Faith as Exemplified in Moses
Selections from Exodus 3:1-22 ; Exodus 6:1-30 ; Exodus 7:1-25 ; Exodus 8:1-32 ; Exodus 14:1-31 ; Exodus 15:1-27
The Children of Israel had been captive in Egypt for several hundred years. During that time another Pharaoh had arisen who knew not Joseph. As the sons of Jacob multiplied, the king of Egypt became more and more afraid of their possible ascendancy in his empire. Therefore, moved with fear, he began to persecute them, and to force them to work as common slaves. Thus, God heard the groanings of His people under the iron hand of Pharaoh.
1. The birth of a deliverer. Finally an edict of Pharaoh was given forth that every male child should be killed. There were two, however, who were not afraid of the king's commandment, and when a goodly child was born unto them, they hid him in an ark of bulrushes at the river's brink, where the daughter of Pharaoh came to bathe. This little child was rescued by royalty and nursed by his own mother. Thus it was that God Himself brought up the deliverer in the home of the persecutor. A child who was under a sentence of death, became the giver of life to the people of God.
2. The deliverer's attempt in the flesh. When the baby Moses had grown into a man of forty years of age, he spurned everything that the pleasures and the wealth of Egypt could give him. He turned his back on Pharaoh's palace, and, with a heart aching because of the straits of his own people, he went down, bent upon delivering them, but forty years passed before God undertook to deliver Israel through Moses.
3. Hiding away. During the forty years that Moses was in Midian he married the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian. At the end of the forty years God came to Moses and spoke to him.
During the years that Moses was hid away with God he could meditate and think upon the glory of Jehovah.
4. A wonderful sight. God appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. Moses stopped and looked, and, "behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." Immediately he said, "I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." It was at that moment that the Lord called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses." And he said, "Here am I." God told Moses to put off his shoes from off his feet, because the place on which he stood was holy ground.
Then it was that he said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Immediately God told Moses that He had surely seen the affliction of His people in Egypt; that He had heard their cry, and that He would send forth Moses to their deliverance.
5. A complaining, doubting spirit. We are amazed when we think of the man whom God had called to deliver His people, saying to the Lord, "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the Children of Israel out of Egypt?" The Lord, however, gave him promises that He would be with him.
The story is familiar to all of us: we remember how the Lord gave him His Name, saying, "I Am that I Am." When Moses still demurred, God wrought the miracle of the turning of a rod which Moses held in his hand into a serpent.
God furthermore commanded Moses to put his hand into bis bosom, and when he took it out, it was as leprous as snow. Then He told Moses to put his hand back into his bosom. This time, when he took it out, it was turned again as his other flesh.
Moses still demurred, and said, "I am not eloquent." This time, God took away from him a wonderful privilege and gave it unto Aaron, the brother of Moses, telling him that he should be the spokesman of Moses, and that he should be to Moses instead of a mouth, and that Moses should be to him instead of God.
6. A few conclusions. As we think of what we have just set before you, let us weigh our own experience in its light. Have we not had a call from God? Have we not often warred in the flesh? Have we not often demurred, and hesitated to undertake the work to which we are called? Perhaps God has even given us a vision of His mighty power and work. Before we complain about Moses, and condemn him, let us ask if we have been faithful, and ready to launch out the moment that some Divine order came to us; perhaps Moses far outshines us in our obedience. Let us be careful, lest we miss God's very best in service and spiritual attainments.
I. FAITH IN TRAINING (Exodus 3:12-14 )
When we feel that our faith is weak, we know of no better way to strengthen it than to study the dealings of the God in whom we are asked to believe, with men in the past. Listen to some of the things that God said to Moses:
1. In Exodus 3:8 He said, "I am come down to deliver."
2. In Exodus 3:10 He said, "I will send thee unto Pharaoh."
3. In Exodus 3:12 He said, "Certainly I will be with thee."
4. In Exodus 3:14 He said, "I AM hath sent me unto you."
5. In Exodus 3:17 He said, "I will bring you up."
6. In Exodus 3:20 He said, "I will stretch out My hand."
7. In Exodus 3:21 He said, "I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians."
When we look at the seven statements above, we see, in every instance, a definite promise from the Almighty. Why should Moses be afraid when God kept saying, "I will, I will; and I will"? When God promises to do it, it will surely be done. What God undertakes He is able to accomplish; if we are sent by Him; we are panoplied by Him.
