The Lesson of Moses
One of the great calamities of 20th century Christianity is that the word faith became almost solely associated with an intellectual ascent to certain facts of the Christian faith.
Faith is an active word. Faith trusts in whom God is and what He has done on behalf of all who believe, but faith also does. It cannot remain idle as though faith was merely a passive belief in God. It demands decisive action based upon the revelation of God in Christ. When you read the Gospels, you’ll discover that Jesus said very little about having faith in Him – that is, merely embracing a theological construct that He was and is the Messiah. What Jesus demanded was that people follow Him as an expression of their faith. Just for your future reference, in regard to one’s relationship with Jesus, the word follow is used twice as many times as the word faith.
When a man embraces faith, his whole life is affected. A faith that does not influence a man’s practice is simply not worthy of being called faith.
The passage under consideration this morning teaches us that Moses was a man whose faith led to action. Moses is one of the great men of faith in the Old Testament. We all know that. He is the dominant individual character in the Old Testament narrative from Exodus through Deuteronomy. The text often speaks of him in superlatives:
Deut. 34:10 “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”
What many believers don't always remember is that Moses was 80 years old when God called him to become the leader and emancipator of his people. The life of Moses reminds us that you’re never too old to serve God.
This morning, I want us to look at the life of Moses. Through it we see that no matter how old one may be, it is never too late to do great things for God.
I. MOSES SPENT 40 YEARS IN EGYPT THINKING HE WAS A SOMEBODY
- Exodus 2:10-11 "And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water. And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren." KJV
- other than his birth, the Bible tells us very little about the early life of Moses
- the interval between verses 10 and 11 is about 40 years
- how Moses lived his life during this time is sealed in the mystery of time
- but we can make some basic assumptions based on what we know from secular historical sources
- based on what we are told in the Scriptures we can safely speculate that for the first 40 years of his life Moses was thoroughly Egyptianized
- what does this mean?
A. MOSES HAD EVERYTHING A SECULAR SOCIETY CONSIDERS IMPORTANT IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE A ‘SOMEBODY’
- Moses had an education
- he would have been trained from early childhood in the legends, knowledge, wisdom and history of Egypt and the Mediterranean world
- Acts 7:21-22 ". . . Pharaoh's daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and act."
- as a prince he would have had a tutor at a young age who over-saw every aspect of his education
- he was the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter
- her name was Thermuthis
- being the adopted son made him a member of the royal court and brought him all the benefits of that position
- his hands were soft and his skin was fair
- he didn't do windows
- and he didn't make bricks
- his life was pampered
- he undoubtedly stood in line as an heir to the throne of Egypt itself
- in Hebrews 11:26, the text refers to the treasures of Egypt
- Egypt was the dominant world super-power of the day
- wealth and tribute poured into the nation from around the Mediterranean world
- Moses would have worn rings on his fingers; necklaces of gold, ivory and precious stones hung around his neck; his body was perfumed with the finest oils and clothed in the finest linen
- at the clap of his hands servants came running to do his will
B. MOSES HAD WEALTH, EDUCATION, AND POWER, BUT HE ALSO HAD AN EMPTY SOUL
- at the age of 40, Moses had everything but a personal faith in the God of His fathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
- Moses was the adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, but he was also a Hebrew
- he knew it
- the Egyptians knew it
- the Hebrew slaves knew it
- at some pont, Moses sought to identify with his race, his heritage and his culture
- Acts 7:23-25 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not."
- by the standards of the world, Moses was a somebody afraid to give it all up and be considered a nobody
- by the standards of God, Moses was a nobody who thought he was a somebody, but would only learn what it meant to be somebody when he became a nobody
- Jesus was very clear about the demands of the Christian life
- Matt. 20:25-28 "Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for man."
II. MOSES SPENT 40 YEARS IN THE DESERT FINDING OUT THAT HE WAS A NOBODY
- how quickly Moses's fortunes changed
- Ex. 2:14 "When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well."
- he had probably heard the whispers and rumors
- "Yea, there goes Moses. He likes to think he's one of us. Well, let's see him get down here in the mud and make bricks with us."
- instead of being hailed as a friend of the slaves he was despised all the more
- Acts 7:25 "Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not."
