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Who Was Moses?

Apr 13, 2019 |

Where Does Moses Appear in the Bible?

The story of Moses begins in Exodus 1 and stretches across the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Who Was Moses?

Moses was born to Hebrew slaves in Egypt, seemingly at the worst possible time. Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, had ordered all Hebrew male babies to be executed. To save baby Moses’ life, his mother and sister put him in a basket and floated him down the Nile River. He was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter, who raised him as her own.

Moses grew up as the privileged grandson of Pharaoh, but he still retained his Hebrew identity. When he saw an Egyptian overseer beating a Hebrew slave, Moses killed the overseer. From that day on, Moses was a fugitive. He hid for 40 years in a desert wilderness, where he became a shepherd, found a wife, and raised a family.

When Moses encountered God in the form of a burning bush, God instructed him to return to Egypt and demand that Pharaoh release the Hebrew people from slavery. That encounter changed not only the course of Moses’ life, but also the course of history.

Pharaoh initially refused to release his enormous workforce—it took 10 plagues to convince him. After God delivered his people, Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt and through the wilderness to the land God had promised their ancestors.

It was a monumental task. The Hebrew people complained nonstop, even though God miraculously provided food and water for them. When they reached the promised land, they found it occupied. God instructed them to conquer the occupants and drive them out, but the Hebrews refused. Because of their lack of faith, God determined that they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years.

Moses frequently grew frustrated with the people. His frustrations boiled over on one occasion when the people were complaining about being thirsty. God had instructed him to speak to a rock so that water would flow from it, but Moses struck the rock with his staff instead. As punishment for his disobedience, God forbade him from ever entering the promised land.

After 40 years of wandering, Moses eventually led the Hebrews to the edge of the promised land. From a nearby mountaintop, he was allowed to look at the place he had longed to see for so many years. And then he died.

Why Was Moses Important?

Moses is arguably one of the central figures of the Old Testament. In addition to his adventures in Egypt and the wilderness, he is credited with writing the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. He is also credited with writing some psalms and is revered in Jewish history as a teacher and a prophet.

God called Moses—and Moses alone—to the top of Mount Sinai, where he gave the Hebrew leader his laws and the tablets that contained the Ten Commandments. When Moses returned from his mountaintop experience, his face shone in an extraordinary way—the afterglow of his personal encounter with God.

In the New Testament, when Jesus was preparing for his final entry into Jerusalem, he took Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain. There, Moses and Elijah appeared to Him. According to the Gospels, Moses spoke to Jesus about His impending death.

What Lessons Can We Learn from Moses?

The first lesson we can take away from Moses’ life is that being in the right place at the right time only means something if you do the right thing. Moses was equipped to complete the monumental task that the Lord laid before him. Yet it was his faithful willingness to sacrifice everything for the sake of the Lord’s work that set him apart.

The second lesson is that faithful obedience matters, which Moses learned the hard way when God forbade him from entering the promised land. Yet even after he had nothing to gain (from a human perspective)—even though he would not be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor—Moses remained faithfully obedient to God and His work.

The author of Hebrews offers this summary of Moses’ life: “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:26–27).


Interested in knowing more about the writers and characters in the Bible? Check out these articles:

Who Wrote the Book of Romans?
Who Wrote the Book of Joshua?
Who Wrote the Book of Job?
Who Was Eve?


The Open Bible offers clean and easy navigation through the connectivity of Scripture with a time-tested complete reference system trusted by millions. It is now available wherever Bibles are sold.




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How Do We Teach People About Easter?

The story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection will pique the curiosity of spiritual seekers this Easter season. The question for Jesus’ followers is how to make the most of the opportunity. How can we help people who know little more than the basics of the Easter story understand its full implications? Here are three ideas to get you started.

We Start in the Book of Exodus.

In order to convince Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to release the Hebrew people from slavery, God sent 10 plagues on Egypt. The tenth and final plague was the death of every firstborn child. The only way for people to escape the plague was to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and paint its blood on the doorposts of their homes. When the angel of death saw the blood of the lamb, it passed over that household. The event came to be known and celebrated as Passover.

Some 1,500 years later, God’s plan of salvation for the human race was unveiled—and it echoed the Passover in Exodus. The key to salvation was the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb—in this case, a perfect representative of the human race. The only way to escape the punishment of death for our sins was to figuratively cover ourselves with the blood of the sacrificial lamb.

We Emphasize That There Was No Other Way.

To people who are unfamiliar with the Bible story, the crucifixion may seem like the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment. They wonder, how could a loving God allow His Son to suffer like that?

The best place to start addressing those concerns is John 14:6. That’s where Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There is no boast or pride in Jesus’ words. He is helping the world understand that only He can bridge the separation between God and humankind.

Sin created the separation. According to God’s plan, only a perfect sacrifice can pay the penalty for sin. But no human has ever been perfect, so God sent His only Son to take on human form and live a sinless life in order to become that sacrifice. Only Jesus’ sacrifice could satisfy God’s perfect justice and holiness. So the way to the Father spoken of in John 14:6 passed through the cross and the tomb.

Only Jesus was able to conquer sin by living an unblemished life. Only Jesus was able to conquer death by emerging from the tomb.

We Align Our Celebration with Scripture.

With so many profound spiritual truths to celebrate, we run the risk of confusing spiritual seekers by including something as frivolous as an imaginary bunny in our Easter traditions. The good news is that profound spiritual truths don’t always have to be celebrated in profound ways. You can have Easter fun with your kids while you focus on spiritual truths.

For example,

  1. Easter eggs, in the Christian tradition, represent Jesus emerging from the tomb—just as a bird emerges from an egg. You can make that connection more obvious by decorating eggs to reflect the biblical narrative. One person might paint a stick-figure scene of Jesus’ followers at His empty tomb. Others might paint the words “He is risen!” “Alive!” and “Rejoice!” on their eggs.
  2. You could plan an unconventional Easter egg hunt. Instead of filling plastic eggs with candy and prizes, fill all but one with cotton balls. Leave the last egg empty to represent Jesus’ empty tomb. The person who finds the empty egg gets a prize. After each hunt, you can switch the eggs and do another one. Afterward, talk about the women who found Jesus’ tomb empty (Mark 16:1–11).
  3. You could start a tradition of waking up at dawn for an Easter Sunday breakfast. You could use Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” as a wake-up device. Despite the earliness of the hour, foster an atmosphere of joy as you celebrate Jesus’ resurrection together.
  4. Have a contest to see which of your family members can come up with the most creative way to announce, “He is risen!” For example, one of you might fly an indoor drone, trailing a toilet-paper banner with the words written on it. Another might hang a banner from the staircase. Another might write the words in chalk on your driveway.

Help your family understand that profound doesn’t necessarily mean solemn.


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