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The Christian Counter

   
Moses and the Mark of the Beast
Lesson 50
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The life of Moses could be divided into three distinct segments of 40 years each: The first segment began with his birth and ended with him murdering an Egyptian taskmaster. The next segment began when Moses escaped from Egypt and ended when he returned to Egypt. The final segment of his life began with the Exodus and ended when he died.

Except for his miraculous escape from death shortly after he was born, the Bible gives minimal information about Moses’ first 40 years. (See Exodus 1 and 2.) The Bible does not reveal how Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses or provide additional insight about his time in Pharaoh’s house. We do know, however, that when Moses grew to be a man, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. (Hebrews 11:24) The reason Moses murdered the Egyptian taskmaster remains a mystery to me. Did Moses kill the Egyptian out of a sense of injustice or was Moses simply looking for respect from his Hebrew brothers? The circumstances surrounding the murder happened this way: One day Moses left the comforts of Pharaoh’s palace to see for himself how his Hebrew brothers were fairing under the agony of slavery. He came upon a Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave and believing that no one was watching (Exodus 2:12), Moses killed the Egyptian and quickly buried the corpse in the sand. However, another Hebrew witnessed the event and the word of the murder spread like a wildfire through the Hebrew camp. Moses feared for his life and fled to the desert to escape Pharaoh’s wrath.

For the next segment of 40 years, Moses lived in the desert as a fugitive. While working for minimum wages (tending sheep) in the hostile environment of the desert, Moses discovered two essential elements of life. A patient faith in God and contentment. The stark surroundings of the desert with its unforgiving lessons of survival taught Moses about depending on the Lord than he could ever learned while living in Pharaoh’s palace. Moses discovered the power and joy of love when he cared for the sheep. Ultimately, the first 80 years of life prepared Moses for the finest and final segment of his life. His Education in Pharaoh’s schools and his education in the desert combined in a unique way to make him one of the world’s finest servant leaders.

The Servant Leader

Being a servant leader is quite difficult because the attitudes of a servant and the attitudes of a leader are constantly at war against each other for mastery. The “leader” uses the authority and control to meet objectives, but the “servant” uses love to get the job done. The servant leader exalts the welfare and development of his or her subjects equal to that of the objectives. In other words, the servant aspect of leadership is willing to miss objectives (or profits) to improve and develop the members of the group, whereas the leader aspect of leadership is willing to sacrifice members of the group to meet objectives! In practice, this balance is very hard to manage and Moses often failed in his attempt to be a servant leader. Remember the time he impatiently struck the rock to obtain water when God had commanded him to speak to it? (Numbers 20:8-12) That impatient act prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land. I find it ironic that Moses had to flee from Pharaoh’s palace because of an impulsive act and he also failed to enter the Promised Land due to his impulsive nature.

After Moses was gone for 40 years, God forced him to return to Egypt. The Lord’s anger burned against Moses because he resisted God’s command at the burning bush to return to Egypt! (Exodus 4:14) Shortly after the burning bush episode, Moses made the Lord so angry the Lord was prepared to kill Moses. In that case, Moses wife, Zipporah, saved him from God’s wrath! (Exodus 4:24) When Moses arrived in Egypt, he was a much different man than when he left. Moses had left Egypt with an attitude of a leader, but returned 40 years later with an attitude of a servant. A tremendous difference lies between egocentric attitude of the young Moses and the theo-centric attitude of Moses at age 80. It took 40 years of tending sheep to transform Moses into a meek man. When Moses finally learned how to follow the Good Shepherd, God promoted Moses to be a shepherd of God’s people.

A Man without a Country

When Moses arrived back in Egypt after his 40-year wilderness sojourn, he did not have the respect of the Hebrew elders. No doubt, some of the elders remembered that Moses was a fugitive from justice. This made it necessary for God to use a miraculous signs through Moses in the presence of the elders. Otherwise, the elders would have rejected Moses and the message he presented. (Exodus 4:30,31) From our vantage point today, it is interesting that even after directing a miraculous exodus from Egypt using great displays of God’s power, his people still did not respect Moses. There is a simple reason for this: The carnal mind does not understand the spiritual mind. God used 40 years in the wilderness to transform Moses into a spiritual man. In the carnal world, leaders (politicians must maneuver so a majority of important people constantly admire them or they will be out of a job. When Moses returned to Egypt, he did not promote himself to be the savior of the Hebrews, not did he seek followers or popularity. He did not arrive with an entourage of servants nor did he command a mighty army prepared to defeat Pharaoh. Moses arrived in Egypt as a servant of God. Moses explained to the elders that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had sent him back to Egypt to lead Israel out of Egyptian slavery. To verify Moses’ claim, God worked several miracles through him. (Exodus 4:29-31) After seeing the miracles, the elders believed.

