One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. ()
Moses had grown up. The beautiful baby of Exodus 2:1 became a man. Acts 7 says:
Pharaoh's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.” ()
Pharaoh’s daughter raised Moses as her son. She named him Moses because he was a descendant of the river. The Nile was sacred. His name signified that she considered Moses as a gift from the gods. He had the best education money could buy. He was a prince, groomed to be a ruler and a judge. Exodus 2:11-22 gives us two examples of his physical competence. First, he killed the Egyptian. If Moses was carrying a sword, he knew how to use it. If he was not carrying a sword, the murder would have been difficult for the untrained. Next, when he saw the shepherds preventing the ladies from watering their sheep, he was able to take control of the situation and rescue the ladies.
At the age of 40, Moses went to see the burdens of his people.
Pharaoh’s daughter had raised him as her son. His Hebrew birth was hidden, covered up and forgotten. However, Moses was nursed by his Hebrew mother. Seeds were planted in the toddler’s heart. Most likely seeds of truth and of the One True God.
God has promised that his word will not return to him void. Isaiah 55:11 says:
...so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ()
The word planted by Moses’ mother in the heart of her tiny son sprouted, grew and bore fruit in the 40-year-old Moses. Perhaps she told Moses about creation and God’s judgment at the flood. It is quite possible that she was the first source from which Moses learned the accounts that later became part of the Pentateuch. Just as in the parable that Jesus told of the seed planted in good soil, the seed planted in the heart of Moses produced fruit. Hebrews 11:24-26 tells us:
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. ()
Moses was trained in all the wisdom of Egypt, and was mighty in word and deed among the Egyptians. However, the Holy Spirit moved in His heart, using the truth that he had been taught possibly up to the age of four. John 16 tells us that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. Moses’ Hebrew mother only had a short time with him as a baby, and then the Egyptians had over thirty years with him. The power that transformed Moses’ life was the power of God working through His word. God told His people “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” () The word of God implanted was strong enough to overcome the indoctrination of the Egyptians. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves. Faith is a gift of God. We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Hebrews 11:24 explains to us that it was faith that moved Moses to go and look on the suffering of his people.
Even though faith grew and bore fruit in Moses’ heart, he still had his Egyptian training to deal with. He had values, judgment and wisdom learned at the feet of Egypt’s best scholars. I am not speaking against education. Education is important, and without his training, Moses would not have left us the Pentateuch. The New Testament Apostle Paul would not have been who he was without his education, and he was very educated. And he said, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” () Moses’ training and education are not the explanation for why he was able to do what he did, and he would, in a sense, need 40 years to “get over” his education. Moses’ training and education did not serve to instill the morals he would later teach. We see this in his actions. Exodus 2:12 tells us:
He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. ()
By looking this way and that, Moses signals that he is thinking about murder. By hiding the Egyptian in the sand, he tries to cover up what he did. Acts 7:25 tells us:
He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. ()
Moses had arrived at the conclusion that God prepared him to be the deliverer of his people. He was trained as a ruler and a judge. He was mighty in word and deed. He was a natural fit for the position of deliverer. And so, he set out to accomplish the task, approaching it with his physical and mental training.
But, he was rejected.
Exodus 2:13-14 says:
When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, "Why do you strike your companion?" He answered, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" ()
Moses was a prince and a judge over them, but by his action, he made himself an enemy of Pharaoh. Moses’ authority and position were because he was part of Pharaoh’s house. The oppression of the Hebrews was the will of Pharaoh and was being carried out by the command of Pharaoh. By his action, Moses set himself against Pharaoh. The human thing to do and the thing that Pharaoh feared was a rebellion. Moses probably thought he could lead an insurrection as soon as his people realized what he was doing, but he was wrong. The Hebrews were not unified and they did not even begin to rally around him. He was rejected before he even started.
The next thing we read is:
When Moses thought his Hebrew brothers would understand that God had chosen him to be their deliverer, they rejected him. When Pharaoh heard what Moses had done, he rejected him. Moses was rejected by his own people and by his adopted people. He became a man without a home.
To avoid Pharaoh, he fled to the land of Midian. He happened to sit by a well and by chance saved the daughters of a priest named Reuel, and he ends up living with that priest and marrying one of his daughters. When Moses’ first son is born, he gives him the name “Gershom.” Gershom is made up of two Hebrew words, “Ger” which means “stranger,” and “shom” which means “there.” Moses, himself, writes about this name and says:
She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, "I have been a sojourner in a foreign land." ()
God’s law, given through Moses, says, “You shall not murder.” () Moses started out by murdering an Egyptian. Moses demonstrated a determination to deliver his people that came from his strength, training and qualifications. God did not bless his effort. Moses spent the next 40 years in the wilderness watching sheep.
In the wilderness watching sheep, Moses did not learn to be mightier in word and deed. He learned to care for wooly creatures just a little smarter than rocks but more prone than rocks to get themselves into trouble. He learned humility, the value of silence and time alone with God. He learned the Sinai wilderness and the voice of God. All these lessons were vital preparation for what He was called to do. The sheep needed food, water and safety, the same things people would need. For all the days of his life, Moses never ceased to meet with God. Exodus 33:7 and following tells how Moses had a tent called the tent of meeting where people would go to inquire of the Lord. Exodus 33: says:
When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. ... Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.
Moses was rejected, a stranger living in a strange land, and it was this that taught him his most valuable lesson.
As a man rejected by his people and by his country, Moses is a type of Christ. Isaiah 53 says of Jesus:
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. ()
In addition, Moses teaches us an essential lesson about salvation. Ephesians 2 says it like this:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
And Titus 3 says it like this:
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, ()
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done...”
Moses was raised up by God to be the deliverer of God’s people, but let me ask you a question. Did Moses part the Red Sea? No, of course not! Moses had nothing within himself whereby he could accomplish such a feat.
Did Moses cause the plagues? No, of course not! Moses had nothing within himself whereby he could accomplish such things.
The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea and the leading of the people were done by God. Moses did not tell God what to do. God told Moses what to do. The deliverance of God’s people from slavery was a work of God from start to finish. Moses’ part was to believe God.
As a stranger in a strange land, Moses learned not to put any confidence in the flesh. We also must learn the same lesson. If we put our confidence in the flesh, we are guaranteed to fail. We will all die and then what will become of what we have accomplished?
However, I am not talking about not having confidence. If we learn to believe God, obey God and listen to God, God cannot fail. We can be the most confident people on earth.
It took Moses 40 years on the backside of nowhere to learn that it is not by works of righteousness that we have done. Some people catch on early and learn fast, but some of us take a lifetime to learn.
If you have not received Christ as your Savior, you are guaranteed to fail, because you are depending on yourself. You may be brilliant like Moses, but trying in your own strength will find you rejected in the end.
If you are a believer, at times, we all need to be reminded of Paul’s words to the Galatians:
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"? ()