Moses was born at a time when the king had ordered that every boy should be thrown into the Nile. God however, preserved Moses among other male children that the midwives hid.
Although it was quite clear what Moses needed to do, God took him through leadership training. Moses, who later on passed on at the age of 120 years, had these years divided into three periods of his life. He spent his first 40 years in the palace as an Egyptian prince. During the second 40 years, he lived in the desert caring for sheep owned by his father-in-law. By the age of 80 years he was ready to lead God’s people and he spent his last 40 years leading the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land.
The first 40 years.
- Moses learnt the workings of the royal court.
Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
Moses grew up in the palace before he became of age and refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He was exposed to highest form of governance during this time. Probably, Moses learnt some leadership qualities from Pharaoh. He might have learnt how Pharaoh would react to challenges that come with leading people. He saw how Pharaoh address the grievances of his people.
It was from the royal education he received that he was able to confront Pharaoh after several years. He had familiarized himself with the protocol of that time. He knew the right channel to use in order to reach to Pharaoh.
I believe God placed Moses in the palace so that he could gather a few skills that would later help him as he led the Israelites.
- Moses’ education.
Acts 7:22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
Egypt’s teachers offered tremendous preparation for Moses’ future ministry. Balan Swaminathan in his article ‘Building Strong Leaders’ writes that Moses’ teachers came from a variety of backgrounds and occupations, including medicine, law, and the military. He may have gotten an opportunity of learning from engineers who designed the pyramids and the sphinx. This provided him with the best learning and growing opportunity in the ancient world.
Later on, God used Moses to write the first five books of the bible; the Pentateuch. In Genesis, Moses gives a great account of the story of Creation. He espouses on the themes of Disobedience, sin and the promises of God. In Exodus, he records the events of Israelites deliverance from Egypt. Here, Moses writes his own story. He espouses on the themes of slavery and redemption. In Leviticus, he outlines the duties of priests and Levites. He espouses on the themes of sacrifice, worship and holiness. In Numbers, Moses shows his prowess in accounting. He gives an analysis of a census of the whole Israel community. He also narrates how the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the people of what God had done and encouraged them to turn their hearts back to God. He espouses on the themes of laws and love. Here, he presents the covenant to the Israelites in form of a treaty.
Although Moses was not eloquent in speech, he was endowed with the best education of his time. Clearly, Moses’ life is a clear display of God preparing us for a divine purpose.
- Moses learnt the culture and religion of the Nile.
From Walton, Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament, 43, he writes “ Moses had firsthand experience with the religion of the Nile. He was schooled and grew up in the ways of the cultic practices of Egypt. He knew the Egyptian mythology. He was knowledgeable about the pantheon. This leader was well aware that it would be tempting for Israel to follow the gods of the Canaanite and Egyptian religions. Consequently, he stressed the need for Israel to worship Yahweh and Him alone.”
The children of Israel suffered from negative influences from the Egyptians. They indulged in the making of idols and worshiping other gods. Moses, having experienced the religion of the Nile, understood the threats that faced the Israelites. Even though most of the times Israelites had turned away from God, Moses knew where the goal post was. He knew how to confront these issues from a point of understanding.
The second 40 years.
Acts 7:23-25 When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being ill-treated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defence and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
Somehow Moses had sensed the call of God upon his life. He might have figured out that God had hidden him and prepared him for this great mission. At the age of forty, Moses thought he ready. He killed an Egyptian with the hope that the Children of Israel would embrace his great efforts of rescuing them. His own people seemed not be in support of what Moses had done.
Clearly, Moses had the right convictions about his calling, but he executed them at the wrong time. What he had not realized is that there was another forty years of obscurity and privacy remaining for his preparation. God took him to a rugged desert in North America where Moses enrolled in God’s training school and he learned lessons useful for his calling.
- Moses learnt how to handle people.
Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.
Jeff Blamer in his article ‘called to lead’ writes: “God left Moses in Midian for 40 years of training. His training was not in theology. As God often described himself in the language of shepherd and flock, he prepared Moses to lead people by having him lead a flock composed of sheep that were compliant but totally reliant on the shepherd. Moses learned to lead a people who would be non-compliant. By tending the goats in the flock that constantly pushed to the edge, resisted the shepherd, and believed that the goat’s way was the better way. By tending sheep and goats, Moses was prepared to lead the mix of sheep and goats who were the Israelites.”
Exodus 16:2 in the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat round posts of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to stare this entire assembly to death.
Interestingly, both of these events happen in a desert. Both the flock and the Israelites were complaining for food. Moses had dealt with this matter when he was a shepherd. When the Israelites behaved in a similar manner, he used the skills he had learnt when he was a shepherd.
- Moses learnt patience.
Moses spent another 40 years serving under his father-in-law as a shepherd. These years were enough to mold him in the area of patience and stillness before God. He learnt what it meant to know what exactly needed to be done but at the same time to have to wait for God’s timing. Moses was hidden for a season, he was hidden for a reason and he was hidden before being revealed.
After the Israelites were delivered from the hands of the Egyptians, they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon. Soon afterwards, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh and he pursued the Israelites. They started to grumble and complain against Moses which showed their impatience and lack of faith.
But Moses, who had been taught patience, had this to say to them; Exodus 14:13 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Crikett Keeth in her series of ‘A journey of Faith’ writes “Moses fled to Midian, where God further prepared him for his ultimate purpose. He had tried to deliver his people from slavery however, he tried doing it on his own strength and in his own timing and he failed. Now he has purposely separated himself from the Hebrews and the Egyptians, but these would not be wasted.”
- Moses learnt humility.
There is a great contrast between Moses’ life in the palace and his life as a shepherd. In the palace, he was a prince; he might even have inherited the throne from Pharaoh. He enjoyed being served and giving orders whenever he wanted things done. He was taught what kind of jobs fitted his standards and shepherding was certainly not one of them. He was famous and wealthy, his future was secure.
In the Midian desert, Moses did the very jobs he despised and detested. He could no longer give orders but he had to do everything for himself. As a shepherd, he could no longer wear the classic robes he had in the palace. He wore sandals and walked with a shepherd’s staff. He suffered the hotness, dryness and isolation that characterize a desert. Moses learnt humility.
Numbers 12:3 Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.
The last 40 years
God finally entrusted Moses with the task of delivering the Israelites when he was eighty years old. God allowed him to go through these circumstances. Although the process was long and tough, Moses still accomplished his purpose within the last 40 years of his life. Moses was now more prepared than before because God had approved that it was the right time.
Truly, God used his first 40 years in the palace and second 40 years in the desert to develop Moses for leadership.
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