The Geneva School Chapel
Homily on Moses
Dr. Michael S. Beates
So we have been watching “The Crown” series since the Queen’s death last month. One recent episode featured Prince Philip creating a documentary on Palace life in the 60s to make them appear more normal to people. So there were cheesy scenes of Prince Philip and his daughter Princess Anne at the grill – trying to look like normal people; there they were around the T set watching TV in this cavernous palatial room. But they weren’t right? They were privileged people living a life of luxury beyond what you and I can only imagine.
Moses grew up in such a setting – household of Pharoah; anything and everything he wanted. But we also know from the opening lines in Exodus that he knew he was a Hebrew and as a young man, he sees injustice, and rather stupidly tries to address it. He kills an Egyptian taskmaster and hides his body in the sand.
Think about this for a minute – he’s raised in the palace environment – was the oppression and slavery of the Hebrew people something he did not know about? Of course not. Makes one wonder what clicked or what snapped that day that all of a sudden Moses sought to identify with his people. Well, word of his murder gets out. So, being the young aristocratic, principled, courageous man of the palace, . . . he flees, runs for his life – and boy did he ever. All the way to the edge of nowhere. Midian was not “Nowhere” but you could see “Nowhere” from there, trust me.
Then the narrative jumps ahead decades – he marries, has a family, and is a shepherd in Midian. Oh, my how the mighty have fallen! From the lap of luxury to the edge of nowhere . . . for decades. And then God shows up and ruins his placid, private, off-the-grid life at the encounter with the burning bush.
But I don’t want you to miss the big picture here. God often uses people you would least expect; and a corollary to that principle is that God also tends to break people before He really uses them for His purposes in the history of redemption. I think Moses, fleeing from his life in Egypt, settling in Midian, doing essentially nothing but watching sheep for years . . . this was God breaking him in this long isolation. Then, when God was ready, He called Moses back into His service.
Lots of verbs in Exodus 3: God has seen, heard, He knows their suffering, He is coming down, He is going to deliver them, and bring them up to the Promised Land. Then . . . to Moses’ shock, God says, “So now you go!”
You’d think this was a good day for Moses. “Yes, back to Egypt, back to the palace, back in power with the God of the universe.” But no. Instead, Moses starts objecting and giving excuses why He is not the right person. Four excuses:
1. “Who am I?” God essentially says, “It’s not about you, I will be with you!”
2. “What if they ask your name?” So, shockingly, unbelievably, God gives up
3. “What if they don’t believe me?” So God gives signs of power to convince.
4. “But I can’t speak well!” Text says, “Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord,
I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
God did not say, “Ohhh, yeah, right! You can’t speak well, forgot that. I better get someone else.” No, God said, “Yes, exactly, that’s how I made you . . . just for this purpose. Your weakness is my plan, not an accident; not bad luck; my plan for you – so you have to rely on me, not on your own natural giftedness.” God does not make excused for Moses’ weakness, He takes credit for it.
God prepared Moses through his up brining in the house of Pharoah;
God prepared Moses by breaking him, humbling him over many years;
God even gave him a peculiar disability of speech in order that God would be the One to get the glory.
God still does this today – nothing in your life is an accident. Nothing you have gone through to this point is just bad luck; nothing you may face in years to come is meaningless in God’s plan.
Moses was someone uniquely prepared, and humbled, and equipped with a weakness, for just such a time to lead the Israelites out of Egypt through 40 years in the wilderness toward the promised land.
I’m not saying there is another Moses sitting here today; but God may just have made you the way you are, and He may just bring you through circumstances in such a way that in God’s time, you may be ready to serve him in such a way that God gets the glory. Some of us are walking through a valley of shadow right now – I know this is true and I count myself among those walking in deep shadow. But God is with you in such shadow.
In the new “Rings of Power” series, there is a young man, Theo, who says to his mother, Bronwyn, before a great battle is about to break out: “Remember when I was little. When I had bad dreams? What would you say while you were holding me in dark? Say it again to me now.”
Bronwyn replies: “In the end the shadow is but a small and passing thing. There is light and high beauty forever beyond its reach. Find the light, and the shadow will not find you.” John says in his opening to the Gospel, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Find the light, stay in the light.