Moses: The Profile of a Leader
BORN AT THE RIGHT TIME
Open your Bibles tonight to (text). I’m beginning a series of lessons tonight that will probably last about 6 weeks on the life of Moses. I’m calling it Moses: The Profile of a Leader. If you want to learn about God’s plan for leadership – how to be a leader God’s way – then I can’t think of a better place to look than the life of Moses. And tonight as we look specifically at Exodus 2:1-10, I’ve given this message the title, “Born at the Right Time.”
Think about this – you were born at exactly the right time. If you had been born two months earlier, or two months later, you wouldn’t be you – you’d be somebody else. You were born at exactly the right time to be who you are.
You talk to most kids, and you discover that they’re DISSATISFIED with their birthdays. Because you talk to them, and they always want to be a different age, right? You ask a 7-year-old girl, “How old are you?” and she’ll say, “I’m gonna be 8.” Now a 39 year old lady never says that. First of all, you never ask how old she is. But she never says, “I’m going to be 40.” Somewhere along the line, it CHANGES, doesn’t it.
So maybe there’s been a time in your life when you wished that you were born at a different time. But if you were born at any other time, you would not be who you are. You were born according to GOD’S timing at JUST THE RIGHT TIME. And you can thank God for that tonight – God made you, God placed you here, and you were born at just the right time.
And so we come to the story of the birth of Moses, a man whom God would use in a mighty way – no greater man in all the OT than Moses. God used him to take his people Israel out of Egypt, he used him to lead them through the wilderness, he used them to give his laws and his commandments to his people, he used Moses to prepare Israel to enter the Promised Land. Moses was born at a DIFFICULT time… DANGEROUS time, but we look at his life story, and we discover that he was born at exactly the RIGHT time.
So I want us to look at the story of his birth tonight, and we begin in 2:1. Now this is a familiar passage of Scripture, but I want us to look at it tonight with new eyes and I want us to hear it with new ears, because I believe that God wants to speak to us through this passage tonight. Begin reading with me in v.1 – (READ 1-10)
We look at this story of Moses and the story of his birth and the way that he was adopted into Pharaoh’s household and the way God provided for him, and the whole thing is a familiar story to us. But tonight as we look at it, I want you to think – not about the HUMAN side of the story – but about the DIVINE side of this story. I want you to think – not about what Pharaoh’s daughter did or what Moses’ mother did or what his sister Miriam did, although we’ll talk about all those things. I want you to look beyond what PEOPLE were doing to see what GOD was doing. And I want you to think about how you can apply the truths in this text to your own life.
I want you to see several PRINCIPLES in this passage.
First of all, the Bible shows us in this passage that…
I. God MADE You For A Reason
That’s something I believe God wants us all to know tonight. You were born at the right time, and God MADE you for a reason. You’re no accident… fluke – he made you for a reason… purpose.
Now we look at Moses’ birth, and we may be tempted to say, “Well what a TERRIBLE TIME to be born.” I mean, think about the CIRCUMSTANCES of his birth. If you look back at chapter 1 and get a little bit of context, you can see what was going on at the time that Moses was born. Look back at 1:8 – (READ) You remember the story from the book of Genesis. All of God’s people were taken into Egypt, they were led there, they came there because they found refuge there. And Joseph took care of his brothers and all of his family – and really, Joseph was a hero to all of the Egyptians, and so were his brothers – everyone loved them. But then a new king arose in Egypt who did not know Joseph – did know how Joseph had rescued the whole nation from famine.
And the Bible says this King, this Pharaoh, (READ 9-11) Now the Bible tells us because the people of Israel were multiplying so greatly, and because Pharaoh and the other Egyptians became intimidated, they started doing everything they could to oppress God’s people, and to push them down. He even instructed some of the midwives, “Listen, when these Hebrew boys are born, you kill them – don’t let them live.” But these midwives honored the Lord God, and they allowed the children to live.
