The Story of Moses
An incredible victory had just occurred! The sea had parted, the Israelites had gone through on dry land and Pharaoh’s army had been hurled into the sea. What celebrating must have occurred in the camp!
Miriam could hardly contain herself. She picked up her tambourine and joyously began leading the women in song and dance. The crowd went wild!
You would think such victory would be accompanied by a continuous and overwhelming gratefulness to God for his guidance through Moses, but that wasn’t the case. There was gratefulness, but only for a few days.
Gratefulness transformed into grumbling when Moses led them into the Desert of Shur where there was no good drinking water. “For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter” (v. 22-24).
As a seasoned leader, Moses knew that blessing always follows battle. Thus, he prayed, threw a piece of wood into the bitter waters as God commanded and then watched, as the water became miraculously sweet.
The Lord told the people that the bitter water episode was a test. A test in which they failed to trust and obey him. “If you will begin listening carefully to my voice and do what is right in my sight, I won’t bring any of the Egyptian plagues on you, for I am the Lord who heals you” (v. 26).
Following close on the heels of the miraculous provision of sweet water was a second test—this time in another desert, the Desert of Sin.
What an appropriate name, for the people committed the same sin—they grumbled against Moses. “If only we could die. Why are you leading us in such a round-about way to the Promised Land? Egypt was better. At least we had all the food we wanted. But here we are literally starving to death,” they probably said.
Moses rebuked the people, saying that their grumbling was not against him, but against the Lord.
What a giant step in growth for this adoptee! He didn’t take the rejection personally! What boldness and what a contrast to the Moses who once had said, “I don’t have anything to say.” Moses had changed from a people pleaser into a God pleaser.
Meanwhile, the gracious God, instead of giving the grumblers what they deserved, gave instead another miracle. It happened one morning when they came out of their tents and noticed a dewy-like substance on the ground. Moses explained that it was manna—bread from heaven, which was to be gathered each day according to each person’s need. “I will see whether they follow my instructions to gather only enough for one day,” God may have said. “This will be their test.”
The people failed the test again. They didn’t obey God’s command to only gather manna for six days and keep the Sabbath day holy.
In spite of God’s goodness in the years that followed, the people continued grumbling, even going so far as to question whether the Lord was really among them. In the midst of the grumbling, their enemies, the Amalekites, attacked. Moses backed off from active leadership at this juncture and gave his “son in the faith,” Joshua, an opportunity to grow. Joshua would take the troops into battle while Moses prayed for them.
Thus, with the staff of God in hand, Moses ascended the hill to pray. As long as he held up his staff, the Israelites won. However, as the battle raged on, Moses grew weary and asked Aaron and Hur to hold up his hands. This was another triumph for Moses! He threw off his former I-can-handle-anything exterior and asked for help from others.
When the battle was won, Moses built an altar and called it “The Lord is my Banner.”
- What inner struggles do you think Moses experienced when the people grumbled and rejected his leadership?
- Why didn’t the rejection disturb him?
How Moses Saw God
Moses perceived God as Jehovah-nissi; “The Lord Is My Banner.” A banner was a standard of victory carried at the head of a military band to indicate the line of march, or rallying point. God was the rallying point for Moses and the troops. Exodus 17:15 records his words: “The Lord is my banner…For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord. The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
How You See God
Please refer to the list of Names for Jesus in Scripture in Appendix B and list three to five names for God that stand out to you. It will be encouraging to look back when finished with the workbook and see how your perception has grown!
You can record your words here:
How Other Adoptees Feel
See if you identify with any of these statements, check the ones with which you most agree:
- I am tired of trying to please people.
- I sometimes feel like I can’t throw off my “I-can-handle-anything” exterior and ask for help from others.
- I need to learn to ask for and receive help from others.
- When I go to the Lord in prayer, my battles don’t seem so bad.
- Lately I am surprised by my resilience when others reject me.
- I don’t “read” rejection into every situation like I used to.
A Banner Like None Other
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love” (Song of Solomon 2: 4).
Suppose for a moment that you are a university coed on your way to a Saturday afternoon football game with your sweetheart. (This might be difficult for male readers, but do the best you can)!
Autumn leaves paint a glorious palette of color around the path toward the stadium and the sound of the gathering crowd fills the air. The smell of fresh caramel corn wafts through the air and vendors sell mums with pipe-cleaner letters.
