1 Over 10 Million LifeBuilders in Print MOSES Calling and Character 11 studies for individuals or groups Stephen D Eyre A LifeBuilder Bible Study
2 A LifeBuilder Bible Study moses Calling and Character 11 studies for individuals or groups Stephen D Eyre With Notes for Leaders
3 Scripture Union is an international Christian charity working with churches in more than 130 countries. Thank you for purchasing this book. Any profits from this book support SU in England and Wales to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to children, young people and families and to enable them to meet God through the Bible and prayer. Find out more about our work and how you can get involved at: (England and Wales) (Scotland) (Northern Ireland) (USA) (Australia) ISBN First published in the United States by InterVarsity Press Published in Great Britain by Scripture Union Stephen D Eyre All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of Scripture Union. The right of Stephen D Eyre to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Anglicisation copyright 1979, 1984, Used by permission of Hodder and Stoughton Limited. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication data: a catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Printed in India by Thomson Press India Ltd.
4 Contents Get ting the Most Out of Moses The Burning Bush: Hearing God s Call Exodus 3:1 4: Red Sea: Standing Firm Exodus 14: Mount Sinai: Meeting with God Exodus 19: Tent and Cleft: Alone with God Exodus 33: Fire and Incense: The Cost of Serving God Leviticus 10: Jubilee: Planning for Rest Leviticus 25: Quail: Sharing the Burden Numbers 11: Rebellion: Trusting God Against All Odds Numbers 14: Striking the Rock: The Temptations of Leadership Numbers 20: Valley Floor: Memo for the Future Deuteronomy 4: On the Verge: Passing the Baton Deuteronomy 31: Le ader s Notes
6 Getting the Most Out of Moses Leadership is difficult, whether it is in the context of a civic organization, business, church or family. From the pioneering work of The Effective Executive in the 1960s to the insightful work of books like Good to Great in 2001, there has been a great deal written on what leadership is and how it works. Christian organizations and churches have drawn eagerly from these works of leadership, with sometimes questionable results. Helpful as many have found them, writing vision statements, setting goals and making strategic plans do not always work quite as envisioned. In the United States, more churches close each year than start as Christians seek to make an impact on a secularizing culture. Pastors feel responsible to make the church grow, and congregations evaluate their pastors on how effective they are in running a good organization and producing growth. It seems that a great number of churches want pastors who can preach and be effective executives. As the church takes its cues from the leadership studies of our time, it is worth pausing to consider that the longest-lasting institution in the world is the church of Jesus Christ. And at the heart of the church is the Bible, arguably the greatest leadership guide in the world. Consider the many great leaders recorded in its pages; a study of David s charismatic kingship, Joseph s and Nehemiah s executive skills, Paul s passionate church planting, and above all, Jesus instruction of the apostles, yields pure gold for those looking to understand leadership. This guide looks to Moses for insights into biblical leadership. He was indisputably one of the greatest leaders of all time, establishing the enduring nation of Israel over three thousand years ago. Through three millennia the nation experienced deportation by the Babylonians, occupation by the Romans, and dispersion and repeated per-
7 6 M o s e s secutions. Today that nation still exists, and the great spiritual influence of Moses continues. The Goals of This Guide A study of Moses in a guide such is this is a challenge. First, Moses is responsible for a lot of material the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), which are often referred to as the Pentateuch (Greek for Five Scrolls ) or the Torah (Hebrew for law ). It will be important to get a taste of most of them in this guide (we skip Genesis because it contains no mention of Moses). Second, we also want to consider the leadership challenges Moses faced to see how his character was formed through them. Guiding a million people through the desert was a daunting task, especially when they resented him and frequently complained about wanting to return to Egypt. Third, we ll look at how essential Moses sense of calling was to his leadership. Moses knew that he was called by God to lead his people out of Egyptian bondage. The flaming bush and the voice of God penetrated his initial resistance, burning into his heart the commission of God. Moreover, as Moses lived out his sense of calling, he knew that he was to be, in contemporary management terms, a servant leader perhaps the first servant leader. He was called by God to lead his people out of slavery, and to do so by means of serving. Fourth, we ll see how his complex character was central to his leadership. Hebrew by birth, Egyptian by culture, royal by training and desert shepherd by necessity, Moses was providentially shaped to confront Pharaoh, lead the Hebrews through the desert and record the Torah the covenant and its stipulations. Finally, no study of Moses could be complete without considering his special relationship to God. Scripture says, The Lor d would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). As we observe Moses and God together we will discover insights into what it means to know and serve God in the calling we have received.
