The passage can be read here.
Before I came to Ebenezer, I worshipped with a small group of Christians and we used to make use of several different public halls. One day, someone came up with the idea of buying a carpet to make things a little more welcoming. We all agreed and someone purchased a small carpet that could be placed in the boot of a car and produced for the services. It was really good, it did have the desired affect and it did help to create a more welcoming atmosphere. For many months we enjoyed our carpet until one day when due to circumstances the carpet wasn’t available and things just didn’t feel right. It was then we realised, the carpet had become too important and it was time for the Church and the carpet to go our separate ways. I can testify that the Lord delivered me from carpet addiction.
It’s a silly story I know but there is a point (Praise the Lord!). Things can assume great importance and sometimes even harmless things, can take our focus away from God. Israel had lost its focus, Jesus had lived among them, he had died and was risen from the dead. He offered new life and forgiveness but Israel was looking at the land, the law and the temple.
This section of the Stephen’s message was concerned largely with Moses’ early life. The life of Moses can be divided into three parts; the first 40 years where he lived in Egypt, the second 40 years where he lived in obscurity in Midian and the last 40 years leading Israel through the wilderness. Today we are thinking about the first 40 years.
Moses was known as the friend of God, he saw God work in astounding ways and had amazing encounters with God but all of them occurred outside Israel. There is no mention of him even setting foot there. As we look at his life, it’s easy to see the hand of God. He was saved from the Nile – God protected him when he was weak and vulnerable. God placed him in a very privileged position, in the royal palace to learn all the wisdom from the most advanced nation in the area or possibly the world. It is obvious, God was preparing him for a great work. Years later when the people cried out to God to deliver them from their suffering, God was not taken by surprise, he had been preparing his chosen servant for years – before they had even asked.
Before God could use Moses he had to learn a lesson that was completely separate from the wisdom of Egypt. He had to learn to be sensitive to God’s timing. We know that when we pray, God’s answer is sometimes neither yes or no, it’s not now. That can be the most difficult of all. Stephen reveals something omitted in Genesis; Moses knew God was going to use him to rescue Israel (7:25). He identified with the suffering of his own people and he was angry at the abuse around him. Remember, Moses lived in a palace so it would have been easy to turn his back on his own people. All of these things are good but his training was not finished. I suspect that Moses learnt a great deal in the next part of his life that would help him in the work God had called him to do. He acted impulsively and sinfully and he would have to run away. Perhaps he thought he had ruined his chance to serve God and his people but he hadn’t. God is gracious – Praise the Lord
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:1-2)