And so Pharaoh took even more drastic measures, and he gave an order – you know what the order was – that all male children of the Israelites were to be thrown into the river, and there they would die. If they crocodiles didn’t eat them, then they’d drown. Look in v.22 – (READ)
Think about those circumstances. For an Israelite baby to be born in those days was a days was a dangerous time. It was a life of slavery… misery… where if you were a little boy, your life was going to be snuffed out in its infancy. And yet, in the midst of all of that, a man of the tribe of Levi took as his wife a woman of the tribe of Levi – his name was Amran, her name was Jocabed – they were Moses’ parents, and they had a baby. V.2 says, “The woman conceived and bore a son.”
Now in the book of Exodus, the word of God emphasizes the faith of JOCABED – the faith of his MOTHER. But if you look in your Bibles in Hebrews 11:23, there you’ll see the word of God emphasizes BOTH the father AND the mother’s faith – it commends BOTH the father and mother for trusting God.
Now think about this – it was an act of FAITH for this couple to have normal marital relations during that dangerous time when Jewish babies were being killed. They already had 2 children – they already had a daughter, Miriam, and they had a son, Aaron, who was 3 years older than Moses. And yet, they were obedient to God, and they had another child. Moses became a MAN of great FAITH, and he LEARNED that faith first from his godly parents. He knew he was born for a reason.
Listen, you were born for a reason as well. Now, I know sometimes we joke around and we say about our kids, “Well, you know, Junior over here, he was an accident.” You know, there’s this one and this one and this one, and then there’s this one – he was an accident. We weren’t expecting him – he snuck up on us! You may have been told that, and if you were, I’m sorry you were. Or maybe you’ve said that, and if so, I’m sorry you ever said it, and I hope you won’t ever say it again. Because no baby who ever is born into this world was born by ACCIDENT. Moses was born for a reason, and YOU were born for a reason as well.
The Bible talks about that, and it’s so clear that God saw us in our mother’s womb, even before we were born. Turn over to Psalm 139 for just a minute, and start reading with me down in v.13 – (READ 13-16) God has a PLAN for every day of your life. You are here for a PURPOSE. V.17 – (READ 17-18) The Psalmist says, “God, you think about me all the time. You planned all of my days. You saw me even before I was born.”
In other words, YOU MATTER TO GOD! You were born for a reason. Never forget that. Even if you were born in difficult circumstances, even if your family life wasn’t what you had hoped it would be or what you would wish it had been, listen, you were born for a reason – God has a PURPOSE for you.
I heard the story of a museum guide who would take his tour group to a darkened room, and then he would shine a light on a mass of string and color and apparent chaos. And then he’d ask the group, “What do you think this is?” And they’d look at all of those strings and all of that color and all of that disarray, and they’d say, “Well, we don’t know.” And then he’d say, “Well stand over there and watch.” And they’d walk around to the other side of the room, and then he’d instantly turn on a spotlight, and immediately it was apparent that the mass of jumbled colored string seen just a moment earlier was in fact an enormous tapestry from the backside. The REAL work had to be seen from a different PERSPECTIVE to understand what the artist was doing.
Listen, that’s the way it works with God and his plan for you. We often look at our lives, we look at what’s going on, and we say, “Why?” and “How?” “Why am I here?” and “How can this possibly be working out for good?” – not because there’s no REASON behind what God is doing, but because we’re on the WRONG SIDE of eternity, and we can’t SEE what GOD sees. From God’s perspective, he can see the order and he can see the pattern and the plan and the reason. God made you for a reason – you were born for a reason.
But I want you to know something else – if you were BORN for a reason, then you absolutely, certainly, were born AGAIN for a reason. He not only MADE you, but he REDEEMED you by the precious blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. Never let the devil tell you… world tell you… yourself tell you, that you don’t have a purpose, that you don’t have a reason – God made you for a reason, and you were born at the right time.
So, #1, God made you for a reason.
But then there’s a 2nd principle that I want you see in this text from the birth of Moses. The Bible shoe us this –
II. God WORKS To Accomplish His Plan For You
God is working. Sometime he works in a way that we can’t see at all, but he’s WORKING to accomplish his plan for you.
