Friday, March 4, 2011

Moses

Note: Last August, I wrote that my marriage ended. My wife informed me that our life together was over. I admit it came as a shock, particularly at a time when I was dealing with being unemployed. She would decide several weeks later to remain with me and it was our hope that the Lord would bring healing to our relationship. Last week my wife moved out and in the aftermath, I am left to trust the Lord (as I have now for the past year) to get me through each day by the measure of grace He so generously pours upon me. I cannot (nor will I) speak for my wife. I do not seek to find fault, assign blame, or cite wrongs; it no longer matters to me what went so terribly wrong, only the end result remains vivid in my mind. I have not denied my own selfishness, insensitivity, and inconsideration. I am thankful that during the past year, the Lord has helped me move from a position of spiritual ignorance to one of trust and dependence. I want my wife to be happy, and I pray that our Lord bless her with that which she seeks. My thanks to so many who’ve prayed on our behalf and I would simply ask that you keep us both in your prayers.

Miriam and Aaron complain about the Cushite wife of Moses, image courtesy of wondersforoyarsa.blogspot.com

I’ve been reading through Numbers and for this month, I would like to focus on the life of Moses. I want to specifically focus on his character and personality; how in the illumination of scripture I may learn something about myself.

There are many events which occurred during the life of Moses. His life is viewed by biblical scholars through three forty year periods:
  1. Moses spent the first forty year period of his life from birth to his escape to Midian. As Pharaoh’s son, his time was spent learning to be somebody.
  2. Moses spent the second forty year period of his life from his escape to Midian to the Exodus. Wandering in the desert, his time was spent learning to be nobody.
  3. Moses spent the third forty year period of his life from the Exodus until his death. As the leader of God’s chosen people Israel, his time was spent learning God is above everybody, and to be submitted to the God of all creation.
I’ve looked at my life during ten year periods. Much can happen during ten years of a person’s life. Quite a bit more happens during a forty year span of life. The number three seems to be a common occurrence in the life of Moses because I discover three significant events that occur in chapter 11:
  1. The people complain about their hardships (11:1).
  2. The foreigners among them lusted for other food (11:4-15).
  3. Those who lust were struck with a plague (11:33-34).
So many things happened in the desert and yet the lessons of humility, gratitude, and obedience never seemed to appeal to Israel. Even after many who had complained and died in the place called Kibroth Hattaavah (The Graves of Lust), complaints continue to occur. The next set of complaints occurs in the beginning of Numbers 12:

While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said,Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?But the Lord heard them. (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)1

I’ve heard it said that, “We want what we cannot have”, but the truth is we often want “what we truly don’t need”.

What truly satisfies a person above friendship with God?

Very little is known about this wife of Moses, except she was a Cushite (African). Some argue that this wife and Zipporah are two different women. What is certain is that Miriam and Aaron took exception to Moses because of his Cushite wife. One can speculate that perhaps Miriam and his wife had a dispute, perhaps Miriam and Aaron felt that this Cushite woman had a much more influential position with Moses than they did, perhaps it was the dark complexion of her skin that created the animosity, perhaps Miriam and Aaron were upset that they were not consulted about the appointment of the seventy elders, or perhaps they became consumed by the same attitude of lust as those who died by the plague, perhaps they sought an increase in their role and visibility instead of being satisfied with their position and personal relationship with God.

The word relationship is a common thread in the life of Moses:
  1. His relationship with God.
  2. His relationship with Israel.
  3. His relationship with Aaron and Miriam.
  4. His relationship with his wife
Obviously his relationship with his wife is what resulted in the criticism by Miriam and Aaron, but there had to be an underlying reason. I’m learning that it’s the underlying reasons that often bring imbalance in my relationship with God. Three problem areas have often been the culprit:
  1. Lust
  2. Greed
  3. Envy
What I learn from reading this is that it is easy to complain about what one does not have. It is better to be thankful in all things.

…pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.2

When I focus on what I don’t have, I begin to crave for it. I complain about what I lack, instead of thanking God for what He provides; I become a type of Israel in the desert. I complain to Christ (my New Testament Moses) that things aren’t right.

I tell myself that things would be alright if I just had______.

