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Moses, Doctrine of

Overview

Moses' life teaches us to listen to the LORD God's word, to believe Him, to obey and apply what He says, for God is able to accomplish what he asks one to do.

 

  •    Moses' birth and first 40 years—Egypt

  •     Moses' next 40 years—in Midian

  •     Moses back in Egypt and the ten plagues

  •     The Exodus and Moses final 40 years—wandering

  •     Moses served Yahweh God faithfully, though he failed at times

  •     Moses wrote the Law, Song of the Sea, Song of Moses, Blessing of Moses and his prayer Psalm under God' direction

  •     Moses died in Moab when he was 120 years old

  •     Lessons from Moses' life

 

  • Moses' birth and first 40 years—Egypt

    • Moses was born in Egypt from parents of the tribe of Levi around 1525 BC (Exodus 2.1-10; 6.20; Num 26.58-59; Deut 34.7).

    • Moses was born during the period of history in which slavery of people from western Asia was prolific in Egypt and the Hebrew people were multiplying, so much so that the ruling power of Egypt was afraid that they would rebel and be lost as slaves. Therefore attempts were made to break their spirit and to reduce the increase of population. One command (Exodus 1.8-21) was to kill the male children as they were born. This reflects the historically known Egyptian preference for female slaves and was done to curtail a slave rebellion. The midwives feared God and protected the male babies. The king then ordered the male children to be thrown into the Nile River (Exodus 1.22).

    • When Moses was born his parents hid him three months, then placed him in a basket in the Nile River so he would be rescued, instead of throwing him into the Nile to die. God’s promise to make a nation through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was part of their heritage. Possibly God revealed to them that Moses had a part in his plan. The daughter of the Pharaoh found him. She adopted him. Miriam, his sister, got his mother the job of Moses’ nurse. Pharaoh's daughter named him Moses (Ex 2.1-10; Heb 11.23). See Josephus,Antiquities II, ix 7 (232), for his account about Moses being brought before the Pharaoh by the Pharaoh's daughter. This daughter of Pharaoh or “daughter of the king” (a royal title of the 18th Dynasty), was probably Hatshepsut, the princess who would later become a female Pharaoh.

    • Moses was raised in the royal household as the grandson of the Pharaoh. They educated him for the ruling elite of Egypt. Moses had two educations:  Egyptian “all the learning of the Egyptians” (Acts 7.22)  and Hebrew, from his parents and the Lord (Ex 2.10-11; Acts 7.22; Heb 11.24-26). Josephus says that he spent some years in military service for Egypt, but we have no other reference to that. Josephus further says in reference to a war between Egypt and Ethiopia, that he became “mighty in deeds” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, II.x (238-253).

    • Moses, at age 40, made a bad decision. He took the role of Hebrew deliverer out of God’s hands and into his own. He accidentally killed an Egyptian during one of his inspection tours. He realized his trouble, then panicked—another failure. He then left for Midian to avoid punishment. Moses had zeal without knowledge (Ex 2.11-15; Acts 7.23-29; Rom 10.2).

  • Moses next 40 years—in Midian

    • During that time he married Zipporah.  Zipporah did not follow Moses in his beliefs or his leadership (Ex 4.21-27; 18.11-8). He had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer (Ex 2.22; 18.3-4). God prepared Moses while he was in Midian for his life work (Ex 2.16-3.22; Acts 7.29).

    • The Lord appeared to Moses through the burning bush at Mt Horeb in the Sinai Peninsula, after 40 years in Midian.  God had selected Moses to be the first national leader of the nation, Israel. God gave him authority the Israelites (Ex 3.10-12, 16). The Lord spoke to Moses from the bush. He told Moses His nature, name, and plan for Israel, and Moses’ part in that plan (Ex 3.1-4.17). We can assume that Moses had learned about God's promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and even Joseph  (Gen 12.1-2; 15.13-21; 50.19-26).

    • God told Moses his plan for the Hebrew people. Moses was to deliver Israel from Egypt. Moses accepted this assignment, though probably with hesitation (Acts 7.23-25; Heb 11.24-26). During this meeting with the Lord Moses questioned and tried to excuse himself from the job. He questioned the Lord’s choice of him and his own ability. God clearly answered that He will work through Moses, this was to be God’s work, not Moses’ work (Ex 3.6-22).

