(“Questions From Israel’s Exodus” series: post #4)
Does God have just one plan, custom designed for each person, by which He can pour blessings into that person’s life? No, He doesn’t. If He did, most of us would never see many blessings.
Think about it. If God had just one such plan for your life, that would require you to never deviate from that plan if you wanted to enjoy His blessings. I’m talking about you always living where He wanted you to live, marrying who He wanted you to marry, remaining married to that person, having all the kids He wanted you to have, working the job He wanted you to work, attending the church He wanted you to attend, etc., etc., etc.
Marry the wrong person? Uh oh, you’ve missed the vein of the plan. Marry the right person but end up divorced? Sorry, there can be no blessings for you post divorce. Sell a house you shouldn’t sell? You’d better buy it back if you want God to keep blessing you. Quit a job God didn’t want you to quit? You must apologize to the company and hope they’ll rehire you. Like I said, if God only had just one plan by which He could pour blessings into an individual’s life, most of us would never see many blessings.
Moses was walking, talking, living proof of this. I don’t know what all God’s plan for him in Egypt entailed, but it surely didn’t include him impulsively murdering an Egyptian taskmaster (Exodus 2:11-12). As a consequence of that murder, Pharaoh placed a death sentence upon Moses’ life (Exodus 2:15). That put Moses on the run, and his escape route took him eastward to a land called Midian (Exodus 2:15).
Midian was located in the Sinai Peninsula near the Gulf of Aquaba, and the Midianites were what we might think of as distant relatives of the Israelites. Midian, the father of the race, was a son of Abraham through Keturah, the woman Abraham married after the death of his wife Sarah (Genesis 25:1-2). Abraham, of course, was the father of the Israelites through Isaac, the son born to him through Sarah. Just prior to Abraham’s death, he gave Midian and all the rest of his offspring through Keturah gifts and sent them eastward to build their own lives (Genesis 25:1-6). The region in which Midian settled came to bear his name and his people became semi-nomadic shepherds who moved throughout that region. Interestingly, it was a group of Midianite traders who purchased Joseph from his brothers and took him to Egypt to be sold as a slave and begin not only his life there but ultimately the nation of Israel’s (Genesis 37:26-36).
Upon Moses’ arrival in Midian, he happened to come to a certain well. He sat down there to rest, and it wasn’t long before seven women came to the well to water their father’s flock (Exodus 2:15-16). As was typical at the wells of those days, trouble arose when some local roughneck shepherds came with their flocks and attempted to drive away the women (Exodus 2:17). Moses, to his credit, defended the overmatched women and helped them water their flock (Exodus 2:17). That showed that he hadn’t lost any of his manhood or his desire to correct injustice.
With their flock watered, the women left Moses at the well and returned to their camp (Exodus 2:18). Their father Reuel, who is also called Jethro (Exodus 3:1; 18:1), was a notable man who carried the title “the priest of Midian” (Exodus 2:16). He was a leader in his local clan, perhaps even the chief leader. As for him being a priest, it’s possible that the Midianites practiced a religion that hearkened back to the one that Abraham had taught Midian centuries earlier. There might have been some spiritual gaps in that religion, but it does seem that Reuel/Jethro had an authentic knowledge of the true and living God (Exodus 18:1-12).
When Reuel/Jethro asked his daughters why they had gotten home so early from watering the flock, they told him the story of how an Egyptian had helped them (Exodus 2:18-19). The fact that they described Moses as an Egyptian rather than an Israelite (Hebrew) surely proves that he was still wearing Egyptian clothing. Also, it’s likely that his head was shaved in the manner that was typical of the Egyptians.
As a way of wanting to show his gratitude to the Egyptian — not to mention wanting to explore the possibility of the man becoming a husband to one of his daughters — Reuel/Jethro had the girls return to the well and invite the stranger to come home with them for dinner (Exodus 2:20). It only takes one verse for the Bible’s record to get Moses married to Zipporah, one of the daughters, and settled down with the family in Midian (Exodus 2:21). Similarly, it only takes one more verse to make him the father of a son named Gershom, a name that means “a stranger there” and was obviously Moses’ way of describing himself as a foreigner in Midian (Exodus 2:22). Although only one son is mentioned in the storyline at this time, we later learn that Moses also fathered a second son, Eliezer, through Zipporah (Exodus 18:1-6; 1 Chronicles 23:15; Acts 7:29). “Eliezer” means “The God of my father was my help” and gives God the credit for Moses being delivered from Pharaoh’s death sentence.
All told, Moses spent forty years in Midian, and the Bible offers no hint that he was unhappy or dissatisfied there (Acts 7:29-30). He became a valued member of that prominent family and worked shepherding his father-in-law’s flock (Exodus 3:1). From everything we can gather from the Bible’s account, Moses would have been fully content to spend the rest of his life in Midian and had no intentions of ever returning to Egypt. His wife, Zipporah, certainly had no plans for the couple and their two sons to ever go there, either.
God, however, did have those plans, and I’ll have more to say about that in future posts. But for now let’s not be so quick to rush Moses back to Egypt. Instead, let’s let him enjoy his forty years of blessing in Midian. Even more than that, let’s learn the lesson those forty years teach us.
And what is that lesson? It is this: God doesn’t have just one plan to bless a person. As He proved with Moses’ life in Midian, God knows how to adapt His blessings to fit our faults, failures, false starts, and foul ups. This adaptability and the blessings that we enjoy because of it are evidence of His grace in our lives. That’s why you should take a moment right now and thank God that He has made so many wonderful omelets out of the eggs you’ve broken regarding your life. You see, your life in Midian can be good, really good. All you have to do is submit that life to God and serve Him there in that different land.