Portraits of Fellowship, Part 3: Moses
In Exodus, there are specific examples of Moses, his leadership, and his submission to God, which allowed him to be in fellowship with God. In effect, Moses entered into fellowship with God by submitting to Him in what we could easily call perilous circumstances that could have ended in harm or even death to Moses by the people of Israel. The very act of submitting to God shows Him proof of our trust in Him.
There is also one very serious situation in Numbers 20 in which Moses – though he knew what he was supposed to do – failed to do the right thing. Because of this, he fell out of fellowship with God. Though he was brought back into fellowship through his repentance and God’s forgiveness, the circumstances of his failure remained. He was not allowed to enter into the Promised Land.
I want to ensure everyone reading this that I am treating Moses with the utmost respect. He submitted to the Lord on occasion after occasion. He blessed the Lord with his life, his honesty, and his submission to Him. Time and time again when lesser men would have fallen and failed, Moses continued, trusting the Lord to provide.
But Moses – like all of us – was human. He had a sin nature. Because of it, there was no way that Moses would be able to live a sinless life before the Lord because of the fact that he had a sin nature. It is simply a fact that we all share. It is only in death our sin nature is excised from us where we will then take on the full character of Jesus (in His perfect humanity), and from that point, we will live throughout all eternity sinless.
It is also important to recognize that victories and failures of Moses are included in God’s Word deliberately. This is so for a number of reasons. It was certainly to keep Moses humble. But they have also been included to direct us toward humility. We would do well to remember that even though Moses walked with God and talked with him as one man talks with another, that alone did not guarantee a sinless life for Moses, or a life of unbroken fellowship with Him.
Nonetheless, Moses’ life provides wonderful examples of what it means to walk in nearly unbroken fellowship with God. The more we walk in fellowship with Him, the less chance for us to falter and sin. It is no guarantee, but the chances of sinning become less and less as our fellowship with God in Christ grows daily. Christians who do not exercise their right and privilege (because of salvation), to enter into and maintain fellowship with God are not only out of fellowship but clearly are not aware of how often they do sin. Unlike Moses, their life is not written about in the pages of Holy Writ for everyone to either admire or pan. We need to tread carefully where the lives of those who came before us are concerned so that we do not become proud and arrogant.
In Exodus 14, having been fairly recently released from their Egyptian captivity (Exodus 12 – 13), the Israelites, led by Moses, head out for the Promised Land. It would take them over four decades to actually enter it and that is because of their unbelief (sin). Nonetheless, at the start of their journey, things look pretty good indeed. The Egyptians couldn’t wait to get rid of the Israelites following the final plague sent by God in which the firstborn man of every household would be slain by the angel of death. Because of that, Pharaoh was a broken man (at least temporarily), and he let Moses take all the people out of Egypt. The Egyptians themselves heaped gifts on the Israelites (as prophesied by God in Genesis 15:12-16).
Exodus 14 highlights the incident that has become known as the crossing of the Red Sea, in which all the Israelites were able to pass from the Egyptian side of the Red Sea to the eastern side, toward Sinai. Once they had passed through safely and on dry ground, Pharaoh and his army followed. Apparently, they believed the towering walls of separated water would hold out while they crossed as well. It didn’t and they were drowned.
It is important to understand that the people were clamoring against Moses prior to the crossing of the Red Sea.
Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the desert? What in the world have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Isn’t this what we told you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone so that we can serve the Egyptians, because it is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert! (Exodus 14:11-12; NET)
Of course Moses was nervous because we’re talking about more than 600,000 people and the ones right up front near him were not happy. They were faithless and that caused them to turn on Moses in anger. How quickly they had forgotten all that God had done on their behalf! Please note that Moses did not become angry in return. Instead, he tried to calm the people’s nerves.
Do not fear! Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord that he will provide for you today; for the Egyptians that you see today you will never, ever see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you can be still (vv. 13-14; NET).
He tried to turn their attention to the Lord! He knew by faith that God would deliver them. Faith sees beyond circumstances. Moses turned to the Lord and the Lord responded.
The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. And as for you, lift up your staff and extend your hand toward the sea and divide it, so that the Israelites may go through the middle of the sea on dry ground. And as for me, I am going to harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will come after them, that I may be honored because of Pharaoh and his army and his chariots and his horsemen. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I have gained my honor because of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” (vv. 15 – 18; NET).
God had a plan. He was going to glorify Himself before the Israelites and the Egyptian. He would do so by saving the Israelites and destroying the Egyptians, including Pharaoh. This he did. But note how God also essentially gave Moses the power to separate the Red Sea. God wanted to be sure that the Israelites saw that Moses was their leader and had been given supernatural ability as God’s verification that Moses was God’s man for the hour. The Israelites needed to see and embrace Moses as their human leader under God’s sovereignty.
By the way, there is a book called The Exodus Case by Dr. Lennart Moller. It is rich with archaeological information related to the biblical Exodus. Among other things, Dr. Moller includes pictures taken underwater of artifacts and items that appear to be chariot wheels, chariots, shields, horse armor, horse and human skeletons, and more. The photos are in full color and astounding.
Moller’s book covers many aspects of the Exodus from a scientific and archaeological perspective. Many of the things he discusses are worthy of note and provide at least some evidence regarding the Bible’s accuracy, not that we require this, but it is interesting. Of course, we should also note that atheists have tried to pan Dr. Moller’s work but that’s to be expected.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that God uses ordinary people like Moses for His glory and their growth? In this particular case, in spite of his fear, Moses did everything correctly. He did not take out any fear he might have felt on the Israelites. Instead of becoming angry back at them for their lack of faith, he pleaded with them to trust the Lord. They felt overwhelmed and Moses could have felt the same way. Instead, he did what all of the Israelites should have done; trusted the Lord. As my pastor said in delivering his sermon on aspects of Moses’ life, Moses took the high road in spite of any fears he may have felt. He trusted God and God overcame in and through him.
Because of it, Moses entered into deeper fellowship with God. We can have the same reward, if you will. When we trust God, instead of giving into our fears, God continues to fellowship with us. He draws us closer to Him that we might have more of Him. This allows us to think as He thinks. It strengthens our faith however paltry we may think it is in our current situation. God is the Victor and as we remain purposefully close to Him, He gains the victory in and through us.
This is the result of fellowship and it can only be entered into by deliberate measures taken by each Christian. It is what Christians should strive to find. Just because we have salvation does not mean we have automatic fellowship. Salvation provides potential fellowship but is something we need to pursue.
Too many Christians today still look at God as a type of genie. Pray, pray, pray for me, my situation, or whatever. They are so exacting when it comes to their wants, yet one rarely hears “yet not my will, but thine be done.” I like what God said to Moses. “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. And as for you, lift up your staff and extend your hand toward the sea and divide it…”
There are times we must trust God and do what we know we should do regardless of what the circumstances might turn out to be. God is not our genie. He is our Master. Moses understood this and certainly in this case, lived up to the mark.
How about you?
Entry filed under: christianity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: exodus, exodus 14, moses, red sea, red sea crossing.