    • Moses had a choice to make—the Lord and his will or Pharaoh and his will (Heb 11.24-26). God’s plan will include suffering, rejection, and criticism, but also much spiritual blessing, accomplishment, and reward. Pharaoh’s plan will bring temporary wealth, fame, power, and pleasure.

    • Moses then questioned the Lord about what authority he might have once he returned to Egypt (Ex 4.1-9). The Lord answered that with the message about the staff (creative power and life), his hand (health power), and the Nile water (provisions for life and commerce). Next, Moses made excuses about lack of ability (Ex 4.10-17). The Lord told Moses that He had created his mouth, his ability to speak, his ears, and his ability to see and was very capable of providing for him. Moses was simply afraid. Luke tells us in Acts 7:22 that Moses was a man of power in words and deeds from his Egyptian education. Furthermore, The Lord was the authority over ideas, words, and speaking ability (Ex 4.11-12). At this point Moses still disbelieved the Lord, so the Lord picked Aaron to speak publicly for him (Ex 4.13-17). We need to realize that when God appoints one to do a task, God will provide the ability and necessary details.

    • Moses finally packed up his family and returned to Egypt (Ex 4.20-31). During the trip back, Zipporah circumcised their son. This was a reflection of the disagreement within Moses’ family and of Moses’ failure in leadership (Ex 4.24-26).

  • Moses back in Egypt and the ten plagues

    • Before Moses left he sent his family back with Jethro (between Exodus 4:26-27). His wife and sons are not mentioned again until Exodus 18:1-6 when Jethro brings them to Moses. On Moses' way back to Egypt he met with Aaron and told him what the Lord had said (Exodus 4:27-28). They then met with the Hebrew elders and the people and they believed that the Lord was working for them (Exodus 4:29-31). Aaron spoke and Moses performed the signs. Moses verified Aaron's words. The people accepted Moses' authority because of what was said and because of the miraculous signs. Note the agreement of the Hebrews at this time and compare it to their disagreement and complaining when events become difficult. It was easy to believe God and rest when times are good. Unbelief comes more easily when times are difficult.

    • Exodus 5 records that when Moses and Aaron met with Pharaoh and with Pharaoh’s representatives, Pharaoh was adamant that the Hebrews will not leave Egypt. Now some tests for Moses. More work was expected of the Hebrew workers. They complained to Moses. Moses complained to God. Exodus 5:22-23 records Moses' frustration. He failed the pressure test. It could have been a time of blessing, spiritual growth, and glory to God. Instead Moses was too concerned with the removal of the pressure that came from the Hebrew people. He did not think about what God was doing in his life and the life of the people. Everything depends on the LORD God, Yahweh Elohim. Note the progression: difficulty->focus on problems->failure to believe->complain-> forget that God is working->and therefore do not recognize God's work and blessing. When we are in the midst of struggles we often do the same as Moses did—focus on the problems instead of the Lord, disbelieve God, become frustrated, and complain and question the Lord. Instead we ought to think through Scripture like Matthew 6:25-34, 1 Peter 5:7, Romans 8:28-32, Ephesians 1:3, 1 John 3:1-3, Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Philippians 4:19, Psalm 55:22, and many others. But, the LORD was on his own schedule.

    • Exodus 6, the LORD knows what he is doing but the Israelites were too caught up with the circumstances and did not listen to Moses. Yahweh now reminds, encourages, and prepares Moses for the plagues and Exodus. In Exodus 6:1-4 the LORD reminded Moses that He 1. appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty (el shadday) and 2. He made the Canaan land covenant with them. Then in Exodus 6:4-8 the LORD remembered his covenant and reaffirmed it to Israel. Note the 9 items the LORD says: 1. I am the LORD 2. I will bring you out, 3. I will deliver you, 4. I will redeem you, 5. I will take you for my people, 6. I will be your God, 7. you shall know that I am the LORD your God, 8. I will bring you to the land, 9. I will give it to you.  Moses and the Israelites should have recalled their God-promised heritage. Moses then told the sons of Israel and they refused to listen to him (Exodus 6:9). They were more concerned with the immediate pressure than God's promises to them. Moses became frustrated (Exodus 6:12, 30). He should have trusted the LORD but instead he questioned God. (9.12.12) He again brought up the ability question which God already answered in Exodus 4:10-17. Moses knows that Israel's heritage is in Yahweh Elohim. Their existence and life depend entirely on the LORD. This should have given him confidence. Our heritage in the church is our position in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 and others). Our spiritual existence and life depends entirely on our Lord.

