Thus far in our study, we've observed in the narrative book of Exodus how God raised up Moses' parents to live by faith in regard to their son. And we've also seen how God intervened to deliver Moses from death. So at this point in our study, we are entering into the part of the story where God is shaping Moses to be the man of God that He intended Moses to be. We all have a calling and giftings specific for our lives, but they must always be shaped by God and used for His purposes and in His perfect timing.
In past sessions, we've discussed the principle of progressive revelations of the Scripture and how God reveals Himself and His unchanging character to mankind from Adam to New Covenant believers. In a like manner, we are going to discover progressively how God matured Moses into His leader. This will serve as an encouragement to us since we, too, must be developed by God into the benei elohim, or the men of God He called us to be. We are commanded to grow into God's truths and into His son's, Yeshua's, character.
If you do a simple word search for Moses' name you will discover that there are 852 times that his name is mentioned throughout the Scriptures. I would say it is safe to assume that he is a pretty important figure as far as our faith is concerned and therefore very important for us to study.
The scripture for our study is Acts 7:28-29 and its corresponding passage in Exodus 2:15-25. So let us begin our study:
Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?' At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. (Acts 7:28-29)
Stephen summarizes a lot in these two verses, so let us go back to the narrative in Exodus in further detail in order to glean the meaning of the original words and narrative.
1. The Deliverance of Moses Thru Divine Intervention
When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well. (Exodus 2:15)
Moses' action was deserving of death. He took it upon himself to represent God to the Egyptians and to the children of Israel, but in light of how he thought that representation should be. While the Egyptians didn't treat the Hebrews well, the particular Egyptian's action the day before didn't deserve capital punishment. It was actually Moses' actions now that had to be punished and this is why we find Pharaoh seeking Moses in order to kill him. At this, Moses flees for his life and goes to the land of Midian.
Up until this point, Moses had been trained in the science of his time. He had been part of the governmental system that was dominating his ancient world. He knew history, arts, geography and languages. Why did he flee to the land of Midian?
Midian was a distant relative of Moses. After Abraham's wife Sarah dies, Abraham marries Keturah:
“Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah...The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah” (Genesis 25:1-4)
We know that Abraham taught all of his household the truth about the One True God (Genesis 14:14) and Midian was no an exception. Abraham's children knew of God and His gracious plan for humanity. While Isaac had been chosen as the heir of the promise, the other children could also enjoy a wonderful relationship with God Almighty. The same truth stands true today. God has always desired for all humanity to be saved. He chose the Jewish people to be a light to the nations and Yeshua of Israel has definitely become that. We are all saved by faith. It is our faith in Yeshua and His ultimate sacrifice for our sins that makes the difference in our lives. Have you placed your trust fully in Him to become all that He created you for?
Abraham's servant (Genesis 24) and later Jacob (Genesis 28) both found themselves by the water wells. So in this narrative, Moses finds himself also sitting down by the well in the land of Midian. The wells were the centers of the agricultural community, especially in arid environments like the Sinai Peninsula. Our Lord Yeshua did the same thing in Samaria (John 4) when He and His disciples traveled from Judea to Galilee. He sat down by the well and had a life changing conversation with the Samaritan woman who, in turn, testified about Him to all the people in her town. At times, we might be like Moses simply running away for our lives, and yet even in our broken state, if we give our hearts to the Lord He can use us as we will see later in this narrative. Have you been repeating the consequences of your disobedience? Do not be discouraged. Repent. Make it right with the Lord and endure the discipline in order for Him to restore you. Let us ask ourselves, “What kind of wells am I hanging around?” Yeshua is our living water. Are we drinking deep from Him? Are we surrounding ourselves with people who give us Biblical council no matter the cost?
2. As God's Children, We Are Here to Serve and Not Be Served
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. (Exodus 2:16)
In contrast to what Moses had experienced with the Egyptian's deity worshipers back in the land of Egypt, the God of Abraham didn't require the subjugation of others but rather each person was to carry his or her own responsibility before Him. It is obvious from the verse above that the daughters of the priest were doing actual work. These daughters of a prominent man in the area were actually laboring and not being dotted and served upon. This was a stark contrast from what Moses had experienced in Egypt. We live in a society today where our expectations are “What can I get out of this? How can this situation work to my advantage?” And yet, Yeshua command His disciples to operate in a completely different way:
“Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28)
We should evaluate how we fit into the relationships around us: our family, work interactions, our relationships within our community? Are we serving the needs of those around us? Are we actively looking for opportunities to serve others?
