Faith of Moses - Moses and prevailing faith

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Bible Studies on the Real Heroes of the Faith Hebrews 11

Faith of Moses - Moses and prevailing faith

by I Gordon

We looked last time at Moses in the second and middle 40 year period of his life while he lived in isolation, shepherding sheep down in Midian. We saw that God works in the lives of each of His children, moulding the vessel to be fit for His use. We also saw that we have a role in this not fighting back. We called this 'the school of God' and Moses was definitely enrolled. In fact we saw that each son and daughter of God is automatically enrolled in this school where the classes are specifically hand-picked by God. The passage before us today moves on to the big event in Moses' last 40 years of life - the exodus. It speaks specifically of three important times when faith prevailed:

  1. In leaving Egypt without fearing the king and might of Egypt
  2. In obeying and keeping the Passover, thus experiencing salvation from the angel of death
  3. In passing through the Red Sea as the waters were walled up around them.

They are all areas where fear could have taken over... but faith prevailed. As I starting thinking about the Exodus in general, I kept thinking about the different 'layers' that there are in God's word. Whatever God's hand has made, there is a wonder, a creativity and depth to it that can boggle the mind. This applies to both creation and His word. Take whatever aspect you want... if you drill down into it you'll find it to be incredibly detailed and complex showing one incredible mind behind it!

An example from a little Ant!

 What's God's hand has made or written is always startling, always shows His glory and eternal power and divine nature. Let me give you one example from creation before looking at the layers of God's word in the Exodus. Let's look at something very small - the ant!  [1]  Here are some quotes from one article:

 'A functioning colony of ants may contain millions and millions of ants and some colonies may be as big as a house.... How big in size is an ant brain do you think? (It's about the size of a pin point.) But amazing things are going on inside there. Researchers have concluded they are doing math as complicated as the programmers who built the Internet... The algorithm (being used by ants) relates at least three critical variables: the rate of outgoing foragers, the amount that the rate increases with each returning ant, and the amount that the rate decreases with each outgoing ant. Researchers discovered that this ant algorithm closely matches the one that programmers wrote to regulate Internet traffic...Ant colonies of necessity have incredible systems to function as they do with effectiveness and efficiency. All the food coming in and being stored and used up needs to be accounted for, measured constantly, and maintained. There are systems for heating and cooling the food, systems for disposal of wastes, systems for hygiene and disposal of dead ants, systems for caring for eggs and the newborn, systems for protection and survival in case of floods or invasions... Scientists believe ants have a sophisticated guidance system like GPS and also that they are able to count and remember how many steps they have taken away from the nest so that they can return. - 'Distances travelled are measured using an internal pedometer that keeps count of the steps taken and also by evaluating the movement of objects in their visual field (optical flow). Directions are measured using the position of the sun. They integrate this information to find the shortest route back to their nest... Some species of ant are able to use the Earth's magnetic field for navigation.'  [2]  

So in short, Ants have an inbuilt GPS system, an internal pedometer counting their steps and they monitor the position of the sun and earth's magnetic fields. This is all combined to navigate and find the shortest route home. While back at the colony you have a room full of nerd ants, sitting around, solving maths problems and using similar algorithms as humans devised to monitor network and internet traffic (or thought they devised!), so that the storage and flow of food is maintained perfectly for the millions of colony inhabitants. All of this in a brain the size of pin point. Is it just me or are others feeling a little bit inadequate? My 'friends' will be all too quick to point out that I definitely have no internal GPS system, my internal pedometer probably doesn't get past double figures, and I often take the longest route home. So if anyone calls you an ant-brain, well, thank them very much for it is quite the compliment! Oh, and by the way - when an outgoing ant meets an incoming ant and they touch they aren't saying 'Hey, how's your day going? And how's Wilma? And the kids? Are they well?' No... they are passing little chemical and pheromone signals to each other that relays information.

