The first and last prayers of Moses

January 11, 2022

One of the biggest spiritual giants in the Bible is Moses, the man who led the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt and up to the promised land.

What made Moses an effective leader was that God was on his side, and it was God who had given him the assignment of setting his people free. The only way for Moses to carry out his mission successfully was to constantly be in communion with God, through prayer. Through Moses’ prayers, God did mighty things for the people of Israel – the turning of the water from the Nile into blood, the locust infestation over Egypt, the darkening of the Sun, the parting of the Red Sea – just to name a few.

We read these miracles – changes in the lives of the Israelites and Egyptians that took place because Moses prayed – and it helps us remember what prayer can do.

But in reading the prayers of Moses, something else becomes noticeable – that it was not just things and circumstances and people that changed, but it was Moses himself who began to transform into a new person.

What makes this evident is the way Moses’ prayers change. Let’s take a look at the first time he has a conversation with God, that’s recorded in the Bible.

In Exodus 3, God appears to Moses in a burning bush, and tells him that He wants to set the Israelites free from the oppression of the Egyptians – and He wants to use Moses to do it.

To which Moses’ basic response is – ‘here I am. Send someone else.’

Moses gives all kinds of excuses to avoid the mission – claiming that he isn’t a natural leader, and that he can’t speak very well, and that he is a nobody and that no one will listen to him.

Although God responds to and refutes all his arguments, Moses is not convinced. He still has his reservations.

Everything within him is still crying out – ‘here I am. Send someone else.’

I don’t think Moses doubted the power of God to do mighty things. He had heard of the stories of how God had blessed his ancestors – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I think Moses just couldn’t believe that God could use him.

Behind all Moses’ arguments was simply him trying to say – ‘You don’t need me to do this. You can send anyone else.’

‘You can do this without me.’

Which is probably true, isn’t it? I mean, did God really need Moses? God doesn’t need a human being’s help, does He? He doesn’t need you!

He doesn’t. And yet, He wants you. He wants to use you. He wants to partner with you to fight the darkness in this world. He wanted to use Moses. To work with him. And that’s just what He did.

Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Well, it was really God who did all the work – the miracles, the hardening and softening of hearts, the deliverance – everything.

But God did it with Moses.

Fast forward to when the Israelites are out of Egypt; after Moses has had one crazy journey in his relationship with God, and we begin to realize that everything within him has changed.

How do we know this? Because we saw what Moses said in his first prayer, and now we’ll take a look at what he said in his last one.

In Exodus 33, Moses and God are having one of their last conversations (with Moses still on this side of heaven).

Moses tells God – “we’re out of Egypt now, and we need to get into the promised land. You’ll lead us, right?”

And God says, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

And here’s when Moses responds in a way that’s radically different from what his first prayer was –

“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”

He’s saying, “we can’t do this without you.”

Moses has gone from praying “You can do this without me” to “we can’t do this without You.”

Isn’t that beautiful? Moses has gone from a place of thinking ‘I can’t do this’ to ‘I can’t do this without Him.’

He’s moved from ‘God can do this with anyone else’ to ‘God wants to do this with me.’

Which of Moses’ prayers are you leaning towards today?

Do you believe that God can do mighty things, but that He just can’t use you for them?

Or are you on the other side of the spectrum where you believe you can do all things, and you don’t need anyone or anything else – not even God?

Today, God wants you to realize that He wants you on His side. He wants you to carry out the mission to bring light into the world through Jesus.

He wants you to be the answer to the prayer – ‘Your Kingdom come.’

He doesn’t need you. He wants you. And you can do this. You can do this with Him, and through Him.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13

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