Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 36, 1885

Sermon/Lessons From the Training and Character of Moses

Torre Pellice, Italy

December 13, 1885

Portions of this manuscript are published in CTr 100, 116, 135; YI 01/29/1903. +Note

Lessons From the Training and Character of Moses 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 1

“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” [Hebrews 11:24-26.] 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 2

Moses was a child of God, chosen for a special work. Having been adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, he was greatly honored by those in the king’s court. As the king’s intended grandson, everyone was intensely desirous of exalting him. They looked upon him as the successor to the throne. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 3

Moses was a man of intelligence, and God in His providence placed him where he could acquire knowledge and fitness for a great work. He was thoroughly educated as a general. When he went out to meet the enemy, he was successful; and on his return from the battle, his praises were sung by the whole army. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 4

Notwithstanding this, Moses constantly kept in mind the fact that by his hand God would deliver the children of Israel. But although learned among the Egyptians, he received in the service of Pharaoh a certain mold which disqualified him for the wonderful work he was to do. This weakness was manifested when he visited his brethren and “spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew.” Moses took the case in hand and privately “slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.” [Exodus 2:11, 12.] He would not have done this had he not, during his training in the Egyptian army, received the impression that the Israelites were to be delivered by the sword rather than by the mighty arm of God. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 5

In order that Moses might be fitted for his appointed work, the God of heaven separated him from his former surroundings. He was to enter another school—the school of Providence. What a change here took place in the life and employment of Moses! He went away into the mountains and cared for a flock of sheep placed in his charge. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 6

Looking at this experience from a human standpoint, men would pronounce it a splendid failure on the part of Moses. Instead of allowing this learned general, who was regarded as fully prepared to do his appointed work, to go ahead and accomplish that which it had been foretold he should do, the Lord sent him into the mountains to obtain an education which would fit him to stand as the general of Israel. There he had opportunities for study, prayer, and meditation. From the pages of the great book of nature open before him, he drew useful lessons. Forty years he lived in the wilderness. Surrounded by the mountains, he learned how to have faith in God and to seek Him most earnestly. While caring for the sheep, he met with conflicts, hardships, and discouragements, and was taught precious lessons of patience and long-suffering. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 7

God designed that Moses should stand out alone, leaning upon His strong arm, that he should learn to pray and to believe. That he might know how to be kind and tender toward his erring brethren, he was, in the care of his sheep, taught lessons of kindness and tenderness. Moses was given a deep and thorough experience for the work before him. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 8

Every one should have an individual experience. We should ever be learning the lessons that Providence designs us to learn. But we allow altogether too many things to engross the mind. Too often we do as others do and think as others think. The habits of others have an influence upon us. If we place ourselves where we look to others to brace us and support us, if we depend on finite help, we do not really know our own strength because we do not stand alone, making God our helper. When thrust out where we have to stand alone, the taproot of our faith fastens upon the only sure support—the infinite God. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 9

This was brought forcibly to my mind when attending a tent meeting in Portland, Oregon. There I saw the results of a tempest which had just passed through the forest, sweeping down everything before it. Those trees standing close together were uprooted and leveled like grass before the scythe. But the wind had not overturned a few isolated trees which stood out separate from the others. I inquired the reason of this and was told that the roots of the trees unmoved by the hurricane were firmly fastened to something underneath. Their taproots had struck down deep, and they had withstood the storm while those which had stood close together were swept down by the tempest. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 10

When God finally asked Moses to go to Pharaoh, Moses had reached the place where he had a humble view of himself. He felt that he was not capable of doing the work, and he pled earnestly that this responsibility might not be laid upon him. Not until after the Lord had convinced him that he was the chosen instrument of God to deliver Israel did he consent to go. He cherished no self-exaltation. On the contrary, among the rugged mountains, with the sheep, he had learned humility—that precious, precious lesson, so important for us all to learn. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 11

When in their flight from Egypt the Israelites came to the Red Sea and learned that the Egyptians were following in their track, it seemed to them as if they had been brought out there to perish. Although the Lord had wrought so wondrously in their behalf, they had not the faith they should have had. They were in a position of great peril—the Red Sea before them and the impassable mountains shutting them in on either side—and they murmured against Moses, saying, “Why did you not leave us in Egypt?” [Exodus 14:11, 12.] 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 12

