Tag Archives: Moses

Forty Years – Times Two

The Israelites left Egypt for what should have been an eleven-day trek across the desert to the “promised land.” However, because of their disobedience, God gave them a 40-year timeout in the desert.

This, however, may not have been the first delay. Prior to that, Moses sensed that his place was to rescue his people, but when initial opposition occurred to his leadership, he high-tailed it out of there, only to spend 40 years hiding in the desert. Imagine that. Moses spent a total of 80 years of his life in the desert.

Now Moses’ initial 40-year desert retreat could have been a needed time of preparation, but I think not. God could have worked through him at any time — then or later. I think Moses shirked his initial call. He needed 40 years of alone time, tending to his sheep, before he would be ready to hear God and obey.

So, had Moses not procrastinated for 40 years and had the people of Israel not been disobedient, earning another 40-year delay, they could have arrived in the land God promised them 80 years sooner.

[Numbers 14:33, Acts 7:30]

A Matter of Perception

When God told Moses to confront Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses objected. He said, “I have never been eloquent… I am slow of speech and tongue.”

Moses’ self-perception was that he was not able to do the job God asked of him, that he lacked the essential qualifications needed for success. While Moses’ self-assessment may have been correct — which would allow God to work through him despite his deficiencies — that may not have been the case.

We get a glimpse of how God viewed Moses through Stephen in a powerful speech he gave hundreds of years later. Speaking under the power of the Holy Spirit, Stephen proclaims that Moses was “no ordinary child,” that he was “powerful in speech and action.” It seems that God’s perception of Moses was in sharp contrast to Moses’ self-perception.

When we are called to do a difficult task, it could be that:

  • God will use us for his glory even though we aren’t qualified
  • God will grow us and help us become qualified
  • God sees things differently and we actually are qualified

Regardless of our self-perception, we shouldn’t let that limit God. One way or another, he will work things out to accomplish what he calls us to do.

[Exodus 3:10, Exodus 4:10, Acts 7:20-22]

Genesis Question 6

Asking respectful questions about the Bible is not a sign of rebellion or indication of disbelief, but can be a means of more fully pursuing the God who is revealed in the Bible. It is from this perspective that I’ve been pondering the creation account and asking some questions. My final query is:

6) People were not made until midway through the sixth day, so there were no eyewitnesses to most of God’s creative efforts. How then could details that no one saw have been known, passed down from one generation to the next, and then recorded in the Bible?

The solution is that God would have had to tell his creation how they came to be. Just as a parent leaves out details when a young child asks “Where do babies come from?” so, too, God must have left out details when he explained our origins to us. Still, I want to know more.

However, Moses puts my inquiring mind into perspective, confirming that God has kept some things from us:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.”

God is, in many ways, a mystery — and that is one of the things that draws me to him.

[Deuteronomy 29:29]

Korah’s Rebellion

While the story of Cain killing his brother may be commonly known, the rebellion led by Korah is quite obscure.

Korah was from the tribe of Levi; he and the other Levites were assigned God-given tasks to serve in the temple; they were set apart for this. However, they were not to serve as priests; that fell only to Aaron and his descendants.

Korah didn’t like these distinctions; he advocated all people were holy, had God (the Holy Spirit) in them, and should be elevated to the level of priests.  (Interestingly, these were something that Jesus would later proclaim and that his followers would embrace, but in Korah’s time, this was not the case. There were distinctions and that’s how God wanted it at that time.)

Korah stirred up some followers, insisting on equal status for all. Then he and Moses had the equivalent of a modern-day smack down.  Moses won and was affirmed by God; Korah lost — big time; the ground beneath him opened up and he and his family fell in and died.

Today, we would hail Korah as a martyred reformer who pursued justice and equality, advocating that anyone can approach God.

Although Jesus would later usher in these changes, that is not what God had put in place in Korah’s day. He had a different plan and, no matter how well intended, Korah opposed it — and will forever be associated with a failed rebellion against God.

[Numbers 16]

The World’s First Murder

Cain and his younger brother Abel both gave offerings to God.  This was well before the life of Moses and the laws that God gave to him, therefore, there was no requirement to give an offering.  In fact, there was not even a precedent for doing so.  Cain and Abel’s offerings were the first ones recorded in the Bible.

For reasons not fully explained, God accepted Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s.  One possible hint is that while Abel’s offering was a choice part of the best that he had, Cain’s gift was merely “some” of what he had.  Another hint is found in the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, where Abel’s faith in giving a better offering is affirmed.  Implicitly, Cain’s faith was lacking.

Regardless, Cain reacted poorly to God’s snub, becoming jealous of Abel and angry, culminating in the premeditated murder of his brother — the world’s first.  However, even after this brutal act, God did not turn his back on Cain.  Although punishment was meted, God also provided Cain with protection.

Cain did an evil thing; however, he was not an evil man.  Despite Cain’s downfall, he was a man who had sought God, giving a gift that was not asked for or required.

