“Moses, the Man of the True God”
HAVE you ever put forth an effort to see or meet a man of notable achievement, fame or fortune? And did you then feel elated because you had met him in person? Yet did you ever pause to consider that anytime you wish you can meet the most notable persons that ever lived simply by going to the Bible?
True, meeting such persons by means of a book may not be as stimulating to the senses nor as flattering to one’s vanity, but it can be every bit as interesting and enjoyable and far more rewarding to heart and mind. Going to that Book will increase our love and appreciation both for Jehovah God and for the fine men and women we meet within its pages. At the same time we shall be incited to follow their fine examples and can draw lessons from the mistakes they made so that we can avoid making the same ones.—Rom. 15:4.
All this is true in particular of Moses, “the man of the true God.” Mightily and extensively he served God and his people. For forty years God used him as His prophet, to deliver His people, to mediate between God and man, to give Israel His laws, to judge them, to be their ruler, to build their sanctuary and to conduct their successful military campaigns. More than that, he was used by Jehovah God to start off Bible writing, in which he was neither excelled in beauty nor equaled in quantity.—Ezra 3:2.
Repeatedly he is referred to as “the man of the true God,” and some forty times as God’s servant or the servant of God. He is mentioned in about half the books of the Hebrew and the Christian Greek Scriptures for a total of some eight hundred times. He lived to the ripe old age of 120 years in an era when seventy or eighty was the normal span of life, and at the time of his death “his eye had not grown dim, and his vital strength had not fled.”—Deut. 34:7; Ps. 90:10.
Well did he deserve the epitaph: “There has never yet risen up a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom Jehovah knew face to face, as respects all the signs and the miracles that Jehovah sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land, and as regards all the strong hand and all the great awesomeness that Moses exercised before the eyes of all Israel.”—Deut. 34:10-12.
EIGHTY YEARS OF PREPARATION
About a century ago there began a challenging of the authenticity of the writings of Moses, but modern Palestinian archaeologists have made the theories of these “higher critics” look so foolish that there is no need to take time and space to refute them. Neither is there any point in noting the fanciful tales spun by Josephus and others in an attempt to supplement and complete the Bible record regarding Moses, since they are in such striking contrast to the sober, reasoned and matter-of-fact Scriptural record.
Moses apparently was born in 1593 B.C., of two God-fearing parents, Amram and Jochebed, of the tribe of Levi. It was at a time when Pharaoh’s genocidal decree was in effect: “Every new-born son you are to throw into the river Nile.” But because of their faith in Jehovah God, “Moses was hid for three months by his parents after his birth, because they saw the young child was beautiful and they did not fear the order of the king.”—Ex. 1:22; Heb. 11:23.
When no longer able to conceal his presence, his mother placed him in a little chest or ark she had made of papyrus and pitch and placed it among the reeds of the Nile, at the same time instructing his sister Miriam to watch what would happen to him. Providentially, the infant was found by the daughter of Pharaoh as she came to bathe. His being a most beautiful child and crying at the time so moved her with compassion that she was quite agreeable to the suggestion by the child’s sister to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the child for her. Thus it was that Moses was reared in a God-fearing home, that of his own parents. At a certain age he was brought to Pharaoh’s daughter, who named him Moses. “It is because I have drawn him out of the water,” she said.—Ex. 2:10.
So well did his parents bring up Moses “in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah” that ‘when he grew old he never departed from it,’ even though afterward he “was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” By the time Moses was forty years old he had fully matured, was a man strong in mind and body, one “mighty in his words and deeds.”—Eph. 6:4; Prov. 22:6; Acts 7:22.
It was then that Moses made the important decision of his life: “Choosing to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he esteemed the reproach of the Christ [God’s appointed servant] as riches greater than the treasures of Egypt.” Having interfered and killed an Egyptian who was abusing an Israelite and finding that his efforts on the part of his people were not appreciated by them, Moses found it expedient to flee.—Heb. 11:25, 26; Acts 7:25-29.
Fleeing eastward, he came to the land of Midian and there was welcomed by one of its priestly sheiks, one Jethro, because of having gone to the aid of his daughters in the matter of watering their flocks. There Moses remained and shepherded Jethro’s flocks for forty years. As a shepherd for all those years Moses learned patience, humility, meekness and waiting upon Jehovah. While in Midian he married one of the daughters of Jethro and had two sons by her. Unknown to Moses God was preparing him to serve his people in a most striking way. How often during those forty years Moses’ thoughts must have gone out to his brothers in bondage in Egypt!—Ex. 2:15-25; Acts 7:30.
MOSES AND THE MIRACULOUS
Then one day Moses received a call from Jehovah God to do the very thing he had so much wanted to do forty years before, deliver his people. There was nothing vague or hazy about this call. Moses did not invent it, as can be seen from the fact that he was most reluctant to accept the commission given him by Jehovah’s angel that appeared to him at a burning bush that was not consumed. For the first time in the Scriptures we read of a human empowered to perform miracles, the first of which was that of changing a rod into a serpent and then back again into a rod, so that Moses could prove to his people that Jehovah had actually appeared to him.—Ex. 3:1–4:31.
