Glory Out of Failure Meditations: 8. Moses – the folly of good intentions
Ex 2:11,15 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor….. Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian
Num 12:3 Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth
Ex 3:10 I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt
And Moses? I really identify with both Jacob and Moses (perhaps a little with Joseph). I’m a child of God and God has blessed me immensely and yet as I look back I realize I have been a schemer, a grabber who has so often been more concerned about myself than about others who need my love and concern. I note also that, like Moses I have often been someone full of good intentions (for God and His kingdom) but not always with the wisdom and grace that only He can provide. So let’s have a look at Moses. At the beginning of the Jacob story I wrote, if you look for an example in the Bible of someone who started out as a self-centred disaster but ended up as a glorious man of God, you can’t do better than look at Jacob. Well I believe Moses outshines Jacob in this respect.
Moses’ Background: As with Joseph it all starts with the family background. Moses is first and foremost an Israelite. Strictly speaking he shouldn’t even be alive, for Pharaoh had given orders for all Israelite baby boys to be killed at birth (Ex 1:16) but the Hebrew midwives had refused. Thus Moses was born and his mother hid him. To cut the story short, he ends up as son to the daughter of Pharaoh (see Ex 2:1-10) and so grows up as a prince of Egypt. When he is forty (Acts 7:23) he visited his people, ends up killing one of the slave masters and has to flee Egypt (see Ex 2:11-16), ending up in Midian where he acts as a shepherd for a Midianite priest for another forty years. By any measurement, he has blown it. An unwise action in a hasty moment has meant he has thrown away all the possibilities as a prince of Egypt and has fallen to the bottom of the social ladder – as a shepherd. What a fall!
But God…: There it is, the picture of mankind. Eve thinks it will be fine to disregard God’s instructions and does her own thing, leading Adam astray as well. Sin enters the world and everything is different. Centuries later Moses disregards anything he might have learned about not killing (see Gen 9:5,6) and takes a life. In both cases the consequences are immense and, at first sight, the future is hopeless. For Moses the future is empty except for sheep! He has no future except life in the wilderness. And then God turns up. Isn’t that it how it is with every human being? We tend to settle, to grow accustomed to the life we have – in the wilderness. In fact it is so normal we don’t even realise it is a wilderness, but it certainly isn’t the place God has in mind for our destiny.
But why? But why should God turn up and choose Moses to deliver his people out of slavery out of the power of what must be one of the world’s greatest despots? If you were head of an HR department looking for an employee to carry out one of the most difficult jobs going, surely you wouldn’t choose a total failure, someone at the bottom of the social scale? I mean, the guy is a loser from the start, and how is a scruffy shepherd going to look before the riches and pomp of Pharaoh? But perhaps the fact that he is a scruffy nobody means that he will be able to infiltrate Egypt under the watchful eyes of Pharaoh’s slave masters? But no, it’s stupid, even if he gets within a mile of Pharaoh, what then? No it’s a hopeless task, it’s utterly pointless sending this loser on this errand!
Requirements: But now think about what we know of how the story pans out, what we can learn about these things. What happened? God instructed Moses, gave him a couple of simple starter-miracles to impress his own people, then instructions of what to do in respect of Pharaoh, Moses spoke, Pharaoh hardened his heart, and God performed ten miracles of judgment and Pharaoh caves in and Israel are delivered. So, within that summary, what was required of Moses? He needs to be obedient and perform a couple of miraculous signs he’s already done before, and then he is obedient and simply tells Pharaoh what God has told him to say. It’s that simple – when you have faith! And here’s the thing, God knows all things, and that includes the future, what Moses is capable of, what Moses can do with a bit of encouragement. God knows Moses’ potential and that’s all that matters, so all that previous Human Resources stuff counts for nothing.
And Us? So God scours humanity and spots you and me – and He knows! He knows what we’re capable of; in fact before the foundation of the world, He looked into the future of human existence and saw that given the circumstances, we would hear of Jesus and respond. He looked at us and knew our potential. He didn’t choose you because you were good, but because you were you. Yes, a failure, yes with the potential of messing up, with the propensity to reason it out and act wrongly, but also the potential to hear Him, respond to Him and bit by bit change. Works in progress. Be grateful you haven’t got an Israel to deliver but be alert to the Spirit, be alert to what God has on His heart for you – and then get on and do it. He’s the miracle worker, the world changer and because He loves you, He wants you to play a part in it. What fun!