Run for Your Life
It is hard to begin an article with defeat, as we are always imagining ourselves as those that gain the victory. Whenever we read the stories of Elijah on Mount Carmel, Peter on the day of Pentecost, or Martin Luther before the august councils of his time, we chiefly identify with the underdog who wins the day because they are standing for the right. The same goes for the events of the final conflict between good and evil, between the mark of the beast and those who receive the seal of God. We always imagine ourselves as being those in the victory. But in order to truly obtain victory, we need to examine defeat.
Our first parents experienced defeat at the very beginning of this world’s history. After the beautiful and amazing experience of creation week, we find a common experience with sin and its aftermath. “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden” ().
Guilt leads us to hide from the living presence of our Creator. Guilt is consuming the world today and it often leads to depression. According to www.usafacts.org, the current rate of depression is at about 20% of the adult population. We used to be told that the problem had been due to stigmatizing so many things that were referred to as sins and that was causing guilt. But now that so many of those very things are legalized and becoming accepted in society as the “new normal” in morality, the depression rate has actually steadily been increasing instead of being reduced.
We also need to look at the experience of Moses when it comes to failure. At first he was well liked in the palace of the king and received the best education to make him a true prince. “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds” (). We need to keep in mind that Egypt at that time was the most powerful nation in what they called the then-known civilized world. It was not just the most powerful but also the most wealthy; and after the experience of Joseph, all that wealth and power was concentrated in the personage of the king. And Moses was to be THAT very man—Pharaoh.
In that specific environment, it was Moses that became “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” and coupled with his learning were his actions in both “words and in deeds.” Although in the midst of constant heathenism, Moses never forgot the fact that he was supposed to rescue his people from slavery. He had gone on many military campaigns as the leader of the powerful army and in his mind, this would be the way for deliverance to occur. And so on a particular occasion when he visited the Hebrews, he saw an Egyptian abusing one from the nation of his birth family. His mind quickly assessed the situation and had a plan. “And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand” ().
The solution seemed simple enough. When there is physical abuse, just respond in the same manner and use your military experience to its most effective use. Unfortunately, however, the enslaved people were not ready for an uprising and Moses soon realized that he had committed an unpardonable offence against his adoptive people. “Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses” (). A realization quickly came that his life had been a failure. At forty years of age, when the greatest accomplishments were ripe because of physical and mental development, this man in the prime of his life had to leave everything behind and flee for his life to a place where very few people lived.
It is during this dark hour when all the hopes and aspirations are the greatest, that Moses needed to make a choice. Whenever we make mistakes—some of which are very costly—they bring us to a point of decision. You can see this many times throughout the Bible record when people are brought to the point of decision. Whether we are speaking of Joshua as he approached the end of his time as leader of God’s people or of Elijah on the top of Mount Carmel. Some decisions take a bit of time while others are to be made in an instant.
Moses did not have the luxury of having time to evaluate all the potential risks. The king was angry and wanted to kill him. As his powerful mind assessed the critical situation, he made a lifechanging decision. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (, ).
Can you imagine a choice like that? On one hand you are about to be made the king with all the power and prestige that accompanies it—and then you have the other option of being with the people of God. It may seem glamorous, but let’s face it, there is no glamor in being a slave. Sitting in our comfortable homes we can look at the situation of the Hebrew nation quite differently than when they were in abject slavery for about 200 years. The crack of the whip demanded instant obedience from cruel task masters and living in extreme poverty where nothing belongs to you. All is owned by the slaveholder who only knows to take and give nothing back.
In the counting of time as far as the age of our earth is concerned, our own nation has recently come out of slavery and all the horrific stories of families being separated and being bought and sold and treated worse than farm animals in the barn are still being revealed. To what extent the racial divide in society today is still attributed directly to that enslavement, only eternity can really tell.
But Moses didn’t have long to deliberate. He had to make a choice quickly or else his life would be in danger. Why was he able to make that decision firmly and decisively? Because he did not see slavery. He did not see the poverty nor the suffering they had to endure. Instead, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (). Moses saw a very different world than the reality that was before him. Through faith he could see the invisible world. “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward” ( ). He saw in this God “that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” ( ).
