Lessons of Humility from the Life of Moses
Article taken from Fatherly Talk
Continuing on the theme of humility we now look at the person whom the Bible declares to be the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3). It is a strange little verse especially knowing that it was Moses who was supposedly the author of the Pentateuch (all five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy). Moses might have dictated God’s words and recount of the incidents to Joshua and others who put the remarks of his humility in parenthesis. For humility doesn’t self advertised itself. (For example, the book of Romans is attributed to Paul but the scribe was Tertius (Romans 16:22). (O Yes, they have their secretaries – scribes – to take down notes even in those olden days).
Moses lived a life of privilege and luxury being brought up as the son of the daughter of Pharaoh (Hebrews 11:25-26). It is so easy to become proud when one is surrounded by great wealth, power or fame. For this reason the Bible exhorts those who are rich to be humble (1 Timothy 6:17). That such a verse is in the Bible tells us that the pride of life is an easy thing to fall into especially those who have riches, power and influence. This does not mean that the poor or middle class is exempted from such temptation. Poor people can also fall into pride to their self-effort (self-made people) or intelligence or skills. Pride is a temptation to everyone and is evident when we look down on others in whatever way, shape or form. There is even such a thing as spiritual pride, where one thinks they are spiritually better than others. If all things are equal, the rich and powerful do have more temptation to fall into pride. Thus the need for Paul and James to exhort them to walk in humility (1 Timothy 6:17; James 4:1-6; 5:1-6).
Those who have not tasted fame, fortune and power at its height do not realize how easy it is to subconsciously fall into a pride of life. You get used to people serving you all the time that you forgot that Christianity teaches us that a true disciple of Jesus must lower himself or herself to serve others first (John 13:3-17). Saul, the first king of Israel, became proud and wanted to preserve his own kingdom for himself; many times doing things that are profitable only to himself not truly caring for the people whom he was appointed to rule over. Yet, he started with seeming humility regarding himself as low in the eyes of prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 9:21). Many humble people do become proud when they tasted of power, wealth and fame; and this includes those in the ministry, too. Pride and pomp made King Nebuchadnezzar think that he was someone special and God had to deal with him (Daniel 4:28-37). Herod thought that he was someone special; dressing himself in great pomp and allowing people to link his oratory to the voice of God (Acts 12:21-24). He died eaten by the humblest and basic of God’s creatures – the worm. No one is special. No one is above another human no matter what our gift or talents or education or adornment or wealth or fame. We are all equal in God’s sight and should think of others better than ourselves (Romans 12:3, 10). The greatest among us must be the servant of all (Mark 9:35; 10:44). The sad thing in the ministry is that many fivefold ministers and churches struggle much to be successful and finally after much travail and pain do become successful; they subsequently forget where they came from, begin to behave and adopt proud ways and methods, setting themselves for a major fall and discipline by God. For God does resist the proud (James 4:6). It is sad because many such have never tasted success before and having come unto their own forget their humble roots. Of course, this also applies to the business person also who forgets the God of his earlier humble days when they were nobodies. We all need to learn to eat the humble pie of serving others continually or our flesh will cause us to be proud.
Moses was brought up in pride and in pomp within Pharaoh’s house although he had his own mother as a nurse. He had servants, unlimited supplies of food and clothing and experienced the soft easy life style of the best of Egypt. His behaviour and mannerism was such that when he was first in the wilderness, the daughters of Jethro mistook him for an Egyptian (Exodus 2:19). While the rest of his fellow Hebrews work themselves to death as slaves, Moses ate the best and finest in the land of Egypt. In the writings of Josephus the Jewish historian, he records the wars of Moses which Moses accomplished in leading the armies of Egypt against their foes. Moses lived the privileged life of a prince and accomplished many mighty deeds. The Bible recorded that as an Egyptian, Moses was mighty in deeds and in words (Acts 7:22). He was aware of his Hebrew roots which is why at a latter stage in his life, he visited his own people and observed them. Indeed, from the account in the book of Acts, it seems that he had perceived himself to be the champion of the Hebrews and their deliverer (Acts 7:25). This was when he was already had forty years of good life for he visited them only after he had turned forty (Acts 7:23). By then many of the poor, hungry and suffering Hebrews had died in their slavery and mistreatment. Fresh from his great achievements as an Egyptian prince, Moses thought that he would achieve recognition from his own people if he showed himself to be a champion to them. On one occasion when he saw a Hebrew being mistreated by an Egyptian, he looked left and right and seeing no one, secretly attacked and killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand (Exodus 2:12). He did hope for recognition by the Hebrews as their champion (Acts 7:25). The lesson we learn here in the life of Moses is that God does NOT need our wealth, our fame, our power, our abilities or talent to accomplish His work and His will. He only needs a humble heart obedient to His voice and will.
