THE WAY OF THE DESERT(Pt.4)

“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time…By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible”(Hebrews 11:24-25,27 NIV).

Some of the most significant decisions are made out of our “desert” experiences. Rightly discerning the meaning of the challenges or crisis moments faced can open up new vistas of possibilities in God. Behind every crisis God waits to appear, to be seen and known. Isaiah the prophet put it this way, “The LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”(Isaiah 30:18 NIV). If we are willing to wait on God He will increase our wonder.

DESERT MEANS SEPARATION

When God has a unique or special calling for someone, His first task is to separate them from lesser things of importance. Once separation occurs, He is able to show them the greater things they have been destined for. In the desert time, that time of separation from people (and things), we learn to turn our gaze toward God, Who is always present to us. Having our attention, He will separate our vision, from the earth to the heavens; from the temporal to the eternal. We gain His perspective, appreciating that true reality involves things which cannot be seen saving with the eye of faith.

Once our eyes of faith have been open we gaze upon “the riches that are in Christ” and we lose our appetite as it were for those things that are temporary and will soon pass away. We also discover that “the greater works” that are to be done for Christ come by way of the desert. Take Moses as an example.

BORN IN A CRISIS HOUR

Moses was born in a time of crisis. A Pharaoh who was threatened by the growth and expansion of the Israelites tried to exterminate a future generation. He legislated “infanticide” of all the newborn Hebrews’ baby boys. It was of the first recorded holocausts recorded in the scriptures (Exodus 1). Moses’ parents who would not submit to this evil edict, not fearing the Pharaoh’s order, hid the child Moses. God honored his mother’s faith. Having committed the child to God, she committed him to the Nile River, and placed him in an ark. What she committed to God, He kept safe for her. The child was miraculously preserved and returned to her safely, to be nursed with benefits! (Exodus 2)

HIS SOJOURN

As the story goes, Moses would be raised in the lap of luxury. He was raised right under the nose of Pharaoh, supposedly his daughter’s son. But when he had come of age he experienced an identity crisis. Seeing the cruel treatment of a Hebrew slave, he tried to deliver him (Albeit not appreciated). In the course of this episode he discovers that he is “one of them”. The charade is up. The palace life is left for the open skies of the desert, where he sojourns for the next forty years of his life. The desert was all a set up by God. On the backside of the desert, he has a divine encounter. A burning bush! But it was not just any ol’ burning bush, but one that burned and didn’t go out. This got his attention. And God got His man.

LESSONS LEARNED

What did Moses gain from this burning bush encounter? Several things come to mind worth our taking notice:

(1) His purpose in life. He was called not to “Pharaohship” but to leadership. He was chosen by God to lead over 2-3 million people from the house of bondage.

(2) True nature of his own heart. God had him place his hand inside his robe over his heart, and it came out “leprous, like snow”. Then he placed it back over his heart and “it was restored, like the rest of his flesh”(Exo.4:6-7). Moses needed to be in touch with the reality of his own heart condition if he was going to have compassion for his people.

(3) Meekness. Forty years on the backside of the desert, away from the glitter and glamour of the palace and power of Egypt, tested and tempered Moses.   Few want meekness…they think it is a sign of weakness. No. Meekness is power under control. Meekness is the nature and strength of the Lamb.

(4) His tools. In the desert Moses was given to understand his tools for the task ahead. Those tools were “words and signs”(Exo.4:15-17). Moses would speak God’s words and perform miraculous signs attesting to His authority from God. The staff of Moses became the rod of God. In essence Moses had learned, as someone said, “He rules best who has a shepherd’s heart”(Read Isaiah 40:11; 63:11).

Finally, He learned “Christ”. He was able to do what God called him to do having “Seen him who was invisible”(Heb. 11:27 NIV). This was more than stopping to see the “burning bush”. This was meeting the All-consuming fire in the flame! It was taking his shoes off. For what had been a common journey around the mountain had changed to an uncommon awareness that this was holy ground, because God had shown up there. Later, we encounter in the New Testament, Moses on the Mount of transfiguration, standing with Jesus and Elijah. A cloud envelops them; a voice from the cloud announces, “This is my beloved Son, hear Him”(Mark 9:7). Moses learned that he was but an echo through the Law given to him. But the real, true and enduring voice was that which gave the Law of Moses its fulfillment; it was Christ. “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”(John 1:17 NIV). It took a little over 400 years to bring Israel their deliverance through Moses. It was nearly 400 years after the Old Covenant scriptures that Christ appeared to bring deliverance to us today. With this the scriptures give witness to Christ, “This is he who was manifest to take away our sins”(1 John 3:5).

Copyright © Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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