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Failed Deliverance

"And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian" (Acts 7:24).

There was true heroism in the act, when Moses stepped down from Pharaoh's throne to share the lot of his brethren. Moses might have contented himself by sending them money from the treasures of Egypt, but it was a greater and nobler thing to give himself. And the true spiritual instinct of his soul gleamed out as he did.

At the same time, there was a great deal for Moses to learn. In later days he was to know the ways of the Lord—God would make them known to him (Psalm 103:7); but just now he was full of his own ways. In later days he was to be a hand, strengthened and used and empowered by God Himself (Psalm 77:20); but now he was acting in his own self-energy—rash, impetuous, and headstrong. In later days he was to be the meekest and least obtrusive of men, conscious to a fault of his own weakness and at every step looking up for guidance and help; but now he leaned wholly on his own understanding and, without taking counsel of God, thought to secure the emancipation of his people by the assertion of his will and the putting forth of his might.

But God's time for the deliverance of His people was not due for forty years. Moses' own education was very incomplete; it would take at least forty years to drain him of self-will and self-reliance and prepare him for the Master's use. The feelings of pity that led to his impulsive act would never have been strong enough to bear him through the weary years of the upcoming desert march. Beneath the repeated provocations of the people of Israel, it must have given way. At this point in his life, Moses never could have carried them as a nursing father or asked that he might be blotted out of the book of life for them or pleaded for them with God (Numbers 11:12; Exodus 32:11,32).

Is there not a lesson here for many of us who have not learned to distinguish between passion and principle, between impulse and settled purpose? We all know something of this. Oh, for grace to wait and watch with God. One blow struck when the time is right is worth a thousand struck in premature eagerness. It is not for you, O my soul, to know the times and seasons that the Father has put in His own power. Wait only upon God; let your expectation be from Him. If we undertake a work because He calls us to it, and we are sure it is our duty for His sake, then we have secured a principle of action that will bear us through disappointment, failure, and ingratitude. The way in which others treat us will make no difference to us, because all is done for Him alone.

It is a mistake to credit Moses' natural qualities with the success of the exodus. We must always remember that, like Gideon's host, Moses was at first too strong for God. God dare not entrust His power to men till they are humbled and emptied and conscious of their helplessness. Even the Son of God learned obedience by the things that He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Paul, the most eminent of His saints, must suffer from a thorn in the flesh to remind him of his weakness, and confessed that only when he was weak could he be strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

When a soul is inflated with a strong reliance on its own sufficiency, the power of God is unable to make an entrance or use that soul as a channel for its work. It is when we are willing to be accounted as worms, as broken reeds, as little children, as foolish, weak, despised, as "things which are not," that we become aware of being vehicles for the working of the might of His power. You must be brought to and end of yourself before God can begin with you. But when you have come to that point there is no limit to what may be wrought during a single life by the passage through it of His eternal power and Godhead.

—Adapted from The Life of Moses by F.B. Meyer



"For the first 40 years of his life, Moses was a somebody living in Pharaoh's palace. For the next 40 years he was a nobody tending sheep on the backside of the desert. For the last 40 years, Moses learned what God could do with somebody who realized they were a nobody." —D.L. Moody