This year, I’m leading us on a journey through The MANual, an NIV Bible designed to help us become better men. This particular edition provides honest and straightforward answers about our role as Christian men in a culture that actively works against God’s will and doesn’t follow the ways of Jesus.
My last post provided Lessons from Genesis. Let’s continue our journey with the next of the five books of Moses: Exodus.
Exiting Oppression and Slavery
Like Genesis, Exodus was written to the people of Israel around 1450-1410 B.C. (Before Christ). The main theme is that the Israelites go from one bad situation to the next – from being slaves in Egypt to wanderers in the desert. God used Moses to change to course of their history and can for you too.
The first part of Exodus (chapters 1–19) tells of God’s rescue of His people from Egypt and their journey to Mount Sinai. The second part (chapters 20–40) tells of God’s covenant with the Israelites, and what He expects of them. These chapters describe the wonderful, extraordinary measures God takes to reach out and rescue those He loves. People who believe in Him.
Exodus begins as the descendants of Jacob who became the nation of Israel, go to Egypt where their brother, Joseph had already moved. After a time Joseph and all his brothers died. The Israelites became fruitful and multiplied to fill the land, becoming so numerous that the king of Egypt placed these Hebrew people into slavery. He then ordered their midwives to throw all newborn boys into the Nile River to kill them to stop the population growth.
The Hebrew women received orders from Pharaoh that conflicted with their personal convictions: to kill all newborn sons. When the moment of truth came, those convictions guided their actions and they trusted God with the consequences of their disobedience of the king.
- When did you have a situation when your personal convictions conflicted with instructions from your boss, coach, or teacher?
Exodus continues with the story of Moses, one of those Hebrew boys who survived because he was retrieved from the river by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as Egyptian royalty.
After he was grown, Moses saw an Egyptian soldier beating one of the Hebrew slaves. In a rage, Moses killed the soldier and hid his body. He fled to Midian (modern-day, Sauda Arabia) hoping no one would ever find out about the murder.
No One Will Ever Know
Our culture today is fascinated with the thoughts of “the perfect crime”. Many movies or TV shows have the same basic plot – people trying to get away with something, covering their tracks, and disappearing into anonymity.
A 2007 study by Barna Research indicated 62% of men believe that God is an all-powerful and all-knowing Creator that rules the world today. He knows and sees everything we do as Psalm 90:8 declares: “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence”.
Men especially tend to hide their sins and feel that God doesn’t even see them nor care about them. Well, He does!
- Do you believe God knows all you do, even if no one sees your sins?
- Have you ever “killed” a relationship due to your rage?
Exodus continues with the story where God revealed himself to Moses through the Burning Bush and charged him to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
Moses initially questioned God’s plan for him and felt unworthy of the task. But God made His point clear by turning Moses’ staff into a snake and back again into a staff. Moses prays about this task at hand and consults his wise father-in-law, Jethro. He enlists his more eloquent speaking brother, Aaron to help. They return to tell Pharaoh to release the Hebrew people but Pharaoh refuses. God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and sends multiple plagues across Egypt.
The Passover and a Road Trip
Later, God instructs Moses to tell the whole community of Israel to smear lamb’s blood above their doors as a sign to “pass over” their homes during the night of God’s judgment on Egypt. The Hebrew people are spared and consecrate (dedicate) all firstborn males, whether man or animal to The Lord. Over 600,000 men, along with the unnumbered women and children, then flee Egypt for their new life, freed from slavery.
Pharaoh and his Egyptian army pursue the mass of refugees to the point when Moses parts the Red Sea, allowing only the Israelites to go through. The Egyptians are left drowning or lying dead on the opposite shore. God has proven His point again to Moses.
God is All-Powerful
Theologians talk about God being omnipotent, which means He is all-powerful. In other words, nothing is too hard for God.
The life of Moses shows us that if we put our trust in God, He is always with us. We have access to more than enough power through God to handle whatever struggle life throws our way.
- How have you trusted God in a difficult situation?
- Who do you rely on for wisdom for those difficult times?
Moses carried a big stick powered by God. He used it to shepherd sheep, demonstrate a miracle to Pharaoh, split the Red Sea, bust open a rock to create a water bubbler for drinking, and various other miracles.
Moses was also a murderer who ran off to the desert before he could be caught. He was a reluctant, stuttering, wilderness guide who questioned himself and was questioned by others throughout his life.
However, God had bigger plans for Him. Moses was a developing leader who would change the course for many people. He just needed to gain from the wisdom of others and enlist some help.
Leadership often comes from the most reluctant people. Maybe you are like Moses. As you read the Bible, take note of the God-fearing underdogs and watch how He rushes to their defense.
As people created in the image of God, we are taught to have the same mindset; look for the hurting and oppressed. We should boldly step up to be an advocate and provide leadership. Be the “silent servant” for others whenever needed.
- What leadership qualities do you see in yourself?
- Do you feel you lack any spiritual gifts and talents to lead? If so, what skills do you need to build confidence?
- Who do you admire that can help you develop those skills and talents?
- How do your skills and talents fit the needs of the church?
The Ten Commandments
Both Exodus and Deuteronomy (a later book in the Old Testament) includes the story about how God reveals two tablets of stone to Moses that become the fundamental elements of how we should live.
- Have no other gods but Me.
- Do not make for yourself any idol, nor bow down to it or worship it.
- Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
- Remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
- Respect your father and mother.
- Do not commit murder.
- Do not commit adultery.
- Do not steal.
- Give no false evidence against your neighbor.
- Do not covet your neighbor’s goods, be envious of his house or his wife, nor anything that belongs to him.
Exodus concludes with God’s plan to create a special place of worship for Him in the form of a tabernacle (a holy tent). He describes the sacred furniture, the garments for priests, and the requirements for Sabbath. Exodus ends with the “glory of the LORD filling the tabernacle”, which represents that God is now dwelling among His chosen people, Israel.
God revealed Himself to Moses to show He really does exist. He gave us commandments to follow that lead to a better life. He wants us to worship Him and lead other people to Him. God proved He is closer than we think.
God Buddy Focus
Today, most men believe God is still “out there” dwelling in some far-away, unfathomable spiritual dimension. As you read these stories, you will also begin to understand that God is real and alive. Learn the leadership lessons of Moses and how he helped lead the people to a new life.
- Identify 1 or 2 men that you admire and ask them for advice about your fears like Moses did with Jethro.
- Discuss the Ten Commandments with another guy and see how those apply in an increasingly secular world.
Comment below about the ways you feel like Moses: inarticulate, fearful of the task, or lacking in a particular skill. Reach out to a God Buddy to begin a relationship that helps you both continue your growth as godly men.