Bible Commentary Bible History General Theology

Moses as a prophet: The great burden he carried

The political conditions of Moses’ day were that the Land of Egypt produced a perfect background for this giant of a man, that during this time, the first great wave of anti-Semitism rolled through Israel. It is theorized that Exodus took place between 1290-1220 BC, which would be during the Judges era. (Other source notes it could have been earlier, such as 1446 BC around the time of the first Passover. That would place it before the Judges era starting in 1350 BC.) Rameses II has the most potential distinction of being Pharaoh of this oppression, and if that is the case, then the first date would be more plausible, because Rameses II ruled (1304-1237 BC). This is one area of archaeological evidence we wish to have, especially to prove to skeptics that the Biblical exodus actually happened.

The discussion on this matter was that because of the activities Rameses commonly imposed, it seems Exodus 13:17 refers to techniques commonly used by Rameses at this time, and it seemed to work best because of the sea peoples invasion per evidence, because in that verse, the trade/coastal routes were being used to commit justice by the Pharaoh’s hand (see “the way of the land of the Philistines” in 13:17). Thutmose III, a figure some thought over the Exodus has less evidence, because Thutmose created the largest Egyptian empire, but the Scripture does not allude to this fact, which would have been particularly prominent despite the inference. However, since the book of Exodus does not mention the Pharaoh’s names, we can efficiently decide which plausible evidence is most clear. Some of the other things to consider was that Moses was allowed to be taught about Yahweh, which means the ruler was unlikely to be tyrannical, at least toward religious freedom.

The social conditions of Moses’ day involved being born in the midst of a slave community, to which men did mandatory hard labor, family life continued even in oppression, and the Israelites overall lived as best as they could with some likeness of their early Fathers’ religion and reared their children as they had been raised. In the Egyptian court, luxury and ease would prevail, as it was an age of prosperity and albeit plenty in resources for them – while just a few short steps away, poverty and slavery was going on for God’s children.

Slave labor built huge structures to relieve the Egyptians of the stress of toil. Slaves would build great libraries and schools so the nobility could be equipped and supplied with more resources – and the Israelites meanwhile were still oppressed. Moses had a sample of both situations and knew of such misery, as he yearned of his own people. The finest educational system of their world gave him its best, and those 40 years in Egypt left an indelible mark upon Moses.

As for the religious conditions of Moses’ day, things were quite odd. We must believe that in the homes of the slaves in Egypt that some pious souls kept alive the fundamentals of the “old Faith of their Fathers.” When Moses began teaching about Yahweh, he found that they had a basis of the truth that he taught. However, people seemed ignorant of the deeper characteristics of God.

Among the Egyptians, there was an elaborate system of religious beliefs and observances, for religion was a big part of their life. Their temples were large and extravagantly furnished. They served many gods and vied with one another for the gifts of the multitudes who crowded the sanctuaries. Priests, ceremonies, and religious displays met the eye, and it was the golden age of Egyptian religion. Moses must have been a close student of all that passed before him.

Moses’ life is generally divided into three periods of 40 years:

  1. In Egypt for 40 years – Moses was born to godly parents, and was adopted into the family of Pharaoh. Being educated in all the arts and sciences of the Egyptian schools, he chose to attach himself to his own people, and was then forced to flee to save his own life.
  2. In the Wilderness for 40 years – Moses gained a wife, a home, and was then subjected to severe discipline in the desert. He learned firsthand about the land that he would one day lead his people through. After that, an important event occurred when God called him to go back to Egypt and begin his life’s work along with his brother Aaron.
  3. Leading the people through the Wilderness for 40 years – Moses obeyed God and rescued the Israelites from Egypt, saw God’s deliverance at the Red Sea, received the “Torah” at Sinai, taught and trained the people, lost his patience, and then fell into sin. Moses had repented and then preached in the plains of Moab – to which, he was then taken home to God without entering the Promised Land.

Personality

Moses was a powerful man physically, mentally, and spiritually. He had an ability to excite attention and admiration of all who looked upon him. Yet, he felt he needed Aaron, because he felt his speech was not adequate. He was known for such a vigorous social passion, to which is evidence through his life. He was unselfish in his leadership, for the Israelites consumed his life. He was so passionate in his devotion to Yahweh, to which he had a powerful faith in the Divine Plan of God. He was filled with righteous indignation and spiritual intensity, and this marks him as a true leader of men. Lastly, like the other prophets, he felt a pressure of the Hand of God – and his whole life was influenced by this awareness/consciousness – which brought him face-to-face with God.

