MOSES MISSION: RESTORE GOD’S IMAGE IN MAN
Moses’ sister Miriam and his brother Aaron tried to disqualify their brother, Moses. God set them straight and said to them, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all of my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” That is why the Law of Moses is final and cannot be altered (Numbers 12:6-8). God chose Moses to be the mediator between Himself and the People to restore or to reawaken His Image in them with Laws, statutes and ordinances.
Moses was drafted by the Most High to be his mouthpiece and installer of his Laws and organizer of his people. Four Books: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy describe his contribution to the formation of a totally theocratic nation in the world, where no man but God alone was king. That reign extended from Joshua to Samuel, and failed because leaders disobeyed God Laws by yielding to the people’ wishes. It was their lack of repentance that brought down one of the most efficient systems the world had ever seen. It was a self-governing system of every person. With the help of God’s Law and a Levite servant, this self-governing system only cost ten percent to administer to the needs of the people. Moses was an unwilling instrument of God because he, himself, found it hard to repent from his worldly ways to become a servant of God. Moses had a lot help from his godly father-in-law and a god-fearing wife. Jethro or Reuel was a priest of the God Most High. Jethro gave his daughter, Zipporah, to Moses to be his wife. She circumcised their son to save Moses’ life (Exodus 4:24-26). The writer of the Pentateuch spent only one chapter on Moses’ eighty years of his life in Exodus. He was born to a Hebrew-Levite couple. Moses’ parents hid Moses, at home, for three months; then the mother put Moses in a basket and placed the basket on the river. This particular spot on the river was where the Egyptian princess took her baths. The princess adopted the baby boy and spared him from being executed. The princess employed one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby, who happened to be the real mother. The boy, Moses, was brought up as an Egyptian. The mother, for the time she was allowed to nurse her own child. The mother secretly managed to inform the boy, Moses, that he was a Hebrew of the tribe of Levy, and that he also had a brother and a sister. For his first forty years, Moses lived in comfort and luxury as an Egyptian. Finally, when Moses went out and saw how his people were abused and how they were mistreated, he killed an Egyptian. Moses had to flee to Midian, where he spent another forty years tending sheep and raising a family of two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.
The Jethro–Reuel’s influence on Moses appears to have been extensive. The name “Reuel” means “companion or friend of God” (IDB, IV, 54). Moses meditated a lot about the God Most High, and he made sacrifices to the God Most High (Exodus 18:12). Jethro also taught Moses how to distribute the responsibilities of leadership (Exodus 18:17-26). After Moses informed Jethro how God delivered Israel from the hand of Pharaoh, the priest joined in the celebration and said:
‘Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because he delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians, when they dealt arrogantly with them.’ And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, offered a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God” (Exodus 18:10-12). Moses’ people, who just had been delivered with miracles that were unheard of; unfortunately, they still were crediting a golden calf with their deliverance (Exodus 32).
Moses did not convert easily. The Lord God had to put some convincing pressure on him. God’s role in calling his delegates or servants to spread His message is fundamental to his cause. God did not place His message in the hands of men, even good men, to announce His purpose. Jesus reminded his twelve as to who called them, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you”(John 15:16). The fruit are those that will accept their message of salvation and live it out in their daily lives. The disciples were only to be endorsed and to be blessed with what they asked, pertained to the name of Jesus and to the will of God. Jesus, Himself, asked nothing for Himself; yet, Jesus did asked for everything that was needed to do God’s will. Moses became God’s example of who and what God’s messenger or God’s prophet had to do. It was God who chose His messengers. And it was God who gave the messengers His message:
‘I will raise up from among you a prophet like you (Moses) from among your brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ God’s answer was, “when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:18-22).
