Friday, July 20, 2012

Moses' Own People Question His Motives and Threaten Outing Him Exodus 2:13-14a


And when he went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, “Why are you striking your companion?’  But he said, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us?  Are you intending to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian?”

We do not know what kind of a night Moses had after killing an Egyptian who was beating up on one of his own Hebrew brothers.  But we know that the next morning, when he ventured out of his house, things did not get much better.  At some point, he saw two men, both Hebrews this time, fighting with each other – one clearly being more of the aggressor.  Moses asked him a question that understandably could be taken for more than it was meant.  While he may have simply wanted both men to realize they were brothers and thus should not be in conflict to the point of physical combat, the attacker could have taken the question, “Why are you striking your companion?” as a personal challenge to his aggression.

This man must have been one of the earliest to learn that a good way to answer difficult questions is with another question.  And he does.  His pointed question to Moses may as well have been, “Who died and made you the boss over us?”  Good question.  But Moses did not have enough time to reflect on his answer.  The aggressor went on to enquire as to whether Moses was intending to kill him as he had killed the Egyptian the day before.  Wow.  He simply wanted harmony among his brethren and was acting as a peacemaker, but clearly his recent history preceded him.

We need to pause here for a moment and reflect on two aspects of this story.  First, we need to take great care in how we approach others, even if we are trying to do an honorable thing, or trying to help them.  Moses’ approach was straightforward but it was also accusatory.  Perhaps a simple, “Hey guys, can I help resolve any issue?” may have been much more successful and given him a chance to not only understand the circumstances better, but to gain some insight into the characters he was dealing with.  Many times we miss opportunities to be helpful, or worse still get ourselves into trouble, because of how we attempt to convey our good intentions.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we need to understand that our history does precede us.  One cannot have been convicted of being a child abuser and then attempt to apply for a job in an orphanage.  One cannot commit perjury as a lawyer and then apply to be a judge in our judicial systems.  If you follow any national elections, you will be aware that both the media and one’s opponent are out to discredit a person who claims one thing and does or has done another.  And so on.

And that leads us very nicely to the issue of forgiveness when it comes to past sin.  If the world is not prepared to forgive one his/her past and evil men will use it to their advantage against the individual, is the Church capable of something better?  Does a young pastor who committed adultery in his early years of service; has admitted his falling before others and sin before God; sought and received the forgiveness of his spouse and family; taken ‘time out’ from ministry to rethink his commitment to God and His work; been blessed since; and not sinned in a similar fashion for half a decade – is such a pastor required to bring the whole thing up again when applying for a new pastoral position?  Of course, there are pros and cons no matter what answer one gives to the question.  Yes, it would be nice if the pastor admits his past so that the church is not surprised later when someone who knew exposes him.  But if he does, will he still get the job?  Are we big enough for that yet?   If he does not share his past, and someone exposes him later, will the church understand why he felt he did not need to share his past at the time of his application (he believed his wife’s, family’s and God’s forgiveness were sufficient) and then forgive him for what had happened years ago?  Will they realize that the party doing the exposing at this point was not necessarily pursuing God’s will in the matter? Or will they fire him on the spot?

I can only surmise how difficult a situation we put some of our men and women who serve God in when we ourselves are not sinless or able to cast the first stone.  Yet, many an individual is kept from pursuing his/her renewed service to God in a particular manner because of our inability to forgive.  That individual, should he/she not blame God for his/her maltreatment by the Church, often goes on to be blessed greatly by his/her Heavenly Father.  It is us, the ‘unforgivers’, the ‘holier than thou’, that often come out the losers.

In Moses case, he now was clearly in the position of being rejected by his own people.  Rather than thanking him for protecting one of his own by what he had done to the Egyptian, he has now been given cause to fear for his life.  As I watch what is going on in the world scene, especially in the Arab Spring countries recently, it seems that the world has not changed much since the days of Moses in Egypt.  People who are heroes one day become objects of pursuit unto death by the masses the next.  And oftentimes, those that take their place end up being much worse.

I pray that God will give each of us the wisdom to know how and when to share our past.  But more importantly, I pray that God will give us all the desire to forgive those who are truly repentant and have changed their ways.  If you are one of those who find themselves in that predicament – having sinned but gotten right with God, yet fearing being exposed – may God give you grace and wisdom with how to handle your past, and the knowledge that He still has work for you to accomplish.  The divine purpose that God has implanted in each of His creations does not end until the very second He gives us our last breath.  Keep on trucking for Him.

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