MOSES #14 – The FINAL SHOWDOWN: Exodus 11v1-10.
Moses was certainly developing as a leader in all of this time of haggling with Pharaoh. He gained tremendous credit among his own people, and by the end of this final night, all of Egypt’s officials and people would be bowing before him in deep respect – for here is a man who has the ear of the greatest God, and who seems to be the sole channel when God wants something done.
Moses has re-built his life on daily conversing with God: speaking and listening. It surprises me how often I hear aspiring leaders say they don’t know how to pray, or who cannot give a simple, fresh word from the Lord. It’s like they have not yet learnt the basics: Those who sense the call to lead the people of God, must themselves be led, Or they must live life in the shadow of someone who will. And the closer their walk with Him, the clearer the directions will become.
The Bible is the story of how God communicates with men: personally, heart to heart. Just because the Bible is a completed, bound volume does not mean God has stopped communicating with those who will draw near to accept His instruction for their assignment.
We are at the point of Moses’ last opportunity to speak to an obstinate opponent, whose heart God had hardened. Moses has used up all his powers of persuasion, and in his own strength this would have been the point of his greatest failure. Pharaoh plays right into the hands of God, who will show His amazing power over all people by demonstrating to this mere human leader that God’s way is to gain honour for Himself, and the best we can do is either get out of His way, or become His channel.
What is the step you need to take in your leadership? Do you need to get out of the way, or start listening better, so you can become His channel of power and change?
MOSES #13 – AND ALL THE REST: Exodus 8-10.
We get the picture by now. God through Moses was making it pretty obvious that there is no God like Jehovah, and that any leader who comes in the name of the One True God, comes with power and authority over the delusions of this world, and all the powers of earthy empires.
By the time the ninth plague hits Egypt, the land was devastated, the people were demoralised, Jahweh had taken their health, their wealth, and their supremacy. Their pride was smashed and their desire to trade their slaves for a little bit of respite was overwhelming. Only Pharaoh remained resolute.
But what was God doing for His own people? First off, at least from the plague of flies, they were seeing that the great I AM was showing mercy to them while judging the evil of their oppressors. This was a time of nation building, bringing a revival of hope.’ It was also a time of preparation: What did God have in His plan for them? The beauty and grandeur of their adopted land was destroyed. This devastated landscape was no longer their home. A new prospect of freedom, in a prosperous and fertile land, under the watchful eye of their all-powerful God, was beckoning them. It had been a tough episode, but now they were ready to leave: to strike out into a new future.
What about you? Is God creating a dissatisfaction for the old life? Is He enticing you with the vision of something greater, away from the security of the cage you have known, to the thrill of new opportunity? Is the journey you are about to embark on taking you towards a greater expectation of Him. As your mind fills with the potential be encouraged that like in Moses’ day when some of the Egyptians eyes were opened to the inclusive power of God; others watching for your next move will be challenged to think there might even be space for them in God’s plan.
MOSES #12 – IT’S ALL ABOUT NOT LOSING FACE: Exodus 8v16-32.
Among the elite in the Egyptian hierarchy of gods was Geb: god of the dust of the earth – the supporter of vegetation, and lord of the underworld where the dead, in their burial were united with their ancestry. Moses is not given the option of warning Pharaoh of this calamity, by which every person in the land was struck with incessant, unrelieved itch. If you’ve ever seen an animal or a friend with a severe allergic reaction: widespread inflammation and swelling, you night have some idea what it would be like for everyone in the nation to be afflicted. All normal family life and commerce would stop. The emergency and security services would be totally neutralised. It was three days of national disaster, rather like the fourth plague the following week with its assault on the integrity of Khepri, by swarms of flies. Pharaoh’s councillors were quick to point out: “This is the finger of God: there’s nothing you can do against Jahweh.”
Pharaoh is desperate not to lose face: After all, he is in line to be the next Egyptian deity in the heavens, and his people need to see him as supreme above all foreign gods. If he believed his own delusion, what could he do but carry on, to the very destruction of his nation.
Having something to prove, is about maintaining our place of pride. “I can do this despite…” was the same sin that brought judgement on Jonah, Haaman, and a host of biblical, historical, and present day leaders, even leaders in the church. But anyone who raises up his personal right over the need for obedience to God will be brought low, and the more persistent they are, the more public may be their humiliation.
There were two New Testament characters who conspired to deceive the church (Acts 5), but were rumbled by the Holy Spirit. If we think it’s okay to set our own standards, for our own personal advantage… maybe it’s time for a life-check..!!
MOSES #11 – BIGGER THAN PHAROAH and HIS GODS: Exodus 7v7-24.
There are times when an older brother is just what you need: someone who believes in you and backs you up – even fronts for you when the enemy comes on the horizon. I never had an older brother, but I remember one school mate threatening his class rival with a beating by his older brother. I’m not sure it happened, but the threat was enough. So I suspect Moses is delighted to delegate to Aaron the task of confronting his adversary. As they squared up across the throne room the snake crown on Pharaoh’s head shouted “authority.” How ironic that the first sign of God was to show that even royal snakes are obedient to His bidding, for no authority can withstand Him.
