Exodus 3:4 | God Changes Outcomes

The family and the community we are raised in makes an impact on our world view and our outlook on life. Yet we could be raised in the most wonderful family and still grow to become a horrible person. Or we could be raised in a dysfunctional family and grow to become a wonderful person. Our past is not the final decider of our future. We are each unique individuals to God and when he speaks the real decider of our future is our willingness to listen and respond.

Moses was raised in the household of the king of Egypt and had every privilege in the world. But he knew and most likely everyone he was raised with knew he was not Egyptian. So, on one hand he was raised with the shrewd evil as a prince of Egypt and on the other hand he was also raised as an outsider which eventually lead to his desire to murder an Egyptian in order to help one of his own people. Because of this family dynamic it seems inevitable that his life would follow this path of murder against his own adopted family. And because of his arrogance he was found out and forced to flee Egypt.  

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Proverbs 16:2 ESV

Our actions are an overflow of what is in our hearts. Our actions are a reflection of our spiritual condition. If you constantly lie to get what you want then in your spirit you are an evil liar. If like Moses you harbor hate in your heart and it spills out into murder then you are an evil murder. Even if my hate has never spilled out into an action of murder that does not mean I am not a murder in my spirit. God knows the state of our spirit. Moses murdered for what was a noble reason in his own mind but it was out of hate and it was wrong.

After a lifetime on the run Moses who once had ambitions to rule like a king of Egypt has lived his life humbly in the wilderness tending flocks and raising a family. He is no longer the murder he once was. It is at this point that God weighs his spirit again. God makes the move to introduce himself to Moses completing the transformation from shrewd prince of Egypt to child and servant of the one true king.

4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:4 ESV

Moses was not ready early in life for what God planned for him. Moses would not have listened to any council from God. Murders never listen they charge forward in a pseudo-righteous anger living as they see fit. But now a life time removed from Egypt Moses is ready to not only hear from God but to recognize the authority of God.

By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. Proverbs 16:6 ESV

We do not control how we are raised and how we are raised is not the final decider of how we live. Moses had to leave the privilege life of his youth and to live humbly in the wilderness. He had three options in this new life. First, he could have planned and plotted his return to power in Egypt. Murder would have only been the beginning of evil if he had lived this life. Second, he could have despaired all that he lost when he left Egypt. He could have become depressed to the point of uselessness. This too would have been an evil because being created in the image of God he has made us for so much more than despair. God made us to live and enjoy him. Finally, the path forward that Moses embraced was a quite life content with anonymity away from the riches and evil of Egypt. It is was from this place that God was able to speak to Moses and he was able to respond “Here I am”.

The worst evil of all would have been if Moses had stayed in Egypt living a worldly life of riches and evil. That is the most fearful place I could imagine. Could anyone hear God speak in such a circumstance? Moses by God’s grace has been prepared for this moment to hear God clearly. And God clearly introduces himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What an amazing moment a lifetime in the making.

5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:5-6 ESV

Dear reader where is your life standing at this moment? Is God calling your name and would you dare turn aside from your current course to pause and hear what he has to say? When I was young God called my name and I was compelled to listen. I am so thankful for being in a place and in a moment where a response to God’s calling turned me away from a life of evil. Jesus is calling would you like Moses respond “Here I am”?

Exodus 2:12 | Unforgiving Social Media

I am continually shocked at what people will post online to social media. The most frightful however is when others post recordings of someone else’s out of control bad behavior. I tell my kids that they should conduct themselves with the assumption that someone is always watching and always recording because in this current world with cameras everywhere is it true. Sometimes our posts will get us fired from jobs or will cause embarrassment to family or community. The Bible tells us that what we speak out loud reveals what is in our heart. Sometimes that evil and bad behavior we try to keep a lid on gets out. I pray no one is recording me at that moment or I think myself clever with a post that is actually self-sabotage. It seems we think we are clever in our sins and Moses who was raised up in the shrewdness of Egypt thought so as well. What is true then is true now. Nothing is hidden forever. What we have done will be exposed.

