image by Ian Dooley from Unsplash
"For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand."
When we read about Moses our go-to is usually the original, factual Exodus account. However, Stephen's account of Moses's story in Acts provides some new light on it, giving a more personal perspective into Moses the person.
According to this verse, Moses was already clear about God's purpose for his life. At that point in time, young as he was, he already recognized that his unique position as the adopted son of Pharoah's daughter not only preserved his life, but enabled him to have the skills, education, and power which his Hebrew peers would not have. He probably considered how he could use his position to negotiate with or influence Pharoah, or how one day he might rise to an even more powerful rank in the palace...
At any rate, it seemed clear to him that God's plan for him to rescue his people would inevitably rely on his privileged position in the palace. Why else would God place him there, right? Who else among the Hebrews had this much power, wealth, and ability, was as well-equipped?
However, the way I see it, Moses's rash murder of the Egyptian was an indication that he had become too complacent. Too self-assured. So sure that he was the chosen one to deliver his people, all the more so because it was so obviously a righteous cause, he took things into his own hands. In typical Lone Ranger/vigilante style. But the murder--despite all his good intentions--was still a murder. And to Moses' shock, he wasn't immediately hailed as the saviour he had seen himself to be.
Reality check: his fellow Hebrews were suspicious of him. To them, his Egyptian upbringing made him not fully "one of us." They rejected him and kept him at a distance, resentful of his privilege, wary of how he could straddle both cultures/races/and the power dynamics. "Who made you a prince and a judge over us?"
And at once, Moses went from prince to criminal. The next thing he knew, Pharoah was after his life. Now he was even worse off than other Hebrews; he wasn't a slave, but he was a fugitive and an outlaw. His life was worth even less than those of the Hebrew slaves labouring in the fields.
To Moses, this must have been devastating. How was he going to rescue his people and accomplish the mission he was so sure he had been born for, when he had officially sunk to the lowest strata of society? Now he was an outcast from Egyptians and Hebrews alike, a man caught between two cultures and belonging to--or wanted by--none.
At this point, it would be only human for him to experience some sort of depression and despair after going through such a drastic erasure of self-identity. Everything he was familiar with, everything he had assumed about himself, was gone. So it looked like he wasn't the chosen one to save God's people, after all.
Despite Moses' zeal and clarity of God's purpose for his life, he had to accept that God would work out His plan in His own way. God took him out of the palace, as simply and surely as He had put him there. God purposefully gave Moses those years in the desert, learning how to farm and care for livestock, the routine, daily duties of a husband, father, shepherd. Preparing him. Changing him. Equipping him, as surely as the prince's education he received in Egypt.
And most importantly, learning to place his life in God's hands.
By the time God spoke to him through the burning bush, he was a different man. When he finally returned to Egypt, he was no longer the naive, sophisticated prince, the foreigner the Hebrews were so suspicious of. He was a man who had experienced hardship and hard labour as they had, who had struggled to survive in the wilderness, who had experienced first-hand what it was like to be at the very bottom of the social system, to be the underdog, the oppressed. Moses was qualified to lead and represent the Hebrews--in a different but equally crucial way.
We may be so sure of God's plan for our lives. We may think it's so obvious, how God is going to use us. And even if we're not wrong--as in Moses' case--God may have major lessons for us to learn first. A path which isn't as straightforward and smooth as we expect or feel entitled to. Like Jeremiah, sometimes we may cry out in frustration and despair: "He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked." (Lamentations 3:9)
What Moses learnt and experienced during that phase, even as he learnt to accept God's providence for his life, even as he had to humbly come to terms that yes, perhaps he wasn't God's chosen one after all--was what made him into the man and leader he eventually became. The Bible calls Moses the humblest man on the face of the earth, and perhaps those years in the desert were the reason why.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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