3. The Calling and Gifting's for Our Lives Are for God's Purposes
The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. (Exodus 2:17)
What an amazing picture of people in power abusing their positions. When the women drew the water and prepared everything for their flocks to drink, it was then that the shepherds arrive on the scene and try to drive them away. When Moses saw this injustice taking place at the well, he was compelled to act. He stood up for the daughters of Reuel. The difference we see this time is that he controlled his anger, driving the shepherds away without anyone getting hurt. The English word “saved” in this verse in Hebrew is H3467 ישׁע yaw-shah', to save or to deliver. Moses acts as a deliver and as a servant for the daughters of Reuel. He rescued them and then drew water for them. This was a very labor-intensive undertaking. God's training program is in progress. Moses' character is being shaped after the Lord's. We see that Moses had a calling on his life and could not resist standing up for the weak. Later on in the scriptures, God calls Moses the humblest man that ever lived. Here we see good seeds being planted. What is the calling in our lives? Are we in partnership with God to use our calling for His purposes? What might we need to change in our lives to make room for the Lord to operate freely?
4. Moses is Rewarded for His Actions: Step One in Redefining His Identity
When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, "How is it that you have come home so soon today?" They said, "An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock." He said to his daughters, "Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread." (Exodus 2:18-20)
When Reuel's daughters came home earlier than expected, their father was curious what happened to them. It seems that shepherds had been harassing his daughters for quite some time. Reuel (רעוּאל) is another name for Jethro and means "friend of God". He was a priest to the Almighty God, the same God Abraham served. Oftentimes, we make separations, compartments, when it comes to history and nations but God's plan from the very beginning was for all humanity to know Him. Abraham was called out to be an example to the nations of God's everlasting love.
Reuel's daughters identified Moses as being an Egyptian. He still looked and acted as a son of Pharaoh and not as an Israelite. But something was different about him; he drew water, he actually did work for them. This kind of behavior would not have been proper for an Egyptian Prince. It is by his actions that we see his identity being changed. We can say we believe something but unless we act upon it in accordance with our beliefs then it doesn't matter because it is not part of us. Shaul (Paul) encouraged the believers in Rome with the following words:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
When Reuel heard of the report about Moses, he rewarded Moses with an invitation to break bread with his family. Abraham had also invited visitors to eat with him and One of his visitors was God Himself. Do we, too, have this kind of hospitable heart? Do we invite people to break bread with us and share with others in fellowship or do we prefer to be "holy hermits" left alone? Do our actions match the convictions of our heart?
It is a process of renewing our minds and making application on what we believe in. While the next verse makes it sound like Moses married right away, in reality, it took time for him to get to that point.
5. Fatherhood is a Training Ground
And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, "I have been a sojourner in a foreign land." (Exodus 2:21-22)
The key word for verse 21 is “content” and in Hebrew, it is H2974 -יאל yaw-al, to begin, to make a beginning, to show willingness, undertake to do, to be pleased, to be determined. Moses had made peace in his heart with his current situation. Back in Egypt, he had been raised by his adopted parents for greatness. His Jewish mother had spoken of his great future as a deliverer of his people, and time would prove this to be true, but for now, we read “he was content”. Shaul (Paul) spoke of this same kind of contentment, as well:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Do we find ourselves being content in the Lord? Or are we striving in life for things, for status, for acceptance, for achievements but to no avail?
Why would Moses name his son Gershom? While Moses had found contentment in the land of Midian, he knew very well that he was a sojourner there. It was not his permanent home. He knew in his heart that he was passing thru the land, and in like manner, we as believers are to not make this world our home. We are to be strangers and sojourners looking and hoping for a far greater place to call our home.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
Hebrews 11 is a faith chapter in the New Covenant. The author of Hebrews was writing to the Jewish believers who were persecuted for their faith in Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel, and he recounted all of the great believers of the Old Covenant Writings. We are called to be a peculiar people. How are we doing? Can the people around us see a difference? Or do we simply blend into the culture of this world so well that it is hard to separate us and the world?
At this point in the narrative, we will now turn to the children of Israel left behind in the land of Egypt. God is not limited by time and space. He is on His game - all the time!
