Exodus 2:11-25

17 Sep 2023

Exodus 2:11-25

Passage Exodus 2:11-25

Speaker Ben Tanner

Series Exodus: The God who saves


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

So the reading is from Exodus. Chapter two, verses eleven to 25. One day after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were. And watched them at their hard labour. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew.

One of his own people, looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew? The man said, who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian? Then Moses was afraid and thought, what I did must have become known.

And when Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well.

Now, a priest of Midian had seven daughters. And they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father's flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away. But Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock. When the girls returned to rule their father, he asked them, why have you returned so early today?

They, an Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock. And where is he? Rawl asked his daughters, why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.

Moses agreed to stay with the man who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. Zipporah gave birth to a son. And Moses named him Gershom, saying, I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.

During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out. And their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning. And he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.

So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

Thank you, Chris, for reading that to us. And please do keep your service sheets open.

One, two. Excellent. Thanks so much, Chris, for reading that to us. Please do keep your service sheets open to that passage. That will be really helpful.

As we look at that, those words are God's words. And so they are true and infinite and life changing. That's what we believe as christians. And so cheque that what I'm saying marries up to what they are saying. And let me lead us in a prayer.

As we look at them, Father, so often it feels like we long to live up to expectations and we struggle. We feel like the world has this kind of view of who we should be. And we feel like impostors because we don't meet it, Father. We long to be better people and we get frustrated that we're not. Sometimes, Father, I pray that today you would show us what you are like and that might put our hearts at rest.

I pray that we might meet Jesus even in these words written thousands of years before he was born. Amen. Amen. We know what it's like to have expectations, don't we? Expectations put on us by other people.

We know what it's like to have expectations of other people as well, don't we? Maybe it's that sports person, you know, he's just brilliant at their sport. And then they have a child and the question comes, is she going to be like her mum? Is she going to hold the football team together in the way that her mum does? Are they going to live up to that expectation?

Maybe it's others having expectations of us. If anyone knew what it was to have expectations of them, Moses would have done so. Moses, the guy in the reading today, he is the adopted grandson of the pharaoh of Egypt. Okay, so the most powerful man in the world, a man who can and does enslave entire nations, has got an adopted grandchild, and it's this guy, Moses. Later on in the Bible, we're told that Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

He would have had the best schooling. He would have lived in the best palaces. Think a life of privilege and opulence and wealth. Here is Moses. In fact, we know one of his textbooks was discovered and it says, you call for one, a thousand answer you, you stride freely on the road.

You will not be like the hired ox. You are in front of others. That's the kind of thing that Moses was being told day in, day out as the prince of Egypt. And Moses, of course, is a man who is therefore an adopted egyptian, and yet he's also somebody of dual nationality, dual citizenship. We know what it's like to be dual citizens.

That's what the Christian is as well. We just heard it, didn't we? As Maheshi and charming were there in the water. Christ claims you for his own. We are citizens of heaven.

We belong to Jesus. And yet, at the same time, we were born here in this world, and we live here in this world. Christians believe we are dual citizens, a bit like Moses. But the thing with Moses is one citizenship is as the prince of Egypt, the other is identifying with God's people, the Israelites, who here are enslaved. In fact, that same textbook describes slaves as living dead.

And the question for Moses is, who's he going to identify with? At which citizenship is he going to make his own? Later on in the Bible, it says this. Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God.

Rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as greater value than the treasures of Egypt. Let's see it in our text. It is there in verse eleven. One day, Moses had.

When Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and he watched them at the hard labour and he saw the Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Here's Moses, the prince of Egypt, and yet he sees the slaves as his own people. He has a choice. Which citizenship is he going to go for? And realistically, he's got everything to lose and nothing to gain by identifying with the slave people of God.

And yet that's what he does. And that's challenging, and it'll be challenging for you, Maheshi, and charming, because you are citizens of two worlds. And at times, those worlds and their thinking and the ideology will clash. There will be times when the world around us says, invest this way, make work into this, do things this way, use your money to serve yourself, use your time for the things that you enjoy and your loved ones. And Jesus might well say, no, actually, I've given you that money in order to help others.

Or actually, I've given you that time in order to make a difference in this world for me and not for you. There might be times for us when it will feel like, actually, if I go Jesus way, I've got everything to lose and nothing to gain. People will think I'm crazy. People think they might come along to an old stone building and watch me be dumped in a cold, freezing cold water and think, what on earth is that person doing? They might think I'm strange.

