Disappointment and failure: Moses I

I’ve been struck recently by the way I see God relating to people in the Bible. The story of Moses is first of all a story of great disappointments and failures. Why did God let it happen this way? And how did Moses go on to become the greatest prophet in Israel’s history? Check out Exodus 2 to 4 for the narrative.

Moses was born at a time of great persecution against the Israelite slaves in Egypt, but miraculously escaped death – one of the only little boys of his generation to survive. He was rescued by an Egyptian princess and brought up by her. Even his name which means ‘brought out of the water’ labelled him as special.

But can you imagine how hard it would have been for him as a young person? Even though he was an Israelite, he wasn’t really one of them. And even though he was the son of an Egyptian princess, he wasn’t really an Egyptian.

The story says that when he was a young man he went out and watched his people – the Israelites.

Was he making an effort to see and identify their problems and perhaps look for a solution? I think he must have had some idea that he was special, or saved for the purpose of saving the Israelite people in some way.

Because when he saw an Egyptian beating an Israelite, he felt he just had to intervene. He killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the greatest intervention of all time. I mean – what was he thinking? Killing one Egyptian wouldn’t change the regime!

He then had a second go at solving the Israelites problems, with persuasion – getting the Israelites to work together instead of against each other. But that didn’t work either. He just got a mouthful of abuse.

When he realises that his efforts have come to nothing, Moses has to flee. And by the time he gets to Midian, he realises that he has been a failure, and a reject.

Here are some of the ways he’s been rejected:
- rejected at birth by the Egyptians – not meant to live.
- ‘rejected’ even if not willingly by his own family – because he couldn’t live with them.
- rejected by Egyptian society – not considered really Egyptian – or perhaps he may himself have rejected them.
- rejected by his own people when he tried to help.
- The consequences of his own impulsive personality in killing the Egyptian meant that finally he was rejected from Egypt when he had to flee for murder.

So Moses moved on. He started a new life, got a new job as a shepherd, kept himself busy and made a living. But he took all his rejections and failures with him, and he still felt them very keenly.

Fancy naming your child “I have become an alien in a foreign land.” When I was pregnant I never found that in a baby name book. It’s really a cry of frustration, and of desperation. He takes on his feelings of failure and rejection in his own identity by naming his son.

From being a person with so much promise, and so many miracles and wonderful things in his early life, he’s now seen by other people as a failure, and he’s seen by himself as an outcast. From being a big somebody, he’s now an even bigger nobody.

Why did it happen? How did Moses get over it? Where was God in all of it?
Watch my next blog for some answers…