By Titus Chu
Although the Bible only mentions the word vision once with Moses (Exo. 3:3, translated “marvelous sight”), his life was a life of abiding in vision. From his childhood he was very clear that he was not common. The meaning of his name, Moses, reminded him every day that he had been miraculously “drawn out of the water” to have his status changed from slave to a member of the royal household (Exo, 2:10). He knew how his sister Marion had boldly approached Pharaoh’s daughter to make arrangements for Moses’ birth mother to care for him. His mother was even paid to do this (v. 8-9). Through this divine arrangement, Moses’ mother taught him all the things of God, including His promise to deliver the Children of Israel from their bondage (Gen. 15:13-14). Thus Moses knew from the very beginning that his life was under God’s special governmental arrangement.
It was God’s government that he was saved, and it was God’s government that, through his mother, he was educated in all the things of God. He grew up as a Jew even though he was treated as an Egyptian. His mother must have told him how God created, man fell, and God made the clothes for Adam and Eve to display His forgiveness. She taught him how God in his government sent them out of the garden, and yet provided for all their needs. She taught him how God called Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and how He promised that their descendants would flourish more than the sand and the stars. Moses received all this education through his mother.
Don’t look down at the children’s meetings. If we teach the children Bible stories, it will become very valuable to them as they get older. That’s how Moses was taught. He learned all the things of God through the stories told him by his mother.
He was also educated in the house of Pharaoh and learned all the wisdom of Egypt. He was trained as a prince with a royal education. This helped him to grasp what he had learned in his childhood as an Israelite.
Three Periods of Life
Just before he was martyred, Stephen gave a message in which he divide Moses’ life into three forty year periods: first living in Egypt, then exiled in Midian, and finally leading the people in the wilderness (Acts 7:23, 30, 36). Through all these years, Moses remained faithful to his vision. The most valuable forty year period was the last, but this could not have happened without the two previous periods. This is normal. The most valuable years are the older years of life. Everything we go through during our lives is profitable. Everything has spiritual value. Everything can develop and build us into servants of God.
The First Period: Education
Moses initial vision, which he received while still living in Egypt, came from all the teaching he received. During this time a healthy relationship was established between Moses and God. I think when he was very young, his mother would tell him, “Without God, you would never have survived. We put you in the water because we had no choice, but God intervened and saved you. This gave you had the chance to become a grandson of Pharaoh.” This stage is necessary for all who love the Lord.
Moses gained the top spiritual education from his mother who told him the Genesis stories as he grew up. Through this he knew about God and was educated in the things of God. The reason many Christians lead such poor Christian lives is because they never learned these basic lessons. They don’t know a living God. When they finally do see God, they will discover that their life becomes very worthwhile and meaningful.
Moses learned that God had creating power, that He “calls into being that which does not exist” (Rom. 4:17). He also learned that God forgives. When man fell, God forgave. He learned that God was sovereign. That’s why the human race was able to continue. He learned that God was able to lead him throughout his whole life, just as He lead Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When Moses heard these stories, he had the realization: I can trust my life to God.
Can we trust our lives to God? Once we see Him, it’s very simple to do. If we have not yet seen Him, we still trust our choice. But no matter how good our choice is, it’s not the best choice. God is always the best choice. It is only when we know God and trust Him that our life becomes valuable.
Because Moses was educated in the things of God, he also knew God’s work. He knew God called Abraham. He realized that a relationship with God is very much related to His calling. If we are not confident that we are called by God, we may only have a hand-me-down relationship from our parents.
My mother attended Christian meetings in her youth. One day I told her, “Mom. Jesus lives in me.” She got so upset. She said, “You are such a little man, and you dare say Jesus lives in you? How proud you are! How dare you to say things like this?” But I knew I was called. I said, “I can’t help it, Jesus really does live in me.” It’s not a small thing to be called by God. Without it, we may have our parents God, but we don’t have our own God.
From his youth Moses was taught how God had called Abraham so that mankind could have a new start with Him. He must have compared this to the way God had selected him by saving him from the river and placing him in Pharaoh’s household. Just as God had called Abraham to restart something, Moses surely realized God’s call for him to release the Israelites from the bondage of Pharaoh.
Moses also knew from the stories he had learned from his mother that God’s blessing to Abraham was centered on His chosen people and the land they were to inherit. God promised to bless Abraham with both the seed and the land. Concerning the seed He told Abraham, “Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies” (Gen. 22:17). Concerning the land He promised, “for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever” (Gen. 13:15).
