Why was Moses in the wilderness for 40 years?
God says, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried” (Zechariah 13:9).
This verse reminded me of the story of Moses. Before leading the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses, after killing an Egyptian, fled to the wilderness, where he shepherded sheep for forty years; God then called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (See Exodus 2:11-15). In the past, I didn’t know God’s intention, thinking: Since the Israelites were living under the control and slavery of the Egyptian Pharaoh, leading a miserable life, why did God not send Moses earlier to save the Israelites from suffering, but sent him into the wilderness and refined him for forty years? What was God’s will behind this? It wasn’t until I read this verse that I understood God’s intention. Because God wanted to make Moses fit for His use, He arranged that environment to refine and purify him. Before, Moses always relied on his hot blood and temperament to do things; seeing his compatriot being oppressed, he didn’t rely on God or look unto Him, but depended on his hot blood and stoned an Egyptian to death. How could he, a man full of naturalness, be fit for God’s use, and take on the responsibility of leading the Israelites out of Egypt? Thus, to rid him of his naturalness and make him capable of the mission, God had him endure refinement in the wilderness for forty years.
After 40 years, the naturalness of Moses, which was not fit for God’s use, was ground out of him; he truly saw God’s faithfulness, almightiness and sovereignty, and that nothing is impossible for God. Moses lived in the wilderness for neither several days nor a couple of years, but for as long as 40 years. Though we don’t know how he made it through those years, there is no doubt that God had always led and helped him. Through such trials and refinements, Moses saw the hand and deeds of God, and thus developed true faith in Him, and had the courage to accept the commission of God and face the powerful army of the Pharaoh.
From the story of Moses, I gained much enlightenment, and came to know that if we want to be perfected by God and be fit for His use, we have to undergo His trials and refinements to get rid of our naturalness and corrupt disposition. Only in difficult environments will we truly look unto God and rely on Him, see His wisdom and almightiness, and have true knowledge of Him.
Knowing God’s will, I came to realize that the ridicule, insult, and slander, as well as the arrest of the atheistic government that I had suffered, were elaborately arranged by God to purify and gain me. Having experienced these, I developed true, and had a true understanding of my problems, such as notions, corruption, and lack. I truly appreciated that the sufferings and refinements set by God were all my need, which contained His kind intention. I am so small, but so lucky to follow God and experience His work in this life, which is indeed God’s exceptional exaltation and grace for me.
You may be interested in reading more on our Bible Study page about Guides, or in the articles below.