If He is with us, we are armed with all power in Heaven and upon earth. If He is going to bring us through, we need not fear the terrors by the way; if He has said, "I will stretch out My hand," we need not care how weak our hands may be.
There was one other thing that God did to encourage Moses. He said, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, * * of Isaac, and * * of Jacob." In other words, He said to Moses, "You are familiar with the wonderful dealings I had with your forefathers; and I was their God, and now I will be thine." If the Lord comes with us, are we afraid to go? Do the silver and the gold not belong to Him? Does He not have all authority, in every realm?
Suppose Jesus Christ stood by us today, telling us to go; and then He said, "I have met the powers of Satan and have vanquished them; I was dead, and I am alive again, and I hold in My hand the keys of death and of hell; I have ascended up through principalities and powers, and am seated on the right hand of God, clothed with all authority." When Christ says such things to us, shall we be weak in faith and afraid to obey His voice?
II. FAITH WARNED (Exodus 3:19 )
We often speak of the faith of Moses, and indeed it was a remarkable faith. Let none of us criticize him in his faith until we can do the things he did; let none of us enlarge upon his unbelief until our unbelief is less than his.
1. The warning. Exodus 3:19 says, God speaking: "And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand." The Lord never promises us that which we are not to receive; He never encourages us in giving us a false hope; He never tries to increase our faith by belittling the obstacles which will beset us by the way.
God very plainly and positively assured Moses that the Children of Israel would resist him, and that Pharaoh would not let the people go. However, God went on to tell him that He would do His wonders in Egypt, and "after that he will let you go." He even told Moses that the Children of Israel should not go out empty, but they should go out with their hands filled with jewels of silver and gold and raiment, and with the spoil of the Egyptians.
2. The refusal. In the 5th chapter, and 1st verse, Moses said unto Pharaoh, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let My people go, that they may hold a feast unto Me in the wilderness." Pharaoh did not hesitate a moment to reply, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go."
A man of little faith would certainly have stumbled here. To be sure, God had told him that Pharaoh would not let Israel go; however, it was not easy for Moses and Aaron to be repulsed with such terrific onslaughts of unbelief.
Sometimes as we go forth in the service of God everything seems to fail which we had hoped would come to pass. Our prayers seem unanswered, our attempts seem futile, and our service seems in-vain.
We should remember that it is not always that our God delivers instantly. If we get our victories too easily, we might begin to think that our own hand had gotten us the victory, and that we had accomplished things by our own efforts and prowess.
3. The direct results. In the 4th verse of the 5th chapter, the king of Egypt said unto Moses and Aaron, "Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens." That same day the king commanded the taskmasters to cease giving straw to the Children of Israel. They were to get their own straw, and yet the same quantity of brick was required from them daily.
This caused a tremendous bitterness in the Children of Israel. They complained, and when they met Moses and Aaron as they came forth from Pharaoh, they said, "Ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us."
This was about all that Moses could bear, and he cried unto the Lord, "Why is it that Thou hast sent me?" He also said, "Neither hast Thou delivered Thy people at all." When the enemy seems to have every advantage, and is pressing us on every side, do we sometimes murmur and complain at the Lord? It is not easy to be condemned by the populace; it is not easy to see our leadership seemingly broken.
III. FAITH ASSURED (Exodus 6:1-6 )
When Moses talked with God, the Lord told him several things.
1. "Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh." Defeat does not disturb the Almighty He can see the end from the beginning. He knew that Pharaoh would rebel again and again, but God also knew that Pharaoh would be willing yea, more than willing: he would be glad to have Israel go, before God had finished His judgments upon him.