Based on this, Moses must have realized that God’s blessing was not on him alone, but on all the children of Israel. God did not save him from the river and place him in Pharaoh’s house for his own personal benefit. God wanted to bless his people.
As Christians, we are not on this earth for ourselves, but for: (1) God, (2) God’s economy, (3) God’s testimony, (4) God’s people, and (5) our families. Some Christians are too spiritual and disregard their families. Anyone like this is not a good Christian. Loving our families is a human virtue that issues from God. That’s why love for God and love for parents were both on the same tablet when God gave the law to Moses. The second tablet was full of laws defining man’s relationship with man. Love for family is unique compared to other human relationships.
The Lord said, “Honor your father and mother” (Matt. 19:19). But He also said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother…he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26). Only when our parents forbid us from loving and following the Lord should we hate them. This was Jesus’ word. We love them as our parents, but we hate their decision if they limit our pursuit of Christ.
God’s testimony and God’s economy were each related to the land promised by God. Moses knew God was able to save. He also knew God was for his testimony and that God called the Israelites with the intention of bringing them into the good land. The center of Gods unique blessing was the children of Israel and the land God desired them to inherit. God wants man to live according to His calling and receive His blessing. We should all live such a life.
Moses enjoyed God’s supply in his sovereignty. First he was born handsome. If he was not handsome, Pharaoh’s daughter would not have saved him. Second, he was placed in a high position. Pharaoh’s daughter raised him up as her own son, which put him in the position of possibly becoming the next Pharaoh. As he grew he was given the best worldly education. All these things constituted Moses with a disposition that could be used by the Lord.
Disposition comes by two things: our natural birth and the way we are raised. We may all be diligent, yet there are differences in our diligence. Diligence is a character trait. Disposition is how we express such a trait. Our disposition determines such things as whether we are naturally happy and generous, and if we look at things as an optimist or a pessimist.
Moses had a disposition God was able to use. We must learn to take advantage of all the opportunities set before us to gain the best education and training so that God would find our disposition useful also. God will not greatly use us just because we want Him to. He looks for those who, like Moses, are molded into the kind of person He can use.
Eventually Moses was able to lead millions of people through the wilderness with no outward supply, no map, and no road. That was really a mission impossible. On one hand, he knew God so well and could trust Him. On the other hand, he had a certain disposition which allowed God to trust him.
I am all for young people having a good time, but if they never study, never care for the opportunities given to them, never make the best use of their time, and are never productive, how can the Lord use them? If the Lord does eventually ask them to do something, they may find they just can’t bear it. This is disposition. Eventually the Lord can only do so much through us. We become his confinement. Some are perfectionists. Everything has to be perfect and so God cannot use them. Others are non-perfectionists to the point they become sloppy. Again, God cannot use them.
God cannot use some because to them everything is okay. If the church is dying, they say, “Don’t worry. God is responsible.” If the saints have no joy, they say, “Everything has its season.” This is all disposition. If we are all so relaxed concerning the church, do you think the Lord can have any way in the churches we serve? God is willing to bless, but if we are like that, He cannot do so through us. Disposition is crucial. God uses us according to our disposition. Our disposition determines our usefulness. Moses was no doubt trained by Pharaoh to be a military commander. He had a very precise disposition. He was sober, strong, and aggressive, so the Lord was able to use him.
In his initial forty year stage, Moses’ vision was immature. He only saw that God had prepared him to save the children of Israel from their bondage. By God’s mercy Moses was trained, educated, and raised up with a proper disposition. This is what made this first stage invaluable. We should never despise any opportunity to gain more spiritual education and truth. This is the way the Lord prepares us to become useful to Him.
Everything about Moses’ life showed how God’s hand had made him the right man in the right place at the right time. But he did not yet see that the work of God had to be done by God himself. What he saw was right: the Lord would use him to save the Israelites by bringing them out of Egypt. But only God himself could do such a work. Only God could be their savior. Because Moses did not yet realize this, he misaimed in his zealousness by killing the Egyptian (Exo. 3:11-12). Then he was rejected by his people, the children of Israel, and finally judged by the world in the person of Pharaoh who wanted to kill him. This ushered him into the second stage of his life. He escaped to the land of Midian where he was limited and emptied by God for forty years and experienced the discipline of the Holy Spirit.