What comes to mind when I hear the name of Moses? What feature in the life of this major character in the Bible stands out for me?
- Is it that his parents, Amram and Jochabed, saw in him a potential deliverer of the Israelites?
- Is it that as a prince in the palace of Egypt, he was possibly destined to rule the Empire of Egypt and could then free Hebrew slaves? This possibility was eliminated by his murder of an Egyptian foreman, and subsequent run for his life to Midian.
- Is it his seemingly wasted 40 years as a shepherd in Midian, a despised occupation for an Egyptian prince. He had given up on his life mission.
- Perhaps the picture brightens as an obedient but reluctant Moses confronts Pharaoh. At first things got worse, so bad that the people wanted to stone Moses. But Moses stayed with it boldly and the Exodus happened. Truly a high point but for me there is another side to Moses.
- The wilderness tested his patience and the people’s responsiveness. Their rebellion turned a journey of a few weeks into 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. It was not Moses’ fault. He suffered because of the people’s faults. Then, one rash act of anger caused God to deny Moses entry into the Promised Land even after those 40 years in the wilderness where he had put up with repeated waywardness, rebellion and grumbling. After all he had done he wasn’t even getting into the Promised Land? Is that fair? That is when, at 120 years old, another side of Moses showed up.
Moses pleaded with the Lord to allow him to enter the Promised Land Deut. 3:23-25. “Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your
greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan–that fine hill country and Lebanon.”
God said, “No!”
Moses died without his request granted though his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. Moses didn’t argue, sulk or show resentment. Instead he
showed how much he cared about the people anyway. Num 27:16-17 “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over
this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
He accepted his lot, graciously handed over the leadership to Joshua, and sought the best for the people, not for himself. That is true greatness.