I’ve known the story of Moses’ life since I was a child.
A Hebrew boy was born at a time when the Pharaoh condemned all infant Hebrew boys be thrown into the Nile.
His mother put him into a basket, he was found and raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter, eventually he grew up to tell the Pharaoh, “Let my people go.”
I really do enjoy this story.
This year in Bible Study Fellowship, we’re studying the life of Moses.
While reading through the first account in Exodus, the part that explains why he left Egypt (and why he was in the desert to encounter the burning bush), one event stuck out.
It was a minute detail I don’t remember learning as a child or even hearing about in the retelling during my high school fellowship meetings.
Did anyone else know Moses once killed a man?
Yes, the great patriarch of our ancestry, the lawmaker, the epitome of faithfulness, is a murderer.
I understand glossing over this tidbit in the elementary school program, but I feel like middle school kids (high schoolers at least) could handle it.
For those of you (like me) who are late to the game on this information, I’ll summarize.
According to Exodus, Moses decided when he was around 40 years old to identify with his Hebrew lineage and reject all things Egyptian.
One day, he was walking among the Israelite slaves, when he noticed a fight.
Sidebar – was he really identifying with the Israelites if he was just wandering around watching them perform slave labor? Shouldn’t he have picked up a brick or something?
As Exodus 2:11-12 tells us,
One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
Not only did Moses kill the guy, he tried to hide him in the sand. Excuse the language, but that’s some Walter White shit right there.
Exodus 2:13-15 continues,
The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?” The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian.
If you’re wondering why Moses is developing a habit of walking around and breaking up fights, it’s clarified in Acts 7:25,
Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.
Moses honestly believed he was saved from the Nile to be the Israelites’ deliverer. As we know now, thousands of years later, he was right.
However, he thought he could do it by himself.
(Killing one Egyptian at a time, I guess?)
Not only was Moses a cold-blooded killer, but he was arrogant as well.
So how did he go from Walter White to the Moses we all know and love?
40 years wandering in the desert certainly helped (before returning to Egypt – not the 40 years you’re thinking of).
God used his time in exile to build his character. To smooth out the rough edges.
Yes, he was ultimately destined to become the Israelites’ deliverer, but at this point in time he was a long way from being of any use to the Kingdom.
Now that I know the full story, I feel cheated.
I don’t know about you, but I love stories of redemption.
(Isn’t that the whole point of the Bible?)
I love knowing a man with such a sordid past could be redeemed and used for so much glory.
In fact, there are 3 key lessons to be learned from Moses’ unfortunate beginnings:
1. Your failures do not define you
I don’t know your story, but I’m willing to bet you’ve never killed anyone. As often as you may picture it in your mind, you have yet to carry out the act.
And even if you have taken that final step, there’s still hope!
No matter the struggle you’re going through or the mistakes you’ve made, they are not what define you.
The choices you make right here, right now to follow Christ and surrender your past to him – that’s what makes you great.
2. God uses our failure and darkness for good
Moses’ story is yet another reminder of the awesome power of God’s grace and mercy. He didn’t just forgive Moses this grave sin – He turned it around for good!
By killing the Egyptian, Moses permanently separated himself from his Egyptian upbringing. He then spent 40 years in the desert, a foreigner in a foreign land, spending every day growing closer to God.
God is bigger than your worst sin.
He is bigger, and He will use it for His glory.
3. We cannot succeed apart from God
Like we now know, Moses actually was destined to deliver the Hebrews from Egypt. He was just about 40 years too early.
God’s plans will come about His way, in His perfect timing.
We can try to rush the process and do things our own way, but we will ultimately fail. It is only through patience and clinging daily to His living Word that we will ever be able to realize our full potential.
He has big plans for us. He wants us to succeed. But we have to do things His way.
So now you know the truth – Moses was a murderer.
But you know what? I’m okay with it.
I actually appreciate Moses’ story more now because I know he wasn’t infallible. He didn’t jump out of the basket ready to save the Israelites. He didn’t go through life set apart as righteous. He was just a man, like the rest of the Hebrews (and the rest of us), stumbling through life trying to find God’s path.
And as it turns out, that stumbling was credited to him as faith.
From Hebrews 11:24-26
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
His story – the full story – gives me hope.
I’ve made mistakes. I have (what I consider to be) grave sins in my past.
But they don’t define me.
I will succeed through Him.
Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis
Have you seen God’s glory in a dark time? Leave a comment letting me know what the Lord has redeemed in your life!
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