(Moses as leader of his people: preparatory thoughts for a week's ministry in a house party. )
A good leader is prepared by God.
The events leading up to the birth and including the first 80 years of Moses life teach us many things but the most powerful and by far most remarkable is the Sovereign work of God's grace to His people the Israelites.
Let us in our first session just consider briefly what is happening. The Israelites had gone into Egypt at the time of Joseph as a kind provision by firstly the people of Egypt but more importantly the gracious hand of God. As we think of what happened at the time of Joseph we see two different aspects to the issue:
- Circumstance took Joseph to a place where he could eventually help his family in times of trouble. His brothers had treated him badly and sold him to some Ishmaelite traders who then sold him into slavery to an important man named Potiphar. He was falsely accused of attempted rape by Potiphar's wife. Eventually after a spell in prison Joseph becomes chancellor of the exchequer to the King of Egypt and by his prudence helps Egypt to prosper throughout a time of severe drought. It is an amazing story that speaks much of the character of a young man called Joseph. If circumstance were the full story it would be a truly amazing account, but as you know the picture was far greater than that.
- God was in control. He was leading and guiding all involved for what is about to happen to the nation of Israel. Joseph's brothers meant great harm to Joseph but through it all god was working His purposes out for the greater good and all of this was beyond even the wildest dreams of Joseph.
Whilst the people of God were in Egypt (approx 400 years) they at first enjoyed the favour of King and country but after the death of Joseph and his friend the King a new king eventually came to power who did not know Joseph. By this time the Israelites had become so entrenched in society that they really did not look much different to the Egyptians. They prospered and even took on their gods as we will observe as we study the life and times of Moses. Racism then came to the fore, due of the prosperity of the Israelites the Egyptian people felt threatened and so the Israelites were made to work as slaves. Life suddenly became hard for them. As with all people when the going gets tough them prayer becomes important. The people prayed and god heard their prayer. In this alone there is a great lesson, God knows just what we are going through all of the time and as we shall see he is concerned for His people.
The church are the people of God and so we can say from history that in the same way as He is concerned for the circumstances of His people throughout history so God is concerned for us today. Nothing happens with which He is not aware and for which He is not concerned.
God is Sovereign in the affairs of His people.
400 years is along time but it was God's time for His people. During that time they had wandered far from the truth and far from god but he had left them nor had He forsaken them. His purposes were at all times being worked out through them. It is the same for the church today. We are the new covenant people of God through whom he will continue to work out his purpose. That purpose for us is much more clear than it ever was for the ancient people. Jesus told us of His purpose. He builds the church, the gates of hell cannot stand against it. We as the people are to take the gospel into all the world in order that He can build His church by saving sinners. The church today is very similar to the people of God in Moses' day. It has taken on too much of the world's ways and so is weak and under threat from a hostile people. We are oppressed (not persecuted) and ill treated by the good and the great. We are pilloried for our out of date beliefs etc. All of this ought to drive us to our knees asking for God to work in a powerful way through His people.
What will it take to make us turn to Him in desperate prayer?
There is of course even more than that! God was working His purposes out and was preparing a saviour for the people. Moses who was to become known as a friend of God was being prepared. God tells us in His word that He knew His people before they were formed in the womb (Jer. ????) this is true of Moses also. Just at the right time Moses was born. It was in a time of heightened difficulty for the nation that little Moses was born to believing parents. An edict had been passed by the King that all Israelite baby boys were to be thrown to the Nile river god and Moses was born. Hebrews 11:?? tells us that Moses' parents saw the beauty of this little boy. The beauty they saw was the unseen hand of God on his little life!!!! They therefore put him in a little waterproofed papyrus basket into the river. (Papyrus was believed by the Egyptians to protect people from crocodile attack which demonstrates how even believers in Moses' day had imbibed much of Egyptian folklore and superstition!) Moses was floated into the reeds and Miriam his sister waited to see the plan of God unfold.
Lessons for tonight:
- God is in control whatever the circumstances.
- Whatever is done by believers and unbelievers alike in order to thwart the work of God will fail.
- God has set apart a people for His purposes. That is the church today.
- The work of the church will succeed.
- Those who are faithful can trust God for the future, we are at liberty to let go and watch God work out His purposes as Moses' parents did.
- Moses was only a baby at that time and so vulnerable but he was nonetheless the saviour that Israel needed.