I may entertain the idea that things were not as bad before I began following Christ. Now that He has me following Him, I begin to think He isn’t measuring up to what I need in the relationship. I’d be happy if He just did what I ask. It’s a fool’s deception that robs me of a meaningful relationship with God.

What I learn from the life of Moses is how to combat these three problem areas. I'll talk more on this next week.

Father God,

You satisfy me with Your precious love and grace. Certainly, there are times when I'm uncomfortable and would like nothing better than a nice breeze and sunny skies, but even when the storms of life are raging all around me, my heart cries out for the safety and shelter of Your love. Your word declares, that I have peace with You and there is nothing that is more valuable than knowing that I'm in a secure relationship with You. I am weak Lord, but You are strong. Your grace is sufficient for me. I trust You Lord, and each day, I learn to trust You more. Thank You Jesus for securing a relationship with the Father on my behalf. I ask You to look on the needs of many who are troubled and discouraged. Many are in the midst of great strife. Many are devastated by tragedy. Pour out Your grace upon their lives Lord. May Your strength be pefected in our weakness. We trust, cling to and rely upon You Lord. In the name that is above every name, I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.


Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).Spiritual Sundays
Footnotes:
  1. Numbers 12: 1-3, NLTB
  2. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, NIV
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  3. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
  4. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6

32 comments:

Joan said...

Too often, I've focused on the things I don't have rather than the things I do have. As you said, it is better to give thanks in all circumstances. I've pondered this verse for years and finally realized it says in all circumstances, not for all cirumstances. Two small words, but a big difference.

I like what you wrote about Moses and the spans of time in his life. I've also been aware spans in my own life - a season ending, another beginning. I look forward to reading more as you write.

You and your wife will certainly be in my prayers.

dunlizzie said...

MTJ - My heart grieves for you. I am thankful however, that you wrote this post exploring Moses in such a personal and transparent way. It is a very sobering post. Mostly because it shows how even those who know God is for us can get stuck in a mindset that limits all He wants to do. I think of those Israelites who after a time even began to moan for Egypt, craving their previous bondage over the freedom God was bringing to them. It is because they were lost in those details of what they did not have. As Christians we cannot afford to think this way as those cravings draw us further away from the God who loves. God is our everything and His grace really is sufficient. May we find our contentment in Him.

My prayers are for your family, and for you as you press more deeply into your relationship with God. May He meet you with a peace that passes understanding.

God bless :) dunlizzie

Sherry said...

You are a Hosea of great worth. My prayers are for you and your wife. God Bless!

Ken said...

MJT, I will be praying for both you and your wife. In 2008 on Monday I lost my job and two days later my wife died. I wrote a couple posts which might be a blessing to you, so if you have time please feel free to stop by and read them.
Here are the links:
http://ken-followjesus.blogspot.com/2011/03/lord-help-me-understand.html


http://ken-followjesus.blogspot.com/p/jesus-is-our-strength.html

God bless you,
Ken

Ian Curtis said...

Dear brother,
Gillian and I will certainly pray for you. I know the terrible pain of separation, having experienced it once. You have our love. Know that we are lifting you up to the Lord, that His will be done. I know nor other consolation than that God is always faithful. Yours in Christ, Ian.

Renee said...

Sometimes we would like to avoid certain seasons in our lives, but with God's love we are able to move through them. Enjoyed your words on Moses very much. Sorry to hear about your marriage. May God continue to provide His love and healing for you, and for her.

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

MJT, I am so sorry that this is going on in your life. I will pray for you and your wife and that you will both be happy in your life's.
God Bless,
Ginger

Sharon Kirby said...

Oh, MTJ - How sorry I am to hear about the difficulties in your life right now. Of course, I will be praying for your marriage, and for you and your wife. I pray for God's divine intervention, and His healing touch.

This post about Moses was so very meaty. Many, many words of wisdom. I think what I liked best was how you broke down Moses' life into three segments, and I loved how you defined them:

Learning to be somebody.
Learning to be nobody.
Learning to be God's servant.

What came to my mind was how very necessary it is to learn to be nobody, before we can be God's humble servant. And so often, that lesson is only learned in the wilderness.