As you enter the stadium, your sweetheart takes your hand and leads you to your seats for a great afternoon of entertainment.
“Life doesn’t get much better than this,” you say to yourself.
As the marching band lines up for the pre-game show, small planes with advertising banners buzz overhead. One particular banner catches your attention immediately, for it spells out a familiar word—your first name!
After your name are three simple words: I LOVE YOU!
“Somebody really wanted to get their message across,” you figure. When you glance at your sweetheart to see if he saw the same plane, you notice a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face.
“Do you know something about that banner that I don’t know?” you ask.
When the band conductor signals the crowd to stand for the fight song, everyone rises, except the two of you. As the crowd sings, your sweetheart pulls you close and pulls out a small gift box.
“Go ahead! Open it up,” he says.
Your eyes well with tears and your heart thumps. Inside the gift box is another box, hinged and covered with silk. Again, he invites you to open it up. As you do, you discover a golden engagement ring, which he removes from the box and places on your finger.
“Honey, will you marry me?” he says. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
What a story! “That only happens in fairy tales,” you may be muttering under your breath.
Let me share how that fairy tale comes alive day after day in the lives of those who love and follow Jesus.
How like the sweetheart is Jesus, the Lover of our souls, who courts us daily. How like the couple on the stadium bench, oblivious to everyone around them are you and I as we enjoy intimacy with Jesus in the midst of this crazy world. How like the sweetheart who went to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate his love by having his message of love unfurling behind a plane, did the heavenly Father in sending his only Son to die for us at Calvary. How like the words of proposal spoken to the coed are the words of Jesus…“I want to spend eternity with you.”
The analogies are endless. But perhaps in the midst of our hectic days, we should take a look at his banner flying over us. And as we do, we will delight in its message once again: (Put your name here)…I LOVE YOU!
Learning about Adoption
Perhaps one of the greatest battles for an adoptee is giving up people pleasing and not taking rejection personally.
Ronald Nydam, Ph.D., in an article entitled “Doing Rejection” appearing in Jewel Among Jewels Adoption News said, “The task of all adoptees is to finally relinquish their relinquishment; that is, to really accept the decision of the birth parents to carry out their plan for adoption. If the original relinquishment is not relinquished, the adoptee may chronically hang on to the primal connection in such a way that she is never free to be fully adult. Doing rejection successfully means opening the door to a full life as an adult who can do self-acceptance and intimacy in spite of a birth parent’s negative opinion.”
Putting my Feelings and Needs into Words
- Are you driven to please others? If so, what are some of the ways you have tried to win the love and acceptance of others?
- What is the most painful opposition or rejection you have experienced?
- When you are faced with rejection, what are your options and needs?
- Have you “relinquished your relinquishment?” How? When?
A Drawing for My Birth Mother
Draw a picture of yourself atop a mountain, plunging a banner of victory into the ground. Why not make this the day that you relinquish your relinquishment and see the Lord as your banner?
Draw a picture of yourself and your birth mother after you relinquish your relinquishment.
- “He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” (Song of Solomon 2: 4). Meditate on this verse and then ask yourself:
• What would the banquet hall look like?
• What would Jesus look like? (Just think…he is the one who will meet ALL your needs).
• What would he say to you?
• What would you say to him?
• What color is the banner?
• What does the banner say? (What words does he use to convey his personal love?)
- Read Isaiah 54:17. If you think about rejection as a weapon that is formed by Satan to destroy you, what does God promise and what does that mean to you?
- Joseph of the Bible was rejected by his brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt. Joseph walked so closely with God that he found favor in the eyes of the Pharaoh and was put in a high position of authority. When a famine came in the land where his rejecting brothers lived, they came to him, asking for food. Joseph’s response in Genesis 50: 20 says a lot about how he viewed rejection. What did he say to his brothers? How can you apply this to your life?
- What is the “take away” for you from this chapter?
Thoughts, Insights, Goals and Prayers
Rejection can roll off you like water off a duck’s back! Like Joseph, you will be able to trust in the fact that any rejection life can throw at you will always be turned for your good if you belong to God.
The need for approval from people will be replaced with a deep desire to have an intimate relationship with God. We are then able to come full circle with our adoption experience and learn to see it through God’s eyes. We begin to see that indeed, we were adopted for a purpose. This will be our topic for the last chapter.