Trust In God’s Timing (Exodus 2:15-25)

Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 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?” Reuel 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 a foreigner 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 with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. (New International Version)

Faith is active, not static; it’s a dynamic experience of growth, not a possession that sits on your desk to admire. The experience of faith is much like a muscle that needs exercise and growth in order to be strengthened. 

Moses needed to learn and grow in faith, just as much or more than the rest of us. He didn’t always get it right. Wanting to show solidarity with his own people, and to help them by doing what he could, Moses killed an Egyptian overseer who was abusing a Hebrew slave.

Even though Moses tried to hide what he did, the word got out. And having grown up in the royal court of Pharaoh, he knew it was only a matter of time before he was found out. So, he left, at forty years old, knowing nobody outside of Egypt that he might connect with.

For the next forty years, Moses was in Midian, having received the hospitality he needed to survive. He married, settled down, and lived a very different life than the one he once had in Egypt. I doubt he forgot about his people in slavery. But I am pretty sure Moses doubted himself and saw no connection between himself and being able to do anything about his people’s awful situation.

Little did he know what was coming in his future.

“God is too good to be unkind. Too wise to be mistaken; and when you cannot trace his hand you can trust his heart.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The fact that Moses was eighty years old before he became the human agent of God’s deliverance, after a forty year stint in the backside of the desert as a shepherd, tells us that it took him awhile to mature. Even though Moses may have had a sense that the Israelites needed freedom from slavery, and acted on that sense by killing a ruthless Egyptian, his sense of timing was not good.

There is a time for everything, said the writer of Ecclesiastes. Wisdom, the ability to apply faith in concrete situations, is often in the timing of things. To know when to speak and when to listen, when to act and when to wait, is an important facet of faith. 

The ancient Israelites were slaves in Egypt for centuries. Moses knew they were suffering, and he acted impetuously. But it was not yet time. The groans of the people, however, did not go unnoticed. Eventually, the Jewish cry came up to God, and God heard them. The Lord remembered his covenant with them. 

But why did God not act sooner, or use Moses earlier? Why did the Hebrew people have to suffer for so long? That, my friend, is information that is only privy within the mind of God. The Lord has the big picture of what is happening in the universe; and I don’t.

The perspective of time surely looks much different when you can stand above it and see the past, present, and future all in one look.

For us, if we are to develop in faith and gain a wise sense of timing, we will need to rely on God. Trusting in ourselves, our own efforts, and our own perceived timing of how things ought to proceed will usually not end well. 

We may, much like Moses, find ourselves taking a “time out” from God in obscurity, until we learn to wait on the Lord’s deliverance.

Moving into the New Testament, in the fullness of time, Paul said to the Galatians, Jesus came, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under the law. (Galatians 4:4-5)

Faith is trusting in what God is doing, even though it might seem like the Lord is painfully slow in acting when circumstances are difficult. Yet, God sees; and God delivers. 

The Lord accomplishes deliverance according to divine timing – not ours. So, don’t be impetuous and cockeye about what needs to be accomplished, and when it needs to be done. Instead, do your best to keep up your spiritual growth, develop a good sense of timing, and rely upon the wisdom gained while you’re living in the backside of the desert.

Redeeming God, you control all things, including the clock. Give me wisdom so that my sense of timing might reflect your will and your way. Help me to persevere through suffering, and to trust in your goodness and grace, through Jesus Christ my Lord, in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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