There is no doubt that Moses was a man that God used in incredible ways. Moses knew God, spoke with God, served God, and led God’s people through one of the most incredible times in history! Looking back on his life, we recognize that he was a great man, yet we may not realize that Moses was a man that God took decades to prepare. Moses experienced incredible things, but before all of that God had to build him.
So often, we are thirsting to see God do amazing things with us in the ministry. We want him to work right now. We want to see the church grow by leaps and bounds. We want to train preachers and missionaries. We want God to use us to preach to hundreds or thousands! However, we don’t recognize that before God works through your life, he must first work in your life.
Right now you are in training, you are preparing, you are in the first stages of planting a church. You may be frustrated and slightly upset with God for what he hasn’t done in your life as of yet. You are unhappy because you aren’t “there” yet (Wherever there is.)
Take hope, you are not alone. There were many men now and in the past that had the same thought (At times I have had the same attitude). You must know that before God builds the ministry, He builds the man.
Act 1 – Egypt
The first 40 years of Moses’ life consisted of his birth, adoption as a prince in Egypt, and his great first failure. Born at a dark time, Moses entered the world in less than favorable circumstances. Pharaoh was against the Hebrews and was methodically killing them off. Moses’ parents should have cast him into the river, but he was kept safe through a serious of miraculous events and was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter.
While in Egypt, Moses excelled. He was a man mighty in word and deed (Acts 7:22.) As years went by, he began to understand that he wasn’t an Egyptian. Somehow he knew that he wasn’t a prince of Egypt. He chose to suffer with the people of God than to enjoy his place in Egypt. At this time, Moses’ heart changed and he began seeking the Lord.
Moses knew that God was going to use him to deliver the people. One day, he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew man, and he went and killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he went to mediate and set them at one, help them fix their problems. He thought they would understand that he was going to be their leader and the one who would deliver them from Egypt. This plan backfired, and the Hebrew man rejects him and says who made you boss?!
Perhaps it seemed to Moses that he was where he needed to be to make an impact for God. He knew that he could lead the people out of Egypt. He knew that he was their deliverer. However, God had a different timetable.
From that day, Moses’ life as he knew it began to crumble. Soon after Moses killed the Egyptian, Pharaoh heard about what he had done, and he went after Moses. Fearing the punishment of Pharaoh, Moses fled to the wilderness. He would live in the wilderness in complete obscurity for decades as God continued to prepare His man.
Act 2 – To the Wilderness and Back
While in the wilderness, Moses meets some women caring for flocks. They are about to water the flocks, but are driven away by the shepherds. He helps them and soon he will take one of them to be his wife. His father-in-law Jethro is kind to him and gives him a job taking care of sheep. For many years, he spent his days taking care of sheep in the backside of nowhere.
Then one day he comes upon an intriguing sight. He sees a bush aflame that isn’t burning. It isn’t dropping its branches as the flame consumes the wood. God speaks to Moses out of this bush and in a defining moment; he has received a call from God to go and lead the people out of Egypt. This time he is less sure of himself, he makes excuses, but God says, I’m with you, I’m calling you, now get going.
After spending a portion of his life in the wilderness, Moses was less sure of himself. Perhaps it was that God sent him there so that he would learn humility and learn to trust not in himself, but in the Lord. After some coaxing, Moses is finally back in the ministry, back doing the work of God!
Moses returns to Egypt and delivers the people! There, he sees God do an incredible work that has not been forgotten up until this very day. The people leave Egypt, spoiling its riches. They cross the Red Sea at the commandment of the Lord. They begin their journey through the wilderness facing struggles and seeing God’s incredible goodness. At Sinai, Moses meets with God and receives the laws, instruction for the tabernacle, and much more.
The people begin their travel through to the promised land and as Moses approaches the greatest success in his ministry, it all falls apart once again. The people rebel against God and won’t go into the land. Because of their disbelief, the people are sent back to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
Act 3 – Wandering in the Wilderness
Moses life is almost a tragedy from this point forward. He was within a few miles, a few days of accomplishing all that God had for him, but then he is unable to lead the people into the land. During this time, Moses messes up big time. God tells him to speak to the Rock to give the people water, but instead he smites the rock. He disobeys the Lord and excludes himself from those who will go into the promised land.
Moses is left to lead people around in circles in the wilderness. They are wandering, going aimlessly through the wilderness, awaiting the death of that generation. While he is there in the wilderness, the one thing that he could do in his last years is prepare the next generation to go into the land. He helps prepare Joshua for the work of leading the people into the land. In his final address recorded in Deuteronomy, Moses worships the Lord and charges the people to walk with God.
The last thing that happens is Moses goes up on a mountain where God shows him the land that he won’t get to enter. God takes his life and thus the story of Moses comes to a close.
Yes, that was a very quick overview of the life of Moses! You should go read Exodus through Deuteronomy as they give insight into how God works in the life of his man Moses. Here are some brief points of application you can consider from Moses’ life:
- Moses life shows us an example of preparation. It is approximately 80 years before God even calls Moses into his work. In his early life, he is given a dream of how God could use him. Then God humbles his servant to show Moses that it would be done not by his strength, but God’s strength. Are you ready to walk with God as he prepares you over the next few years? Do you get frustrated and impatient or do you trust that the Lord is working right now to prepare you for greater things?
- Moses life shows an example of preparing others. As he led the people in the wilderness, his ministry was over. There was nothing left to accomplish. He couldn’t bring the people into the land. However, he did prepare the next man, Joshua, for the work that lay ahead. While you may not be able to accomplish great things, are you helping others prepare to accomplish great things for God?
- God’s work was not dependent on the strength of a man. After Moses tries to do the work himself, God has to show him that it wasn’t going to be his great words or deeds that would do the trick. It was God and his power that was going to allow the work to go forward. Do you work hard and fight to see God do things, but not trust Him and His strength? Doing the ministry in your strength won’t work, it is God’s work, it is God’s ministry, rely upon Him.
Will you recognize that your life is not about you, but it is about the Lord? Do you know that before the Lord can use you in fantastic ways, there is going to be a time of preparation? Will you lay aside trust in your strength and trust the Lord’s strength? Moses died as an old man of 120 years having never been able to enter the promised land. You may not see it all happen in the next few weeks, months, or even years, but as you serve the Lord, he will do great works in your life!