Moses was a remarkable individual with vast educational and technical capabilities, including political clout, military knowledge, physical gifting and deep sympathy for his people.
Once Moses killed an Egyptian, was summoned by God from a burning bush, and faced Pharaoh before Pharaoh, he was 40 years old. How did he spend his remaining 120 years?
Age at Calling
At the time of Moses’ call, he was 80 years old. Born as an infant in Egypt and raised within its royal court system, he had received an excellent education in religious, civil and military matters as well as extensive knowledge about ancient Near Eastern affairs; Egypt controlled part of Canaan and Syria at that point in history.
Through his time at the Egyptian court, Moses gained a stellar reputation as an orator and leader. God took advantage of this natural talent by using it later to benefit himself as well.
Moses found being asked by God to serve as His prophet an extremely stressful experience, feeling too old to undertake such a major responsibility and feeling unwilling to accept this calling from above. Nonetheless, eventually he agreed and took up this call despite all resistance.
Not because he felt unqualified, but rather because he felt God had chosen him for something else and had other plans in store for him. This holds true with many key figures in the Bible – not because they’re smart or attractive people but because He had plans for them. Abraham, Noah, Job and Esther all fit this description perfectly!
After Moses killed an Egyptian, he fled into Midian. While working under Jethro as priest of Mount Horeb (Sinai), Moses encountered God as He revealed Himself as a burning bush and told Him to go back into Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go free.
Moses obeyed and after unleashing plague after plague on Egypt, Moses led his people out and they set off towards the Promised Land where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God at Mount Sinai.
Moses died at 120 years old. Throughout his lifetime he led an overwhelming number of people who often gave him grief over their failure to follow his leadership; nevertheless, God promised Moses that He would allow him to enter the Promised Land.
Age at Murder
Once Moses survived his early years of life, God called on him to lead His people out of Egypt. Although Moses hesitated at first due to his youth and lack of experience, He assured him he would succeed and taught him how to prepare for such a mission. God always takes such calls seriously!
Moses was born into a Hebrew slave family living in Egypt when Pharaoh ordered all male Hebrew babies born there to be killed at birth (Exodus 1:22). But Jochebed saved Moses by hiding him secretly for some time after which an Egyptian princess later found him and adopted him into her household, raising him as her own son; eventually giving him the name Moses which means “savior”.
By 40, Moses had developed both an unwavering purpose and a fiery temper, leading him to act quickly in times of anger. Outraged at an Egyptian taskmaster for brutalizing one of his own people, Moses kills them before fleeing into the wilderness where he eventually meets Zipporah – later his future wife whom they marry before starting their family together and working under Jethro, their priest from Midian for another 40 years.
At this time, Moses becomes highly educated in both religious and secular matters, learning wisdom from Egyptians as he was considered powerful at both words and deeds, according to Stephen in Acts 7:22. But at age 80, these skills weren’t enough for Moses to go back into Egypt to speak with Pharaoh again.
At last, the Israelites made their escape from Egypt and journeyed towards their Promised Land, with Moses receiving the Ten Commandments directly from God Himself on Mount Sinai. Following that eventful process, they spent some years wandering in the desert before arriving at their final destination where Moses died at 120. Over history’s course, God has used imperfect humans such as Abraham, Jacob, Noah Job Esther and Gideon to further His cause despite not living up to divine expectations of perfection themselves.
Age at Escape
At 40, Moses fled Egypt. Although Scripture doesn’t specify how long he spent in Midian before God called upon him to lead Hebrew slaves out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, 120 years is certainly long enough. Even when considering that Moses wasn’t particularly healthy.
The biblical interpretation of 80 represents a time of trial, purification or preparation – for Moses it marked when he killed an Egyptian at age 40, stood up to Pharaoh at 40 and led his people out of Egypt at 80.
Moses managed to escape life-threatening circumstances early in life because God had something significant planned for him. The Bible is filled with examples of God using ordinary and flawed people in His plans; doing this to glorify Himself rather than credit any individual’s strength or intelligence – people like Abraham, Noah, Joseph, Esther and Gideon serve as examples of such.
God chose Moses to lead His chosen people, not because of any particular wisdom or talent or bravery – He chose him simply because he was willing to obey and follow Him. That’s why the Bible records how the Lord’s messenger appeared as a flame of fire in a bush as an indicator that He had chosen him as leader of His people.
Moses initially responded reluctantly to God’s calling. He felt unqualified to speak on His behalf due to a speech impediment, as well as too old for leading Israel.
But God was persistent: Moses would return to Egypt and free Israel from slavery. While no specific instructions were given by Him on how this task could be completed, He assured Moses that He would provide assistance in doing it.
While in Midian, Moses received instructions from God regarding the construction of a portable tent for worship and production of priestly garb and an ark that would hold God’s covenant between Himself and his people. Together with Mount Sinai’s law, these instructions have formed the cornerstones of Jewish worship and theology for generations of Jews ever since.
Age at Exodus
The biblical Moses was born a prince in Egyptian court and lived there until he killed an overseer mistreating one of his Hebrew slaves. Following that incident, he fled Egypt and eventually ended up in Midian.
Moses first felt called by God during his exile when he married the daughter of a priest from Midian and began raising her family as a shepherd (Exodus 2:12). Here God revealed Himself.
God appeared in the form of a burning bush to Moses and told him it was time for Israel to depart Egypt. Pharaoh ordered that their Israelite subjects leave. Moses returned to Egypt and informed Pharaoh it was time for their people to depart.
Moses answered God’s call and went back to Egypt where, upon their return, ten plagues were unleashed on the Egyptians for their treatment of Hebrews and chased into the Red Sea which then collapsed on them and trapped them there.
Once Israel was free of its oppressors, its people set off for their promised land. On their journey, God blessed Moses with the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. After 40 years spent wandering the desert, Moses finally made it home – The Promised Land!
Jewish mysticism sees 40 as a symbolic representation of renewal and growth; that explains why Moses was 40 when he killed an Egyptian, 80 when he encountered the Burning Bush and 120 when he passed.
God calls Moses at an advanced age so He can teach him that strength alone won’t suffice in overthrowing the world’s most mighty nation; He needs Moses to be weak so He can demonstrate His might through him and bring salvation and redemption for His people through Moses’ weakness. Jesus taught His disciples this same lesson during His last week on earth when He suffered physical weakness on a cross for us all, yet in doing so He brought salvation and redemption – an amazing demonstration of God using humanity’s weaknesses for His glory!