Look at v.4 – the Bible describes what happens to the little baby Moses. Now his mother makes a basket and covers it with pitch and puts him in the river, and he begins to float down that river. There was no RUDDER in that little basket – there was no SAIL – there was no DIRECTION – he couldn’t reach out his little arm and PADDLE and make himself go somewhere. He was just floating right along. But the hand of GOD was guarding and guiding that little baby. (READ 4-6) Now, the BABY can’t make anything happen, and truthfully, his MOTHER can’t really make anything happen, because that baby is under death sentence by Pharaoh. But GOD is working – he’s working every moment of the way.
Think about what God is doing. He brought Pharaoh’s daughter to that river at just the right time – 2 hours later, 2 hours earlier, she night not have seen that little floating basket. God providentially caused the little ark to catch her attention – she might not have noticed it otherwise. And somehow, that baby cried at just the right moment. You know, Pharaoh’s daughter may not have been as kindly disposed to the baby had he not cried. But that crying baby stirred compassion in her heart. GOD is doing ALL of this.
Notice what else the Lord did. He gave Miriam, Moses’ sister, the wisdom to say to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” He kept Moses in touch with his family and in touch with his heritage. But then also notice what the Lord did. In his providence, he worked it out so that Pharaoh’s daughter actually offered to PAY Moses’ mother to nurse the baby. That’s an even GREATER blessing for the family.
So think about all that has happened. Can you see what God is doing, and can you imagine the joy and the relief that Jocabed must have felt as she finds out that not only is she getting her child back from the edge of the grave, but now she’s got an official sanction and protection of Pharaoh for her son, and she gets to take care of her precious son, and she gets PAID for doing it – you just can’t get any better than that!
Folks, there’s no COINCIDENCE here in all of this. God’s NAME isn’t mentioned in these verses – you look through vs.4-9, and God’s NAME isn’t found one single time. But God’s HAND is all OVER these verses – his hand is all over what’s happening. And his hand is all over OUR lives as his CHILDREN – even when we may not immediately see what he’s doing.
I heard about a mother who came into the house from working in the yard one afternoon, and she found her 8-year-old daughter in her room reading a book. Her mother said, “Honey, what have you been doing while I was outside?” The little girl said, “Well, mainly I’ve just been here reading my book.” Her mother said, “Are you sure you haven’t done something else?” Her daughter said, “Like what?” Her mother said, “Well, here’s what I think you’ve done. I believe you went to the kitchen, you made yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then you went into the piano room and practiced a little while, then you went to the TV room and watched television, then you want to our bedroom and laid on our bed, and then you came into your room and read you book. Is that what you’ve done?” Well her daughter thought she must have been Sherlock Holmes. “Well yes, momma, I did all those things. But how did you know?” Her mother said, “Well, when you went and made that peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you got jelly on your fingers. And so there’s jelly on the keys of the piano, and there’s jelly on the remote control in the TV room, and there’s jelly on our bedroom door, and there’s jelly on the cover of that book you’re reading.” Her FINGERPRINTS gave it all away.
Folks, listen – you look at your life, and you’ll see the GOD’S fingerprints all over your life. He’s providentially working out his plan and purpose for your life. Now does that mean that we just float aimlessly? Does that mean that we don’t make plans? No, we make plans. I want you to notice, the baby was just in that ark floating, but his mother had made some plans. She had man an ark, she had placed him in the river, she had placed her daughter along to watch – she worked hard, she had a plan, she used her creativity. But she knew that GOD ultimately was responsible for making things happen. You make your plans and you work your plans, but remember – God must work, or our plans will come to nothing.
There was a motto of soldiers back during the revolutionary war that said this – “Trust in God, but keep your powder dry.” In other words, place your life in the Lord’s hands, but make sure you’ve done everything you need to do to be ready.
So do we plan? Yes. And do we act with wisdom? Yes. And do we work with all of our might? Yes. And do we make the most of our opportunities? Yes. But do we ultimately place ourselves and our plans and our families and our children and our ministry and everything else in the Father’s hands? Absolutely, YES – because God is WORKING to accomplish his plan for your life.
