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Moses Meets God
Moses was one of the great prophets. Some people
would say that he was the greatest prophet. But perhaps the
prophets stand together in might and honor. However you look at
it, Moses was a very great and special prophet.
What we know Moses for is two things. First, about thirteen hundred years before Jesus was born, God used Moses to lead about two million people out of bondage. Can you imagine? They walked from the country of Egypt to the land that God had promised them, Canaan, which we now call Israel.
We also know him as the prophet who received a set of laws from God that has lasted all these centuries. That law was given to the people because they would not accept the Covenant of Jesus Christ. "What?" you say. The story in the Bible is that Moses went up onto the mountain two times to receive tables of stone with writing on them which the children of Israel would live by. Tables of stone? You mean like a kitchen table where you eat? No. Flat pieces of stone, maybe like the ones you see in cemeteries, with writing on them. When he came down the first time, he smashed the tables of stone that the Covenant was written on. The children of Israel had already turned away from their God. He had to go up to the mountain a second time and receive new tables of stone. But this time the law was written for a rebellious people, to teach them how to be a righteous people.
That law is called the Mosaic Law, named after Moses who received it from God. Many people in the world still live by it. And the Christian world still remembers it and has based many laws upon it.
God meant for the children of Israel to live by the Covenant of Jesus Christ. Moses knew and understood this. But the children of Israel did not choose to live by the Covenant of Jesus Christ. This is the story of Moses and the children of Israel. As this story progresses you will learn what is the difference between the Covenant of Jesus Christ and the Mosaic Law.
We must go back a ways to begin the story.
The Story Begins
There was a man who worshipped God, his name was
Abram. God commanded Abram to go to a land which God would show
him. God told Abram, "And I will make of thee a great
nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; I will
bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and
in thee shall the families of the earth be blessed." God was
working with one man and one family to teach all the people of
the earth about how God wanted us to live. This is what it means
when God said to Abram, "in thee shall the families of the
earth be blessed." (Genesis 12:2)
God led Abram to Caanan, which we now know as the nation of Israel. God changed Abram's name to Abraham. Abraham had several sons, but one son was his legal heir, born to his first wife. That son's name was Isaac. Isaac married Rebekah and had two sons who were twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob became Isaac's heir. (Genesis Chapters 11-28)
These three men, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all believed in God and worshipped Him. You will sometimes hear the phrase, "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob". These men were different than most of the people around them. Most of the people worshipped many gods and each house had an idol, or statue of their favorite god.
Jacob, was also called Israel. So his sons and descendants are called the children of Israel. These are the names of his sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zepulun, Joseph and Benjamin. They also became known as Hebrews. At this time in history these people may be called, the Sons of Jacob, the children of Israel, or Hebrews.
Jacob and his family were in danger of starving to death. But God had already provided a way to save them. Joseph, Jacob's next to youngest son, had become a powerful man in Egypt. Because God gave Joseph the power of interpreting dreams, and wisdom, Joseph had risen from being a slave to being the second most powerful man in Egypt. Only Pharaoh, or the ruler of Egypt, was more powerful than Joseph.
The dreams that Joseph had interpreted for the Pharaoh concerned a coming famine. Egypt saved the abundant food of seven good years in preparation for seven years of severe famine. When Jacob's family in Canaan needed food they heard that there was food for sale in Egypt. They discovered their brother, whom they had sold into slavery. He forgave them and told them to come to Egypt.
Jacob's family was a family of herdsman. Most of the people in Egypt were farmers because of the rich soil provided by the Nile River. Jacob's family was given land in Goshen, which was probably in the northeast corner of the Nile delta. It was a good place to raise flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. (Genesis 47:27)
As time went by, Jacob died and Joseph died, and there was a new Pharaoh. The children of Israel became slaves in the country where the old Pharaoh had welcomed them. In Egypt rich and powerful people prepared for death by planning to take all their riches with them to the afterlife. When we die we believe that we go to Paradise, or what some people call heaven. When we go we don't take any material things with us. We hope that we will take a good life with us, but that is not material, it is what we have become by living. The Egyptians however, thought that the afterlife was like this life, only nicer, and that they would need to take food, and clothes, and a place to live, and servants. So they built huge tombs and pyramids and put treasures in them. The Pharaoh was the richest man of all, so he had to have many, many people work for years to get ready for his death. This is what the children of Israel had to do.
The children of Israel were slaves to a religion that was not their own. In the monuments that they had to build they must have seen many statues and pictures of the gods that the Egyptians worshipped. Many of the Egyptian gods also had the characteristics of the animals that lived in Egypt in the river and in the desert. These statues and pictures had gods that would look strange to us, a human body with the head of an animal. Some of these had the head of a bird such as a hawk, vulture or ibis. Other had the head of a cow or bull, or the head of a jackal or crocodile or hippopotamus. Maybe it would even have the head of a human. But these would not seem strange to the children of Israel, for they must have seen them many times. This was another reason that God must free them from slavery in Egypt, so that they would know that they had a real God, and not forget Him.
