Moses, the Servant of the Lord

Deuteronomy 34:5  •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 7
(Read Deut. 34:5; Acts 7:20-3620In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months: 21And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. 23And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 29Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. 30And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 34I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 36He brought them out, after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. (Acts 7:20‑36).)
One great principle in all true service is the consciousness of being upheld therein by God.
It was thus with the perfect Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom God spoke thus: "Behold My servant, whom I. uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth." Isa. 42:11Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. (Isaiah 42:1). The grand feature in His service was that He never acted of Himself. He said, "I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which bath sent Me." "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father bath taught Me, I speak these things. And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father bath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him." John 5:30; 8:28, 2930I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30)
28Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:28‑29)
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The moment a servant acts independently, he acts from himself, and out of character. There is great danger of mistaking the busy religious activity around us at the present day for true service to God. I believe that God intends to mark very distinctly what man's natural understanding and power can effect, and what the power and wisdom of the Holy Ghost can effect (Rom. 15:1919Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. (Romans 15:19)).
Whenever we are living before men instead of before God, there will be restlessness and disquiet. There may be the desire to do many things that are written in the Word, but they will not be done in quiet and peaceful joy. We are never really preserved from hypocrisy unless we are living before God. It is the very best possible cure for the overweening conceit we have, all of us, naturally of ourselves.
But let us seek to gather a little instruction from the history of "Moses, the servant of the LORD."
Moses was an eminent type of the Lord Jesus. And I would just notice in passing, that they are the only two persons mentioned in Scripture whose course we are able to trace from their birth on to the glory.
It is worthy of notice that the life of Moses is divided into three distinct periods of forty years.
The first forty, he spent in Egypt as the "son of Pharaoh's daughter."
In the third forty, we have the account of the sorrowful and trying course he had run, as the servant of the Lord and of His people Israel, in bearing the burden of that people.
The first portion of his life was spent in Egypt. And Stephen, in the 7th chapter of Acts, speaks of him as being learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and mighty in words and in deeds (Acts 7:2222And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. (Acts 7:22)). But this wisdom of Egypt was not anything that God could own. Doubtless, Moses knew that God was about to use him as the "deliverer" of His people; but that which had been acquired in Egypt could not deliver the Lord's people from Egypt.
And Moses himself, "by faith... when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward." Heb. 11:24-2624By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. (Hebrews 11:24‑26).
"When he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel." Acts 7:2323And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. (Acts 7:23). Whatever ease and comfort Moses might have enjoyed in Pharaoh's house (its luxury and its refinements, "the treasures in Egypt," were all his) his heart yearned over his brethren. "He went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens." Exod. 2:1111And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. (Exodus 2:11). "And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian." Acts 7:2424And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: (Acts 7:24).
"Mighty in deeds," on behalf, too, of the people of God, but acting in the energy of the flesh, not as sent of God (hence, what followed), Moses was thinking how Moses was to deliver the people. "He supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them." v. 25.
But no, "they understood not," and Moses had another lesson to learn. God had to teach him that He would only be served by the power and strength that come from Himself, not by the strength or wisdom of Egypt. There cannot be two things more different than a person acting in the energy of the flesh, and one acting in the power of the Spirit. In the first case, there is always disappointment and surprise at the failure of our efforts.
When Moses had spent forty years in the wilderness, doing, as it were, nothing, we find him answering God's message, "Come now therefore, and I will send thee," thus: "Who am I that / should go unto Pharaoh, and that / should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" Exod. 3:1111And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11).
When he comes to be sent of God, there is the deep sense of the responsibility of it laid upon him, and he shrinks from it. Before, when going forth in the energy of the flesh, he was bitterly disappointed at the failure he met with; now, he has learned his own insignificance, and he says, "Who am I?"
And it is ever thus. When a saint feels that he is sent of God on any mission, there is prostration of spirit. This may be brought about by painful discipline of soul, but the end of God's training is to break down self-confidence so that when at last the person goes forth in service it is with the feeling, "Who am I?"
One great characteristic of the flesh we have acquired by being so long in "Egypt" is the dislike to say, "Who am I?" But God must produce this frame of mind before He uses us. The most cultivated understanding, human wisdom, and research will not stand in any stead in the service of God.
"And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou didst the Egyptian yesterday?" Acts 7:26-2826And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? (Acts 7:26‑28).
He gets misunderstood by those whom he seeks to serve. When he would be the man of peace, his reward is the taunt, "Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?"
Mark this, beloved. I am speaking of Moses as one knowing, in a sense, what communion with God was, but who had not learned as yet to throw off Egypt's strength and wisdom. We must fail when we go warring at our own charges. Many a saint runs on for a while (just after his conversion, perhaps) in the eagerness and zeal of the flesh, doing right things, but not in the spirit of dependence on God. By-and-by his energy flags, and he feels as though he were entirely useless, as though God could never again employ him in His service.
Now this is a profitable lesson, though a deeply humbling one. The Lord often trains an individual thus for much future usefulness in the Church. It was so with Moses.
"Then Moses fled at this saying. and was a stranger in the land of Madian." v. 29.
These forty years of Moses' life are passed over very slightly by God. No doubt, had man written the history of them, we should have had given to us a wonderful account of all that Moses did and said in the land of wisdom. The Spirit of God is silent as to it all. And why, beloved? Because the wisdom of "Egypt" is foolishness with God, and the strength of "Egypt" is weakness with God.
During the next forty years Moses is lost to Egypt and to Israel. But then he is alone with God. In solitude the Lord meets him at Horeb, "the mountain of God" (Exod. 3:11Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. (Exodus 3:1)). And I doubt not that Horeb (solitude) is thus named because it was a place where Moses had enjoyed communion with God, and where he had learned a lesson which he never could have learned when in Egypt; that is, dependence on God. In secret he was being prepared for all those mighty achievements he was soon to be called on to perform before Pharaoh, and Egypt, and Israel.
It is in solitude that God chiefly teaches His people. The blessed Jesus sought for refreshment on this earth in being alone with God. And this is the place where the saint learns his own weakness and God's strength. He enters into the depths of his own evil, and also into the depths of God's grace. He learns to deny self, to subdue imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:55Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:5)). He proves the necessity of the cross.
"And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them." Exod. 2:23-2523And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them. (Exodus 2:23‑25). "The time of the promise" had at length come, and now we find Moses about to be prepared and sent forth as the "ruler" and "deliverer" of. Israel (Acts 7:17, 3517But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, (Acts 7:17)
35This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. (Acts 7:35)
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One preparation had been forty years passed in solitude, in secret training with God in the wilderness, but there was another thing needful; namely, the manifestation of God's glory. "And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush." v. 30.
There had never been anything like this seen in Egypt. Egypt was not the place for
God to show His "great sight" The wonders of nature were exhibited there, in the periodical inundation of the river and the like. The wonders of art were also there. But here was something that Moses' Egyptian wisdom failed in unraveling. "When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight." v. 31. "The bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." Exod. 3:22And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. (Exodus 3:2).
But unless we have wisdom to understand why the bush was not consumed, we have not the real wisdom of God. It is impossible to see the glory of the living God in Egypt. It is above all human thought or conception. It is something which man has. no power to explain. We may tell people of the sight, but they will not believe us; man's wisdom is at fault.
"And as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying, I am the God of thy _fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold." Acts 7:31, 3231When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. (Acts 7:31‑32).
What must Moses' thoughts have been respecting all the glory of Egypt when he turned aside to see "this great sight?" (Exod. 3:33And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. (Exodus 3:3)). And what would ours be, beloved, with regard to the world, were the eyes always and steadily fixed on the glory? When Moses was engaged in solitarily feeding the flock in the wilderness, there might have been some longings after the glory of Egypt; but these must have ceased when he had this manifestation made to him of the glory of God, "the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
Very often there may be busy activity in service, but not the quiet sitting at the feet of Jesus, drinking in from His lips our knowledge of truth and grace. We much need to realize that we have to do with God, even when we are serving others.
Mark what follows. "I have seen, I have seen the affliction of My people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush." vv. 34, 35.
But God must bring Moses out of Egypt first. He could not make such a communication to him there. It was the bane of Abraham to get into Egypt. He had no altar there. And so it is with us. When we get into the world it is the same thing. We cannot have our altar. Communion with God is interrupted.
In the first place God reveals His name: "I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham," etc. v. 32. Second, His grace: "I have seen, I have seen the affliction of My people," etc. v. 34. How blessed to be assured that there is not one sorrow of His people, not one groan, but He knows it altogether.
Then God gives the formal commission: "And now come, I WILL SEND THEE into Egypt."
"And Moses said unto God, Who am I?" Exod. 3:1111And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11). After he had worshiped God as an unshod worshiper, there was a shrinking from that which God laid on him to do, though, forty years before, he had been most eager to enter upon the same sort of service. It is a most solemn thing to have to do with serving the people of God. The responsibility involved is that under which we must sink if left to ourselves.
Moses now knew that he that would serve Israel must have a great deal of shame and reproach to encounter. Hence the need of the training through which he had been put. So with regard to service in the Church. If Paul is "a chosen vessel" to bear Christ's name "before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel," the Lord, in making this known to Ananias, says, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:15, 1615But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (Acts 9:15‑16)). And what was Paul's after-experience? "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches," etc. Again, "I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved." 2 Cor. 12:10, 1510Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
15And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. (2 Corinthians 12:15)
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Paul had the flesh crushed at the outset; crushed again after he had been taken up into the third heaven; crushed all the way through. In service, he never went on in the energy of the flesh, but as one who knew that it must be endurance to the very end (2 Tim. 2:1010Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:10)).
The preparation for active service is in secret with God, in learning ourselves in communion with Him. There the battle is really fought. Power for active service is acquired, not in active service, but in intercourse with God in secret.
The place of the servant of God is to hide himself and let God appear. Thus it was with the perfect Servant, our Lord Jesus. The most splendid achievement, without this, is not true service to God.
You may check your answers with those given on page 218.
Who kindled a fire because of cold and rain?
Who said, "There is a sound of abundance of rain"? 3. Who said that it thundered when they did not understand the sounds they heard?