This message to Moses and to his people was God’s promise to guard His message by selecting and by choosing people, who would abide by the truth, even at the cost of their lives. In time, the wrong prophet was followed and the right prophet did suffer, and the right prophet was killed. By the time of Jesus, this change had already taken place. It has even become more difficult for the preacher in our time to preach the kind of message that the Old Testament preachers or prophets had to deliver. Yet, it was that kind of a prophet that brought about the reformation, the holiness movement in Europe, and two great awakenings in America. Our modern revivalists, with the message of God doing all in Christ with little effort on man’s part, have not turned this country or any other country around. We shy away from a John the Baptist who called the sinners, “You brood of vipers,” or Jesus “You snakes, you brood of vipers and you hypocrites; or a Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God?” Sixty years ago, I heard Hyman Appelmans’ sermon twice on, “The Penitentiary of the Damned.” I have heard no sermon like that ever since. In our part of the world, sermons like that would completely empty our churches. In parts of the world, where the message faces opposition to those whom God has chosen, the fruit multiplies, even in secret.
Christian interpreters limit Deuteronomy 18:15-22 to Jesus, but that was not the intent of in the Old Testament, where God chose many spokesmen and many women from Joshua to John the Baptist (Matthew 11:13). Jesus, too, was the Messenger. Yet, Jesus was and Jesus still is the “Message” and the “Content” of the “Message.” It was He, like God, choosing His messengers to continue what Moses was sent to do; namely, to deliver his people from a world, like Egypt. To become that new people of God, they had to live by the God’s Law, Moses was given. Jesus, too, came to bring the people back to that God’s Law (Matthew 5:17-20). Israel, without the Law of Moses, did not survive; neither, will the “New Israel” (Christians). Jesus Christ, Himself, fulfilled that Law by not breaking a single dot of it. Jesus expects no less from his followers. Grace has given man a second chance to live as one who, no longer, needs to fear the Law. If a Christian breaks the Law, he or she must quickly make it right (Luke 12:57-59); even if it is seventy seven times per day (Matthew 18:21). It is not God who makes things right but man who has become a Christian. The things a person has done before he or she became a Christian are the things that are in the hands of God’s mercy or in the hands of Christ. There is no room to live in sin, while we are in Christ. A redeemed life keeps redemption alive by keeping sin out; for, sin robs man of his redemption (Romans 6).
Exodus, chapters three and four, are the most important chapters in the Bible because they identify and they disclose God, the Creator to a man, called Moses. God had his angel (messenger) set a bush on fire to get Moses’ attention. When Moses went to inspect the bush, the voice of God warned, “Moses, Moses!” And he relied, “Here I am.” Then the voice of God said, “Do not come near; take off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Then the voice of God continued, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God, rather where the voice came from. God instructed Moses to return to Egypt and deliver Israel from Pharaoh, the most powerful human God at that time. Yet, Moses wanted a name for God, so he could introduce Him to his people. God had only one answer, “I am who I am.” God was the personal God of their fathers, and there was no one like Him and that He would demonstrate it with Moses as his instrument. Moses needed more convincing and God endowed his simple shepherd staff with the power to perform miracles stronger than Satan’s Egyptian magicians. God, who is the Creator of everything that is good, used Satan’s own tool, like the plagues, to give the Egyptians a taste of their medicine. Evil begets more evil. And good results in more good; even, when we repay good with evil, evil will bounce back at us and so will good bounce to us.
It is the principle of cause and effect; also known as, “What a man sows, that he shall also reap” (Galatians 6:7). It is a universal principle. And it has been at work ever since the time of Adam. This universal principle shall end on judgment day. Exodus is an example of the payback of “cause and effect.” This payback of cause and effect was the evidence even for the Hebrews who worshiped the golden calf, instead of the God of their fathers. God did not let the Hebrews leave the desert until a new generation began to accept “Monotheism” and the Law of Moses. All the adults, that left Egypt, and those that had fleshpots on their minds, died in the desert. Only Joshua and Caleb entered Canaan. Moses, who bent Law on divorce, was also kept out of Canaan. God allowed no compromise, even with Moses. God had given Moses the Law. Yet, Moses changed it to please the male population (Matthew 19:8-9). Nevertheless, “there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10).