Sunday, May 25, 2008

Moses' Prayer

Moses was tending his father in law's sheep. From what we can tell, he seems to have been comfortable with that. It wasn't glamorous. No doubt it wasn't what he'd dreamed of while he was growing up in Pharaoh's palace, but he'd had to flee Egypt in fear years earlier. He'd seen his people being horribly abused there. He killed a man in anger, and then he ran to hide from the consequences of his sin.

Moses made a new life for himself in Midian. He got married. He had children. He found a job. He probably would have been content with that for the rest of his life. But one day, in the desert, God changed all that. He called Moses to go back to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let His people go. That was the last thing Moses wanted to do. His last memories of Egypt were bad ones. He was afraid to go back there for any reason - particularly the reason God was asking him to go. Moses knew Pharaoh wouldn't want to let the Israelites go. They were cheap labor for him. And beside that, Moses was afraid of public speaking. He told God his concerns. God addressed them. Moses agreed to go.

I've heard a lot of preachers give Moses a hard time for arguing with God at the burning bush (as did God, I concede - Exodus4:14). I give him so much credit for actually doing what he'd been asked that I can't find it in myself to criticize him for expressing his concerns about it. He left his life of relative comfort and went back to a place he'd fled in fear and shame to do tell the most powerful man in the world to do something Moses knew he didn't want to do. I'd like to say I'd have obeyed God if I were in Moses' situation, but I really don't know.

Moses mustered up all his faith. He faced his fears, obeyed God and trusted Him to work it all out. I know the end of the story so well that I tend to forget what actually happened next. Moses goes to Pharaoh, God sends the 10 plagues, the Israelites leave Egypt, God opens the Red Sea, and they are safe and happy on the other side. Right?

Not quite.

Moses went to Pharaoh and gave him God's message: "Let my people go." Pharaoh responded by accusing the people of being lazy and blamed Moses for keeping them from their work. Did he let them go? No way! He increased their work load by an impossible amount, then had them beaten when they couldn't keep up. Moses' obedience brought more suffering on the people he was trying to help and made them hate him. Not exactly what you expect God to do when you obey Him.

I love that the Bible records Moses' next prayer. I love it, because I can relate to how Moses felt then. (SJ paraphrase of Exodus 5:22-23): "Lord, what are you doing?! Ever since I obeyed you, you've brought nothing but trouble, and you haven't rescued your people at all!" I love that God doesn't rebuke Moses for saying that.

Some people who find themselves praying that are in the place Moses was - just about to see God unleash an amazing display of his glory and power. Others are in the place that some of the Hebrews 11 heroes of the faith were - living out their whole lives without ever getting their questions answered. They "die in faith, not having received the promises (Hebrews 11:13, KJV)."

I don't know which of those places I'm in. I just pray that my faith will remain unmoved whether or not I ever understand in this life what God's purpose is.

1 comment:

Lori said...

Oh SJ I'm with you.

I pray my faith never falters. I will admit I am weak more often than I am strong these days. I know God is good and faithful. He is still in control

I can't say these last two months have been something that I looked forward to. I have even asked God many times if He would spare me the things that will take place in my life the next year. I do know He is faithful and will be with me every step of the way.

Thank you for this reminder~



I sure enjoyed are trip through the book of John these past months. Your B did a great job with the last chapter on Sunday. I sure pray souls were saved.