The Graduate School of the Desert

25 Jun

June is the season of graduations. Preschool. Kindergarten. High School. College. Grad School. Every graduate faces a similar question—Will you go on for more education? or Will you pursue something else? Regardless of the level of education, every graduate has something in common. Once the schooling stops, the real education begins.

I received my doctorate in 1989 and was fired by my church two months later. While I had not done anything wrong, neither had I done enough right. I was told I was not a leader, though no one could explain what that meant. Being the quick study that I am, it only took me 12 years to figure it out. Through the efforts of LEAD at Dallas Theological Seminary, I discovered that I lead through preaching and teaching. However, I was in a position that was purely administrative. It was more a question of fit rather than an issue of giftedness and ability.

Through my 12 years of wandering in the wilderness, I discovered the benefits of enrolling in The Graduate School of the Desert. God often speaks to his people in the desert (Deuteronomy 32:10-12). God often trains his servants in the wilderness. Jacob (Genesis 28), Elijah (1 Kings 19), John the Baptist (Matthew 3), Jesus (Matthew 4), and Paul (Galatians 1:17) all learned valuable, life-shaping lessons in the wilderness. It seems that adversity is a required course in God’s curriculum. Trials teach us to obey (Psalm 119:67) and failure makes us teachable (Psalm 119:71).

After fleeing Egypt, Moses heads for God’s graduate school in the land of Midian (Exodus 2:15-25). Moses took classes in humble service (16-17), advanced obscurity (18-22), and remedial waiting (23-25). God used these experiences to teach him to listen for God’s voice and learn the lessons God had for him.

Moses learned humble service (16-17). He learned to serve those in need and to keep his temper under control. He defended some female shepherds without resorting to violence and killing the oppressors.

Moses studied advanced obscurity (18-22). Far from the spotlight of Pharaoh’s palace, Moses learned to be content as a simple shepherd. He learned how to lead by caring for his father-in-law’s flock of sheep. He learned the topography of the Sinai desert which would be useful when he led Israel for 40 years in that region.

Moses practiced remedial waiting (23-25). He learned to rely on God’s timing. While in Midian, there is a change in leadership in Egypt as the Pharaoh who sought Moses’ life dies. The Hebrew people cried out to God for deliverance. God was now ready to act. The stage is set for God to call Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3).

If you find yourself in a wilderness experience, listen for God’s voice and learn the lessons he has for you.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 25, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy or the sermon notes.


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