For four hundred and thirty years the children of Israel lived in Egypt. God was getting ready to free them from slavery. God helped a woman save the life of her baby boy. All Hebrew boy babies were to be thrown into the Nile River to drown. Baby Moses was supposed to be thrown into the river. But his mother hid him and finally put him into a floating basket and gave Moses to God. She could not save him herself. Moses was found by Pharaoh's daughter. She loved him and took him to be her own son.. God was saving and raising up a prophet to lead His people. (Exodus 12:40-41) (Exodus chapters 1 and 2)
When Moses became an adult he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew man. He became so angry that he killed the Egyptian and buried his body in the sand. But at least one man had seen him do it, and the Pharaoh found out too. So Moses had to run away out of Egypt in order to save his own life. He went and lived in Midian and married Zipporah. Moses' father-in-law was named Jethro. Jethro was a priest and a wise and good man. (Exodus 2)
Mount Horeb and the Burning Bush
Moses took care of the flocks of his
father-in-law. One day he came to the mountain Horeb. Moses saw a
bush that was on fire, but the bush did not burn up. Moses wanted
to see how such a thing could happen. When he got to the bush God
called to him, "Moses, Moses."
And Moses said, "Here am I."
Moses realized that God was speaking to him. He hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
God told Moses to take his shoes off, because he was standing on holy ground. What does this mean? This was no ordinary mountain. The Bible says it was the mountain of the Lord. (Exodus 3)
Many men have been taken up to a high mountain to have spiritual experiences.
John the Beloved, one of Jesus' disciples was taken up to a great and high mountain while he was in the spirit. God showed him a city coming down from heaven. (Revelation 21:10)
Nephi said that his body had been carried away on the wings of the spirit to exceeding high mountains, to see great things which he could not even write about because the people were not ready to know them. (2 Nephi 3:40-41)
Even Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, was taken up to an exceeding high mountain by the Spirit to see all the kingdoms of the earth. This was when Satan tempted Jesus and told him he could have all those kingdoms if Jesus would worship Satan. (Matthew 4:8)
Now we are told that Moses was caught up into an exceeding high mountain and talked with God face to face.
Moses is one of the few people who have ever seen God face to face. If we were to see God, right now, we would die. That is because God is so powerful that it would be like getting close to the sun and burning up. The reason that Moses could see God and not die was because God put His glory on Moses to protect Moses.
I suppose that the reason God showed Moses many, many things was because Moses was going to have such a huge job and he was going to need great faith in God to do it. God showed Moses the whole world and all the people who would ever be on it.
He also explained to Moses that man can not count all the heavens and all the earths. We know that space is a huge place. There are no ends to the stars and planets and all the things that are found in the universe. That is because God is without beginning and without end.
Even more wonderful than that, God explained to Moses how He had created all these things. God said, "By the word of my power have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth. And worlds without number have I created, and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten."
It is hard to understand, but God was telling Moses that Jesus Christ is the word of God's power. All physical things were created through Jesus. Jesus Christ is physical, that means he has flesh and blood. Jesus is not just a spirit or ghost. All physical things were made through Jesus Christ and he is in charge of us.
God must have had several visits with Moses to teach him and show him all these things. After one visit Moses was very, very weak. Moses now knew that people were very small and weak compared to God. He knew that without God's power to protect him, he could not have visited with God.
As he realized this, Satan came to see Moses. Satan is the enemy of God and of all people. Satan wishes to make all people slaves to evil, slaves to things that hurt us. He demanded, "Moses, son of man, worship me!" Moses looked at Satan and knew that Satan was nothing. He knew this because he had just visited with God and had had God's protection. He didn't need any kind of protection to see Satan.
Even though Satan was nothing compared to God, he still had the power to make Moses afraid. Moses called to God in the name of Jesus Christ and told Satan to go away. (Section 22)
As Moses and God continued to talk God told Moses, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me; and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt."
The land of Canaan was the land that Jacob and his sons had left behind over four hundred years ago. Other people were living there now, Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. God was going to return the children of Israel to Canaan. It had grass and bees and flowers. It was a good place to raise cattle and grow food and live.
Moses didn't think that he was up to the job of freeing his people. God promised him that He, God, would be with him. God told Moses to tell the people His name. God's name is "I AM". He also told Moses to tell them His other name. Tell them, "The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me unto you; this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."
This was to remind us all that God is always there and that He has made a promise to the people who worship Him. That promise will come true and is in effect forever.
Moses had many fears of the task ahead of him. He didn't know if his own people, the Hebrews, would listen to him. He was afraid also because he was not a good speaker. Moses was just afraid. He was so afraid that God became angry with him. Moses had to be convinced that God would give him the help he needed.
Since Moses was a shepherd he had a rod of wood which he used for walking and guiding his flocks. God told him to throw it down on the ground. It turned into a snake. Moses jumped away from it. But then God told Moses to catch the snake by the tail. When he did the snake turned back into a rod. God also told Moses to put his hand inside his shirt at his chest and then pull it out. When Moses pulled his hand out it was covered with leprosy, which was a disease that eats away the flesh. It is a disease that most of us are still very afraid of. God told him to put his hand back in his shirt and pull it out again. This time it was healed and looked like Moses' own healthy hand. These would be signs of God's power that Moses would show to Pharaoh.
God also gave Moses a helper. Moses own brother, Aaron, was a good speaker. He would help Moses. God would tell Moses what to do, then Moses would tell Aaron, in turn Aaron would tell the children of Israel and the Pharaoh of Egypt.
God let Moses know that the Pharaoh would not let the Hebrews go. But God said, "I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof; and after that he will let you go." (Exodus 3)
He told Moses to also say to Pharaoh, "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn; And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me; and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. (Exodus 4:21-23)
to be continued . . . .
Adapted by Lois M. Anderson from the Inspired Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants
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Copyright 2002 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: August 18, 2002