Ever felt like God wasn’t working as fast as you think he should?
I think that would describe, at one time or another, every Christian who’s ever lived.
Enter the story of Moses.
But first, a little context.
After the death of Joseph (the “coat of many colors” Joseph), things went downhill in Egypt.
The Bible puts it this way:
“Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.”
Due to paranoia that developed at the increasing number of Hebrew people living in Egypt, Pharaoh had a plan: enslave the Hebrew people. Beat them. Terrify them. Show them who’s boss.
Sadly, slavery is nothing new, having been in play for millennia. What ensued in this particular story was oppressive and cruel slave-bondage of the Hebrew people. 400 years of it.
Again, the Bible describes it this way:
“So [the Egyptians] put slave masters over [the Hebrews] to oppress them with forced labor,…and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.”
Worse – far worse – Pharaoh ordered genocide of all male Hebrew children. Eradicate all the males and soon the Hebrew race no longer exists. Pretty simple.
But there was one problem: the Hebrew midwives feared God and disobeyed the king’s orders to murder babies.
The Hebrew women wouldn’t obey? Pharaoh had a simple solution.
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his (Egyptian) people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
Most, even non-Christians, are familiar with the story of Moses’ birth and miraculous survival – how he was placed in a basket as a newborn baby, and sent down the Nile River only to be found by, of all people, Pharaoh’s daughter.
While Moses was being cared for and raised in Egyptian luxury, in chapter 2, we read:
“The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.”
Simple logic dictates they’d, no doubt, been crying out to God for help for centuries.
And Moses, living in the midst of his daily tasks, would have heard those prayers and cries every single day of his life.
I can imagine Moses thinking to himself, “Is God deaf? Why isn’t he doing anything to help my people?? Come on, God! Hurry up!!”
God was not deaf. And he wasn’t sitting idly by either. Jesus would later say,
“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
Further, God never sleeps nor slumbers, the psalmist wrote. Contrary to what Moses was thinking – and, most likely, most of the Hebrews as well – God was simultaneously protecting his people while preparing Moses for something far greater than he could’ve ever imagined as a cocky young man of 40 years.
But Moses has no interest in waiting on God to implement his plan.
So, Moses decided to take things into his own hands.
This was a horrible idea.
“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 (buried) him in the sand.”
Translation: Hey God, I’m sick and tired of waiting on you so I’ll rescue these people myself – starting with murdering this Egyptian taskmaster. (I wonder if the memory of this incident stung Moses’s heart when, while receiving the Ten Commandments from God, God said, “You shall not murder.”)
God doesn’t need our help. What he wants is our faith and trust and courage, made available to us in Christ Jesus.
What happened after Moses’ rash decision to “hurry God along” was just the opposite of everything Moses had thought would happen.
Not only did his murderous act disgust the Hebrew people (the very people who wanted to be rescued), God sentenced Moses to forty years in the desert.
Moses would be 80 before God would call him from the burning bush.
***You can read the rest of the story in the biblical book of Exodus.***
Moses is a case study in the sin of trying to “hurry God along because I know better than he does.”
There are numerous examples of this painful mistake in scripture. Here’s one other passage to which I’d like to draw your attention.
Centuries later, the prophet, Isaiah, was warning the Israelites (yes, these same Israelites) not to get cocky and try to “hurry God along.”
“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God. But watch out, you who live in your own light and warm yourselves by your own fires. This is the reward you will receive from me: You will soon fall down in great torment.” (50:10-11)
Rather than “trust in the Lord and rely on God,” arrogance blinded Moses and led him to make a horrible decision. He trusted “his own light” and relied on “his own fire.” Rather than wait on God to “bring light”, Moses manufactured his own light rather than allow God to be “a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path.” This grave mistake led Moses down a path that seemed like the right path at the time. But pride distorts truth.
“There is a way that appears to be right; but in the end it leads to death.”
This meme offers great biblical truth:
In those times of seeming heavenly silence, Christ is actually working mightily, strengthening your faith and preparing you for an adventure you cannot possibly imagine.
The discomfort and trials you now experience are God’s “training ground” for what he’s planned for you. As I heard one preacher once say, “God is preparing you for what he’s prepared you for.”
Jesus was never in a hurry. But he was never late. His timing was always impeccable.
Trust. Wait. And resist the temptation to help God out by hurrying him along.
It is a wise decision to let God lead.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick