Moses’ foolishness and actions, born out of his own strength and ideas, led him to a life of outlawry and drove him to the wilderness. However, as we learned last week, God had plans for him and many lessons to teach him. But we’re putting the cart before the horse. First, let’s look at how God provided for Moses in the wilderness and what happened after his flight from Egypt.
“When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well. Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, ‘How is it that you have come home so soon today?’ They said, ‘An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.’ He said to his daughters, ‘Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.’ And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.’”
Right away, we see that Moses had learned one lesson from his experience--humility. His courage and desire to rescue people is still evident, but this time, he couples it with humility and a desire to serve. He rescues the seven girls from harassment by the shepherds and then waters their flock for them.
This was above and beyond the call of duty. Moses didn’t need to water the flocks too. He could have just stood guard while the girls worked. However, Moses was willing to stoop down and do the girls’ work for them. The former prince of Egypt was watering livestock. I bet he had never done that kind of work before!
However, because of Moses’ willingness to humble himself and tackle the work in front him, he found a home and a place of belonging. He transitioned from the palace of the greatest king on earth to the humble life of a shepherd without too much fuss, all because he was quick to study and learn the first lesson God had for him--humility.
Oh, how much we could learn from this! For many of us, humility is a lesson that takes years, if not a lifetime, to learn. Yet Moses takes his lesson in stride and seems to master it in one experience. From this point on, we don’t see the arrogant, can-do Moses of Egypt, but the humble shepherd of Midian.
The second lesson Moses learned is contentment. This is a big one! When we find ourselves in the wilderness, it is best if we can learn this lesson fairly quickly because God can’t work in our hearts until we are content with where we’re at and ready to learn from the season we’re in. As with the first lesson in humility, it appears that Moses learned to be content early on. As the story in Exodus records, “Moses was content to dwell with the man.”
Remember, Moses just came from a royal palace. His daily routine probably included servants preforming various tasks for him. Luxury was the norm, and manual labor by royalty was probably looked down upon. However, despite his past, Moses was quick to find contentment in the place God provided. After being welcomed into the priest of Midian’s home, he was content to live with the man. He didn’t complain about the lack of hired help or the fact that there wasn’t daily fresh baths.
On the contrary, Moses was completely content to dwell with the priest of Midian. He was ready to make his home and live in the wilderness for the rest of his days. He humbly exchanged his royal cloaks for a shepherd’s robe, and over the next forty years, practiced patience and gentle leadership on flocks of sheep.
Yet though that preparation, God was shaping Moses into the leader He needed him to be. And unbeknownst to him, God didn’t intend to keep Moses in the wilderness forever. He was there to learn some important lessons—humility and contentment. Now Moses was ready for the pinnacle moment of his wilderness habitation. But that’s a story for another day…
Until then…what lessons have you or are you currently learning from your time in the wilderness?
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