The prayer of Moses, the man of God:
“Let Your work appear to Your servants and Your majesty to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, give permanence to the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:16-17, emph. mine)
In another place the Psalmist said it like this: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Moses, in his prayer, seemed to understand that it would take a special grace from God if there was to be a permanent work established.
People who cannot bear the weight of obscurity will often not be able to build permanent works. They may inherit a prominent work without facing obscurity. They might be able to promote and market a work into prominence without facing obscurity. But permanence is an entirely different issue.
One important proof of the quality of a person’s life and work is finally seen in its permanence. Does it stand the test of time? Is it more than a flash in the pan? Do succeeding generations benefit from it? God often uses obscurity to prepare the person who will build a work of permanence. This principle can be seen through out the Bible and through the annals of history as well.
Moses understood this. At forty he thought he was ready to lead! But God had plans for him that involved obscurity – forty years of it! Being hidden in the Midianite wilderness definitely meets the definition of obscurity!
Moses wrote a large portion of the Old Testament. We learn a lot about his first forty years and his last forty years in the Bible. The middle forty, however, are still veiled in obscurity! There were things, said the Apostle Paul, that he saw while caught up into the third heaven, that he was not given permission to tell. Was this the case with Moses’ missing forty years? I don’t think so!
I think Moses was silent regarding those forty years because they were humble years. Nothing fantastic happened. Just life. Just daily struggles and labor. Just raising kids and doing an honest day’s work tending sheep. There may have even been a “death to the vision”. Perhaps he felt he had missed his chance for leadership in Egypt. By killing the Egyptian, perhaps he had disqualified himself from a significant role?
God took His time with Moses during those years of obscurity. When the time was right God appeared to Him in the burning bush and then the hidden man became an international figure. Because he had embraced obscurity he could be trusted in a much more public role…or not. That was up to God and was not something Moses had to make happen.
Next time we’ll look at more Biblical examples of how God uses obscurity to develop His choicest saints.