Greetings in the name of the father, the son, and the 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 COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me. (Psalm 139:7-10)
The king of Egypt, Pharaoh, feared the Israelites who lived in Egypt because their numbers were readily growing. He did everything that he could do. First, he enslaved the Israelites to do forced labor. But it did not work. It did not soften or negate the Israelites’ population while growing rapidly.
Then he ordered midwives to kill male Israelite babies as they were born while saving female babies. However, the midwives feared God more than Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. God protected the midwives from Pharaoh. Pharaoh did not do anything to the midwives.
Pharaoh decided to use his military soldiers to kill all Israelites male babies and gave his direct kill order to all his soldiers. They went out and visited Israelites’ households. The soldiers mercilessly grabbed Israelites male babies and threw them into the Nile River to die. Countlessly many Israelites’ male babies died due to Pharaoh’s fear of the Israelites.
However, God chose one male baby, Moses, and protected him. Moses’ parents could not keep their babies. They put him in a basket and sent him down through the Nile River. God led the basket to Pharaoh’s daughter, who bathed in the Nile River. She opened the basket and found Moses crying. She felt compassion and saved Moses’ life although she knew Pharaoh’s strict order.
She found an Israelite woman to nurture Moses, and God introduced Moses’ biological mother. Without knowing, Pharaoh’s daughter gave Moses to Moses’ mother to nurse Moses. Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her son. Moses, then, lived in the palace and grew up with the other princes. Moses received the best education and training in Egypt and the other princes. All happened under Pharaoh’s nose, but Pharaoh did not know what really happened in his palace. Indeed, Moses was the product of his own merciless killing of Israelite’s male babies. However, he was blind and continued believing that his plan was successful.
This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. (1 Corinthian 1:25)
Why did God protect Moses and guide every step of his life to be one of the princes in Egypt? God chose Moses out of numerous Israelite babies to save God’s people, Israelites, in slavery.
Did Moses know this? Yes, he soon realized God’s plan in his life. Then Moses lived out for this divine purpose. He studied harder than any other princes in the palace, and he did not waste his time at all. Whenever Moses could find his free time, he practiced and perfected his fighting skills learned from the best training masters in Egypt. Soon Moses became the best among all the princes in the palace. Indeed, Moses did not work hard not for himself but his fellow people, greatly suffering under the Egyptians as slaves. Moses lived out a purpose-driven life while believing it. The sole purpose of his life was to save his fellow people from slavery.
Then Moses carefully planned and patiently waited for an opportunity to free his fellow enslaved Israelites. One day a perfect opportunity came, and Moses pulled the trigger. As a part of the execution of his plan, Moses did not hesitate to kill the Egyptian slave master. He knew the grave consequence if his plan failed. Pharaoh would arrest and kill Moses. The killing of the slave master was a direct challenge against Pharaoh’s authority. Even so, Moses took the risk for his fellow enslaved Israelites.
However, the outcome was completely opposite. His fellow Israelites did not follow Moses and even accused Moses as a murderer rather than a liberator. Soon Pharaoh heard what Moses did. Pharaoh immediately ordered his soldiers to arrest Moses to execute him in a fury. Moses fled to the wilderness of Midian. Sadly, it was the end of Moses’ purpose-driven life.
Moses could not believe what had happened. He acted in faith, not for his own benefit but for his fellow enslaved Israelites’ welfare. Yes, he followed God’s will for others, not for himself. But the outcome was an absolute disaster.
What did go wrong then?
It took forty years for Moses to get the answer. Yes, Moses, the world-class champion in the spiritual world, took forty years.
Moses indeed was the best trained and most capable person to lead the monumental task of liberating Israelites from their slavery. However, his brilliant earthly qualification made him rely on what he had, not what he did not have. The latter only came from God.
Yes, for the God’s plan, Moses was crucially important to liberate the Israelites, but Moses’ earthly qualification was not entirely to save his fellow people, but just one small piece of the big puzzle of God having many and dynamically moving pieces. First, were his fellow people ready to listen to Moses and follow? No. Was Pharaoh willing to give up all enslaved Israelites at that time? No. For Pharaoh, the Israelites were the main engine for his kingdom’s economy. Could his kingdom operate without slave labor? Absolutely not. His kingdom would collapse from inside with the slave labor force. Were Pharaoh’s high officials ready? How about the ordinary Egyptians? All enjoyed the great slave labor output from the Israelite slaves. If not, they had to labor by themselves. None of them was ready to give up their comfortable life supported by the huge number of Israelite slaves.