2. Other things God said unto Moses.
1. "I am the Lord: and I appeared unto Abraham * * by the Name of God Almighty."
2. "I have also established My Covenant with them."
3. "I have remembered My Covenant."
4. "I will bring you out * * I will rid you out of their bondage."
5. "I will redeem you with a stretched out arm."
6. "I will take you to Me * * I will be to you a God."
7. "I will bring you in unto the land."
Three times in this passage, concluding at Exodus 6:8, the Lord says, "I am the Lord." Let every one of us write over every power of darkness the same word "I am the Lord." If God be for us, who can be against us?
3. Moses' plea. It must have been a wonderful thing to have the privilege of speaking to the Lord face to face, as did Moses, God addressing him as we would an intimate friend. Moses said, "Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto Me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me?" He meant, If my own people, Thine own children, have not heard me, how shall I expect Pharaoh to hear me?
Sometimes we, too, get to the place where we want to give up. We hasten to belittle our successes and the possibility of our efforts. Beloved, we need, today, to get a fresh hold on God.
IV. Faith Encouraged (Exodus 7:1-6 )
The skies are brightening as far as Moses is concerned. While so far he has met nothing but rebuff and setback and disappointment; yet he has been learning, step by step to trust God. Now the Lord is speaking unto Moses, and He tells him one thing that, so far as we know, has never been repeated.
1. "I have made thee a God to Pharaoh." In other words, God is saying unto Moses that he should go before Him in the power and might of Deity Himself. He was to speak everything that God commanded him; he was to do mighty works, even the works that only God could do.
God still warned Moses that Pharaoh would harden his heart, but He said that He would multiply His signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. The fact of the business was that every time Pharaoh refused Moses, it gave God an opportunity to magnify His own Name and power in the midst of the Egyptians, and to prove that God was Lord; and that the Children of Israel were His people.
2. "And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them." They went forth and faced Pharaoh time and time again; with Pharaoh's every refusal they were spurred to further attacks against the cruel king of the Egyptians. They both obeyed the voice of God implicitly; they obeyed, no matter what happened, how dark the skies, how rugged the way, how steep the road. They were learning that God is able to bring down every high thing, and every proud thing that exalts itself against the Lord. They were learning that the weapons of their warfare were mighty, through God, to the breaking down of strongholds.
V. FAITH WORKING (Exodus 8:1-4 )
The story of the ten plagues which were brought upon Egypt by the words of Moses, is nothing less than the story of faith at work.
1. The first three plagues. As Moses threw down his rod it became a serpent. How was it then, if this was a miracle, that the magicians threw down their rods, and they became serpents? The second great miracle of Moses was the turning of the water of Egypt into blood; this the magicians of Egypt also did.
The third was the miracle of the frogs; once again the magicians of Egypt did the same with their enchantments.
Moses, perhaps, was dumfounded when he saw that the magicians could duplicate, thus far, whatever he did. However, they could not get rid of the frogs; they could bring the curse, but could not relieve it. Perhaps God Himself permitted all of this, to make Moses lean the harder upon Him; and also to bring a deeper curse upon Pharaoh, because of his rebellion. One thing we know, that step by step, Moses was "as God" in moving God and nature to obey his voice.
2. Is the day of miracles past? My God is a God that still works miracles. If He did not, how could I trust Him in the many places where He commands me to travel and to labor? I have seen with mine own eyes the Lord our God doing the impossible.
When we think of the Apostles, and of Paul, we think of men who knew how to believe God, and to do things which could not be accounted for on any natural lines. In these days, when the modernist is seeking to discount every miracle that God has ever wrought, it is absolutely necessary for us to prove that our God is still the God who wrought the miracles of the Old Testament. We must do the same things as were done then.
VI. THE FINAL TRIUMPH (Exodus 14:13-16 )
We are passing very rapidly over many remarkable things that occurred, and now we come to the final great test.
