Exodus Day Twenty-One
July 29, 2020, 5:28 AM

“A Very Humble Man…”
Exodus 9:27-30

Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them,
“This time I have sinned; the LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.
Plead with the LORD, for there has been enough of God's thunder and hail.
I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”
Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city,
I will stretch out my hands to the LORD. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail,
so that you may know that the earth is the LORD's.

But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.”

A character study of two men.
One the most powerful man in the world.
The other man content to tend sheep on the far side of the wilderness of obscurity.

When I was a young man, I asked my minister what part of the Bible he most appreciated. He surprised me when he said, “I like the Old Testament.” At that point in my life, I subscribed to the conventional pew view of the OT: The OT presents the angry, wrathful God; and the NT depicts the God of love and Jesus. (I didn’t know no better.) I asked, “Why?” He said, “Because the pages of the OT are filled with imperfect, messed up characters, like me, and God still loves and uses them.” Just look at Moses! The guy loses his temper, albeit at an injustice done, and murders a man. He must shamefully flee for his life. And when God calls him, begs off because he thinks God can’t possibly make the call work[!!!]. His depraved heart even neglects to apply the covenant sign of circumcision to his own son. He blows his first big opening salvo before Pharaoh, not following his marching orders from God. Case closed. There are folks who make it into "Who's Who." Moses is in "Who's Through." Stick a fork in him. He done.

And yet, we see in Moses, a man who willingly gives up a privileged palace life because, “he considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt.” (Heb. 11:26). He spends forty years in mundane Midian, learning how to shepherd. When God comes aglow to Moses at Sinai, he knows he has his shepherd. Later on, in the wilderness of Numbers12, Moses will be challenged in his leadership by none other than his own brother and sister! Aaron and Miriam complain behind his back, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” (12:2). The editorial response to this rare moment of bad attitude from these two is off-the-charts. It says, parenthetically, “(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)” (12:3). Obviously, Moses did not write those words! No such book from Moses, "Humility, and How I Achieved It!"

In the exchanges between Pharaoh and Moses throughout the Exodus ordeal, we feel the difference between the two men. If this pharaoh is Rameses II, then we know by world standards, he is a great king. Builder. Strategist. Beloved Monarch. Glorious. However, note well the way this pharaoh is introduced in the Bible: “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” (5:2). “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” (5:4). The pathetic refrain, over and over is, “Pharaoh's heart remained hardened, and he would not listen.” Reality: Not Glorious.

Pharaoh is great in the eyes of the world; but God has a different standard of greatness. Moses is a deeply flawed man, as is the condition of all humanity this side of Eden, yet his walk through the years in Egypt and the wilderness reveal an evolving man of God with an enlarging tender heart. Prime example-- In the passage quoted today from Exodus 9, the seventh sign of hail has just devastated the land of Egypt. Pharaoh confesses, Oh, “this time I have sinned; the LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong[!] (9:27). He begs Moses to “plead with the LORD” for him! We would excuse Moses if he told Pharaoh where and how to get off the bus! Moses knows this isn’t a sincere request. He knows pharaoh hasn’t changed. However, Moses still has compassion on the king. He prays for Pharaoh. He honors Pharaoh, even though Pharaoh doesn’t honor Moses.

This is the mark of a godly leader – humility. This is what God wants to see in us. This is what he moves us to. Scripture is unanimous in this voice: “The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” (Prov. 15:33). The prophet Zephaniah will later counsel the people, “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility.” (Zeph. 2:3). Paul exhorts often, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” (Eph. 4:1-2). And “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:3-8). And “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. (Col. 3:12). Humility. Humility. Humility. This is the school of the Holy Spirit. This is the way  of Jesus. This is how God created our hearts to function.

The spirit of Pharaoh is ubiquitous in the world.
The way of Moses is not appetizing to the same world.
What a contrast!


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