Ex 2:11-25 – Moses Flees to Midian

Christian MölkExodus Leave a Comment

Ex 2:11-12

  1. Moses was at this time 40 years old and a very learned man. He was Pharaoh’s grandson (Heb 11:24-29) and had been “taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians” at the Egyptian court (Acts 7:22-23), while his Hebrew mother had told him of his Hebrew background.
  2. The Egyptians were a very racist people at this time. For example, they considered it “abominable” to even eat with Hebrews (Genesis 43:32). The Egyptians do not even eat with Joseph, when he was one of the leaders of the Egyptians.
  3. Moses, who holds a very high position in the Egyptian empire, goes out into the country to inspect the situation of his countrymen and to get a picture of the whole picture.
  4. Moses sees the unjust Egyptian treatment of his Hebrew brother, but chooses to act outside the framework of Egyptian law. Moses knows he is acting illegally because before the murder he “looks in all directions” to see if anyone sees him, and then after the murder he “hides him in the sand”.
    1. Moses had a high position at the Egyptian court and could have ordered the Egyptian guard to stop the beating, or call for help. But Moses chooses to take matters into his own hands and not only stop the beating, but also take revenge by killing the Egyptian (Acts 7:25).
    2. Moses faces a classic dilemma; how do you stop injustice when it comes from the authorities? Should you take matters into your own hands? Should you revolt? Should you protest? Should one comply?
      1. In short, the New Testament principle is this: submit to authorities (Rom 13:1) and pray for them (1 Tim 2:1-2), but if they command us believers to go against God’s will, we must “obey God more than men” (Acts 5:29), even if that means going to prison as a consequence. If one is mistreated, one should not take revenge, but leave the judgment to the Lord (Rom 12:19) because even if we live in this world, we believers, who belong to the kingdom of God and have our citizenship in heaven (Phil 3:20), should not fight in the ways of the world (2 Cor 10:3-5).
      2. In my opinion, Moses was right to react to the unjust treatment of the Hebrews by the Egyptian authorities, but he chose the wrong way to react. Moses should not have taken matters into his own hands and murdered the Egyptian. Probably it would have been enough if Moses, who was part of the Egyptian court, had ordered the Egyptian to stop mistreating the Hebrew. However, given the widespread racism in Egyptian society, there is some risk that Moses himself would have been offended and considered a Hebrew traitor. He would probably have had to flee to Midian anyway, but at least he would not have been a murderer.
      3. The reason Moses takes matters into his own hands and murders the Egyptian instead of simply commanding him to stop is because Moses had the ambition to become the leader of the Hebrews. Moses believed that the Hebrews “would understand that God wanted to save them by his hand” (Acts 7:25). By saving a Hebrew himself with his own hands, he wanted to become the “savior” of the Hebrews. But this was not part of God’s plan and so it fails. For it is God who is the saviour of the Hebrews, and God wants to save Israel in a way other than by violence and rebellion.
  5. Even we today can recognize the Egyptian racism Moses saw the Hebrews suffer. When we Swedes see the racism immigrants and refugees face, we may be tempted to retaliate against the racists. But our struggle is not against flesh and blood, and we need instead to turn to God in prayer while trying our best to help vulnerable people enter and become part of society.

Ex 2:13-15

  1. Moses knew he was a Hebrew, and he believed that God wanted to use him as a leader to save the people of Israel (Acts 7:25). And in a way, that is true, but God’s plan was never to make Moses the savior of Israel, or to save Israel through violence and rebellion. God’s plan was not to save Israel through the violent sword, but through the humble shepherd’s staff.
  2. When Moses realizes that his murder has been exposed, he flees for his life to the land of Midian. Moses probably thought that his ambition to save Israel had now completely failed and that there was now nothing more Moses could do.
    1. In this Moses is absolutely right and he has now arrived exactly where God wants him to be. God can use Moses as an instrument to save Israel only when Moses realizes that it is not Moses, but God, who will save Israel.
    2. Leadership in God’s kingdom is about letting God lead, or as John the Baptist puts it, “He must become greater and I less” (John 3:30). If you are big in yourself and think out your own plan, God needs to humble and rebuild.
    3. After 40 years of humanly perfect training and preparation, Moses fails to become the leader of God’s people at the first attempt. But after 40 years of God’s training among the sheep of Midian, Moses will be ready to enter into his task of rescuing Israel from slavery in Egypt.
      1. What would have happened if God had communicated his plan to Moses from the beginning? What if God had told Moses that he will go to Pharaoh and demand Israel’s deliverance by turning a rod into a snake, or turning the waters of the Nile into blood, or that all of Israel will walk through the Red Sea dry-shod while Pharaoh’s soldiers drown?
        1. Probably Moses would never have agreed to this because he didn’t have the patience and it was too strange and distant for a prince of Egypt to behave in that way. Moses needed to step down from his lofty position and humble himself out in the desert. Moses needed to understand that it was God who would deliver Israel, not Moses.

Ex 2:16-19

  1. Reguel, also called Jethro, was a priest in Midian and probably, like Moses, a relative of Abraham. In Genesis 25:1-2 we see that Midian was Abraham’s child with Keturah. The priest of Midian was thus a worshipper of the true God and it is no coincidence that God brings Moses to him precisely to learn more about the God of Abraham.

Ex 2:20-22

  1. God’s plan for Moses was that he would be the leader of Israel. But how do you become a good leader? Is it through the best education in the land? Is it through the right connections at court? Is it through getting the finest title? Or is it among the sheep in the desert?
    1. Like Jesus, Moses left his royal palace to live simply and humbly among ordinary people. Moses went from being a prince of one of the most powerful kingdoms in the world to herding someone else’s sheep. Moses went from owning everything, to not even owning the sheep he was herding.
    2. After 40 years at the Egyptian court, Moses learned that he was special. Now it’s time for Moses to spend 40 years in the desert of Midian learning that God is special. Moses had to learn for 40 years not to have himself and his position as the focus. Moses had to learn how to care for sheep in order to be a shepherd of God to the people.

Ex 2:23-25

  1. When Israel is tormented by slavery, they cry out to their God. Often suffering and trouble lead us to turn desperately to God in prayer. Even if God has not sent us suffering, suffering indirectly brings us closer to God, and in that sense suffering can be good for our spiritual well-being.
    1. Sometimes it’s hard to know why answers to prayer don’t come immediately when you pray, but you need to learn that God answers prayer when it’s God’s time. Sometimes you have to humbly still yourself and wait for the right time.
  2. God answers Israel’s prayer, not because of Israel itself, but because of God’s covenant with Abraham. God’s promises are eternal and he does not renege on his covenant.
    1. In the same way, we can be confident that if we confess Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we belong to God and he will listen to our prayers, not because we are so righteous in ourselves, but because God has made a covenant with us in Christ.
  3. Just as Moses 40 years earlier, in verse 11, “saw” the situation of the Hebrews and tried to intervene and save Israel, so God “saw” the situation of Israel now in verse 25, and decides to save them. After Moses’ awkward attempt to become a human savior, it is now God’s turn to step onto the historical stage and show what he is made of. In the next chapter, God introduces himself to Moses by his name, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14), showing both Moses and Israel that it is GOD who IS the savior of Israel, and not someone else.
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