Saturday, June 23, 2012

Moses Takes Matters Into His Own Hand - Exodus 2:11-12


Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.  So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

Moses, the Hebrew, grows up in the Egyptian household of the Pharaoh’s daughter as her adopted son.  Someone must have told him his real origin and how it was that it came about for him to live in such luxury.  What is interesting is that most likely Pharaoh would have known as well.  And it must have irked him that this own daughter chose to get around his decree by saving the baby in the basket and later adopting him.  He must have had to just accept it in silence while boiling inside.

The Scriptures record that as Moses was walking about one day among his Hebrew brothers, who for the most part, were slaves, he noticed an Egyptian overseer beating one of them.  We would assume such beating was not just nudges to encourage the slave to work hard, but actual physical abuse beyond necessity.  Moses was likely most aware of how his people were being treated but being an eyewitness to this particular event was probably all he could take.  He had to act.

Many times in life we ourselves get to the point where we cannot take it any longer – we must act.  The injustices either to others or to us are too much to ignore and action must be taken.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Injustice must be fought.  I recently heard an interview about the 1996 movie, Breaking the Code, a biography of the English mathematician Alan Turing, who was one of the inventors of the digital computer and one of the key figures in the breaking of the Enigma code, used by the Germans to send secret orders to their U-boats in World War II.  Action had to be taken.  The Code had to be broken.  Turing is credited with shortening the war by as much as two years and thus saving millions of lives.  In it there is a line that goes something like this, “It is not breaking the code that matters so much as what one does after he breaks it.”  Yes, seeing the need for, and deciding to take action is clearly important oftentimes, but what action we take and how we do it, is much more critical.

And I think this is where Moses went wrong.  He took matters into his own hands.  Again, those of us who know the whole story know this wouldn’t be the last time he did so.  But here, the text tells us he intentionally looked one way and then the other to see if anyone else was watching and seeing no one, he decided to kill the Egyptian slave driver and then hide him in the sand.  The very need for us to have to “look to see that no one is watching” before we take action should be a clear signal to us that we are about to do something we should not.  It should tell us that we are about to commit sin and take wrongful action.  I also believe that if we are calm enough to first look around before striking, then we’re calm enough not to strike either.  Another solution could be found.

And then Moses knowing he had done wrong, had to take the next step and cover his wrongdoing by burying or hiding the Egyptian he killed in the sand.  And so it is for us – one sin leads to another when we take matters into our own hands.  And as we’ll soon find out in the case of Moses, the perfect crime or the perfect murder, has always been a most rare event.  And in the sight of God, it is non-existent.

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