Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
The first 40 years of Moses’ life were for himself to be a person with power and a heart of righteousness. Although he was born as a slave’s son, he became the most power prince of Egypt. Following his heart, he committed a murder. He killed an Egyptian slave driver by his bare hands. He did it for his own people under slavery in Egypt. However, the people of Israel did not accept him as their leader. Moses risked his own life for his own people, but his own Israel people rejected him. As soon as he realized that he was rejected by his people, he fled out of Egypt for his life. He knew soon his murder would be known to Egyptians, and the Egyptians would chase him to arrest. Moses, who used to be the most power prince, became a fugitive. He wondered around the wilderness without knowing where to go. Moses could have had been a prey of wild animals during night, or a target of vicious people. However, neither did not happen. God protected Moses. God hedged around him, and shielded from all harms. (Yes, God does not let us alone although we might feel we are alone.) God safely took him to Midian crossing the wilderness, where he met a good person, Jethro, whom God had prepared for Moses. He settled down, and got married to one of Jethro’s daughters. Then he became an ordinary shepherd, and spent 40 years. After 40 years later, he even did not remember who he used to be while he was in Egypt. In fact, he constantly suppressed his mind not to remember his painful memory of being rejected by his own people. He did a good thing by putting everything for his own people even killing the Egyptian slaver driver, but he was rejected by his own people.
One day, God came to him. Moses saw a burning bush, where he received God’s calling. God called Moses. The calling was for the people of Israel, who made him fall from the most powerful prince to an ordinary shepherd for forty years in the Midian wilderness. God’s calling made him recall his most painful memory in his life. He refused to take God’s calling. He rather wanted to remain in Midian as a shepherd. Then Moses put out all kinds of excuses, but God did not back off. God does not give His calling to His people lightly. God knows now and future. God knows from the beginning His calling on one of His own people will succeed without exception. But it might take time in our own human eyes, but it is not. He also knows our limitations and the time needed to correct, rebuke, teach, mold, and shape to do His calling. This is the reason why we have 100% confidence in Him. He is Our Ever-Loving Father.
God, who knew exactly Moses’s heart, made Moses comfortable, God showed many miraculous signs to convince Moses and bought a helper, Aaron, for Moses who felt vulnerable to be alone due to the past painful experience. Moses finally accepted God’s calling. There is another reason why Moses could accept God’s calling. The answer is the 40 years in the wilderness. The time of the past 40 years was long enough to gradually changed Moses’ hearts till he became meek. He was no longer a prince, but a humble shepherd. Day by day, God chipped away Moses’ heart, and the hardest feeling like rock toward the people of Israel had been dissipating. God often uses time (sometimes tens years like Moses’ case) to teach, mold and transform His people. Moses was one of them, and many of us have already been experienced God’s lesson once, twice or even more. It is also true that some of us will experience His molding and transforming hand in future also. But we should not fear. Because like Moses, God already has His plan on each of us. His plan is always good, and so glorious that we cannot describe with our own month later when we look back and see God’s loving hand in our lives. Then we will know who God really is. With our open spiritual eyes, we will see God’s loving hand and His merciful touches on our lives. Thus, again sharing with you, we should not fear, but be courageous in faith and hope in Him.
Upon God’s calling, Moses returned to his own people. To Moses’ surprise, for this time, all of the Israel people accepted Moses warmly. In fact, God prepared their hearts also through the 40 years’ training. As a result, their hears were wide-open to Moses and Aaron, Moses’ helper. Moses was so much encouraged, and he went to Pharaoh with Aaron. By God, Moses became the leader of the people. Forty years ago, Moses tried to lead the people with his own power and strength. Now Moses became one of the people, not a prince of Egypt. As the leader of the Israel slaves, Moses stood tall before Pharaoh.
Then he conveyed God’s message to Pharaoh. So far, so good, but there was a small glitch. Moses was a mere human, who was not perfected. The painful 40 years of training in the Midian wilderness as an ordinary shepherd could not take away all of his sinful nature. As soon as he looked at Pharaoh, his mind was filled with fear. He had no courage to say what was told by God to Pharaoh. Pharaoh was sitting on the most glorious throne in Egypt as the king of Egypt. Some of us might have a similar experience. Before our meeting, we prepared everything including what to say. But when we actually stand before a person, we could not tell what we prepared to say. Moses was not different. He could not say what God told Moses to say. He said something slightly different by diluting God’s message with his own wisdom and rationale by adding and subtracting God’s message.
“I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.
So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.
Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7b-10)
But Moses said through Aaron, who was Moses’s speaker:
“This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go so they may hold a festival in my honor in the wilderness.” (Exodus 5:1b)
There a clear discrepancy between what God told to Moses and what Moses to Pharaoh. Most importantly, the main message was not there. The main message was that God would rescue from the hand of Egypt by leading them out of Egypt into the Promised Land – a land flowing with mile and honey. Moses completely omitted this main message of God. Instead, he said a festival in the wilderness. Moses thought that it would help by making sound better to Pharaoh’s ears, while giving a false impression that the people of Israel would come back after having a festival in the wilderness. How wise Moses was! However, God did not allow Moses to get away with his own wisdom making up his own story. Yes, God blocked. Then God gave a harsh lesson to Moses through the mouth of Pharaoh.
“Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the LORD? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2)
Then Moses should have had stopped there. But Moses was continuously digging more and more by adding more details on his own story so that it would sound even better to the ears of Pharaoh, but again God did not approve. Pharaoh, as God’s instrument for this time, taught Moses by making the people of Israel more painful than before. Pharaoh ordered Egyptian slave drivers to make the working environment harsher. It was not all to Moses. The people of Israel, who received a harsher treatment from the Egyptian slave divers, showed their backs to Moses. Moses was ended up between a rock and a hard place. Again, many of us had already experienced what Moses was experiencing because we did not convey accurately God’s message and His word. Instead we softened up and modified God’s message with our own earthly wisdom and knowledge. Then, the result was a spectacular failure, wasn’t it? Precisely speaking with respect to God’s plan, it has to fail, if not we don’t learn from God. Even Moses, who trained for 40 years in Midian wilderness, had more to learn from God.
After Moses’ failure, did God abandon him? No. God didn’t. This is the reason why we trust Him. Our God never gives up on us. More preciously speaking, he has never abandoned His own people, He does not now, and He will not do forever. This is our hope and faith. Not because we are perfect and righteous, but because God is faithful, long-suffering with full of mercy, grace and love, we are still His. God did not analyze Moses’s sin to give Moses hard time one by one. God also did not reduce or change His plan for Moses. No. Nothing was changed except additional training on Moses (i.e., more time.)
God also exactly knew what Moses and the people of Israel needed was God’s stronger help. Let’s see what God did for Moses and the people of Israel. At the moment, Moses was in fear of Pharaoh and diluted the God’s message. The people of Israel had no patience, and they quickly pulled back from the God’s promise of being freed and entering into the Promised Land. Let’s not forget Pharaoh who played a critical role to fulfill God’s plan: rescuing the people of Israel and making them entering in the Promised Land – a land flowing milk and honey. However, nobody including Moses and the people of Israel knew how God would free and lead them to the Promised Land, which actually involved many things that they could not comprehend at that time although God gave all the details of the future.
Like our earthly father who tells us a simplistic story to make us understand what our earthly father wants, God lovingly told Moses,
“Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh. When he feels the force of my strong hand, he will let the people go. In fact, he will force them to leave his land!” (Exodus 6:1b)
What an encouragement to Moses the simple story was! He was completely beaten by both Pharaoh and his own people. He was completely discouraged. Moses thought that he did everything well per God’s command although he felt a small and minor deviation from God’s command to adapt to the situation. This is a common mistake of many believers. We think we did right for God, but for God’s point of view, we did not. In fact, we often softened up and diluted God’s message by adding and/or subtracting His message with our own wisdom and knowledge out of our good heart and intention.
By the way, what does “sin” really mean? It means we miss the target although we shoot an arrow. If we just shoot an arrow roughly to the direction where the target is, then what does happen? Our arrow will miss the target. However, we preciously aim at the target and carefully shoot our arrow with steady hands. Then our arrow will fly directly toward the target and hit the target. Indeed, Moses ended up to shoot his arrow roughly in the direction of God’s message although he thought that he helped God by adding and subtracting with his own wisdom.
God told to Moses that God was stronger than Pharaoh. Then God reasoned with Moses by explaining the reason why God would show His mighty power. The very reason was to make Moses think and behave correctly in the line of God’s will instead of being deviating. Even to our children, it is important, as a parent, to explain why.
Then God explained to Moses,
“I am Yahweh—‘the LORD.’ I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty’—but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them. And I reaffirmed my covenant with them. Under its terms, I promised to give them the land of Canaan, where they were living as foreigners. You can be sure that I have heard the groans of the people of Israel, who are now slaves to the Egyptians. And I am well aware of my covenant with them.” (Exodus 6 2b-5)
God went over one by one with Moses. How intimate and loving God He is! Moses was beaten again by tasting yet another painful experience before Pharaoh and his own people. 40 years ago, he was rejected by his own people although he thought that he did a wonderful job for his own people. Ddeja vu. But these painful experiences were needed to make him truly smaller enough before God to make him truly hear God.
