Israel’s first savior — Exodus 1-3

Glad you joined me again. I’m writing this on Sunday evening; my Sunday was pretty great (most of them are, I love the encouragement of my brothers and sisters in Christ), hope yours was, too.

Today’s reading is pretty famous stuff: the birth, early childhood, escape from Egypt, and calling of Moses. As usual there are a lot of interesting things in these chapters that I’ll not be able comment on — at least without writing a small book. Instead, I’ll just focus on the larger story of the two attempts that Moses made to lead Israel to freedom — once without God and once with God.

Moses, of course, after being hidden by his parents and ultimately adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, was raised in Pharaoh’s palace with all of the advantages of power, education, and position. To Moses’ credit, however, he never forgot his real family roots; and as time wore on, the suffering of Israel became an increasingly important concern to him. And as he became increasingly concerned and possibly outraged at the cruelty of the slavery imposed on his people, Moses decided at age 40 to take matters into his own hands — a temptation that sometimes can come to any of us, but especially those who come from power, education, and position. As he witnessed the cruel beating of a Hebrew slave, Moses’ outrage finally overflowed into murderous vengeance. Stephen, in his sermon to the Sanhedrin that led to his death, tells us that Moses’ intentions were beyond just an isolated incident of revenge:

“And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.” Acts 7:24, 25, NAS95.

But the children of Israel did not understand, and Moses had to flee to Midian. By the way, Midian was the western border of what is today Saudi Arabia, just to the east of the Gulf of Aqaba (the eastern fork of the Red Sea, at the top) — not in the Sinai peninsula. The Sinai peninsula, during this and many other periods of history, either belonged to or was largely controlled by Egypt — the government of which Moses wanted to escape. It was in Midian, on the northwest corner of Arabia, that Moses spent the next 40 years as a shepherd. Until.

Until God called. Of course, we know that this call ultimately led to a real liberation of Israel. It’s a stark contrast and — from a worldly perspective — counter-intuitive. Moses, the prince of Egypt, failed; but Moses, the Midianite shepherd succeeded. What was the difference? God. Moses’ first attempt to be Israel’s savior didn’t include God in any way; it was Moses’ idea, Moses’ way, and about Moses’ strength. Moses’ second attempt to be Israel’s savior was certainly different; it was God’s idea, it was God’s way, and it came when Moses was an 80-year-old Midianite shepherd.

This ought to give us pause for thought. What’s the saying? Man proposes and God disposes? On the other hand, “Commit your works to the LORD And your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3, NAS95. This not to say, of course, that we need to merely sit back and wait for God to do everything — anymore than we should not go to work and merely let the Lord provide for our families. The Lord has given us skills, intelligence, strength, health, and more; and He expects us to use them. He, however, expects us to use them for His cause, His way, and in faith.

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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