THE THREE PHASES OF MOSES’ LIFE
TEXT: ACTS 7:20-37
- I have always been fascinated by the life of Moses. And the more I read the Bible and the more I study, the more I am amazed at the life of this great man.
- The Standard Oil Company has made billions of dollars pumping oil out of Egypt. Do you know how they discovered that there was oil in Egypt?
- One of their directors was reading his Bible and was reading the third chapter of Exodus. When he came to verse 3, he read these words, "and daubed it with slime and with pitch…" He reasoned that where there was pitch, there must be oil. And if there was oil in the days of Moses, it was probably still there.
- So Standard Oil sent a man named Charles Whitshott, a geologist and oil expert, down to Egypt to investigate. He soon confirmed that there was in fact much oil in Egypt.
- The great Scotch preacher, Alexander Whyte, who wrote the book Bible Characters From the Old and New Testaments, started his chapter on Moses with these words: "Were I to let myself once expatiate on the whole of Moses’ life I would not know where to begin or where to end." I know what he means.
- Months ago, I was at a pastors’ fellowship and heard an excellent message on the life of Moses. The preacher made these statements about Moses’ life:
- The first 40 years, Moses learned to be somebody.
- The second 40 years, Moses learned to be a nobody.
- His last 40 years, Moses learned to help everybody.
- I jotted down those statements (and thanked the preacher afterward), and decided to use that as my outline for the life of Moses.
- Moses lived for 120 years (Deut.34:7). People lived longer back then, but even for his day that was a long life (cf. Ps.90:10).
- The words of Moses from Psalm 90 are appropriate for this occasion. He wrote, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Ps.90:12). Young people, have you asked God to teach you to number your days? They go very quickly, especially when you get older.
- Why should we number our days? -- So we can apply our hearts unto wisdom." What is wisdom? (cf. Proverbs 1:7).
- Today, I would like to divide Moses’ life into three parts. Deut.34:7 tells us he died at the age of 120. Therefore, we will divide his life into three equal parts of 40 years each.
- In the Bible, the number 40 always represents God testing man. For example, it rained 40 days and 40 nights in the days of Noah; and Moses was up on the mount of God for 40 days and 40 nights.
- Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh: "Yet 40 days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown" (Jonah 3:4). Our Lord was tested in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights; and after He rose from the dead, He showed Himself alive to His disciples for 40 days. Many other examples could be given.
- MOSES’ FIRST 40 YEARS: HE LEARNED TO BE SOMEBODY
- Turning back to our text, we see that Moses’ first 40 years was spent in the Egyptian court (Acts 7:20-23).
- As the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he was reared as a prince. The Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria, wrote that Moses was proficient in arithmetic, geometry, , grammar, rhetoric, and logic.
- The famous Jewish historian, Josephus, says that Moses was a great Egyptian military leader during his early years, and that he led a successful campaign against the Ethiopians.
- The Bible says that "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). This would include mathematics, chemistry, engineering, architecture, astronomy, poetry, philosophy, music, and all branches of learning. That’s a lot of "life-pacs"!
- The Egyptians were heathens, but they were not ignorant people – they built the pyramids, they had calculated the distance to the sun, they understood embalming, etc.
- Bible scholars have pointed out that if the pharaoh of the oppression was Rameses II, Moses could have been the next Pharaoh, because Rameses II had no sons. In any event, he was brought up by Pharaoh’s daughter as a prince and "was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22).
- But despite this privileged background, the Bible says, "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter" (Heb.11:24).
- The point I am trying to make here is that those whom God would use, He carefully prepares. And this is clear from the life of Moses.
- THE SECOND 40 YEARS: MOSES LEARNED TO BE A NOBODY
- Moses spent 40 years on the backside of the desert as God prepared him for his great assignment (Acts 7:23-30).
- After 40 years in the Egyptian court, God put Moses into the land of Midian and gave him a "BD degree," i.e. the Backside of the Desert degree. What I am going to say now, is for adults as well as for our young people – beloved, you may never get this BD degree, but you better make sure you get your "BA" – i.e., "Born Again!"
- I heard a radio preacher say that he recently received a letter from a heartbroken mother who said that she had two very successful sons – one was a physician, and the other a colonel in the Air Force. Yet, her heart was broken because neither one of them was right with God.
- Beloved, you can get a first-class education, and go out into the world and be very successful, but unless you are right with God, it will not do you much good (cf. I Cor.1:18-19; 2:14).
- My exhortation is: Get a good education, do well in school, work hard, read all the time and develop an analytical mind. But don’t forget to put God first – otherwise, you will just be an educated pagan.
- The first time Moses tried to liberate his people it was in overconfidence. But after spending 40 years on the backside of the desert God cured him of that (cf. Ex.3:1-11).
- Young people are always in a hurry, and are often impatient with school – remember Moses – 40 years in the court of Pharaoh, and 40 years on the backside of the desert. God gave him 80 years preparation for his important task of leading his people out of Egypt. Perhaps God has an important task for some of you!?
- Our Lord had over 30 years preparation for His three and a half years of ministry. If the Lord Himself spent 30 years in preparation, and the great Moses spent 80 years, why should any of us complain or be impatient?
- Soon these days of preparation will be gone – and once past, will never come again. So be patient, and be diligent. Make the most of your preparation, or someday you may regret that you didn’t.
- MOSES’ FINAL 40 YEARS: HE LEARNED TO HELP EVERYBODY
- After 40 years in the Egyptian court, and 40 years on the backside of the desert, Moses was 80 years old when he first approached Pharaoh (Ex.7:7).
- To help everybody, Moses first had to learn to be a nobody. This includes being rejected (Acts 7:35; cf. 7:9).
- It was through this rejection and his 40 lonely years in the land of Midian, that God was preparing Moses to be a great leader (cf. Num.12:1-3).
- Undoubtedly, the big event in Moses’ life was his encounter with God in the desert (Ex.3:1-6). "The angel of the Lord" was the Lord Himself, the pre-incarnate Christ (cf. Ex.3:1-6; Acts 7:33).
- You do not have to be out in the desert for God to speak to you – He is speaking to you now, if you will listen, through His Word.
- Can you hear His voice?
- To the Christian every bush is a burning bush and all ground is holy ground. Can you hear His voice?
- Years ago an unsaved tavern keeper was invited to one of John Wesley’s meetings. He was very fond of music and so he agreed to go but insisted he would not listen to the preaching.
- When the song service was over, he sat with his head down and stuck his fingers in his ears. But a fly came along and lit upon his nose. For a moment he moved his hand to drive the fly away and heard John Wesley say, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!"
- From that moment the man had no rest in his soul. He came back the next evening, listened eagerly to Wesley preach the Gospel, and was saved.
- Is God speaking to your heart? Is there anything between your soul and the Saviour?
- Unsaved friend: Christ died for your sins on the cross. Repent of your sins now, tomorrow could be too late.
Pastor James J. Barker