Pastor Bernie's study guide #2. Moses: God's appointed Servant Leader.

November 6, 2015 | by: Renette de Beer | 0 comments

Posted in: Bible Study Tags: Moses, Leadership, God's Will

Community CRC - L.A.F.F. - 2015 -2016 - study guide #2

Moses: God's Appointed Servant Leader

(Please read Exodus 2:11-25; Acts 7:21-29)

Summary: God's will, what God expects of us, can most frequently be clearly known. The 10 commandments are a case in point. Other expectations that God has of us can be discovered as we read the Bible - for example, Micah 6:8 "what does the Lord require of us? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.". But discovering these expectations is easier than living them. Problems arise when we use human methods and planning to achieve God's goals. God's goals are to be achieved God's way. Moses discovered this lesson as God prepared him for his calling to be Israel's leader.

Life in Egypt (Exodus 2:10; Acts 7:21-22)

When Moses was discovered, in the floating basket, by Pharaoh's daughter, she unknowingly, by sister Miriam's advice, turned him over to his own mother for his care in the first 3-4 years of his life (Exodus 2:5-8). After weaning him, Moses' mother surrendered her son to Pharaoh's daughter "and he became her son (Exodus 2:10a). For the next 40 years, Moses, the Hebrew, lived in the royal palace, as an Egyptian.

1. He was given a new name - "Moses" - an Egyptian name. It has associations with Egyptian pharaohs Thutmose and Ramses. Pharaoh's daughter was going to make a good Egyptian of him.

2. Nurtured in the royal court. (Acts 7:21) We are told in Acts 7:21 that Pharaoh's daughter "nurtured him as her own son." The word "nurture" means "to educate, to rear". As a son of the royal family, Moses would have been raised a prince...luxurious rooms, educated in royal manners and customs, Egyptian culture and religion, etc. He could have been groomed to become the next Pharaoh.

3. Educated in Egyptian schools (Acts 7:22a) Again, in Acts we are told that Moses, as a member of the royal family, was educated in "the wisdom of the Egyptians". Education was the domain of priests and Moses would be educated in theology, astronomy, medicine, mathematics, etc, everything possible to know in the civilized world of that time.

4. Highly respected in Egypt. (Acts 7:22b) Again, in Acts we are told that Moses, by the time of his fortieth birthday, was regarded as "powerful in speech and action". He was someone with a well-respected reputation. One Bible scholar thinks Moses may have been a powerful general in the army of Pharaoh that defeated the Nubians (in the region of southern Egypt- northern Sudan).

Doing God's will - but not God's Way (Exodus 2:11-15a; Acts 7:23-29)

The passage in Acts (Stephen's speech) tells us Moses had the conviction that the Hebrews had to be rescued, and that he was the one to do it. He murdered an Egyptian mistreating a fellow Hebrew. Moses had the thought that his Hebrew people would see him as a Rescuer/Redeemer.

1. A man of human action. Acts 7:23 tells us Moses nearing 40 years of age, decided on his own

to visit his fellow Israelites. It seems he wasn't living among them. He sprang into impulsive action when he saw injustice. Apparently, Moses had a fiery temper. The Exodus account of this incident tells us "he looked this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian" (Exodus 2:11-12). Evidently, Moses was aware that murdering the Egyptian could result in consequences for him. Human impulsive action, not seeking God's wisdom and direction, resulted in cold-blooded, murder. Covering up the evidence in the sand won't hide this terrible deed - God sees, and the word got out to many.

2. The fall-out of this human sin. (Exodus 2:13-14; Acts 7:25-29a) We are told in Acts that the Hebrews "did not realize" what Moses was trying to accomplish - becoming the rescuer of God's people. The next day, Moses went out again and saw two Hebrews fighting. Moses intervened, but the aggressor pushed Moses aside and challenged him "who made you ruler and judge over us?". Moses would become "ruler and judge" in another 40 years, and not by human strength and cunning. When the man asked Moses "do you plan to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?", Moses realized the word was out and he became afraid (Exodus 2:14b). Exodus 2:15 tells us Pharaoh heard the news, so he wanted Moses dead. So, Moses, in his fortieth year had to flee for his life - to Midian - a region around the Red Sea-Gulf of Aqaba. Here in the school of the desert, for the next forty years, Moses was schooled in the ways and timing of God. Exodus 2:15 ends on a phrase filled with promise: "...he sat down by a well."

