Moses the Laodicean

We just finished the Book of Exodus, and so I want to put down one thought about Moses before moving on officially: Moses became a “Laodicean”, or at least he did so by some people’s definition of the word.

We all know how Moses as a babe became the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  Obviously, he would have been raised as an Egyptian, learned at the Egyptian library and would have had access to things that only a prince would have access to.  Some say that the Egyptian library would have contained many documents, including tales of the creation of the world, and some of what Moses knew and wrote in the Book of Genesis may have been well documented already.  There has even been speculation about whether or not there were “creation tablets” which may or may not have been on Noah’s ark.  In any event, he would have learned math, astronomy and languages among other things.

And war.  According to Josephus, Moses was made a general because the Egyptians were losing ground to the Ethiopians.  Yet, they were also afraid of Moses and the Hebrews, so they cooked up a plan by which Moses would fight the Ethiopians, hopefully wounding both of their perceived threats at the same time.

The Ethiopians expected Moses to attack by river.  The land route was dangerous, as it had numerous dangerous serpents along the way.  So, Moses gathered “ibes”, which was a predatory bird and natural enemy to the serpents.  He marched up to the land, and he let loose the ibes, which proceeded to go immediately hunting.  Thus, he was able to march over land, surprise the Ethiopians and score a great victory.

Zealous much.  In churchiology (which is quite different than either real theology or bibliology), this would be misdefined as Philadelphian.  After all, the important characteristic is zeal, and never mind what the word “Philadelphian” means in Greek.

You would have thought that the Egyptians would have lauded Moses, and perhaps they did.  However, they were still secretly afraid of him, hated him even more for succeeding where they had failed, and they plotted to kill him.

Were they wrong to not trust Moses?

24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

~ Heb 11:24-27

There certainly is an indication here that not only did Moses grow up knowing he was different, but also that he perceived that perhaps he would be Israel’s deliverer.  According to Stephen, though, he also thought the Hebrews should know this as well.

22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.

23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.

24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian:

25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.

~ Ac 7:22-25

This makes the incident where he killed the Egyptian a lot more understandable.  As one the Egyptians already feared, a mighty general and skilled in battle, the incident of him murdering an Egyptian would have tipped them off to a possible uprising and given them even more cause to have him killed.

Zealous.  He must have been a Philadelphian, right?

However, it appeared he must have been wrong after all, or at least that is what I imagine might have been going through his mind as he traveled the wilderness towards Midian.  God did not give the Egyptians into his hand, so perhaps he was mistaken.  Stripped of power, wealth and palace, he became a shepherd in Midian.

Then, after 40 long years, he spies a burning bush.  God speaks to him from out of the bush!

This would have been his opportunity!  This is his chance at real fame and glory!  He would be noticed as Israel’s deliverer at last!  Surely, as a Philadelphian with Philadelphian zeal, he would jump up, grabbed his coat and hat, and yell, “Which way, Lord?” wouldn’t he?

11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

~ Ex 3:11

Say what?  OK, he must still be in shock, right?

However, it gets worse.  He begins to rattle off a list of excuses:

  • I don’t know Your name (v 13).
  • They won’t believe me (Ex 4:1).
  • I stutter and cannot speak well (v 10).

However, it still gets worse.

13 Moses said, “Please, Lord, send someone else.”

~ v 13 (HCSB)

Yikes!  He has lost his zeal!  Therefore, he must have become a … Laodicean!  <gasp />

Sometimes, I just have to shake my head at those who refuse to see the obvious.

Philadelphia = “brotherly love”

~ Strong’s G5359

The Philadelphians were commended for many things, but their very name means brotherly love.  It is a type of love requiring acts of service towards one another.  Love requires a bit of zeal.

The zeal that the Laodiceans lacked was a zeal to love.  It was a lukewarmness, whereas love requires heat and hatred requires cold.  It is a type of tepid response that says we do what we are supposed to do, but it lacks the motivation of love behind it.

12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

~ Mt 24:12 (NASB)

Many believe the Laodicean attitude will predominate in the end times.  Jesus here is talking about the end times.  It’s such an obvious match, so why do so many refuse to see it?

Love must endure.  Love must endure to the end!

13 But [a conjunction! this is continuing on from before and contrasting with the “love will grow cold”!] the one who endures to the end [i.e, continues loving], he will be saved.

~ v 13

Back to Moses, however.  He went on to become one of the greatest prophets of all time.  Perhaps no human beings other than Abraham and Jesus Christ could come close, as they are the only ones who spoke directly to God.  Other prophets saw visions, dreams or angels.  However, Abraham and Moses both were not just servants of God, but His friends!

Yet, we see initially he did not want to go!  Why?  Just back up to where we started the burning bush incident.

11 But Moses said to God, “I am not a great man! How can I go to the king and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?”

~ Ex 3:11 (NCV)

His “zeal” before leaving Egypt was nothing more than pride and self-esteem!  Forty years of tending sheep made him realize that he wasn’t so great after all!

Meanwhile, it should be noted, Pharaoh was not being humbled during the same time.

How many people want to throw up their hands and volunteer to be a “prophet”, an “apostle” or even “one of the Two Witnesses”?  I daresay, these people don’t have the humility required to have any of these offices.

How many of our church leaders initially said, “Please, Lord, send someone else”?  Far too few, it would seem.

Who will go through the Great Tribulation?  It won’t be those “commandment breakers” or those who don’t keep the Sabbath exactly the way “we” do.  Think about how the Pharisees were “zealous” for their traditions, but even more were ready to pounce upon those who dared to do things differently.

Jesus Christ was not what they expected the Messiah to be.  They were so wrapped up in their foolishness that they could not see the Messiah standing right before them!  How many in these Churches of God would make the same mistake today?  Going by the ratio of what occurred in 1995, I’d say the odds are not very encouraging.

The people who go through the Great Tribulation will be one of two types, I predict:

  1. Those who are so zealous that their names will go down as martyrs for the cause.  They will literally appear before rulers, both civil and religious, and they will die for the name of Christ.  They will be part of the fulfillment we see when the fifth seal of Revelation is opened.
  2. Those who are so pompous and arrogant that only a good dose of their own powerlessness will cure them.  Like Joseph, Moses and even Job (for different reasons), they will have to learn that God is God, and He does great things with very weak people.  Like Israel, their stiff necks will have to be broken before they will move right.

The choice seems pretty clear if you ask me.  Notice that it will likely be the weak, the frail and the young that will really need the protection that will go into a Place of Safety.  Those who claim they have a prepaid ticket might want to check the terms and conditions on the back of the ticket, as it says nothing about belonging to a specific organization.

The Church is spiritual Israel.  Have we taken to heart the lessons that ancient Israel offer us?

10 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

~ Ro 10:1-3