Moses was the complete package. Quick, decisive, energetic, direct, poised, educated, and eloquent. He had chiseled arms. He appeared comfortable around the table interacting with world leaders.
But like many talented, beautiful, successful people, underneath the royal robs and confident demeanor he was a mystery to himself. He wrestled with the colossal identity questions of, “Who am I and where do I belong?” He knew his people, the Hebrews, worked like dogs in the sun, while he sat, eating peeled grapes, in the lap of luxury. The palace parties were over the top – all the wine and women at his beck and call. It was a head rush to be in the inner circle of power. But when the lights went down, and he was alone, he didn’t fit. Surrounded by everything, something huge was missing.
Every person has a desire for self-discovery. That starts with knowing your history, place, and family of origin. That’s why we pay big money for services like ancestry.com. Their slogan is, “Build your family tree and see your story come to life.” One day the desire to find his tree outstripped the pressure to conform.
Exodus 2:11 says, “One day after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people.” I can see Moses wincing, and clenching his teeth as the whips cracked on their tired backs. Then, he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, like a Nazi soldier thrashing a malnourished prisoner in a concentration camp. A flood of anger shattered the psychological barrier of separation. Exodus 2:12 says, “Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” Maybe he clobbered him over the head with a wooden beam or snapped his neck with his well-trained hands. Then Moses buried him in the sand.
What was Moses thinking? Let’s jump to Acts 7:25 for more insight – “Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.” For him, this was his moment of self-actualization. He thought his people would connect the dots and realize he was their deliverer. The last four words in the verse above tell it bluntly, “…but they did not.”
The very next day he went again to see his people. This time he saw two Hebrews fighting, and he stepped in once more. Acts 7:23 says, “…He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’” Again, he attempted to position himself as a leader, judge, a reconciler. Their response to his devotional talk was, “Who do you think you are? We don’t need you or want your help.” (Acts 7:27) When Moses finally stepped out to identify with his people, they rejected him.
Exodus 2:15a says, “When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian…” At forty years of age, in the prime of his life, he made a bold leap to make it happen. He put all his relational capital on the line but came up short. He was a murderer, a fugitive, and a failure. The prince of Egypt was now homeless. Nobody wanted him. So he ran for the unknown territory of Median. Instead of pillows in Pharaoh’s palace, he lay his head on rocks in the wilderness.