Please forgive the delay here! For whatever reason, four different conferences I was set to attend all fell within ten days of one another (on top of three snow days in a row - which added up to a grand total of 17 for this school year...#isitspringyet?) Maybe I'll find time to share some of the insights from those events in another post, but for today, I'm thinking I'll save my breath and just stick with part 3 of this three post series :)
The scriptures we'll be considering are below:
"But Moses fled from Pharoah and stayed in the land of Midian." Ex. 2:15
"And Moses was content to dwell with the man (Jethro), and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, 'I have been a sojourner in a foreign land...During those many days the king of Egypt died..." Ex 2:21&23
"Moses fled and became and exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons. Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush." Acts 7:29-30
Now, we don't exactly know all of the timing here, but from what we read in Exodus and with the additional help of the reference to the story in Acts, it seems it went like this:
A new king arose in Egypt and made life miserable for the Israelites. (Ex. 1) Their slavery was intensified. Words like oppressed, ruthless, afflict, heavy burdens, bitter, hard service, slavery, groaning, cry for rescue are used to describe their circumstance. Moses, an Israelite that grew up as a prince in Pharaoh's house, sees the abuse of an Israelite slave by an Egyptian taskmaster and reacts by murdering him. This is discovered and he flees Egypt and ends up in Midian. He is taken into the house of Jethro and from what we read in Acts, he resides there for 40 years, during which he takes a wife and she bears him two sons. (Ex. 2) Sometime during those 40 years, this evil king of Egypt dies and the "'Let my people go!' Pharoah" that we know so well takes the throne. Israel cries out and God hears, sees, remembers and knows their affliction. He has been preparing his man, Moses in the desert. He appears to him in a bush and puts His rescue plan into full swing. (Ex. 3)
Why retell this story? Because the takeaway for today is this...in Acts we read Moses lived in Midian for forty years. Exodus says Moses and Aaron were 80 and 83 years old when they spoke with Pharoah (Ex 7:7). So although the timeline may be a bit unclear, the point is that's a long time for God's people to endure horrific slavery and suffering. It would be easy to forget God's nearness and promises. It would be easy to believe you have been rejected and forgotten. But even though Israel may have certainly felt that way, what they didn't know was that God was mightily at work on their behalf!
Sometimes my own longsuffering causes me to forget there is a greater story going on. I am so desperate for relief that I forget to trust that the I AM is orchestrating all of existence in a redemptive story for His ultimate glory and our good in Him. In my fixation on just wanting things to change (and right now, please!) I forget that it takes time for people to grow and change and discover their identity (like Moses!) All those years in the wilderness and pasturing flocks in Midian, God was at work to ready His chosen man for his great calling. David pastured flocks and served in the King's court for years before he became king. Jesus worked as a carpenter until he was 30. Paul spent 10 years in preparation before his first mission. Even though we may be in a hurry, God is not.
No matter what we are experiencing in life we can trust that God is a master author. His overarching storyline and every detail in between is flawless. Maybe you've been praying and waiting and have become frustrated with the lack of movement in something and need to be reminded that He is working behind the scenes to make other people ready in order to bring about change. Or maybe He is preparing you or your family for something ahead and your longsuffering is molding and shaping you for this role. Maybe He is waiting for the cultural and political climate to change (in Exodus one king died and another rose to power) as He puts things into place. Or maybe he's working on building relationships to form a more unified body of believers for the task at hand. I don't know. But when I consider how the Israelites were totally oblivious to God's raising up of Moses to be the instrument of change and deliverance they were crying out for, my own heart is stilled. He is God. I am not. I know His compassion moves Him to action. I know He is at work. He has fully proven that to us by offering His only Son, Jesus Christ, as our ultimate Deliverer.
We must learn to wait on Him, trusting that while we see and understand so little, His perspective is eternal. He sees past, present and future. He is infinite in wisdom and ability. He is sovereign over every detail of His world and His story. As attentive and faithful as He was to Israel, He will be the same to us. It might take 40 years, but OH! Think of the faith muscles you'll grow, the glory He will get, the powers and wonders we will see, the lives that will be touched by His grace. His timing is always perfect. This is our God! Rest in Him, beloved. He is at work for you. We have the amazing privilege of being still, waiting and watching for God's perfect timing to be revealed. I don't know your story, what you are walking through, but for me...this helps me persevere in the longsuffering. It gives me hope while I stare out at a calm sea waiting for the the winds to blow and its waters to part. My deliverer has come and He will continue to work in all things until the Day we see Him face to face. Trust Him as He writes His story and is working behind the scenes. You are His beloved child and you are seen, known, remembered and loved forever.