Does Moral Failure Disqualify a Person From God’s Service?

(“Questions From Israel’s Exodus” series: post #3)

After Moses became the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he spent the first forty years of his life riding high. Acts 7:22 says: “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (N.K.J.V.). Two things stand out from that verse. First, Moses was a highly educated man. History evidences that the ancient Egyptians were the most scientifically advanced people on the face of the earth. Furthermore, the fact that Moses learned how to read and write would play an indispensable role in him ultimately writing the first five books of the Bible. Second, the fact that Moses was mighty in words and deeds means that he was a man of great achievement in ancient Egypt. Some students of the Bible even believe that he was in line to one day become Pharaoh.

What the Egyptians probably didn’t know was that Moses never forgot his Israelite roots. The Bible doesn’t tell us how much contact, if any, he continued to have with his parents (Amram and Jochebed), his older sister (Miriam), and his older brother (Aaron), but Acts 7:25 makes it clear that he knew that God was going to use him to deliver the Israelites. How did Moses know this? While it’s possible that God revealed this knowledge to him through some type of unrecorded divine encounter, it’s more likely that he acquired it through an ever-growing sense of destiny inside him. At any rate, however Moses knew, when he reached the age of forty he decided to act upon what he perceived to be his calling.

He got up one day and went out to see the Israelites as they toiled under their Egyptian taskmasters. The fact that he went out there at all surely shows that he had his kinsmen on his mind and in his heart. While he was on site that day he watched as an Egyptian taskmaster started inflicting a beating upon an Israelite whose work wasn’t satisfactory (Exodus 2:11). Such beatings were no doubt common. That day, however, Moses interjected himself into the situation. After looking around to make sure that no one was watching, he killed the Egyptian and buried the body in the sand (Exodus 2:12).

Rather than feel ashamed about what he had done, Moses felt comfortable enough to return to the scene of the crime the next day. It was then that he happened to catch two Israelites fighting with each other. He asked the one who was doing the hitting, “Why are you striking your companion?” (Exodus 2:13, N.K.J.V.). The striker shot back, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14, N.K.J.V.). That comeback struck fear into Moses as the ramifications of what he had done the day before began to dawn upon him. By the way, it’s worth mentioning that the only person who could have told anyone about him killing that taskmaster was the rescued Israelite. Even if that Israelite reported the news as a way to compliment Moses, things would have been better for Moses if the fellow had kept the story to himself.

It’s hard to say what all had been going through Moses’ mind when he had killed that Egyptian, but Acts 7:25 says that he supposed that his fellow Israelites would understand that God was going to deliver them through him. That also helps explain why he authoritatively rebuked the brawling Israelite the following day. As a grandson of Pharaoh, Moses was accustomed to giving orders and having people obey them. In his way of looking at things, he was the perfect choice to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians. However, his problem was that his fellow Israelites weren’t on the same page as he was. As the Acts 7:25 verse says, “…but they did not understand.”

Someone else who didn’t understand was Pharaoh. When word reached him that Moses had killed an Egyptian, he immediately sought Moses’ death (Exodus 2:15). I have to say that I find that at least a little bit odd. I mean, we are talking about his grandson here. Even if Pharaoh wasn’t emotionally attached to Moses, he should have been emotionally attached to his own daughter, who had raised Moses as her own son. How would she feel about her father having her adopted son put to death? Then again, if this was the same Pharaoh who had ordered the deaths of the Israelite male babies in chapter 1, he was a moral monster anyway.

Moses responded to becoming a wanted man by fleeing to the land of Midian (Exodus 2:15). He didn’t know it at the time, but he would end up settling down there, marrying a local girl, fathering two sons through her, and taking a job with his father-in-law. He wouldn’t see Egypt again for another forty years, and even then it wouldn’t be his idea to go back there.

But now let’s get to the question at hand: Does moral failure disqualify a person from God’s service? Tailoring the question specifically to Moses’ life, did him murdering that Egyptian disqualify him from being used by God to deliver the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage? The answer is, no. Moses would have to spend the next four decades being humbled and retrained in Midian, but God could and would still use him to deliver the Israelites.

Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife. Jacob deceived his father Isaac and in so doing stole the patriarchal blessing that was supposed to be Esau’s. Joseph’s ten older brothers sold him into slavery. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah killed. Solomon plunged headlong into idolatry. Paul oversaw the persecution and martyrdom of Christians. Nevertheless, God still used all of these men mightily in His service. While it’s true that passages such as 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 teach that certain moral failures can disqualify a Christian from serving in the roles of pastor or deacon, those are only two of countless roles that Christians can perform in service to God.

You say, “But Russell, you don’t know what I’ve done.” You’re right, I don’t. I doubt, though, that it was any worse than MURDER, the deed that Moses did directly and David did indirectly. And yet God was still able to use each of them. Therefore, I feel confident in saying that He can and will still use you despite your past moral failings.

In case you haven’t heard, God is hard up for help. That means that He will put you to work somewhere doing something if you will let Him. He’s like that man who walked up to the counter to buy an airline ticket. The man threw his credit card on the counter and said, “Give me a ticket.” The worker asked, “To where?” The man answered, “To anywhere, I’ve got business all over.” Well, God has business all over, and He needs workers to do it. That’s why the question is never, can God use you? He can. The question is always, are you willing to let Him use you?

This entry was posted in Backsliding, Deacons, God's Work, Ministry, Pastors, Personal Holiness, Preaching, Sin and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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