Thursday, August 11, 2011

Exodus 2:16-22 Deliverer

After Moses fled from Egypt, he went to Midian, where he sat by a well.  I  think that this would be a place where he figured he could encounter some of the people and begin to establish himself.  Or, maybe he was just thirsty, and was waiting for someone to come along who could allow him to borrow their vessel so that he could get a drink.

At any rate, it was not long before someone came along.  Seven 'someones', to be exact, along with their father's flock of sheep:

"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.

When the girls returned to Reuel their father,
he asked them, 'Why have you returned so early today?'
They answered, 'An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds.
He even drew water for us and watered the flock.'

'And where is he?' he asked his daughters.
'Why did you leave him?  Invite him to have something to eat.'
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."

Exodus 2:16-22 (NIV)

Moses rescues Reuel's daughters from the shepherds.  Apparently some other shepherds had become accustomed to waiting until the women had done all the hard work of filling the troughs for their flock, before moving in to take all of the water for themselves.  Reuel's surprise at his daughters' early arrival home that day shows us that this injustice probably took place fairly regularly.

Reuel may have been unable to put an end to this practice, but Moses was not going to put up with the bullying shepherds for one second.  He rescued the women from the shepherds and even watered the flock himself.

When the girls related the reason for their early arrival to their father, he insisted on having them ask Moses to join them in a meal.  Aside from it being the hospitable thing to do, Reuel had seven daughters.  It would be a wonderful thing to have a man of fine character such as Moses for a son-in-law.  Reuel could be sure that his daughter would be treated well, for Moses had even stepped in to rescue the women when they were strangers to each other.  It would also be good to have another man around to help look after his interests.

Of course, these verses condense all of the events which led to Moses marrying Zipporah.  Probably Moses served as a shepherd for Reuel's flock for a while before he was given Zipporah as a wife.  Also, the woman marries Moses in verse 21 and gives birth to his son Gershom in verse 22, so we realize that there are at least nine months or so between these two events.

All in all, we are left with the impression that Moses is facing a new life in Midian.  He has become a shepherd in a desert land, which must have been a rather shocking contrast to the life of royal privilege he had led for most of his life, surrounded by the beauty of the Nile region in Egypt. 

Gershom's name sound like the Hebrew for 'an alien there'.  Moses probably meant this to reflect the fact of his new life in Midian.  No longer was Moses even a possible candidate for future Pharaoh-hood.  Instead, he was a stranger in a strange land.  Perhaps Moses was also troubled by the knowledge that God had promised to eventually bring His people out of Egypt and back to the land of Canaan, the promised land.  Despite Moses having identified himself with the people of God, he probably felt somewhat out of the loop as the years rolled by and he remained in Midian.

However, as many writers have observed, being a shepherd was wonderful training for leading people.  Sheep are known for being wayward and obstinate and fearful and seemingly inclined to seek out their own destruction.  Sadly, people who are led by their own sinful natures are not much different.  Being a shepherd was the perfect training for leading the people of God.  In fact, I believe that in the future, Moses would lead the Israelites through some of the same areas where he once led Reuel's flock of sheep.

Of course, Moses had no idea of God's preparations at the time that he was going through them.

How wonderfully God was preparing Moses for His own use.  Dare we think the same when we find ourselves in a similarly 'desert' place in our lives, and there seems to be no reason behind our difficulties?  Is our concept of God big enough to really believe that He knows exactly what He is doing and that He will do what is best for our good and His glory?

Moses was about forty years old when he fled Egypt (Acts 7:23), and he remained in Midian for the next forty years.(Acts 7:30)  Think about all of the hard work involved in forty years of shepherding.  During that time, [as He had done throughout all of Moses' life] God was continuing to prepare Moses for the most important job of his life:  leading the people of God out of slavery in Egypt.


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