Defying the Pharaoh and rescuing the People of God was the last thing on Moses' mind as he trudged away from the only home he’d ever known.
He didn't seem like a deliverer. He wasn't even a prince anymore.
He’d been raised as royalty, with power and confidence and a detailed knowledge of Egyptian culture and court politics—but what was all that worth if he couldn’t use it to free his people? He had just barely begun to learn what it meant to be a Hebrew and now he had to leave his brothers in slavery. Shame and doubt hung like weights on his soul, dragging him down into the sand.
But he couldn’t stop and rest. Couldn’t give up. He had a dangerous wilderness to cross on his way to an unknown future. In the face of exile's emptiness, all his strength and knowledge felt like cruel jokes.
What has happened to my life? It wasn’t supposed to go like this.
Rescued from genocide as an infant, Moses had been raised in Pharaoh’s household as a prince of Egypt, the adopted son of the king’s sister. At some point, he’d discovered he was a Hebrew, and he’d gone out among his enslaved brothers to look on their burdens (Exodus 2:11-15). Enraged at the way they were treated, Moses took matters into his own hands. His temper flared and he killed an overseer who was beating a Hebrew. Later, he tried to separate two angry men who were fighting each other and one of them revealed that the overseer’s murder was public knowledge.
In that moment, Moses’ spirit sank as the power he thought he possessed melted like dross in the sun. His raging flesh wasn’t enough to save the oppressed Israelites. Rescuing them from a bondage that had lasted 400 years was going to be much more complicated than he expected. And at that point, it didn’t look like Moses would be the one to accomplish it. He was expelled from Egypt on pain of death.
Stripped of his power and privilege, Moses probably wondered about his purpose. In light of his exile, it seemed like the position he’d spent a lifetime establishing was a waste. He had been saved from death and singled out for a reason. Why would he have been given all that prestige only to have it taken away?
This is how we think. We writhe when we’re given what looks like a clear opportunity to change things—and it seems to fall apart. But we are never meant to throw in the towel just because we can’t understand. We need bigger vision. God’s vision.
God had certainly raised Moses up for a reason. His life was spared through the faith of his parents, and his time with Egypt’s royal family developed strengths in him that might not have grown well in slavery. He learned confidence and skill in Pharaoh’s court. But in the wilderness, Moses would learn that it wasn’t his own mighty arm that would save Israel. They were God’s people first. Before sending a deliverer, the God of Israel would take His prince through a scorching desert, sand-blast him of all the trappings of Egypt, and then walk him through years of training as a humble shepherd at the feet of Sinai. Why?
To fashion him into a man who was ready to let God use his mouth, direct his feet, and put the staff in his hand. Every step of the way.
A man who knew he couldn’t do it alone.
The Moses who turned aside to see the burning bush knew that it had to be Yahweh. Or no way.
Because Israel didn’t just need to be freed from Egyptian slavery. God didn’t want them to be forcibly rescued by some military leader and dumped in the desert to live as best they could. God wanted Israel to KNOW HIM. He wanted to draw His Chosen into the Promised Land and into His arms, to teach them what it meant to be His Covenant People. To change them into free men!
In order for Moses to teach the people that, Moses had to learn the same from God Himself. He had to lay aside his own agendas and desires, and surrender to a deliverance that only Yahweh could pull off.
Even though it looked like his one chance to help Israel had been thwarted, it was given back to him in the wilderness when he thought everything was behind him. So that Israel would know that their salvation came from God and not from man.
“What shall I say when they ask who sent me?” Moses inquired, trembling before the burning bush.
And Yahweh answered, “I AM that I AM. You shall say, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (paraphrasing Exodus 3:13-14).
The first time, Moses went out among his people wearing the authority of Egypt, which could be taken from him in a moment by the king.
The second time, Moses emerged carrying the authority of Yahweh Himself—a Glory so intense that it transfigured his face.
He had been stripped of his fear, because he realized that his association with God was a greater treasure than all the riches of Egypt (Hebrews 11:26-27). The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 tells us that Israel’s most famous deliverer learned the Fear of God, which shielded him from any other fear, and he endured because he was able to see the invisible One! And this same invisible God has manifested Himself to us through Christ!
What are you looking at as a missed opportunity, a thwarted deliverance?
Do you feel as though you’ve been stripped of your purpose and shoved into a corner?
Are you willing to believe that God isn’t finished? That your purpose doesn’t come from the rulers of this Earth but the One who rules from Heaven?