May 21, 2011
The Prayer Life of Moses
The Ultimatum of Death
“So I said to you, ‘Let my son go that he may serve Me; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.'”
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God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone, and urges all men to repent and live (Ezekiel 18:32). He will warn Pharaoh today of impending doom for his firstborn, and the firstborn in all the land of Egypt. Instead of turning away from sin, Pharaoh stubbornly hardened his heart against God. Even before Moses entered Egypt again, God had revealed to him the outcome of God’s ultimatum of death to Pharaoh. Moses now will leave Midian, and head back to Egypt. But before Moses leaves Midian, God will speak words of encouragement to him.
Go in Peace. Having been commissioned by God to go to Egypt and deliver the people of Israel from the oppression of Pharaoh, Moses now prepares to leave Midian after 40 years in the wilderness (Acts 7:30). Moses tells his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, that he wants go and see if his relatives in Egypt still live (Exodus 4:18). Moses apparently said nothing about his mission from God to liberate the Jews. Sometimes, we may carefully tell the truth, as Moses did here. He was under no obligation to tell Jethro of the real mission, and Moses already expected that the people of Israel would not immediately believe him. Jethro gave Moses the blessing of “Go in peace.” God gives Moses lots of encouragement as he leaves Midian and sets out for Egypt.
Words of Encouragement. God belayed the fears of Moses even before he left Midian: “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” Moses had expressed his fears to God, and now God relieved those fears from the start. God knows our weaknesses and fears, and He will help us overcome all of them as we listen to Him. His plans always take into account our fears, but God casts fear out and replaces it with greater faith in His promises and power. Sometimes small messages from God, like a text message on your phone, can really bring a lot of hope and encouragement just when you need it most. Moses knew that no one in Egypt was going to seek his life. But now, Moses learns that Pharaoh and the people of his land would lose the lives of their firstborn because of the hard heart of Pharaoh.
Use the Power of God. Nothing seems more hopeless to me than watching people, including myself, ignore the power God has given them to accomplish God’s mission. Instead of employing God’s power, we neglect it or ignore it all together. God reminded Moses of the wonders God had put in his power, and commanded Moses to use that power. God has entrusted us with power, so that God can work in our lives today far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to His power abiding within us (Ephesians 3:20). Ultimately, however, God will perform His will through the outpouring of His power directly upon the lives of all men. Pharaoh would learn that lesson the hard way.
God Controls Life and Death. Moses needed to know that the mission was primarily about God liberating His people from Egypt to serve Him. The Lord also explained that the signs He had given to Moses would not be enough to convince Pharaoh, because his heart was hardened. The Lord called the people of Israel His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22), implying His great love and concern for that child. Likewise, the Lord told Pharaoh that God wanted Israel to go and serve Him, but Pharaoh refused. No one refuses to do the will of God, after warnings, without consequences to follow. In this case, God will take the firstborn son of Pharaoh and kill him because of the oppression of Israel, and the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 4:23). Notice that God essentially tells Moses that God Himself will actually perform the final sign that will ultimately bring death to the firstborn of the land of Egypt, but life to the firstborn of God, the people of Israel. At the beginning of the mission to deliver the people from Pharaoh, God told Moses about the specific action God would take to bring their deliverance through the death of the firstborn. One firstborn would die, while the other firstborn would live, because of the shedding of blood (Exodus 12:1-13). Notice the strong similarity between the Son of God dying for our sins, so that we might live to God as fellow heirs with Christ Jesus.
So we learn more about the prayer life of Moses.
● Prayer means that God speaks words of encouragement to us as we pray and listen to Him. He will help us with our fears about our safety, although He never promised we would not have to lay down our lives for Him. Even then, He relieves our fear of death.
● Prayer means that God expects us to use the power He provides for our lives. He will do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. We will need to focus upon using His gifts of power He has given to each one of us to do His will and fulfill His plan for our lives.
● Prayer means that we live in faith in God performing His plan through us, and not some superstar. God selects just the right person for His plan, and every plan has been tailor-made just for you. God matches the plan to you, and you to the plan. He must develop you to do His will in your life. Step by step, and power upon power, and faith to faith He works within us. He controls both life and death, but takes no pleasure in anyone’s death.
Application for Today
The Lord God sends us encouragement, especially when we embark upon a new mission from Him. He loves to help us along the way, and speak words of comfort and power to us. Will you use the gifts of power He has placed in your life today?