12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Exodus 2:12 NIV

Moses wanted to be a hero to his people and so he saw an opportunity. He knew it was wrong as evidenced by the evaluation that no one was looking (except for the Hebrew he was rescuing) and the deed was done. This Hebrew that was being beaten by the Egyptian promptly told a few people who told a few people and by the next day everyone in Egypt knew what Moses had done.  

13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. 14 Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. Proverbs 28:13-14 ESV

Moses had not thought through his vigilantism. Murder was in his heart and out of the heart comes the overflow. Consequences are hard. Moses had to flee Egypt and all he had known because of this sin. In the wilderness Moses contents himself to a new life outside of the power and strength of Egypt. I wonder if it will ever be possible for society to walk away from the evil of social media? Many will be forced into that wilderness after the pitch fork mob of cancel culture comes to get them. The casualties on both the left and right are growing.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. Psalms 103:10-13 ESV

Moses deserved what happened. Cold blooded murder is chilling but God is compassionate and restores what is broken. Whatever our sins for those that fear God can put their future lives and their current trust in his perfect hands. God will heal what is broken. God will love the unlovable. He is full of grace and mercy.

Ask Jesus for forgiveness. Speak to him in plain language. That is what real prayer looks like. Talking to him and believing he is in control in spite of our rebellion.

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9 ESV

Exodus 1:10 | Unselfishly Shrewd

Wisdom is usually thought of as a good thing but wisdom can also be abused. The word I would use to describe wisdom abused is “shrewd”. A shrewd manager for example would be someone that is a smart manager but maybe uses that smartness to an unfair advantage. Shrewd brings with it a hint of the devious. The book definition of shrewdness is good judgement that results in an advantage so my definition is too narrow. Shrewd can be a good advantage as well as a devious advantage. The Egyptian King in Exodus chapter one makes a judgment based in the devious shrewdness.

10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with [the Hebrews] or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.” Exodus 1:10 ESV

These people living in Egypt have grown in number and the king has become afraid of what damage they could cause if war broke out. That is a reasonable fear for a king to think about but the second half of his thought betrays his greed to keep the Israelites when he says he does not want them to “leave the country”. Because of this desire to keep them as a benefit to his society the author states that the king wanted to deal shrewdly with them.

The result is that the king came up with a plan of selfish advantage. That plan specifically was to require the midwives to secretly kill any baby boys as they are born. That would be a very shrewd plan indeed. Fortunately, it was not executed very well.

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” 20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. Exodus 1:19-20 ESV

While the king wanted to be shrewd the midwives in response were also shrewd and responded with a lie to cover their own rebellion against his order. The midwives used wise judgment (including lies) toward an advantage. Where the king was acting in selfish advantage the midwives acted in unselfish disadvantage. Their lie could have cost them their jobs or even their lives to do the right moral thing. Because of that unselfish act God blessed the midwives.

While shrewdness seems negative on the face it is not always the case which brings me to a command from Jesus to the disciples that has always been intriguing to me. Jesus commands the disciples to be shrewd but he explains the principle used by the midwives in Exodus.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. Matthew 10:16-17 ESV

The power structure was out to get Jesus (evidenced by his crucifixion on trumped up charges) and Jesus tells the disciples to be smart in their interactions with kings and rulers. Shrewd as snakes is clearly descriptive of the Egyptian king. If he was afraid of the Israelites rising up but still wanted their service in his land then secretly killing boys would qualify as being shrewd as snakes.

Yet look at the second half what Jesus told the disciples. Jesus asked them to also be as innocent as doves and this idea is perfectly represented by the midwives and their actions to defend against the evil request of the king. They lied to the king in an unselfish disadvantage. They took a risk to be shrewd yet they did it innocently. Christ sends his sheep into the world to share the good news that Jesus will restore for us the relationship with our Creator. The good news is that Jesus saves. It is my charge from Jesus to be shrewd about how I interact with those that are hostile. But the shrewdness Jesus demands must be innocent and unselfish toward all.