Moses in the Bible, Giver of the Law

Dominant Old Testament Bible Character

Moses leads the Hebrews people to Canaan.
Moses leads the Hebrews people to Canaan.

Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images

Moses stands as the dominant figure of the Old Testament. God chose Moses to lead the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt and mediate his covenant with them. Moses handed down the Ten Commandments, then completed his mission by bringing the Israelites to the edge of the Promised Land. Although Moses was inadequate for these monumental tasks, God worked mightily through him, supporting Moses every step of the way.

Question for Reflection

Moses is someone most of us can relate to—a very human hero. He was acutely aware of his shortcomings as a person. When God called Moses, he said, “Lord, I’m not adequate.” And the Lord responded, “No, but I am.” In spite of his shortcomings, Moses trusted God. His fierce commitment to his calling, his dependence on prayer, and his total faith in God set a pattern for spiritual leaders to follow. Is God calling you to step out beyond your human abilities? Let the life of Moses be your example. 

The name Moses means “drawn out of the water,” calling to mind the events surrounding the birth of Moses, who had been placed in a basket on the River Nile and then drawn out by Pharaoh’s daughter. 

Moses' Accomplishments

Moses helped free the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at that time.

He led this huge mass of unruly refugees through the desert, kept order, and brought them to the border of their future home in Canaan.

Moses received the Ten Commandments from God and delivered them to the people.

Under divine inspiration, he authored the first five books of the Bible, or the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Strengths

Moses obeyed God's orders despite personal danger and overwhelming odds. God worked tremendous miracles through him.

Moses had great faith in God, even when no one else did. He was on such intimate terms with God that God talked with him regularly.

Weaknesses

Moses disobeyed God at Meribah, striking a rock twice with his staff when God had told him just to speak to it to produce water. Because Moses did not trust God in that instance, he was not permitted to enter the Promised Land.

Life Lessons

God supplies the power when he asks us to do things that seem impossible. Even in everyday life, a heart surrendered to God can be an irresistible tool.

Sometimes we need to delegate. When Moses took his father-in-law's advice and delegated some of his responsibilities to others, things worked much better.

You don't need to be a spiritual giant like Moses to have an intimate relationship with God. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, every believer has a personal connection to God the Father.

As hard as we try, we cannot keep the Law perfectly. The Law shows us how sinful we are, but God's plan of salvation was to send his Son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. The Ten Commandments are a guide for right living, but keeping the Law cannot save us.

Hometown

Moses was born of Hebrew slaves in Egypt, perhaps in the land of Goshen.

References to Moses in the Bible

Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Micah, Malachi, Matthew 8:4, 17:3-4, 19:7-8, 22:24, 23:2; Mark 1:44, 7:10, 9:4-5, 10:3-5, 12:19, 12:26; Luke 2:22, 5:14, 9:30-33, 16:29-31, 20:28, 20:37, 24:27, 24:44; John 1:17, 1:45, 3:14, 5:45-46, 6:32, 7:19-23; 8:5, 9:28-29; Acts 3:22, 6:11-14, 7:20-44, 13:39, 15:1-5, 21, 21:21, 26:22, 28:23: Romans 5:14, 9:15, 10:5, 19; 1 Corinthians 9:9, 10:2; 2 Corinthians 3:7-13, 15; 2 Timothy 3:8; Hebrews 3:2-5, 16, 7:14, 8:5, 9:19, 10:28, 11:23-29; Jude 1:9; Revelation 15:3.

Occupation

Prince of Egypt, herdsman, shepherd, prophet, lawgiver, covenant mediator, national leader.

Family Tree

Father: Amram
Mother: Jochebed
Brother: Aaron
Sister: Miriam
Wife: Zipporah
Sons: Gershom, Eliezer

Key Verses

Exodus 3:10
So now, go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. (NIV)

Exodus 3:14
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you." (NIV)

Deuteronomy 6:4-6
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. (NIV)

Deuteronomy 34:5-8
And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over. (NIV)