And the miraculous continued with Moses. He was instrumental in bringing ten supernatural plagues upon Egypt. These cannot be attributed to natural causes, for why did they come just when Moses said they would and leave only at his instance or when he said they would? Next came the great deliverance of his people at the Red Sea, through which his nation marched dry-shod, but in which the pursuing Egyptians were drowned. The miraculous was evident throughout the forty-year trek of his people in the wilderness, among other things in supplying food and drink. There was the manna, which fell six days each week and which was impossible to keep over until the next day except if that day was the sabbath, on which none fell. During all that time their shoes and their clothes did not wear out!—Ex. 7:19 to 16:36; Deut. 29:5.
Worthy of special mention also was the awe-inspiring spectacle of the earth quaking, fire, smoke, lightning, trumpet sound and powerful voice, all fitting concomitants of the giving of the Law by Jehovah God himself. Thereafter Moses twice spent forty days in the sacred mountain, in the presence of God and his angels, receiving instructions regarding Israel’s worship. He saw as much of God’s glory as any human on earth could and yet live, and when he came down to his people his face so shone that it was necessary for him for some time afterward to wear a veil. Without doubt, until the coming of the Son of God no other man was used so mightily and extensively in connection with the divinely miraculous as was Moses.—Ex. 19:1-25; 33:20; 34:27-35.
“THE MEEKEST OF ALL THE MEN”
Moses’ personality was equally outstanding, for “the man Moses was by far the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground.” (Num. 12:3) Some have wondered about this statement, but when we consider the facts we must remember that it was written under divine inspiration.
As used in the Scriptures, meekness has no connotation of weakness but just the opposite, an implication of strength. It means to be patient, forbearing, enduring injuries without resentment, self-controlled and gentle, not easily provoked or irritated, consistently mild or gentle of temper. It follows that a meek person is also teachable.
Moses manifested his meekness by patiently serving as judge from morning to night, by putting up with the murmuring of this people time and again, from the time that they were still in Egypt until just before entering the Promised Land. Being an imperfect human, like the rest of us, at times it was almost too much for him, but he kept bearing their burdens. Repeatedly he faced insubordination, on the part of his own brother and sister, on the part of chieftains of his own tribe and even from the nation as a whole. Yet only once did they so provoke him that “he began to speak rashly with his lips” and “it went badly with Moses by reason of them.”—Num. 11:10-15; Ps. 106:33, 32.
That incident, it may be noted, helps underscore the fact that Moses’ meekness was not because of weakness. He had a striking personality, for we read that he was mighty in word and deed, no doubt a powerful man physically. He also was highly educated, better than any of his people. Usually a higher education makes a man less meek, but not so with Moses.
Meek he was and yet also a man of courage. It took great courage to appear repeatedly before Pharaoh, to lead his own people out of Egypt, across the Red Sea and through the wilderness. At the same time he had a strong sense of righteous indignation. It caused him to kill an Egyptian who was treating one of his brothers unjustly, to interfere when one of his own brothers was treating another unjustly and to take the side of the daughters of Jethro against the shepherds. Especially did his breaking of the tablets of the Law at seeing the idolatry of his people testify to his strong righteous indignation. This trait also makes his meekness all the more outstanding.—Acts 7:23-28.
Nor is that all. What about his ability to organize his people into an orderly army and nation and to lead them to victory over hostile nations that came out to do battle? Was he not used in an outstanding way in performing miracles? Who was inspired to write so much of the Word of God?a And who else was privileged to spend eighty days in the presence of God and his angels, talking to the Creator, as it were, face to face? Yet meek in view of all this! “The meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground”? Unquestionably!
What enabled Moses to be meek? For one thing, his faith. Because of his strong faith he could leave his case in God’s hands instead of being concerned about fighting back and trying to vindicate himself. Jehovah God was real to him, as can be seen in his frequent talking with God. Another powerful factor was Moses’ humility. Typical was his response when Joshua tried to have certain Israelites kept from prophesying, as though Moses should have a monopoly on it: “Are you feeling jealous for me? No, I wish that all of Jehovah’s people were prophets, because Jehovah would put his spirit upon them!”—Num. 11:29.
Certainly without Jehovah’s spirit Moses could not have been meek, and, in particular, not without that fruitage of the spirit, love. He loved Jehovah with all his heart, mind, soul and vital force and was jealous for His name and pure worship. Love made it possible for him to submit to whatever God permitted.
Love of neighbor, of his people, also helped Moses to be meek, to bear so much from his people without resentment. How ungrateful were his people! Though breaking the tablets of the Law in righteous indignation because of their idolatry, the next thing he is doing is pleading for them, even as he did right after they talked about stoning him because of the bad report of the spies. In particular does the book of Deuteronomy reveal Moses’ love for his people. It was as a love letter to them. What affection, what earnestness, what solicitude for their welfare he reveals therein! How he pleads with them to do the right thing, that it might go well with them, as he recounts the marvelous way in which Jehovah had led them!
Fittingly Moses was a type of Jesus Christ. What Moses did on a comparatively small scale Jesus will do on an earthwide, yes, a universal scale, as the vindicator of Jehovah’s name and as deliverer and mediator between God and man.—Acts 3:22, 23.
Moses served without any material reward. He had the satisfaction of doing God’s will and having His approval. Without doubt he looked forward to a reward in the future and will, in God’s due time, receive it in God’s new order of things.
Moses was a marvelous example for all servants of Jehovah in his faith, humility, zeal for righteousness, unflagging service, his meekness and his love for Jehovah and his people. True, he was not perfect, and erred on occasion. While endeavoring to avoid like mistakes, we can but stand in awe at what he was privileged to do and seek to imitate his fine qualities.
a The Pentateuch, namely, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; also Job and at least one psalm.