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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


September 2021

Exodus/Acts 7:23-29: ‘Moses thought…’

23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defence and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realise that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’
27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.

This is an extract from Stephen’s speech in the book of Acts 7:

Moses thought that his own people would realise that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not’ (25).

It is important to think, and what we think is not necessarily wrong. God has given us the gift of the mind and we are to gratefully use it. But sometimes (often, even?) our thinking is far from correct. Logic takes us in the wrong direction. We find repeatedly that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. This is why, as followers of Christ, we should live prayerfully, always seeking the mind of Christ.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.’ Proverbs 3:5,6.

‘Prayer is both the simplest and most difficult of spiritual practices. We need it, we desire it, it is not actually hard to do—and yet even deeply committed believers can struggle at times with prayerlessness. The reasons we give for this neglect take many forms, but they often boil down to some version of “I’m too busy.” Underneath these rationalizations lies a deeper reason: Our pride continually pulls us toward self-reliance, so we avoid the God-reliance that’s at the very heart of prayer.’ (From an article entitled: ‘The sweet relief of utter dependence’ by Kelli B. Trujillo).

PRAYER: God be in my head and in my understanding.

Exodus 2:13,14: Congruence

13 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?”
14 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.”

In the last chapter of Eugene Peterson’s wonderful book, ‘Christ plays in ten thousand places’, he writes about how he and his wife went to hear the famous Swiss psychiatrist, Paul Tournier, give a lecture at the ‘John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He says it was life-changing, and describes how, as Tournier spoke, he got a sense from him of what he could only describe as ‘congruence’: he felt the genuineness of the man -that his life and words were completely at one; that he lived what he said. (He says he also got the same feeling from reading his books). The man was authentic. He had obvious integrity.

It is a problem for leaders when people perceive there to be a ‘credibility gap’ between their talk and their walk. ‘How can you tell me to do such and such, when you don’t do it? How can you expect me to live one way when you live another?’ They no doubt think it if they don’t actually say it.

This was the problem Moses ran into early on when he first tried to step up to a leadership role. It was a painful lesson to learn. He was going to have to learn to lead by example, and not just by words.

PRAYER: Lord, we know we cannot expect perfection of any human leader. We are all sinners living in a fallen world. But we do pray for leadership integrity in every area of life.

Exodus 2:11,12: ‘But he didn’t look up.’

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

The reference to “his own people” comes twice, so it is important. As is often said, ‘blood is thicker than water.’

Well, I seem to remember from Sunday School days the simple point being made about Moses, ‘But he didn’t look up!’

Leaders can be in the habit of looking “this way and that” but failing to truly look up. Like Moses, they maybe have a sense of destiny. They feel the call to lead, to do something. So they end up acting impulsively, on a whim, and in self-reliance. They try to do God’s work, but in their own way. They fight with worldly weapons (2 Cor.10). Prayer is an almost perfunctory item on a packed business agenda – perhaps the merest glance heavenward. They just hope God is okay with what they’re doing because they are going to do it anyway.

‘Truth will out.’ It did in Moses’ case. We may try to bury our sins, but ghost-like they emerge from the grave to haunt us. The only way we can give our misdemeanours a decent burial is through confession and repentance before God, and trusting in Jesus’ blood for forgiveness. Then we can have peaceful consciences. But even so, we can’t always evade the consequences – even of forgiven sin.

‘Moses had a splendid education (Acts 7:22), but he was lacking in faith. He fought the wrong enemy at the wrong time with the wrong weapon. When you start to look around and ask yourself “Is it safe?”…not “Is it right?” You have stopped living by faith. Sometimes God has to “set us aside” to teach us what we need to know – and to help us forget the way the world does things. Moses’ impulsive deed sent him to the back of the desert for forty years, just as his impulsive words would keep him out of the Promised Land (Num.20:9-13). An impatient spirit is a dangerous thing. Warren Wiersbe: With the Word’, p.49.

PRAYER: Lord God, as I consider the outlook, may I never lose sight of the up-look.

Exodus 2:11a: His own people

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor.

Many years had passed, and we know nothing of this formative period in Moses’ life, other than that he was raised in a palace as the adopted son of an Egyptian princess. We can only imagine the outstanding education he must have received, and the mind-boggling opportunities that came his way. But steeped as he was in the culture of Egypt, Hebrew blood coursed through his veins, and he recognised “his own people.” He felt their pain and misery. He identified with them. He was a Jew.

There’s a repetition of this idea in Acts 4:23:

“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.”

They had been grilled and threatened, and you can almost feel something of the relief of getting back to the church family, and being able to pray together about the dark cloud hanging ominously over them all.

I observed in a recent sermon that persecuted Christians appear to prize fellowship more than some of us in the ‘free’ west. Although it is regularly costly and dangerous to get together, they will take risks to do so. We, on the other hand, can be quite blasé about it, and we are often full of excuses. We have other places to be and other things to do.

But there is something immeasurably precious about being able to meet with our “own people” who are God’s people. As Eugene Peterson observed regarding Sunday worship – this is ancient wisdom and we disregard it at our peril!

PRAYER: Lord please forgive us the sin of neglecting the means of grace, and renew our priorities so they align with yours.

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