Saturday, June 4, 2011
Leadership Lessons from Moses (Part 2)
Let us continue with the historical setup for Moses. We are all formed by the things that happen to us, the good, bad and ugly. Those things help make us who we are. And, as we can see in the case of Moses, life's trials and God's intervention helped form Moses into an extraordinary leader.
After the exodus (migration) from Egypt, Moses leads the people to the edge of the Red Sea where God provides another saving miracle by parting the waters and allowing the Hebrews to cross over to the other side, while drowning the Egyptian army (Exodus 14). Moses brings the people to the foot of Mount Sinai where the Law (the Ten Commandments) is given and the covenant is established between God and the newly formed nation of Israel (Exodus 19 - 24).
The rest of the book of Exodus and the entire book of Leviticus take place while the Israelites are encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai.
God gives Moses detailed instructions for the building of the Tabernacle, the traveling tent of worship, all of the worship utensils, and finally the Ark of the Covenant (Indiana Jones). The Ark is representative of God’s presence among His people. God has also gives Moses explicit instructions on how He is to be worshipped.
The book of Numbers shows the Israelites moving from Mount Sinai to the edge of the Promised Land. But, relying on their own strength and understanding instead of God, they refuse to go in without checking it out first. They send twelve spies out, and when ten of twelve bring back a bad report, they do not want to go forward. God condemns the entire generation of Jews to die in the wilderness for their disobedience and subjects them to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.
This is a trip that should have taken them 40 days, and they are stuck here for 40 years!
By the end of the book of Numbers, the next (and new) generation of Israelites is back on the borders of the Promised Land and properly poised to trust God and take the next step by faith.
The book of Deuteronomy shows Moses giving several sermon-type speeches to the people, reminding them of God’s saving power and faithfulness. He gives the second reading of the Law (Deuteronomy 5) and prepares this generation of Israelites to receive the promises of God.
Moses himself is prohibited from entering the Land because of a sinful issue he had back at Meribah (Numbers 20:10-13). At the conclusion of the book of Deuteronomy, we have the record of Moses’ death (Deuteronomy 34). He is taken up on Mount Nebo and is allowed to look at the Promised Land. Moses was 120 years old when he died and the Bible records that his “eye was undimmed and his vigor unabated” (Deuteronomy 34:7).
These are the highpoints and salient features of Moses’ life. What can we learn from all of this?
Moses’ life is broken down into three 40-year periods.
The first was his life in the court of Pharaoh. As the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses would have been given access to all of the advantages and privileges of a prince of Egypt. He was instructed “in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds” (Acts 7:22). As the plight of the Hebrews began to gnaw at his soul, Moses takes it upon himself to be the savior of his people.
From this incident, we learn that Moses was a man of action, as well as a man possessed of a hot temper and prone to rash actions; boy, that sounds a lot like Peter in the New Testament.
Did God want to save his people? Yes.
Did God want to use Moses as his chosen instrument of salvation? Yes.
But Moses was acting rashly and without really thinking. He tried to do things in his own timing what God wanted done in His timing.
The first lesson for us is that we must be acutely aware of not only doing God’s will, but doing God’s will in His timing, not ours. As is the case with many other biblical examples, when we attempt to do God’s will in our timing, we usually make a bigger mess than originally existed.