A Failed Deliverance

Exodus 2:11-22

Bible at times master of understatement. Text today one instance, similar in history of Jesus’ life.

8 days old, Luke 2:40 “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” – v.42, “when he was 12 years old”

Luke 2:52 “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” – next verse, beginning of baptism account

Moses’ autobiography: v.10, “And the child grew” spans approx. 3 years. Next verse, “when Moses was grown” – Stephen states when our text opens Moses was forty years old (Acts 7:23). Might wonder why stories are written that way.

Say you have a story board… a big one… a really big one. In the middle: the main point of the story – what represents theme and focus of entire story. Central theme and focus surrounded by countless Post-It’s, each covered with details. For end result to be good piece of literature, every detail not directly connected to theme and focus taken off the board. May be true, may be interesting, but if is secondary to big idea it’s gotta go.

Now, this is God’s word the Bible. The focus: Jesus. Theme: redemption of the elect through faith in Jesus. How do we know that? Jesus said so – Luke 24:27 “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” This is Jesus talking… about the OT, you know, the part with no red letters! Apparently the perfectly wise Holy Spirit knew unrecorded details about Moses’ and Jesus’ growing-up years not essential to main theme of God’s story. Everything we need to know about what to believe concerning God and how to behave pleasing to him is in the Bible. Satisfying some of our curiosity will have to wait until heaven!

Do know a few summary details about Moses’ early life: was given good education – “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22) Whatever Egyptian centers of learning were known for, Moses had best training, across the board, equipping him to serve as member of Pharaoh’s court with distinction. He did so, Stephen goes on to say “was mighty in words and deeds.” Had ability to put learning to work in practical useful ways. Stephen takes particular notice: “mighty in words” – powerful communicator with mastery of language… his own, and others. Even from young age, God preparing Moses at Pharaoh’s expense for later commissions.

What sort of man had Moses developed into? How did he think and act? Would he really be an effective leader of children of Israel?

A. Moses identifies with his people v.11-12

not first time Moses left palace, saw Hebrews

if Hebrews as prolific and plentiful as we’re made to think, must have been everywhere – reflected in Pharaoh’s edict re: babies… “commanded all his people”, would require regular intermingling between Egyptian and Hebrew

something different this time

sees differently

both Hebrew and Egyptian – is Hebrew who is brother to this child of the palace, no longer defaults to thinking Egyptians always right

not first time obverved injustice, this time a problem for Moses – “looked this way and that way”…to see if would get caught? Don’t think so!!

looking for someone, like another Egyptian to tell this one: overreacting, going too far – no one to stop injustice, so Moses acted, perhaps w/o knowing own strength

feels differently

both Hebrew and Egyptian – sympathetic toward Hebrew, frustrated and disappointed with Egyptian taskmaster

true, writing account decades later, might be less than 100% objective… except for two things – Holy Spirit and rest of story

Holy Spirit directly oversaw writing of Scripture, he is 100% objective; calls Hebrew “one of his brethren”, acts like brother

acts differently

shows brotherly kindness toward class of people previously had little regard for – acts in accordance with new sight/feelings

Moses changes sides

actions placed him on Hebrew side

probably intended only to stop abuse, not kill the guy; but… no matter how Moses intervened, put him on other side

made him enemy to Egyptians automatically

palace connections no longer enough to keep safe from consequences; those who knew Moses’ backstory, actions indicate he was reverting to his pre-adoption roots

why the change? – has different heart – Acts 7:23

Stephen, (record in Acts also under direction of Holy Spirit) describes this way: “”When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel.”

wonder how that happened! – don’t wonder long, God still at work in Moses, teaching / directing / preparing for future

B. Moses rejected by his people v.13-14

change of perspective persists

“next day” – still concerned about Hebrews

not just passing fancy, back to old routine; in fact, look beyond poor relations between Egyptian / Hebrew, sees issues between brothers

using discernment – addressed “the man in the wrong”, one who started altercation, attempts justice among fellow Hebrews

simple question asked with authority

only asked “why” – received by one throwing punches as if Moses pulling rank, expecting him to change course

response – contempt for his “authority”

“who put you in charge” – iow, you have no right to intervene in our argument; did not recognize Moses, know he was “son of Pharaoh’s daughter”

was Moses not wearing princely garments? not likely, Reuel’s daughters later recognized him as an Egyptian

whatever issue was, fighting Hebrew willing to stand his ground, especially since he knew what happened day before

logical response from Moses – see Acts 7:23-25

duh, God did, here’s why – Moses knew his destiny by this time, wrongly assumed everyone else knew as well

“For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.” – instead, at this point in time, rejected Moses in role of deliverer

C. Moses in exile from his people v.15-22

immediate response – fear, maybe, followed by flight

not if, when Pharaoh finds out – Pharaoh taking it personally, insubordination of family member against him, his authority

if Moses truly knew destiny, understood could not fulfill it if he were dead; needed to live for while longer yet, time to leave!

left the country

crossed to other side of Red Sea, putting as much distance and desert between him and Pharaoh as possible

Midianites nomadic people, covered large areas in their travels, don’t know for certain where on Arabian Peninsula he settled

“happened” to end up at particular oasis

did kind deed – like later traveler who sat down by well, delivered outcast woman from old life of sin and suffering

here, Reuel’s daughters drew water for father’s flock, other shepherds intended to get water for own sheep w/o working for it

third time Moses sought to right an injustice – succeeded this time, defending rights of daughters and putting shepherds in place

women he helped “happened” to be Reuel’s daughters

one of few Midianites who worshiped true God – later called Jethro priest of Midian, clearly priest of true God based on ch. 18

what’s the matter, why didn’t you bring him home? – things led to things, bridal shower, baby shower, new career for Moses

maybe marriage of convenience… for Jethro, so would have at least one “son” among 7 daughters, but also much more

D. Moses prepared to lead his people

conflict with Egyptians & death sentence

broke ties with adoptive family and culture – had nearly 40 years to be saturated with things from Egyptian / pagan point of view

needed something of great significance to begin establishing ties with own people – God moving internally, circumstances externally

often how it works, from beginning until today – for someone to turn from identifying with world and establish ties w/ God’s people… requires both work of God in the heart, pressure of external circumstances / hardships

flight to wilderness

ideal preparation for flight of Hebrew children decades in future – Moses had been that way before, knew the road to safety

meeting with God

first under ministry of father-in-law – what better place to learn things of God than by living with / working for priest of God

Reuel picking up from where Jochebed left off, completing Moses’ cultural and theological education – Moses needed to identify with God and his people… all the way back to beginning

at that time, was way more of importance before Israel went to Egypt that Moses needed to master to be effective leader

later at burning bush – wasn’t just children of Israel who needed to know who God was, Moses needed that first for himself

Attempted deliverance failed because: Moses not yet fully trained; people not yet oppressed enough; not yet God’s perfect time; not God’s way of achieving deliverance for his people.

Moses had good and right goal, was sketchy on some of important details. Just like Jesus, had things to learn… like “obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). Moses and Jesus both had to wait for God’s perfect timing. And… God had some things to do to get rest of people ready for deliverance.

True for us same ways, too – things we may desire but not fully prepared for. Must wait God’s timing. Work of God we desire to see in others – they not fully prepared for. Must wait God’s timing.


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