Moses’ Theology

Moses had a theology of “God’s Will” – to which, excelled beyond most men, because he comprehended that “God is a God with a purpose.” God has a Will for Man, has a Will for the world, and especially a remarkable Will for Israel. Moses believed that God’s Will unfolded moment-by-moment and developed his character with each passing day. Moses believed that God was a being of moral character with ethical standards, and believed that He wanted His People to mirror His ethical nature. He knew God had a distinct personality, and Moses represented Yahweh as respecting human personality. He felt God’s compassion as He cared for His People – whether they were in slavery, bondage, in the Wilderness, etc. He was so faithful as to deliver them from bondage and lead them tenderly across the Wilderness. He was even so good as to teach them through the prophets, and loved them with an undying love. Moses knew God was a “covenant-keeping God” who had the right to expect His own chosen ones to keep their part of the covenant.

Miriam and Aaron were siblings of Moses. While Miriam normally didn’t speak, Aaron was especially true to his brother by helping him accomplish God’s Will, especially going with Moses to convince Pharaoh to release God’s People from bondage. They both undoubtedly stuck close to Moses for a good portion of his life.

Burning Bush

In Chapter three of Exodus, we see many things that Moses was involved. Moses kept the flock of Jethro, who was his father-in-law, a priest in the land of Midian. He kept the flock on the backside of the desert and near the Mountain of God, near Horeb. He did not know that he would lead millions of people through this Wilderness in the very area of the Mountain of God. In 3:2, he was called by God in the burning bush experience, and was told that God had seen the oppression of the Egyptians. He heard their cry and came to deliver them. God sent Moses then to go to Pharaoh to speak on His behalf to free the people. God gave him methods of doing so, with a promised consequence to Pharaoh for reluctance. Moses responded and went with Aaron to do so!

Overall

The roots of divine sovereignty, divine holiness, and divine love were foundational stones to which the Prophets reared the Temple of Faith – the pinnacle of which was Jesus of Nazareth! Moses contained such attributes, which would inspire future fathers to model a temple to support worship unto God, and if Moses was able to model this for Man and have them pass it down through the generations, that’s greatly awesome and wonderful to witness.

Moses in comparison to Jesus Christ

MosesJesus Christ
The prayer of Moses healed Miriam of Leprosy (Numbers 12:10-13).Jesus cleansed a leper (Matthew 8:2-3).
Children were killed by Pharaoh during the birth of Moses (Exodus 1:22).Children were killed by King Herod in Bethlehem during Jesus’ Birth (Matthew 2:16).
God promised a prophet like Moses would be raised up (Deuteronomy 18:15).Jesus is the prophet of promise from God, but definitely greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:1-6).
As the voice of God sounded, a cloud overshadowed Moses, Aaron, and Miriam (Numbers 12:5-8).As God’s Voice sounded, a cloud had overshadowed Peter, James, and John while they were with Jesus (Matthew 17:1-5).
Divided the red sea to get across.Walked on the water to transcend.
Moses was to flee his birthplace because of Pharaoh’s persecution (Exodus 2:15).Jesus and family fled their native land because Herod was persecuting people (Matthew 2:14).
Moses was able to return to his birthplace after Pharaoh died (Exodus 4:19).Jesus was able to return to His birthplace after Herod had died (Matthew 2:20-21).
Moses prayed over the miracle of Manna and Quails (Exodus 16:1; Numbers 11:31).Jesus performed the miracle of loaves and fish two times (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39).
Moses led Israel to the Promised Land (even though Moses could not cross the border because he sinned)(Numbers 20:1-13).Jesus Christ fully obeyed God and brought people into Paradise (Luke 23:43).
Moses chose 12 messengers – one from each Tribe. Hoshea is renamed Joshua, one of Moses’ closest associates (Numbers 13:2-16).Jesus chose 12 disciples (later known as apostles) who would judge Israel’s 12 Tribes. Simon is renamed Peter, one of Jesus’ closest associates (Matthew 16:17-19; Mark 3:16-17).
Moses was on the mountain of blessing to receive the Commandments (Exodus 19:20; Deuteronomy 6:5-25).Jesus was on the mount as He gave the Beatitudes sermon and His Commandments (law of love)(Matthew 5:1-12).
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