TRUST IN GOD:
FOR THE FUTURE, FOR THE PRESENT, FOR YOUR WELL-BEING
By Dan Gayman
This lesson is dedicated to the glory of Jesus Christ, now seated at the right hand of the Father and destined to arrive at the appointed time to assume the throne of world government, establish Jerusalem as the ruling capital in His worldwide Kingdom, and crush any authority or power opposed to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. On earth, this lesson is dedicated to a lonely man sitting behind gray walls and barbed wire in a prison in North Carolina, paying for the crime of murder with a life sentence.
Not unlike the Bible character in this lesson, in a moment of passion and unbridled anger, Jim Roberts killed the man who stole his wife. In the process, he also killed his wife. Now Jim Roberts serves a life sentence as a broken and penitent sinner who has completely surrendered his life to God and rises every day to simply tell other captives the Good News of the Gospel of the Kingdom, which he discovered while serving in this lonely prison. Some trusting soul loaned Jim a copy of The Watchman many years ago. Thus, Jim Roberts became acquainted with it and other publications from Watchman Outreach Ministries. Upon hearing the Good News of the Gospel of the Kingdom, Jim Roberts’ life was turned upside down. Now he lives to serve Jesus Christ the best he can in his humble circumstances.
The Bible character in this lesson had quite another outcome and became through the foreordination and election of God one of the greatest men ever to live. Now living out his life sentence behind bars, Jim Roberts surely will never attain the heights of the man in our Bible lesson; but he will find his name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life because he has been washed and cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Each day he spends in captivity is another day that Jim strives to lead other Caucasian brothers to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Join me as we examine the life of a man in the Bible also wanted for murder and who, while living on the back side of the Sinai Desert, had a life-changing experience - one which any penitent Israelite who has fallen from grace could attain amid a proper confession and a contrite heart. Our story is derived from Exodus chapters 1, 2, 3, & 4, Acts of the Apostles 7, and Hebrews 11. As you make your way through this story remember this: trust God for the future, live faithfully in the present, and all will be well in the end!
More than thirty-five hundred years ago, a lone shepherd gathered his flock for the night, built a small campfire, and prepared to have an evening meal from food in his backpack. As the shepherd sat staring into the flames of his campfire, he began to reflect on the dramatic turn his life had taken. Forty years earlier, he had been born into an Israelite family and tenderly cared for by his loving mother for the first three months of his life. Fearful that her child would be discovered and murdered by officers commissioned by the great Pharaoh, his mother had carefully placed him into a watertight basket, in reality a tiny ark made from bulrushes, daubed together with slime and pitch. An older sister was dispatched to place the tiny ark among the flags at the edge of the Nile and see what might happen to the child.
The baby Moses was carefully concealed from the officers of Pharaoh’s court for three months. Fearing for their son’s young life, Amram and Jochebed had prayed fervently to find a way to save their son’s life. Their son was an exceptional child, fair-skinned with blue eyes and handsome, ruddy, chubby little cheeks. He was the great grandson of Levi, a descendant of Jacob’s from the tribe chosen for priestly duties in Israel.
As a last resort to save the baby boy alive, the mother thought that the little Hebrew child might be spared if only he could somehow find favor with some member of the pharaoh’s court. Keenly aware of the daily routine of various members of the court as they came to wash in the Nile, his mother quietly prayed for her child and walked away from the bank of the river, leaving the baby in the custody of his sister Miriam, who quietly waited a safe distance from the child to see what might happen.
Peering through the flags along the river, Miriam could hear the laughter of female voices as they arrived from the pharaoh’s court for their daily bath. The daughter of the mighty pharaoh, together with her court-appointed maidens, walked along the edge of the river, preparing to enter the water when she spied a small ark afloat. Sending one of her maidens to fetch the ark, she opened the lid and discovered a small child crying softly. When the daughter of the pharaoh looked into the face of the beautiful boy, she felt great compassion for him, immediately identifying him as a Hebrew child.
Carefully lifting the boy, she cuddled the child, realizing that her father, the priest-king-god of Egypt, had placed a death warrant on male children born to Hebrew women. The only way to save this child would be to claim him for her own. She would adopt this baby and raise him as her son. Hiding amid the reeds, Miriam approached the pharaoh’s daughter, requesting permission to find a nurse from the Hebrew women. After gaining her approval, Miriam quickly ran to fetch her mother Jochebed.