    • With Exodus 7 God began the plagues. The plague time was a period of great testing, teaching, and testimony for Moses. He had opposition from both the Egyptians and the Hebrews (Ex 5.1-12.36). Listen to the list of plagues. Would they get your attention? 1. Nile turned to blood, 2. frogs, 3. swarms of gnats, 4. insects, 5. disease in livestock, 6. boils, 7. hail, thunder, and lightning on land, animals, people, 8. locusts destroy crops, 9. darkness, 10. death of the firstborn. Pharaoh would not listen to Moses and learn from the LORD. He hardened himself against the LORD. There is a sequence to Pharaoh's hard heart. 1. First, the LORD told Moses that he would harden Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 4:21; 7:3)  2. and after Pharaoh hardened himself against God seven times and set his own course (Exodus 7:13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7) 3. the LORD did just what he said he would do (Exodus 9:12). This is like what Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-32. God gives up to their own lusts those who first suppress his truth, do not honor him, and exchange his glory for images (Romans 1:24, 26, 28). Paul also warned his readers in his Ephesian letter that one who hardens his heart against God finally lives in futility because hardening prevents understanding of God's ways and separation from God's kind of life. These people become spiritually calloused or scarred over and give themselves over to sin. They are no longer sensitive to God. It is a dangerous place to be. It can even happen to believers, which is Paul's warning.

    • God freed the Hebrews through the tenth plague in which Yahweh (LORD)  killed each firstborn not protected by the Passover blood. Pharaoh finally told Moses and the people to go (Ex 12.29-36). Yahweh passed over every home in which a lamb was killed, the blood put on the door, the people stayed inside and ate the roasted lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. The original Passover iscommanded in Exodus 12:1-13, 21-23. Exodus 12:14-20 instructs about the future observations of the Passover. Exodus 12:24-27 gives the purpose of the future Passover observations—an instructive memorial to the LORD for future Israelites and their children about when the LORD passed over the houses of the Israelites. Communion in the church is an instructive memorial to Jesus Christ, our human Passover lamb. This should remind us that it is important to remember Jesus' person and work. And not only remember but to teach our children about God's redemption through Jesus' death and resurrection.

  •  The Exodus and Moses final 40 years—wandering

    • They left Egypt in the month Abib (Nisan is the Babylonian name—first month of the sacred calendar and seventh month of civil calendar) which was March April. In the third month after the people had left Egypt (Sivan—May June, is the third month in the sacred calendar and ninth month in the civil calendar) God called Moses to Mt Sinai, and told Moses his plan: Israel will be God’s possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; Moses will be God’s leader over the people and mediator of God’s Word, the Law (Exodus 19; Galatians 3:19). God then began revealing the Law to Moses (Exodus 20:1).

    • The exodus journey lasted for 40 years. It was a time of great testing, great failure, discipline, and great blessing. The people became spiritual tests for Moses. He passed most of them. The Hebrew people had opportunity after opportunity to believe the Lord. Most of the time they disbelieved the Lord. As noted above it is easy to believe God and rest when times are good. Unbelief comes more easily when times are difficult.

    • Some of the opportunities and failures (15 noted) include the Reed Sea followed by Moses’ song (Exodus 13-15), the bitter water (Exodus 15:22-27), the manna and quail (Exodus 16), no water at Sin (Exodus 17:1-7), Mt Sinai (Exodus 19-20), the molten calf made from their gold jewelry (Exodus 32-33), the complaint against manna (Numbers 11), Aaron and Miriam criticize Moses (Numbers 12), the reconnaissance of Canaan (Numbers 13-14), the Korah rebellion (Numbers 16), Moses hits the rock at Zin (Numbers 20), the bronze serpent (Numbers 21:1-9), Balak and Balaam (Numbers 22-24), Baal of Peor (Numbers 25), and the Midian war (Numbers 31).

