January 13- 19
A Prayer of Supplication: Moses
HINDSIGHT IS SO ANNOYINGLY CLEAR! Reviewing one's past can be discouraging, as in the case of a missionary couple who regretted that their years of service had been so unfruitful. The buildings they had built were later destroyed. They wished instead that they had invested more energy into building people. If only we had been more loving and made more friends! they thought.
Rearing children also can be a challenge. Wouldn't it be great if children came with an instruction manual? "If only the first child didn't count!" one father remarked.
"If only" is a common lament. "If only I had known his character before I married him!" "If only I had told her I loved her!" "If only I hadn't gone into debt!" "If only I hadn't messed up my life!" "If only I had answered God's call when it came!"
Moses, to whom the authorship of Psalm 90 is widely attributed, seems to be playing the "if only" where he writes, "The length of our days is seventy years-or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away" (vs. 10, NIV).
Learn how he "wins" the game in this week's lesson.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE:
I. Overview of Psalm 90 (Ps. 90:1, 7-10, 12-17).
II. Headed Home (Ps. 90:1-9).
III. Living Under God's Wrath (Ps. 90:7-14).
IV. Midian Remembered (Ps. 90:16).
V. God's Answer to Moses' Plea (Ps. 90:15, 17; Exod. 3:1-10; 33:12-34:7).
MEMORY TEXT: "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, stow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin" (Exodus 34:6, NIV).
Most Bible scholars believe that Moses wrote Psalm 90, and many translations preface it with the superscription: A prayer of Moses, the man of God (compare Deut. 34:10). This would make Psalm 90 the oldest of all the psalms.
Psalm 90 consists of three parts. Read it through and identify the verses that go with each of these parts:
The infinite God: _____________________________________________________________
Finite humans: _______________________________________________________________
A plea for redemption: ____________________________________________________
"The 90th psalm ... reflects [Moses'] thoughts, perhaps toward the close of his sojourn in Midian [Exod. 2:11-3:3]. If so, the following interpretation seems appropriate: The opening verses of this psalm seem to mirror the mountain solitudes of Sinai and the majesty of God, in contrast with human frailty in general and the great mistakes of his own life (vss. 7, 8). Knowing the role Providence had marked out for him (Acts 7:25), Moses doubtless reflected that his impetuous act in slaying the Egyptian had frustrated God's purpose and thwarted the divine plan for his life. He had already passed the mark of 'threescore years and ten' and was approaching 'fourscore years' (Ps. 90:9, 10), but with his great disappointment in mind he prayed that God would teach him to 'number' his days that he might apply his heart unto wisdom (vs. 12). He still had faith in the promises of God to the fathers and hoped for their fulfillment. His thoughts then turned to his suffering brethren in the land of Egypt (vss. 13, 14) and he prayed for their deliverance (vss. 15, 16). Finally, he pleads with God that the work of his own hands may be established, that his life may not have been altogether in vain (vs. 17)."SDA Bible Dictionary (1979 edition), "Moses," p. 763.
Considering the tone of this prayer, take some time to examine your priorities (see vs. 12). Have you been expending energy on things that don't really matter? What are you doing now that in a few years, looking back, you might regret? What can you say to someone who, looking regretfully over his or her past, is in need of encouragement?
In his prayer, Moses says that the Lord has been his eternal refuge (vs. 1). Provide specific incidents in Moses' life that illustrate this truth.
As author of the book of Genesis, Moses had done a lot of reflecting on the "generations" of patriarchs since the time of creation (Gen. 5; 10; etc.); he saw that their dwelling place was in God. Like a mansion in which generations of family have been born, lived, and died, so God is home to His people (Ps. 90:1). In Psalm 90, Moses turns his feet toward home. There is nowhere else to go.
The parable of the loving father generously illustrates the welcome we will receive (Luke 15:11-20). " 'But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him' " (vs. 20, NIV).
How does Moses contrast the eternity of God with the shortness of human life in Psalm 90?
God's life span (vss. 2, 4) _________________________________________________________
Human life span (vss. 3,10) ___________________________________________________
How do such insights enhance our understanding of God's plan for our lives?
As Moses contemplated the "everlasting hills" (see Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 251) that surrounded him in Midian, he must have been awestruck to realize that God is more ancient stillfrom eternity in the past to eternity in the future. His awe at the immensity of God's existence was matched likewise by his impression of human life. God, for whom time is nothing, sternly orders humans to return to dust (vss. 3, 4) in fulfillment of the dread sentence upon Adam"Dust you are and to dust you will return" (Gen. 3:19, NIV).