8 Getting the Most Out of Moses 7 A Work of the Heart One author, lamenting the current preoccupation leaders have with functionalism and technique, wrote that, in contrast, biblical leadership is truly a work of the heart. In thinking about Moses specifically, I can t help but wonder if God chose a burning bush to call him because that flame reflected the state of Moses heart. As we ll see, he struggled with a burning anger. His life, though, is a good reminder that God knows our hearts, and that our character issues are taken into account by God when he calls us. All of us, no matter who we are, have leadership responsibility in some area of our lives. We may not be called to the leadership challenges of Moses, but our challenges are big enough. A good look at Moses calling and character will provide inspiration and guidance for our own leadership responsibilities, no matter how small or large. And, as we look to God s Word to and through Moses, both our hearts and our leadership will be warmed and transformed. Suggestions for Individual Study 1. As you begin each study, pray that God will speak to you through his Word. 2. Read the introduction to the study and respond to the personal reflection question or exercise. This is designed to help you focus on God and on the theme of the study. 3. Each study deals with a particular passage so that you can delve into the author s meaning in that context. Read and reread the passage to be studied. The questions are written using the language of the New International Version, so you may wish to use that version of the Bible. The New Revised Standard Version is also recommended. 4. This is an inductive Bible study, designed to help you discover for yourself what Scripture is saying. The study includes three types of questions. Observation questions ask about the basic facts: who, what, when, where and how. Interpretation questions delve into the meaning of the passage. Application questions help you discover the implications of the text for growing in Christ. These three keys unlock the treasures of Scripture. Write your answers to the questions in the spaces provided or in
9 8 M o s e s a personal journal. Writing can bring clarity and deeper understanding of yourself and of God s Word. 5. It might be good to have a Bible dictionary handy. Use it to look up any unfamiliar words, names or places. 6. Use the prayer suggestion to guide you in thanking God for what you have learned and to pray about the applications that have come to mind. 7. You may want to go on to the suggestion under Now or Later, or you may want to use that idea for your next study. Suggestions for Members of a Group Study 1. Come to the study prepared. Follow the suggestions for individual study mentioned above. You will find that careful preparation will greatly enrich your time spent in group discussion. 2. Be willing to participate in the discussion. The leader of your group will not be lecturing. Instead, he or she will be encouraging the members of the group to discuss what they have learned. The leader will be asking the questions that are found in this guide. 3. Stick to the topic being discussed. Your answers should be based on the verses which are the focus of the discussion and not on outside authorities such as commentaries or speakers. These studies focus on a particular passage of Scripture. Only rarely should you refer to other portions of the Bible. This allows for everyone to participate in in-depth study on equal ground. 4. Be sensitive to the other members of the group. Listen attentively when they describe what they have learned. You may be surprised by their insights! Each question assumes a variety of answers. Many questions do not have right answers, particularly questions that aim at meaning or application. Instead the questions push us to explore the passage more thoroughly. When possible, link what you say to the comments of others. Also, be affirming whenever you can. This will encourage some of the more hesitant members of the group to participate. 5. Be careful not to dominate the discussion. We are sometimes so eager to express our thoughts that we leave too little opportunity for others to respond. By all means participate! But allow others to also.
10 Getting the Most Out of Moses 9 6. Expect God to teach you through the passage being discussed and through the other members of the group. Pray that you will have an enjoyable and profitable time together, but also that as a result of the study you will find ways that you can take action individually and/or as a group. 7. Remember that anything said in the group is considered confidential and should not be discussed outside the group unless specific permission is given to do so. 8. If you are the group leader, you will find additional suggestions at the back of the guide.
