The One Problem with Moses
Oct 18, 2021 3070
You might not have noticed it, but there is a problem with Moses. Moses is one of the most revered figures of history, revered in all three of the world’s monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In the Bible he is remembered as the founder of the Jewish nation, as one of the greatest of the prophets, and as one of the greatest heroes of faith (Heb. 11:23–29.) Among Moses’ great qualities, the Bible especially highlights his “meekness” (KJV), or “humility”:
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.
While Moses’ significance is well-justified, let’s look at the reality of his life. The problem with Moses is that throughout all of his life, Moses struggled with a bad temper, that continually brought him down. Some people talk about “prevailing sin.” Anger was Moses’ prevailing sin.
Was God Wrong About Moses?
When Moses was forty years of age, he committed murder, in a fit of indignant anger at an Egyptian who was beating one of his people:
Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand (Ex. 2:12.)
As a result of this sin, Moses fled to the wilderness where he lived for forty years. There, God tried to teach him to control his temper, by making him a shepherd instead of an Egyptian prince. For forty years God allowed Moses to look after sheep, the meekest of the meek, in the hope that some of their patience would rub off on him
After forty years, now Moses was 80 years of age. It was then that the Lord called him to return to Egypt to rescue the Israelites from slavery. God allowed Moses to perform mighty miracles, including leading the people on dry land through the middle of the Red Sea, and then to Mt Sinai. There, God gave Moses the tables of the law, written in stone with God’s own finger. As Moses came back down the mountain,
When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain (Ex. 32:19.)
Again, Moses’ “anger burned.” That was the problem with Moses! The decision to break the holy tablets of the law was his own, and taken in the heat of his anger. While Moses had moments of great humility and compassion, his anger kept rearing its ugly head.
Who are you to judge God and tell him that he is wrong?
Again, roll forward another 40 years. Now Moses is 120 years old. The children of Israel had run out of water in the wilderness. God told Moses to speak to a rock and it would pour out water. Instead, Moses took his staff and hit the rock. It was for this sin that Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land to which he had led the people for eighty years.
What was Moses’ sin? Again, we are brought back to Moses’ prevailing sin: his anger. We know that Moses disobeyed God because his anger got the better of him, because the Bible tells us that the people “quarreled with Moses” (Num. 20:3.) Listen to what Moses said to the people. He was clearly very upset:
Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock? (v.10.)
Now look at the way in which Moses struck the rock, not once, but twice:
Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff… (v.11.)
It was Moses’ anger that undid him even at the end of his life! Again, we see the problem with Moses!
What else do we know about Moses? We know that Moses made it to heaven, because he appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28–36.) We also know that God called Moses his friend and spoke with him face to face (Ex. 33:7–11.) How could this be if Moses, from everything we know, seems to have never gained the victory over his anger? How could, in the face of the historical record, God call Moses the meekest, most humble man on earth?
Of all the things that you can know on this earth, to understand salvation is by far the most important.
To understand this is to understand what it means to be justified by the grace of God: it is to understand salvation. Of all the things that you can know on this earth, to understand salvation is by far the most important.
How God saw Moses had nothing to do with the Moses’ level of victory in the flesh. It had nothing to do with how much Moses sinned, or whether he didn’t sin. How God saw Moses only had to do with reality that Moses, despite his sins, continued to trust God and follow him.
What is the problem with Moses?
Was Moses very meek and humble in the flesh? That’s debatable. But that’s immaterial to how God saw him. Through the divine eyes of Grace, the Lord God saw Moses as the meekest man of earth. Moses continued to sin throughout his life, yet that didn’t stop God calling him his friend, and privileging him with a divine intimacy that others did not enjoy.
Do you begrudge the judgment of God? Who are you to judge him and tell him that he is wrong? If God says that his friend Moses was the humblest man of earth, who are you to bring up Moses’ anger?
If you were to do that you would be doing the devil’s job. That’s why the devil is called “the accuser of our brothers and sisters” (Rev. 12:10.) That isn’t God’s job. God’s job is to justify, which means to declare righteous.
There was a problem with Moses, and there is a problem with you too! If God declares you righteous and perfect and accepted before him, then that is the truest fact in the world, despite what your fleshly reality may be. And this is never an excuse for wrongdoing, rather it positions your life in a trajectory of knowing, loving, and obeying God even more.
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