(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Moses, that great Old Testament hero of faith listed in Hebrews 11. I thought that two, maybe three Gems would cover his six-verse entry in the Hall of Faith! But this is the fourth Gem concerning him! Hebrews 11:29, our featured Scripture, doesn’t mention him, either by name or pronoun, but he figures prominently in this short verse! “By faith…[the Israelites] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, drowned.”
- Moses was called by the LORD to lead the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. But he tried to fulfill that call on his own initiative when he rescued a fellow Hebrew from being whipped, killing the Egyptian taskmaster! Pharaoh found out, and Moses ran for his life!
- Forty years later, after being gentled by a shepherd’s life in the wilderness of Sinai, God called him, saying, “Come now…and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10). Moses tried to argue his way out of this task, but you don’t win many arguments with God!
- Ten plagues later, with the tenth being the death of all the firstborn of man and beast throughout Egypt, Moses led the Israelites, about two to three million strong, out of the land of their slavery!
- God personally showed the way! We are told in Exodus 13:21, “…the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light….”
- But He led them “…to turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon…” (Exodus 14:1). By all human logistics, God escorted them into a trap – the mountains behind them, the Red Sea before them, and, with the king of Egypt reconsidering having let all those Hebrew slaves go, “…all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army…overtook them camping by the sea…” (Exodus 14:9).
- “…the children of Israel…were very afraid….‘Because there were no graves in Egypt,” they wailed to Moses, “have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:10 and 11). But Moses calmed the people, saying, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD….For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.” (Exodus 14:13).
- Moses held out his hand holding the rod of God over the water, “…and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.” (Exodus 14:21).
This is where our featured Scripture comes in: “By faith…[the Israelites] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, drowned.”
- It took faith to believe in a deliverance when the vast Egyptian army was almost upon them!
- It took faith for Moses to stand there at the edge of the Red Sea, holding out the rod of God, believing that the LORD would make a way through the water to victory!
- It was by faith that the Israelites walked the sea bed with great walls of water on each side!
- It took faith to believe the pursuing Egyptian army would not overtake them in that path through the waters! And they didn’t! They all drowned when God brought the liquid walls down upon Pharaoh’s army!
I did a bit of research on the internet concerning the Gulf of Suez, the most likely route of the Israelites as they crossed that northern arm of the Red Sea:
✡ The Gulf of Suez is 12 to 20 miles wide. It would have taken the Israelites a full day’s march, and maybe more, for two to three million people to cross that seabed! ✡ The average depth of the Gulf of Suez is 130 feet, with a maximum depth of 230 feet. That means the walls of water on either side of the Israelites as they marched across the sea bed was about 150 feet high!
But Hebrews 11:29 says nothing about Moses’ clay feet (his short-comings). So where do his feet of clay come in?
- Previous to this episode in the life of this great man, we certainly have seen blunders, doubts, and angry actions as Moses struggled with the LORD’s leading! Look back over the preceding three Gems if you can’t call to mind his ‘clay feet’ thinking and actions!
- It wasn’t but three days after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea that the Israelites complained against Moses about having no water (see Exodus 15:24); and again about lack of food (see Exodus 16:2, 3); and yet again they griped because they were thirsty! (see Exodus 17:1, 2).
- According to Exodus 18:13 Moses tried to take on himself too much: “…Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening.” It wasn’t until his father-in-law Jethro told him, “Both you and these people will surely wear yourselves out. For this…is too much for you…” (Exodus 18:18). Upon Jethro’s advice, “…Moses chose able men and made them heads over the people….So they judged the people at all times.” (Exodus 18:25 and 26).
- Again, in Numbers 11, the people complained about the lack of variety in their diet. They only had manna – God’s daily provision of “…angels’ food…” (Psalm 78:25). So they griped, “Who will give us meat to eat?” (Numbers 11:4). This time Moses ‘lost it’ before God!
Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, “Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian car- ries a nursing child,” to the land which You swore to their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, “Give us meat, that we may eat.” I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now – if I have found favor in Your sight – and do not let me see my wretchedness! (Numbers 11:11 through 15).
- Perhaps the biggest incident in which Moses showed his clay feet is found in Numbers 20:7 through 12. The people complained about having no water. So God told Moses, “Take the rod…and…Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water.”
So Moses took the rod from before the LORD....And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses struck the rock twice with his rod, and the water came out abundantly....
Why was it so wrong when Moses “struck the rock twice”? God had said, “Speak to the rock…”! So the first reason is Moses disobeyed God! But there are three more reasons concerning this incident that we can learn from the New Testament:
- Paul says of the Israelites in I Corinthians 10:4, They “…all drank from the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.”
- Jesus Christ only needed to be smitten once, and that when He was mocked, beaten, and crucified! As it says in Hebrews 9:25 and 26:
...not that he should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with the blood of [the sacrificial animal]...He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now...Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
- Now that He has been smitten once, all we have to do is speak to Him to procure blessings from Him! As we are told in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us come boldly before the throne of grace [just speaking to our Lord Jesus], that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Moses was a faulty human being, just like the rest of us! But, with all his faults, he offered himself to God!
Even with all our ‘clay-footed’ faults,
if we offer ourselves to God,
He will do mighty things with us and through us!