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.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Moses went back home to Jethro, his father-in-law. Moses was leading his sheep and was deeply digesting what had happened to him on the mountain in Sinai. At the mountain, God came to Moses through the burning bush. It was a truly amazing scene for Moses.
Moses got curious and approached the burning bush, and Moses suddenly heard a voice, “Moses! Moses!” Not just once, but twice. It was impossible not to hear the voice. It was also not a familiar human voice. Soon Moses realized that it was the voice of God. Moses immediately fell to the ground in awe and fear, and he replied, “Here I am.”
“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.” As Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.
Moses finally met the God about whom he had heard from his mother since he was a small child. Then he believed God as his own God. He got the same hope and belief that God would rescue the Israelites enslaved in Egypt. As he was grown up, he also realized that he was the one who freed the enslaved Israelites. Not like all the other Israelite male babies who lived as slaves and died as slaves, Moses grew up in the Pharaoh’s palace. Pharaoh’s daughter secretly adopted him as her son out of her sympathy when she saw baby Moses in a basket sent down to the Nile River because their parent could not keep Moses anymore. Moses saw God’s supernatural intervention, which made him understand the purpose of his life.
Then Moses lived his purpose-driven life in God to be ready for God. He always put all his time and energy into preparing himself to fit for the purpose. Moses also constantly searched for an opportunity to free his fellow Israelites from slavery. One day, Moses finally saw the opportunity and triggered his plan by killing one cruel Egyptian slave-master beating one of his Israelites to death, but his people rejected him. Soon, Pharaoh heard about Moses’s grave crime against his authority, and Pharaoh ordered to arrest Moses and kill him. Moses fled from Egypt and lived in the wilderness of Midian for the next forty years.
God prepared Jethro’s family for Moses with His unfathomable mercy, and Moses married his daughter. Moses settled and became a shepherd.
Then Moses tried hard to forget the past, and he eventually succeeded. Moses lived with his family and his sheep. He dearly loved them and gave care and protection against all harm. Sometimes, Moses risked his life for his family or his sheep. Moses learned and experienced the true meaning of loving others, which sometimes requires risking his own life. Moses was no longer the prince in Egypt but a shepherd in Midian.
God came to him as Moses humbly lived his new shepherd life for forty years. It was one of the best days for his sheep. Moses let his sheep roam around and even lead the way rather than lead them as usual. It made him go far from his home and to Sinai, the mountain of God. He seldom came to Sinai, but whenever Moses passed by, Moses thought about God. The massive looking mountain of God gave Moses a deep impression of God. The mountain was truly worth calling “the mountain of God.”
Moses was always curious about the mountain and had the urge to climb up, but he didn’t. He could not leave behind his sheep at the foot of the mount. Moses was in a great mood while watching his sheep happily grazing at the foot of the mountain. For Moses, his sheep was everything.
Then Moses looked at the mountain again. Moses suddenly saw a bush that was burning in flame. It was a truly strange scene, which attracted him like a magnet on the day. Then without thinking further, Moses alone started climbing up the mountain to see the bush burning closely. It was God’s calling, and Moses climbed up the mountain.
God appeared to Moses in the blazing fire from the middle of the bush. Moses met the God he believed in and lived for the first forty years of his life between the flame. His painful memories quickly came back to Moses. Moses lived for God and dedicated his first forty years’ entire life to God while firmly believing that God would liberate his fellow people in slavery, and he was the chosen one. However, it was not what happened to him and his people. And Pharaoh tried to kill Moses because of his act for God and his people. Despite his faithful action to God, God did not protect him. He truly put out all things for God, including risking his own life, but God did not do anything for Moses. What a bummer! Moses fled and just became a fugitive wandering in the land of Midian where anyone in Egypt did not want to go into because it was just a wilderness where nobody lived.
Moses could not understand why. He faithfully lived a purpose-driven life in God for God. But the outcome was not what Moses expected in God. Since then, Moses tried to forget everything related to his past, including what he was, what he did, and even God, who never helped Moses although he risked everything for God. He was the top towering Egyptian prince, but because of God, he became a murderer and a fugitive wandering in the wilderness of Midian, where none in Egypt even considered to go. Then it took forty years for Moses to get out of the painful past, which started with faith and hope but ended up with failure, misery, and despair. Then he met God.
Then God told Moses to return to Egypt and lead them out of slavery. As God said the same failed mission to Moses, what was the reaction in Moses’ heart? No way. After the sky-falling failure, he spent forty years completely trying to forget the past. Then Moses barely succeeded. For Moses, the past forty years were enough. He had no more room to deal with the same failed rescue mission again. He did everything that he could for his people and God. He was now stable with his family and sheep. Moses dearly loved them and did his family and sheep.
Moses refused and refused again and again, but God pushed him back again and again. Moses still could not fully understand why God was not there when he needed God most. Then he regained himself and lived peacefully with his family and sheep. Why did God show up again and was about to take away all that he built up for the last forty years? His family and his sheep were everything to Moses. Moses resisted and resisted. Additionally, he had to fight with his bitter and painful memories quickly oozing up and filling up his heart and mind as he heard God. He was again able to smell the bitter taste of the miserable failure along with his hot anger, fury, and resentment toward his fellow people as they were rejecting him.
