God as Father - Part II
A Continuation of the Hub, "God as Father - Part I"
“You rebuke and discipline men for their sin; you consume their wealth like a moth, - each man is but a breath.” Psalm 39:11
Moses was chosen by the Lord to deliver the Hebrews from enslavement in Egypt. Born a Hebrew, he escaped the horrors of slavery as in infant when his mother placed him in a papyrus basket and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. The pharaoh’s daughter noticed the basket and sent a slave girl to retrieve it. When she opened the basket, she discovered Moses crying and she felt for him. She raised Moses as her own son.
Moses grew up in the opulence of Pharaoh’s palace. One day, as he watched the Hebrews at their hard labor, he witnessed an Egyptian beating a slave. Looking around but seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. The next day, he came across two Hebrews fighting. He stopped them and asked the one in the wrong, “Why are hitting your fellow Hebrew?” Exodus 2:13. The man asked Moses who made him ruler and judge over Hebrews. He also asked Moses if planned to kill him as he had the Egyptian.
Moses became afraid upon realizing that the killing was known. When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill him, but Moses fled to Midian. There, he settled and married Zipporah and she bore him a son, Gershom. As Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flock, an angel appeared to him in the flames of a burning bush. Moses walked towards the bush when he noticed that although the bush was on fire, it did not burn. When God saw Moses approaching the bush, he called to him and ordered him to remove his sandals for the ground was holy. It was then, God charged Moses with his mission, letting him know that He will be with him. Moses, doubting himself, begged God to send someone else, citing he was slow of speech. This angered God, but He agreed to let Moses’ brother Aaron speak for Moses among the people.
Moses, with his wife and son, began the journey to Egypt. At a lodging place along the way, God met Moses and was about to kill him. This is the first account of Moses facing discipline for his disobedience. What had he done? He had not fulfilled a condition of the covenant given to Abraham in Genesis 17:10, “This is my covenant with you and your descendents after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.” Moses’ son was not circumcised. How could he be a deliverer of his people without fulfilling this very important covenant? Why Moses hadn’t performed the circumcision could have been for one of several reasons, including he may have been unfamiliar with the covenant given that he spent half his life in Pharaoh’s palace or it may have been at the urging of his Midianite wife. It was Zipporah who performed the circumcision to save her husband and son. God then allowed them to continue their journey. Moses learned then that disobeying God carries very serious consequences.
Yet, Moses disobeyed God once more. After witnessing God’s power over the Egyptians, from the Plagues to the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 5-15); His providing of sustenance to the Israelites as they crossed the desert (Exodus 16-17); after witnessing His anger after the Israelites became corrupt at Mount Sinai as he received the laws, including the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32), Moses still allowed his emotions to cause him to sin. In Numbers 20, the Israelites complained to Moses and Aaron about the lack of water for the community. Moses and Aaron left them and went to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown. The glory of the Lord appeared to them and instructed Moses to take the staff and, with Aaron’s assistance, gather the assembly. He then instructed Moses to speak to the rock before their (the Israelites) eyes and it will pour out its water. But this is what Moses did: “So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as He commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’ then Moses struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out and the community and their livestock drank” Numbers 20:9-11
The instruction was to speak to the rock, not strike it. Also, Moses was taking credit for the miracle by stating “we bring you water out of this rock.” Moses and Aaron were disciplined for not trusting God enough to honor Him as holy in the sight of the Israelites. And the punishment was severe: They would not be able to bring the community into the Promised Land.
Aaron died on Mount Hor near the border of Edom. Moses traveled farther to Moab and climbed Mount Nebo. There the Lord showed him the land promised to Abraham: “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it” Deuteronomy 34:4. It was in Moab that Moses died at the age of 120.
The end of Deuteronomy 34 states that no prophet since Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, has shown such mighty power or performed such awesome deeds. Yet, even he was disciplined for his disobedience. No man is exempt from discipline, “For there is no respect of persons with God” Romans 2:11, meaning God does not show favoritism. So, we should never disobey God’s commands and feel there will not be consequences. The fall of Adam and the punishment of Moses clearly show us that.
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