Thursday, 10 September 2015

Bible Reading: Exodus 2v11-25

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labour. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, ‘Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?’
14 The man said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid and thought, ‘What I did must have become known.’
15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.
18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, ‘Why have you returned so early today?’
19 They answered, ‘An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.’
20 ‘And where is he?’ Reuel asked his daughters. ‘Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.’
21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, ‘I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.’
23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

These verses give us a preview of God’s rescue plan but they also give us a preview of God’s people and their hearts. Three times we see Moses standing up for the oppressed against the oppressor and acting as deliverer.

1. (11-12)Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and Moses strikes down the Egyptian.

2. (13-15)Moses tries to stop two Hebrew’s fighting, but they reject him and he goes on the run.

3. (16-22)Moses delivers Jethro’s daughters from the shepherds and is welcomed.

What are we meant to make of this? Are Moses actions right or wrong? Has he got his timing wrong?  Is he acting independently? Or is he being who God intended him to be?

The problem in this chapter is with Israel not Moses. In fact Moses actions give us a glimpse of God’s coming rescue, Moses sees Israel’s distress(11) just as God does(3:7), Moses strikes down an Egyptian just as God will strike down the Egyptians, and Moses saves and delivers Jethro’s daughters just as God will save and deliver Israel.

In Acts 7 as Stephen makes his defence before the Sanhedrin he refers back to this incident, and provides us with God’s view of Moses actions. (Acts 7v23-29) Moses expects the Israelites to realise that God is using him to rescue them, but they don’t (35)they reject God’s rescuer. A fact highlighted by the Jethro’s, a Gentile, accepting Moses the rescuer.

But why don’t Israel want to be saved? What event is recorded in verse 23? The death of Pharaoh. Traditionally when a new king came to the throne amid much celebration slaves were freed. It’s as if Israel are trusting in political change to bring freedom, and only when it doesn’t happen do they cry out to God.

Moses tries to set them free but is rejected. Hard hearts and rejecting God go on being a problem for Israel as we will see through the rest of Exodus. And even as Stephen concludes at his trial “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors; you always refuse the Holy Spirit.”

If hard heartedness, resisting the Holy Spirit is a problem for God’s people throughout history we ought to check ourselves, these events are recorded as a warning to us, so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Only God saves, as God’s people our hope is not in political change or in anything but God himself, because we are his people, his children in Christ. It is that realisation that will lead us to be quick to cry out to God.  We must make sure that we aren't refusing to listen to God, stubbornly doing things our way.

But there is hope here in this chapter because God is at work.  In chapter 1 it is behind the scenes through the midwives, in chapter 2 it is covertly through Moses mum and miraculously through Pharaoh’s daughter. As chapter 2 draws to a close what has been hidden is made explicit. “God heard, God remembered...God looked...God knew, or was concerned about...”

It is not that God suddenly sees, but these verses summarise God’s response to his people’s cry, he has been keeping his covenant, hence the dramatic increase in population and the protection they have enjoyed as God thwarted Pharaohs plans. But, as Israel, cries out God will act to keep his covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God never abandons his people or his promises. There is immense comfort in that; God sees, God knows, God is at work. And do you see the grace in these verses, Israel reject Moses but God is at work even through their rejection of him, setting the stage for his rescue. The Israelites don’t mention the covenant and yet God remembers his covenant.

Isn't that encouraging.  Failure is not final, God is never inactive but he is at work behind the scenes, keeping his promises. God does not promise his people that we will never suffer, but that suffering will never eradicate his people. Just as Jesus does not promise we will never die for the kingdom of God but promises that the kingdom of God will never die and is worth dying for. Trust in him.

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