Learning the lesson that God does not need our fame, power, wealth or influence to do His Will was a major lesson for Moses. Many people like that seat on the boards of many churches and ministries, making decisions without prayer or seeking the mind of God. There is nothing wrong with having wealth, fame or power but it is important that leadership or board members are not selected based on their wealth, fame or power; they should be selected based on their humility, servanthood and Christlike character. Moses’ perception was right in that God did choose him to be the instrument to free the Israelites. What he did not understand was that God did not need his proud Egyptian heritage to do His spiritual work; it is not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of God. He needs to have the Egyptian pride eradicated from his life before God could use him. Many ministers and pastors are too easily influenced by powerful, rich, wealth, famous or influential men and quickly kowtow to them. God especially said that in the church one must not give preference to another because of their wealth or influence (James 2:1-8). This does not mean that we do not respect those who are in power, wealth or influence but rather it means that in the church there is impartiality as becoming of what heaven and Christ is like.
It is not an easy lesson to learn that we cannot accomplish God’s Will just merely based on wealth, influence and power for sometimes people seem to have these as their goal thinking that it will further the work of the Lord. All the wealth of the world, all the fame in the world and all the power in the world CANNOT forward the will of God one inch if there is no humble heart behind such. Such was offered to Jesus in the wilderness and Jesus said NO to all of them (Matthew 4:1-11). Abraham said NO to the king of Sodom when offered material blessings for his work accomplished (Genesis 14:23). Elisha said NO to the offer of material blessings for the healing of Naaman’s leprosy. Elisha declared that as long as the Lord lives, before whom he stood that he will receive NOTHING (2 Kings 5:16). The apostle Paul chose not to take from the Corinthians when he was there with them despite the fact that he had the right to do so, instead he wanted to present the gospel to them without charge (1 Corinthians 9:1-18). The only type of individual who ministers for the sake of money is Balaam. Balaam had a special ability to somehow prophesy and he allowed himself to be used by a rich man named Balak (Numbers 22:17). Even though Balaam knew that he could not control the gift and its prophetic utterance, recognising that a house full of silver and gold could not change the prophecy, he still went along that he could obtained some material blessing from the function of a gift or ministry. If not for the faithful donkey, Balaam would have died (Numbers 22:22-35). When he failed to prophecy doom to the Israelites, out of his greed, Balaam taught Balak how to bring God’s judgment on the Israelites by causing them to sin (Numbers 31:16). From the readings of the Scriptures, Balaam was willing to do his best to try to curse Israel just because of the lure of money (Deuteronomy 23:4-5; Joshua 24:9-10; Nehemiah 13:2. We are now warned in the New Testament to beware of the sin of Balaam who desired the wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15; Jude vs 11). If we do not learn the lesson that Moses learn in humility, we would end up prostituting the gifts and the callings of God; merchandising the anointing of God for a paltry sum of money.
Moses had to have his forty years of humbling in the wilderness in order to completely eradicate his false idea that he could do God’s work with the power, wealth and fame of this world. At the end of that time, despite his mightiness in words and deed, he was a broken man who did not even have confidence in his own ability (Exodus 4:10). He even suggested that God used someone else instead of him (Exodus 4:13). Moses was completely a broken man not interested in anything else but his simple life as a shepherd. He had learned his second lesson, that he was completely nothing and useless all by himself. Imagine in the first forty years, he learned that he was somebody great and was proud about it. In his second forty years in the wilderness, he had come to learn that he was a useless fellow. Good for nothing more but taking care of his flocks and staring at the desert sand every day. Maybe, he learnt his second lesson too well.
All of us have to learn this second lesson from Moses life, too. We need to learn that we are nothing but dust and clay. It is nothing within us that is of any use; only what God put in us that is useful to Him. Paul learned the lesson that the real treasure is the life of Christ in us, earthen vessels, and that the excellence of power may be of God and not of us (2 Corinthians 4:7). He had to learn that when he is weak then is Christ strong within (2 Corinthians 12:10). He had to learn that it is not really him but the grace of God in him that was doing the work (1 Corinthians 15:10). He had to learn that it is no longer him who lives but Christ who lives within him (Galatians 2:20). Jesus Himself said that without Him, we can do NOTHING (John 15:5). But with in Him, we will bear much fruit. He is the vine and it is not us but the life of Christ within us that accomplishes all the wonderful works of God through our lives (2 Corinthians 4:10).
A broken and contrite spirit God will never deny. It is the most precious thing to God such that in the background of the whole planet earth, a broken and contrite spirit would attract all the powers and resources of God’s throne in heaven (Isaiah 66:1-2). Some modern preachers would challenge the fact that we need to be broken for God to use us but if we truly learn the first and the second lesson from the life of Moses, we would have learned that unless our pride is broken, we can never be humble much less the meekest man in the world. It is our pride that needs to be broken (or humbled). The reason Moses achieved such distinction as being the most humble person on earth is because he was thoroughly and completely broken. God does resist the proud and breaks them.
Let us learn to repent for our pride and humble ourselves permanently before the throne of God. In Him we live and move and have our being, nothing more and nothing less.
In Christ Jesus
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