Men Who Stood (2)

The lives of men who stood for God in difficult days are both inspiring and instructive to us in our testimony.

Moses ranks high in the Divine record among the men in Scripture who stood. He was one of the greatest Old Testament leaders, and it is recorded several times that he stood (Ex 5:20; Ps 106:23). The first time we read that Moses stood was before the shepherds at the well in Midian (Ex 2:17). He also stood before Pharaoh to deliver God’s message (Ex 7:15; 8:20; 9:13), and later stood for God before a sinful nation (Ex 32:26). By examining these references we see how God developed and matured His servant for the great task that lay ahead.

For almost forty years, Moses lived in Egypt as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, enjoying the pleasures and treasures of that country, and receiving valuable instruction in Egyptian education and culture. However, the day came when he realized that these things were only for a few short years at best. This enabled him to refuse the attractions of Egypt and lay hold on those things that have eternal reward. May we also be given the grace and wisdom to evaluate our earthly choices as Moses did in the light of eternal loss or gain! Some choices are irreversible and have devastating effects not only in this life, but also in the one hereafter. When Moses left the palace and went out to defend his brethren, he probably thought he had all the experience needed and could do the job. When he met with opposition and criticism, however, he fled to the desert in Midian. We should never feel that the next forty years in obscurity were wasted years. It was a training time, which must always take place before God can use His servants. No doubt the secular training he received in Egypt would benefit him, but it would be no substitute for the spiritual training he must receive in the school of God.

Standing up before the shepherds at the well in Midian.

In Midian, Moses had time to reflect on the past and ponder the future. No doubt he was disappointed and perhaps fearful as he thought of the recent happenings. Had he misunderstood the prompting of God? Was he right when he left Pharaoh’s palace? As he stood at the well, a humbled young man, the seven daughters of Reuel came to water the flock of their father. The shepherds tried to hinder them, but Moses stood up and drove them away. He could have ignored their plight, remembering the incident in Egypt, but with compassion he moved to help those in need. God used this small incident to encourage His servant. As a result, Moses tended the flock of Reuel the prince of Midian for forty years, and Reuel gave him his daughter. Zipporah, to wife. In this occupation, Moses became a true shepherd in the obscurity of Midian. He learned patience, labor, and love in a practical way, and communion with God spiritually that he never knew in Egypt. Thus God was fitting His servant with the ability needed to deliver the nation out of the bondage of Egypt and lead them for forty years through the great wilderness. In our generation, when many are interested in living for self, we should, like Moses, endeavor to be a help in whatever way we can. Paul exhorts, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil 2:4). There is no telling where kindness and help to others could lead us if we are willing and available for God to use us.

Standing up before the mighty monarch, Pharaoh

After being commissioned by God to deliver Israel from the bondage of Egypt, Moses is commanded to stand before Pharaoh. To this despotic king, he reiterated the message of God on several occasions. During ongoing visits to the palace, or by the river Nile, Moses warned Pharaoh that if he did not bow to the claims of God he must suffer the consequences. Day by day the king defied God until the Passover night when the judgment fell. God had been long-suffering and Moses had been faithful in communicating God’s message during the previous plagues. Pharaoh refused to obey, and the judgment fell upon him. In times of abundant tolerance and appeasement of people in our society, we can learn from the faithfulness and obedience of Moses. Whatever the cost, he was prepared to remain faithful, standing up for the word of God (Ex 9:15-16). To day we need to have the courage and conviction of Moses, to live and to teach the basic principles of God’s Word that relate to every sphere of life.

Standing up before a sinful nation, then before God to plead their cause

While Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Law, the nation was worshiping and dancing before a golden calf. Upon returning to the camp, Moses was so angry and disappointed because of their idolatrous behavior, that he smashed the tables beneath the mount. He realized that sin must be judged if God was to dwell amongst His people. Moses charged Aaron and the nation with their great sin in breaking the first commandment of the Decalogue, and made them drink the bitter water that contained the ashes of the molten calf. He then stood up before the people in the gate of the camp and called, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come unto me” (Ex 32:26). From the entire twelve tribes only the Levites took their stand with Moses. On that day, God used the Levites to carry out His judgment. As a result they became the priestly tribe serving in the tabernacle. After Moses stood up before the people and charged them with their great sin he stood before God to plead their cause. God was still angry with the nation, but Moses interceded saying, “If Thou wilt not forgive their sin, blot me, I pray thee out of Thy book” (Ex 32:32). God hearkened to His servant and the judgment was stayed. Amongst the people of God to day there is a tremendous need for men like Moses who know God and His Word and are not afraid to stand before the people and declare all its principles and teachings with love and compassion. Oftentimes like Moses we may have to stand alone, but if done in fellowship with God we can claim the promise that Moses received on this occasion, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” However, this is only one side. God had raised Moses to be a leader amongst His people and not only did he declare the Word of God but implanted in his heart was a genuine love for the people. Like Ezekiel, he sat where the people sat, and was willing to link himself with the people of God even when they had sinned so grievously. Having power with God, he oftentimes went into the presence of God to plead their cause, and their judgment was stayed. Those whom God has raised to be elders in the assembly should, like Moses, not only teach the flock, but also spend time in God’s presence on their behalf. In this way the assembly can be preserved and kept faithful to God and His Word until the Lord returns. May each of us be enabled to stand up for God as Moses did, to provide help for the needy, pronounce the displeasure of God on the disobedient and to plead on behalf of the erring ones!