11 1 The Burning Bush Hearing God s Call Exodus 3:1 4:17 Whether we re waiting for a phone call offering us a new job, a letter granting us admission to a college or an invitation to a special event, we are eager to be chosen. Being chosen opens up new opportunities and responsibilities, while being passed over means continuing in the same routine and problems we ve had. The good news of the Christian faith is that the God of the Bible is a God who chooses and calls. God chose Abraham and called him out of Ur to follow him into an unknown land. Jesus chose Peter by the sea and called him to fish for people. Even better news is the fact that God doesn t just call the great heroes of the faith; according to the apostle Paul, each and every one of us are called (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17). Group Discussion. How has a call made a difference in your life? Per sonal Reflection. What call of God do you sense on your life right now? One of the most famous call stories of the Bible is the calling of Moses. Read Exodus 3:1 4:17.
12 The Burning Bush How does God s call to Moses make him both a servant and a leader? 2. Moses is a shepherd tending the sheep of his father-in-law on the far side of the desert. What struggles might this new vocation have raised for him, after having been an Egyptian prince (see Acts 7:20-29)? 3. What first impression of God do you think Moses has as he encounters God in the flames of that burning bush (3:2-10)? How did God first get your attention, and how has that shaped your relationship with him? 4. God identifies himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (3:6). How might Moses view of God have been influenced by his growing up as a Hebrew in an Egyptian household, among people who worshiped many different gods? What are some common belief systems today, and how do those shape your understanding of God?
13 12 M o s e s 5. After hearing of God s care for the Israelites and being commissioned by God to be their leader, Moses asks, Who am I? What, essentially, is he asking God? How does God answer that (3:11-14)? 6. In this passage, what all does God say he will do? 7. What useful or unique skills and experiences does Moses bring to his calling (see Exodus 2:7-10 and Hebrews 11:23-26)? 8. As the subtitle of this guide implies, spiritual leadership incorporates both the character of a leader and God s calling. How would you describe your character? What dreams do you have for how God might use your character and experience in the future? 9. Although God gives Moses an overview of all that will follow (3:18-
14 The Burning Bush 13 22), Moses still has objections. What reservations do you bring to the call of God in your life? Ask God to show you ways to use your gifts and abilities for the sake of his purposes for your life. Then pray that you ll trust him to equip you in all ways to carry out his calling. Now or Later Character formation is central to God s calling for all of us. Spend some time reflecting on the following areas of your life: List five ways that your family background has shaped your character. List five abilities or talents that allow you to contribute to the needs of others. List five ways that you would like to contribute to the growth of your family, your church or your workplace. In prayer, surrender your lists to God and invite him to shape your character according to his purposes.
15 2 Red Sea Standing Firm Exodus 14:10-31 In the midst of the joy of newfound faith as a college student, I also felt some fear about the challenges I might face. I used to lay awake, afraid that God might call me to do something I didn t want to do, like be a pastor or a missionary to Africa. Unsure of whether I d like the way my family and friends might respond to me as a pastor, I also wondered if I had the skills or was up to the task at all. In the years that followed, sure enough, I was called to missions not to Africa, but to college students in the U.S. and eventually, despite my resistance, there was a call to the pastorate as well. Along the way, serving God in these roles became my heart s desire. However, just as I had suspected early on, there have been great challenges. One of the greatest has been to continue to believe and obey when events do not go according to my expectations and God does not bring about events in the way I had hoped he would. Group Discussion. Share a time when you faced a challenge that ended up being even worse than you expected. What happened? How did you handle it? Per sonal Reflection. When have you been tempted to quit in the face of an overwhelming challenge? How did God encourage and support you?
