In Moses, more than any other life, we see not only God’s dealings with the self-life, but overwhelmingly, the glory and power of the One who comes to live in the emptied self. We reverently watch the moment of union, Spirit with spirit, God with man; we see the earthly picture of union given to Moses in the burning bush; we hear the wonderful new name, pregnant with so much meaning, by which God revealed Himself to His servant; we watch through the following weeks extending into years the mighty out-come in deeds and words in the life of a God-possessed man.
Not lightly did Moses accept God’s way in material things. He too had the battle of the body. He knew God’s predestined plan for him from his mother’s knee, but not till he was forty years old did he take that tremendous step of identification with his brethren, which meant that from his heart he "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter," and made his final choice between the reproach of Christ and the treasures in Egypt, between affliction with God’s people and the pleasures of sin. It was a great and intelligent choice; it was a total self-emptying on the material level that God might use his body for eternal, though still invisible ends, with only a cross on earth; it was the choice of the tabernacle life of forefather Abraham.
The Deeper Lesson
But was external bodily consecration enough? No, independent self lives much deeper than that. Many an earnest despairing soul makes ship-wreck on the rocks of a consecration, which does not bring victory or power. For consecrated self is still helpless self. That is the deeper lesson to be learned. Only when that is learned can helpless self embrace another Self within, God’s Self: then in that union does it at last find self-fulfilment. So in Moses the dealing with the mind, the soul life, had to follow. That strong, gifted mind, "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, mighty in word and deed;" that intelligence through which later on could be channelled to mankind many of the greatest revelations of history-the power of the precious blood, the moral law, the tabernacle and sacrifices which have been the marvel of the New Testament church in their types of the Redeemer, and the whole plan of salvation. Yet that very mind was a hindrance, not a help, in the early stages, when its owner had not yet learned that the "spirit of his mind;’ its inner director, must be not his own spirit, but God’s. He too had to learn his helplessness. He learned it through a second forty years, when in his natural zeal he had killed the Egyptian and faced the vengeance of Pharaoh. He soon found there was nothing in himself with which to meet the threats of the king. Where was God now? Consecration to One who was afar off brought no help in a crisis. All that his own mind could suggest to him was, like Jacob, to use his legs and flee.
It was a plain illustration of the helplessness of a consecrated life which does not yet know the union. Where was God in this crisis? Moses had left all to follow Him, yet it seemed as if the heavens were as brass and God’s face turned away from him. It was really all an illusion, just as our sense of separation is likewise an illusion; but it is bound to appear real to us until we have learned where the trouble lies, until the ramifications of subtle self lie exposed to us by our bit-ter humiliations, and we find by grace the key to realized union.
To Moses then came that long period of confusion and frustration. He gives himself to God, God throws him on the dust-heap, for the lowest depths of degradation for a prince of the house of Egypt was to become a shepherd. Why should God have told him through his mother the marvels of his adoption, the purpose of his palace training, the prophesied time of Israel’s liberation, and here he was a fugitive in the wilderness? Moses the mighty, helpless indeed. If it is Moses versus Egypt, poor Moses! But later on when it is God in Moses versus Egypt, poor Egypt!
But like these other men of God, Moses had come some way. He was a disciple, he was consecrated, and the thin red line of his consecration held him to God, when all else was in ruins; and so we read, he "was content to dwell" in Midian. As Joseph in captivity, as Jacob when told to return to meet Esau, so Moses submitted, prayed, watched, waited. Indeed God cannot open to us these subtle deeper levels of our independent selves, that division between soul and spirit to which the writer to the Hebrews says only the Word of God can pierce (4:12), until we are already given over into His hands, come weal or woe. None else can stand those purifying fires which alone can prepare the spirit for its des-tined union. And so the day came when "the angel of the Lord appeared unto Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush."
Forty years before "he supposed his brethren would have understood that God by His hand would deliver them" Now he says to God, "Who am I that I should…bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" The lesson had been learned. Self cannot do it, not even commissioned and consecrated self. But the day of the greater lesson than mere self-emptiness had come. It was a bush that burned with fire and yet was not consumed. An earthly bush alight with a heavenly fire. A common bush aflame with God, the bush the fuel for the flame, yet constantly renewed. The union in a picture! And Moses had eyes to see "that great sight" and to hear the voice of the One who put its meaning into words. Moses was that bush. The only trouble was that he had thought himself uncommon! Now he was common enough just to be the fuel for the heavenly flame. God had come down to save His people, but it was to be God in Moses-Moses the bush and God the fire. And to complete the revelation He gave Himself another name–I AM–"I AM is sending you" Strange name, colourless, indefinite, we would say. No, rather, all-inclusive, all in all. I AM everywhere, always, all things, within, without, before, behind, present, future. Union indeed. God in Moses, Moses in God. From that time onwards he lived and acted under the directions of Another. Moses was a living, feeling human being; many times we see him temporarily fearing, complaining, angry, pitying himself, even disobedient; like Paul, he had "fightings without and fears within"; but from these temporary descents into the flesh, he knew the way back to where he now lived his real life, that hidden life "with Christ in God’,’ where the I AM lived in him. Down he would go on his face, as the people murmured, threatened, and even rebelled. As outward voices were stilled, the inner Voice would speak to him: "I will rain bread from heaven": "Thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it": and with the word of faith in his mouth and the rod of faith in his hand, all Israel could see God coming through a man in mighty word and deed. Moses himself in one phrase told them the secret he had learned, when he told the rebels Korah, Dathan and Abiram, the judgment that was coming to them, and added, "Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of my own mind." There is no clearer instance than Moses in the Old Testament biographies of the way God teaches man the limitations, delusion and sin of the independent self, the helplessness of the human spirit; and then the glories of His way of grace by which He Himself, God the Spirit, makes His abode in us, in indissoluble union.
The Test at Mount Sinai
The final test on Moses’ spirit, the human spirit, the ego, which can still love itself more than God, was at the Mount. Abraham was tested at Mount Moriah, Moses at Mount Sinai. In one moment he had a chance of greatness. He could be the founder of a nation. Israel had corrupted itself at the very foot of the mountain where he was communing with God. "Let me alone…that I may consume them," said the Lord, "and I will make of thee a great nation." Not one reference do we find by Moses to that offer. He totally ignored it. That was the measure of his God-possession. Instead of that, consumed with the desire for the salvation of the people, after dealing most drastically with their sin, he sets himself to "make atonement" for them, farther than mortal man had ever gone before. None but the indwelling Intercessor could have led him that distance, when he offered, like the Saviour Himself, not only his body, but his immortal soul for their redemption. "Oh, this people have sinned a great sin," he cried. "Yet now if Thou wilt forgive their sin–" Silence. Perhaps a great inner conflict and then the final word, "and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written"
Our purpose in examining this great life has been to get a clear sight, first of the absolute necessity of every man knowing himself and the relation-ship to God for which he was created, and then of his experience of the union.
–From The Liberating Secret
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 16 No 2
- Speaking the Word of Faith
- Yes, I Am
- Editor’s Note
- Tape Talk
- Annual Business Meeting–2000
- We Accept His Calling
- Faith Lessons
- A Testimony About Myself and My Art
- Our True Rest
- Zerubbabel Focus: Alpen Acres–The Physical Plant
- Questions & Answers
- Bible Study: Word of Faith
- Z News–A New Direction
- The Mark of an Apostle
- Excerpt from The Inercession of Rees Howells
- The Worst Sin
- What I Am Not, God Is
- Seeing Life As God Sees It
- British Easter Conference
- To Think About…
- Intercession In Action
- Where Are The Men?
- The Mailbox
- You Are Complete…
- Words to Live By…