When Jochebed arrived at the river’s edge, the daughter of the great pharaoh requested that Jochebed nurse the child for a specified amount of money and return the boy to her when it was time for him to be weaned. Jochebed was overjoyed! Her son had been spared certain death. She would be allowed to nurse him until he was old enough to be weaned, and the little boy would grow up in the opulence of the richest court in the Middle East. Jochebed whispered a prayer of thanks to Jehovah and cuddled her son in her arms as she breathlessly sought to find her husband Amram and share the wonderful news.
The plot to save the life of the baby Moses was a risky one, for had either Miriam or her mother been caught in their carefully orchestrated plan to save Moses, it could have cost them their lives. Nor can we forget the heroic Hebrew midwives who risked their lives by allowing Moses to remain alive after his birth. Perhaps even the life of the pharaoh’s daughter was at risk for saving a male Hebrew child alive—against the order of the mighty pharaoh.
For the next two years, Jochebed cared for her own son amid his father Amram, his older brother Aaron, and his devoted sister Miriam. The boy was exceedingly fair, of a handsome countenance, and adorable in every way. When the day came for Jochebed and Amram to deliver Moses to the pharaoh’s daughter, they prayed fervently over the child and tearfully bid him farewell. As sad as it was to give up their son to adoption, it was far better than the fate that had befallen so many other thousands of little male children under the pharaoh’s cruel edict. This boy child would live, while countless others had been murdered at birth.
As the child grew in stature and wisdom, he was given private instruction in all the schools of learning available in the pharaoh’s court. Moses was taught all the disciplines necessary to one day assume the office of the pharaoh himself, should he need to. He trained in the military warfare tactics of the Egyptian army, becoming skilled in the language, customs, and rites and ceremonies of the pagan religion so highly valued by the pharaoh and his court. Moses became a disciplined soldier; and by virtue of his keen intellect, disciplined life, meekness, and leadership skills, he was being positioned to one day assume the priest-king status of the great pharaoh.
This man Moses was in line to become a son of Osiris, the sun god. When he died, Moses would undergo an elaborate burial process. The Egyptians were one of the earliest pagan cultures to actually believe in life after death. According to their pagan religious tradition, Moses, after his death and resurrection, would join the pantheon of his predecessors to take his exalted position in Baal-Zephon (the Mountain of Baal). The pathway to worldly greatness was carefully laid out in every step Moses took during his decades of living in the pharaoh’s court. Nothing was spared to ensure that Moses would become the next great pharaoh.
Into this highly charged life, Moses waxed strong, being trained for a position in the Egyptian military or perhaps for the diplomatic corps. Throughout his life, Moses was keenly aware of the Israelites who were rapidly multiplying in the land of Goshen. Moses was aware of their slave status and sorrowed to see them afflicted under the heavy demands of building treasure cities for the great Pharaoh. Something tugged at his heartstrings when he thought about the Israelites and their forced servitude to Pharaoh. But why should he care for the Israelites? After all, he was raised in opulence and privilege, with every advantage anyone could imagine then. No pagan court in the world could provide the luxury and training that Moses received in the flourishing court of the pharaoh of Egypt.
For decades, Moses had been carefully shielded from contact with his Israelite people, growing up with virtually no contact with them. His life and status in the court of Pharaoh allowed no interaction with the Hebrew slaves, who toiled under the heat of the Egyptian sun to build great cities and monuments for the glory of Egypt and to satisfy the egocentric pharaoh. Moses was raised with no apparent intention of ever reuniting him with his family or the nation of Israelite slaves.
Upon waking one morning, Moses had a burning urge to go visit the Israelite settlement in Goshen. Curiosity to know more about the Israelite slaves had been burning in his heart for a long time. He was keenly aware of the surging numbers of Israelites being born. The fate of these people he knew well, for Moses was privy to the conversations about the Israelites in the pharaoh’s court. He knew of the abject slavery to which the Israelites had been subjected. He was also aware that the Egyptians looked with absolute disdain upon the Hebrew slaves who were required to build treasure cities for the pharaoh.
On this particular day, Moses took a break from his duties as an officer in the Egyptian military. Without notifying anyone, he slipped out of the courtyard and pointed his horses and carriage toward the land of Goshen. Upon arriving at the outskirts of the land, he spied a group of Israelite laborers sweating under the heat of the Egyptian sun. Proud and haughty Egyptians officers stood near them shouting instructions. As Moses walked through the settlement, he spied an Egyptian taskmaster furiously beating one of the Hebrew slaves. The bloody stripes laid upon the back of the Israelite slave by the ruthless Egyptian overseer struck empathy in the heart of Moses. Thinking he was unnoticed, Moses drew his sword and executed the Egyptian. Hiding the body of the dead officer in the sand, Moses returned home to his office. Moses had felt compelled to rescue the Hebrew slave whose bloody stripes shone bright red in the Egyptian sun.
