JAC Online

Moses and Spreading the Presence of God
Over the Face of the Earth

by Major Stephen Court

 

Exodus 4:29-31 “Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshipped.”

 

The Egyptian Pharaoh Amenophis IV devoted himself to the sun god Aten, whom he proclaimed the only god (William Sanford LaSor, David Allan Hubbard, Frederic William Bush, OLD TESTAMENT SURVEY. 1982. p118). You'll note that the Egyptian first-born were killed at midnight, and that Moses and the people of God left Egypt at night, when Aten must have been sleeping (Exodus 12:29,31- Seriously, this was a direct power encounter that Yahweh won, ‘going away’). Of course, such monotheistic devotion really cut into the Egyptian idol trade, not to mention the priest and priestess professions, and so, sooner that you can say King Tut, the Egyptians returned to their extensive pantheon represented by animals such as the bull, cow, vulture, hawk, crocodile, ape, falcon, frog, serpent, and cat (Henry H. Halley. HALLEY'S BIBLE HANDBOOK, 1965, p111). And, eventually, the Pharaohs were deified as the incarnation of the god, Ra.

 

It is probably Ramses II, Yul Brynner’s half brother of Charlton Heston’s Moses, who reigned as Ra-in-the-flesh during the great Egyptian Deliverance. Talk about sibling rivalry! Of course, the revival involved the People of Yahweh, not the Egyptians, and as Hebrew hearts were transformed, you can be sure that the face of the earth (that empire certainly) was changed. Revival revolutionizes society.

 

About this pharaoh, who is deemed, and whose god is deemed, so insignificant in Scripture as to remain unnamed- his name, extracted from archeology, is a combination of his god Ra and Moses. In Hebrew these two words meant ‘evil’ and ‘to bring forth’, so, to the people of Yahweh, pharaoh was, ‘he who brings forth evil’ (Thomas Cahill, THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS. 1998. p114,115). He was the parallel universe evil counterpart to Moses. Just in case you are overlooking the subtle nuances and dynamics of the interaction, let me spell it out for you: this is God’s deliverer, Moses, against Ramses.

 

From a human standpoint, Ramses had to be the heavy betting favourite.  I mean, he was a ‘god’!  He enjoyed complete dictator status over the resources of an empire.  He’d benefited from the very best that human culture and riches and education had to offer.  On the other side we have Moses.  This is a guy who was fostered out in early childhood and then stolen.  He was a trafficking victim – forcibly brought up in an alien culture and language and religion; abused in early life and likely suffering from marginalization throughout the first third of his life.  He was also a wanted criminal, ‘on the lam’ for a generation hiding in self-imposed exile.  During that third of his life, he engaged in menial, humble, physical labour.  However sketchy your history, Moses might be able to relate.  None of that biography DISqualified him from serving God effectually.

 

But don’t be deceived – this was really about God v god!

 

And Ramses’ god was no match for Moses’ God. No wonder THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and THE PRINCE OF EGYPT were such enormous theatrical smashes! This episode contains all the intrigue and drama of a ‘whodunnit’ soap opera, combined with the supernatural mystery of horror and sci-fi genres, laced with the archetypical good v. evil storyline. Moses, the wilderness shepherding leader of the slave revolt takes on his arch nemesis Ramses, ruler of the empire. Mano a mano. God v. god.

 

Moses, the Egyptianized Hebrew exile, who had settled for an anonymous existence as a shepherd in the desert, returned to his hometown ready to conquer the world. He’d encountered the God-of-the-Burning-Bush, who’d majestically dismissed his excuses against the mission for which he was being commissioned. This God was a potent God, who could burn in your heart and not consume you (Thomas Cahill, THE GIFTS OF THE JEWS. 1998. p105ff). This is a God who didn’t blink at the power of gods and who was willing to make Moses as a god to pharaoh, to demonstrate His glory through Moses. What a confidence builder!

 

And, on the way to his destiny, God reveals Himself to Moses as He revealed Himself to Abraham earlier, as the God of Covenant. It took the quick thinking Zipporah, Moses’ wife, and an even quicker flint knife to circumcise her son and touch the blood to Moses’ uncircumcised ‘feet’ (Exodus 4:25) and to bring the family into covenant relationship with Yahweh and spare her husband’s life.

 

Such experiences can produce perspective for an ambassador of God! His heart had been transformed, and he went directly for the hearts of his people.

 

“Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshipped.” (Exodus 4:29-31)

 

Not to get too technical, but the whole episode breaks down cleanly into eight clean components:

 

1. Moses encountered a God who saw the misery, heard the cries, and was concerned with the sufferings of His people (Exodus 3:7). This is a theme for God through to millennium three.

 

Many of us hear about the God of encounters but not as many of us encounter the God who hears.  We are not meant to be practical atheists who, though we assent to orthodox Christian doctrines, travel through our daily schedule as if God doesn’t exist.  Nor are we to ascribe to the existence of some faraway, disinterested creator who is not engaged in our own doubts and desperations.

