Moses – Why Me Lord?
by John C. Westervelt
The descendants of Jacob had been in Egypt 350 years and had been so prolific that they had grown to outnumber the Egyptians. This troubled the new Pharaoh, so he commanded that all Hebrew male babies be cast into the Nile River.
When Moses was born, his mother hid him for three months, then put him in a papyrus basket coated with tar and pitch and placed the basket on the water among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses crying. The beautiful baby stole her heart. Moses’ sister, who was stationed close by, asked, “Would you would like for me to find a nurse for the baby?”
Pharaoh’s daughter answered, “Go ahead.”
Moses’ sister called her mother who nursed the baby. At about age two, Moses became the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter and lived with her in the palace.
Moses was forty when he went out among his people to observe their labor. He found an Egyptian beating a Jew, and he killed the Egyptian. When the Pharaoh learned about the killing, Moses fled to the land of Midian east of the Sinai Peninsula. Here he married the daughter of Jethro, the priest of Midian, and pastured Jethro’s flock.
Forty years after arriving in the land of Midian, Moses led his flock to Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai) on the southern end of the Sinai Peninsula. He came to a bush that was burning, but was not being consumed. God spoke to Moses, saying, “I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Moses said, “Why me, Lord? I have never been eloquent. I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
The Lord would use Moses’ brother Aaron, the Levite, to speak Moses’ words to the people and to Pharaoh. God provided Moses with a special staff that could be changed into a serpent to prove that he was directed by God.
Moses and Aaron asked Pharaoh to let the Hebrews leave Egypt, but Pharaoh declined and increased the workload of the Hebrew slaves. On a second visit Moses showed the Pharaoh how his staff became a serpent. Still Pharaoh refused to release the people.
After this, the Lord sent ever worsening plagues – water turned into blood, frogs, gnats, flies, disease on the beasts, boils on men and beasts, hail, locusts, darkness, and finally death.
The plague of death would take the first-born of all the people and of the cattle. The Lord instructed the Hebrews to sprinkle blood on their doorposts. At night, Death skipped over the houses with blood on the doorposts, killing only the first-born of the Egyptians. That night’s happenings have been celebrated by the Jews as Passover to this day.
Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people.” In the rush to leave, the women took their bread that had not yet leavened. On the first day, about two million Hebrews along with their livestock journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, a distance of thirty miles.
Pharaoh changed his mind when he realized how much his people missed their slave labor. He ordered the army to chase down the Hebrews. With the Egyptians close behind, Moses stretched out his hand over the Red Sea, and the Lord parted the waters. Later when the Egyptian army followed, the sea closed on top of them.
The Hebrews came to Elim where there were twelve springs and seventy date palms, and they camped there. On the next stop at Sin, the people complained of being hungry, so the Lord rained down manna for them to eat. They kept wandering south on the Sinai Peninsula until they reached Mount Horeb. Here the people grumbled for more water. At the Lord’s instruction, Moses struck the rock at the foot of the mountain and ample water flowed out.
The tribe of Amalek, descendants of Esau’s grandson, attacked the children of Israel from the rear. Moses ordered Joshua to gather men to fight. As long as Moses held his hand up, Israel prevailed. When he dropped his tired arms, Amalek prevailed. Aaron and Hur held Moses’ hands until the battle ended at sunset in victory.
God chose Mount Sinai as the place to give Moses the laws of Israel. God began with the ten commandments. He followed with laws on slaves, personal injury, theft, property damage, dishonesty, immorality, civil and religious obligations, Sabbaths and feasts, and conquest. God also gave Moses instructions for building the tabernacle and the ark. Moses was on Mount Sinai with God for forty days and nights.
The people questioned whether or not Moses would ever return. In their impatience, they pooled all their gold earrings to make a golden calf to worship as an idol. The Lord told Moses what the people had done, so Moses immediately went down the mountain carrying two stone tablets engraved with the ten commandments. When Moses saw the people singing and dancing as they gathered around the golden calf, he threw down the tablets and shattered them. After chastising the people, Moses went back up the mountain to get replacement tablets.
Moses assembled the entire congregation to make a tent for a tabernacle. The women spun blue, purple, and scarlet thread to make material for the tent. Craftsmen created designs in gold, in silver, and in bronze. One year after the exodus from Egypt, the tabernacle was set up for worship. Moses brought the ark into the tabernacle and placed a veil before the ark. At the moment Jesus died on the cross, God tore a similar veil from top to bottom.
Moses lived forty years in each of Egypt, the land of Midian, and the wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula. He died just before the Hebrews entered the Promised Land. Moses once asked, “Why me Lord?” Only God knew that He would use Moses in such a mighty way.
Copyright 2002 by John C. Westervelt
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