Exodus-Leading Qualifications (Lane)
by Lonnie Lane
As we approach Passover this year, a year in which we are somewhat absorbed in the choosing of a new president, in thinking about the Exodus I did give some thought to Moses’ leadership qualifications and why God chose him. This led me to also think about the fact that since Constantine and his Nicean council banned Passover from the church calendar in AD 315, what has the church missed over the centuries that God intended for them to be aware of? I wondered in what way would the story of God choosing Moses have been helpful to know had Passover and the story of the Exodus continued to be a part of the celebration of the church? Would you like to come with me while I wander through some thoughts on the subjects?
Do away with Torah and you have eliminated the rock-solid foundation for understanding God’s holiness in any depth. From the fourth century forward, men in church leadership were often far from the kind of man God used to lead the children of Israel out from under the domination of Egypt. For that matter, when Yeshua chose His leaders who were to take over when He was no longer with them, those whom He chose were not what later church leadership has often been like in character or for that matter status, which is to say, dependent on political clout rather than humble dependence on God.
Most of that took place before the Reformation, though we know there have been moral and ethical infractions in church leadership since. But prior to the Reformation the Word of God was for the most part kept from the general populace. The less the Bible was a part of their lives, including their church-lives, the less the people knew what God was like or what He required of His people. The less they knew the Word, the less the church leaders were men that God Himself was likely to have chosen. Men’s ways dominated the so called church.
As we know, God’s ways are indeed not like our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Is. 55:9). The church evolved into thinking that their “high” ways were God’s ways when they weren’t. Only men would have thought of such a thing as “high church.” Knowing what we do of the Gospels doesn’t that term seem a terrible contradiction to all we know of Yeshua?
It would seem that the Word of God was either disregarded, misunderstood or re-interpreted. But no power, no government, no authority, no amount of time and certainly no ideas of men can nullify or change God’s Word. “The Word of our God stands forever” (Is. 40:8). What He said would come to pass will ultimately be done. God is without fear of men or governments, regardless of how powerful they may appear, to themselves or to others. But He rescues those who are oppressed by others when they cry out to Him for help. This very critical piece of information was kept from both leaders and laity when the Bible was not known or available to the people.
God intended that Israel’s history with Him would be instructive and helpful to all Believers. But if you don’t know any of it ever happened because you’ve never heard the accounts in the Bible, or you’ve heard little of them or with a biased view, they are of no help to you as God intended them to be. Or for that matter, when these stories in the Old Testament are relegated primarily to children’s Sunday school lessons, the depth of revelation and insight that is available in them is lost to adults who never take them seriously after childhood.
God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, does things not just to affect the moment, but His testimonies, which are always redemptive, are for all generations, to bring us understanding of Him and of what we can depend upon Him to do and trust Him for. Without Israel’s history with God, Believers are left, so to speak, to “reinvent the wheel” of faith and trust. One of the best examples of a faith and trust-developing story is that of the Exodus. And one of the most encouraging stories of God taking a failure of a man and making good out of his life is that of one named Moses.
When Israel had been under Egypt’s domination for four hundred years, just as God told Abraham, that generation began to cry out to God for His deliverance. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He told Moses, “I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage and I have remembered My covenant” (Ex.6:5.) That He remembered does not mean that He forgot and just remembered. This statement reveals that He never forgot what He told Abraham. He always remembered. God said, “I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians” (Ex. 3:8). He would bring to pass what He promised. But He always uses people to fulfill His will.
It may take generations for God to work into the spiritual DNA the character of just the person He wants to do His will. Just as Miriam (Mary) and Elizabeth were women whom God could entrust to be mothers of Yeshua and John (later known as the immerser, or baptizer), it had taken perhaps centuries to produce the parents of these children who would raise them in the manner worthy of their calling. So also, circumstances served to bring about a man who was named Moses for the task of bringing Israel out of Egypt.