 

- Moses encounters the God who HEARS.

 

2. This burning bush encounter burned through Moses’ heart. A personal, life-altering experience with God removes the necessity of leaning only on the faith of our fathers and mothers.

 

Have you had that kind of burning bush transformation?  In our days, we talk in terms of entire sanctification.  Has Holy Spirit neutralized your natural inclination to act selfishly and filled your heart and soul?  Here’s another Old Testament testimony of it, from Jeremiah: “Your message is like a fire burning deep within me.  I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back.” (Jeremiah 20:9 Good News Translation)  Where God lands, God expands!

 

- Yahweh transforms the one who FEARS.

 

3. Moses became acquainted with God’s power. The God we read about in the Bible comes alive for us, today.

 

Have you experienced God in power?  I was at a Salvation Army meeting this past week in which people were prophesying over people, praying for healing, pressing in for deliverance, consecrating for sanctification… Jesus promises: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.””

 

- Become acquainted with the God of power & be equipped with the power of God.

 

4. He was commissioned. There was no questioning, in the words of an old southern preacher man: ‘Was you sent, or did you just went?’ God’s anointing attends God’s commission.

 

Even Paul made sure he remained within God’s limits for him (2 Corinthians 10:13-14):

13We, on the other hand, will not boast beyond our legitimate province and proper limit, but will keep within the limits [of our commission which] God has allotted us as our measuring line and which reaches and includes even you.

    14For we are not overstepping the limits of our province and stretching beyond our ability to reach, as though we reached not (had no legitimate mission) to you, for we were [the very first] to come even as far as to you with the good news (the Gospel) of Christ.

 

- Unction accompanies sanction.

 

5. And he entered covenant. God’s modus operandi seems to include committed relationship.  One classic Old Testament example of this is the Rechabites (you can read their story in Jeremiah 35).  Jeremiah (to the Rechabites): 18-19 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, has this message for you and your families: “Because you obeyed your ancestor Jonadab and faithfully followed his instructions for all these years, I promise that Jonadab (son of Rechab) will always have descendants who serve Me.”

 

- ‘You can’t earn God’s love, but you can earn His trust’. (Captain Rob Dolby)

 

6. Obediently, Moses took this revelation to the people, and proclamation was accompanied with demonstration. God wants to sell us the entire package.  John highlights Jesus’ intent in His wonder-working, world-winning campaign: 20:30Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

 

- In obedience, proclamation is to be accompanied by demonstration.

 

7. The result is genuflection. The proper response to the presence of God is for people bend the knee and worship God.  But some people get this wrong.  Peter is infamous for denying Christ, initially botching the whole Gentile issue, and a few other things, but most people overlook his miscue on this important topic.  Jesus demonstrates His supernatural power in Luke 5 and Peter gets the genuflection only HALF right – he falls down before Jesus but he doesn’t worship: “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”” (Luke 5:8).  In contrast, just a few verses later, is the leper who properly genuflects (v12).

 

- Conclusion? Genuflection.

 

8. The Egyptian Deliverance revolutionized society. Slaves were freed. Idols were toppled. Evil systems were dismantled. Economic imbalances were corrected (Exodus 12:35,36). Frogs were piled. History was altered. God was glorified.

 

This Salvation Army, this revolutionary movement of covenanted warriors exercising holy passion to win the world for Jesus, is aimed at turning the whole planet upside down!  In Jesus’ words (Mat 28:18-20): “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Or, in the foundational prophecy of Catherine Booth, given at the farewell meeting in 1880 of Captain Emma Westbrook, along with six soldiers – Rachel Evans, Clara Price, Mary Ann Coleman, Elizabeth Pearson, Annie Shaw, Emma Eliza Florence Morris, and Commissioner George Scott Railton to invade USA;

 

“The decree has gone forth that the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ and that He shall reign whose right it is from the River to the ends of the earth.  We shall win.  It is only a question of time.  I believe that this movement shall inaugurate the final conquest of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

- How do we characterize this goal?  Win The World For Jesus.

 

Questions for discussion

. in what ways are you, as Moses, a prophetic act? (and in what ways is The Salvation Army a prophetic act?)

 

. what is about God's character and ways that He reveals in His interactions with Moses that you'd like to see manifest in your life?

 

Number 8 deserves some elaboration. God not only turned over the Egyptian slave system and freed His people. Very shortly thereafter He blessed them with the written code, the Ten Commandments and the Law. We’re talking about a meandering tribe, fresh out of the shackles of bondage, gifting the world with the basis for civil government!

 

Think about this for a moment.

- Humans figured that you could work your servant 7 days a week. God said ‘six’. In fact, “the reason given in Deuteronomy (5:15) for remembering the Sabbath is that our ancestors in Egypt went 400 years without a vacation” (Eugene Peterson, “The Pastor’s Sabbath, “ LEADERSHIP. 1985. Spring Quarter. P54).