Indeed, none of the above were ready to free the Israelites except Moses. In other words, it was not the time to fulfill God’s holy plan. Moses had too many shiny worldly things at that time, such as his brilliant leadership, never-defeated combat skill, eloquent and influential speaker, charismatic nature of his presence, etc. However, these became Moses’s worst enemy, who got blind to himself and misjudged God’s time. Moses’ enemy from inside could not be easily removed by himself. It took forty years of quiet life in the wilderness of Midian as a humble shepherd, not the towering top prince among the Egyptian royal family.
However, from the beginning of the forty years, God prepared every step by step before Moses. God led Moses, who was wandering aimlessly in the wilderness of Midian after fleeing from Pharaoh’s solider, to a well. Moses sat beside the well. Moses saw shepherdesses attacked by the other hostile shepherds and rescued the shepherdesses. Indeed, God loved Moses and encouraged by allowing Moses to use his never-defeated combat skill successfully. There was no match between highly trained Moses and the mere ordinary shepherds. Moses easily drove them out. It introduced a wonderful opportunity to build a good relationship with the shepherdesses’ family.
Moses’ heart was still with his enslaved people in Egypt, but Moses settled with the family and married Zipporah, one shepherdess. He got his son and named him Gershom, for he explained, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.”
Forty years is a long time. Moses slowly forgot his past. Then all the events that happened in Egypt became a distant memory. In the meantime, Moses faithfully approached God while living his new humble life by taking care of his family and his sheep. Indeed, it was what God wanted from Moses, although it looked counterintuitive to anyone, including Moses. During the time set aside by God, Moses experienced what true love was. He selflessly fought for his sheep to protect them against wild animals. Sometimes he risked his own life for his sheep. Moses was always with them, and his sheep always followed Moses wherever Moses went.
On the other hand, Moses’ competence in leading his people out of slavery also subsided slowly till it completely vanished. Moses, then, became an older man of eighty years of age. He was no longer a man of strength and energy as he used to be.
God saw Moses, who became a completely different person. God knew Moses was ready for God’s plan of liberating His people from Egypt. One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God, which was God’s plan. There God came to Moses in the middle of a burning bush. Moses was curious and went to the burning bush. God saw Moses’ coming.
When the LORD saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
“Here I am!” Moses replied.
“Do not come any closer,” God warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
God told Moses, “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.”
What was Moses’ answer to God? “Yes, I will go,” or “No, I will not?” Initially, Moses refused in two accounts.
- I am not the person to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.
God responded, “I will be with you.”
2. What’s the authority over the people of Israel who rejected me before?
God said, “I Am Who I Am. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sent you.”
Then God patiently explained what would happen because God loved Moses and Moses was ready to swallow the truth. God did not keep anything from Moses, and told everything that would happen, which included God’s warning, protection, and blessing also:
“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him. So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then, at last, he will let you go. And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed. Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth.”
Moses now understood the full scope of God’s mission, outcome, and what he would expect while working for God’s mission. Moses quietly gave his thought, and he carefully but humbly asked a physical proof for his fellow Israelites. His painful experience with the Israelites 40 years ago was truly traumatic. To Moses, the only reason why Moses spent the last 40 years was the one tragic event that his fellow Israelites rejected him.
What a contrast between the 40-years-ago’s Moses, who was young and confident in every aspect, and now Moses was 80 years old and humble and meek in every aspect. Yes, Moses became the new person who no longer relied on him but God. Moses asked God’s sign for his fellow Israelites.
Moses then asked God, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘God never appeared to you’?”
Then God asked him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied. Indeed, it was what he had at that time as a humble shepherd in the distant land of Midian.
“Throw it down on the ground,” God told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.
Then God told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand.
“Perform this sign,” God told him. “Then they will believe that the LORD, the God of their ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—really has appeared to you.”
