Moses: the Man of God
September 13th, 1989 @ 7:30 PM
MOSES: THE MAN OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
09-13-89 7:30 p.m.
Now, reading from the Book of Exodus, beginning at verse 5:
And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy,
And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.
And the children of Israel were fruitful, increased abundantly and multiplied, waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
Now, there rose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.
And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:
Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join our enemies, and fight against us,
Therefore, they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Rameses.
But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor.
They made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and all manner of labor in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigor.
And the last verse: "And Pharaoh charged all his people saying, "Every son that is born, ye shall cast into the river." [Exodus 2:5-15]
This study tonight has meant as much to me as anything I have ever prepared. This is our introduction to Moses, The Man of God. Between the bulrushes on the Nile and an unmarked grave in Nebo stands the portrait of a man unmatched in human history. He lived so grandly that only an angel was worthy to wrap the burial shroud around him and lay him down in the sleep of death. Now, I want you to look at him to start off with – the impossible combined in Moses, this prophetic leader – you look at these four things.
As a general, his strategy in marshaling Israel’s hosts against their enemies who would impede their progress through the Sinaitic Peninsula equals that of Alexander’s greatest global conflicts, and the conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar. Any counsel of war strategy would have declared the problems facing Moses in delivering the children of Israel were insurmountable. For one thing, it is utterly beyond human ability to carry enough food and water to sustain the people through the wilderness track. Number two, to live off the desert was impossible. There is nothing there. I have been through the Sinaitic Peninsula. It is barren. Number three, the direct route to Canaan meant immediate war with Philistia and the people were slaves and unprepared for war. Yet, Moses did that – he led those people through the Peninsula of Sinai for forty years.
All right, number two about him, as a lawgiver, he is supreme. The code on Mount Sinai, the Ten Commandments and the rest of it are the foundation of every system of law in the civilized world. All right, number three, as a writer he is unequaled. The whole world is under tribute to the inspiration of his genius. Now, I want to show you that. I suppose there is no more brilliant author in English speech than John Milton. If you want to take a little time, you write, you read what John Milton wrote on the creation of the world in Paradise Lost and compare it with the story written by Moses in the Book of Genesis. There is the difference between those two as heaven is different than earth, that is Moses. And then last, as a religious leader outside of our Savior, he is the greatest that ever lived.
Now, we are going to look at him. He belonged to an alien race more than three hundred years before his forefathers emigrated from Palestine. And at that time, the Hyksos – H-y-k-s-o-s. You will read of them often in ancient history. The Hyksos were the shepherd kings of Egypt. They were Semitic of the same race and family of the Hebrews themselves. And those Hyksos, at that time ruling Egypt, welcomed these Palestinians. They were of the same blood. They were the same lineage. They were the same tribes. They rejoiced to have them. And I want you to look at what they did.
The king himself was of that tribe, of that race. He was a Semite. And he sat upon an unstable throne. At his command, therefore, he settled these Israelites up there in Goshen. As you look at the map of Egypt, up there where it empties into the Mediterranean Sea in the northeastern quadrant of the geographical boundaries of the nation – he sent them there. He had a reason for that. He put them up there in order that in any invasion that came down from, where all of invasions came from, from the northeast. He put them there so that they could help the Hyksos defend the nation. That is why they were settled in the land of Goshen. And there the Israelites prospered and multiplied and numbered over two million.
All right, number two about this man Moses, he belonged to an oppressed race. The Hyksos were overthrown and a different dynasty succeeded to the throne, one to whom the name of Joseph had no charm. At the time of the birth of Moses, a cloud of impending war hung over that northeastern horizon. And those Semites who were located there, the Israelites who were located there, were a threat themselves to the stability of this new dynasty of Egyptian kings. And they were filled with terrible fear. What are the loyalties of these Semites to this new dynasty? So, the Pharaoh resolved to wear them down – to reduce their numbers.
And suddenly, just like that, the shepherds of Goshen – the Israelites, the Semites – found themselves drafted for hard rigorous labor. They worked, were forced to toil in the brick kilns under the eyes and the scourges and the reeds and the whips of cruel taskmasters. They dug canals. They toiled in the cultivation of the soil. They built, and we just read that, the granaries, the storehouses of Pithom and Rameses. Verse 13 says they served with rigor from morning until night, these naked, toiling Israelites under a burning sun, returning after their labor with bleeding wounds and wounds torn open by the scourge of the taskmasters.