I might even lose credibility with people here. Moses really challenges me. I wonder if he challenges you, which are you identifying with if you're a Christian here today? But it's funny that Moses challenges us, because actually this is really a passage where Moses gets almost everything wrong. I mean, it's a story of kind of abject failure, isn't it?

Let's see, Moses at this point, we're told later on he's got some idea that God might use him to be freeing his people. He's got some idea of that. And maybe he'd heard God's promise a few hundred years ago. That he was going to set God's people free. Maybe he just put two and two together and realised, wait a second.

I'm educated. I know the systems in a way that a lot of the others in my nation don't. Maybe this is God using me. And so what does he do? He steps up in his own strength and we see the failure of self reliance here.

So he goes out and he sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. He has this sense of justice. He longs for justice. Tick, that's good. But what does he do?

He sets himself up as judge and jury and executioner. As he kills the Egyptian, we're told he looks this way and that. That's often a sign that you know that what you're doing is wrong, isn't it? If you look this way and that before you do it, he kills the Egyptian and he tries to hide the evidence. The next day he comes out again to his own people.

Maybe he's thinking, I've made a good start. My plan. I'm liberating God's people, one slave master at a time. And out he comes and he sees again another injustice going on. This time it's two Hebrews who are fighting.

And he goes up to them. Here he is. He's the saviour of his people, isn't he? And he says, what are you doing? Come on.

He's a Hebrew. You're a Hebrew. What's going on? And they say, verse 14, little number 14. Who made you a ruler or a judge over us?

You think you're killing me as you killed the Egyptian? Ah, a dear. It's a good question, isn't it? The hebrew people turned to Moses. Who did make you a ruler or a judge over us?

The answer at this point is nobody. You see, Moses, in trying to identify as an Israelite, acts like an Egyptian. He seizes power. He sets himself up as judge and jury. He doesn't look to others.

No, he looks to himself.

He tries to hide what he's done. It's got out. He tries to be the one who is saving his people. And yet, actually he is just brutally oppressing others, just as the Egyptians were doing. It gets worse.

This gets more and more failed. You end up at the end of this chapter. What happens? He knows that it's found out. He flees off to Midian.

And so you've got the self appointed saviour of God's people. He runs out of Egypt. He's got out of Egypt. But God's people are still stuck in Egypt, in slaves and then what's even worse is when he gets there, he's not even called an Israelite. Look at verse 19.

An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. You see, here's somebody who's getting it wrong and wrong and wrong. It's a story of failure. And it's because he's trying to do it all in his strength. He tries to do things his way, to set people free his way.

And that's a challenge to us because that's so often what we do. We rely on ourselves. It might be that you're here today and you wouldn't necessarily call yourself a Christian. And part of that is that you say, actually, if there is a God, I think I'm kind of okay before him, you know, like if he kind of was to weigh up good versus bad. I reckon I'm fairly on the good side.

I'm doing all right. I try hard, I give to charity, I do nice things. I can do it myself. You think?

Humour me for a moment. Imagine that your phone was recording everything that you do, everything that you say. Some people later might tell me that's exactly what they do. I don't know, but imagine that that's what was happening and I kind of plugged it into chat GTP and I said, what I want you to do is I want you to build up a picture of what's right and wrong just from what you have said about other people. The criteria you've used to judge other people around you as whether they're good or bad, whether their actions are morally right or wrong.

And then I was to take that list and I was to put it up against your life, or frankly, if you were to do it against mine, I wonder how we'd fare in that. My suspicion, if you're anything like me, is that you'd struggle to live up to your own standards for other people, let alone God's standards. That's true of me. So you see, if I try and get to God myself, if I try and be good enough for God, relying on myself, I'm only going to fail. I'm only going to fail again and again.

And if you're here and you're a Christian and you think the reason that you're a Christian is that you're particularly good and you're doing things great and you're trying really hard, that's very commendable, but that's not going to be the thing that keeps you going with Jesus, because you're going to stuff up again and again. Charming Maheshi. The baptised life is one where you will make mistakes. You can't carry on in your strength. That was one of the lovely things Mahesh was talking about.

She trusted God to forgive. Her self reliance only ever ends in despair. But if I was to stop there, it would be a very depressing sermon on a baptism. And that's why it's wonderful that this is also a passage that shows us the God who uses failures. Think about it for a second.

There's Moses, a murderer, and he's stuck out of Egypt. He's away from God's people. God could easily say, do you know what? I've got millions of, literally millions of others I could choose. I'll just raise up another saviour.

And yet, what does God do? He chooses this guy who has made it so wrong, who's stuffed up so badly, and he says, I'm going to use this one to lead my people. I'm going to use this one to save a nation. I'm going to use this one to write a whole bunch of the Old Testament of the Bible. You see, Moses failures don't thwart God's plans.

And that's important, because your failures don't thwart God's plans either. Your failures don't thwart God's plans. In fact, in this passage, God uses the results of failure to mould and to change Moses, doesn't he? So we see in verse twelve, his response to injustice is murder. It is brutal.

But then injustice happens again in verse 17. And what does he do? Well, there's no mention of murder. In fact, what he does is he comes to the rescue of the weak and he ends up watering their flocks. It's something so surprising that when they're talking to their dad later on, they say, the Egyptian watered our flocks.

Moses, who wouldn't have done a day's manual work in his life, starts pulling up water for these daughters of ruel. You see, God's changing his response. Moses, the one who has taught you, call for one a thousand answer ye becomes a man who is humble, feeding flocks. In fact, it gets to naming his son many years later in verse 22. And he says, he named him Gershon, saying, I've become a foreigner in a foreign land.

In other words, here's Moses, the prince of Egypt, saying, I've got nothing, I'm humble. And God says, and I can use that. You see how God uses even the failures of Moses to change him. One writer said Moses was 40 years in Egypt, learning to be a somebody. He was 40 years in the desert learning to be a nobody so that he could be 40 years in the wilderness.

Spoiler alert. 40 years in the wilderness, showing God to be everything. See, this is important because some of us will sit here and we'll think, I've stuffed up one too many times. Some of us might be here. And we'd say, to be honest, the reason that I'm not a Christian is because God couldn't want somebody like me after what I've done, after that episode in my life.

He couldn't want somebody like me. Or maybe you're here and you're a Christian and you think, yeah, I'm a Christian. I'm getting by. But God can't possibly have a plan. He has a plan for me with all my failures and brokenness.

Yeah, he's got plans for other people. He's going to use them, but he can't use me. God used a murderer to save his people.

Because finally, and very briefly in this passage, we see a God who hears and remembers. We see this narrative arc of Moses changing, becoming the saviour that he longs to be. But during all this time, God's people are still slaves. They're still grinding it out day by day. And we hear at the end that they cry out.

And God knew, literally, he was concerned about them. God knows and is concerned about the groaning of his people. You see, God in this story isn't absent or abstract, but he is listening. He cares and he remembers. And again, that's important for us, because in a world that feels so broken so much of the time, when we are those who are crying out and groaning, we have a God who cares and remembers.

I was talking to somebody only yesterday about how it's so difficult hearing the news at the moment, because it just feels like this world is so broken and messed up and hurting. And the amazing thing is that God isn't absent or abstract. He hears and he cares. When you are crying in the night and it feels like there's nobody there, he hears and he cares. When it feels like you can't speak to anybody, either through shame or embarrassment or just people just don't understand, he hears and he cares.

He remembers his covenant. That's his agreement with his people, that he'll save them. And you say, yeah, but how did God's people know that when they were enslaved and it felt so awful and bad? And yes, for them, it would have felt awful. All they had was a promise.

But today we've got something far, far more we can say for certain that God hears and he cares because. Well, Moses drawing water out of the well should remind us of one who came a few years later, who offered a woman water, a well, a water that would change her entire life. Moses, who gave up the throne of Egypt to identify with his people? Well, we know of a greater saviour who gave up the very throne of heaven to identify with you and me. Moses was a dual citizen.

Yes, of God's people and of Egypt. But Jesus is the dual citizen, the one who is both God and man. He understands what it's. It's like to be us and live in a broken world. And he understands what it is to move among the courts of heaven above.

Moses was rightly rejected by his people. Jesus was wrongly rejected by all people. Moses saw injustice and responds with brutality. Jesus, many years later, would see injustice, would see our failures and respond by giving his life to take our place. My place and yours.

So he could say to failures like me and like you, I forgive you. I have plans to use you now and forever.

Shall we pray together? Our father, we are well aware. We're well aware that we live in a broken world. And we admit that so often we can be the cause of that. We hurt one another.

We don't live up to our own standards.

Father. We're sorry, Father. Thank you so, so much that you hear our groans. You raise up a saviour, not an imperfect one like Moses, but a perfect one, who would take our place, who would set us free. Thank you for what we've heard from Maheshi about that even this service.

Father, help us from this moment forward, to be those who don't try and do it in our own strength. But trust in what Jesus has done for us. For we ask it in his name. Amen.