Life began for Moses as it had for millions of his countrymen, in abject poverty and hopelessness. Little is known of his formative years, except what can be found in Scripture. We are told his parents were determined to save him from Pharaoh's edict despite the inherent risks involved in such a decision. They saw something special in him, and thought God did too. They believed he was destined for greatness and were committed to doing their part towards that end (Hebrews 11:23; Exodus 2:2; Acts 7:20).
Moses' parents have a plan
After hiding him for three months his mother, Jochebed, devised a plan, which she hoped would save her son. The biblical account seems to reveal that she felt the only way to save her son from Pharaoh's edict was to place him within the household of Pharaoh itself.
It was no secret the royal family took part in religious rituals in specially prepared inlets along the Nile River. It was into one of these inlets that Moses' ark was deliberately placed so someone in the royal household would find it (Exodus 2:3; Acts 7:21).
The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states: "The occasion is thought to have been a religious solemnity which the royal family opened by bathing in the sacred stream. Peculiar sacredness was attached to those portions of the Nile, which flowed near the temples. The water was there fenced off as a protection from the crocodiles; and doubtless the princess had an enclosure reserved for her own use, the road to which seems to have been well known to Jochebed."
Moses drawn out
Pharaoh was considered to be the god of the Nile. His daughter held the title "daughter of god." As such, she could claim the Nile had delivered the boy child to her. Thus, the name Moses, which in Egyptian means "one drawn out" (Exodus 2:10), was declared to be the "son of the Nile." Such a declaration could position him to become the next Pharaoh, or perhaps take his place among the Egyptian pantheon (one of the gods of Egypt).
Ancient promise of deliverance
Moses grew up aware of the unique circumstances surrounding his birth. He knew his birth mother, Jochebed, had been selected to nurse him until he was old enough to be returned to Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus 2:6-9). Until then, he was taught what was known of the God of their fathers.
He was told that one day they would be delivered from Egyptian bondage: "Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, 'God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here'" (Genesis 50:25; Hebrews 11:22). This prophecy served as a beacon of hope during those dark years of slavery.
Like Moses, we have been born into a world enslaved by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan has done his best to use religion as a means to confuse people about the identity of the true God. Today millions remember hearing something about the God of the Bible, yet what is known has become confused in the religious turmoil of the 21st century. Just like Moses, we must learn all we can about God to serve Him according to His will.
Moses misunderstands God's timing
Moses was deeply troubled by the suffering of his people. By the time he was 40 years of age he had come to the conclusion that he was the one Joseph had prophesied would deliver the Israelites. In fact, he thought his brethren had come to the same conclusion as well: "And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand but they did not" (Acts 7:24-25, emphasis added throughout).
No pharaoh for Israel When Moses refused to be called the "son of Pharaoh's daughter" he was burning his bridges behind him. This decision was well thought out and deliberate: "By faith Moses, when he became of age [40 years old], refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:24-25).
Have you ever wondered what would have happened had the Israelites accepted Moses as their deliverer? What kind of leader would Moses have become? The only model of leadership he had to draw from was that of Egypt. Simply put, had the people initially accepted Moses, he most likely would have become the pharaoh of Israel. This was not God's will for him, nor for Israel. Without realizing it Moses had made the first step in coming out of Egypt.
We must choose
God has called us to prepare to assist Christ when He returns to establish the Kingdom of God. We must, through a deliberate act of will, refuse to continue to live like the world around us. By doing so we are declaring that we, like Moses, are not willing to accept the "passing pleasures of sin." By making such a choice we are also burning many of our bridges too. Just as the author of Hebrews wrote: "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland...But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:14-16).
Although Moses was correct in concluding he was the one God had selected to deliver the Israelites from bondage, his timing was wrong. Before he could lead the people out of Egypt, he had to learn to trust God implicitly. By doing so he would no longer look to his own devices while seeking to serve God.
This was a hard lesson for a man like Moses to learn. He was highly educated and accustomed to using the authority his position in the royal family afforded him. Before God could use him, Moses had to be humbled. He didn't realize it yet, but God was calling him to become a new type of leader. A leader who would devote himself to teaching others how to serve the true God. However, like most people, Moses' understanding of God was based solely on what he had heard from others. What was lacking was a personal relationship with God. This relationship would develop as he came to understand the God of his fathers.
Moses rejected by his people
Rejecting his adopted people was an act of faith by Moses. He thought the Israelites would accept him as their new leader. When this didn't happen, he became a man without a country: "And the next day he appeared to two of them [Israelites] as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, 'Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?' But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?'" (Acts 7:26-28). It is interesting to note that one man's statement reflected the entire nation's attitude towards Moses: "This Moses whom they rejected, saying, 'Who made you a ruler and a judge?'" (Acts 7:35). This fact did not go unnoticed by Moses. He was crushed and greatly disappointed by this unexpected turn of events. He had given everything up to be identified with his birth people. After being rejected by them he was forced to leave everything and everyone he ever knew. Misunderstanding how God was working in his life, Moses became disillusioned with God.
Disillusioned with God
After fleeing Egypt 40 years earlier, God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. When God told him that he had been selected to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, Moses did not want to obey (Exodus 3:10-11). Why did he resist God's calling so vehemently? The answer may surprise you. Spending 40 years in the desert had changed him. Gone were the grandiose notions that the God of his fathers had some special plan for him. In fact, he had become somewhat resentful of those who had rebuffed him even after forsaking the "riches of Egypt" on their behalf. Why should he return to those ungrateful people? After all, didn't they reject him once, and wouldn't they do it again? (Exodus 4:1; 6:12). He would have been content to live out the remainder of his days in the wilderness (Exodus 2:21), but God had other plans. (To learn more about faith simply request our free booklet, Transforming Your Life The Process of Conversion.)
In the third and forth chapters of Exodus Moses has somewhat of an argument with God. He did everything he could not to do what God was directing him to do: "But he [Moses] said, 'O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.' So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses..." (Exodus 4:13-14).
Just as Moses had become disillusioned, so have some of God's people today. When life does not turn out the way we think it should, or God doesn't respond to our prayers the way we wish He would, it is easy to become disillusioned. Yet God, being a loving leader, is patient and kind towards us.
Get to know God
God has commanded His people to observe a series of festivals known generally as the Holy Days. Moses' relationship with God was renewed as he observed these special days of worship.
Moses came to know God as he learned to observe these special days. These unique festivals have been designed to do the same thing for us.