The next day, Moses had planned to participate in a military excursion; but a stirring in his heart forced him to cancel his plans and return to the land of Goshen. It was not long after he arrived that he spied two Hebrew slaves engaged in a struggle. After careful investigation, he discovered which man had been in the wrong and demanded to know why the one Hebrew had inflicted such physical pain to the other without just cause. The indignant Hebrew looked up at Moses and replied, “Who made thee a prince and judge over us? Intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14).
Moses knew immediately that the news was out. That he had killed an Egyptian in defense of a Hebrew slave would be considered an act of treason and carry the death penalty. Moses knew that his life was in mortal danger; thus, as quickly as he could plan his escape, he fled from the court of the pharaoh. The man Moses had become a murderer! He fled Egypt for his life, knowing he would be on the pharaoh’s “most wanted” list as long as he was alive. The man who had been so favored and acclaimed as a rising star in Egypt was now fleeing his homeland as a fugitive, wanted for the murder of a fellow Egyptian soldier.
Moses made his way into the dry and thirsty desert. After walking for days on end through the land of Cush where the Midianites dwelt, he happened to find a well of water that served as a watering hole for the shepherds who dealt there. As Moses lingered at the well, taking a much-needed rest, he observed in the distance several young women, sisters, who had come to water their father’s flock. As they attempted to draw water from the well, other shepherds would drive the maidens’ sheep from the watering trough. Realizing their plight, Moses defended the sisters and drew water for their flocks. For his act of kindness, the sisters invited him to their home for a meal since they were accustomed to showing kindness to a stranger.
Upon arriving at the home of the seven sisters, Moses was introduced to Reuel, the girls’ father. Moses and Reuel were drawn into heavy conversation; after the course of several days, Moses was content to dwell with this family. Before many weeks went by, Reuel gained sufficient confidence in Moses to surrender his eldest daughter Zipporah for Moses’ wife. Instead of a royal wedding to an Egyptian princess carefully selected by the pharaoh himself, Moses was content to settle for a shepherd girl born into the priestly home of Reuel.
Her father, also called Jethro, was a priest of a tribe of Midianite people, descended from the fourth son born to Abraham and Keturah. They were racially pure. Thus, Moses took Zipporah for his wife; to their union were born two sons: Gershom and Eliezer. The name Gershom was selected because Moses said, “I have been an alien in a strange land.” The name Eliezer signified for Moses that the Living God was his help and had delivered him from the sword of Pharaoh (Exodus 18:3-4).
Meanwhile, back at the camp, Moses the shepherd continued to stare into the flickering flames of the fire as he thought about his life. Once a famous solider in the Egyptian army living in the opulence of the richest court in the ancient world, Moses reflected upon how he had wound up in the desert, a lowly shepherd. Moses, the adopted son of the mighty pharaoh and in line to gain the most powerful throne in Central Asia, now sat on the backside of the desert without the comfort of a shower, a home cooked meal, or a soft place to sleep. How could he have fallen to such a lowly estate?
Moses continued to stare into the smoldering flames of the fire as the cool desert wind began to pick up and chill his body. Moses—the soldier. Moses—the future pharaoh of the mighty Egypt! Now he was Moses—a lowly shepherd. Moses—the murderer! Moses—the fugitive! Moses—alone and barely making a living in the dusty desert.
So, the years passed. The mighty king of Egypt died. However, his death did not lesson the slave status of the Hebrew Israelites who continued to labor under the whip and scourge of the Egyptian officers. The entire Israelite population continued to remain enslaved. But because of their growing affliction and unending persecution, the Hebrews began to cry out in their bondage. Life had become unbearable! They could barely meet the demands of the ruthless new paraoh and his savage officers as they continued to use the whip and increased their workload. Fortunately for the Israelites, “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them” (Exodus 2:24-25).
Many miles distant from Egypt, the man Moses, now forty years old and accustomed to life in the desert as a lonely shepherd, continued to keep the flock of his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. Moses prepared to spend another lonely night under the stars. Upon his bedroll under the stars, he glanced into the distance, where he saw something burning. Rubbing his eyes, “he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed” (Exodus 3: 2). Moses rubbed his eyes and looked again. Sure enough, the bush was aflame, but not consumed.
Walking closer to the bush, Moses thought to himself “What is this mystery? Why is this burning bush not consumed? Why does it keep on burning?” As Moses stepped closer to the burning bush, he heard a voice—a strange voice that he had never heard before, a voice that seemed to command all of heaven and earth and that tugged at the soul of this lonely shepherd. Amid the rapid beating of his heart, Moses could hear the audible voice saying, “Moses, Moses.” Not knowing what he should do or say, Moses responded simply: “Here am I” (Exodus 3:4).