    • In fact, the journey lasted 40 years because they refused to take God at his word. The specific incident was the 40 day reconnaissance of Canaan. The spies, except for Caleb and Joshua, came back with a report that they could not take the land. In the unbelief of the spies the Canaanites seemed like giants while the Hebrews were like grasshoppers. The Lord then said that they will wander in the desert for one year for each day of the reconnaissance (Numbers 13:27-32 and Numbers 14:28-35).

  • Moses served Yahweh God faithfully, though he failed at times

    • The Lord met with Moses at Mt Horeb at the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-4.17).

    • The Lord met with Moses on the mountain in Sinai where God gave him the Law (Exodus 19:1-3 and others).

    • The Lord met with Moses in the tent of Meeting (Exodus 33:7-11).

    • Moses interceded with the Lord for sinning Israel after the golden calf incident (Exodus 32:10-14; 33:12-17).

    • God showed Moses his back side or partial glory (Exodus 33:18-23) just before he had Moses write down the second copy of the law.

    • Moses reflected the Lord’s glory which resulted from his close fellowship with the Lord. The sons of Israel saw this glory in Moses face (Exodus 34:28-35).

    • The Lord gave Moses the privilege of making a final charge to the Israelites before they went into Canaan (Deuteronomy 31-33).

    • The Lord gave Moses good mental and physical health right up to the time he died (Deuteronomy 34:7).

    • One telling failure occurred when he hit the rock at Kadesh instead of speaking to the rock as the Lord commanded in order to get water from it. God disciplined him by preventing him from entering Canaan. The Lord continued to use and bless Moses even though he failed (Numbers 20:1-13).

    • The Lord showed Moses the land of Canaan just before Moses died (Deuteronomy 34:1-6).

    • Moses was a prophet. People accepted him as a prophet (2 Corinthians 3:15; Matthew 17:33ff; Luke 16:29; Deuteronomy 34:10).

  • Moses wrote the Law, Song of the Sea, Song of Moses, Blessing of Moses and his prayer Psalm under God' direction

    • The Law or Torah under God’s inspiration (Luke 16:29,31; 24:27,44; John 1:17; Deuteronomy 31:24-26 with Deuteronomy 17:18.

    • The song of the sea in which Israel praised the LORD for deliverance through the Red Sea (Exodus 15).

    • The song of Moses which, according to Deuteronomy 31:19, was a reminder to Israel of God's blessings, Israel's tendency to failure, and God's warning (Deuteronomy 32).

    • The blessing of Moses on Israel before he died and they went into Canaan (Deuteronomy 33).

    • Moses' prayer psalm (90) which stresses Yahweh's eternality, works, and judgment, mankind's limitations and failure, and a plea for Yahweh's blessing.

  • Moses died in Moab when he was 120 years old

    • The Lord buried him and no one knew where. The secret burial prevented Israel from enshrining his body, it cleared the way for Joshua to take the leadership, and it pushed the new nation onward in God’s theocratic program (Deut 34). Satan did try to find out where Moses was buried, but Michael the archangel stood his ground and committed the case to the Lord (Jude 9).

  • Lessons from Moses' life

    • Moses believed God. He lived by faith.

    • The Lord and His Word are more important than the details of life. We see the person committed to the Word and the Lord. Details could have been his and were his.

    • The recognition that man is nothing in the plan of God without divine ability and authority and guidance.

    • Have courage to stand alone for the right decision. Make right decisions based upon the word. Don’t be swayed by majority opinion. Moses went with divine viewpoint.

    • Effective prayer is based upon a knowledge of the word of God. You can therefore pray boldly and with confidence.

    • Live within the plan of God. In so doing you are not seeking self glory, importance, recognition or power. Moses did not desire to have the nation destroyed and begun anew.

    • The word of God reveals the person and plan of God. The believer who responds to God reflects the glory of God. This is putting doctrine in life; this is biblical experience.

    • Great zeal without the correct use of the word of God can lead to disaster. Zeal without doctrine or zeal with misapplication of doctrine is wrong.

    • Failures in life do not remove you from biblical service. God is not through with you. Confess, reorient, and move on.

    • Right relationships are important: husband, wife, and friends. Wrong relationships are a hindrance.

    • A leader needs to use subordinate men and delegate authority. He also needs to keep in touch with the total operation.

    • Negative volition is a serious matter. Disobedience may bring very severe discipline, even thought the believer is back in fellowship.

Last Update

Monday, October 1, 2012