Moses is one of the most famous and respected religious leaders in all of history, but his life was filled with trials and tragedies. However, the end of his story teaches us that we can choose to speak words that build others up even when life is tearing us down.
What Was Moses’s Story?
Moses was born at a dangerous time in the history of Israel. The nation had been enslaved for 400 years by Egypt, the powerhouse in the ancient Middle East. Threatened by the rapid growth of the slave nation, Pharaoh ordered that every newborn Hebrew boy be drowned in the Nile river (see Exodus 1). Moses was famously saved, adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter herself, and raised in the royal household (see Exodus 2).
The triumph of Moses’ early life soon gave way to trials. He killed an Egyptian and was forced to flee to the desert – where he was soon called by God to return to Egypt and free the Israelites from slavery. Stuck for 40 years in the desert as he led his people toward the Promised Land, Moses was repeatedly frustrated and disappointed by a nation of complainers. And in a tragic lesson of leadership, Moses was disqualified from personally entering the Promised Land (see Numbers 20).
Standing on the edge of Canaan and speaking one last time to the Hebrew nation, Moses could have spoken a curse in frustration. Instead, his final words were filled with hope:
Deuteronomy 33:28-29 So Israel will live in safety, prosperous Jacob in security, in a land of grain and new wine, while the heavens drop down dew. How blessed you are, O Israel! Who else is like you, a people saved by the Lord?
Moses’s Last Word Was “Blessed”
Modern-day readers wouldn’t blame Moses if his words had been toxic and bitter in his final days. He had poured out his life for this thankless nation, and he wouldn’t live to see the better days ahead. But Moses blessed Israel instead of cursing them. He reminds them that they are saved by the Lord, and their future is bright in him. As Dallas Willard writes, “Blessing is the projection of good into the life of another.” Like a father speaking life over his beloved children, Moses made it clear that he wished the best for his sin-prone people.
We Get to Choose to Speak Blessings or Curses
The lesson applies to all of us today. We can’t always control the bad things that happen to us, but we alone get to choose whether to speak blessings or curses in response. Trials will come – whether financial, relational, emotional, or physical. The healthy response is to step into each trial with a positive, forward-looking attitude.
Ephesians 4:29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
In the fuller passage above (see Ephesians 4:23-27), Paul challenges his readers to let the Spirit renew their thoughts and attitudes. Words, after all, simply reveal what’s already inside the heart (see Matthew 12:34). When we put on a “new nature” we allow the Holy Spirit to control us from the inside out. Ultimately, that affects the words that we choose to speak.
Our Words Have Undeniable Power
God created the whole world by simply speaking things into existence. This demonstrates the intrinsic power of words. We are created in the image of God, and part of this is our ability to speak and express ourselves. Though we can’t speak things into existence like God can, our words have real impact for good or bad.
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
The lesson is obvious: use your words to bless and build up. Followers of Jesus should tame the tongue and resist the poison of negativity (see James 3:7-10). Even in the face of tough circumstances, we must look forward and speak blessings, not curses.
That’s what Moses did.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- Of all of Moses’ trials, which do you think was the most difficult, and why?
- Read Numbers 20:1-13. Why do you think Moses was disqualified from entering the Promised Land? How would you have reacted to that punishment if you were in his shoes?
- What does it mean to bless someone with your words? What are some other biblical examples of people speaking words of blessing? (See Numbers 6:24-26).
- Share a time when someone spoke words of blessing over your life. How did that impact you?
- Read Ephesians 4:29. Share a time when someone spoke negative words over your life. How did you respond?
- Describe the 4 types of connections in your home. Which one are you when trials come? Is there anyone in your home who speaks life into the family even when times are bad?
- Read James 3:7-10. Why is the tongue so dangerous?
- Make a list of three people you can speak life into. What will you say to them? Write it down and make a plan to do it this week.