Running has been the theme of some great hits. Who could forget REO Speedwagon’s “Take it On the Run” or the Doobie Brothers “Long Train Running”? Journey sang about how the wheels in the sky keep on turning. I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow. I think the one that fits Moses best at this point is Jackson Brown’s “Running on Empty.”
Exodus 2:15 says, “When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian…” Why Midian? Midian was a territory outside of Egyptian control, in the northwest regions of the Arabian desert. Also, the Midianites traced their heritage back to Median, a son of Abraham, through his wife Keturah, whom he married after the death of Sarah. Possibly it was this family connection that drove Moses to travel there.
Now the palace prince walked alone under the searing sun and struggled to sleep in the frigid air. But one day, off in the distance, he spotted a well. As he sat resting and enjoying a refreshing drink, he saw seven young women approaching to water their flocks. People have lived in the Arabian Desert for thousands of years. It is a nomadic life centered around breeding camels, horses, and sheep. Life revolves around finding water and pasture for grazing.
As they approached the well, some other roughneck shepherds rolled up. Exodus 2:17 says, “Some shepherds came along and drove them away…” Very likely there were catcalls, hoots, obscene gestures, unwanted passes, or even attempts to have their way sexually. It was not a safe situation, because the Bible says in Exodus 2:17, “…but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.” The tired prince still had some fight. After kicking butt Egyptian style, I’m sure the ladies were impressed. Moses went over the top and watered their flocks, probably with a grin and a wink.
Moses did the work in record time because when the girls got back home, their father asked, “Why have you returned so early today?” (Ex. 2:18) That’s when they told him about the heroic, mysterious Egyptian. The curious and thankful father invited the stranger to stay.
Like many others in Scripture, this dad of seven had two names, Reuel and Jethro. He’s first introduced as Reuel, which means the “Friend of God.” The atmosphere in this wilderness home was much more relaxed than the palace. Zero pressure to perform or impress. There were long meals, walks, and plenty of time for conversation. Jethro grew to like Moses and wanted him to stay so much he offered his daughter Zipporah as a wife.
What a strange wedding that must have been! Zipporah’s side had all the family and friends, while Moses stood alone. Soon after, they had their first child. Moses named him Gershom which in the Hebrew sounds like “a foreigner there.” Though blessed with a wife, son, and extended family, inside he still felt like a foreigner, a misfit living in a strange land.
If you’re going through a season of transition, and sometimes wonder where you fit, take note of a few lessons from Moses…