Maybe this is why OUR attempts at revolutionary reform in and through the church fail: because we fail to get beyond our anger and our ambitions. We need to add a whole new mindset to our highly educated skillset.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
ANGRY YOUNG MAN or “MOSES AND THE REVOLUTION”
Blogging from Exodus 2:11+
Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.(Exodus 2:11, 12)
Moses was angry. It was a seething, simmering, suppressed rage lidded by a schooled smile, a flawless WASP accent, and the impeccable manners acquired in an Ivy League lifestyle; but Moses had been angry for the better part of 40 years.
If any of his high-class Egyptians peers had noticed, one of the elders would surely have accused Moses of being “ungrateful.” After all, he’d enjoyed privilege, education, and opportunities other boys like him could only dream of.
But Moses knew too much to just “shut up and play” the game of Egyptian assimilation.
Moses KNEW that the man he called grandfather had tried to kill him when he was a baby. Moses KNEW that the same folks who caled him “sir,” and “your highness” would have cheerfully drowned him in the Nile without hesitation and without consequence.
In 4 decades in Pharaoh’s house, how many racist, anti-Semitic jokes do you think Moses forced himself to laugh at? How many times did he sit through impassioned speeches about how it was acceptable for Egyptians to murder young Hebrew boys because “Look at all the Hebrew-on-Hebrew crime”?
How many family dinner guests casually quipped about wasting education on Hebrews because “All they really need is to job skills so they can make bricks faster”?
In 40 years, how many adopted siblings, cousins, uncles, and aunts repeated the common line, “All those Hebrews do is live off the government in Goshen and have babies and take Egyptian jobs” and then when they noticed Moses’ awkward silence added, “but not you, Moses. Oh no, your highness. You’re not like THEM. I don’t even see color when I look at you, your Highness. You’re like a ‘real’ Egyptian.”
Someone probably even tried to explain to Moses that the Hebrews LIKED being slaves. “They’ve been in Egypt 400 years,” they said, “That sounds like a choice.”
For 40 years Moses heard and KNEW: “They’re talking about my people. They’re talking about my brother, my sister, my mama. They’re talking about ME.”
Yeah, Moses was angry. But, he didn’t kill the Egyptian overseer because he was angry. Not ONLY because he was angry. Moses killed the Egyptian because he was angry and AMBITIOUS.
Moses supposed that his Hebrew brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand . . . (Acts 7:25).
that God would deliver them by his hand
Moses didn’t just want to kill an overseer; he wanted to Nat Turner the whole system. Moses was trying to start a revolution.
That’s why Pharaoh ordered Moses killed. He didn’t care about another spoiled prince’s liberal rage, and he didn’t care about a dead overseer. The Egyptian royal family were worshipped as the descendants of the gods. A prince of Egypt could have killed or ordered the death of a hundred lowly Egyptian overseers for any reason or for none at all. No prince would be arrested for murder but one would have been arrested and executed for treason.
So why didn’t God support Moses when he first tried to deliver the Hebrew children from their oppressors?
Remember what the Hebrew men asked Moses the day after the murder?
And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?”
Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? . . . ” (Exodus 2:13,14)
Who made you a prince and a judge over us?
They knew that Moses wasn’t just angry; he was angry and ambitious. Moses didn’t just want to be a liberator. Moses wanted to be king.
But the only kind of king Moses knew to be was a king like Pharaoh.
God didn’t want another pharaoh.
So instead of endorsing Moses’ revolution by striking down the Egyptians in a string of deadly miracles, the Lord let Moses catch a case. He fled into the wilderness of Midian where he met a man named Reuel, aka Jethro.
Reuel (Exodus 2:16) became Moses’ father-in-law and mentor. For the first time in his life, Moses sat under an actively engaged father figure. He learned to be a husband and father. He learned to know and love the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Egypt Moses spent 40 years learning to lead like a pharaoh. In Midian, it took just as long for him to learn to serve like a shepherd (Acts 7:23; Exodus 7:7).
When God spoke to him out of a burning bush Moses had changed so much that he tried to decline the offer of leadership.
God didn’t support the revolutionary who wanted to be a king. God called the prophet who wanted to be a shepherd.
The Lord is looking for leaders who have not made their ascent to power a condition of their people's deliverance. God is waiting on us to think less like revolutionaries and more like shepherds.
--Anderson T. Graves II is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.
Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama. He writes a blog called A Word to the Wise at www.andersontgraves.blogspot.com
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