6. Realizing The Source of Our Help
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. (Exodus 2:23)
This verse begins with an introduction to the state of government affairs in the land of Egypt. The King of Egypt had died and the children of Israel groaned for help. Doesn't this sound strange? Is it possible that the people hoped for a change in their lives because they hoped that the King would change his attitude towards them? How often do we put our trust in anyone and anything but God just to find out that we have placed our faith in the wrong place? Our hopes are dashed and our lives are ruined, as a result. In Genesis 10 after the flood, we meet a strange figure named Nimrod:
Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. (Genesis 10:8)
Nimrod was responsible for establishing two of the greatest cities of his time:
Nimrod promised humanity that he would be the answer to their problems. He represented a governmental system that was in opposition to God. California has been in serious drought conditions for years and you would think that people would have eventually given up on mans failed fix and reasoning and have turned to God for help. Yet, we find they instead have turned to billboards that claim: Elect “so and so” to solve California's drought problem. Humanity constantly shifts between two options: choosing God and choosing an anti-God figure. Nimrod created a governmental system that promised to take care of its people. This will also be true at the end of this age. People will elect a man who will be anti-Messiah and thus place their faith in a man rather than trusting in God. Do we trust the government to solve our debt problems? Do we trust the government to be the answer for our lives? We must be honest with ourselves. Time is running out for America. This country's greatness was dependent on its dependency on God and not on a system of government. Times are changing.
The children of Israel are dissatisfied with the way the Egyptians are treating them and turn their cries upwards! They are now ready to be delivered. Up until this point we haven't read any mention of them complaining even though they have been turned from free people into slaves, their children have been murdered and they have been tasked with great burdens.
The people began to recognize their situation for what it actually was. And, they looked up. We can be in bondage and not even realize the impact it has upon our souls. That is exactly what sin does to our souls. We are usually the last person to find out that we have serious problems. We might convince ourselves that we can manage it, we can handle it, but we are simply deceiving ourselves. This is the case with the children of Israel, as well. Finally, they cry out for help to God and stop looking for Pharaoh to change his mind and ease their burdens. The death of Pharaoh could have brought a new wave of hardships. The phrase “by reason of bondage” was first mentioned in Genesis 29:27 in conjunction with Jacob being deceived by his father-in-law and required to work seven more years for his wife. So also, the children of Israel continue to be enslaved and instead of their burdens lightening, they were worked harder than ever.
How about us? Do we realize where our help comes from? Do we cry out to God for His deliverance from bondage? Yeshua encouraged His disciples that following Him is not like following the written Law (Torah):
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30)
We are delivered into His marvelous light, so let us walk as His children of light!
7. In God's Timing, He Is Always On Time
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel--and God knew. (Exodus 2:24-25)
This verse is jam-packed with action words that represent God's heart towards us. Let us look at each of them separately. And God:
- Heard – H8085 שׁמע shâma means to hear, listen, obey. In the garden story found in Genesis 3:8, this word is first mentioned. Adam and Eve heard the voice of the LORD and they hid themselves. Israel is commanded by Moses:
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
It is not like God doesn't hear us. It serves more as a reminder for us that God commands us to listen to Him. Not only does God hear us but He also never leaves us or forsakes us. This truth is never under question. What is under question is our level of commitment to this reality. Do we believe that God is always with us? Do we believe that He is always looking out for our best interest? The children of Israel are getting closer to understanding just that.
- Remembered - H2142 זכר zâkar means to remember, recall, call to mind. This is first mentioned in Genesis 8:1 when God remembered Noah on the ark. Had God ever forgotten about Noah? Of course not, but this word can be interpreted as the time was drawing closer for God to act upon His promises.
I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:15)
Do we encourage ourselves with this knowledge? Yeshua is coming back soon. He is not delaying but giving ample opportunity for all humanity to repent and to turn to Him. Every moment of every day, as we draw in each breath, we are given the opportunity to do so. Do we know Him? Have we placed our trust in His promises?
- Saw - H7200 ראה râ'âh means to see, look at, perceive, consider. This word is first mentioned in Genesis 1:4:
And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
God sees everything but the question we must ask ourselves is do we have eyes to see? Do we see what God sees? Are we so busy with our lives, with our problems, that we fail to see His goodness in this world? God saw that the light was good. God saw the people of Israel. He sees it all. Let us live our lives unashamed before Him.
- Knew - H3045 ידע yâda‛ means to know, be or become known. This is first mentioned in Genesis 3:5:
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
In like manner, the people of Israel needed to know their own situation. God knew all along the horrible situation His people were in Egypt, but now His people were ready to see their God at work, ready to see His mighty hand of deliverance and His great love for them.
As we saw thru the course of this study, God is concerned with humanity. He is at work in our lives for our own good. We are the ones that often forget and turn away from Him. Moses had to humble himself and needed to learn to work hard with these two hands in order to find his contentment. On the other hand, the children of Israel had to come to a place where they could finally see the desperation of their situation and their need for their deliverance. Let us each learn from this narrative and strive to become the people of God He calls us to be.
“Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, But he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.” (Proverbs 13:13)