In Stephen’s brief summarizing of Hebrew history in Acts 7, why did he dwell so long on the early life of Moses? Why did he point out the stark difference between how Moses thought his brethren would receive him and how they actually did?
Even back when he was 40 years old, Moses must’ve had at least an inkling that he would be the promised deliverer of Israel, according to Stephen. Unfortunately, there was something very wrong with how he initially tried to go about it. He tried to set the process in motion by killing an Egyptian.
He killed first, and spoke later. This grossly misrepresents a merciful God, who will always, always give a chance to repent before sending His judgment. Forty years later, Moses would come before Pharaoh and then rightly speak God’s command first, “Let My people go!”
In fact, I like the shifty-eyed evil the writer of the book of Exodus puts into his account.
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. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. — Exodus 2:11-12
When God saw Moses kill the Egyptian, He must’ve thought, “Is this the attitude I want Moses to have when he leads My people out of Egypt? I think not.” I can’t help but wonder if, by this unwarranted murder of a man God loves no less than any Israelite, Moses may have doomed the Hebrews to yet another forty years of bitter servitude.
No, murder—the killing of wrongdoers without first giving the opportunity to turn from wrongdoing—is not part of God’s plan for leading Israel out of Egypt. To keep Moses from expanding on this wrong course of action, He instead chose to expose it. The scripture does not say how, but the next day it was common knowledge that Moses had killed the Egyptian taskmaster.
The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” — Exodus 2:13-14
From that moment on, Moses was a fugitive, as far away as one can get, in Moses’ own mind, from the deliverer of Israel he once thought he would be.
To be continued