Though our lives are incomparably short in contrast to the eternity of God, the Lord had, through Christ, "stepped into" human time, when He lived as man. In other words, the Lord, the one who created time, for 33 years became subject to time, just as we are. How does that concept help us understand God's love for us?
Moses experienced drastic changes in his life. Heir to the throne of Egypt, he suddenly found himself a wandering shepherd in the desert. His brilliant education in science and the military arts seemed wasted. His life mission had been thwarted. Moses could think of only one explanation. God was angry with him (vss. 7, 9, 11). Year after year passed with no change in his status or Israel's condition. Prolonged trial has profound effects on the believer. Sometimes we think God does not care. Fortunately, that conclusion is incorrect. God does care.
Where did Moses think God had put his Sins? What secret sin oppressed his conscience? Ps. 90:8; Exod. 2:12.
The memory of this sin most likely had haunted his lonely exile in Midian. That one error in judgment, when he thought he was to deliver Israel in his own power, "apparently" had aborted his whole career and shunted him into obscurity.
Next, Moses supplicates God for a number of remarkable things. List two of these below.
Ps. 90:13 _____________________________________________________________________
Ps. 90:14 _____________________________________________________________________
Why is it so remarkable that Moses asks God for such blessings?
Moses "prays that after a night of sorrow and suffering, God will give a morning of joy and peace (see Ps. 143:8)."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 842:14, "Early." "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul" (Ps. 143:8, NIV).
|Instead of God's anger, Moses wanted the assurance of His love. In place of terror, he wanted joy. In place of disapproval, he longed for God's favor. Though we all long for these things- how crucial it is to remember to go by faith and not by feelings alone, which sometimes can be influenced by things as simple as diet. What do you say to someone who has repented of his or her sins and yet still feels separated, alienated from God? How can you help this person to look beyond emotions?|
Had Moses' life been a failure? Were the 40 years in Midian a waste? Had he been living under God's wrath? (See the SDA Bible Dictionary, [1979 edition], p. 763, "Moses.")
The long years of exile were, in fact, an important chapter in Moses' life. "Shut in by the bulwarks of the mountains, Moses was alone with God. . . . In the solemn grandeur of the everlasting hills he beheld the majesty of the Most High, and in contrast realized how powerless and insignificant were the gods of Egypt. .
"As the years rolled on, and he wandered with his flocks in the solitary places, pondering upon the oppressed condition of his people, he recounted the dealings of God with his fathers and the promises that were the heritage of the chosen nation, and his prayers for Israel ascended by day and by night. Heavenly angels shed their light around him. Here, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote the book of Genesis. The long years spent amid the desert solitudes were rich in blessing, not alone to Moses and his people, but to the world in all succeeding ages."Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 248, 251.
The many years Moses spent in the wilderness gave him time to write. His writings-the books of Genesis to Deuteronomy-are among the greatest masterpieces in literature. It is possible that Moses also wrote the book of Job during his stay in Midian. There he became acquainted with worshipers of God in the Edomite and Midianite branches of Abraham's family to which Job and his friends belonged. The ninetieth psalm has strong ties with the books of Genesis and Job. All three contain perceptions of God's wrath and supplications for His mercy, in addition to echoes of the themes of Creation and the Fall.
Another benefit from the years Moses spent in Midian was the experience of being a shepherd. "The habits of caretaking, of self-forgetfulness and tender solicitude for his flock, . . . would prepare him to become the compassionate, longsuffering shepherd of Israel."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 248.
What other request did Moses make of God? Ps. 90:16.
Moses thought it was time for God to act for His people, but little did he realize what God had in mind. Little did he know the role he himself would play in God's plan!
|Can you think about experiences that, at the time, seemed so terrible but, in retrospect, you now are able to see the Lord's providence? How could having experiences like that help someone who is struggling now?|
What final requests did Moses make of God?
Ps. 90:15 ______________________________________________________________________
Ps. 90:17 ___________________________________________________________________
In effect, Moses was saying, "Give me 40 years of gladness for these 40 years of affliction in the wilderness." Surely God could make up to him the years of exile and servitude the same as He had done for Jacob and for Joseph. Couldn't God crown his afflictions with joy?
"Finally, he pleads with God that the work of his own hands may be established, that his life may not have been altogether in vain (vs. 17). It was probably about the time of these reflections that God met Moses at the burning bush and commissioned him to return to Egypt to liberate the Hebrews (Ex. 3:l-10)."SDA Bible Dictionary, "Moses," p. 763. Read God's response to Moses in Exodus 3:9-12.
The curtain was opening on the next act of Moses' life. God was going into action, and Moses was the major actor in the drama. At first, Moses was unprepared for his new role. His long years of solitude, his sense of failure and God's anger, had left him with a low self-image. God lifted him up, however, by reassuring him time and again that He would be with him and help him (Exod. 3:12, 14; 4:2-5, 12).
During the next 40 years of his life, Moses experienced closeness with God never before experienced by another person. Twice he spent 40 days and 40 nights shut in with God on Mount Sinai until his own face glowed with the glory of God (Exod. 24:18; 34:28; 34:30).
|Moses saw the glory of God-the beauty of His character. He saw beyond God's anger against sin to His incredible love and compassion for sinners. Though most of us are not privileged with such a revelation of God, the Lord has, in fact, provided us with an even better revelation of Himself. What was the revelation, and how should it change our lives?|
FURTHER STUDY: When the children of Israel worshiped the golden calf, Moses again prayed for them. Read this prayer in Exodus 32:11-14 (compare Deut. 9:25-29). Based on Psalm 90, what did he learn about God and prayer that empowered him to be such a great intercessory pray-er?
Read Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 471-480.
'Let Me alone . . . that I may consume them,' were the words of God. If God had purposed to destroy Israel, who could plead for them? How few but would have left the sinners to their fate! How few but would have gladly exchanged a lot of toil and burden and sacrifice, repaid with ingratitude and murmuring, for a position of ease and honor, when it was God Himself that offered the release.
"But Moses discerned ground for hope where there appeared only discouragement and wrath. The words of God, 'Let Me alone,' he understood not to forbid but to encourage intercession, implying that nothing but the prayers of Moses could save Israel, but that if thus entreated, God would spare His people."Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 318.
SUMMARY: Reviewing our past and looking forward to the future can be discouraging, especially when life is not going well. Moses' experience, however, teaches us that we can take our lives to God in prayer so that His favor will rest upon us and He can "establish the work of our hands for us" (Ps. 90:17, NIV).
J. H. Zachary
RUSSIA-Galina Kazakova's life looked dreary. As a single parent with a daughter to provide for, she found that her work as a nurse's assistant barely paid the bills. Life was hard, but Galina developed a close walk with Jesus. He sustained her through this difficult time.
Galina lives near Irkutsk, on the southern tip of Lake Baikal, in south central Siberia. This huge territory that covers five time zones contains hundreds of towns and cites that have no Sabbath keepers. And some Adventist congregations are 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the next nearest Adventist congregation.
A thought began to burn in Galina's heart. The city of Cheremhovo and the region surrounding it were almost empty of believers. Someone should share the gospel with the people in this region.
Galina stepped out in faith and took a year's leave from her work. She packed up her few belongings and went to Cheremhovo. She found a place to live then visited the city manager's office to secure a permit to be a missionary in the city. With her permission document in hand, Galina began visiting schools, orphanages, and factories, offering to give a spiritual message to the students and employees. She sold Christian literature to earn a living as she searched for honest souls who were interested in spiritual matters. She found very few who would agree to study the Bible course she offered.
The work was hard, and her earnings were meager. In a moment of discouragement she felt as if she were a failure, and she considered returning home. In desperation she poured out her heart to God. "Lord, I want to see a church here in Cheremhovo. I have worked hard, but the way seems impossible. Please, please help me."
The next day Galina received a letter from the Bible correspondence school containing a list of persons who had completed the course. She began visiting the people and giving personal Bible studies. Soon a church was organized in Cheremhovo with 53 members.
Galina turned her eyes to the city of Severobaikalsk, another area with no Adventists. So far ten persons have been baptized here, and Galina is giving Bible studies to more than fifty others.
During The Quiet Hour's training program for volunteer missionaries, Galina committed herself to plant a third church in another city in Siberia. She is joining 15 other teams in the East Russian Union Mission to plant 16 new churches in one year.
J. H. Zachary is coordinator of international evangelism for The Quiet Hour and a special consultant for the General Conference Ministerial Association.
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