Photo by Orchard Group

Photo by Orchard Group

The Wilderness of Moses

Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. (Exodus 2:11-12 NKJV)

Moses perceived in his heart a call to be a deliverer. But in his immaturity, he went about it in his own way, in his own strength, and in his own timing. 

And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?” Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!” (Exodus 2:13-14 NKJV)

Moses stepped into his calling ahead of the Lord's timing. His heart was burning to step into a leadership position of authority and judgment...and he did. But God did not step into it with him. Moses acted independently.

Moses was brought into the wilderness by the hand of the Lord. The chastening of the Lord began (Hebrews 12:5-6). 

Many years passed and the Lord's timing had come. The Lord spoke to Moses and said:

Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:10-11 NKJV)

Moses' reply was, "Who am I." Many years earlier Moses' reply to the Lord would have been, "I will go and deliver them."  But after years in the wilderness he says, "Who am I."  The wilderness process had taken full effect. Moses knew that he was not anyone. He was not important...he was not worthy. He was not a man who could deliver a nation. He was no deliverer, but only a man whose ways had failed at delivering. The man who once thought he could handle the situation, solve the problem, and judge effectively was no more. His desire to lead was gone. His desire for a position of authority was gone. His desire to be someone important...gone. There was nothing left but a shell of a man. An empty vessel. A man who says, "Who am I." 

Moses had to remain in the wilderness until he died to his wants, desires, dreams, plans, selfishness, and self-will. Only then could his heart be pure enough to embrace the Lord's desires, plans, and will. 

Many in God's remnant are being broken in the wilderness. This is a place of hope deferred which makes the heart sick. When ones heart is sick, it is very easy to begin "wandering in the wilderness". We do not want to wander, we want to stay on the path that takes us through the wilderness. The path that leads us through the wilderness will most likely take many years and be very difficult. You will know you are on the right path if you are maturing and drawing closer to Christ. Progress in the natural is not the determining factor of wither we are on the path or wandering. Moses appeared in the natural to be wandering, but in the Spirit he was maturing and growing closer to God.

In the wilderness, Moses' personal ambition died and he became focused on communing with the Lord. He endured by seeing Him who is invisible (not by seeing his ministry calling). The Presence of the Lord and fellowship became Moses' one desire. Moses no longer wanted position or authority, but Jesus only. It was only at this point could the Lord trust Moses with his calling.

The best part about the wilderness is not the processes of being prepared for our callings. The best part of the wilderness is getting to know Him and becoming one with Him. When we have Him, nothing else matters. Everything becomes secondary. He becomes greater and greater and we become less and less.

Enduring the wilderness when hope has been deferred is one of the most difficult things we must overcome. When the heart is sick it tends to wander or give up. The only way to overcome sickness of the heart is to pursue the Lord's presence. He is the true desire that our hearts crave, and when desire is fulfilled it is the tree of life. To be before the King Himself and to know Him is the greatest thing we can have in this life. This is what Moses found in the wilderness. We must find it as well.

Embracing the wilderness is the only way through it. Moses did this to such an extent that he didn't want to leave when the Lord told him to go to Egypt. If we do not learn to be satisfied with the Lord alone, then we will never be content operating in our callings. Only when He has our hearts completely, will we be able to steward our callings properly.

If you consider the ministry of Moses, statistics wise it was not so spectacular. Yes he delivered the Israelites from the wicked King of Egypt. But most of his life was spent in obscurity in the wilderness. Even after Moses brought the people out of Egypt he spent another 40 years in the wilderness. Under his leadership, 1.2 million people died in the wilderness and never attained to the promise. Moses himself died in the wilderness and was unable to lead the people into the promise of God. Moses probably would have been fired as a mega church leader by the board in the 21st century American church. So why is such an honorable testimony given of Moses by Heaven? Because He walked with the Lord. He spoke with the Lord face to face as a man speaks with his friend. Heaven views things much differently than we do. Moses knew the Lord and he was a faithful obedient servant in all the Lord's house.

Moses was not a great leader. After his breaking in the wilderness he made that clear when he expressed his humble reply of, "Who am I." The purpose of the wilderness is to reveal to us that we are not great. Through the wilderness process, Moses learned to yield to the One who is great. Then the One who is great did great things through Moses. It is the same with you and me. We will never accomplish great things for God, because we are not great. When the wilderness process has completed its work in us; it will no longer be us living, but Christ living in us. And when He is living in us, He will do great things through us. So let us embrace the wilderness of Moses, and by steadfast endurance we shall inherit the promises.