Introduction: In Exodus 2, we enter a place where, for young Moses, one of the great enemies of faith, namely, disillusionment, is slain by the work of God in his life. I think it is a truism of any age that the optimism of youth can quickly change to disillusionment. Moses knew by experience what it meant to be disillusioned, and yet, in the end, what joy for him to discover that, much to his surprise, God had been at work when he thought his whole life’s plan lay in ruins! Are you disappointed in life? Have your own kindred betrayed you? Do you have vocational, parental, or health issues which press down upon what used to be your buoyant view of life? Has your career turned into tending smelly sheep in the back of beyond when you used to be the rising star in the palace of Pharaoh? Then this section of the life of Moses is for you! Using insights on this period of Moses’ life from Dr. Ed Clowney’s book, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament, may we be greatly encouraged to see that “what men and devils meant for evil” God meant for good.
Monday: read Exodus 1:8-11; 2:11 and Hebrews 11:24-25. Disillusionment for God’s people started when the first prince of Egypt, Joseph, was forgotten, even though he had been a blessing to the whole land during days of famine. By the time of Ex. 1:22, the Pharaoh “who knew not Joseph” decreed that all new-born males of Joseph’s race were to be killed and thrown into the Nile river. Moses himself is saved only because God moves the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter to adopt him into her family, raising him up to be a second great Hebrew prince in Egypt! Now the question is, as Ed Clowney puts it, “What calling did Moses have as a prince in Egypt? God had made Joseph a blessing to Egypt and Israel alike. But now the Egyptians were exploiting the people as slave labor. Their whips lashed out to exploit, to torture, and to abuse. Must Moses become in some way their deliverer? Yes, he must choose, choose between Egypt and Israel, between rule and slavery, between luxury and agony.”
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for the ringing testimony of Heb. 11:24-25! By God’s grace, Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and chose the side of the mistreated people of God, over the sinful, sensual and fleeting pleasures of Pharaoh’s court! How we should thank God that He plants in our hearts the Gen. 3:15 “enmity” which leads us to hate sinful pleasures just as Moses did. Behold Moses’ aversion towards the sinful pleasures of Egypt! In spite of the temptations of that place, Moses was given an appetite for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which made bitter bondage something he would embrace in order to save his people and follow the God of his fathers.
Tuesday: read Exodus 2:11-15. But now comes the great disillusionment. Those very Hebrews he risked everything to save, by killing the Egyptian who abused one of them, now rejected Moses, using words of rebellion in Ex. 2:14 which were against all that Moses stood for: “Who made you ruler and judge over us?” What a shock! Moses had hoped, as word spread of his heroic deed, that Israel would recognize God’s call to him to be their leader, and that together they would throw off the yoke of Egyptian slavery! But just one day later “in the malice of that Israelite Moses saw not only the rejection of his leadership but the certainty of his betrayal. No Egyptian was witness to his stroke for liberation, but his own people were ready to use his deed against him” (Clowney). What a devastating change of events. Having given up the riches of Egypt for the privilege of leading God’s people, he must have felt that all his heroism and sacrifice were wasted. Where was God in all this?
Meditate and Pray: How Moses must have cried out to God as he high-tailed it out of Egypt in Ex. 2:15. His heart-cries (and ours, after shocking disappointments) can be well summed up in these words from Psalm 77:9-10: “Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has He in anger withheld his compassion? Ah, but notice how faith responds to such a cry of despair, and may the Lord always answer our cries of hopelessness with such words of quiet confidence: “Then I thought, to this will I appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the deeds of the Lord.”
Wednesday: read Exodus 2:14-15, Acts 7:23-29 and Hebrews 11:26. Stephen, the first martyr of the early church, in the last speech of his life, dwells at length on the life of Moses, saying of him: “He thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not” (Acts 7:25). Don’t you think that Stephen identified with such rejection? Though he had argued so effectively in testifying to the Gospel that none of his fellow Jews could refute him (Acts 6:10); though his very face shone like an angel in his winsome witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life (Acts 6:15) – though all this would have surely made Stephen hopeful that “his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them,” yet they did not. Instead, they betrayed him as they had done Moses. How heart-breaking! How then could God bring comfort to these great messengers, Moses and Stephen, when their own people betrayed them so cruelly?
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for the clear-eyed vision of faith by which Moses and Stephen “looked ahead to their reward” (Heb. 11:26). Thank God that He will never put one of his own in a position of life and death, like these two faced, without giving them the assurance of their coming reward of eternal life, which always outweighs the sufferings inflicted by men. Is this not what hymn # 587 in our hymn book testifies to in verse 2?
That martyr first, whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave;
Who saw his Master in the sky,
And called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong:
Who follows in His train?
Thursday: read Exodus 2:14-15, Acts 7:27-35 and Hebrews 11:27. Once again Stephen highlights the disappointing rejection of Moses by his own people. After forty years in Midian as a refugee from Egypt, the verdict against Israel’s hard-hearted unbelief is still the same (Acts 7:35): “This is the same Moses whom Israel had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’” My, how persistent God is: bringing back to Egypt and to His people the very same man whom they had rejected forty years earlier! How hard for Moses to face going back to those people, and to that cruel Pharaoh! No wonder we see Moses, later in Exodus 4:13, trying to find any means of escape from returning to that land. In himself, he had not the will-power to go back in fulfillment of his calling. How then would Moses find the strength to persevere in order to be the deliverer out of Egypt?
Meditate and Pray: Thank God once again for the insight which God gave Moses, to help him endure years of disappointment and then to find the strength to face the same old enemies who had so betrayed him in his youth. As Hebrews 11:27 puts it: “Moses persevered… because he saw Him who is invisible.” What an antidote for all our heart-breaks and disappointments! To “see” the face of Jesus Christ, though invisible to the natural eye! To count disgrace for the sake of that beautiful Savior “as of greater value” (Heb. 11:26) than the “riches of Egypt.” Is, then, one glimpse of Christ by faith worth so much to Moses and to us? Yes. We can see in the unseen Christ that which is more substantial than the visible treasures of this world. God grant us such a discerning faith which properly estimates the real value of faith’s inheritance, versus what we see by sight down here. Even when we lose, for a time, the most precious relationships of this life, even loved ones in death, may we be assured by Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Friday: read Exodus 2:15-25. During forty years of exile, God remembered Moses and blessed him with a wife, Zipporah, daughter of that God-fearing priest of Midian, Jethro (see Exodus 2:16-22). Moses had two sons by this woman, the eldest of whom is identified in Exodus 2:22 as “Gershom,” a word referring to Moses as an “alien” all of his days in that foreign land. The second son is identified in Exodus 18:4 as “Eliezer,” meaning “My God is my helper,” for, as Moses explains, “My father’s God was my helper; He saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.” What eloquent testimony to the faith of Moses in this faithful God, who was with him in all his troubles, even as He had been with his father.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that He is a “remembering” God, who not only remembered Moses in his exile over forty years, but also remembered His people in their groans and cries in Exodus 2:24. Thank God, moreover, that His memory extends not just to our persons, cries and needs, but (even more enduringly) to His covenant. He can no sooner forget us than He can forget His word of covenant promise “to be our God and the God of our children.”
“Lord, settle this in our minds – that you will not forget our names, written in “marks of indelible grace” in your covenant of grace. When we feel weak, and wonder if our whimpers and groans can ever reach your lofty throne, remind us that there is One who wears our names in Heaven, our covenant High Priest, Jesus Christ. God can no sooner forget us than He can His own Son, who stands as our Mediator before God’s throne! How does hymn # 463 put it?
My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in Heav’n.