Joining with you in your prayer - "...my heart cries out for the safety and shelter of Your love."

GOD BLESS!

sarah said...

I didnt' know this about you and your wife but something that popped into my head as I read your post....is how often in my hardest times....He showed He's with me in ways I hadn't known before. Praying for you guys....your sharing always touches me....Stay strong MTJ.....He's in your corner...always..

Charlotte said...

I'm always so sad to hear when a married couple breaks up. Sounds like you have a good attitude about it and I'm glad you turned to God for your answers. Too many people turn to other sources which makes it even worse for them. There are so many lessons to be learned from the story of Moses. Thank you for sharing these examples.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Lisa notes... said...

Oh, so sorry to hear about the breakup of your marriage. It's never easy, no matter the circumstances. Praying for your healing and growth through the pain...

Vintagesouthernlife said...

I too found myself focusing on what I don't have and negative circumstances this week. I was even setting the dishes for a big ole' pity party when I realized He and his love is with me in all things.
Praying for happiness for you and your wife.

Loren said...

Oh MTJ, I am so sorry you are experiencing this.

My prayers are with you asking our Father for reconciliation & For your wife too.....

Terry said...

MTJ, I appreciate your broken and contrite heart and your choice to seek God in the midst of pain and recovery. I pray God's peace which surpasses understanding will be yours as you seek His comfort in prayer and the Word, and most of all in His quiet healing presence. He is so faithful!! May He bless you richly in your intimate life with Him. Thank you for all you shared regarding Moses. The Lord bless you!

Anonymous said...

I love you Daddy! I am honored you are my Father! DC

Pamela said...

It's a joy to me that in the midst of your own personal pain you are intent on learning life lessons from God. This spoke to my heart. I'm praying you'll feel God especially near to you on this Sabbath day.

Clif said...

So many great lessons in this post. You dig deep into the Scriptures and bless us every week. Thank you. Our preacher preached on grace and marriage this morning. He did an excellent job and many were blessed. I will pray for you and your wife.

Annesphamily said...

This is a wonderful post with many lessons to be learned from it. I pray for both yourself and your wife. Life can deal us a cruel hand and often we tend to dwell on the negative when the Lord turns these sad events for His Glory. I am praying and thank you for sharing so openly with us today. Anne

Judy said...

Hi MTJ,

Thank you so much for your prayers concerning my job. I prayed for you as well last week. Very sorry to hear about your separation from your wife. But the Lord is powerful enough to restore your marriage. Pray, pray, pray, and continue praying for restoration and reconciliation. I'll remember you in my prayers as well.

Blessings,
Judy

Patti Hanan said...

Dear MTJ, I am praying for you and your wife. I hope there will be a reconciliation. I am ispired by your humility and your desire to grow spiritually. God answers prayer. Blessings to you.

Janis@Open My Ears Lord said...

Hi MTJ,
I will be praying for you and your wife--for a miracle from the Lord. It's his specialty.

Your post was full of much to contemplate, as always. Like Sharon, I liked the part about becoming a nobody. I think that is the one of the hardest aspects of our Christian walk, yet one of the most important. For the Lord to use us, we must become as nothing, just as Jesus did (Philippians 2:3-11).

May the Lord continue to sustain you,

Janis

Cathy said...

Praying for you and your wife ~ Thank God He is always with us. Praying for His strength, wisdom and guidance for you ~

Saleslady371 said...

Yes, many of us are going through storms right now, but we are strengthened by wonderful grace. I am praying for you, too.

Peggy (mazmagi) said...

Blessings MTJ... Where do I begin? or dare I even share my many thoughts or just my compliments to the writer at hand, who shares so well not only his own life experiences and trials but also a great figure in the Bible with so many great insights and key points!

I shall first publicly commend you with your honest and humble sharing an admirable attitude on your relationship in the midst of division and hardship since your common thread with Moses was relationship... yours is also:
... relationship with God.
... relationship with ... DC & ???
... relationship with his wife
... relationship with work??? (maybe or maybe not)certainly isn't Israel and all the Middle East or our nation though it could be...

But what touched me the most was a few comments above from someone who loves you so much!!! (And you know that I don't generally read the comments but this one leaps off the page)simple and powerful... and really says it all!!!

