There is so much greatness in Moses’ story that we can easily overlook the extremely low point he reached in his life before God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
As a 40-year old man, raised in Pharaoh’s courts, Moses fully knew he was being spared from the heavy oppression endured by his fellow Israelites. After witnessing this oppression first-hand, he snapped and killed one of the Egyptian slave drivers. Word reached Pharaoh, and Moses fled to the desert wilderness.
Moses settled among the Midianites. The 40-year old Moses had a sense of his destiny. He wanted to see his own people delivered, but he took matters into his own hands and it totally backfired. A fugitive, in a foreign land, under a false identity, following around his father-in-law’s sheep.
Fear of the king’s rage may have driven him to the desert – but it was the shame and the fear of failure that kept him there. Not just for a few weeks, or even a few years – he spent 4 decades in the desert wilderness. Fugitive, foreign land, false identity, follower of sheep. His unwillingness to face his past was really an unwillingness to walk into his destiny.
And that’s when we read about the burning bush interruption. When God spoke from the burning bush, He said nothing about Moses’ past. He didn’t bring up the murder, He didn’t bring up the 40 years in the desert. But God did bring up that there was an entire nation waiting to be delivered, and Moses was going to stand before Pharaoh and say “Let my people go!”
When I focus on Moses as the fleeing fugitive, it is very easy to be judgmental. Why would God trust this guy with anything – let alone the greatest leadership role in the history of the Hebrew people? But God saw past all of that – He knew Moses’ heart. He knew Moses would be the meekest man on earth – that he would yield to the power and presence of God.
Yielding to the power and presence of God is what makes the difference. It is not our job as Christians to go around reminding people of their past. It’s our job to remind them that God has a brighter future when we yield to Him.
Moses did eventually get there. It took him 30 chapters and 9 verses, but he eventually went from “hid his face from God” (Exo. 3:6) to “if your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Exo. 33:15).
It’s time to lean into the burning bush and hear God’s heart for the lost. It’s time to surrender your past to Jesus and to trade it in for the power and the presence of God.
-Reverend Josiah Hodgett-