Humbled. It’s what we all need to be.
God broke Moses of all self-will with one resounding failure. With one self-inflicted, fit of wrath and grasping for control, He broke Moses of pride and self-will, with one incident and forty years to think about it. And then, just when Moses was so off the grid so far that no one would notice him, THEN God called his name.
From the beginning Moses must have known that he was special and unique. Read Genesis 1-4. There was a death warrant put out for all Hebrew boys born under the Pharaoh of that day. First he ordered the midwives to kill the male babies immediately once they were born. These midwives disobeyed the ruler’s orders and God blessed them for it. (More on that in another blog later.) Then he ordered all of his people to throw the male Hebrew newborns into the River to drown and/or to be eaten by crocodiles. I wonder how many Hebrew boys in that day and age were sacrificed. The Bible doesn’t say. But it does say that Moses’ mother was afraid enough that she hid Moses for 3 months and when she could hide him no longer she made a little ark for him. Maybe she figured that if God had saved His people in an ark before in the times of Noah, that He would do it again. And Moses was saved! This was a miracle! A daughter of Pharaoh drew him up out of the water and took him as her own son. But, as a special God-twist to the story, Moses’ sister was standing nearby when Moses was found. She offered to find a nurse-maid for the infant. Pharaoh’s daughter agreed and the sister took Moses’ back to his own mother to be raised and weaned! And Pharaoh’s daughter paid her wages to do it!! God provided that they should still have contact with their beloved son, and the oppressor even paid for it!! Only God can put a twist in a story like that. Moses must have known his true identity, his true ancestry, even though he was raised in Pharaoh’s house.
He must have heard the stories of a promised Deliverer coming to save his people. Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head And you shall bruise His heal.” And later in Genesis 15:13-16, “Then He said to Abram: Know certainly that your descendant will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites in not yet complete.” God has His ways and means and times. He knows exactly when the deliverance is coming to pass and how. Of course Moses would have heard all these stories told as oral history since Moses himself was the one who recorded the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. So he grew up hearing about the oppressor and the deliverer. And when he was grown, and adult man, somewhere around 40 years old, he tried to step up and take his place, but his time had not yet come.
Exodus 2:11-15 “Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?” Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!” When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.” Moses knew he was called to be part of the deliverance of Israel from the oppression in Egypt, but instead of seeking God and God’s ways, he took matters into his own hands, literally. He killed a man, no trial, no judge, no jury, just took matters into his own hands and killed him. Moses’ sin was found out.
Moses was a fugitive. Pharaoh wanted to have him executed for his crime and he ran away. How many men and women are sitting in jails across the globe right now, for crimes they did truly commit and yet God has a plan to humble them and use them to bring deliverance to millions? Yep, God is that big. His plan is that sovereign. He can use anyone He wants to. Moses lived in obscurity for the next forty years in the dessert. He was separated from his family and his people, the Hebrews in Egypt. He has a call on his life and desire to do something great for God, to help bring the deliverance but his sin separated him from his destiny. Moses all but gave up. He was content to marry someone and settle down and become a shepherd. God however, had other plans. When the fullness of time had come, God called him.
Moses was off tending the sheep, grazing them on the side of “Mount Horeb, the mountain of God.” He sees a miraculous sign, a bush burning with fire, yet not consumed, and he goes to investigate. That bush, was consumed with the presence of God. (Later God would represent Himself in a pillar of fire as He lead His people out Egypt through the wilderness.) Moses approaches the burning bush and the first thing God says from the bush is…to call Moses’ name. The name the Egyptian princess, his adopted mother, had given him, his name which means, “Drawn Out.” How appropriate!! She drew him out of the Nile and saved his life. God drew him out of Egypt and saved his life. And now God was calling him to go and draw God’s people out of Egypt and out of oppression, to save their lives. Through all the ups and downs and bumps and bruises and coincidental things that seem completely unrelated, God has a plan through and for it all.
This time around Moses was not quick to draw first blood. God called him out and then identified Himself, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the od od Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” Maybe he was ashamed, or thought God would destroy him for his past sins, but God didn’t even stop to give that concern a breath. He immediately started in on His plan for saving His people, the Hebrews, and how he was going to use Moses to do it. Earlier, when he was younger, he was all too ready to jump in with a wrathful had and right the wrongs of the world. But this time around, when God calls him to be His ambassador, Moses’ response is completely different. Exodus 2:11 “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’” God’s quick response and answer to that problem and may others, “I will certainly be with you.”
That is the essence of humility: when we give up on trying to do things in our own strength and switch to doing what God says to do knowing that our only strength is that He is with us.
Of course, the rest is History. Moses and God go on to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the desert, right to Mount Horeb to worship God there. God’s word of deliverance certainly came to pass. It wasn’t neat or easy like we expect God’s will to be but, it’s God’s way of doing things. It’s a way that breaks us of self-will and pride and instead creates in us a humility that makes us useable for great and mighty things BY GOD.
This is Moses’ story of being humbled. What’s yours?