written on a stone tablet!
He was given two tablets and the tablets had writings on both sides. All of the writing on the tablets was literally the handwriting of God Himself - literally engraved right on these stone tablets.
Again, just imagine this entire scene. This one man, Moses, is allowed to meet and talk with God direct for 40 days and 40 nights and then to top it all off, receives two tablets of stone with God's personal handwriting engraved on these two stone tablets!
While all of this is going on between God and Moses for the 40 days, the most unbelievable thing starts to happen at the bottom of this mountain. The Israelites start to grow impatient when they see Moses is delayed in coming back down from the mountaintop. They start murmuring and complaining, saying they do not know what has become of Moses.
At this point, they start to make a golden calf in which to worship. God, seeing this from the mountaintop, becomes furious! God then calls these people a stiff-necked people and threatens to consume them. God then tells Moses that He will make him a great nation, but that He is going to kill the rest of the Israelites who are worshiping this false idol.
At this point, Moses then proceeds to stand in the gap for his people and argues with God not to kill and consume them. The Bible says that the Lord then relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.
After Moses convinces God not to consume His own people, he then comes back down from the mountain to see what they have been up to. When he sees the golden calf they had made to worship and they were all singing and dancing around it, he becomes furious!
At this point, Moses takes the two tablets of stone that God had just given him, and throws them down at the foot of the mountain breaking both of these tablets into pieces! He then proceeds to take the calf which they had just made, burns it, grinds it down into a powder, scatters it into the water and then makes the Israelites drink it! Talk about the full wrath of God in manifestation!
After demolishing this golden calf, Moses then appears before all of the people and tells them to choose which side they are going to stand on - the Lord's side or their own side. After each man takes the side they wanted to be on, Moses then gives the orders to have all the people who did not choose God to be killed right there on the spot. The Bible says that 3000 men were killed that day due to their rebellion against God Almighty Himself.
Moses then goes back up to Mount Sinai, and God once more gives him 2 more tablets of stone to replace the ones that he had just broken. However, in this meeting with God, something really awesome happens!
2. Moses is Allowed to See the Manifest Presence of God
In this next meeting with God, God tells Moses that He is going to literally show Himself to Moses. However, God tells Moses:
"You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." (Exodus 33:20)
God then tells Moses to stand in the cleft of a rock. He will then proceed to pass by Moses, but only showing Moses His back, not His face. Here are the exact words from God Himself:
"Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen." (Exodus 33:21-23)
This has to be the topper experience for Moses. With everything that he has just witnessed with God releasing His people from Egypt with incredible displays of supernatural power, being able to talk direct with God through a burning bush, being able to talk direct to God through fire and smoke up on Mount Sinai, and then topping it all off with God actually allowing Moses to see His manifest presence from His back side. It just can't get any better than this. And this one man experiences all of this in one lifetime!
The Bible then gives Moses what I feel may be the highest compliment that God could ever give to anyone. The Bible says:
"So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." (Exodus 33:11)
The #1 thing that God wants from each of us is an intimate, personal relationship. Moses obviously accomplished all of this in his lifetime. He may have initially been afraid to deliver God's people from Egypt when God first called him out, but he had no fear when the time came to meet God face-to-face and talk directly with Him. The Bible says that the rest of the Israelites were afraid of God when He initially manifested His presence up on Mount Sinai.
After Moses has this incredible direct encounter with God Himself, the Bible says that when he came back down off of the mountain - that the skin of his face shone. The people were afraid to come near him due to the bright glow that was coming off his face after being in the manifest presence of the Lord! Moses then had to wear a veil over his face for a while to help hide the glow so as not to overwhelm the rest of his people.
3. The Tabernacle
The other amazing thing that occurred during the Israelites 40 year journey in the wilderness was the building of a tabernacle that would hold the manifest presence of God Himself in it. God gave Moses specific instructions as to how He wanted this tabernacle built.
After the tabernacle was built, the Bible says that a cloud covered the tabernacle during the day and the appearance of fire covered it at night! God would thus personally lead the Israelites on this 40 year journey by the "cloud and the fire."
Whenever the cloud would lift up off of the tabernacle, the Israelites would follow it to wherever it would settle. As long as the cloud stayed on the tabernacle, the Israelites would stay right where they were camped. Once the cloud would lift off of the tabernacle, they would once again follow it to wherever it would settle. God's manifest presence was thus directly guiding them on this wilderness journey.
4. The Spies Come Back With a Bad Report
Near the beginning of the 40-year journey through the wilderness at about the two and half year mark, God brings the children of Israel up to the borders of the Promised Land - the land of Canaan. The Israelites send 12 spies into this land to check it out before they decide to enter in. They then make their last and final fatal mistake before God the Father.
Ten of the twelve spies come back with a bad report. They tell the rest of the Israelites that the people who dwell in this land are strong, the cities are well fortified and large, and that they will not be able to overcome these people because they are stronger and larger in stature than the Israelites were themselves.
Giants and strongholds thus kept the Israelites from believing that God could overcome these human obstacles. After hearing this bad report, Caleb speaks out and says:
"Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it." (Numbers 13:30)
During their journey through the wilderness, the Israelites were constantly complaining about anything and everything. Not enough food, not enough water, too long of a time in the wilderness, etc. Finally when God was just about to reward them, they make their final, fatal mistake of not believing in their God and that He could overcome the giants and strongholds that they had seen in this land.
When God hears this bad report, He says that will be it. Here is the direct word from God Himself:
"Because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it." (Numbers 14:22-24)
God then goes on to further state:
"Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me." (Numbers 32:11)
Joshua and Caleb were thus the ones to lead this younger generation under 20 years old into the Promised Land and they were successful in conquering and overcoming all of the giants and strongholds that the older generation initially saw. The rest of the Israelites 20 years and older all died out in the wilderness over the next 40 years due to their lack of faith and belief in God!
Imagine these people saw God deliver them from the Egyptians by throwing 10 powerful plagues against the Pharaoh. They see God literally part the Red Sea. They see God's manifest presence several times up on Mount Sinai. They see God give Moses 10 commandments miraculously manifested on two stone tablets. They see God's manifest presence constantly hovering over the tabernacle they had built and God leads them on a daily basis by this cloud. And yet, they still could not believe that God could overcome and conquer the giants and strongholds they saw in the Promised Land.
No wonder God blew His cork and washed His hands of them and left them to die and rot out in the desert. The most amazing thing about all of this is that not one man over 20 years old passed this test.
Unbelievable! I guess that is why Jesus says blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe.
The Death of Moses
The saddest part about this man's story is that he was not allowed to go into the Promised Land with the rest of the younger generation. Moses died on Mount Nebo and was 120 years old when he died.
The Bible says that the reason Moses was not allowed to go into the Promised Land was due to the fact that he "trespassed against God among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh."
What happened in this incident is that God told Moses to speak out to a rock in the presence of the Israelites and that the rock would then bring forth water for the people and their animals.
However, for some strange reason, Moses strikes the rock twice with his rod instead of just speaking out to the rock as God had told him to specifically do. He was thus in direct violation of a direct command by God Himself. The Bible really does not say why Moses did this. He obviously should have known better.
However, this one act of disobedience should not taint this man's incredible story and adventure with God. This is obviously something that we can all learn from. When God tells you to do something specific - do not ever question His command. Just do it or else you could reap serious consequences like Moses did. You could end up losing out on a very big blessing that God may have had in store for you. - Part 2