In theory that is truly reassuring, but in some of my confrontations I would love to have a staff-snake to cast on the ground, to demonstrate Who is on my side?… or rather Who’s side I am on?
Thus these Hebrew leaders show themselves to have a higher authority than that of the Egyptians. They go on to show that God Jehovah is more powerful than Hapi, the most revered Egyptian god of water and fertility, by turning the life-giving water of the Nile into a flow of blood, stinking and filled with dead fish.
Maybe you get perturbed at the failure of our governments to acknowledge divine authority in their law-making. We seem powerless to thwart the rise of “personal rights” over “Scriptural principle.” The discrediting slippage of “the church,” apparently confused with its stance over the modernisation of common morality, seems to be gathering pace in the eyes of ‘Jenny and Joe Public’. And yet there is hope, for the God of Heaven will use even this setting to awaken people to His power. He has pledged to deliver His chosen people from deceit, disillusionment and slavery. As we live in submission and holiness, giving respect to God and all created beings, we have opportunity to show the way.
MOSES #10 – A DEEPER REVELATION OF GOD’S PURPOSES: Exodus 6v1-12; 6v28-7v6.
Did you notice today the difference between Moses and Abraham? Moses received extra revelation of the Name and person of God, and with that revelation, a deeper intimacy and power, born in this very crisis, because God needed a different kind of leader for this time.
I have a close friend who is with the surgeon right now. She expects a 10-hour procedure for something God could easily have reached down and cured. She already has a deep intimacy with her Heavenly Father, but He has placed a new calling on her life, for which she will need a new anointing, and an even more intense and dependent relationship with God, in the Spirit.
I too sense delays and disappointments in the schedule God has allowed in fulfilling the calling He has given me. But I know it is His calling because I hear him update me on the plan from time to time; and because I see the changes in me that are part of the waiting, and the struggle. And like Moses, I sense God has a lot to do in changing the people who will surround me in the task. He is planning to increase the intimacy and the power by the course He has set.
The reassurance Moses needs and receives is that God knows what He is doing, that His plan will win at the final reckoning, and that no-one (not even Moses biggest opponent) will thwart God’s purposes.
If that is a reassurance you need today, then prepare yourself for a deeper intimacy, maybe even through a period of rejection or deep hardship. Ask yourself: is this difficulty worth it – for all that God has promised to do? AND THEN, maybe ask yourself the question Moses must have asked himself over and over in the years that followed: Am I willing to endure this hardship also so I can be the leader He needs me to be?
MOSES #9 – REJECTING THE MESSENGER: Exodus 5v1-6v1.
Have you ever been confused by the struggles that come when you try to follow what you firmly believe God is saying. It ‘s like buying a faulty piece of equipment – no matter how often you check the instructions, only one speaker works, or it seems the spare part is from an updated version….
Today’s episode in the deliverance of God’s people is another example of the principle that following God closely, seeking to hear and fulfil His directions with all your heart, does not always result in an easy progress to the next step. Here the demand from God through Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh, to release the Hebrew slaves, backfires. The king accuses the whole nation of indolence, and adds the task of gathering their own straw for the brick kilns to the already impossible quota-driven production target. And the most disappointing outcome is the accusation from his own people that Moses has mis-heard the instruction of God.
When things get worse for us, what do we do? We can certainly return to the instruction manual, and to the maker; but then we need to do what Moses did, and take courage in the Lord, that what He wants to do is to demonstrate His power in unimaginable ways, and bring about His promises His way.
At times we may be overwhelmed with the size of the task, and with the hard climb to the summit. We may even feel totally rejected by those we are called to lead, and maybe by those who have delegated to us. Leadership can be a lonely place, but we need to remember who called us, and what His final purpose is. His methods are often puzzling… but His declared outcome is a clear and definite release of His chosen people. Our responsibility is just to remain faithful…and keep firing up the kiln.
MOSES #8 – FACING OUR FAILURES:
Going back to face the mistakes and sins of our past comes at a cost. For Moses he was taking his family to a place of high risk, where he might even be arrested, charged, convicted and executed. But before he arrived there he needed to go through a time of cleansing that touched his family, for apparently he had not introduced his family to the Hebrew code of circumcision. Zipporah and his two boys had to pay the price with him… Circumcision for them was a tipping point – were they in, or were they out because the price was so great? Like Moses, I may not be fully aware of how my un-cleansed sin can affect my loved ones.
There is something special about firstborn children. Having children floods us with emotions. For each child it is different, but the firstborn is special, for he or she presents a first realisation of responsibility, of possibility, of progeny.
Now my oldest son, Peter, tells us he is the favourite. That claim could be a psychological strategy (he studied psychology), or a defence to his own self esteem, but there is something about my relationship with him that is different from the others. I would “fight” for David, Andrew or Stephen too, but there are some reasons I might sense Peter’s struggles more that the younger three, for he is the one on whom I tested my strategies for each developmental stage.