[Genesis 4:1-16, Hebrews 11:4]

Cryptic References

The short book of Jude, contains many examples to illuminate the main theme of his letter (concerning ungodly people in the church).  However, some of these illustrations fail to accomplish that goal for us in our world today.  They are more cryptic than clarifying.

The first is in verse 9, where Jude talks about the archangel Michael having a disagreement with the devil about Moses’ body.  Now we may be familiar with the angel Michael; he is mentioned in the book of Daniel and Revelation, but there is no mention in the Bible about him and Satan verbally sparring about Moses.  This verse is actually a reference to an ancient, non-biblical text, called “The Assumption of Moses.”

Similarly, in verse 14, Jude mentions a prophecy of Enoch.  We also know of Enoch from the book of Genesis, but there is no mention of him ever prophesying.  Again, this is a reference to an ancient non-biblical text, “The Book of Enoch.”

Jude was comfortable using examples from these two books because they would have been common knowledge to the people he was writing to.  As such, these familiar references would have helped readers, in that day, better comprehend the points he was making.

That is not to imply that these non-biblical books need to be elevated to the same level as the Bible or used as a viable source for forming our theology.  There were merely communication tools, along the lines of Paul, in his letter to Titus, citing a local poet’s disparaging remarks about his own people of Crete.

While all these references may be confusing to us now, they were clarifying back then.

[Jude 1:9, “Michael” references, Revelation 12:7, Jude 1:14-15, “Enoch” references, Titus 1:12]

Blessed are the Meek

Do you aspire to be meek?  Not likely.  Who would?

When I think of meek, I think of spineless, compliant, and easily imposed upon.

While that is a correct understanding of what it is to be meek, it is also the secondary definition for the word.

The first definition for meek is patient, humble, gentle, and long-suffering.

Even with that perspective, meekness is not a trait that many in our world today desire.

Consider, however, that Moses, the great leader of ancient Israel, was characterized as being meek.  Even more so, Jesus himself claimed to be meek.  Plus, Paul taught that we should all be meek.

Given that Moses and Jesus were meek, and Paul taught it, perhaps we need to give this trait some serious consideration.

After all, Jesus promised that the meek will inherit the earth.

[Numbers 12:3, Matthew 11:29Colossians 3:12, Matthew 5:5]


A Frustrating Verse

There’s a verse in the Bible that frustrates me — not for what it says, but for what it doesn’t say.  Here’s the background:

Jesus dies and rises from the dead, but his followers are slow to catch on.  Two of them are on a road trip and Jesus begins walking with them, but they don’t recognize him.  As they walk, he begins to remind them what the Bible says about the coming savior.  Here’s how Luke tells it:

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”  Luke 24:27

That’s the verse that frustrates me.  It’s good to know that Jesus explained this, but I want to know exactly what he said.

True, there are a finite number of verses in the Old Testament that point to Jesus, so we could study them and reasonably guess at which ones he picked.  But speculating about this leaves me wanting more.  I want to know what verses Jesus used and to hear him explain it.

Anything short of that leaves me wanting more.  And that’s why this verse frustrates me.

[Luke 24:13-32]

How Soon They Forget

So, Moses receives ten commandments from God and teaches them to the people.  God gives other directions and instructions, too, which Moses also passes on.

But the people begin to disregard and then forget what God told them to do.  This displeases him, so eventually he sends a series of wake-up calls, first in the form of judges and later through prophets.  Sometimes a foreign power is used to get their attention.  (There’s nothing like a crisis to send us scurrying back to God.)

This happens gradually, over time, right?  Not necessarily.

Several hundred years after Moses, Nehemiah comes along and reinstates the “festival of booths” — which had not been practiced since the days of Joshua, Moses’ immediate successor.  (It is unclear if it is disregarded fully or partially or if it happens during Joshua’s watch or after, but either way, Joshua drops the ball for not perpetuating it.)

It didn’t take hundreds of years for the festival to be dismissed, but less than one generation.

In only one generation, a people can turn away from God — or turn towards him.

Which way do you want to turn?

[Nehemiah 8:14-17]

Nehemiah’s Omission

In Nehemiah and the Wall, we saw Nehemiah’s great leadership at work, stirring up a passive and floundering people to act, quickly accomplishing what had long been languishing.  He also ushered in numerous reforms and ignited a spiritual revival.

Yet he lacked one thing.  He did not train a replacement.

After leading his people for 12 years, Nehemiah returned to Babylon.  The people quickly forgot all he had taught them and reverted to their old ways.  Specifically:

  • They allowed foreigners access to the temple
  • The Levites were not receiving their assigned portions of food and provision, so they left Jerusalem (effectively, they quit their job)
  • The people were working and trading on the Sabbath
  • The men married foreign wives

These were all prohibited by the Law of Moses, which under Nehemiah’s leadership, the people had agreed to follow.  But he left and they forget.

Although they still enjoyed the physical protection of the city wall that they had rebuilt, they retained little else.  Nehemiah needed to return and straighten them out – again.  Even then, there is no mention that he trained a successor.

Sometimes, even the best of people fail to learn from their mistakes.

[Nehemiah 13]