Okay—you may not think a little crying in a basket, while floating down the Nile River was actually ‘problem’ material, but I think it’s easy to see, if we keep on reading—that Moses did not step out of Egypt on his way to the Promised Land, with all of Israel in tow, as the most humble man on earth.
In fact, I find it especially exciting to discover just how quickly he was capable of ticking God off.
And let me say—I love to read about other people’s faults and failures in scripture. It motivates me to do better when I know other people have gone on before me and… well—messed up, because that gives me permission to do the same thing. No one pointing fingers in my face and taunting ‘I told you so’s,’ no lectures and no feeling like I have to sail on into eternity with ne’er a blooper or blunder to be had—for I surely would never make it.
But I don’t want to suggest that I’m making light of messing up. It makes me shudder to think about the way my attitude used to be, when I discovered God, in His grace, really did forgive me for sinning even after I’d given my life to Him—ho hum, God will forgive me… again.
But years of correction, and facing up to the consequences of my actions—and realizing all that I missed because I didn’t ‘get’ the whole concept of obedience before—have been whittling a deep sobriety about the seriousness of sin into the softened flesh of my once arrogant attitudes. I know that God did not come to earth to humble Himself as a man, teach us how to live, and pay the ultimate sacrifice with His life—to spend the rest of eternity winking at our mishaps or just overlooking them. The whole thing is far too serious to make little of.
Even so—I think He purposely put things in scripture so that we would take heart; realize that our human natures will never be perfect this side of eternity, and have hope that, if He can work miracles in other people’s hearts, He can do it for us, too. There’s no going forward until we can make peace with our mess-ups.
I think we should consider that God—the one who said that with Him, one day is as a thousand years; who is slow to become angry; who waited decades while Noah built the ark for people to repent–that God is the same one who went from zero to exacerbated with Moses in their very first conversation.
Could we put this in perspective? Because I don’t think you’re getting it. Picture this—Nebuchadnezzar captures and enslaves the Israelites. He sets up an image of himself and makes everyone worship it—and tries to burn those who don’t in a fiery furnace. And what does God do? He sends him out into the wilderness seven years to humble him. What amazing patience on God’s part. We are talking about a God who waits years and decades for people to learn from their mistakes.
Now Moses argues with God on his very first encounter with Him. That would not be a good idea under any circumstances—but Moses keeps on arguing with Him until God is actually infuriated—on their first encounter! The God who is slow to become angry! Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Moses heads out in complete disobedience to do what God was asking him to do and God is ready to kill him.
Yep—God had already told him to circumcise his sons, and–for whatever reason we could fathom–Moses just didn’t seem to think doing what God said was all that important because off he went without having done it; as though God didn’t really mean it; as though he could pick and choose what to obey and what not to obey. Compare that to Abraham and Isaac and you see a whole other attitude at work.
And God had had it this time—his second blunder and God was ready to take him right out. If not for his wife’s quick thinking all of history would have gone down differently. God was dealing with a problem child—He had His hands full with Moses way before the rest of the gang just about drove Him around the bend in the wilderness.
Now, I’ve been around almost half a century so far–and, I have to admit, I can’t say that I’ve seen anybody yet who’d make me think we’re not ALL in this together–the whole problem lot of us.
But here’s the hopeful part. When it was all said and done, and Moses had come to the end of his days–even though he still couldn’t enter the Promised Land because of his sin–God let him see it, took him home peacefully and honoured him so much He buried Moses Himself.
And God made it known for all the ages to come, that he was the most humble man on earth back in the day.
Wow. Everything Moses went through—from the time he thought it was okay to argue and disobey, to getting close enough to see the Promised Land with his own eyes, all of everything along the way—in the hands of a God Who works all things together for our good; made him the most humble man on earth. That means there’s hope for us, too.
And you know what that means, problem child—one day (though you may not believe it looking at yourself now), God might very possibly bring you into eternity—the most humble person on the face of the earth.