Digging in Deeper: Exodus 2:11-14

“Years later, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his own people and observed their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, one of his people. Looking all around and seeing no one, he struck the Egyptian dead and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, ‘Why are you attacking your neighbor?’ ‘Who made you a commander and judge over us?’ the man replied. ‘Are you planning to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses became afraid and thought, ‘What I did is certainly known.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We love justice and we hate seeing people who do things wrong get off without having to pay for them. At least, that’s all the case in theory. Better yet, that’s all the case as long as we are talking about other people. When it comes to us, we are quick to find excuses and hope that we do get away with whatever it is. We sin and don’t think much about the consequences, short- or long-term. Yet sin always has consequences. It will find us out. Moses found this out the hard way. Let’s talk about the next part of his story and what it means for ours.

I’ve recently and finally started watching The Chosen series. I’m not very far into it yet, but at this point it is every bit as good as I’ve heard. One of the things that makes it so good is that it takes you into the various stories in the Gospels you’ve always wanted to know more about to show you a picture of what else might have been going on behind the scenes. Now, even though it is all rooted in Scripture, it isn’t Scripture itself (a fact that must be constantly remembered while watching it). At the same time, though, it is a lot of fun wondering with the writers about what might have been happening just beyond what we can read on the page.

There are tons of stories in the Scriptures that leave you wondering what else was happening. Moses’ story is most definitely one of them. We left things yesterday with Moses’ parents hiding him from the authorities so he wasn’t taken and dumped in the Nile to drown. At the point he was three months along, though, he was starting to become harder to hide. If you’ve ever had a three-month-old, you will no doubt understand why. And, given that the Egyptians had no broad-based understanding of or respect for human dignity, especially for this slave people, they would have been equally happy to drop a three-month-old in the river as a newborn.

Moses’ parents knew they were going to have to take action. So, they made a basket just the right size for their baby, waterproofed it carefully, and then set him adrift in the Nile to see what would happen. Now, I’ll grant you that sounds insane to us. And it was. But given that their options were to trust him into the hands of the Lord to be rescued by someone, or having a group of Egyptian soldiers forcibly take him and drown him, they went with the one that resulted in his living just a bit longer.

And, his living just a bit longer is what happened. Actually, it was much more than that. Moses was noticed and rescued by none other than Pharaoh’s daughter. Now, given the way ancient kings tended to operate, this was probably one of many, many children fathered by Pharaoh. He may have not even been aware that this rescue and adoption happened under his roof. Even if he did, though, it was probably easier to simply indulge her rather than stop her. Besides, it could be interesting to raise up a Hebrew boy as an Egyptian to see what happened in the future. Then, to make things even better for Moses’ family, Pharaoh’s daughter, at the suggestion of Moses’ watching sister, hired his own mother to ween him for her meaning they got another couple of years with him.

What happened between then and where the story picks up years later here is a mystery. Moses would have grown up in the palace. How much of his heritage he learned we simply don’t know. Given the Egyptians’ generally xenophobic attitude toward lesser peoples, I can’t imagine he was taught very much. Perhaps he was told that he was Hebrew when he became aware that he didn’t look like his adoptive mother, but what kind of impression he was given about them we don’t know. Either way, years and years later, Moses “observed” that his people were being treated as slaves by the Egyptians. The word here conveys more than a sense of merely making an impartial observation. Moses discovered the fact almost as the result of an investigation, and he didn’t like it. He was moved to compassion by it. His sense of justice was heighted.

He takes his anger out on the first Egyptian he sees beating one of the Hebrew slaves, murdering the man. And the text makes clear that this was premeditated murder. Moses may have been reacting in anger and out of a newly inflamed sense of justice, but he was fully aware of what he was doing. He looked all around to make sure the coast was entirely before killing him. Then, to top things off, he hid the body in the sand to make certain his crime was not discovered. Perhaps he fancied himself an avenger of his people. He would use his power and position to rescue them from their plight. Yet while God did indeed intend to use him to do just that, he was not at all ready for such a task. He had many more years of preparation in the wilderness before it would be time to execute God’s plans.

God’s waiting another full generation before finally bringing relief to His suffering people raises a host of challenging questions, but I want to take just a minute longer here to reflect on Moses’ attempt to hide his sin. Let’s be clear: His murder of the Egyptian soldier was in no way an act commissioned by God. Moses, raised in the palace to hold to the pagan beliefs of the Egyptians, may not have had much of an idea who God even was at this point in his life. Perhaps he knew that the Hebrews worshiped a God named Yahweh (more on that in a couple of weeks), but he didn’t really know anything about Him. This was Moses acting on his own. He was bringing about justice by entirely human means. This was his own revolution against oppression. When we act to oppose injustice and oppression without God’s direction and character, we always make an ugly mess of things. The French Revolution is a perfect example of this.

In any event, Moses here committed a sin. Then he tried to hide it. Yet his efforts were in vain. The very next day it was revealed to him that in spite of being so careful to make sure no one was around to witness his murder, he wasn’t as careful as he believed himself to be. Someone saw and the word began to spread. Hebrews who didn’t have any idea who he was except that he was from the palace and thus represented their oppressors didn’t want anything to do with the justice he was offering them. They weren’t interested in trading one set of Egyptian oppressors for another. They hated all of them, including Moses.

As gripping a story as this turns out to be, though, it offers us up an important reminder. As much as Moses was not able to hide his sin, we won’t be able to hide ours either. Hear that again because it is an idea that is much slower to sink in than it should be. You won’t be able to hide your sin. Whatever it is that you think no one knows about, it is going to come out. I know how hard that can be to believe. You probably have some sin going on in your life that you really don’t want people to know about, and which you are exceedingly careful to keep under wraps. It won’t stay there forever. It may not even stay there for long.

Now, on the one hand, this is a terrifying notion. Your sin, if discovered, may ruin a relationship. It may ruin several relationships. It could cost you your job. There could even be criminal consequences for it. Your best bet is to come clean now. Own it before the potential damage grows even larger than it already may be. On the other hand, this revelation is a sign of God’s great love for you. How is that? If God really loved you, why would He allow something to get out that is going to shred your relationships and cause so much pain to so many other people? Simple: He knows the pain caused by allowing the sin to linger will be greater still. If you don’t deal with it, it will eventually cause death. Perhaps not physically, but spiritually for sure, and that would be even worse.

While God is well aware of the pain the discovery of your sin may cause, He loves you too much to leave you trapped in it. He knows that once light has been shone on it, redemption and reconciliation and restoration are all live possibilities if you will trust in Him and keep moving in His direction. Just consider Moses. The discovery of his sin led to his exile from his home, but it also put him in a place where God could begin doing the work on his heart necessary to make him into the man He could use to accomplish what Moses had previously wanted to do under his own power, but this time successfully because he was led by an infinitely greater power. If you have sin you are hiding, quit hiding in the dark and step into the light. It’ll hurt at first, but eventually you’ll be glad you did.

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