And more than that. Moses saw the invisible God Himself. What would happen to us if we saw God in everything, in every action of life, in every situation we are placed, and in every conflict that we have to encounter? “The character that Paul thus ascribes to Moses does not mean simply passive resistance of evil, but perseverance in the right. He kept the Lord ever before him, and the Lord was ever at his right hand to help him.”1 Because this man Moses constantly lived in the presence of the invisible God, he could endure anything. Victory was really within his reach. This man Moses could have been the most powerful man in the world. He could have been the most wealthy man in his time. At the end of his days they could have built the biggest pyramid that ever existed and filled it with the most costly things that wealth brings and that ever was laid alongside a Pharaoh.
But because Moses saw the invisible God and kept Him constantly in his view, Moses today walks on streets of gold. I can just imagine the last Pharaoh of Egypt lying on his deathbed thinking how all his accomplishments did not prevent the dreaded death sentence that we receive because of the curse sentenced on sinful man. And yet, there is Moses thinking, “I am still alive.” What a reward for those that diligently seek Him!
After spending 40 years in the wilderness caring for defenseless sheep, Moses was burdened with the weighty responsibility of leading a tumultuous sea of people to the promised land. What made it possible for him to lead such a diverse group of people—not only the descendants of Jacob but also a large company called the mixed multitude? During his time in the desert he had an experience that prepared him for anything. “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (). God was not just his Creator and Ruler. God was his Friend. Is God your personal friend? Are you able to speak with God not just in the formal setting of prayer—but like you speak with your friends?
But even as a friend, Moses needed more from God to give him the assurance that He would lead them to the promised land. “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.” How do I know that this is Your people and that You are the One leading them? The answer was quite simple. God did not go through all the evidences of the past nor of the prophecies of the future. They are important. However, the most important was His reply. “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” ().
The personal presence of God is all the assurance that Moses needed both in his leading and guiding of the people as well as identifying that this was actually the people of God. And what does a personal presence of God mean? “Moses had a deep sense of the personal presence of God. He was not only looking down through the ages for Christ to be made manifest in the flesh, but he saw Christ in a special manner accompanying the children of Israel in all their travels. God was real to him, ever present in his thoughts.”2
In other words, God is “a very present help in trouble” (3). What would happen if we today would have this kind of experience? “If this faith is brought into the life experience, it will enable everyone who fears and loves God to endure trials.presence of God was sufficient Moses was full of confidence in God because he had appropriating faith. He needed help, and he prayed for it, grasped it by faith, and wove into his experience the belief that God cared for him. He believed that God ruled his life in particular. He saw and acknowledged God in every detail of his life and felt that he was under the eye of the All-seeing One, who weighs motives, who tries the heart. He looked to God and trusted in Him for strength to carry him uncorrupted through every form of temptation. He knew that a special work had been assigned to him, and he desired as far as possible to make that work thoroughly successful. But he knew that he could not do this without divine aid, for he had a perverse people to deal with. The to carry him through the most trying situations in which a man could be placed.”
We are not speaking here about some casual thoughts that turn to our Creator from time to time. “Moses did not merely think of God; he saw Him. God was the constant vision before him; he never lost sight of His face. He saw Jesus as his Saviour, and he believed that the Saviour’s merits would be imputed to him. This faith was to Moses no guesswork; it was a reality. This is the kind of faith we need, faith that will endure the test. Oh, how often we yield to temptation because we do not keep our eye upon Jesus! Our faith is not continuous because, through self-indulgence, we sin, and then we cannot endure ‘as seeing Him who is invisible.’ ”4
How important had the personal presence of God to Moses become during his time away from the busy court life in preparation to be Pharaoh? “And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name” ().
I really love who Moses had become. After spending 40 years in the University of the Wilderness, he learned a different kind of boldness than existed in the University of Egypt. You would think that with God’s assurance they had made a deal. But Moses wants more than that assurance. “And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory” (5). The more he knew of God, the more he wanted to know of God. Are we so eager to know our Creator? Our Maker? Our Redeemer? “My brother, make Christ your daily, hourly companion, and you will not complain that you have no faith. Contemplate Christ. View His character. Talk of Him. The less you exalt self, the more you will see in Jesus to exalt. God has a work for you to do. Keep the Lord ever before you. Brother and Sister Q, reach up higher and still higher for clearer views of the character of Christ. When Moses prayed, ‘I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory,’ the Lord did not rebuke him, but He granted his prayer. God declared to His servant: ‘I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee.’ We keep apart from God, and this is why we do not see the revealings of His power.”
