The Sovereignty of God in a Life Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Stephen, in the book of Acts, gives us some insight into this period of Moses’ life. Stephen said this to the Jewish council that wanted to kill him-
20 At this time Moses was born, and he was extremely beautiful. For three months he was nursed in his father’s house;
21 but when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.
22 Moses was educated (in) all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds.
23 “When he was forty years old, he decided to visit his kinsfolk, the Israelites.
24 When he saw one of them treated unjustly, he defended and avenged the oppressed man by striking down the Egyptian.
25 He assumed (his) kinsfolk would understand that God was offering them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.
26 The next day he appeared to them as they were fighting and tried to reconcile them peacefully, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why are you harming one another?’
27 Then the one who was harming his neighbor pushed him aside, saying, ‘Who appointed you ruler and judge over us?
28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’
29 Moses fled when he heard this and settled as an alien in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.
In other words, all of his training in Egypt did not prepare Moses to deliver the children of Israel.
One day, when he was out, he saw one of his brethren being persecuted and beaten by one of the slave drivers, and Moses killed the guard. Moses looked this way and that way to see if his deed had been seen—but the trouble was he didn’t look up. He should have looked up to God who would have forbidden him to do a thing like this because Moses is 40 years ahead of God in delivering the children of Israel. Therefore God is going to put him out on the back side of the desert.
The sad story of Moses’ impatient anger, his murder of an Egyptian, and its discovery are familiar events. Perhaps Moses thought he could help his people by his own power, prestige, and position. He was wrong, and he had time during the next forty years of his life to contemplate his wrong ideas. Moses had a splendid education (Acts 7:22), but he was lacking in faith. He fought the wrong enemy at the wrong time with the wrong weapon. When you start to look around and ask yourself “Is it safe?” and not “Is it right?” you have stopped living by faith. Sometimes God has to “set us aside” to teach us what we need to know—and to help us forget the way the world does things.
Moses’ impulsive deed sent him to the back of the desert for forty years, just as his impulsive words would keep him out of the Promised Land (Num. 20:9–13). An impatient spirit is a dangerous thing. So far we have seen God’s protection of Moses and His proving of Moses, but God did something else; He prepared Moses for the role he would play in delivering and leading the Israelites. In verses 16-22 we are told:
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.
17 The shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.
18 When they came to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come so soon today?”
19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and even drew water for us and watered the flock.”
20 He said to his daughters, “And where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.”
21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah.
22 She bore a son, and he called his name Gershom; for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”
These young women met with some opposition when they tried to water their sheep. It was more than they and their servants could handle. The shepherds of some neighboring prince, or some idle men that called themselves shepherds, drove away their flocks; but
Moses, though downhearted and in misery, stood up and helped them, not only to run-off the shepherds, but, when that was done, to water the flocks. The women told their father, “An Egyptian delivered us.”
Moses had received all the advantages of Egyptian royalty; no doubt he dressed, sounded, and acted like an Egyptian. Therefore, they assumed that he was one. Moses would stay in Midian, until he meets God in the burning bush that was not consumed. He married Zipporah the daughter of the prince whose sheep he saved. It’s interesting to note that even though Moses was God’s chosen deliverer; he was rejected by Israel, turned to the Gentiles, taking a Gentile bride; afterward, he again appears as Israel’s deliverer and is accepted. And so we find Moses in the land of Midian. For the next 40 years, it will be his home. Two sons are born to him there.
In the desert, he will begin his preparation to be the deliverer of Israel from their Egyptian bondage. It was God’s will that brought Moses to Midian, but there were reasons for it.
The first reason was to shelter him for the present. So we know God will find hiding-places for his people when they are suffering.
Second, he was brought to Midian to prepare him for the great tasks that God had for him to do. His life in Midian, where he kept the flock of his father-in-law, would be of use to him for a couple of reasons.
First, to get him accustomed to hardship and poverty, so that he would learn how to live in want as well as how to live with plenty. Those whom God intends to exalt he will make humble first. Midian also got him used to deliberation and commitment. His life in Egypt gifted him as a scholar, a gentleman, a statesman, a soldier, but none of those accomplishments were of use to him anymore. But Moses still lacked one thing; he was to do everything by divine revelation. He must come to know, by a long experience, what it was like to live a life of close association with God; and that would come from the solitude and withdrawal of a shepherd’s life in Midian. Sometimes God has to “set us aside” to teach us what we need to know—and to help us forget the way the world does things.
Moses’ impulsive deed sent him to the back of the desert for forty years, just as his impulsive words would keep him out of the Promised Land. An impatient spirit is a dangerous thing. I think there’s a lesson here for us. We must have a confident trust in God and follow his guidance. Things that happen to us which seem purely accidental, at first, may afterward appear to have been designed by God for very good purposes. A casual, momentary occurrence has sometimes brought the greatest and happiest change in a man’s life.
Moses is such an important person in the Bible that not only is he mentioned by name close to 700 times, but he is mentioned in every section of the Bible and to get rid of him we would have to tear our Bibles to shreds—which is just what many critics of the Bible have tried to do. At the burning bush, Moses was given a glimpse of the future of the people of Israel. The bush burned with fire and was not consumed. In all of its long history in the midst of hostile peoples, Israel has never been either exterminated or absorbed by another nation.
Just as God was in that bush, so God has been in the midst of this people. And, if you are a Christian God is with you, in fact, Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” That promise is backed up by the event we celebrate at Easter time. Folks, we don’t serve a dead God, like all other religions do. Jesus is alive; He was raised by God the Father and made alive by Him. Because He lives, we also live. It’s a fact, through faith in Him we receive eternal life. I hope you believe in Jesus! The Bible says that if you believe in Jesus you are saved. If you have never done so, you can ask Him to forgive your sins now and to give you eternal life.
Pray this prayer along with me.