(This is part 2 – you can read part 1 here)
Last time I was talking about how Jesus used the sermon on the mount to give the people an image in their minds of how things were during the Exodus, so let’s go back too – to the beginning of the nation of Israel.
By the time of Moses, Egypt was the superpower – everything great came from there – architecture, scholarship, technology – Egypt was the world leader in just about everything. There was a famine which you can read about toward the end of Genesis. During the famine, all the money, livestock and land in and around Egypt was sold to Pharoah in exchange for the grain that Joseph had stored. The people even told him that he had saved their lives, so they were glad to serve Egypt in exchange. These people became Israel.
The first chapter of Exodus tells us that a different king came along, a king that didn’t like all these strange non-Egyptians and he feared their numbers. So, under the new king, they went from being servants to being slaves. This was the world that Moses was born into.
Pharaoh had it in his mind to kill all the children in Egypt, so the mother of Moses sent her son down the river to be raised by whoever found him. And that happened to be none other than the daughter of Pharaoh himself. Moses grew and became a man, a son of Pharaoh. Then one day, his heritage, which I’m sure was no secret anyway, came to the forefront.
Moses killed a slavemaster who was mistreating one of his people, and he was forced from the palace into the wilderness. From Moses’ birth to leaving Egypt was 40 years, and it’s all in Exodus 2. Now, the next part is kinda like a movie where the screen is black and at the bottom it says 40 years later…turn the page to Exodus 3, where we find Moses up on a hill somewhere looking after sheep.
Why do you figure the Bible skipped over so much of his life? I mean, he was about 80 years old at this time. Surely something significant had happened in all this time.
I think it’s what we don’t see that’s very significant. I think what God was doing all that time is, he took a man who lived in a dry and thirsty land, who hung out with stinky smelly sheep all day, and turned him into the leader of a nation.
Don’t you think being a shepherd would be a tough job? You guys know about sheep, right? Their dumb as a rock. They are always in trouble, always going off on their own, always about to fall off a cliff or get eaten by a wolf. They have to be tended 24/7, or they will die. If you have kids, you know what I am talking about here.
Amazingly, Moses learned leadership over a period of 40 years in the desert not being around people. And now, God was calling him into action.
You’ve seen 10 Commandments right? With Charlton Heston and Yul Brunner? After making sorry excuses to God, Moses goes back to Egypt and confronts Pharaoh wearing his bedsheet and Pilgrim belt. “Let my people go. You darned dirty ape!” And he’s always got that grimace on his face like someone’s poking him in the kidney.
And Pharaoh’s sitting on what looks like a wicker chair inlaid with gold, and his answer was, “HAHAHA! Moses, begone from my sight.” So God brought 10 plagues upon the people of Egypt, culminating in the death of every first born male child. At that time, Pharaoh told Moses to get his people and get gone.
It was God who did it all. God called Moses, God performed the miracles, God protected his children, God brought the mighty down and lifted up the weak and oppressed. He freed them from generations of horrible treatment and slavery. And because of everything our great God did for these people, in return, they complained because they were hungry and thirsty, and told Moses they had been better off in Egypt - because if memory serves, it was Egypt who has saved them from the famine to start with.
Listen. I get it. I am a nostalgic kinda guy. I love to sit around with my family and talk about the great times we have had together. Every summer when I was a kid, on the weekends, I remember my mom cooking up the fried chicken, and me and my dad would go into town and pick out a couple of ice cold watermelons, and we had a giant picnic table and the whole family would sit and eat.
I miss those days. I miss being a kid. Being an adult is hard. But there’s no way I would go back to that. I’ve come too far. God is trying to move me forward, into great and wondrous things I can’t even imagine. God has promised good things to us, but we can’t have them if we don’t move ahead. I love those memories but if I spend my life looking back, I’ll never get to taste and see what God has for me tomorrow, next month, next year. The future starts now, in the present, and it starts by following God and trusting Him for everything.
What have you not trusted God with? Are you stuck in the “good old days?” Look to God! Look ahead! It’s ok to remember where you came from – it’s your story of how God brought you out of slavery! But you can’t be free if you stay in the past in your mind – trust God and he will provide everything you need!
Tomorrow we will look forward – to what Jesus had to say about our hunger and thirst – but for now, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what areas in your life you can trust God more.