So what does this have to do with Moses and the exodus? Well, not a lot... at least on the surface but the laboured point is this - whenever we take the time to get our magnifying glass out  [3]  and zero in on what God has done we find it to be marvellous and incredibly detailed, filled with divine thought and creativity. That goes for any part of creation, but also His word. Behind the word of God is a thought process that is, quite literally, out of this world. It has layer upon layer upon layer. God is the greatest historian. He is also the greatest physicist. He is the greatest artist. He is the greatest mathematician. He is the greatest writer and story teller. God's word has layer upon layer - far more than we can ever see. So when we come to the story of the Exodus, different people would see different things. The historian would focus on the history. I have an interesting DVD at home called 'Patterns of Evidence: Exodus' which examines historical and archaeological evidence to examine the validity of the Exodus account. The theologian might look at what it reveals about God and His relationship with man. Those interested in the Messiah Jesus would remember that on the road to Emmaus Jesus opened up the Old Testament, starting with Moses, to reveal Himself in all the scriptures. Those into Bible prophecy know that the Hebrew idea of prophecy is repeated patterns that occur over and over until their ultimate fulfilment. They also know that major historical events, like the Exodus, teach us something about the end. And of course, we should always ask 'what can I personally take from this for my life?' So let's look at the exodus with the prophetic, Messianic and personal aspects in mind. It will be a high level overview of the first two (but hopefully enough to whet your appetite to think more about it) and then focus a little more on the last aspect - the personal meaning.

One layer: The Prophetic Element

Let me tell you one version of the Exodus story. Though royalty, Moses identified with his people, the Israelites, in their bondage and slavery and went out to see them and to deliver them (Ex 2:11). But they didn't recognise him or his authority and rejected him saying 'who made you a judge and ruler over us?' (Ex 2:14). Upon his rejection, Moses left Egypt and his people Israel, going to Midian where he took a Gentile bride. (Ex 2:21) He was there for a long time... 40 years. During that time a new Pharoah ruled over Egypt and the pressure and hardship upon the Israelites became great. Great enough for them to cry out to God and the Lord, the God of Israel heard their cries and remembered the covenant that He made with them through their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Ex 2:23-25)

Hopefully you see where I am going with this. Remember how we said earlier that God's word has layers? It isn't just a historical story though a true and accurate account of history it is. But it is more than that. God's wisdom and knowledge is such that He actually desires to teach us future events as well as the historical story. Let's unwrap it. Moses, the deliverer, is a picture of Jesus the true deliverer. Just as Moses was royalty who came down from the palace to identify with his people in bondage, so Jesus, though God, humbled Himself and came down to identify with and deliver His people (Phil 2:5-8). But like Moses He was rejected by His people, the Israelites. Jesus, like Moses, then took a Gentile bride.

Exodus 2:23-25 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. (24) God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. (25) So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

This is where we are in history right now... we in verse 23 prophetically speaking. We are at the end of the church age and just before God deals specifically with the nation of Israel once again. And just as a new king arose in the time of Moses who oppressed Israel before their deliverance, so a new king, the Antichrist, will arise who will rule through oppression in the last days. But look at verse 24 - during this time God will hear Israel's groans once again. And He will remember His covenant with Israel, and He will set about to save them once again. So what happens next in the Exodus story? God sends Moses back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites. He uses various plagues and judgements upon Egypt which prefigure the seal, trumpet and bowl judgements that come upon the world at the end of this age. Instead of bringing repentance, these plagues hardened the king of Egypt just as it will in the last days. But deliverance for the Israelites came through faith in the blood of the Passover lamb. This is a type pointing to Israel's salvation in the future. They have to see and believe in the true Passover lamb - the Lord Jesus. But total deliverance didn't come until the Red Sea. In the time of the Exodus God allowed the Israelites to come to a total dead end... The sea blocked their way in front, the Egyptian army blocked their exit behind, there was nowhere for them to go. It was at this time that Moses said to them 'stand still and see the salvation of God'. (Exod 14:13). The word 'salvation' there is 'Yeshua' - Jesus' name. God led them into a dead end with nowhere to go, with the might of the Egyptian army about to destroy them, so that they could see the 'Yeshua of God'. And save them He did. Prophetically it will all happen again. All the nations of the world will come against Israel in the last days the prophet Zechariah said (Zech 12:3). It will be an absolute dead end again for the nation of Israel. They will have nowhere to turn but to the lamb of God and once again, in a miracle of miracles, they will see, quite literally, the Yeshua of God and be saved! (Zech 12:10). That is one layer of this story.