Moses’ initial first few years were in the home of his parents and siblings, for his courageous mother and father refused to drown him in the Nile when Pharaoh had ordered all male babies, two years old and under were to be thrown into the Nile. Pharaoh ordered this because he was afraid of the Israelites for they had become so many in number that he feared a revolution. So much fear going on! He feared them; they feared him. Imagine the power and control Pharoah had over the Hebrews that parents would actually toss their little sons in the river, watching them fighting for breath and then… cease their struggling. How many babies and toddlers floated on the water for how many days till they washed down stream or sunk into the mud below? How uniquely courageous was this one baby’s mother that she devised a way to send him elsewhere in order that he survive?
How long he was in that basket till he was found we don’t know, but it just happened that the Pharaoh’s daughter heard him crying (how long had he been crying?) and retrieved him, called him Moses because it means “drawn out” as from the water and made him her son. But first he must be nursed and weaned so, as we know, Moses’ sister Miriam was providentially on the scene, offering to bring him to a woman who would nurse him, his mother. So Moses lived until he was weaned in his family’s home. (I’ve often wondered if the reason he was “slow of speech” which probably meant he tended to stutter, wasn’t a result of the trauma of being taken from his family and home at 2-3 years old, the age of weaning. It is also quite possible that his first language was Hebrew and he had little or no knowledge of the Egyptian language at that age, adding to his trauma.)
At any rate, at some point he became the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and was transplanted into an entirely different kind of life, entirely alien from what he’d known. Now Egypt was fraught with thousands of gods and sorcery was plentiful, so perhaps she explained how Moses suddenly arrived by saying that the Nile god gave her a son. Who could deny what the gods brought about? This is my conjecture, but it is possible. Some explanation had to be given and it is evident that Moses was “drawn out” from the Nile because her maids went and got the basket he was in. So Moses was considered part of the household of Pharaoh as her son.
As such he would have been well schooled not only in the ways of the magicians and in Egypt’s complex religious system but in the myriad aspects of government, Egypt being the most powerful government in the earth at that time. Living in an environment that was occupied with ruling Egypt and building Egypt, he would have had much opportunity to be aware of rules and edicts and how to enforce them. He would have had an understanding of managing huge numbers of people, as he observed it taking place and being discussed all around him. Indeed, he must have been trained to assume his own position of leadership one day. But God intended all that to be of great benefit in the future when He would call Moses to be the leader of the fledgling nation of Israel and to formulate the rules and edicts as God gave them to him.
God would also use the remnant of Moses’ identification with the enslaved people called the Hebrews, just as there also existed within him as sense of injustice that plagued him, even to the point of killing an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew. To take the side of a mere slave against an Egyptian would be seen by Pharaoh as sedition, so Moses buried the Egyptian in the sand. But Moses’ hatred for injustice also extended against any Hebrew who would oppress another, and when he was moved to try and stop that too, it became known that his murder of the Egyptian was no secret. Rather than be subject to Pharaoh’s severe wrath for protecting a slave at the cost of an Egyptian life, he fled Egypt. He spent the next forty years in the desert as a shepherd, no doubt with much time to think about his life and to work through his own values. And to come to see himself as a shepherd only. No smell of the palace and royalty upon him now; only sheep.
Do you see how all these events were woven together to produce a man who had lived in many levels of society? He knew life in the hovel of a slave and the palace of a king; as a free aristocrat and as a fleeing outlaw. How might Moses’ story help someone who had it all once but lost it, who was once highly regarded but made some bad choices and was now living far below what he once did? Would the story of Moses not cause someone to be encouraged that God forgives, God restores, and God makes good for what we mess up in our lives? OK, granted we’re not all called to be the leader Moses was, but every Bible story is meant to encourage, strengthen and edify us to hope in God for ourselves and our loved ones. Or even to help us see others whom we just might deem unworthy as those in whose life God is still at work. If Moses became a man’s hero, maybe even relating to his hardest and loneliest times, would that man not perhaps become a different man than if he’d never heard of Moses?
