How does a general in the Egyptian army, who was believed to be the son of the Pharaoh’s sister become “…very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth” Numbers 12:3? Answer, he was called to speak face to face with God who opposes the proud.
God planned to make Moses humble by His spirit and created the circumstances by which He would Make him humble. Moses went from one of the highest positions in the greatest nation of that day to a herder of sheep, despised and rejected. He went from the highest to the lowest in the twinkling of an eye. He learned by experience that God raises up and God makes low.
He spent forty years on the backside of a desert after trying to accomplish God’s will by the might of his own two hands. By the time forty years were ended Moses had lost all confidence in himself, and at that time God called him to do the most impossible task of delivering the children of Israel from the greatest army in the world – with a wooden staff that he used to herd sheep.
The man Moses continually questioned God all along the way, and so much so, that God would take his life because he did not circumcise his son, except his wife intervened and finally agreed to bloody her child even though it must have seemed inhumane to her. At the burning bush Moses argued with God because he did not consider himself elegant of speech, and so God made Aaron his brother his spokesman, and Moses would be as God to his brother, except without any of the power and not much of the character.
Moses eventually goes before Pharaoh with a staff in hand, and pleads for the release of his people Israel, and after ten plagues by which GOD all but completely destroyed the greatest nation in the world, Pharaoh let God’s people go. What did Moses do, did he win any great military battles, did he out think Pharaohs generals, did he teach Israel how to fight, no, he only informed Pharaoh about what God was going to do. And if you think about it, Moses didn’t even do the talking, he must of stood around and looked at his feet while his brother spoke for him.
After Israel is finally set free, and they plundered the Egyptians of all their goods and jewels by the intervention of God, they experienced the power of God in a cloud of fire by day and a pillar of fire by night. When they were about to be crushed under the wheels of Pharaoh’s chariots God separated the Red sea, let Israel pass through on dry land, and drowned all of Pharaoh’s army in the sea.
With probably two million people to care for in the desert God supplied manner or bread from heaven and water from a rock. What did Moses do during all this time – nothing. In the midst of the greatest exhibition of God’s power since creation (only this time men were watching) Israel looked on, feared, and immediately forgot. This story tells something about the human heart, and it isn’t pretty.
Then we come across an interesting statement from Moses in the eleventh chapter of Numbers, “Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and when the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly, Moses was also displeased. 11:11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you afflicted your servant? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of this entire people on me? 11:12 Did I conceive this entire people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your arms, as a foster father bears a nursing child,’ to the land which you swore to their fathers? 11:13 From where shall I get meat to give to this entire people, for they cry to me, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat!’ 11:14 I am not able to bear this entire people alone, because it is too heavy for me! “
The thing that displeased Moses was the grumbling of the people, and out of anger he grumbles to the Lord about all that the people were asking him to do, which was impossible for him to do. However, Moses was grumbling just like the people and the sin he saw in them he then saw in himself. Then in verse 15, Moses made this statement, “So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness."
The word rendered wretchedness in the NASB has a component of evil in the Hebrew, Moses had become keenly aware of all God had done for His beloved children, Israel’s ungrateful attitude, and his own ingratitude reflected by his complaints about the people, and he simply could not bear his own sin anymore.
Martin Luther said, where repentance remains, self-hatred remains, which reminds us of the words of Jesus, “except a man deny himself (refuse to associate with himself) he cannot be my disciple.” In meditating on the life of Moses we see a clear example of self-hatred in a man who was the most humble of his day. While the people experienced the mighty delivering hand of Almighty God, all they could do was complain about Him, and at the same time when Moses heard his own words he complained about the people and himself.
Upon seeing the holiness of God Isaiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips among a people of unclean lips”, may we say the same and lift our eyes to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God. We should be made low in our own sight as we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels and took to Himself a body so that He might be made like His brethren. Christ did not come to serve but to serve and to give himself as a ransom for many.
The only way for the Christian to live is in a state of humility, because apart from humility no one can receive God’s grace. According to the book of James, “God is apposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humility is necessary to receive grace and grace is the necessary ingredient for all we do and more importantly for all we become.
Grace is the means by which God imparts to us all that we need, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;” 2 Cor. 9:8 There is no self-righteousness in grace, only the abundance that God supplies through the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Only the humble receive grace, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:3
By grace we labor with the spiritual gifts we have received, we become gracious husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, bosses, servants, friends, neighbors, leaders, and followers to the glory of God. We become like Christ in our behavior and attitudes through the grace of God, which grace is received through humility. Humility is the ability to see God for how great He is, in light of our own shortcomings, sins, faults, weaknesses and frailties.
Only the most humble man can speak to God face to face, everyone else God opposes. Does God oppose you?