Moses was a pivotal figure in the Bible not because he possessed exceptional abilities or intelligence, but because God chose him. Many people in the Bible are like this; God has something He wants to achieve via humans in order to glorify Him, but they rarely volunteer for the role and are always imperfect.
Consider Abraham, Jacob, Noah, Moses, Job, Esther, Gideon, and countless more. They can never take credit for what God accomplishes through them. Quite often, they are in amazement at what God has accomplished in their helplessness.
When you consider Moses’ life from beginning to end, it’s remarkable to see how God woven a plan for saving His people that involved a man who had to be transported from race to race and location to place.
Moses’ life was jeopardized since he was born to a Hebrew woman captive in Egypt, and Pharaoh was hell-bent on killing Hebrew children. He was afraid that they might rise in number, topple him, and overrun Egypt. The irony (God’s design) was that Moses was dragged from the water by Pharaoh’s daughter. She took him to his birth mother to be nursed.
According to Associates for Biblical Research, Moses may have spent more than three years with his natural Hebrew family before being returned to Pharaoh’s daughter and adopted as her own.
How Old Was Moses When He Fled Egypt?
The Bible says in Acts 7:23, “One day when Moses was 40 years old, he decided to visit his relatives, the people of Israel.” While there, he witnessed an Egyptian mistreating a Hebrew slave and took vengeance on the Egyptian, killing him.
Moses later came across two Hebrew slaves fighting and intervened. “Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” one of them asked.
Moses departed Egypt, knowing his crime was public knowledge. He roamed the bush until he came across a group of shepherdesses whose flocks were being tormented by thieves. Moses sprang into action and chased the marauders away. He won his place in the camp of Midian’s priest, Jethro. He was welcomed into their home and immediately began working for Jethro. Jethro soon offered Moses his daughter, Zipporah, as his wife.
For the next 40 years, Moses labored on the slopes of Mount Sinai for Jethro. He would have been 80 years old at this stage. But God wasn’t done with him just yet.
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How Old Was Moses When He Returned to Egypt?
Moses appeared to be content with his life with the Midianites and had no aspirations to return to Egypt. But one day while tending livestock on Mount Sinai, “there the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush”. God instructs him to remove his sandals since he is on holy ground. Then He introduces Himself as “the God of your father God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”.
God tells him to go back to Egypt and challenge Pharaoh to release the enslaved Israelites. Moses attempted to claim that he was not the best candidate for the post.
Pharaoh finally relented after much pleading and ten plagues from the Lord. The final straw came when God killed every firstborn child in Egypt, while the Israelites were shielded by God’s command to paint the blood of a young lamb or goat on their doorposts so that they would be “passed over” and the plague would not affect them.
How Long Did Moses Lead the Israelites in the Desert?
On the night Pharoah released the Israelites, 600,000 men, women, and children fled Egypt, where their people had resided for 430 years.
Moses followed God’s directions, but they ended up on the banks of the Red Sea. But God didn’t stop there: He split the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to cross through on dry land. The flood then slammed into the Egyptian soldiers who were on their way to massacre the Israelites.
What happened next was not easy. Moses wandered in the desert for 40 years with people who complained, disobeyed God’s instructions (the Ten Commandments), sinned, repented, rebelled again, and finally constructed a Tabernacle to the Lord. The goal was to reach the promised land of milk and honey.
Why Was Moses Denied Entry Into the Promised Land?
But Moses refused to accompany them into the Promised Land. After all those years of wandering in the wilderness with people who repeatedly caused God grief–doing something he never wanted to do–God delayed his promise to Moses. Joshua would lead them into the country they had longed for for 40 years.
Why should Moses (and Aaron) be excluded? “This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel.”
The narrative of Meribah Kadesh is found in Numbers 20, near the end of the 40-year journey. There was no water, and people were dying of thirst. In the Tent of Meeting, Moses and Aaron prayed to God. God told Moses to speak to the rock, and water would pour forth. But, in his rage (“Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”), Moses disobeyed the instructions. Instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it twice, and abundant water flowed forth.
How Old Was Moses When He Died?
Then Moses hears something that must have seemed unbelievable to him after 40 years. God’s words in Numbers 20:12 were as follows: “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
God revealed to Moses the land his descendants would inherit before his death. Moses died and was buried there when he was 120 years old.
It’s interesting to note that the Bible writes in Deuteronomy 34:7 that Moses’ “eyes were not weak, nor was his strength gone.” God maintained him strong long after he’d reached old age, putting his strength to good use.
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What Happened After Moses Died?
“After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant, the Lord spoke to Joshua, son of Nun, Moses’ assistant.”
The message: God picked Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River into the promised land. Years before, Joshua created a name for himself when he went with 11 other spies to investigate the enemy dwelling in the region and determine if they could be vanquished.
Only Joshua and his fellow spy Caleb attempted to persuade the people, claiming that they knew God would grant them victory. But the people were scared, and Moses remained silent. Now it was up to brave Joshua to be blessed with God’s presence wherever he went. “I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous . . .”
Is Moses’ narrative one of faith gone wrong? After all, when God called Him on Mount Sinai, He didn’t believe God could act through him. He stated that he stutters and that Aaron should speak for him, thus God granted his request. Then there was the incident with the rock.
The point is that Moses was not perfect. God carried out His will via flawed humans, some of whom sought to be true to Him, such as Moses, and others who rebelled against Him. In Hebrews 11, the author gives a “Hall of Fame” that references Moses operating “in faith” five times throughout his connection with the Lord. That hardly qualifies him as a failure, in my opinion!