16 Red Sea 15 Standing at the foot of the Red Sea, Moses faced perhaps the greatest challenge of his leadership up to this point. Read Exodus 14: Imagine that you were one of the Israelites who experienced the battle at the Red Sea. How would you describe it to someone who wasn t there? 2. How do the Israelites cope with their fears as their former slave master approaches with his army (vv )? 3. Clearly the people blame both Moses and God for their predicament. What might Moses have felt like as the people were besieging him with questions and accusations? 4. In our culture today, we as God s people are not currently facing eradication by Pharaoh, but what dangers do we face? 5. Why is it that for most of us (like for the people of Israel), past miracles in our lives don t always generate faith for present dangers? 6. Moses tells the people that they are to stand firm while God tells Moses to have them move on (vv. 13, 15). How is it possible to do both at the same time?
17 16 M o s e s How does each command address their needs? 7. While God does the fighting for Israel, Moses is required to raise his staff and stretch out his hand. What insights does this provide for standing firm in spiritual leadership? 8. Moses refers to himself as God s servant in verse 31. How do you see him living that identity out in this passage as he leads the Israelites? 9. Israel is delivered as Moses stood firm against the onslaught of the Egyptian army. How might God be requiring you to stand firm in the challenges you face? Ask God to give you a quiet peace that allows you to confidently trust him for the tasks to which he has called you. Now or Later Take an inventory of ways that God has helped you face difficulties in the past and then consider how your past experiences can help you face the challenges of the present.
18 Moses Calling and Character Moses was one of the greatest leaders of all time, establishing the enduring nation of Israel over three thousand years ago. All of us, no matter who we are, have leadership responsibility in some area of our lives. We may not be called to the leadership challenges of Moses, but our challenges are big enough. This look at Moses calling and character will provide inspiration and guidance for our own responsibilities, no matter how small or large. LifeBuilder Bible Studies from Scripture Union TOPICAL STUDIES Angels/ 8 studies Christian Beliefs/ 12 studies Christian Character/ 12 studies Christian Community/ 10 studies Christian Disciplines/ 12 studies Christian Virtues/ 9 studies Decisions/ 9 studies Encountering Jesus/ 8 studies Evangelism/ 12 studies Faith/ 9 studies Friendship/ 12 studies Fruit of the Spirit/ 9 studies Integrity/ 10 studies Jesus Final Week/ 8 studies Kingdom of God, The/ 10 studies Lord s Prayer, The/ 8 studies Love/ 9 studies Meeting God/ 12 studies Meeting Jesus/ 13 studies Meeting the Spirit/ 10 studies Parables/ 12 studies Prayer/ 12 studies Self-Esteem/ 9 studies Sermon on the Mount/ 12 studies Spiritual Gifts/ 12 studies Spiritual Warfare/ 9 studies Story of God & Man, The/ 12 studies Ten Commandments, The/ 12 studies Woman of God/ 10 studies CHARACTER STUDIES Abraham/ 9 studies David/ 12 studies Joseph/ 9 studies New Testament Characters/ 10 studies Old Testament Characters/ 12 studies Peter/ 12 studies Women of the New Testament/ 10 studies Women of the Old Testament/ 12 studies OLD TESTAMENT BOOKS Genesis/ 26 studies (in 3 parts) Joshua/ 12 studies Nehemiah/ 13 studies Esther/ 9 studies Psalms/ 12 studies Proverbs/ 10 studies Isaiah/ 22 studies Daniel/ 12 studies Jonah, Joel & Amos/ 12 studies NEW TESTAMENT BOOKS Matthew/ 22 studies (in 2 parts) Mark/ 20 studies (in 2 parts) Luke/ 26 studies (in 2 parts) John/ 26 studies (in 2 parts) Acts/ 24 studies (in 2 parts) Romans/ 19 studies (in 2 parts) 1 Corinthians/ 13 studies 2 Corinthians/ 11 studies Galatians/ 11 studies Ephesians/ 11 studies Philippians/ 9 studies Colossians & Philemon/ 10 studies 1 & 2 Timothy & Titus/ 11 studies Hebrews/ 13 studies James/ 9 studies 1 & 2 Peter & Jude/ 12 studies John s Letters/ 12 studies Revelation/ 14 studies Other titles available! Contact Scripture Union on or your Christian bookshop for details. ISBN ËxHSLIOEy277209z