Exodus Day Eight
July 10, 2020, 4:00 AM

Sojourning. Preparation.
“And Moses was content to dwell with the man,
and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah.
She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom,
for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.’” (2:21-22)

In two brief verses— the second chapter in the life of Moses after the adventure at the well. According to Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7:23, Moses was forty years old when he had to get out of Egypt the first time. According to Exodus 7:7, he spent another forty years honing his skills as a shepherd in the wilderness of Midian and Sinai. He would spend the third chapter of his life, another forty years, sojourning in the wilderness again, moving towards the Promised Land— “To a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (3:8). Of course, Moses never made it into the Promised Land. He climbed Mount Nebo (Pisgah) and was permitted a view of the Land from high above the plains of Moab in Transjordan. He died at the age of 120, “his eye undimmed, his vigor unabated.” (Deut. 34:7)

That makes 3 forty-year chapters in his life. I don’t think that’s coincidental. In the Story of Scripture, forty is usually the symbolic number of testing; of fasting; of entrance into a new epoch in life; or a time for transformation. Each chapter in the life of Moses was certainly a period of both testing and preparation and something new. At this point, the second chapter of his life is in the tedious wilderness crucible with sheep— real sheep, not people sheep. We aren’t given any detail about his life in Midian after the extended introduction at the well with Jethro’s daughters. We may only infer that he spent the time becoming a shepherd. Moses would most likely need to unlearn some habits he may have picked up and/or was exposed to in the Egyptian Court. Such as its culture. It’s opulence. Power. As he knew instinctively, “the fleeting pleasures of sin.” (Heb. 11:25). All this exchanged for the simple, mundane, rugged life of a shepherd.

During this period of sojourning in a strange land, Moses was being readied for a mission. In the barren wilderness and desert, learning how to care for sheep. Protect his sheep. Account for his sheep. Lead his sheep. Feed his sheep. Living and breathing sheeping. They were skills he would dearly need to do what God was calling him to do. Incidentally, these sheep were probably easier to manage than the “sheep” he would later lead. The confrontation with the two Hebrews just before his eviction from Egypt was a preview of what his life was to be about— “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (2:14). The Hebrews were going to be a rough ride. He would need to bring all the wisdom and know-how (and patience) he could muster.

We are ready now for the Third Chapter. The circus in Egypt. The Exodus!

As we will see a little farther into this study of Exodus, the forty-years of wilderness wanderings for the people of God is clearly a parallel of our own journey to the Promised Land of the New Heavens and New Earth. The “wilderness” is the world where the life of the Church plods ever closer to Home. The life of the individual pilgrim is forged ever more closely into the image of Christ. We too, have been called and delivered out of the Egypt of sin and death by the greater Moses, Jesus. Always a time of testing… and transformation. Always anticipating that glorious new epoch of Eden recovered. The time between the Incarnation and the Consummation. The First Coming and the Second Coming. “Forty” symbolic years until Jesus comes back. (Revelation uses a different number to describe this period— a thousand years. But that’s another blog, for another day.) Our pillar of fire in the night and pillar of smoke in the day is the Holy Spirit, leading us through this wilderness called life. God is giving us on-the-job-sanctification as we move through this probationary age.

The writer of Hebrews describes this journey so eloquently: We, like our ancestors in the Faith, are “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:10). We are “…seeking a homeland.” (Heb. 11:14). Because, we “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.” (11:16).

Blessed sojourning. Have a placid weekend.

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