Moses, by Melissa Gibbs

Moses, Exodus 1-4:18

Some days, I will struggle to think of something to pull from the days reading, and other days, I will struggle to condense what should be 3 or 4 days worth of blog entries into one post. This is one of those days! We are back into the narrative history of the nation of Israel, picking up roughly 300 years after the end of Genesis. The Israelites have multiplied from a group of about 70, to a nation of about 2,000,000 (number based on the census taken after the Exodus). And no matter how Pharoah tried to oppress them, they continued to multiply. God still works that way today. Wherever Christians are persecuted or oppressed, the Gospel flourishes! So Pharoah intended to stop population growth and limit the strength of the nation by eliminating all of the baby boys born to the Hebrew women. But the two midwives who received his orders (who were obviously representatives of a much larger contingent of midwives), disobeyed and then lied to him. The Bible says that God blessed the midwives, which may seem strange given that they disobeyed an authority figure and also lied about it. But God did not reward them for lying, He rewarded them because they feared Him. God is always more interested in our hearts than in our actions. And furthermore, while we are instructed to obey our authorities, God's moral law is a higher authority. We are not expected to obey laws that contradict God's laws. The Egyptian midwives had a very difficult decision to make, knowing that disobedience of this kind could result in their own deaths, but they feared God over man, and were blessed for it.

Into this setting, Moses is born but must be hidden from Egyptian soldiers. The familiar picture of Moses floating down the Nile in a basket, which seems pretty reckless, is an exaggeration of what the text actually says. "She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby's sister then stood at a distance to see what would happen to him." Much better. The hope was that someone would find him and take him in, and as God would have it, that someone is Pharoah's daughter, who has the power to spare his life. And as a bonus, Moses' Mom gets to raise/nurse him for a few years AND get paid for it! Moses is then raised as the Prince of Egypt, learning all kinds of things about their language and culture that would come in handy years later. As an adult, he begins to reconnect with his people, the Hebrews. His heart as their potential deliverer is revealed when he "takes the law into his own hands" and kills an Egyptian soldier guilty of beating a Hebrew slave. Moses was passionate about bringing justice to the Hebrews, but his methodology was all wrong. He wasn't acting as an agent of God, but a vigilante renegade. So he is removed from the scene for 40 years and given time to mature. He marries, starts a family, and tends sheep for his father-in-law Reuel (also called Jethro).

And then he sees the burning bush. I recently completed a Bible study by Priscilla Shirer called Discerning the Voice of God. She went into great detail about this episode. Apparently, bushes burn all the time in the desert, which actually makes sense when you think about it. The fact that this one wasn't consumed is what drew Moses attention, but he could have missed it. If burning bushes were a common sight, he could easily have passed right over it in his busyness or apathy. Priscilla used that illustration to parallel the way we often miss the ways that God is trying to speak to us. We may have burning bushes around us right now that we are not taking the time or interest to investigate. But Moses does investigate and is addressed by God Almighty. As we all learned as children, Moses is asked to present himself to Pharoah and demand the release of the Israelites. I can't imagine how daunting that assignment would have been and am pretty sure my response would have been just as "underwhelming" as Moses' was. Basically, Moses presents 5 different levels of resistence to God's command, and we can identify with every one of them...

1) who am I? ( I am not good enough)
2) is this really you? (did I hear that right or am I making it up?; tell me it's really you)
3) what will others say? (I'll be humiliated or ostracized or teased)
4) I can't do it ( this job is too hard; You are asking too much)
5) I don't want to do it

God patiently responds to each one, even giving Moses several "signs and wonders" to authenticate Himself. Because we now have the Holy Spirit and the written Word, God does not need to speak to us in such flashy ways. He speaks directly to our hearts. And while we may think a burning bush preferable to the still, small voice of the Spirit, the ancient Hebrews would gladly have traded places for the privilege of being able to hear from and speak to God at any time. God still places "burning bushes" in our lives if we will just take the time to notice them.

About Melissa Gibbs:

 Melissa is the mother of four boys and the wife of her junior high sweetheart, JD.  He is the President of Joe Gibbs Racing and the son of NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs.  JD and Melissa have been married 16 years and are actively involved with Young Life, Motor Racing Outreach, their church, and other ministries.  Their youngest son Taylor is nearing completion of a 3 year treatment protocol for leukemia, which has been a powerful faith walk for their family.  Since his diagnosis, Melissa has been called upon to share their family's testimony with many local churches.

 Visit Melissa at http://chronologicalbiblein2010.blogspot.com/

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