A question sometimes asked in a job interview or on a college application is “Who is your hero?” By the time we are filling out job or college applications we usually have enough smarts to not answer with the name of a sports figure or movie star or the latest rap singer. We know that who we call a hero is a reflection on us, so we are careful to name someone worthy of the honor. A humanitarian figure or someone who has dedicated their life to public service is usually a safe route to go. Spiritual leaders can be a bit more dicey because we don’t want to offend anyone’s religious sensibilities. With that said, I don’t think I am going too far out on a limb when I say that I have recently added Moses to my lists of heroes.
I have just finished reading through the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, and I came away with a new appreciation for this amazing man. No doubt if you have ever seen The Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston immediately springs to mind when you conjure up a mental picture of Moses. He makes for a charismatic and believable leader. But the facts revealed in Scripture reveal that the Moses of reality was even better than the Moses of the big screen.
Moses had been chosen by God to be the leader of the people of Israel. The Bible says, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3 For years he had remarkable patience with the stubborn, whiny group of people he was herding around in the wilderness. They had a chronic case of rebellion against God going on, and whenever they got out of line Moses would go to bat for them. His prayers of intercession kept them out of trouble time and time again.
As time passed there came an occasion when they were at a place called Meribah where there was no water supply. This presented a big problem for this huge throng of people, not only for themselves, but also their livestock. The people picked a fight with Moses and had the gall to complain about the exodus from Egypt. “We would be better off dead!” they whined. Moses and his brother Aaron withdrew from the scene to pray. They received specific instructions from God on how to deal with the situation. They were to assemble all the people together in front of a particular rock and then tell the rock to pour out water. God promised that water would flow out of the rock, enough for the people and their cattle to drink. So Moses and Aaron got everyone together in front of the rock, and that’s when I think Moses just lost it. Maybe he overheard one too many critical comments, but whatever the reason, he had had it with this group of whiners.
“Listen, rebels! Do we have to bring water out of this rock for you?” With that Moses raised his arm and slammed his staff against the rock—once, twice. Water poured out. Congregation and cattle drank. Numbers 20:10-11
Uh oh. Two problems. First, Moses implied that he was the one who brought the water out of the rock. Second, he was supposed to just talk to the rock, not hit it with his staff. The consequence of his disobedience? He would not be allowed into the Promised Land. Ouch. Truthfully, my heart aches for Moses. To try so hard and then in one moment of rash disobedience lose it all. Or did he?
I think this is when the strength of Moses’ character and his love for God shines most brightly. He continues to lead the people with integrity and passion. No complaining, no quitting. No giving of less than his best. Right up until the time of his death, he continued to press the people to serve God and live righteous lives. God knew what He was getting when he chose Moses to be the leader of the Hebrew people. A man with no quit in him, a man who would see his assignment through to the end, even when he would not reap the benefits of all his labor.
Just before he died, God took Moses up to the top of Mount Nebo so he could have a glimpse of the Promised Land. Although God did not allow him to enter the Land, He did allow him to see it. And knowing the kind of man Moses was, I bet he was happy with that glimpse.
I thought that was the end of the story, but then I remembered something. Fast forward about 1400 years to the days when Jesus walked by the shores of the Galilee. It was there that three small-town fishermen, Peter, James, and John, met Jesus and became his followers. One day Jesus invited these three men to join him as he hiked up a nearby mountain. They were in for the hike of their life! It was on that mountain top that Jesus was transfigured from a man like them into someone the likes of whom they had never seen. His face was altered and His clothes became a dazzling white. What was going on?! And suddenly two more men arrived on the scene who were talking with Jesus. Who were these guys? As it turns out, one was the prophet Elijah, and the other was the giver of the law, the humblest of men, Moses.
I am filled with such gratitude for this unexpected kindness from the Lord. He rewarded his servant in a way Moses couldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams. He was standing on yet another mountain top, but this time in the Promised Land, conversing with the Promised Messiah. We talk about ‘mountain top’ experiences. Moses got a literal one.
I encourage you to be a Moses. Serve to the best of your ability no matter what your situation. Let your service spring from your love of God. And be aware – sometimes God blesses in unexpected ways.