The story of Moses’ life is absolutely loaded with incredible lessons. During the time of Moses’ birth, we see a world leader, a forerunner of the beast, killing firstborn Hebrew children. We see what happened to Israel when they stayed too long in the world system of Egypt rather than returning after the famine to the land God promised them. We see his mother’s love and innovation as she uses a basket to save him from the certain death sentence of the Pharaoh. We see the compassion of the Pharaoh’s daughter as she rescues the baby from the river. We see God’s plan of reconciliation and mercy as he directs Moses back into his mother’s care during his upbringing. We even see the love of the wicked Pharaoh who broke his own law in keeping the Hebrew baby in his house and, moreover, raising him as an apprentice to the throne, like a literal Prince of Egypt. Truly, there is near infinite revelation to be gained from the Exodus account of Moses, but I want to focus on what happens when things don’t go well for Moses. As we talked about in our “Lifting the Veil” series, true love has to be tested, and in Moses’ relationship with God, there was definitely a test.
God had chosen Moses to lead the Israelites out of bondage. It was ordained from the foundation of the world. It was the entire plan for his life. Anyone who doesn’t believe that doesn’t understand the magnitude of a Hebrew child growing up in the palace of the Egyptian King while the rest of the Hebrew children were massacred and the Hebrew people enslaved. That screams God’s hand of protection! I would go so far as to argue that the original plan was for Moses to take the throne as Pharaoh when the time came. (I realize that doesn’t fit with the cinematic versions we’ve seen, but a true look at Egyptian history would place Moses in a very different era than the one he is cast by Hollywood). Unfortunately, his overzealousness prevented us from knowing God’s original intentions. What happened instead was that Moses witnessed the abuse of his people and, in his anger, murdered an Egyptian and then hid the body. He acted outside of the will of God and made a huge mistake. Once this came to light, he was to be killed for murder and probably treason against the empire, so he fled. To say this more simply, Moses messed up.
Fearing for his life, he left Egypt and went into the wilderness to a place called Midian. He was a fugitive, alone in the middle of nowhere, never to become the man that God had called him to be, never to be heard from again…But not exactly.
In Exodus 2:16-22, the Bible documents for us exactly what Moses did once he arrived in Midian. Paraphrasing, I’ll say that he saw an injustice taking place at the well against the seven daughters of the Priest of Midian. We can infer that he was trained in combat and used that training to aid the women at the well, to right the wrong that he saw taking place. He even went so far as to water their livestock. What people sometimes miss is that Moses was already the man God called him to be, he had simply delayed his destiny by trusting himself rather than trusting God. God had designed Moses to be a leader, a defender of the weak, and a friend to the underdog. Even after spending forty years in the house of the Egyptians, he was not like them. He was not a tyrant or an oppressor, but a man to save the oppressed.
The next period of Moses’ life was difficult, as he spent 40 years as a shepherd. I’ll guess that he probably thought God gave up on him. I bet he thought that he was beyond redemption. You may wonder why God kept him there so long. My thoughts are as follows:
40 is the Biblical number of testing. God had to test Moses to know if he could be trusted. He had a huge job to perform and he needed to know that Moses was going to follow instructions when the time came.
Being a shepherd is a tedious job that requires a lot of patience. This patience was necessary once he did, in fact, lead the Hebrews from Egypt. They made his life miserable. Without this season in his life, he might not have been up to the task.
Moses had been royalty and had learned to trust in himself. He had to be humbled, to submit to God’s way rather than his own. I’d guess that 40 years in the wilderness has a way of humbling someone.
Moses was a fugitive in Egypt. Had he gone back sooner, before a change in leadership had occurred, he would’ve been killed on the spot. The passage of time was a necessary part of God’s plan. A new Pharaoh was likely immune to or at least apathetic to Moses’ crime.
In Moses’ impulsiveness as a young man, he delayed his destiny by a third of his lifetime, but God never gave up on him. In fact, God used the delay to refine Moses and better equip him for the job to which he had been called. When the time came, God called Moses again. He gave him an incredible second chance. It wasn’t because of anything Moses did, or could have done, it was because of God’s incredible love! And because the Bible says that God is no respecter of persons we know that he loves every one of us enough to give us second chance after second chance when we botch things up. Remember that with every new day, God gives new opportunity. Today may be your day to grab hold of the destiny God put in your life, even if yesterday you missed it.
That is the kind of unbelievable love that we should all be anxious to take a hold of. It’s the kind of love that can change the world!