Background

The story of Moses offers several end time parallels that are important to consider. Interestingly, the parallels found in the lives of Moses, Pilate, Saul, Easter, Gideon, Daniel and others were recorded in the Bible for our benefit! (1 Corinthians 10:11)

For a point of reference, our background study on Moses should begin with Jacob – the great-great grandfather of Moses. Jacob had twelve sons and his favorite was Rachel’s first son, Joseph. (Remember, Jacob worked fourteen years to acquire Rachel from Laban. See Genesis 29.) When Joseph was seventeen, his envious brothers sold him to Midianite merchants for 20 pieces of silver. These merchants took Joseph to Egypt and sold him they’re as a slave. (Genesis 37:28) In spite of this great injustice, Joseph remained faithful to God, and God wonderfully blessed Joseph through some very tough experiences.

About 23 years after his brothers sold Joseph as a slave, the king of Egypt released him from prison and promoted him to the position of Prime Minister of Egypt. This sudden promotion occurred because God enabled Joseph to interpret a dream that God specifically gave to Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s dream predicted seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. God warned Pharaoh of an approaching famine through Joseph, and Pharaoh was so pleased to know the meaning of his dream that he elevated Joseph to his new position. After seven years of bountiful harvests, the sun began to scorch the Earth and the famine was severe and widespread. The famine also reached Canaan and about two years later, Jacob and his eleven sons ran out of food. In desperation, Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt. Through a series of events, Jacob’s sons discovered their little brother, Joseph, was the Prime Minister of Egypt. Imagine their great fear and panic! In one of the greatest acts of compassion ever recorded, Joseph forgave his brothers and insisted that his father and all of his brothers move to Egypt. Knowing the famine would last five more years, Joseph moved his father and the brothers to the region of Goshen and the children and grandchildren of Jacob (Israel) flourished in Egypt.

One of Jacob’s twelve sons, Levi, had a son named Kohath. Now follow the genealogy – Kohath had a son named Amram, and Amram was the father of Aaron and Moses. This Levi-Kohath-Amram-Moses genealogy is important to this story because Moses knew as a youngster that his generation the fourth generation – was the generation scheduled to be freed from Egyptian slavery! Review the promise that God gave to Abraham many years earlier: “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.’” (Genesis 15: 13-16, italics mine)

The Fourth Generation

I hope you have read the bible account describing how God miraculously used Pharaoh’s daughter to rescue baby Moses from the river and adopt him. (Exodus 2) Growing up in the palace of Pharaoh and learning about his miraculous rescue at birth could put all kinds of ideas in a young man’s mind. I am sure that as Moses grew into manhood, he probably concluded that he was a man of destiny. Moses could easily have concluded that god had chosen him to deliver Israel from Pharaoh’s control and lead His people into Canaan to inherit the land God promised Abraham. I believe these ideas were probable because at that time, Moses was the only Hebrew in the world who was not a slave. Moses also was aware that he belonged to the fourth generation and knew God promised Abraham that the fourth generation in Egypt would return to Canaan and inherit the land! Evidently these thoughts led Moses to conclude that he was the one who would set his people free. However, one pivotal problem with Moses’ conclusion was that the slaves had no respect for Moses. They lived in the ghetto of Goshen and every day they endured terrible suffering as slaves. Conversely, Moses had lived in Pharaoh’s palace and enjoyed the best things that money could buy. No matter what Moses thought and though Moses refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Hebrews 11:24,25), the other Hebrews did not regard Moses as one of them! Moses probably knew about this alienation and set out to prove to his kinsman that he really identified with them and their suffering. Part of Moses’ motivation for killing the Egyptian may have been the strained relationship between Moses and his identification with his people. However, the murder was a rash decision and it did not enamor Moses to his people. In reality, his action ultimately proved to everyone that he was not very smart. The very next day, when Moses realized that (a) his own people had no interest in mounting an insurrection against Pharaoh by following his example, and (b) Pharaoh would probably sentence him to death for unlawfully killing an Egyptian, Moses decided it was the best interest to disappear from Egypt. His grand illusion of delivering the Hebrews from slavery simply evaporated as he fled into the isolation of the desert to save himself from certain death.

End Time Parallel

With God, timing is everything. God did not need Moses to deliver His people from slavery. God could have exercised any one of thousands of options to deliver His people. This brings up an interesting point about faith. I believe Moses was like Abraham. Moses wanted to deliver his people from slavery, but God’s larger plans for the Exodus included several object lessons between Himself and Pharaoh. Of course, Moses did not know about God’s larger picture and Moses’ finite view of God’s plans led to his failure. This is always the human problem. Remember the case of adultery between Abraham and Hagar? Abraham and Sarah schemed to fulfill God’s plan by violating their marriage covenant. Moses attempted to fulfill God’s magnificent plans by killing an Egyptian. Like Abraham, Moses sincerely believed in God, but both men failed because they would not wait for God to resolve the situation! Moses violated God’s law by killing the Egyptian and consequently, he had 40 years of solitary isolation! As a fugitive in the harsh setting of a desert prison, Moses learned submission and total dependence on God. Moses discovered the practical meaning of faith and learned how to wait so that God could fulfill His higher purposes for Moses. (Waiting for God is one of the most difficult lessons to learn. James 1:4) When God concluded that Moses’ spiritual life had reached a satisfactory level of maturity, He called Moses to do a special work for Him and Moses submitted to God’s plan.

