Moses is among the most prominent biblical figures in both the New and Old Testament. His name means “drawn out”, signifying how Moses will later “draw out” God’s people from the land of Egypt. He grew up to be one of the spiritual giants of the Bible.
After the death of Joseph, the new Egyptian Pharaoh made the Israelites their slaves. Moses was the man chosen by God to deliver His people out from bondage. God mightily used Moses to write and compile the first five fundamental books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch.
A quick and deep look at the life of Moses reveals a lot of lessons to learn. He is a man mentioned in Hebrews 11, the faith chapter. Studying his life would show us how to live a godly and righteous life. Join me now as we learn the lessons from the life of Moses.
Lesson no. 1: God uses the humble, not the proud
Number 12:3 tells us, “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth”. How would you like that to be said about you? The Bible records that Moses is the meekest man on Earth. Because of this, God chose Moses to be the physical leader of the Israelites.
But how did Moses developed this kind of humility? What are the circumstances that had led him to be humble?
We know that Moses belongs to the tribe of Levi. He was born during the slavery of the Israelite people. When the Israelites grew in number, the Pharaoh commanded that every newly born male child shall be cast into the river and drown (Exodus 1:22).
Jochebed, the mother of Moses, put everything in the hands of God rather than letting his son die a certain death. Moses’ mother laid him in a small, woven, and waterproof basket and set adrift in the Nile River.
Little the parents of Moses did know that this Moses will change the course of history. God spared the life of Moses and was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses was then raised as a prince of Egypt.
During the first 40 years of his life, Moses enjoyed the life and benefits of being part of the royal family – the same family that ruled the world’s greatest empire at that time. God blessed Moses with good looks (Acts 7:20) and the natural charisma to find favor in the sight of men.
True humility is finding your confidence in God, rather than in yourself.
Moses has grown to be very popular among his people and according to Josephus, a Jewish historian, he could have been a general who have led the Egyptian army. Not only that, “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).
With all these attributes, it is very easy for Moses to gain the illusion of grandeur and become proud in his own eyes. Certainly, God cannot use him in this state. God needs to humble Moses before He can use him.
Moses, at some point, would have even thought that he is the chosen one who will deliver the Hebrew people out from the clutches of the Egyptians (Acts 7:35). As this might be true, he acted rashly and have taken things into his hands. This has led him to kill an Egyptian and became a fugitive.
This is when God started working with Moses. He fled in the land of Midian where he became a shepherd, a lowly job that even the Egyptian despised (Genesis 46:31-34). From being a might general of the Egyptian army, he was reduced to a mere shepherd. Instead of leading an army, he is now leading a flock of sheep. Instead of speaking to a great audience, he is now talking to sheep.
As days turns to weeks, weeks turn to months, and months turn to years, his confidence in himself started to fade away. Little by little, the proud and mighty Moses become a humble and meek shepherd.
Moses learned a lot during the 40 years he spent in the land of Midian. He learned to be loving, caring, and most importantly, humble before the sight of God. Though he became a fugitive, God used this circumstance to turn his life around.
Instead of finding confidence in himself, Moses found confidence in God. Now, Moses is ready to be used by God.
Lessons no. 2: God will fight our battles for us
Maybe the most dramatic and famous scene in the life of Moses and the Israelites is the parting of the Red Sea. Movies have been produced to depict this most stunning and awesome act of God.
The story is found in Exodus 14. The Israelites have fled from the land of Egypt. However, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and pursued the Israelites (Exodus 14:8). When the Egyptian army draws near, the Israelites “were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD” (verse 10).
The joyous deliverance of the Israelites has quickly turned into complaining and murmuring. They have lost their sight from the goodness and power of the Almighty God. Instead of trusting God, they blamed Moses from bringing them in the wilderness to just to die.
God NEVER loses a battle. The question now is, which side will you be standing when the dust finally settles?
Does this situation sound familiar to you? How many times in our lives have we found ourselves in the same situation? After the many miracles and proofs of God’s power in our lives, we still come to the point that we doubt God.
With this in mind, we really can’t blame the Israelites. They are all humans just like any of us. But what happened next is so astounding that it warrants our full attention.
The very word of Moses must be deeply inculcated in our hearts in minds. His words ringed true during his time and it is most certain that those words are also true today.
Moses powerfully said in Exodus 14:13-14:
“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.”
As Christians, we must always remember that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. However, we are not alone because God has commanded that we must “be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Imagine, you have God, the All-Powerful, Almighty, Supreme Ruler of the vast universe, as your personal protector! He has promised that He will fight our battles for us.
The Israelites forgot that it is not a battle of the Israelites versus the Egyptians, but rather, it is a battle of God versus the Egyptians!
Therefore, as long as we are standing at the side of God, all we need is to just stand still, do what is right, follow God’s commandments, and surrender everything into His hands. You can always count on the FACT that God never loses a battle. He always wins and we will also reign victorious with him as long as we are on His side.
Lesson no. 3: With great power comes great accountability
As humble and submissive Moses to God’s commandments, he was still human and bound to commit mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes of Moses is his rebellious act against God in Kadesh.