But Moses had learned his lesson. The waywardness of the children of Israel often tempted him to become stirred, but at such times we find him pleading with God to work for them. In this emergency he could not go away and kneel down to pray. He looked in faith to the invisible Leader, and his cry came into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. The command was given by God, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward.” [Verse 15.] 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 13

As by faith the people stepped into the sea, the waters rolled back, a path was made, and they walked through on dry land. As they started upon the path which Providence had marked out for them, the pillar of cloud rose and moved grandly over their heads, taking its position between the two armies, following them instead of going before, thus shielding them from the sight of the Egyptians. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 14

The Egyptian host, attempting to follow, were troubled by angels of God; and when they had passed into the midst of the sea, at the word of the Lord, the waters came tumbling down upon them. Moses was now thoroughly convinced that it was the Captain of their salvation, the Lord of hosts, who was leading His people. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 15

This is the very faith Jesus wants us to have. When difficulties arise, let us have faith. When it seems that we must meet impossibilities, let us pray. Like Moses, we must learn to commune with God and to trust in Him to work for us. If we are obedient to all of God’s commandments, we must, like Moses, learn to talk with Him as with a friend. On the steamboat, in the railroad car, among the multitude, or wherever we are, our silent petitions are to ascend to the God of heaven. His ear is ever open to hear the cry of His needy saints. Man’s necessity is God’s opportunity. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 16

After the children of Israel had listened at Sinai to the giving of the ten commandments, they fell into idolatry, and the Lord was angry with them. He said to Moses, “Let Me alone, ... that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” [Exodus 32:10.] But no; the man who had learned to seek after the lost sheep in the wilderness, who had endured cold and storm rather than leave one sheep to perish, could not give up the people placed in his care. He pled with God not to give them up, but to forgive their transgression. He prayed, “If Thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written.” [Verse 32.] His earnest intercessions prevailed with God. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 17

Moses declared, “If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” [Exodus 33:15.] He no longer had any confidence in himself. His watchword was, The God of Israel is my Strength and my Leader. He received no adoration as did the kings of other nations. Repeatedly he told the children of Israel that he was only what the God of Israel had made him. In all the battles in which they obtained the victory, he told them that they were not to claim the honor, for it was the God of Israel who gained the victory in their behalf. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 18

When the Lord told Moses, “My presence shall go with thee” [Verse 14], we might think that this mighty man of God would have been satisfied. But he was not. He still urged his petition. “He said, I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory.” [Verse 18.] Was Moses rebuked for his presumption? The Lord told him that no man could see Him face to face and live; but He took that mighty man of faith, and put him into a cleft in the rock, and there revealed to him His glory. God passed by him, and Moses looked upon his Lord. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 19

When Moses returned to the people, they could not look upon his countenance;, for he had been talking with God, and his face reflected the glory of God which had been revealed to him. “The skin of his face shone.” [Exodus 34:29, 30.] When talking with the people, he was obliged to cover his face with a veil. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 20

Not the pompous, boastful, unbelieving man, but the humble, faithful man is mighty in the sight of God. In order that he may answer their prayers, the Lord desires His people to obtain an individual experience. The nearer they come to Jesus Christ, the closer their view of His loveliness and life, the more humble will be their opinion of themselves. The lower their estimate of self, the more distinct will be their views of the glory and majesty of God. When individuals claim that they are sanctified and holy, no clearer evidence is needed to show that they are not holy. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 21

The apostle who was exalted to the third heaven, who heard unspeakable words, not lawful for man to utter—he it was who said that he had not already attained, neither was already perfect, but that he pressed “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 3:14.] Bible sanctification is the work of a lifetime. Throughout life we will have our conflicts with the powers of darkness and will be obtaining precious victories. Our eyes must be kept fixed upon the mark of the prize. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 22

When Joshua went up from the Jordan to take Jericho, he met a majestic Being, and at once challenged Him: “Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries?” [Joshua 5:13.] The answer was, “As captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. ... Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” [Verses 14, 15.] Not Joshua, the leader of Israel, but Christ Himself, accomplished the work of taking Jericho. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 23