Specifically, God explained who He was– the God of almighty, the covenant made with Moses’ ancestors, His faithfulness to keep the covenant made long time ago, the Promised land that God prepared, and His compassion on the people of Israel suffering slaves in Egypt. What else did Moses need? God explained all. Again, please note that God did not say even one word about Moses’ failure. Yes, God is compassionate, long-suffering and ever-loving, on whom we can put all our full trust always. His faithfulness had never been changed, and will not in future either. Therefore, we can confidently expect to get what Moses got from God. He is our true and faithful Father, and we are forever His children to our Ever-Loving Father.
Then God switched his topic to his caring people of Israel.
“Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the LORD. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the LORD!’” (Exodus 6:6-8)
What’s the most wanted blessing of God that the people of Israel had under slavery in Egypt? Of course, freeing from the slavery. God gave the precious answer directly touching the heart of the people of Israel. They through that Moses who returned from 40 years of exile would rescue them. However, the outcome was not what they expected. Their lives became even more painful than before. Nobody wanted to hear Moses again.
Therefore, God patiently explained how He would rescue the people of Israel: God would use a powerful arm and great acts of judgement. Later, as God explained, God used His powerful arm, which brought ten plagues to Egypt as His great acts of judgement. When Moses heard this, he had no idea at all. He did not know there would be ten judgements on Egypt. He did not know Pharaoh would harden his heart again and again as soon as one of God’s plagues on Egypt stopped. But God knew what Pharaoh would do. For this time, Moses carefully listened to God’s message. God continued talking about God’s plan to bring his compassionate heart on His people, and fulfill His convenient sworn with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God indeed swore again the covenant with Moses and the people of Israel in His own name at that time.
Moses, then, was fully charged by God, and went to the people of Israel with confidence. Moses, for this time, accurately conveyed God’s message, but the people of Israel refused to listen to God’s message brought by Moses. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery. How sad it was! This also made Moses’ heart really painful. Now, he was alone again. Even his own people did not hear him.
Then God said to Moses,
“Go back to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and tell him to let the people of Israel leave his country.” (Exodus 6:10b)
But Moses said to the LORD,
“Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” (Exodus 6:12b)
Moses authentically exposed his heart to God, but it was a great initial step toward God. It opened up an intimate fellowship with God. After the last failure with his own people, Moses could not make him no longer fully convinced about God’s task. Pharaoh was so powerful. In fact, he was more powerful than he thought. Moses was in fear of Pharaoh. The people of Israel did not support Moses. Nobody was on his side. Thus, Moses expressed his failure to God. More importantly, Moses stated his own sin by admitting his own sin. What was his sin? He did not accurately and correctly convey God’s message to Pharaoh. He called his own lips as “uncircumcised lips”, which means his lips were still of sins. The greatest step of all to us is to admit our own sin to God. Without this step, we cannot truly commune with God. We need to accept everything that come from God, because God is our Ever-Loving Father. Without this faith and conviction, we cannot grow spiritually. After all, all our sins, which might look so small and even adorable to our own eyes, are equally terrible and leading to our eternal death.
These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. (James 1:15)
There is no small sin, and no big sin. Period.
Moses’ authentically opened his heart by repenting, which pleased God. And God welcome our authentically repenting heart before God because it is the first step to have an intimate relation with God. In fact, there was a long and difficult road waiting for Moses along with the people of Israel. However, Moses, who could not speak correctly and directly the God’s message, was ready to walk the walk given to Moses along with the people of Israel, who rejected Moses and God altogether.
God never have given up us as God did not give up both Moses and the people of Israel. God, then, continuously guided them through all ups and downs along with Pharaoh. Pharaoh kept hardening his heart until he realized that he reached the dead end after losing his own first-born son. God’s hand was always with Moses and the people of Israel throughout the ten plagues. The ten plagues were the training ground for both Moses and the people of Israel. They were trained and trained till they were truly ready for the Exodus that nobody could ever dreamed before it actually happened. Yes, God is love. God is so much patient that even we, who are sinful, stubborn and stiff-necked people, can be His own beloved children. Praise God for His unfailing love, who has no rotating shadow. Let’s sing together for the love of God, which is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.
The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair, bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song
by F. W. Lehman
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:19)