- he flees to the land of Midian where he spends the next 40 years of his life
A. MOSES LEARNED SOME VALUABLE LESSONS IN THE DESERT
- he learned that the privileges and pleasures that men place so much importance on are fleeting and can disappear in a moment
- in rage and anger Moses killed another man, he is discovered and forced to flee to another country where he becomes a fugitive from justice
- his power, his position and his influence are gone
- his access to wealth, and nobility, and pampered service has vanished
- his self-esteem which came with the trappings of Egyptian royalty has been seriously deflated
- let's face it, going from being a prince of Egypt to tending your father-in-law's goats on the backside of a desert is not an upward career move
- he learned about commitment and true contentment
- to go from the glory of imperial Egypt to being a goat-roper in the desert is undoubtedly a humbling experience to say the least
- instead of bemoaning his situation, Moses learned from it
- for 40 years he faithfully worked for his father-in-law and raised a family
- he learned about the God of his fathers
- Exo. 3:2-5 ". . . and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight why the bush does not burn up." When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, “Here I am." “Do not come any closer," God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God."
- when Moses met God, in that moment he became a somebody
III. MOSES SPENT 40 YEARS LEARNING WHAT GOD COULD DO WITH A SOMEBODY WHO KNEW HE WAS A NOBODY
- at near 80 years of age, Moses comes to God
- you almost have to wonder if this was the first time in those 40 years in the desert that God had tried to get Moses' attention
- maybe God had tried before, but Moses did not perceive that it was God
- finally, God sets a bush on fire and yet it is not consumed this gets Moses' attention!
- now, I've told you all of this to get to the main issue before us
A. MOSES WAS EIGHTY YEARS OLD WHEN HE FINALLY BEGAN TO SERVE GOD AND ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT FOR THE KINGDOM
- at 80 years old God called Moses to service
- in Exodus 3:10 we see the call to service that God extends to Moses: "And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."
- even now Moses balks
- Exodus 3:11-12 "But Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you a will worship God on this mountain."
- the implication of God's response to Moses is wonderful
- in effect, God tell him, "Moses, that's right. You are a nobody. But I will be with you as you face Pharaoh and that makes you a somebody."
IV. LESSONS FROM HEBREWS 11:24-27
- from time-to-time, all of our senior adults deserve to be remembered, recognized, and honored
- too often they are shoved aside by a culture that worships youth, and detests the elderly as painful reminders of what awaits us all
- many in our culture perceive the elderly as a burden on an already over-burdened social security system
- some see them as a burden on our nation's medical and health care facilities
- and yes, sadly they are sometimes seen as a burden on the materialistic lifestyles of families who are supporting an aging parent
- many senior adults have become victims and have been targeted for abuse, neglect, rip-offs and scams
- but the Bible teaches us something different about the elderly among us
- it teaches us that they are a storehouse of wisdom and spiritual power
- they often provide a church financial stability and spiritual maturity
- believers should never let their advancing age and declining physical vigor stop them from doing things for the Lord
- older Christians should continue to be fruitful and productive for the Lord
A. ADVICE FOR THE ELDERLY AMONG US
- never stop going as long as you are able to go
- ILLUS. Her name was Lorain Johnson. She was a semi-healthy and active senior adult member of our church in Adrian. Lorain was one of those at-church-every-time-the-door-is-opened kind of Christians. One year the association was have difficulty getting enough women counselors for girls camp. The DOM asked the pastors to give a special plea to their churches for women who would come and work at camp. I gave the plea. After the service, Lorain came up to me and said, “Bro. Dave, I can do that. Count me in.” Well, her daughters had a fit. Jewel told her, “Mom, you’re 78 years old. You don’t have any business going out to camp. Tha’t a job for younger women.” Her daughter, Rita told her, “It’s August, mother, you might have a heart attack and die!” Lorain, a little piqued at that point told her daughters in no uncertain terms that God was not done with her yet. Besides, if she had a heart attack and died, she would die doing something for the Lord. She went and the little girls just loved her. She became every camper’s ‘grandma Johnson.’ Lorain severed as a girl’s camp counselor for two more summers after that.
- ILLUS. Bill McGlowen. Most of you remember Bill was a character. He moved to Linn when he was 77 years old so he could attend Linn Tech and earn a degree in aviation mechanics. Upon graduation, he wrote letters to companies all over the country looking for work. I visited with him three days before he suddenly died. At 82 years old, he was still planning trips and looking forward to tomorrow.
- ILLUS. General Douglas MacArthur wrote something very profound about aging on his 75th birthday: "In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, and courage, so long are you young. When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only are you grown old."
- as long as you’re able ...
- years may wrinkle the skin, but to retire from the Lord's work wrinkles the soul
- ILLUS. Fanny Crosby was the greatest hymn writer of the 19th century, and one of the greatest who ever lived. We still sing many, of her songs. When she was in her 80s a friend asked her how long she was going to continue her vigorous activity. She replied"How long am I going to travel and lecture? Always! There is nothing that could induce me to abandon my work. It means nothing to be eighty-four years of age because I am still young!"
For the rest of you here this morning, I have one plea to make: Don't be like Moses. Don't wait until your old age before you really begin serving God.