Series on Exodus, I The Calling of God's People, B The Confirmation of Moses Text: 2:11-25, Title: Patient Preparation


Exodus is the book which records God's turning the nuclear family of Jacob into a great nation, ruled by God and in covenant with God. This multiplication is a testimony to the promise God made to Abraham that his seed would be exceedingly numerous. But the organization of the nation was accomplished through a great deliverer, Moses. Initially we saw Moses preservation through his parents' faith and God's providential care in making him a resident in the palace of Pharaoh where he became learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. This new period of Moses’ life is his second forty years. It represents his confirmation for the great task of leadership. we see here three things about Moses’ preparation to deliver his people that apply to all God’s servants: the temperament of the servant, the training of the servant and the timing for the servant of the Lord.

I The Temperament of God's Servant

You will remember that the book of Hebrews says that Moses, when he was grown, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 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. Now this description of Moses suggests that he was full of faith in the living God. He had character. Chuck Swindoll writes, “Ministry is a character profession. To put it bluntly, you can sleep around and still be a good brain surgeon. You can cheat on your mate and have little trouble continuing to practice law. Apparently, it is no problem to stay in politics and plagiarize. You can be a successful salesperson and cheat on your income tax. But you cannot do those things as a Christian or as a minister and continue enjoying the Lord’s blessing.”  Moses believed in the destiny of his people as God had revealed it to his forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and that is why the author of Hebrews says that Moses suffered humiliation for Christ, because Abraham’s seed in whom the nations would be blessed, is Christ. But Moses had much to learn. He made his choice the day he went out to visit his brothers and saw one of them being mistreated and ended up killing the Egyptian overseer. Referring to the death speech of Stephen the martyr before the Sanhedrin in Acts 7:25 we read, Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. And as we read on Stephen retells the story from Exodus 2, but he makes clear Moses’ intent. He says "the next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, Men you are brothers. why do you want to hurt each other? They said, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us?” Obviously Moses saw himself as a deliverer, but they did not. In fact God had not yet appointed him to the task. Here was a very brave man, but a rash man. This was his temperament, tremendous conviction, but all too willing to take matters into his own hands. He was like Peter saying, I'll never deny you lord, but the Bible says Moses was afraid just like Peter and so he fled to Midian which was God's plan after all because Moses was not ready. Phillips Brooks said “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.” So Moses was trained in the desert of Midian for forty years because it took that long to humble him. Numbers 12:3 says, Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than any man on the face of the earth. And to think it only took 40 years. What does it take for us to be prepared to serve?

II The Training of the Servant of the Lord

So Moses arrives in Midian, and he's still a courageous deliverer on his own, as we read in 2:15-21, ...but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.  Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock. When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?” They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.” “And where is he?” he asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.” Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. In this way Moses was invited into the family of Reuel, also called Jethro. But then he becomes a shepherd for forty years. The Midianites lived in present day Arabia. They were a nomadic people so it is hard to pinpoint their location exactly, but they lived south of Moab and Edom and across the sea in the wilderness of Sinai. This itself was pretty good training for Moses who would later have to lead God's people in that wilderness. However the primary reason why he spent forty years there was personal preparation. It was a terrible disappointment to the would-be deliverer. He says in 2:22, I have become an alien in a foreign land. Now he is neither Egyptian or Hebrew. How incredibly humbling. Most people would say forty years is too much time to learn a lesson. I think it is a measure to some extent of the greatness of the vessel God was preparing that it took so long. Moses had an extraordinary task. It was recognized at his birth somehow. Again it’s kind of like Peter and Paul. Peter was the biggest pain yet the leader of the apostles and he had to be humbled. Paul was a persecutor of the church before he became its most powerful preacher. There's a pattern here. If you think forty years was too long look at Numbers 20 where Moses twice strikes the rock which yielded water in the desert. God had told him to speak to it. Because of his anger and impatience he is forbidden from entering the promised land. Lori Anderson, a professional animal trainer, had a dog that developed a bad habit. Every time she hung wash out on the clothesline, the dog would yank it down. Drastic action was called for. She put a white kitchen towel on the line and waited. Each time the dog pulled it off, she scolded her. After two weeks the towel was untouched. Then she hung out a large wash and left to do some errands. When she came home, the clean clothes were scattered all over the yard. On the line was the white kitchen towel. Moses had still not learned all the lessons either even though he was more humble than any other man. It should be a stern warning to all of us, who think we stand, to take heed lest we fall. The root of sin is bitter and long lasting and always capable of overtaking us. No matter what your calling, you never stop needing teachers.  The great musicians never stop taking lessons, never stop trying to improve. That’s why boxers have trainers and ball teams have coaches.That’s why professional golfers are constantly going back to trainers to correct their problems. That’s why good teachers never stop studying and learning.

III The Timing for the Servant of the Lord.

Not only do we learn from our text that Moses was not ready, but the people were not ready. First they had to cry out to God as we read in 2:23-25 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. God is not in a hurry, though some people might think he is. Charlie Brown says to Lucy in the cartoon Peanuts, "Someone has said that we should live each day as if it were the last day of our life." “Aaugh!" cries Lucy. "This is the last day!  this is it!" She dashes away screaming, "I only have 24 hours left!  help me! help me!  this is the last day!  aaugh!" Charlie Brown, left alone, muses, "Some philosophies aren't for all people." And so our text says God remembered. It is good for us to remember too. God had made a promise. He was compassionate towards his people but this compassion is tied to the promise he has made to them through Abraham which is irrevocable. Ultimately it had to be God's timing. Thus Moses is prepared for the right time. Sometimes today people rush to minister before they are ready. I am reminded that Paul warns us not to lay hands on a man, that is, to ordain him, hastily. Our timetable is often not God's timetable, but we need to realize that without God Moses efforts would have been worse than laughable. God later says I have come down to rescue my people, I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians. God gave Moses miraculous signs and he made the people listen to the message. More we will see later, but suffice it to say, if it was not the right time there would have been no deliverance.


This text has a lot to do with time. Moses was in a hurry, and God was not. Is God ever in a hurry? God prepares the people for the task and the task for the people. How much prayer and waiting, how much training and waiting is enough? Our world is really in a hurry but we need to seek the Lord and wait upon Him. Henry David Thoreau, author of “Walden” is famous for his reflections on simple living in natural surroundings. He said, “You cannot kill time without injuring eternity. Time is God’s gift to be used for eternity.” John R. W. Stott once admitted the truth that many of us have felt but failed to confess:  "The thing I know will give me the deepest joy -- namely, to be alone and unhurried in the presence of God, aware of his presence, my heart open to worship him -- is often the thing I least want to do."