EXAMPLES FROM THE PAST
By Orville Freestone
MOSES – HE CHOSE TO SUFFER
Moses chose to suffer with the people of God
– Heb. 11:25
When Moses was born, the Israelites were an oppressed and enslaved people. Pharaoh ordered that all the male babies of the Hebrews be killed, thus beginning the many attempts at the destruction of this people, the first such “genocide.” (Exodus chapter 2) The importance of Moses cannot be overestimated. After three thousand five hundred years his influence is strong in Judaism, Christianity and western civilization.
Moses was a fully bi-cultural man. From his Hebrew mother he learned his “mother tongue” and faith. As “the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” he “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and deeds.” (Acts 7:22) What were his accomplishments as an Egyptian prince is not told. We can safely venture that it included both military and government careers. Theses were abilities that he later used in leading Israel. As to his character, we see that he had compassion for the oppressed. (Exodus 2) In Numbers 12:3 we read a parenthetic statement, probably inserted later by another, that “the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” This is the account of the first third of Moses’ life.
At the age of forty he had a “mid-life crisis.” How could he, a Hebrew, separate himself from his own people and their suffering. But though he would identity with his people, they would not accept him. Thus, “by faith” he spent the next forty years as an exile. The first forty years of his life were determined for him by Providence. The rest of his life was determined by his decisions!
We read (Heb. 11:24-28) of his decisions of faith. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” He “esteemed the reproach of Christ of greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” He “had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” He “forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king.” These five decisions not only determined Moses’ future, but also equipped him for the future. Not a lot is told about his life on the “backside of the desert.” (Exodus 3:1) Away from the pomp and glitter of Egypt God could talk to him. Like Paul, he knew how to be abased as will as how to abound – Phil. 4:12. As a result, he “saw Him who is invisible.”
The final third of Moses’ life was spent leading his people from Egypt to Canaan, from bondage to freedom. It took thirty days to take Israel out of Egypt, but forty years to take Egypt out of Israel! He is forever known as the great Lawgiver. The Torah was the legacy he left to Israel. The word Torah means much more than law. It is true that the New Testament phrase “the Law” usually means what the word law means to us and refers to the 613 commandments of the Torah. In Hebrew the word Torah means instruction. It also means the Word of God. (Psalm 119:21). The Torah was a great revelation of God to Israel, leading them to the revelation of God in Christ. (Gal. 3:24). Moses is an example to us of the power of our decisions. Every persons life is the sum total of all one’s decisions.