There is a profound end time parallel here. During the Great tribulation, each person will face a question of survival. As the issue of survival becomes all consuming, the human solution will stand opposing the divine solution. (Our ways are often contrary to God’s ways, because God’s ways are not like our ways.)  For example, the Bible makes it clear that a severe famine will occur during the Great Tribulation and food supplies will be scarce. So, in the face of death, does hunger justify stealing? The juxtaposition between starvation and stealing forces each of us to take a tough look at the principles we honestly maintain. If we answer, “yes” to the question that hunger justifies stealing, then our principles are no different from the principles of thugs who currently roam and loot the world. They steal because they do not have what they what and do not trust God to provide for their needs. So not stop there – take the question one step further. Does hunger justify killing? If we answer “yes”, then we are no different from Moses whose impulsive act killed the Egyptian. The point is that submission to God means submission to God’s control of the situation – and in some cases this means submission to the point of death. (Remember the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace?) Here is a truth to consider: Calvary proves that Jesus would not participate in wrong doing (unrighteousness) to sustain His own life (and neither should those who honor Him)! (See Matthew 4)

The Great Tribulation is just before us, so carefully consider these words from Revelation 13:10: “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” Reread that last sentence. This text is directed at god’s people during the Great Tribulation and it indicates that many of God’s people will be imprisoned without justification. Also, many of God’s people will be killed without justification. So, get ready children of God. This world is full of injustice and it will be directed our way soon! God’s Word has declared the course of coming events so that our faith in God might remain steady. God’s people need patient endurance and faithfulness! God knows the future and He already knows the outcome for each of us. Obviously, we do not know how our particular future will unfold, but that is not our concern. Our concern is to remain faith-full to God and the principles of His kingdom today – even to the point of death.

Moses before Pharaoh

The first time Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh, they presented a small demand. Notice that god did not demand something from Pharaoh that would destroy his nation’s economy. God merely demanded a three-day leave of absence, which is all.   “…Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: “Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’” Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.’”   (Exodus 5:1,2)

Pharaoh’s response immediately revealed his heart! Although Pharaoh has been dead for a long time, his words and attitude live on. The carnal response of the human heart when brought face to face with the sovereign will of God remains unchanged: “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?” God did not offer to negotiate with Pharaoh. Instead, God confronted Pharaoh with a direct order, “Let my people go….” During the Great tribulation, God will confront the people of Earth with a direct order, “…Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:7, italics mine) Moses and Aaron were to Pharaoh what the 144,000 will be to the world during the Great Tribulation. God will empower and send His servants throughout the world to proclaim the everlasting gospel. The gospel of Christ commands everyone to worship the Creator. This means we should structure our lives to incorporate the Ten Commandments, which include His seventh day Sabbath. God’s point-blank declaration will produce a similar response to that of Pharaoh in many people. They will say, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him….”

Remember that it took ten plagues to ravage Egypt before Pharaoh’s rebellion temporarily softened. Pharaoh’s behavior should hold special meaning for the students of Bible prophecy, especially for individuals who want to understand the use of “Sodom and Egypt” in Revelation 11:8. Notice the text: “Their bodies [the two witnesses] will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” Consider why the Bible refers to Sodom and Egypt in Revelation 11. These two entities, Sodom and Egypt, describe the mindset of the wicked at the time of the seventh trumpet. The seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15-19) marks the close of the offer of salvation. When the seventh trumpet sounds in Heaven, God will have separated the people of Earth into two groups (sheep and goats). God will seal one group with His seal and the other group will have received the mark of the beast. The group that receives the mark of the beast will have the same defects in their character as the ancient inhabitants of Sodom and Egypt. Sodom represents a class of people who cannot discern right from wrong. The Sodomites were inebriated with sexual immorality and they vigorously promoted their degenerate ways. The consciences of the Sodomites and the inhabitants who lived in the cities around Sodom were cauterized as with a hot iron. As a result, God’s patient forbearance with them ended and He burned Sodom, Gomorrah and several ancient cities to the ground with a meteorite shower of burning hail and sulphur. (Genesis 13:13; 19:24-29)

Egypt, on the other hand, represents a class of people who defiantly refuse to submit to God’s authority. Like Pharaoh, Egypt represents a group of people who will refuse to render obedience to Almighty God, even after they have heard God’s demands! The terms, Sodom and Egypt, represent a point in time when divine forbearance with the wicked has no redeeming effect. When God’s subjects have reached that point, God can do no more to save them. Therefore, God will destroy the wicked, just as He did in Pharaoh’s day. Think about this: A Sovereign is not sovereign as long as rebellion exists! This is why God will ultimately destroy sin itself! (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)

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