But as he spent time with God appeared in the blazing fire, slowly and steadily, these painful experiences and memories melted away. The conversation with God was not what Moses wanted, but all of his fire, anger, and resentment were subsiding down little by little in his heart. Moses was experiencing God, the source of peace, compassion, and love. Yes, God was merciful to Moses and dearly loved him. Moses shouted against God repeatedly, but God used his shouts to heal his painful past. God led Moses to the closure of his painful memories. As the conversation between God and Moses approached the end, all of these impediments in Mose’s heart disappeared. God restored Moses, and Moses accepted God’s commission again to be the one who freed the Israelites suffering under the Egyptians as slaves.
The biggest difference was Moses was no longer the past prince Moses who was competent. Moses was a humble shepherd who asked for God’s help. For this time, Moses wanted a helper together to do God’s will, and God gave him a helper, his own brother, Aaron. Moses is no longer alone because of his brother Aaron. Most of all, Moses clearly knew God was with him for this time, who is the real helper to do the monumental task of freeing the Israelites.
As walking back home with his sheep, Moses said to himself, “If God had appeared even one year earlier, I would not have been ready to resume His holy mission of freeing His people. Now, I am not alone. I go with God, and my brother will be with me as a help. I also know now. I don’t liberate my people but God’s people. What a stupid man I was! I thought I could liberate my people with my own power learned and gained as an Egyptian prince. All I gained from the world were completely inadequate to accomplish God’s monumental work of freeing the Israelites. Before God, I am just God’s messenger. God will do His work, and I am a simple conduit of His power. God will save God’s own people. God is ever more powerful, and He will surely subdue Pharaoh and lead His people out of Egypt, not me. I will be just faithful servant who will be absolutely obident to Him.”
Moses’ feet were quickly home, and his sheep swiftly followed him. As soon as he entered home, he talked about what happened that day to his wife. “God came to me, who is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob and whom I have waited for throughout my life. Then God asked me to return to Egypt to free the Israelites, His people, from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. I initially refused to go back because of my colossal failure forty years ago, but God made me accept His mission again. I decided to return to Egypt and rescue His people from slavery. For this time, I will not be alone, but God promised to send my brother as a helper. Most of all, God is with me throughout God’s mission to save His people. God promised me.” Moses’ wife was excited and joyful as she heard Moses. She could see Moses’ face completely different from what she used to know. His face was filled with God and radiating in faith and zeal for God’s mission.
Moses’ wife knew Moses’ painful past. Of course, she could not know every detail, but she knew enough about Moses’ heartbreakingly past. She saw how much Moses had been royal, gentle, loving, and faithful to him since she met Moses at the well where Moses rescued her and her sheep from the other hostile shepherds. Thus, she received all good things from Moses, and she wanted to give back to Moses by being a life-long encourager and supporter of Moses. She wanted to see Moses fully restored from the life-changing colossal failure. Of course, she liked the current husband, Moses, who is a humble, gentle, and loving shepherd and provider. However, she always wanted to see Moses fully dedicating himself to God and doing God’s work as he did for God for the first forty years as an Egyptian prince. Surely, she did not have to think twice. She said, “Yes, I fully support your decision to go back to Egypt to do God’s work. Surely, I will go with you and be with you always like God.” What an encouragement to Moses!
Then Moses quickly walked up to the tent of Jethro, his father-in-law to discuss his decision to go back to Egypt with his family. He gently brought up his family to get Jethro’s consensus. “Please let me return to my relatives in Egypt,” Moses said. “I don’t even know if they are still alive.”
Of course, God prepared Jethro’s heart. “Go in peace,” Jethro replied. Jethro’s heart was truly in peace. Everything was ready for Moses as God prepared for Moses to do God’s work for this time truly.
Before Moses left Midian, the LORD said to him, “Return to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you have died.” Obviously, Moses was still in fear of the Pharaoh and his officials who tried to kill Moses after Moses’ killing Egyptian slave-master. God saw Moses’ determination to go back to Egypt despite his fear of being arrested and executed by the same Pharaoh. The merciful God eased his fear. God told what had already happened to the Pharaoh and his officials in Egypt. Moses decided to be obedient to God, and God prepared the way ahead of Moses, including Moses’ most fearful enemy – the Pharaoh, from whom Moses fled.
Moses was truly comforted by God. His fear of being killed by the Pharaoh was no longer a topic to worry about. Moses gladly took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and headed back to the land of Egypt. In his hand, he carried the staff of God, which was the promise of God to Moses. Yes, God was with Moses, and Moses could always feel His presence through the staff of God was in his hand.
And God told Moses, “When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do.” Moses had no reason to fear that the Pharaoh tried to kill Moses, and Moses now would meet the new Pharaoh. But God would be with him to show His power. God’s power was in Moses’ hand. Who in this world would not be pumped up when God’s power is in one’s own hand?