You were born at the right time, and God is WORKING in your life.
There’s a 3rd principle we see in this passage –
III. God PREPARES You For Your Purpose
God is working in our lives, PREPARING us for what he wants to accomplish THROUGH us.
Notice v.10 – (READ) Now don’t miss this. This is one of the most HEARTBREAKING verses in all of the Bible. But at the same time, it’s one of the most ENCOURAGING verses in all of the Bible.
There’s HEARTBREAK in this verse. It must have been difficult for Moses’ real mom and real dad, because you think about this – in the eyes of Pharaoh’s daughter and in the eye’s of Pharaoh’s family and in the eyes of all of Egypt, Jocabed was just the nurse – Amram was just the nurse’s husband. We don’t know what all MOSES knew, but that’s all Pharaoh’s daughter knew. And so the time came when Moses’ mother had to take that little baby boy, that little child, and deliver him to Pharaoh’s daughter. He called Pharaoh’s daughter, mom. Jocabed and Amram watched as Moses became the son of another woman with a completely different set of virtues, and he became one of them. He dressed like an Egyptian, he talked like an Egyptian, he walked like an Egyptian – that’d make a good song. It must have been difficult, even heartbreaking, for them to watch that happen.
But listen, God was using even this. Now it’s very interesting, if you’ll look in your Bible, you’ll discover that Acts 7 is the twin passage in the NT to Exodus 2. Turn there. Here in Acts 7, Stephen is preaching his great sermon on the whole history of God’s people Israel. And as he talks about that, he elaborates on Moses’ childhood. V.20 – (READ 20-22) Notice, Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.
Now in those days, the phrase “wisdom of the Egyptians” was a figure of speech. Someone who had a brilliant mind… great knowledge and a great education was said to have “the wisdom of the Egyptians.” Because in the days of Moses, the Egyptians had the greatest schools in all of the world. The Temple of the Sun in Egypt where Moses would have been schooled and trained has been called the Oxford of the ancient world. Moses went there, and he learned everything – all of the wisdom that the Egyptians had to offer. One commentator summarizes Moses’ training there by writing this –
Moses began to learn the language of the Egyptians at the temple. He also would have plunged into the sciences, medicine, astronomy, chemistry, theology, philosophy, and law. He almost certainly took the Egyptian equivalent of ROTC, studying the battles and combat tactics and foes of that nation’s proud military history. On top of that, he would have dabbled in the arts – sculpture, music, and painting. The whole world of Egyptian literature was open to him. The adopted son of the prince found himself immersed in Egyptian learning. It became his life.
He learned all of the things that the Egyptians had to offer. And listen to this – everything Moses learned, God used. Think about what he became. He became the first HISTORIAN of Israel – he wrote the history of the world from the time of creation all the way up through the children of Israel coming up to the Promised Land. He became a MILITARY TACTICIAN, and led Israel in victorious battle. He became an ADMINISTRATOR, and a leader of God’s people, and he was used by God to organize and lead the people of Israel. He became a LEGAL SCHOLAR. We talk about the first 5 books of the OT, and in the NT they call those books the what? The LAW. He wrote those legal books and that legal code for God’s people. God used everything Moses experienced to PREPARE him for the work God had him to do.
And God will do the same thing in your life. I’ve seen him do it in my life. He has worked even when I didn’t know it – he has worked to PREPARE me for what he had out in front of me.
When I went college back in 1987, I started out majoring in Radio/TV broadcasting. That’s what I intended to do with life. Well, after a couple of years and a lot of classes, I decided I didn’t want to do that. So I quit school. And I thought to myself, “Man, what a lot of wasted time and money. I’ll NEVER use any of that radio/TV stuff!” I mean, I’d never need to work on my PUBLIC SPEAKING or anything. And I’d certainly never be doing any work on the radio again. See, God evidently knew what he was doing, and he was working in my life to prepare me for the work of preaching that I would one day do.