Did God send Moses to the pagan University of Egypt? “In the providence of Godunlearnedaccounted as foolishness.impression he received a broad education, but a large part of that education had to be and Its had to be blotted out by forty years of experience in caring for the sheep and the tender lambs.”6 He did need to learn something there because it was God’s providence that led him there. But as a result of that education, he killed that Egyptian and thought that he would lead a revolt against the Egyptian army. But that was not how God works. If he relied on the education he received at the university, he would have come to the Red Sea and tried to figure out the engineering methods they would need to cross that sea. Realizing that that was impossible in such a short time, they would have been led to make a compromise with the approaching army and would have gone back into slavery. It took forty years to remove the impression of Egyptian learning.
What he learned in the “University of the Wilderness” is what we need today. “It was implicit faith in Godwilling to obey God’s commands, whether they seemed to his human reason to be right or not.” that made Moses what he was. According to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did. All the learning of the wise men could not make Moses a channel through which the Lord could work, until he lost his self-confidence, realized his own helplessness, and put his trust in God; until he was 7 Just imagine standing on the shore of the Red Sea and the message comes, “Go forward!” ( ). It seemed crazy and no man in his right mind would lead that people into the waves of the water. But Moses had learned something in the wilderness that no one with the Egyptian background could understand. Obey God regardless of how you feel or how your Egyptian equations compute disaster. It was through that very water that deliverance waited on the other side.
And what is the result of following God to that extent? “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (8). To really be happy we need to make sure that we are living in the real presence of Jesus as revealed in His word. And if we do this, what will happen to us? “The pure in heart live as in the visible presence of God during the time He apportions them in this world. And they will also see Him face to face in the future, immortal state, as did Adam when he walked and talked with God in Eden.”
We are living in a world today that needs a Moses experience. “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory” (9). We always imagine that this glory is something outward. That is so Egyptian in thinking. When Moses asked to see the glory of God, what was shown him? Was it the brightness and power of the glories of heaven? How did God respond? “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy” ( ). He saw the character of God. Today the world needs not an Egyptian view of the glory of God but the revelation of the character of God in His people. “The message of Christ’s righteousness is to sound from one end of the earth to the other to prepare the way of the Lord. This is the glory of God, which closes the work of the third angel.”
As we look at Adventist history, we know that this work began by the message that was taught in 1888. “The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth.”10
Even though this message began in 1888, so many of us are not ready to accept it because of the influence of the Egyptian world around us. This is why the prophet for the last days says: “I know that a work must be done for the people, or many will not be prepared to receive the light of the angel sent down from heaven to lighten the whole earth with his glory.”11 A work of the Moses wilderness experience is something that we need in preparation because the world needs to see Jesus—not the human agent.
How will the leadership of the final message to this world change once God has a people with the same experience and character of Moses? “There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.”12 Are we ready to let go of the reins and let God control all the movements even when it means walking into the Red Sea? How critical for us is the experience of the Shepherd Moses rather than the great man in Egypt!
This wilderness experience is so powerful that when it takes control of the work of the third angel it is called a movement that gives the final message to this sin-cursed world and prepares a people for eternity with the Chief Shepherd. “Hence the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from heaven, lightening the earth with his glory and crying mightily with a strong voice, announcing the sins of Babylon. In connection with his message the call is heard: ‘Come out of her, My people.’ These announcements, uniting with the third angel’s message, constitute the final warning to be given to the inhabitants of the earth.”13
Because we have been living in an Egyptian environment so long, we cannot automatically be ready for the final work that God has for us. There is the wilderness education that must come first. And it is clear from this work that this message of the other angel involves a preparation in that very wilderness before we can do the actual work. “Another angel unites his voice with the third angel, and the earth is lighted with its glory. . . . Let me ask you, What you are doing to prepare for this work? Are you building for eternity? You must remember that this angel represents the people that have this message to give to the world. Are you among that people?” 14