Herodotus says – the famous historian Herodotus says that one of those monarchs named Necho destroyed 120,000 of those Semitic people, the Israelites in the land of Goshen. So cruelly were they treated, that they were unkind to question the existence and the mercy of God. I can understand that. When everything is going our way, to believe in the blessing of God is so easy – thank you, Lord. But when tragedy comes and the evil comes, to believe in the mercy and the goodness of God, test your commitment to the Lord to the utmost.
All right, the third thing about him. He was born at a particular hour of unusual trouble and tragedy. It was a terribly unfriendly world in which this little babe opened his eyes. On the outside all was wonderful – the mighty Nile on the banks right across from where he was born, the great city of Memphis and across the river even in that day, the pyramids were ancient. He was born into that kind of a world. But in Goshen, where those Israelites lived, there was tears and trouble.
Now, this family of Levites, Amram, the father, and Jochebed, the mother, at this time when he was born Miriam was eighteen years of age – Miriam is Mary when it comes out finally in English. That is the first time we come across the word "Mary," Miriam. Mary was eighteen and Aaron was three. When Aaron was born, apparently, there was no special need for secrecy. He was just born. The king may, at that time, have been trying to wear down the people by that vigorous, rigorous policy of the taskmaster. But in a spasm of cruelty inspired by fear or personal disappointment, the king added to his game of destruction the commandment that every male, every male child should be thrown to the crocodiles in the river. And in this dread moment, this male child was born. Usually in Israel, a male child was greeted, heralded with marvelous joy and gladness; but now, there is nothing but dread and fear.
I pause here to point out God’s way of moving to deliver. In the darkest night, He draws near. It was when Israel was under the awful scourge and ravages of the Midianites that God raised up Gideon. It was in the day of the cruel Babylonians that God stopped the mouths of the lions for Daniel. And it was in the day of the cruelty of Haman, when the Persians ruled God’s people, that in the nighttime the king could not sleep. He asked for the chronicles of the nation to be read to him, and there before his very eyes and ears the story of Mordecai. Peter, the next day, he was to be executed, an angel came and opened the iron gate. And Paul, in the storm at sea, there appeared to be this night the angel of the Lord. And John, when exiled on the Isle of Patmos, was visited by the angel of heaven who unfolded before him the apocalyptic vision of the denouement of the age.
Now, the little lad was born of believing parents. It is a beautiful verse in Hebrews 11:23: "By faith, they were not afraid." They cast the life and destiny of the little baby boy upon the bosom of the river and upon the mercy of God. Looking upon him they felt that the day of their deliverance had come. Josephus says that a dream announced to Amram that the child was destined to deliver his people. In any event, the promise of Genesis 15:14: "They shall come out," was fulfilled in that little baby. The mother, led by the spirit of God, wove a basket of reeds, of flax, of papyrus, and made a little bed, a little cradle for the lad and placed it in the river, having put pitch so the water was impervious. And she placed it with a kiss and a prayer in the flags, and the papyri where the daughter of Pharaoh came to bathe. By the coming of Pharaoh’s daughter, the life of the lad would be preserved by God. And God did not fail her.
The heavens may fall and the ancient pyramids may be hurled into the broad bosom of the Nile, but that God should fail is impossible. We cannot but marvel and wonder of the faith of this marvelous mother. And God delivered His people through that child she dedicated to the Lord. It’s a great story. It’s a great beginning of a nation from whom we owe so much in this present day.
Now, Fred I want us to sing us a song.
MOSES: THE MAN OF GOD
1. Moses did the impossible taking Israel through the wilderness.
2. Lawgiver – foundation of every system of law in the civilized world
3. Writer unequalled by anyone in history
4. Outside of the Lord Jesus, greatest spiritual leader who ever lived
II. In Egypt
1. Belonged to an alien race
2. Belonged to an oppressed race
3. Born at a particular time in history of terrible trouble
4. Born of believing parents