The Israelite people are hard-headed and proven to be naturally hostile against the commandments of God. Because of this, God has told them that they will wander in the wilderness for 40 years. When the right time comes, they arrived at the land called Kadesh, the same place where the Israelites rebelled against God 40 years ago.
These four decades have been very difficult for Moses as the leader of the Israelites. Now, the Israelites have not changed even after 40 years wandering in the wilderness. They gathered together and complained to Moses that they had no water.
We will never come to a point in our life that we are too perfect and we don’t have anything to learn.
God gave a very specific and easy instruction to Moses. God commanded Moses to simply take the rod, gather the assembly, and speak to the rock so the people will see (Numbers 20:8). However, Moses, at this time, did not follow the specific instructions of God. Instead of speaking to the rock, he struck the rock not once, but twice! In essence, Moses was striking Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 10:4).
After so many years of enduring the rebellious and stiff-necked attitude of the Israelites, Moses finally had it. He was fed up with their habitual complaining to the point that he went down to their level.
This incident has cost Moses his chance of entering the Promised Land. God said to him and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12).
God is very particular with the instructions and warnings He gave to His people. It is not that Moses did not have faith that God is not able to bring water out, but he might not have believed the seriousness of God’s instructions. He might have thought that his closeness to God and his position give him some leeway.
We must realize that those who are in leadership position are held in a stricter accountability. It doesn’t mean that if you are a leader, you have the right not to follow the law of God. Leaders in the church, family, and community are expected to set the right example for everyone else to follow.
Because Moses let his anger and emotion got the best of him, he became a bad example to the congregation of God. This should also tell us something: we are never too old to be tested. We will never come to a point in our life that we are too perfect and we don’t have anything to learn. No matter who you are and no matter what position you are in, no one is exempted in obeying God’s commandments.
Lessons no. 4: Choose the treasures of heaven rather than the treasures of this world
Though born as a slave, Moses was wrapped with a garment that only royalties use the day he was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter. He grew up in the royal palace of Egypt and become one of the mightiest men in the land. He has all the riches he could ever wish for and a comfortable life that any slave would dream of.
With all these earthly pleasures and treasures, Hebrews 11:24-27 has this to say about Moses:
“It was faith that made Moses, when he had grown up, refuse to be called the son of the king’s daughter. He preferred to SUFFER WITH GOD’S PEOPLE rather than to enjoy sin for a little while. He reckoned that to suffer scorn for the Messiah was worth far more than all the treasures of Egypt, for he kept his eyes on the future reward. It was faith that made Moses leave Egypt without being afraid of the king’s anger. As though he saw the invisible God, he refused to turn back” (BBE).
Moses knew that there is more to life than meets the eye. He used his eyes of faith to recognize that the true treasures are not found on earth, but in heaven.
Jesus Christ commands Christians today:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19).
So what occupies our life? Is it about money-making? Are we so obsessed with earning a living that we forget what truly matters in our lives? How easy it is for us to be fooled by the riches of this world. Jesus asked us a very important question that we must all ponder upon. He said:
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul” (Matthew 16:26)?
As Christians, our worth is not found in physical success. Our worth is found in the eyes of God.
We need to remember that we will all one day stand before the judgment seat of God. He will not ask us about how much money we have in the bank or what model of car we drive. He will not ask us how beautiful our house is. On that day, He will judge us according to our works and whether we have really made God our top priority.
So be like Moses. Though he has the chance to a comfortable life, he chose to suffer for the glory of God. Therefore, lay treasures in heaven, not on earth.
Lesson no. 5: Developing a personal relationship with God
Like any other faithful men and women, Moses had a very close relationship with God. We need to realize that it is impossible to be faithful to God if we don’t have a close relationship with Him. Faith will start with establishing an intimate relationship with God.
There are at least two verses that testify the closeness of Moses to God:
“So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11)
“But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10).
Imagine if the same words would be used to describe ourselves. It would really be incredible. Yet, we see that Moses remained humble, which is something that made him even closer to God.
Like in the life of Moses, God is interested more than anything else to be closer to each and every one of us. God initiates the relationship (John 6:44) and it is up to us how we will respond to that calling.
Once we answer the God’s calling, we need to nourish and enrich our spiritual relationship with God. Jesus commanded, “You shall love the LORD your God with ALL your heart, with ALL your soul, and with ALL your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
In order for us to really develop a strong relationship with God, we are expected to TOTALLY surrender our lives to Him – 100%. This means every ounce of our being. We need to be ready to follow the perfect will of God in our lives.
When we develop a close relationship with God, all things will fall into its right place.
Like a man courting a lady, we need to be strongly interested in knowing God. Our relationship with God will never grow without spending time with Him. We can spend time with God through prayer and Bible study. We talk to God through prayer and God talks to us through Bible Study. We also need to occasionally fast to further move closer to God.
The most important things in this life are really not physical things, but it is our spiritual relationship with God. This will surely make our life worth living for. At the end of the day, nothing else will matter but how close have we grown closer to God.
Moses is no doubt a man destined to deliver God’s people from bondage and slavery. God humbled him to the point that he became the meekest man on earth. His life teaches us vital lessons that will not only benefit us physically but also spiritually. Pray to God that He will grant you wisdom and the courage to apply these lessons in your everyday life.