Then God said to Moses, “Now put your hand inside your cloak.” So Moses put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out again, his hand was white as snow with a severe skin disease. “Now put your hand back into your cloak,” God said. So Moses put his hand back in, and when he took it out again, it was as healthy as the rest of his body.
God said to Moses, “If they do not believe you and are not convinced by the first miraculous sign, they will be convinced by the second sign. And if they don’t believe you or listen to you even after these two signs, then take some water from the Nile River and pour it out on the dry ground. When you do, the water from the Nile will turn to blood on the ground.”
What a promise and encouragement from God to Moses! God gave three miracles to completely clear up the painful experience of being rejected by his own people. God gave not just one, but three miraculous signs for Moses. Each one was powerful enough to make his people believe Moses as one whom God sent to liberate them. For this time, God mended Moses’ painful heart to do God’s will with God’s miraculous power.
But Moses was not the Moses forty years ago. He knew he was not a young man but an old man with little skills except shepherding. For the last forty years, Moses had never had a chance to use or practice his combat and leadership skills as he quietly and humbly lived in the land of Midian. He had never spoken again to a large group of people either. He used to talk to a large group of people and mobilize them to do huge tasks in Egypt. But now, all of his skills were at most rusty or gone out from him.
Thus, Moses pleaded with the LORD, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I have never been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Retrospectively speaking, Moses was the best influential speaker among the princes in the palace back in Egypt.
Then God asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
Yes, Moses humbly approached God. Indeed, he was the best among all the princes. Moses was Pharaoh’s favorite prince. Pharaoh sent Moses whenever there was a need to lead a big task requiring a huge number of people. As he was speaking, Moses could remember all these. Also, he knew he was no longer such a person. Moses became a meek person filled with humility. Thus, Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”
Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3)
Then the LORD said to Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both on what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.” Then God left Moses.
How patient God was with Moses! God waited for forty years. Moses was slowly molded into the person that God wanted while living in the wilderness of Midian as a humble shepherd. In the meantime, Moses came to realization — what he could do and what he couldn’t do. Most of all, Moses knew he was not the best person to fulfill God’s plan. What a contrast that 40 years made!
Moses had an intimate knowledge about his own people who rejected him once. Because he went back to them, they would not easily change their minds and follow Moses. The Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, who tried to kill Moses, died, but the current Pharaoh was not much different. He also had intimate knowledge about Moses because he was one of the princes who grew up together with Moses in the palace. It was so obvious that the current Pharaoh would immediately reject Moses. Moses kept leaning on God more and more step by step as he conversed with God. And God provided.
Moses became truly humble and meek before God. Moses no longer leaned on his own earthly things that he used to have. He only begged God’s mercy and guidance on each step by step to every detail to complete God’s will. It was Moses’ humility and meekness before God. God gladly opened up the next stage of Moses’ life. God prepared, and Moses was ready.
We cannot do God’s work with our own earthly wisdom and strength, which will surely lead to our failure. However, most importantly, when we fail, we should not regard it as a sign of God’s rejection but God’s love. Yes, God’s love.
For example, even if we touch a hot stove, we don’t feel anything. Then we will only harm ourselves more. God loves us so dearly to give His own Son, Jesus Christ, to forgive and make us be His eternal child. What will God give to us? The best. And God, who purchased us with the blood of Jesus Christ, will never give up on us. Yes, never!
Indeed, even at this moment, God tenaciously holds us with His almighty hand, whether we feel it or not. He is always with us. It is the absolute truth and the fact. Let’s open our eyes and look up Our Ever-Loving Father, who watches over every step of our lives and guides us through the paths of righteousness. Our failure is the best present God sends to wake us up. Even in the spiritual world, there is no pain and no gain. Thus, our painful failure is the very sign that God loves us and protects us. Amid our painful failure, what God truly wants from us is to listen to His loving voice, which we cannot find anywhere in the world. “I am with you, and I love you to the end of the world and beyond.” Then what should be our response? We boldly say to God, “Thank you!” Yes, our failure, pain, and suffering are real, but it is the moment that God’s mighty right hand is holding us ever tightly.
“‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ (Jeremiah 33:3)