You don’t know what God is up to. He can use your mistakes… misfires… regrets… the times when you feel like you’re just wandering around and not accomplishing anything – he can take the DESERT of your life and turn it into an OASIS. He will WORK to accomplish his plan in your life. And he works even when we don’t see his hand at work.
He’s preparing you for a purpose – you were born for a reason.
And then I want you to notice with me one other principle that we discover in the text regarding Moses, and this one is a sad one… difficult one, and I hate to make it my last point, but it’s the last thing that the text talks about. Here’s the principle –
IV. God Knows WHEN & WHERE To Use You
Now I’ll go ahead and tell you, we’re going to end the story of Moses tonight on a note of FAILURE, because here’s what happened. Up to now, up until the time that Moses was taken to Pharaoh’s daughter’s household and trained in all of the wisdom of the Egyptians, up to then, God had worked mightily to direct Moses’ life. But then something happened – Moses said, “Lord, let me take the wheel for a while. Let me drive the car for a while. Let me decide where to go.” And he messed things up, because he wasn’t OBEDIENT to the Lord.
Notice what the Bible says beginning in v.11 – (READ) Now he had a heart of compassion. He cared about his people. He had a heart that burned with justice and with righteousness. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and he burned with anger inside. (READ 12-15)
Up to that point, God had worked to direct him – he had providentially put Moses right where he wanted him. But then Moses decided to take control. Now he KNEW that God had prepared him for leadership, and he knew that his people needed to be delivered. But now was NOT the time. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and in anger he killed the Egyptian. Someone has pointed out that if you notice in the text, it says that before he killed the Egyptian, Moses looked this way and that – he looked left and right, he looked all around – but he never looked UP, and he did something that was outside of God’s time. It wasn’t God’s time… program. And so when he came and tried to break up a fight between 2 Hebrews, and was waiting for them to say, “Oh, we’re so glad you’ve come to deliver us, our leader,” they said, “Listen, who do you think you are? We saw what you did. Are you going to do to us what you did to the Egyptian?” And he was afraid, and he ran away.
Now that’s where we’re going to leave Moses for this week – there in the desert of Midian, fearing for his life.
Exodus tell us WHAT Moses did, but Stephens sermon in Acts 7 tells us WHY Moses did what he did. Turn and look at v.23 – (READ 23-25) Notice the language there. “It came into HIS heart,” “HE supposed.” He was waiting on the Hebrews to line up behind him and say, “OK, Moses, we’ve been waiting on you to deliver us.” But it wasn’t God’s time. Instead of LEADING, he wound up taking a WALK – nobody was ready him, because Moses wasn’t ready to lead.
I remind you of my point – God’s knows where and when to use you. And one of the things we don’t want to do is get ahead of God, right? We don’t want OUR agenda, we want HIS. So we listen to his word, and we watch for open doors in our circumstance, and we pray for HIS will to be done in our lives, and we try our best never to get ahead of him.
Someone has pointed out true leaders will always rise to the top. They’re like BEANS in a jar full of PEAS. I’m told that if you take beans and peas and put them in a jar and just shake them vigorously, the peas will always settle to the bottom, and the beans will always come to the top. And it’s the same thing with godly men and women. They can never be held down when they’re shaken up. If you truly have the leadership abilities that God has given you and a love for God and God’s will, he in his providence will always PUT you exactly where you need to be.
And so there in the desert of Midian, Moses stopped striving, and he started waiting on God. THEN God was ready to use him.
What about you tonight? Is God ready to use you? I believe he is. But are YOU ready for God to use you? Have you placed yourself in the right place so that God can do what he wants to do through you? You were born at the right time. You were made for a purpose – God has a plan for you. He’s working to fulfill that plan. But we need to let HIM decide when and where he wants to use us.
Moses: The Profile of a Leader
Born At The Right Time
I. God M_______________ You For A Reason
II. God W_______________ To Accomplish His Plan
III. God P_______________ You For Your Purpose
IV. God Knows W______________ & W_____________
To Use You