I sometimes struggle with the humanity of this Old Testament hero. It’s not too difficult to imagine him losing his temper, but it’s quite another thing to get my frontal lobe around the idea of him killing a fellow human being.
And yet, there it is–in inspired black and white–Moses slew a man. In fact, he had with some premeditation murdered an Egyptian task master (Exodus 2:11-12).
You could argue that as a prince and adopted grandson of the king, he wielded the power of the sword (Romans 13:1-4) and therefore had the authority to take life. But this wasn’t an on-the-spot, government-endorsed execution; it was a brutal homicide.
But whether or not Moses had the “letter of the law” right to slay the Egyptian, Pharaoh interpreted the bloodshed as a kind of watershed event. He realized that this, in essence, was Moses’ formal announcement that he had defected from Egypt and allied himself with the slaves.
Moses, as you may recall, was a Hebrew raised as an Egyptian for the better part of 4 decades. During that interval he witnessed the plight of his own people and then eventually decided it was time, not only to connect with them (Hebrews 11:24-26), but to deliver them. And from his perspective, deliverance began with the murder of the slave-driver.
He assumed that the Hebrews would appreciate his altruistic motives and be thankful that he, as a sort of patriot, had slain this oppressor.
Ironically, the very next day after he had murdered the Egyptian, Moses found two Hebrews fighting and chose to intercede (Exodus 2:13-14). The evidence (Exodus 2:19) suggests he had the appearance of an Egyptian. When he attempted to reconcile the situation, the Hebrews didn’t see a fellow-sufferer and brother in the flesh, but another heavy-handed antagonist (Exodus 2:14).
Rather than rallying to his side, showing him respect, and supporting what he had done the day before, one of the Hebrews leveled criticism at him. “Who made you a prince and judge over us?” he sarcastically inquired.
I find this fascinating.
Moses was trying to do what he believed to be, a good thing, and not only get some Hebrew payback, but perhaps even initiate a slave revolt against Egyptian tyranny (Acts 7:24-25).
Back away from this story for just a moment and take it in. Moses sought to lead God’s people and anticipated praise. Instead, he received biting criticism.
Does that sound familiar? Have you ever been harshly criticized when you were sincerely trying to do the right thing?
Here’s what I am learning from my hero. Psssst… It’s not what you may want to hear, but it’s biblical. Have you got your seatbelt on?
Criticism is an inherent part of life; you can’t escape it, you can’t run from it, nor can you circumvent it. And even when you’re doing your dead-level best to carry out, what you think to be, the Lord’s will, there will always be those who misunderstand and censure you.
Don’t believe me? Keep reading through the Pentateuch. Moses received a lot of criticism from his peers.
Paul faced criticism on an almost daily basis. Jesus was taken to the verbal woodshed on multiple occasions, not only by his enemies, but even his friends and family (Mark 3:20-22)–and he was perfect!
Here’s my point. If we can begin to expect and anticipate criticism as an innate part of the Christian walk (2 Timothy 3:12), we might be less defensive, perhaps even open to what is said (Psalms 139:23-24; Proverbs 9:7-9; 10:17), when it comes our way.
“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike