Moses: The Training Wheel Period

Moses[1]

Hebrews 11 is the Hall of Faith. Each person covered by Hebrews 11 is shown for what they did or became by exercising their faith. By reading the Old Testament, we can see each person’s beginning, middle, and end. We are able to see the process by which they became usable to God and see the lessons each can offer for today’s believers. In Hebrews 11: 24-28, Moses is highlighted.

What we know about Moses is he wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament; referred to as the Pentateuch (or the five books of the law). Traditionally Moses’ life is broken into three 40 year periods.[1] Moses’ birth to his exile (Exodus 2:1-15); Moses’ years in exile (Exodus 2:15-4:31); and Moses as leader of Israel (Exodus 5ff). Except for the first five books of the Old Testament, Moses is mentioned infrequently elsewhere is the Old Testament (Josh. 24:5; 1 Samuel 12:6, 8; Psalm 77, 105-6; Isaiah 63:11; Hos. 12:13).[2] The New Testament assumes the role of Moses as mediator of the covenant (John 1:17; Gal. 3:19) and author of the Pentateuch (Luke 24:27). For the writer of Hebrews, the Mosaic covenant is a shadow of the true reality, but Moses is a model of faith (Heb. 3:1-6; 11:24-28).[3]

One of the sources outside the Bible that speaks of Moses was written by Josephus called Jewish Antiquities. In this source, Thermuthis (daughter of Pharaoh) presents Moses to her father and for her shake Pharah spares him and educates him.[4]  Part of Egyptian education was training in warfare. When Moses was a man, war broke out between Egypt and Ethiopia. Moses led a great army and captured Saba (the capital of Ethiopia) helping Egypt win the war and ended the conflict.[5] Knowing the type of education Moses received, shines a light on his thinking when he tried to help his people in Exodus 2. He failed in freeing his people causing him 40 years living in exile.

Moses went from living in a palace to living in tents. He went from leading an army to leading sheep. He went from being a prince to being a no body. The exile period of his caused him to be a broken man. Moses went from being a great man to a broken man. He went from be self-assured, self-confident, self-centered to doubting himself and his abilities. This brokenness is actually where God meets him in Exodus 3. After Moses agrees to go back to Egypt to do God’s bedding, God knew Moses needed training wheels so Moses could grow into the leader he would become.

The period I call Moses training wheel period took 18 months. The training wheels God gave Moses was his brother Aaron. We see in this 18 month period the ten plagues (Ex. 7:14-12:37). The major focus on the ten plagues was showing Egypt and Israel that God is the One true God, but they also served to rebuild Moses’ self-image.[6] Reading Exodus 7:14-12:37, we can see that Aaron began the process, but Moses emerged as the primary spokesman and the one God used to work the miracles.[7] By the end of the third plague, God spoke directly to Pharaoh through Moses instead of Aaron. In the process of bringing the plagues to Egypt, God brought Moses to where he needed to be to lead his people.[8]

In his youth, Moses tried to free his people and failed because he replied on his own skill, worldly education, and a false sense of self-esteem. The second time around, Moses delivered his people by replying of God. During the training wheel period, Moses experienced a degree of self-esteem. Moses was successful only because of his ability to trust and obey God and to feel comfortable carrying out God’s will.[9] Little by little God rebuilt Moses’ self-image until he was able to speak clearly and forcefully and to step out on faith and perform miracles.[10] He was able to do the task God called him to do because God gave him the skills he needed and gave him success to build him up. Because of this process, Moses went from being a man not able to speak well or lead well to being God’s mouth piece and the leader Israel needed to go from a slaved people to a free people.

[1] Proctor, W.C.G., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 795.

[2] Ibid, 796.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Maier, Paul, Josephus; The Essential Works. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications,  1994), 48.

[5] Ibid, 49.

[6] Getz, Gene A, Moses Freeing Yourself to Know God (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishing, 1984), 71.

[7] Ibid, 72.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 74.

[10] Ibid.

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