The voice continued to speak: “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (Exodus 3:5-6).
Moses stood in stone silence as He heard the voice introduce himself as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Who was this God? He had only known the gods that had been worshipped at the court of the great Pharaoh. Moses felt something deep in his heart. He had never felt so totally overwhelmed, even in the splendor of the Pharaoh’s throne. As Moses contemplated the awesome realization that a real voice had spoken to him with clarity and truth, he turned his ear as the voice of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob continued to speak: “And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites” (Exodus 3:7-8).
Moses listened in astonishment to the voice speaking out of the burning bush. Forty long years had passed since he had left the land of Egypt. He could only imagine how the Israelites had multiplied and increased in number, all the while they remained as bond slaves to the mighty pharaoh. Standing there in the quiet desert, watching the bush as the fire continued to burn without consuming the bush, everything seemed so surreal. Was he dreaming? Would he suddenly awake to find that all of this was simply a vision? As these thoughts raced through his mind, Moses was brought to attention by the voice speaking again from the burning bush:
“Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:9-10).
These were astonishing words. Moses replied, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring for the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11). The voice of God replied, “Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain” (Exodus 3:12).
Moses stood in breathless astonishment as he reflected upon the words he had heard. That he should return to the land of his birth, to the land from which he had fled for his life, seemed almost impossible. For forty long years he had tried to erase the memory of his former life. As a fugitive from the mighty pharaoh of Egypt, Moses had lived in fear for forty years that any day someone might appear to drag him back to Egypt, where he would pay for the crime he had committed. Not knowing what to say or how to respond to the challenge placed before him, Moses could only say to the God Who had spoken from the burning bush, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them?” (Exodus 3:13).
The voice of God declared unto Moses, “I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you…Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”
Some fifteen centuries later, this same voice later announced to the Israelites in the land of Judea that He, Jesus Christ, was the great “I Am” that spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. Jesus announced this in John 8: “Before Abraham was I am.” He further confirmed this truth in His next announcement: “I am the bread of life, I am the resurrection and the life, I am the light of the world, I am the Good Shepherd.” Multiple other examples confirm that Jesus Christ was one and the same with the great “I AM” that spoke from the burning bush. That voice continues to resound to those who have “ears to hear” the voice of the great “I Am.”
As Moses listened intently to the voice from the burning bush, he sensed that he was standing before the very presence of the one, true, and living God. All the years of his life he had lived in the deception of false gods. All the gods of Egypt were idols. At long last, the one, true, and living God was speaking directly to him. Moses could hardly believe it! Could the great, uncreated, self-sustaining God Who had created heaven and earth and all things therein actually be so condescending as to speak to a mere shepherd like him? Would this holy God speak to a lowly shepherd, a man wanted for murder, a fugitive from justice? As these questions raced through Moses’ mind, the voice continued: “Go, gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God” (Exodus 3:16-18).
Suddenly Moses realized that a cataclysmic event was taking place in his lonely life as a shepherd. Filled now with a sense of mission, Moses quickly prepared to go and speak with his father-in-law and explain the dramatic events that had occurred. Once having gained permission, he would be on his way to Egypt to visit his people Israel and then to the court of the great Pharaoh, where he would seek the release of his Israelite kinsmen from their life of bondage. Upon arriving in Egypt, the man Moses would play the leading role in a drama that has been forever immortalized in the history of our race. Moses would be catapulted from the role of a lonely shepherd to that of a world famous figure.
Jehovah would employ His servant Moses to liberate three millions Israelite slaves from Egyptian bondage, guide them on the great exodus from Egypt, across the waters of the Red Sea, and into the Sinai Wilderness where he would receive the Ten Commandments together with the statutes, judgments, and ordinances of the law. Moses, the great lawgiver, was destined to become one of the most significant figures in human history. His name has become woven into the fabric of Western Christian civilization. The name of Moses is revered by Bible students and is respected throughout the capitals and homes of the entire Anglo-Saxon world. His name is carved into public buildings. There is more attention given to him in the biblical hall of fame (Hebrews 11) than any other Bible figure.
Knowing that those who have identified the Celtic, Anglo, Saxon, Germanic, Scandinavian, and kindred nations as being the descendants of and exact same genetic line as ancient Israel, the man Moses takes on even greater significance. Believers can live in the anticipation of the future resurrection of the dead in Christ and meet the man Moses, along with all other forbears who received eternal life through Jesus Christ.