The Desert: God's preparatory school for leadership.

The phrase "...he sat down by a well"... (in the Midian desert) hints that something hopeful is going to come in this desert time. Think of Abraham's servant (Genesis 24) and Jesus at the well (John 4). Moses would become God's appointed servant "ruler and judge", eventually. The desert would become the school to unlearn the "ways of Egypt", and relearn the way and will of God. Forty years it would take for Moses to discover the strength of humility, patience, waiting on God and being Spirit-led. Psalm 119:71 tells us that being afflicted is a way of learning God's "statutes" or His will. From the palaces of Egypt, highly respected, "powerful in speech and action", to the sands of the desert, tending sheep day and night, would be an affliction, for sure. But Moses gained a teachable spirit.

Lessons in Leadership (Exodus 2:16-25)

Did Moses learn from his sin of murder and running ahead of God in wanting to be Israel's rescuer-redeemer? Evidently he did. Sitting by the well introduced him to the new life and new lifestyle he would have for the next forty years.

1. His sense of justice was tempered with a servant attitude. (Exodus 2:16-17)

When seven women showed up to water their father's flock....and were driven away by male shepherds, Moses, the man who could have become a Pharaoh in Egypt, rose to their defense and watered their flock.

2. He traded royal palace and privileges for a shepherd's tent. (Exodus 2:18-21, 3:1)

When the women (the daughters of Jethro, also known as Ruel) arrived home, their father was surprised to see them early. They answered that an Egyptian had come to their aid against the other shepherds and had even watered their flock. Jethro insisted that Moses be invited into the family circle, marrying one of the girls, Zipporah. They have a son fairly soon it seems. Moses names him Gershom (which means "an alien there"). Moses is effectively cut off from Egypt, by his own impression "an alien" in Midian. Moses is on the way to being well-established as a "Midianite". Egypt no longer beckons, and perhaps he now no longer gives thought to his fellow Hebrews, in slavery there. From a palace to a shepherd's tent - for 40 years.

In Deuteronomy 8:2,5 Moses speaks to the Israelites concerning their desert wanderings...and he was likely thinking back about his own time in Midian. He says "remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these 40 years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands....know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you."

3. God does not forget His promise or His plan. (Exodus 2:23-25)

The final verses of Exodus 2 paint a bleak and discouraging picture. God's people were in severe slavery,

Moses was out of the country. There seemed to be no hope of salvation. There was no human helper. But God saw His people in distress, He heard their cry for redemption. Verse 25 tells us that God sees His people and in the fullness of time, He will come to their aid. His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - Israel's forefathers - still stands.

Three Timeless Lessons

1. God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick. Moses is a flawed character, impetuous, with a fiery temper, perhaps with an inflated sense of what his calling was. Yet God would not forsake his servant. He had to be refined, as gold is refined by fire, if he was to become Israel's redeemer.

2. Experiencing failure - God's discipline - can promote an obedient, teachable spirit. Psalm 119:67, 71 tell us that "affliction" can have a healing, restorative effect. Hebrews 12:7-13 counsels us with similar advice.

3. When "in the desert", stop, look, listen - God is there. The common sense of hard, difficult times is that they are empty, devoid of life. Not so. Psalm 139 reminds us no matter where we go, God is there. God has His people there too - consider Jethro.

Points to Ponder

1. Can you think of other bible characters who were refined "in the desert"? What lessons did they learn?

2. Can you think how some present day folk react to affliction or desert experiences?

3. What consolations can be offered to people, family, friends, as they walk through their desert?