“Selfies” of Me and Moses

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The “selfies” we take tell a lot about who we are. This week my wife posted one on her Facebook page of us sitting in a restaurant in Seville, Spain, along with two plates of typical Spanish food. She didn’t post any selfies where she had two black eyes from walking into a patio door. And I tried to take cover under a hat in as many photos as I could. In considering what to post, we are faced with the issue of how to deal with self, whether we like posting or not. Let us take a look at what is posted of the life of Moses.
The first post he makes of himself is written in the third person and says, “When Moses was grown  ...  he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand” (Ex. 2:11-1211And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. (Exodus 2:11‑12)). Stephen makes an observation of him at that time in his post of Acts 7:2222And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. (Acts 7:22): “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.” We can see how he was affected by Egypt. It was not the arts or science of Egypt that was the problem; it was the concept he came to have of himself as a deliverer of his people. The world builds this kind of self-image. But Stephen goes on in Acts 7:23-2923And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26And the next day he showed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 29Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. (Acts 7:23‑29), showing how Moses’ deeper desire was justice for his brethren. But he was not prepared for their reaction when they would not accept his deliverance, and he ended up fleeing to the wilderness.
The Wilderness
Moses writes very little of himself during the next period of his life, until the Lord appears to him in the burning bush. Now, if there was any confidence, it had to come from the Lord who sent him. God’s power to deliver was witnessed in the three signs given to him: the rod cast down as a serpent, the hand becoming leprous in his bosom and the water turned to blood. The hand becoming leprous is of particular interest regarding “self.” It teaches us that victory over the nature of sin within us is through obedience to God. Moses put his hand in his bosom and it became leprous. As he put his hand back in his bosom, it became clean. We must first recognize that the sin nature dwells within us. It is the source of sin. When we learn that, we are told to put it back and never confide in it for good in any way. Our source of power to do this is only through the power of the Spirit energizing the life of Christ in us (Rom. 8:22For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)).
Moses was reluctant to go, and he put up this post of himself: “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since Thou hast spoken unto Thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Ex. 4:1010And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. (Exodus 4:10)). I can see myself in this episode. I do not like others to see my natural imperfections. But this excuse (low self-esteem) is not a valid reason for not doing God’s bidding. When God gives us something to do, He does not intend for us to do it in a way to improve our self-image. That would be for man’s glory. It did not matter if Moses’ speech was slow. The power was from God, and any human imperfections in Moses would make it more evident that he was being used of God. Moses continued with his posture, so the Lord gave him Aaron as a spokesman. But later, Aaron would prove to be a trial for Moses.
Two Extremes
In considering what we have observed of Moses thus far, we see him, first of all, with high self-esteem and able to get things done, but not able to face the consequences of what he had done. The injustice was avenged (the Egyptian was dead and buried), but his brethren did not appreciate him or understand his intentions. And, on top of that, Pharaoh wanted to kill him. Now Moses is on the other end of the self-esteem scale and does not think he can speak for God. He allows his low self-esteem to hinder his doing what the Lord told him to do. Neither of these is correct, and neither helped him do what God intended. How often we have to pass through trying experiences to learn the right concept of ourselves! The recipe is found in Romans 12:33For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12:3): “I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” The measure of faith given to each one is according to what God purposes us to do for Him. We ought to be neither more nor less than what God has made us. The world will tell us to “be all that you can be.” Such an attitude leads to self-centeredness. There is great liberty from the various self-esteem syndromes in being what the Lord made us.
Aaron and Miriam Murmur
In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian he had taken as wife. Also, they claimed that the Lord had spoken by them as well as by Moses. The Lord heard it and was angry. He called the three to come before Him and said to them, “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all Mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?” (Num. 12:6-86And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 7My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? (Numbers 12:6‑8)). After the Lord left them, Miriam became leprous as snow. How sad to see such selfishness. It is an example of finding fault with the very one whose place they were seeking.
The Remedy
The succeeding developments of Miriam’s cleansing from leprosy are an example of God’s way of recovery from selfish ambitions. His governmental judgment of leprosy made their sin evident. “Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb” (Num. 12:11-1211And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. 12Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb. (Numbers 12:11‑12)). This comment of Aaron reveals how his focus was on self. Yet Moses interceded for Miriam and the Lord healed her. But there must be a seven-day period of cleansing from leprosy where she remained outside the camp. The law of the cleansing of leprosy in Leviticus 14:3-73And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; 4Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: 5And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: 6As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: 7And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field. (Leviticus 14:3‑7) says, “The priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: and the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: as for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: and he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.” The offering of the two birds shows that association with the death of Christ — the shedding of His blood — and the judgment He bore when hanging alive on the cross are necessary for cleansing from sin. The act of dipping the cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop in the blood of the slain bird represents self-judgment in three aspects. High self-esteem, self-centeredness and low self-esteem must all be laid down at the cross of Christ. They are all of no use for the Christian. The follow quotation from William Kelly is helpful:
“The taking of the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, the dipping them also in the blood of the bird that was slain, has a worthy meaning and like the rest is written for our admonition. The death of Christ has pronounced death for him that is cleansed on all with which man is here conversant. The chosen emblems of the highest in nature [cedar wood] and of the lowest [hyssop], along with that which figures the conventional glory of the world [scarlet], were dipped in the blood; just as in Numbers 19:66And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. (Numbers 19:6) they were cast into the midst of the burning of the red heifer. In what had not man corrupted himself, perverting all that God gave and sanctioned to His dishonor? But every evil is counteracted for the believer in Christ’s atoning death. The leper was himself sprinkled with the blood seven times in token of complete cleansing and was formally pronounced clean by the priest, with the significant mark of the living blood-sprinkled bird let go into the open field.”
Self-Centeredness
The act of dipping the three things in the blood teaches us the need to judge high self-esteem, self-centeredness and low self-esteem. If we do not put them under the sentence of death with Christ, they will lead us into sin again. Perhaps we may more easily recognize the wrong of high self-esteem and of low self-esteem and think that it is good enough for us to be in the middle of the road. But it is not enough to be occupied with ourselves even in the middle of the road or average. Making ourselves the focus of what we do is equally as wrong as the two extremes. Self-centeredness must be surrendered to Christ. Paul the Apostle could say, “We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9). “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him” (Col. 3:1717And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:17)). May the Lord help us to keep the focus on Christ in everything we do in this world where so much emphasis is on self.
D. C. Buchanan