1. Hemmed in on every side. When Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, he led them as he was directed, down by the way of the Red Sea. The news was taken to Pharaoh that Moses with his million and one half of people were entangled in the wilderness; then Pharaoh immediately started out to pursue them.
When the Children of Israel saw the hosts of the Egyptians approaching, they were filled with fear, and they said unto Moses, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?" Here was a real trial to faith.
Moses, however, did not waver: he said, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever." He added, "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
After Moses had told this unto the people, he sought the face of his God, and cried unto Him. Then the Lord said to him, "Wherefore criest thou unto Me? speak unto the Children of Israel, that they go forward." How could they go forward?
They certainly could not go back; they certainly could not go to the left, or to the right, for, on the one hand were the fastnesses of the mountains and the hills, and on the other hand Pharaoh's hosts. Before them was the impassable sea. It was under such circumstances that God said, "Go forward," and forward they went.
Moses lifted up his rod, and God opened before them sufficient dry land that they might march in through the midst of the sea, and straight across to the other side.
VII. FAITH REJOICING (Exodus 15:1-6 )
1. The thrill of victory. It must have been a wonderful thing to the Children of Israel, as they marched up on the other side of the sea. Surely they knew that there was a God in Israel! If their joy, for the moment, was darkened by the approach of the hosts of the Egyptians who were marching upon the same path through the sea which God had prepared for them, their fear was quickly allayed when they saw that the armies of Pharaoh were having great trouble in passing, because their chariot wheels would come off, and because they were blinded in their route by a cloud of darkness.
Then, after the last one of Israel had passed over, how they must have rejoiced when Moses stretched forth his rod over the sea, and the waters returned to their strength, overthrowing the Egyptians in the midst thereof! Pharaoh's army and chariots and horsemen were altogether overthrown, and there remained not so much as one.
2. The song of victory. Chapter 15 says, "Then sang Moses and the Children of Israel this song." Have you ever accomplished something by faith which caused you to sing? You have read of faith's miracles: Have you ever wrought them? You have heard of Daniel in the lions' den: have you ever had any experience that even shadowed that? You have heard of the experience of the three Hebrew children in the burning fiery furnace: have you ever done or seen anything like that in your life?
Yes, every day there are things just as marvelous, but how few there are who know them, or see them, or believe them! Now when there is victory, there is song. After Moses had finished his rejoicing with the Children of Israel, then Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her, with timbrels and dances.
3. Experiences in the wilderness. After this wonderful miracle one would have thought that the Children of Israel would never again doubt God. They had seen everything that God had wrought by the hand of Moses; all of the miraculous plagues, all of their wonderful deliverances, and yet they were scarcely over the Red Sea and in the wilderness, until, as they journeyed, they struck a place where there was no water. Then they began to chide with Moses. One of the crowning acts of faith in the life of Moses was when he went out and struck the rock at the command of God. There is no water in a rock, and yet the smitten rock sent forth a stream. Beloved, let us never doubt God again, but rather let us believe that it will be even as He has spoken.
"Ask ye of the Lord rain" (Zechariah 10:1 ).
In the following lines we wish to relate something of the Lord's goodness as suggested by the above text.
There had been many months of drought, very dry and hot weather. The previous N.E. monsoon had failed, resulting in only half the normal rainfall. Tanks and ponds had been dry for weeks. Many wells had failed in their supply of water. Droves of cattle were being driven miles to obtain a drink of water. Men and women, on returning late in the evening from work, had to go off in search of water before attempting to cook the food. One evening, two messengers, one following the other, came along to say our well was empty. We knew of only one resource at such a time. There were some clouds above. "Ask ye of the Lord rain." Two of us knelt that evening and asked our Heavenly Father to command the clouds and to send the rain. We retired, believing our God would care for us. On rising next morning we looked but to see "floods on the dry ground." Two and a quarter inches of rain had fallen!
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever."
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Exodus 14". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany