02(Exodus 02,11-25) Heaven Can Wait
"HEAVEN CAN WAIT" (EX. 2:11-25)
People value quickness, service, and convenience and smart businesses know how to meet that need.
You can get your photographs done in an hour, use the express lane for 10 items or less, receive 24-hour CNN business with up-to-the-minute sportswire, and go for one day dry-cleaning. Other notable offers were:
- Cathay Pacific’s non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.
- Black Angus’ free lunch guarantee if not served in 10 minutes.
- Domino's Pizza’s free food if undelivered in 30 minutes.
Waiting is the pits for me. I identify with the young man who moans to his girlfriend in a Charles Schultz comic: "I have waited so long for you that I have read the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation.” For me, the only part that matters in professional sports whether NBA, NCAA or NFL or is the last two minutes.
Moses grew to be a promising prince, but he was not yet ready to command a following -- Egyptians, Jews, or both. He was either too partial, impulsive or aggressive. He made a mistake in this chapter and paid dearly for it --40 years of exile-- leaving his people, the Egyptian palace, and peacemaking duties, but that was the time for him to grow more mature away from his comfort zone, learn to relate and respond to others, and for the Israelites to begin crying to God.
It's been said that we do not always get what we want when we pray. God answers us in three ways- yes, no, and wait. Why wait? When is it the right time? How does waiting benefit us?
I. MODEL THE NECESSARY EXAMPLE (2:11-15)
"One day, after Moses had grown up, he went to where his own people were and watched them at hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people, Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand (2:11-12).
During the Los Angels riots, an NBC/Mutual radio reporter Steve Futterman was asking looters emerging from a store.
"What did you take?" he asked one man.
"Nothing," the man replied.
"What did you take?" he asked a second man.
The response was an angry expletive.
Not giving up, the reporter Futterman pursued a third man.
"What did you take?" he asked the third man."
"I got some gospel music," the looter replied. "I love Jesus.” (Los Angeles Times, 10/4/92)
The word example comes from Latin exemplum, or sample. As in a product, it is to be a sample of good taste, effective use and fitting need.
Moses the Hebrew learnt that his ambitious, deadly and irreconcilable behavior were unacceptable -there is no double standard in leadership, no wrong way to do the right thing, and justified means to the end. Moses met someone who creates three complicated roles to Moses-- a slave, a free man, and a fellow Hebrew-- with an attitude that taught him a lesson or two about leading.
How do we set a good example? What makes people follow us anyway? What kind of leadership do people relate to?
A. The Unacceptable Way to Lead is by Power
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?” (2:13)
The power Moses had over the slave was laughable. When he asked a fellow Hebrew a question, he was answered with...a question!
B. The Acceptable Way to Lead is by Persuasion
"Who made you ruler or judge over us?" (2:14)
Persuasion can do something what power cannot do. The free man brought out a very logical argument: Who made you ruler or judge over us? You cannot DIRECT US HOW TO THINK. As slaves, you can rebuke, arrest or even kill them, but you can't tell them how to think, what is right or wrong, or why they’re right. Power make people obey, listen or fear you, but persuasion changes the way people think, feel, or say.
C. The Superior Way to Lead is by Permission
"Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?" (2:14)
Moses was used to doing things without permission. He killed the Egyptian because he could as an Egyptian prince or should as a loyal Hebrew but fell short as a fellow Hebrew. A fellow Hebrew cannot FORCE upon another WHAT YOU DESIRE. Moses’ effort to arbitrate, control, and right the situation would be praiseworthy if he has the man’s permission. A slave is used to things done to or by him, but a fellow Hebrew allows only things done with or for him.
II. MAINTAIN THE NECESSARY EDUCATION (2:16-22)
"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." (2:16-17)
In the face of two questions, Moses was overwhelmed with fear, crossed the Sinai Peninsula, and began all over again. But here in the wilderness of Midian his real training began.
A. The Education of A Shepherd
Moses' best education was not in the palace, but in the fields of Midian. He received his degree in the schooling of flocks: gathering them, guarding them, guiding them.
A Jewish story tells of the education of Moses as a shepherd:
One day, while Moses was grazing his flock, he noticed a little goat had strayed away, so he ran after it for fear that it would get lost and die of hunger and thirst in the wilderness.
Suddenly, from a distance, Moses saw the little goat stop and drink eagerly from a spring. Then he understood that the little animal was thirsty and for that reason had left the flock. When Moses came nigh it he said, "My dear little goatkin! Had I known that you were only thirsty I would not have run after you."
When the little goat had quenched its thirst, Moses placed it upon his shoulders and carried it all the way back to the flock. "The little goat is weak and young," he thought compassionately, "therefore I must carry it."
When God saw what Moses had done He was greatly pleased and said to him, "Deep is your compassion, O Moses! Because of your kindness to this little animal you will be the leader of My people Israel, and are destined to serve as their devoted shepherd.” (Treasury of Jewish Folklore 457-58, ed. By Nathan Ausubel (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1948)
I am not sure if you remember this news a few months ago. In Chino there were a few overnight incidents of ranch owners discovering their sheep dead from animals chasing, scaring and biting some sheep. The owners were furious and said that the attackers were not wolves but domesticated dogs, and warned the neighbors about shooting the dogs in sight, whether they were pets or not. Why did the sheep die from enclosed chasing, small bites or playful dogs? Sheep die easily because they just keep on running until they are totally exhausted, fall over and cease breathing.
B. The Education of A Servant
The young prince now learnt to serve instead of being served, far from his position in the palace. Moses watered the animals with no request, reward, or reminder.
Dr. Howard Whaley gives us his insight: "Somebody has said that he had a bigger head earlier than he does now, but then he had a bigger heart after God spoke to him than he had previously."
C. The Education of A Stranger
"I have become an alien in a foreign land." (2:22)
As a foreigner, a wanderer and a stranger he will live in tents not palaces, sit by wells and not thrones (Ex 2:15), learn to cope with being alone, afraid, or away.
III. MANIFEST THE NECESSARY EXPERIENCE
"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 an alien 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 Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them (2:21-23)
Experience takes time. As Calvin told Hobbes in the living room, in front of the television set:
"I don't like real experience. It's too hard to figure out! You never know what's going on! You don't have any control over events! I prefer to have life filtered through television. That way you know events have been packaged for your convenience! I like a narrative imposed on life, so everything logically proceeds to a tidy conclusion. And if you don't like what's happening, "Click," you change the channel and there's something different! That's how real life should be." (LA Times 10/4/92).
Experience. I like the way it's described in verse 23, during that long period.
I looked up a typical week in the job marketplace and discovered the high regard our society has for experience:
Hotel: Front Office Manager. Min. 1 yr. experience with proven results.
Computer- Re-engineering: Masters & 3+ years consulting exp. with orig. design.
MGT- Customer Service Manager. Min 5 yrs successful customer service management exp.
Administrator - 8 yrs. min. experience in residential facility for the elderly.
What were the Israelites doing while Moses was enjoying domestic bliss? They suffered, they groaned, and they cried out to God. Wasn't it urgent to send Moses now? Not without the necessary experience. God can wait.
Why? What can experience do for us? How does experience help us?
A. Live Practically
Do you know Moses' roles that mature him in the land of Midian? A son-in-law, a husband, and a father (21). What an unexpected bargain! Moses will come out with a first-hand experience of the intense, unpredictable but meaningful relationship with God and the Israelites.
B. Live Patiently
Do you know how long Moses will remain in Midian (Acts 7:30)? Another 40 years. Why the long wait? Just about right the number of years Moses will act as a leader to the Jews.
C. Live Purposefully
The passage ends with "So God heard...God remembered...God saw...and God took notice of them." Purposefully means that we understand God must have a cause, a plan, and an occasion for everything. How long were the Israelites in Egypt? 430 years before God took them out of Egypt (Ex 12:40). Remember, heaven can wait.
WORDS TO LIVE BY
(Passage Summation, Biblical Integration, and Life Application)
Ask yourself when you STALL!
1. What am I stuck on?
Are there things in your life you are blind to? Hindering your personal growth, relationship to God and others? Are you stuck on an attitude problem, a lousy personality, or a dry relationship with God? Why isn’t God using you as He is other people?
2. What have I tried?
Have I attempted to seek God’s direction, stretch yourself, or recruit others?
3. What is my attitude?
How do I regard annoying people, disturbing circumstances, and urgent tasks?
4. What can I live with?
Is it OK if you are not God’s chosen leader, an outstanding person, or accepted by all? Maybe some of us need to kneel, crawl and scramble for a long time to make it. Is that all right with you?
5. What have I learnt?
Am I growing emotionally, relationally, and spiritually?