I pray that the 3 problem areas of Moses are not yours but if they are that you have sought the right book to seek help: God's Word.

I so enjoyed your summation of the 3 forty periods of Moses:
...learning to be somebody
...learning to be nobody
...learning God is above everybody.

WOW! really awesome insights! I too look at my life in decades but if I divided my life into the first forty and the last forty... I'd still be a nobody, trying to be a somebody and will not get to the last third forty learning that God is above everybody... and I choose to believe that is where I am.

This is an great piece of reflection and comparison to one's own life in respect to deserts, wildernesses and exoduses waiting for our promised land.

I have already told you that I will pray for you each and that God's willwill prevail as you allow space and time for growth and healing. May you find strength in Him. May your wife also draw close to Him as she looks at her life and examines it in the Light of God's love and yours. May their be forgiveness and restoration where there may need to be and letting go with grace of whatever went wrong that no longer matters. You have admitted to your own faults and God looks kindly on your open confession with forgiveness and much compassion. He sees any brokenness and healing as part of your spiritual growth and walk with trusting Him and coming to truly rely on Him and your trust (not being just words but an action from your heart)! May His grace and love cover you with amazing strength to endure and continue pressing on.

Well done, as His good and faithful servant, my friend and brother in Christ! May you find satisfaction in His love and grace! May He be Your shelter in the good and the bad. Amen! to your beautiful prayer that you know is my favorite part!
Sometimes your thoughts allude me or go to deep for my meager brain to follow at the time I'm reading and I have to come back again and again to soak... but your prayers always touch my heart and more importantly I believe the heart of God. May He pour out His grace and our weaknesses be perfected in Him and His strength to bettering all relationships but especially the one we have with Him!

Thank you for this, your friendship and your visit which may me :0)

Peace and JOY,
Peggy

Peggy (mazmagi) said...

...makes me :0)...(not may me :0)

oh how I hate typos... especially on someone else's blog... but I refrained from deleting to the trash,
I saw others but I had to get that last one right.

Pain to Purpose said...

MTJ: As long as one spouse will commit to stand for the marriage, there is hope. My blog is dedicated to helping people who are exactly right where you are. I highly encourage you to check out Rejoice Marriage Ministries, it's linked all over my blog for thousands of hours of support and encouragement on how to stand for reconciliation. My divorce became final 9 months ago but I am still standing because God gave me a promise that my husband is coming home. God heals hurting marriages. God can breath life into dead bones. I will be praying. Keep your armor on.
Carrie

Anita Johnson said...

I am not a good writer, but this was a powerful post to read. I am sorry to read about your marriage ending...we endured 3 years of unemployment and that in itself was rough. I would be honored to pray for you both.

❀~Myrna~❀ said...

Hi,
Thanks you so much for praying for Eliana . I am so sorry to hear about your wife's decision . I will keep both of you in my prayers . Your Moses Bible Study is very insightful; You are using your life circumstances to draw nearer to God and know Him better and that is a good thing .
Blessings,
~Myrna

Nicole said...

You are in my prayers hun! I am so glad that you have our Father to trust and help you get through all this!

This was a very good post!

"…pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus"

Anonymous said...

I pray that God rewards your faithfulness with healing, restoration, & continued growth Dad.
Love MG

B. Niles said...

Hi MTJ,
I haven't blogged in a bit, but was determined to get to your blog today. My heart is grieving with you. Imagine God's heart. He knows and he cares and he is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or imagine. Satan is a liar and deceiver. However, greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding at this time. Lay in Him. He will guide you through. Don't trust your own thoughts.

Yes, your post about the 40 seasons of Moses was good and has been on my mind recently as well. The first two seasons being seasons of preparation for the final season. There are some things God wants to do in and through you during this season in your life. Continue to humble yourself through prayer and fasting to discern his direction. I will be praying with and for you both.

Remember his ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours. Commit your way to him and he will direct you.

May the Lord give you wisdom and discernment as you humble yourself before him in prayer and obedience.

Your Sister in Christ,
Beverly

JT said...

You will be in my prayers. God Bless You.