Wouldn’t really taking seriously as an example from God to us of what happened to Moses, and then how God used him, give courage and hope and inspiration to overcome despair to anyone who was banished or an outcast or who failed miserably in life? Would knowing how God worked in Moses’ life not have been a story to inspire hope and trust in God for what He would do in anyone’s life? Wouldn’t it help to know that failure does not disqualify from even God’s highest purposes in your life? And might knowing how God used things in Moses’ past, even though none of it seemed to mean anything anymore out there with the sheep, not have caused someone to see there is worth in their lives yet, thinking God can still use me even if I’ve been in a desert for years and years?
For every strength there is a weakness, and for every fault, there is often a motivating strength somewhere. Moses was a murderer, but he also had a profound longing for justice in which all men would be respected. On the positive side, being a part of the ruling family of Egypt gave him a comprehension of how to govern people and of their needing rules and guidelines for life in order for a nation to exist and flourish. God used all that, but he also used the fact that Moses had been humbled enough not to assume any glory for himself.
Think for a moment how God used all the circumstances Moses had been through to mold him into a man whom God could trust. Moses became a trust-worthy man for the very reason that he knew his weaknesses and failures and therefore would stay entirely dependent upon God for God to work through Him. When God met Moses and commissioned him to go and bring God’s people out of Egypt, Moses knew enough about the power of Pharaoh and the whole cultural structure of Egypt to know that no man could accomplish that. If Moses knew anything, he knew that he was incapable, and in time he came to see that God alone does what He says, and in Him alone is the power and the glory! So our awareness of our inability and our weakness is not a deficit when it comes to serving God but an asset when we look to Him, trust Him and obey His will.
Would it have made a difference in the mindset of men who sought to elevate the church to an elegant, even an imperial status, if they had realized that God waited until Moses was devoid of any sense of self, ambition or thought of what he might accomplish before using him? What if the church saw that what God wanted was not pomp or royalty or an elite mentality or even capability but a man who would not and knew he could not do anything on his own but would honor God entirely with his obedience – no matter what God asked of him?
Moses had known what abject submission was seeing the power that Pharaoh had over his subjects, but now, hearing the deep compassion in the voice of God, and becoming aware of His sovereign authority, he bows in humble submission. Would it have informed the church leaders at different times in history if they recognized this humility and obedience in Moses, subject only to God and without fear of man, even fear of Pharaoh? Would they have wanted to distance themselves from being like Pharaoh in power and pomp and rather choose to be like Moses, humble and submissive to the will of God?
Perhaps the fear of man that so dominated the church in different eras in church history might never have developed as it did if the church had the regard for Moses’ humility that God gave to him when He said of him: “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3). Since we become what we continually focus upon, I wonder what might be imparted to us if we would choose our heroes based on that quality of humility which God honored in Moses? Would it affect our choice of who we vote for as president, I wonder?
This is but an introduction to Moses and God’s preparation and choosing of Moses for the enormous task of bringing Israel out from under Pharaoh. As we celebrate Passover this year, let’s give thanks to God for not only delivering Israel and the mixed multitude of folks from the demonic hand of Pharaoh, but for delivering the church from the errors of men who, in keeping God’s people from such stories as the Exodus, robbed them of the benefits of knowing of the most powerful manifestation of God’s power and revelation of His redemptive heart the world has ever known, second only to the Resurrection.
As we enter this Passover season, would you pray and ask God to reveal to you “hidden manna” in His Word that’s been kept from you, relating to Passover and the Exodus until now. This would be a wonderful time to invite some friends and family over for dinner – a lamb dinner perhaps! – as you “remember the Passover” together and share your insights and revelations while you’re remembering Yeshua too. Oh, don’t forget the matza.
Happy Passover everyone!
Reprints of this article is permitted but must include: Reprinted by permission of Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2008.
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.