THE FAITH OF MOSES
The great treatise on faith, written by Paul to the Hebrews (chapter 11), itemizes many of the great prophets (plus three women, if you include Moses' mother) as examples of great faith. Most of them receive one verse, or two, but Paul gave Moses center stage with six verses, citing four different ways in which Moses showed great faith. Apparently Moses learned well the lesson he was taught by God, that he did not need to be a great leader, he just needed to have faith in the Lord's help. (See "Here Am I...Or Who Am I?" in a previous post.)
"(1) By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. (2) By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (3) Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (4) By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned" (Heb. 11:24-29).
FIRST MILESTONE: BAPTISM
"The ancients always saw Moses' leading his people through the Red Sea as the type and similitude of a baptism, symbolizing at one and the same time death, birth, victory and purification from sins" (Hugh Nibley, "A Strange Thing in the Land," Ensign, July 1976). Some LDS scholars theorize that baptism was the literal purpose that the Children of Israel went to the Red Sea, which was otherwise not a logical direction. It makes sense, remembering that the reason the Lord wanted Pharoah to let His people go was so that they could serve him. Baptism is the only way for the believer to enter into the path of worship.
THE PROBATIONARY JOURNEY
Below is the map of the route the Children of Israel took during their travels in the wilderness from Egypt to Canaan. It is immediately apparent that they did not take a direct route. Why not? Because of the very reason that Moses described the journey as taking 40 years; the journey prepared them to enter the promised land. (See The Importance of the Number 40 in the Bible in the previous post.) As the Joseph Smith Translation tell us of all those great and faithful men and women noted by Paul, "God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect" (JST Heb. 11:40).
all who would belong to the Kingdom of God and hope to enter into His presence.
- Manifestations of the Holy Ghost--As the pillar of fire led the Children of Israel to the Red Sea, so the Light of Christ and manifestations of the Holy Ghost lead us to baptism.
- Baptism--As the crossing of the Red Sea committed the Children of Israel to their journey as free people, so our baptism enters us into the journey to the Celestial Kingdom, crossing the line with no going back.
- Temple Ordinances--The Israelites received from their prophet's entrance into the temple of Mt. Sinai further instruction on how to become a holy people. Today we are privileged to follow our prophet to the temple, where we covenant and learn how to become holy enough to enter the presence of God.
- Continued Attendance--As the Israelites carried a tabernacle through the wilderness, we continue to attend the temple through our life's 40 years' probation. We do our best to become more faithful and obedient during the journey, and Christ blesses us with His grace whenever we err or fall into dire straits, and gives us all the time necessary to get us where we need to go.
- Kingdom of Heaven--Just as the Israelites entered finally into Canaan, "a land for which [they] did not labor" (Josh. 24:13), so can we enter the Celestial Kingdom at life's end, not by our own efforts, but through the merits of Christ.
At the end of the journey, as he was about to depart from them, Moses reviewed the Exodus and Journey into the Promised Land in his last sermon to his people, and itemized several important truths regarding probationary experiences:
Trials are tests: "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no" (Deut. 8:2). There is never a shortcut through our trials, because the entire probationary process is necessary to attain the growth and edification. When the trials are past, and times are easier, it is important for us to take the effort to remember the aid we received.
Trials make you learn to depend on the Lord: "And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live" (Deut. 8:3). When things are going well, we can feel a gratitude toward God, if we remember, but when we are hanging onto peace and life and sanity by a thread, we must get up every single morning and search for that manna in our prayers and in our scriptures. We realize, in the hard times, our utter dependence upon God.
The Lord makes you strong enough to survive the journey: "Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years" (Deut. 8:4). We are always given what we need to complete the journey. But never a free ride.
The Lord is teaching you: "Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee"(Deut. 8:5). Although it is hard to believe it at the low times, God gives us trials because He loves us, therefore, there is no reason to think "why me?" We are children of God. Our Father will teach and train us, even if it is unpleasant. That's what good parents do.
Therefore always trust in the Lord through the trials, knowing the end result will be worthwhile: "Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear. For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land..." (Deut. 8:6-7). Every purpose of the Lord in our lives is to fit us for the kingdom, to make us into celestial people so we can enter and enjoy the celestial kingdom. The end of the journey will be so glorious, it will dwarf the trials.