4. The Faith of Moses
One specific example of the faithful is Moses. He is listed in Hebrews 11, along with others of the faithful
Heb 11:24.: By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25. choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26. esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. 27. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. NKJV
The Burning Bush
The most visible evidence of the faith of Moses was to be the extraction of the Israelites from Egypt. This all started when he saw an odd sight.
Exodus 3:1.: Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3. Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn." NKJV
He saw a bush that was burning, but yet it seemed to keep burning, without affecting the bush. This must have been something he had not seen before, and truly evidence that something great was happening. Perhaps, though, it was not as significant to him as it might be to us. Now, with a body of scientific knowledge and global communications, it is generally well known what is “normal” and what is not. At that time, people would more commonly see things that they had not come across before.
Nevertheless, it was an interesting sight, and attracted Moses' attention. The simple words “I will now turn aside and see this great sight”, give no indication of the significance that moment was to have, both to Moses himself, and the Israelites.
The next event for Moses was a voice from the bush, and when this voice claimed its identity, Moses was afraid of what was happening,
Exodus 3:6.: Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father -- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. NKJV
At this point, it would have been a truly unique experience for Moses, but he was not happy about it, he was afraid. He could see the greatness of God, and knew he was in the hands of a greater being. The simple experience of this event would be great evidence to the truth and power of this God.
God then outlined his plan, and the reason for his appearance:
Exodus 3:7.: And the LORD said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8. "So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, NKJV
At that point, Moses would be thinking that this was a great thing. He knew of the oppression of the Egyptians over his countrymen. Indeed he had been exiled for acting against this oppression. It would have been a great comfort to him to hear those words. It had similar implications to him that promises of the future kingdom have had to later followers of God. An example of this is Isaiah 2:
Isa 2:1.: The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD's house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. ... 4. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore. NKJV
In this passage, there is a promise of the rulership of God in his own Kingdom. Two great desires of the world are promised: righteous leadership, and world peace. Just as Moses would have thought “this is great”, so also, there are people of our time who say “this is great” about such promises.
In Exodus, after revealing his plan to release the Israelites from bondage, God continues with the details:
Exodus 3:9.: "Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10. "Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." NKJV
Moses would have listened in agreement and hope with these words, right up until the point where he said “I will send you”. At this point, the message changed from a description of good future, to a description of responsibility. Moses could have thought that it would be great if someone would do that --- but him?
Exodus 3:11.: But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" NKJV
Moses is likely to have felt that it would be good if he could have done that, but he didn't see how he could do it. He was not a great person, and he was far more comfortable doing what he knew. He didn't know how to approach Pharaoh, and couldn't see how he could have any influence if he did. God was quick to supply the solution to these problems:
Exodus 3:12.: So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain." NKJV
In this verse, God was saying that it was the power of God that would make it possible. It would be the same power that caused the bush to burn that would work with Pharaoh. In Corinthians, Paul suggests that the situation is similar in more moden times. In this case it referred to the men working for God through preaching. Paul was making it clear that it was really God that would make the impact.
1 Cor 3:6.: I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. NKJV
Just as the persuasion of Pharaoh would require the power of God, so the persuasion to Christ would require the power of God. Another way of seeing this is that in both cases God, though his power, made the job achievable by normal people.
Moses recognised God's assertion, and he could not refute it without denying God's power. Knowing that he would need to know it, he then asked for God's name. During the time taken to ask and answer this question, the doubt in Moses' mind formed another question,
Exodus 4:1.: Then Moses answered and said, "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.' " NKJV
God answered this question by giving him three signs. That avenue of escape had been blocked. He then cast doubt on his own ability, even though God had said that he would be with him,
Exocus 4:10.: Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." NKJV
God quickly answered this question, by again stating that he had the power to overcome this problem, and that he would be with Moses to show him what to say. But even after answering all of his concerns, Moses still has doubt,
Exodus 4:13.: But he said, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send." NKJV
It was as if he acknowledged that all of the objections were answered, but he still didn't want to do it. It was as if he was lacking in faith or enthusaism --- an this was one of the great faithful mentioned in Hebrews 11. The NIV translation of this verse makes Moses sound even more in a pathetic state,
Exodus 4:13.: But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." NIV
This is probably very typical of human emotion. If there is something difficult, uncertain, or perceived to be dangerous, it is always better if someone else does it. The real problem is that there aren't really any “elses” in the world. To themselves, everyone is a someone, not a someone else.
In the case of Moses, he eventually went and appeared before Pharaoh. There were really two things that meant he eventually went. One was his own faith, and tht other was that God provided for him where he was weak. To every objection that Moses raised, God had an answer. Moses was still required to do the work, and demonstrate his faith --- but God did provide when it was necessary.
In a similar manner, Abraham had faith in this. When he was called to offer his son, he went to do this willingly, but said,
Genesis 22:8.: And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together. NKJV
This was certainly true in a greater sense, when God provided his Son. John the Baptist spoke of this Lamb,
John 1:29.: ... John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! NKJV
So this again was a case of God providing the way, where men were unable. Indeed it is this provision that gives a great hope and promise:
Romans 8:3.: For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, NKJV
Romans 6:22.: But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. NKJV