Another layer: The timing of events in the week of the cross 

We don't have time to go into detail but the Messiah's first coming is another layer in this passage. We see that God specifically told the Israelites to take a spotless lamb on the 10th day of the month of Nisan. Four days later, on the 14th they had to kill this lamb at twilight to be free from the angel of death. The Bible indicates that they arrived and went through the Red Sea on the 17th. Now if you know the last week of Jesus' life leading up to the cross and resurrection, you know these are the specific dates that He fulfilled. He rode on a donkey into Jerusalem on the 10th Nisan - Palm Sunday - The very day that the Jews had to select a spotless lamb as their sacrifice. On the 14th Nisan Jesus was crucified and died at 3pm - the time that the Jews began killing their lambs. And the 17th Nisan, when Israel passed through the Red Sea (signifying resurrection) is the day that Jesus rose from the dead on resurrection Sunday.

Another layer: The place of faith in the Christian's walk 

Moving into the personal... what does this story mean for us? Let's peel off one layer and look at the next. The same concepts that were shown historically and will be played out prophetically, also apply personally. While we are in this life, we are in the same battle and journey as Israel was in. We have the same need to see the 'Yeshua of God', the salvation of God, in the different needs of this life as they did and will. We need to be able to see the invisible. Let's read that passage in Hebrews again and note some different aspects of faith.

Faith for perseverance

Hebrews 11:27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

Firstly, by faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger. Now Moses hadn't always been free from fear. When God first instructed him in the assignment Moses said 'Eeek... argh, I know... how about someone else?' But faith overcame fear and he persevered through trying times and many years, because he was able to see Him who is invisible. So here is a pretty simple statement we could say from this:  'The greater your ability to see Him who is invisible, the greater your ability to persevere in the face of opposition.' 

Firstly, we have an opposition. We have an enemy. The king in this passage is a type of Satan who doesn't want anyone leaving his rule and kingdom. He is angry and he actively works to blind, discourage and oppose any who seek to leave their place of slavery. I've been a Christian long enough, and many of you have as well, to have seen people who started out in this Christian journey who have slowly slipped back. Why? Sometimes it is because the Christian walk is not an easy one. Sometimes the lure of Egypt draws them back. Both of those were very real concerns in the exodus in the time of Moses. But often it is a slow deterioration in their spiritual eye sight. The vision of God becomes a little hazy, then cloudy, and finally is replaced by 101 things that are deemed more important. What about Moses? He left Egypt and he didn't go back. He preserved through faith, not fearing the king or the opposition, because he was able to see Him who is invisible. This is the exact same message that the well loved 2 Cor 4:17-18 speaks of  : 'Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.'  Let me say it again - Your ability to persevere, and persevere well, are related to your ability to see the invisible. 'Stupidity!' the atheist will say. 'How idiotic to trust in something you cannot see!' But to the Christian faith makes the invisible visible. Faith makes the heart not only see but long for the things of God. Or it should do in a healthy Christian life.

