Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lessons from Moses: Run Much?

Today we start a new series entitled “Lessons from Moses.” We are going to take a look at the life of one of our greatest Biblical heroes and see what his life can teach us. Today we will focus on the beginning of his journey and how God used a terrible situation to ultimately bring God glory.

When I was 21 years old I received my call to the ministry. I had been thinking about pastor as a possible vocation but that “thinking” did not prepare me for that call upon my life. In fact even after I spoke to several people about my experience, and let me tell you it was quite an experience, I ran. I was scared! I knew who I was and being a pastor I thought was far beyond anything I was capable of doing. So I ran. I ran for five years.

Now I did not literally run but I ran away from that idea. And I will venture to say that all of us here have run at one point or another, from one thing or another. Our story today is similar in that regard.

Our story begins with Moses after he had grown up. While no age is given in this particular part of Scripture, using other references we know that Moses was about 40 years old here. Anyway, Moses still a member of Pharaoh's family went out to watch the Hebrews work. While he was watching, an Egyptian began beating one of the Hebrew slaves. Moses looked around to make sure no one else was around and determining that it was safe, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. Based on what is recorded in Scripture, Moses probably felt pretty confident that no one would know what he did or at least be able to tie him to this act. However, it was not long, the next day in fact, when Moses tries to break up a fight between two Hebrew slaves that he is met with the comment, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Now remember to the Hebrews, Moses represents the enemy, the boss, the one responsible for the current situation of the Hebrews. He was already disliked so there was no hesitation on the Hebrews part to really try and push Moses' buttons. However, when Moses hears this remark, instead of being angry, he becomes terrified. He instantly realizes that if the Hebrews know, Pharaoh certainly knows, and will kill Moses because of it. In fact Scripture tells us that is exactly what Pharaoh decrees, Moses should be killed. However, before Pharaoh gets the chance, Moses flees and ends up in Midian.

Now the priest of Midian, Jethro, had seven daughters and they came upon Moses sitting by a well. Moses helps these sisters draw water, water their flock, as well as help them fend off some unruly shepherds. Well after the sisters return home their father asked them how in the world have they returned so quickly. They explain everything that Moses did to help them and Jethro tells them to go get this man and invite him to dinner. Moses comes and agrees to stay with this family in Midian, is eventually given Jethro's daughter Zipporah's hand in marriage, and together he and Zipporah have a boy named Gershom, which means “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land”.

This whole story was prompted by fear. It was prompted by Moses running away. It was prompted by Moses not knowing where to turn. In looking at this story there are a few aspects that stood out to me.

Several weeks ago we talked about begin open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit; being open to the idea of listening to and for God. After Moses killed the Egyptian, I feel this point in Moses' life he was at the bottom. He was no longer part of the Egyptian culture and the Hebrews certainly did not want anything to do with him. So where could he turn? Who could he go to for help? He probably felt he was simply and utterly alone. But it was here, at this low of lows for Moses', during this crisis, that I feel truly became the junction of God's opportunity to work within Moses. That can also be God's opportunity to work within us. Just because a situation looks bad does not mean that God cannot make something wonderful out of it. Sometimes when things get stripped away that is when we can hear God the clearest.

Imagine if no one had seen Moses kill that Egyptian. Would Moses have ever left the comfortable confines of the royal palace? Would he have left the luxurious lifestyle, the clothes, the food, the status? Would you? Would I? It took having all of that stripped away to get Moses to be able to listen, and give God the opportunity to work within him. With no where else to turn, with nothing left to lose, Moses was open. Moses was in a state to listen.

This was also a time of testing for Moses. It had already been revealed that Moses had a heart for the afflicted, by how he felt when he saw the Hebrews being mistreated. It has already been revealed that Moses had the courage to stand up in the face of injustice, by the way he intervened when the Egyptian was beating the Hebrew. Moses had already been equipped with the tools necessary for what God had in store for him. He just did not realize it yet. God was testing him to see if when faced with a situation, would Moses trust God and use the gifts he was equipped with for God's glory. God had great things in store for Moses but wanted to give Moses the courage to use them. I think God still tests us today. We are all equipped with different gifts from God but will we use them when presented with the opportunity? Will we trust God's providence or ignore a wonderful opportunity God places in front of us. We never know what God has in store for us, or how vital we are to God's will.

Moses probably felt that his act of murder eliminated him from being a valuable person or a significant part of God's plan. This situation he placed himself in was so bad, so terrible that he was resigned to live a life of wandering, to a life with no home and no people. But God used that situation. God used that situation to get through to Moses. Now God did not cause Moses to kill the Egyptian but God used the situation for God's glory. God used that point in Moses' life to reveal how he was going to be utilized.

And look what God did! Moses became one of the great liberators in history. Moses spoke directly with God. Moses brought us the Ten Commandments. Moses negotiated the release of the Hebrews. Moses became one of our great Biblical Heroes!

When I was running, working retail. It took me several years away from that situation to come to a sobering realization. That this was time that was extremely beneficial for me. God took that opportunity to teach me many lessons that are very valuable to me today. It was not simply time God allowed me to waste. God used the situation, the experience, to continue to equip me for the life he planned for me. God took what I thought was running away time and made it equipping time. If God can do that for me, God can do that for you. Do not run from, but rather run towards. God is waiting...and oh what marvelous things God will do!

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