God recognises the bond Pharaoh has with his oldest son by saying in effect: I know how to watch out for my oldest too. The great thing is God seeks to protect and nurture us like firstborn sons, because our faith in Him, our belief in our position with Him, our development of character, our future are all desperately important to Him, as is our future production of grandchildren for our Heavenly father. He longs to see our progeny also recognising Him as Lord and Master.
MOSES 7 – DON’T FORGET THE OTHER STAFF: Exodus 4v10-17.
The other staff Moses was encouraged to take with him was his shepherd’s crook. As shepherds sat round the campfire sharing stories late into the night they would cut a notch or a groove in their crook to mark each significant event. This was the shepherd’s equivalent to a spiritual growth journal – recording events like:
• The first time his dad left me alone on the hillside overnight with my own little flock;
• The time I scaled 50 feet down the cliff to rescue one of the new lambs on a wintry night.
• The bear attack that took out half of the year’s new lambs, or the carving of a bear’s head recording how he later surprised the beast in his lair and then had used his pelt for moccasins for all his children, and a bed cover for the wife;
All sorts of marks for all sorts of victories.
Moses had one just like it, as did David generations later. He was going to need that staff for more than just the snake-trick when he confronted Pharaoh. He would need it as hard evidence to bolster his courage and faith each time he went to the palace. He would be able like David the say – this is the notch I carved when I faced down that lion – and the God who helped me then is with me today. We would soon be able to record the details of God’s faithfulness with each new victory so he could clearly recount the stories to the next generation of leaders round the campfire. He was going to need his journal.
Where do you record the struggles and victories of your faith-walk. Maybe you need a place to come back to regularly that reminds you of God’s faithfulness to you. Why not start a Spiritual Journal this week? Click the link for instructions on how to get started.
MOSES #6 – DON’T FORGET THE STAFF: Exodus 4v10-17.
Some tasks are just too big for one man! And especially at Christmas you don’t want to forget the staff.
Moses was very conscious of his own limitations. He’s not a strategic planner. He needs a staff. Some of the committees we each serve on have difficulty getting a leader to take responsibility for all sorts of reasons (sorry guys to blow your cover). But when someone does give a reluctant ‘Yes’, the rest either they take three steps backwards with a sigh of relief, or they fall in behind their leader and readily volunteer to help, so long as someone else carries the can.
On a nomination list of one, Moses makes all sorts of excuses about his unsuitability, and his other responsibilities, but he is worn down, steps up, and allows God to choose his team. All those years with wayward sheep hadn’t helped his confidence, and even though God tells him every Egyptian he knew him 40 years earlier had died, Moses still senses the need for moral support. I certainly don’t recall Aaron having to speak up for Moses in Pharaoh’s court, but as a brother he was great for back-up, and to win over the Hebrew people.
I need others around me too, because although I may be a strategic thinker with enough questions for everyone, maximizing the benefit and minimizing the pitfalls of each step towards an enlarged future; I don’t have the ability: WOO (Win Others Over) by communicating that vision to various groups we need to follow us for a successful outcome.
Helping each church in Scotland have a men’s ministry that supports and strengthens the home team, and evangelizes the not-yet believers is far too bid a task for one leader. Even the team player who can only offer moral support is vital. But leaders need to discover the giftings of those God has placed around them, to get the maximum output from our team effort.
There’s another whole story about the Shepherds staff God tells Moses to carry with him everywhere. That’s a story for another day. Meanwhile check FiveFoldSurvey.com, or www.gallupstrengthscenter.com to check out what you can bring to the team.
#5 – THE STRANGEST OF SIGNS: Exodus 4v1-17.
How would you like God to authenticate your leadership? Moses got a snake for a staff (I’ve heard of that one recently too!!), a white hand (not the Raynaud’s kind), and a jug of blood.
I don’t think I’m bringing any of those to the next CMT board meeting, unless I hear some anti-activists are going to be there.
Gallup tells me I’m a Relator, Strategic, Maximizer, with Connectedness, and Futuristic… (see www.strengthstest.com/theme_summary.php/) Marcus Buckingham says that “the role of a manager is to turn one person’s talent into performance, and if you can’t do that you shouldn’t be in management.” The skills you use to do that will not be the same as mine, but knowing your strengths is a great place to start.
The problem with Moses was his report card still carried a great big ‘F’ for failure, but he needed to realise the strengths that were his were God given – to raise a new vision of the future, to transform a despairing but unified tribe into a strong nation with an identity. He focused on his stammer, his time pressures, his criminal record, his fears instead of on the great potential of AN invitation into partnership with God.
God had given Moses other skills from the two 40-year periods of life so far, and he was now calling Moses to put them into action. Maybe you need to discover your strengths. For $10 you can get a refocus from Gallup (www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/Purchase/en-US/Product?Path=Clifton%20StrengthsFinder) and you can YouTube Marcus on Strengthfinder to raise your level of excitement. Maybe God wants to turn you from a corrective focus to one of using every tool he has placed in your box. It’s time to accept the challenge…. and as God did for Moses, He will provide you with a partner to encourage, and His own personal presence as guide and prompter.