God continued, “But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go.” Why did God say this to Moses?
Let’s remember God is the God for all His creation, not just Moses, me, you, or us only. Thus, God does not execute his plan as we would want to see and feel it should be.
that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45)
First, God does not immediately destroy all sinners at once. If not, God had destroyed us a long time ago. Is there anyone without sin, even one single sin? For God, we are all equally murders as those featured in evening news as criminals who killed other human beings. As watching the evening news, we all in our hearts call for justice on those who committed killing other human beings. However, we should remember to God’s eye if we hate another person once, then we have already committed the killing of the person in our heart, which is equally sinful to God as murders in the evening news. Before God, the wage of all sins is death, an eternal death, regardless our sin is small or big in our eyes.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The heart of God is not doing justice that we want so that we feel good on earth. But God is gracious, merciful, and loving. Instead, He gives the most precious gift, which is the eternal life in Christ Jesus. Yes, we might look good outside. But please think carefully about what’s in our hearts. We are under the same judgment.
God uses all, including Pharaoh, to give opportunities to all to come to God and stop the way of destruction following human desires, greed, and evil thoughts.
Let’s think about one scenario. Moses went back and told the new Pharaoh, “let my people go.” Then the Pharaoh said, “Yes, you go.” Is it what most of us want to see? Moses went with God, and God power was in his hand. Then should this outcome be the end of the story?
No, it would certainly destroy God’s salvation plan for all. Let’s be specific. How many of the Israelites freed according to the above ideally easy Godly outcome would continue to believe God when they met a life challenging and suffered in pain?
How about the Egyptians? How many Egyptians would know God’s greatness and His salvation plan? If the above scenario worked, then all Egyptians just complained about the stupid decision made by their Pharaoh. They, even more, hated the Israelites for leaving Egypt. The Israelites were the best asset because they took care of all terrible and laborious tasks for the Egyptians. It would be more like the day to children playing with their favorite toys. Suddenly one day, someone came and took away all toys. There will be no happy children except complaining, crying, and yelling for their toys taken away.
Indeed, God did not make Pharaoh let the Israelites go upon Moses’ request. God did many miracles and plagues on Egypt. Even the Egyptians feared God, which is the first step toward believing God. Even some of the Egyptians left Egypt with the Israelites to follow God.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverb 9:10)
Let’s back to the ideal scenario that most of us might want to see. Let’s say, if the new Pharaoh said “Yes,” at the first request made by Moses, then how many poor souls in Egypt would be lost forever?
How about the Israelites? They would be no “true” appreciation of God because they had no chance to experience God to the extent of not forgetting forever what God had done to them. Most of all, they had no opportunity to know who God really was. Again, we will see what God did and how both the Israelites and the Egyptians responded as we follow the footsteps of Moses’ journey with his fellow Israelites and Pharaoh.
Then let’s change our focus on ourselves? How often do we blame God because God does not do what we think God should do? Rather than blaming God, we should faithfully approach God first, and before God, we spread out all our concerns, issues, desires, and pains caused because God did not do what God supposedly does for us. Then we wait for the merciful answer from God, which is coming to us when we are in a quiet and secret place alone with God.
We often wonder whether we received God’s answer or not. The sign is the peace of God in our hearts, which transcends all understanding in Christ Jesus.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
We all want no pain in our lives, but no pain and no gain even in the relationship with God.
Why do we need pain? Because of our fundamental nature. We gain earthly knowledge by learning, and even we can pass down the knowledge to the next generations, but there is no way to give our experience to others or pass it down to the next generations. If we could pass down our experience to the next generations, the world would be completely different by now. Unfortunately, each generation makes its own mistakes and learns from the mistakes.
Didn’t God know the above truth? No, God knows intimately to the minute details, And God knows everything in our hearts that even we don’t know. Yes, to us, it is a mystery why God does something that we think is ungodly or God doesn’t do what is Godly. But as a mere human beings, we cannot know why. Perhaps it is more like ants found in our backyard trying to understand why we have just moved our outdoor furniture.
We need to give back what belongs to God. For example, no human being has ever died for ants because of the love of the ants. However, God did. God loved us so much, sent Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son, and sacrificed Him for all our sins – either visible outwardly or hidden by being buried deep in our hearts. Remember that all visible or hidden sins equally lead to our eternal death.
We also remember that God judges evil while protecting His own children whom God loves, although not perfect before God. Thus, God told Moses,
“Then you will tell him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son. I commanded you, “Let my son go, so he can worship me.” But since you have refused, I will now kill your firstborn son!’”
What a God! In Him, we have peace, but out from Him (refusing Him repetitively), it means death, the eternal death. God is our Ever-Loving Father, and He will never forsake us and be with us forever. We pray to God for God’s grace and peace to all who love God and follow God despite failures and falls. And let’s stand up again and again by holding tight His almighty and merciful hand.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9)