Faith for peace 

(28) By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

This verse gives us our next simple statement -  'The greater your confidence in the blood of the lamb, the greater your realisation of the peace of God.'  Take yourself back to the time of the Exodus Passover. There have been plagues of boils and frogs, hail and locusts. The Egyptian livestock has been killed and the Nile River turned to blood. Then there's the supernatural thick darkness over the land. Finally you hear that the angel of death is coming and is going to kill the firstborn in every home. Imagine if you are an Israelite child as they hear this - 'Father, are you sure we will be safe? Are you sure that the angel of death won't take me? Are you sure that the blood that you've put on the doorframe will be enough to protect us?' And his father would look at him and say 'The Lord has promised us saying  when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.  Be at peace and trust our faithful God and his word! We will be safe!' The only thing... the ONLY thing that would have brought peace to their hearts is to know they were under that blood and to trust in what that blood meant. I get people writing in to the website worried they have lost their salvation. Often their eyes will be on some persistent sin and they will start to doubt. Now it isn't always easy trying to answer such questions for people you don't know. But the word of God is clear and we have to be clear that salvation is not of works anymore than the salvation of the Israelites from the angel of death came about because they were really good people who deserved it. Again, faith sees the invisible and appropriates the blessings that come with it.  'The greater your confidence in the blood of the lamb, the greater your realisation of the peace of God.'  And even if you are a seasoned Christian, the Lord gives times when you see yourself again, you see your need again, and cry out in thankful praise once again.

Faith for progress 

(29) By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

Finally we see a different aspect of faith in the last verse. It is faith for progress. Like mentioned earlier, the Israelites came to a dead end. They couldn't go forward and they couldn't go back. The Red Sea was in front and the Egyptians close behind. They were trapped. Life sometimes feels like that. We get trapped and can't see a way out of a situation. I've certainly had some long periods of feeling like that. I had a lady write in not so long ago, sharing her situation of being trapped in a difficult situation and all she wanted to know was this - 'will God make a way for me?' Now our God is One who makes a way through the seas and storms of life. But when God opens a door and we need the courage to walk through it. It is easy to become paralyzed by different fears that hold us back. And we all have different fears. This is what happened initially to the Israelites. Their fear started to overcome their faith. Let me just read a section and hear the fear-filled words:

Exodus 14:10-13 As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. (11) Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? (12) "Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." (13) But Moses said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.

CHM wrote,  'Never interpret God's love by your circumstances; but always interpret your circumstances by His love.'  But fear has overcome the Israelites and it is fear that speaks in every word that comes out of their mouth. They doubt the whole plan and purpose of God and also Moses' call. They can see only death. But Moses' words and those of faith - 'Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord'. And then God speaks to Moses saying  'Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.' (Exodus 14:15)  It is time to move forward in faith and not be paralysed by fear. In the early 2000's my Mother had a nervous breakdown and said to my brother Fraser that she felt like she was in the valley of the shadow of death. Fraser said 'Well don't stop there. Keep walking. You walk through the valley of the shadow of death'. And she did, albeit slowly, and a way through the sea of depression was found. Yet when the Egyptians tried to cross in our story... well we all know what happened. They weren't walking by faith but presumption. They weren't obeying the Lord but following their own evil desires. And the seas wouldn't be held back for them. So we could say that

 'Fear paralyses, but faith in God provides a way through the seas of life.' 


My mother often says to me how amazed we will be when we are with Him and we see all that He did for us. We will see the the trials and tests through the light of eternity. We will see the attacks of the enemy thwarted by God. We will see answered prayer that we don't even know about. We will see the people and messengers sent from God to encourage, help, get you back onto the right track once again, right at the right time. It will be wonderful. But this side of eternity requires faith not sight. We walk by faith. Faith in who He is, faith in what He has done and faith in what He will do. Fear is the great paralyser but faith in God is greater still, able to overcome the greatest seas of doubt. Faith brings peace, perseverance and progress.

[1] ↩  I was recently washing the outside of my windows on my house. (That alone is a miracle because it's not something that happens very often! In fact, they came out with more streaks after my wash than before so the moral of the story could be just to leave them alone!) As I was washing I was watching some ants. (Which might be why the washing didn't go so well). They had found a way into a little hole in the bricks of my home and were very busy scuttling in and out. There was quite a long trail of them. Some were coming out looking for food and some were going in carrying crumbs that were bigger than they were! As the ones going out met the ones coming back in they would touch each other and then carry on. And I thought to myself, 'Now there is something very, very small... a wee little ant going about its day. Though tiny, I bet they too yell out clearly the wonder of the creator if you take a little time to zero in on what they do.' The Bible says 'Go to the ant you sluggard' so I did a little research on what science tells us about the tiny little ant.

[3] ↩  Not recommended with ants if the sun it out : )