Leading a Rebellion, Pt. 3:
Rebel- a rebel is a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.
Tonight we are continuing our “Leading a Rebellion” series by studying our next rebel—Moses. Moses is the first rebel that we have looked at that wasn’t really a counter-culturalist. Both of the other rebels—Noah, and Joseph, were rebels for God based on how they rejected what the rest of the culture considered normal. But this doesn’t mean that Moses was completely different from the previous two. Joseph was the most powerful man, second only to Pharaoh himself, in all of Egypt. Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter into the royal family. And there are a couple of interesting connecting points between Moses and Noah. Noah became a leader when he preserved the human race through the waters of the flood. Moses preserved the nation of Israel by leading them through the waters of the Red Sea. Noah’s ark was covered in pitch, and when Moses’ mom made his little boat and pushed him down the Nile, she covered it in pitch. Pharaoh’s daughter named the baby she found Moses, which means “drawn out of the water.” Noah and his family were drawn out of the water and were saved in the ark.
Let’s look at Exodus 2:1-10 to recap the birth and adoption of Moses. “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes[a] and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews' children.” 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child's mother. 9 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
Times changed, as they usually do. One Pharaoh died and a new one took over, one that did not remember what Joseph did for the country. At the same time, God was blessing the nation of Israel with incredible growth. Pharaoh and his advisors suggested that he start mistreating the Israelites lest a war break out and they join forces with their enemies. So they made all of the Israelites become their slaves and treated them ruthlessly. As if that was not enough, Pharaoh talked to the Hebrew midwives—these were the women who helped expectant mothers in delivery, and told them when a woman gave birth to a baby boy they were to kill it, but if it was a baby girl they were to let it live. The Midwives said, “Sure thing, boss,” but went away fully knowing they were not going to obey the Pharaoh’s commands. In fact, they led a rebellion of their own. They were the only two midwives mentioned, but they could not have been the only two serving the entire nation of Israel. They apparently recruited every other midwife to their cause. When Pharaoh realized that a lot of Israelites boys were still being born, he called the midwives in for a meeting. The Midwives said, “The Hebrew women are not like other women. They are strong, and by the time we get there, they’ve already given birth to their babies.”
One of the babies that was supposed to be killed was Moses. When he was three months old, his mother sent it downstream, while his sister watched to see what would happen. His sister following him allowed him to be reunited with his mother, who nursed him for Pharaoh’s daughter. When Moses was weaned he began his life in the Egyptian royal family. We know that he received the best education available to any Egyptian, but that he still remained connected to his Israel brothers and sisters.
A lot of this story reminds me of what is happening right now in China. The communist leaders treat their citizens as slaves. Due to over population families are held to a strict one child rule. If you are pregnant with a second illegal child you will be forced to abort it. If you somehow get around the abortion and give birth to the child, the government can and will kill the baby, and then put you in prison. On top of all of that, baby girls are basically discarded. People from all over the world are adopting Chinese baby girls because orphanages are literally finding them laying in the streets, in garbage cans, and wrapped in newspapers.
Back to Moses: One day Moses was out walking and saw an Egyptian official harshly mistreating an Israelite, so he stepped in and killed the Egyptian, thinking of himself as a savior of his people, and then buried him in the desert. The next day he was walking around and saw two Israelites fighting. He didn’t understand why the two brothers should be fighting each other so he stepped in to stop them. One of them said, “Why? Are you going to kill us, too?” Moses said, “Oh snap! Word must have spread about what I did!” So he left everything he had and took off into the desert, got married, had a couple of kids, staying there 40 years. God then spoke to him through a burning bush, telling him that He wanted him to lead his people out of Egypt. Not only would he have to rebel against his family, but he would have to rebel against his nation’s government. What Moses was preparing to do was to walk into Pharaoh’s court and tell him to release all of his slave laborers—which is how he got all of his stuff done…for free. Now he would have to pay people to work for him. This would not be acceptable.
So Moses and his brother, Aaron, went to see Pharaoh, and asked him to let God’s people go. Pharaoh did not let them go, and in fact increased the work load of the Israelites. This did not make Moses popular among the Israelites either. God responded with the first of the ten plagues, turning the water to blood. Moses and Aaron came back nine more times, with Pharaoh saying “no” nine more times, and the resulting plagues: 2) Frogs; 3) Gnats or Lice; 4) Flies; 5) Livestock killed off; 6) Boils; 7) Thunder and hail; 8) Locusts; 9) Darkness; 10) Death of all of the Firstborn people and beast. After the tenth plague, Moses was allowed to leave with God’s people.
Moses was an unlikely leader. He spent almost no time with his own people. He was raised in Pharaoh’s court, spent forty years in the wilderness after murdering someone, came back claiming a mandate to lead them, and had such a bad stuttering problem that he recruited his brother to speak for him. When he stood up to Pharaoh and made his request, he failed. He failed again a second time, a third time, a fourth time, a fifth time, a sixth time, a seventh time, an eighth time, a ninth time, and finally after the tenth time he succeeded. Moses didn’t get frustrated, angry, or upset with himself or God throughout this whole narrative. Why? Because he knew beyond a shadow of doubt that God spoke to him. Seriously, a burning bush talked to him about it. Secondly, it was confirmed through more than ten different miracles. And finally, Moses would not have even approached Pharaoh about the subject if he was trusting in his own abilities. But because he was trusting in God’s power, he would have had to trust God with the results, also.
Moses did eventually lead God’s people out of Egypt, was chased down by Pharaoh who changed his mind once again, and led them safely through the Red Sea while the opposing armies drowned. Moses didn’t rebel just to rebel. He wasn’t doing it because he was bored. He was very confident that God had called him for a very specific purpose. God may not call you to lead an entire nation out of slavery and into their promised homeland, but he may ask you to stand up for the lives of the unborn, for traditional marriages, the ability to pray in school, or even the ability for churches to gather and worship. If you want to be a rebel like Moses, you have to learn to discern the voice of God, and then have the backbone to do what He asks you to do.