Moses was one of Israel’s greatest leaders. He was born in Egypt about 3500 years ago. The life of Moses is found in the book of Exodus, the second book in the Bible.
Abraham was the ancestor of the Hebrew (or Jewish) people. Recall that Abraham had a son called Isaac. Isaac had a son called Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel). Jacob had 12 sons. One of these sons was called Levi. Moses was of the family of Levi.
The early days of Moses life
Jacob (Israel) and his children came down to live in Egypt, because there was a drought in Canaan. They stayed there for about 215 years. During this time, the sons of Jacob had many children. The Egyptians became frightened of the large numbers of Jacob’s descendants (Israelites). So the Egyptians decided to make the Israelites into slaves. Exodus 1:7-14
However, there were still too many Israelites. The king of Egypt (called Pharaoh) ordered that all Israelite baby boys were to be drowned in the River Nile. Moses was born at this time. God made sure that Moses was not killed with other babies. Moses was brought up in the palace of Pharaoh. He was the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Exodus 2:1-10
The children of Israel were slaves, and they cried out to God to help them. God had promised that one day He would bring them back to Canaan. Moses thought that he was the one to lead the children of Israel back to Canaan. One day, Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite slave. When the king found out, he tried to kill Moses. Moses ran away from Egypt, and stayed in a country called Midian for 40 years. While he was there, he married and had two sons. Exodus 2:11-25
God spoke to Moses at the end of the 40 years. God told Moses to go back to Egypt and lead God’s people out of their slavery. Naturally, Moses was scared and did not want to go. God told him to take his brother Aaron with him. God also said that the king of Egypt would not let the people go. God would then show His great power to the Egyptians. Exodus Chapters 3 and 4.
Moses confronts the king of Egypt
So Moses and Aaron went to Egypt, and told the king to let the Israelites leave Egypt. The king said no, and what followed were ten disasters (or plagues as the Bible calls them) that came on Egypt. The Egyptians and the Israelites saw the power of God. Exodus Chapters 7 to 11.
Here are the ten plagues: –
- All the water in Egypt turned into blood.
The Egyptians had to dig in the ground to find water.
Millions of frogs came out of the Nile River.
There were millions of tiny insects everywhere.
There were millions of flies all over the land
- All livestock killed by disease
Horses, cattle, goats and sheep died
- Skin sores on every human being
Every man, woman and child in Egypt had painful sores on their skin.
- A massive hailstorm
The hailstones were so large that many crops were destroyed and people killed or injured.
Millions of locusts ate the crops that the hail did not destroy
- Darkness for three days.
- All the firstborn children in Egypt killed.
An angel of God went over Egypt. If any house did not have a blood mark on the door, then the angel went in and killed every firstborn child or adult while they slept.
These were amazing things that happened. After the death of all the firstborn children, the Egyptians were glad to send the Israelites away.
Moses leads the people out of Egypt
Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt towards Canaan. We do not know how many people there were, but there would have been many thousands. They came to the edge of the Red Sea – in those days there were no boats or bridges. The Egyptians decided that they really wanted to keep their slaves, and so the army was sent after the Israelites to bring them back. God saved His people. He made a path through the Sea, and the Israelites walked through to the other side on dry ground! The Egyptian army was drowned. Exodus 14:21-22
Moses continued to lead the people back to the land God had promised to them. They came to Mt Sinai. There, God gave the people His Law, as we find it in the first five books of the Bible. When the people came to the land of Canaan, they did not believe that God could care for them, and they did not want to go in. God punished the Israelites by making them stay in the desert for 40 years until all the older people had died. Numbers 14
Moses was a faithful servant to God for those 40 years. He worked hard as a leader. It was a difficult job to lead all those people through the desert. Sometimes they did not have enough food or water. God sent them food and water. Moses believed that God would care for His people, even if sometimes life was hard. Moses’ life teaches us to trust God. God will look after us too, even though sometimes our life can be hard and we can have many problems.
The end of Moses life
Before Moses died, God chose a man called Joshua to lead the Israelites into Canaan. Moses did not go into Canaan. God let Moses climb a mountain, to look into the land just before he died.
One day soon, God will make Moses alive again, and he will see the wonderful earth where Jesus Christ will be King. We would like you to be there too.