Hi. My name is Jon. And last month was a big month.
About five months ago, some fellow MoveIners and I decided to read through the Bible together in 2017. What a ride it’s been so far.
We watched in awe as God created the world, and in shock as it fell. We cheered as Abraham, Isaac, and Israel followed God as lone patriarchs. We held onto the edges of our seats as Israel’s son Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, only to save his whole family during a famine. And that was just in Genesis.
Then in Exodus, we met Moses.
Moses almost single-handedly led the Israelite people out of slavery in Egypt, and on through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Four of the first five books of the Bible. Eighty percent of the Torah. Also, Moses wrote the Torah.
I don’t know how I never noticed before. Moses was a big deal. Wow.
Last month, we read the last chapters of Deuteronomy. Which means that last month... Moses died.
“More humble than any other person on earth"
As the weeks went by, I was blown away more every day by how much God loved Moses, and how significantly God worked through him.
At the same time, Moses seemed like the kind of guy who never asked to lead millions of people, and never got used to the fact that God chose him for the job.
He was even described in the book of Numbers as more humble than any other person on earth.
I’m going to miss Moses.
The good news is, Moses made an impression on me that will probably last until our next round through the Bible in 2018.
After all, it’s not every day that you get to track with a hero of the faith in all his humble beginnings, failures, and successes. To be a fly on the wall as God speaks to him like a man speaks to his friend.
And believe it or not, as MoveIners, I’d say we also have a few things in common with Moses. Even those of us still working on the ‘humble’ part of ‘humble beginnings’. Especially those of us thinking of starting a MoveIn team in a new neighbourhood. (That means you, potential MoveIners.)
Moses’ life was full of surprises. Again and again, as a Jesus follower and MoveIner, I found myself inspired to be more like Moses.
So I decided to write a few posts here entitled ‘Be Like Moses’, for MoveIners already in the trenches, people considering moving in, and anyone else thinking of starting something hard.
Lastly: I couldn’t help but notice, there is legitimate hashtag potential here. And so much material to work with. E.g. “PSA: Kids, don’t eat insects crawling on the ground #BeLikeMoses #Kosher”. Or any variation of “#MosesBeLike _______”. Let’s get to it.
Be Like Moses and Try to Do the Right Thing
This month, we’ll look at the first surprise in the life of Moses: God's support of his first failed attempt to help Israel in slavery, along with a glimpse of what God might be thinking when he sees us trying to do the right thing.
Moses was an Israelite, but he grew up as a grandson of Pharaoh in Egypt.
One day at the age of 40, Moses saw for the first time how hard his fellow Israelites were forced to work by the Egyptians. He decided on the spot he had to help.
And if you read Exodus 2:11-15, you’ll see that it did not start well for Moses. Short version: he killed a guy and had to flee the country. What a nightmare.
No doubt Moses got a lot of heat from both Egyptians and Israelites. Everyone probably thought he completely blew it, including himself.
And he did, right? We can write this one off as complete youthful arrogance. God was probably really annoyed at him. Right?
Moses’ first attempt to help the Israelites was completely unsuccessful, yes. Impulsive, some might say. Unwise, even.
But. There may have been something about Moses’ imperfect attempt to do the right thing that God noticed.
Maybe it was how Moses took God at his Word in his promises to Israel. Confronted an injustice that nobody else was doing anything about. Put his own position and reputation on the line in the process. I’m not exactly sure.
All I know is, when the story gets told again in Acts 7:23-36, it sounds like Moses was on the right track all along. And when God sent him back to Egypt 40 years later, it was to finish the same job with a bit more backup.
This brings us to the first major encouragement I found in the life of Moses, as a MoveIner.
Its encouraging to me because the first time I moved in, I also crashed pretty hard.
Like Moses, one day, before ever thinking of moving in, I was just minding my own business. Going to class. Putting in work. Life was good.
Then out of nowhere, I heard a fact that disturbed me: “One of every three people on our planet have never heard about Jesus.”
Then another fact: “Nearly 800 million people on earth live on less than $2 per day.” And then, a refugee shared his story with me. Bible verses started to come alive.
I was challenged and inspired. I decided to join a team that lived in an unreached urban poor neighbourhood and prayed together weekly. It was going to be great.
And in a lot of ways, it was great. Except we had our fair share of team conflict. We did not get much truth or love across to our neighbours. Friends and family even told me what I was doing was impulsive and unwise. Four months later, our team had moved out. Ouch.
“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”
At the time, I wondered if I was really cut out for living and praying among the unreached urban poor. Maybe I had blown it. Maybe this whole ‘MoveIn’ thing wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Looking back now though, with the story of Moses fresh in my mind, I see it differently. Maybe, however imperfect or unpolished it felt, it was the first chapter in a book that God had just started to write.
Maybe God was even thinking along the same lines as G.K. Chesterton when he said, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” Not because there’s any virtue in doing a thing badly, but because some things are too important to not do. And the only way to start doing something is to try it for the first time.
All in all, reading through the life of Moses, I get the distinct impression that God is far from annoyed when we try to do the right thing. In fact, reading about Moses in Hebrews 11:23-28, it seems to me that whenever we take a step of faith and obedience, God is thrilled. Even if we completely fail the first time.
But don’t take my word for it. Go read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and decide for yourself.
From there, I would challenge you to #BeLikeMoses and Try to Do the Right Thing.
If you’re trying to do the right thing, way to be. I’m cheering for you, wherever you are. I just prayed for God to protect you, and help you do what is right, just, and fair.
And if you just crashed and burned the first time around, and have no idea what’s going to happen next? Don’t worry. Neither did Moses. At this point, all he had gotten for his trouble was to be sent packing by everyone he had ever known and loved.
Little did he know, it was the start of one of the most fruitful and fulfilling relationships any human being has ever had with God.
You’re in good company. The fun is just getting started. Keep on keeping on.
And stay tuned for Part 2: Be Like Moses and Get Comfy With the Desert.