These were the lessons continually given the children of Israel. By directing their attention to the God of heaven, Christ taught them not to take the glory to themselves. Let us not cherish self-exaltation. When we begin to think we are something, let us remember that we have nothing different from or better than our fellow men, except what God has given us. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 24

When in need, bear in mind our relation to the children of Israel. Their history is clearly traced by the pen of inspiration. We are not to imitate their example of murmuring and repining. God placed upon the lips of Moses no words of condemnation. In this respect they were separate and distinct from other nations. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 25

In accepting the religion of Jesus Christ, many seem to think that they are taking a downward step. These are in need of stepping down from their self-esteem and self-righteousness, and humbling themselves before God. But those who place themselves in connection with the living God, as His sons and daughters, are taking steps upward. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 26

“Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” [2 Corinthians 4:17, 18.] We are to talk of heaven and heavenly things, keeping ourselves in a position of supplication before God. It is not safe for any of us to feel that we are where our feet cannot slip, but we should feel that the ground whereon we stand is holy. Cleanse the soul temple of its defilement, that Christ may come in and reign supreme. By beholding Jesus Christ, we shall grow up into His likeness. The more closely we are connected with Him, the more clearly we shall see our imperfections. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 27

Christ says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew 11:28.] And then He says, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me.” [Verse 29.] What are the conditions?—We have to bear the cross. Every morning we are to inquire, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” [Acts 9:6.] Wherever we are, our prayers should each day ascend to God for light. We are to go to Him for our orders. Thus we learn daily precious lessons in the school of Christ. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 28

When we are receiving a training, as did Moses in the school of Christ, what shall we learn?—to become puffed up?—to have an exalted opinion of ourselves?—No, indeed. The more we learn in this school, the more we shall advance in meekness and lowliness of mind. We are not to feel that we have learned everything worth knowing. We should put to the best use the talents God has given us, that when we are changed from mortality to immortality, we shall not leave behind that which we have attained, but may take it with us to the other side. Throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity, Christ and His work of redemption will be the theme of our study. Let none of us think that we are ready to graduate. There are new lessons for us to learn every day. As did Moses, we may say, “Show us Thy glory” [Exodus 33:18], and by living faith grasp the arm of power. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 29

Our lack of simplicity is the great cause of our weakness today. We think we can do something great. We seem to think that God could not carry on His work without the assistance of finite men. True, God can use men when they yield themselves to Him; but there are few who are willing to place all their talents into His service. Because they love the praise of the world and desire honor and exaltation from others, they will not lie at the feet of Jesus. The Pharisees would not believe on Christ, but sought for and gained worldly honor. Those who keep their eye single to the glory of God will receive their reward by and by. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 30

In order to know the power and strength of true godliness, we must hide in Jesus, dedicating ourselves to Him without reserve. When we make an entire surrender to Christ, laying ourselves upon the altar as a living, consuming sacrifice, He will accept us. Fully dedicate your strength, your mind, all your abilities, to God. Wherever He places you, however humble may be your position, work with fidelity. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 31

Every soul is precious; for the blood of a crucified and risen Savior has purchased every one. All the gold and silver in the earth could not redeem one soul. Neither intellect nor education can pay the price of redemption. Only through an entire surrender to God can we gain the free gift of the Saviour—eternal life. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 32

Wealth or position will not avail when we come to the Father. The name of Jesus is our password, and as we plead in the name of our mighty Advocate, for His sake our sins are washed away. In this world there is neither comfort nor happiness without Jesus. We must acknowledge Him as our Friend and our Saviour. How can we fail to love Him, when He has first loved us? In Him are matchless charms. Oh, that we may all be with Him through the ceaseless ages of eternity! 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 33

“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt,” Moses kept his eye fixed upon “the recompence of the reward.” [Hebrews 11:26.] Let us likewise keep our eyes fixed upon the reward which God has promised, and walk in great humility before Him, for He who says, “Them that honor Me I will honor” [1 Samuel 2:30], will crown His faithful children with eternal glory and honor. 4LtMs, Ms 36, 1885, par. 34