- Humans figured that you could hate your enemies. God said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

- Humans always look to increase their personal pantheon of idols. God said, “have no other gods before Me” (Deuteronomy 5:7). Invisible slaves became people people.  This is huge.  Ralph Neighbour Jr. talks about three categories of people: landscape people (the extras in the movie of our lives), machine people (the person who serves your specialty coffee in the morning, who drives your bus to work, etc.), and people people (who you know and love by name).  We added a fourth category – invisible people.  Do you see this?  God’s big idea here is that Invisible People Are People People.

Enthused by God, this puny little people establishes the basis for western civilization!

- Is it too much to see the partial fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham to bless the nations through him?

- Is it too much to perceive the Egyptian Deliverance as the prototype of revival?

- To see in it the plumb line for measuring every revival since?

- To see it as the root, the archetype of what God will do throughout the rest of history? If it is the root, the radical basis of revival, it becomes a model for understanding societal upheaval in response to the moves of God. This granddaddy of them all becomes a standard for us today, because, as the Egyptian deliverance attests, the face of the earth is changed as the hearts of its people are transformed.

 

Summing up the components of the spread of the presence of God over the face of the earth?

 

1. - Moses encounters the God who HEARS.

 

2. - Yahweh transforms the one who FEARS.

 

3. - Become acquainted with the God of power & be equipped with the power of God.

 

4. - Unction accompanies sanction.

 

5. - ‘You can’t earn God’s love, but you can earn His trust’. (Captain Rob Dolby)

 

6. - In obedience, proclamation is to be accompanied by demonstration.

 

7. - Conclusion? Genuflection.

 

8. - How do we characterize this goal?  Win The World For Jesus.

 

What did Moses learn in the wilderness?  Here are a few things:

. He got to know God on a first name basis (literally – Yahweh!).  Have you?

. He got to understand God’s perspective on things (long-term / global).  Have you?

. He took on responsibility (family and sheep).  Have you?

. He got to know family (Jethro’s).  Have you?

. What do you think was essential in Moses’ life to prepare him for his leadership of the people of God? (and what do you think is essential in your life to prepare you for your leadership of the people of God?) Discuss among yourselves…

 

Moses didn’t pick up all this stuff magically.  Through the Bible followers of God engage in relationships intended to replicate themselves spiritually in the lives of others.  In the Old Testament these relationships are sometimes more informal than in the New, and than we prefer today.

 

Here are some examples, along with a quick take on them…

 

Exodus 16-19 Jethro disciples Moses disciples Joshua and Caleb / etc.

 

Half the people Moses discipled failed at some point: Aaron, Miriam, Nadab, Abihu.  No one is perfect (in the ‘Latin’ sense).

 

Jethro sorted Moses.

 

Moses seems to have done great with Joshua and Caleb.

 

Maybe the key relationship is between intention and effectiveness.

 

2 Kings 1-17 Elijah disciples Elisha disciples Gehazi and the school of the prophets.

 

the King / Gehazi (Elisha’s) failed.

 

Elijah succeeded with Elisha.  Elisha succeeded – to some extent [we’re still talking about it] with school of the prophets.

 

Again, maybe the key relationship is between intention and effectiveness.

 

Colossians 4 Paul disciples Epaphras and School of Tyrannus and Tychicus and Aristarchus / Onesimus / Demas.

 

Demas failed.

 

Paul succeeded the rest.

 

Maybe the key relationship is between intention and effectiveness.

 

Ezekiel 16-19 Nathan and Samuel disciple David ‘disciples’ Ahathophez / Mighty men and Joab and Jonathan and Adonijah and Absolom and Solomon

 

Some mixed results.

 

Hilkiah disciples Josiah and Jeremiah…

Well done, Hilkiah.

 

Acts 16 Paul and Silas disciple Lydia disciples her household.

 

1 Samuel 7 Eli disciples Samuel and Eli’s sons.

He fails with his sons but Samuel came through with flying colours.

 

2 Tim 2:2 Paul > Timothy > reliable people > others

 

1 Samuel 7 Samuel disciples Saul, David, Phineas – Saul failed.

 

But he succeeded with the others (failed with a couple of his sons, too).

 

Matthew 10:2,3 Jesus disciples Simon, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddaues, Simon, and Judas.

 

He failed with Judas.  And Peter had a bad season, too, but pulled out of it. 

 

It is interesting that blood relationship discipling relationships have a bad biblical record. 

 

And being intentional seems to help.

 

We’re meant to make disciples. 

 

And the multiplication mandate of 2 Timothy 2:2 is crucial for our warfighting - And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

 

In these days we’re raising up people who aim at multiplying multiplying disciples multiplying multiplying bases. 

 

Replicating what? Holiness, covenant, spiritual disciplines, zeal, evangelism, prayer, worship, anointing…

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

   

 

 

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