Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


Moses Looked to the Reward

The time of Moses’ birth was a difficult period for the Jewish people. They were enslaved in Egypt, and Pharaoh, afraid that the Hebrews were becoming too populous, decreed that all male Jewish infants should be killed at birth. The story of how Moses ended up adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter is one we tell the youngest children in Sunday school. It’s a lovely story: The baby that should have been killed is discovered floating in a basket and catches the eye of the Pharaoh’s daughter. He is raised in the palace and his own mother is brought in to be his nurse. He grows up with an understanding of his culture and heritage, but he also grows up in a king’s family.

Moses’ rescue of his people from slavery is another popular Sunday school story. It sounds exciting, even thrilling. Moses is called to save his people and to bring them to the land God had promised hundreds of years earlier to their ancestors.

And so the difficulty starts. First of all, Moses doesn’t want the job. His first response when God speaks to him from a burning bush is to make a series of excuses, ultimately ending in Exodus 4:13 by saying, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

This part really hits home for me as we’re dealing with infertility. I don’t want to be infertile. I want a normal family-building trajectory. I want to have a baby whose first birthday we should have recently celebrated. But, whether I will ultimately be a mother or not, I cannot deny that I have been called to go through infertility at this time.

It also hits me because I’ve been considering what I should do with myself lately. Part of me feels like pursuing anything other than motherhood would indicate that I am giving up on that dream. That wrestling match is a subject for another post. And lately, I have been feeling like I need to look into adoption more seriously. I don’t know that we are called to adopt, but I do know that right now it’s not what I want to be called to do. I’ve mentioned some of my reservations about adopting before. And if we end up going that route it will only be because the Lord has done a mighty work to change my heart on the issue. Nonetheless, I have been feeling compelled to look into it.

So I feel like I can really relate to Moses here. He gets a calling he doesn’t want. That is the beginning of his hardship.

From that despised calling, we see Moses suffer even more. He had difficulty with the Israelites from day one. It makes no difference that God shows them again and again that he is faithful. It makes no difference that they walked across the Red Sea on dry ground. It makes no difference that God’s very presence accompanies them day and night. The Israelites like to whine.

Moses is called to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. And because of their—shall we say misbehavior?—their journey is extended by 40 years. He had to be feeling so close! But no, not finished yet.

Moses is called to show the Israelites how to be God’s people. I can’t blame him for not relishing that task!

And ultimately, because of Moses’ own pride or lack of trust, he does not get to join the people in the Promised Land when they finally get there. He dies on a mountain top instead.

At one point, when the Israelites are whining for Moses to give them meat to eat, see Moses’ response to God:

Where am I going to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness” (Numbers 11:13-15).

These are the words of a distressed and desperate man.

His calling wasn’t all bad, of course. Throughout his life, Moses spoke with God. He met with the Lord all. the. time. He delivered the law to the people. He is credited with putting the oral history of the Jewish people into writing. And he was permitted to see God. What glory! What wondrous grace!  

And where would we be without Moses? He is remembered as a man of great faith. His mention in Hebrews 11, often referred to as the “Hall of Faith,” encompasses seven full verses, including,

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11: 24-26).

And so I am reminded of a few things:

  1. I don’t know the full story God has planned.
  2. I should trust God with my life, even if he is calling me to something other than motherhood.
  3. I should be looking to the reward.
  4. The road isn’t always easy.

This is episode 2 of my “They Were Called” series. To see episode 1, about David and his calling, click here. For the introduction to the series, click here. For episode 3, about how Hannah had to wait to fulfill her calling, click here.

Leave a comment


I’ve been studying and teaching Hebrews. I find it a really interesting book, and a really difficult book to relate to the first and second graders I teach. The vocabulary alone is difficult. (When asked if they knew what it meant to be an “heir,” because Hebrews 1:1-2 says Jesus was “appointed heir of all things,” one little girl answered, “I think it means you get someone’s soul.”) Add in all of the references to the Old Testament books, and things get confusing quickly for the seven-year-old mind. I’m not just teaching Hebrews, I’m teaching parts of the history and culture and laws of God’s chosen people.

This week, the section we studied called our attention to the Israelites as they wandered in the desert after being rescued from Egypt. Moses, at God’s command, had sent a group of men into the promised land to scope it out before they entered. When they came back,

They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak [basically giants] there.” (Numbers 13:27-28)

Then, this:

“We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there [the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim]. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:31b-33)

These spies had witnessed great miracles. They had seen the plagues God rained on Egypt. They had crossed the parted Red Sea. They had followed God as a pillar of smoke by day and of fire by night. They had received manna from heaven. Their clothes never wore thin. It’s easy to think that they, of all people, should have trusted in God’s strength and ability to lead them to victory in the promised land.

But they didn’t.

Did they think that as big as God may be, he wasn’t big enough?  Maybe they simply did not consider God at all but continued to put their faith only in their own strength. And they saw their strength was insufficient. Alone, without God, they stood no chance against giants!

They needed to relinquish self-reliance before they could truly rely on God.

And they needed to realize that their God is bigger than they can imagine.

The Israelites weren’t all of one mind in this. One of the spies spoke up for God:

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13:30)

Why was Caleb’s calculation so different from the rest? After all, he’d seen the same things as the others. But he added in one important part: God. God had told the people he would give them the promised land, and Caleb (and Joshua) believed him:

Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:6-9)

As a result of their unbelief, the Israelites were made to wander 40 years in the desert until the older generations had passed away. Caleb and Joshua, who stood up for God and believed him to be big enough, ultimately led the people into the promised land.

I like to think that I would have been better than the Israelites. That I would have been on the side of Caleb and Joshua in this. That I would have trusted God.

But then I remember how often I have failed to trust him through infertility. How I have tried to will myself to believe he can work a miracle in our life while also secretly doubting the possibility.

I’m not saying believing will mean never suffering, never struggling, never longing for something.

But I think maybe I need to examine the boundaries I’ve put on God. Do I think to myself, he can do A, but B is too much (or too far-fetched, or too unlikely)? Am I limiting him in my mind?

My God can best the giants. My God can knit together a baby in my womb. My God is big enough.

And I am foolish not to relinquish my own self-reliance.

I pray for faith like Caleb’s.