17 Finally, the time came for God to do what he had promised Abraham. By then the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased. 18Another king was ruling Egypt, and he didn't know anything about Joseph. 19 He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them. He even made them leave their babies outside, so they would die.
20 During this time Moses was born. He was a very beautiful child, and for three months his parents took care of him in their home. 21 Then when they were forced to leave him outside, the king's daughter found him and raised him as her own son. 22Moses was given the best education in Egypt. He was a strong man and a powerful speaker.
23 When Moses was 40 years old, he wanted to help the Israelites because they were his own people. 24One day he saw an Egyptian mistreating one of them. So he rescued the man and killed the Egyptian. 25Moses thought the rest of his people would realize God was going to use him to set them free. But they didn't understand.
26The next day Moses saw two of his own people fighting, and he tried to make them stop. He said, “Men, you are both Israelites. Why are you so cruel to each other?”
27But the man who had started the fight pushed Moses aside and asked, “Who made you our ruler and judge? 28Are you going to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” 29 When Moses heard this, he ran away to live in the country of Midian. His two sons were born there.
30 Forty years later, an angel appeared to Moses from a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31Moses was surprised by what he saw. He went closer to get a better look, and the Lord said, 32“I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses started shaking all over and didn't dare to look at the bush.
33The Lord said to him, “Take off your sandals, because the place where you are standing is holy. 34With my own eyes I have seen the suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now I am sending you back to Egypt.”
Stephen rehearses the story of Moses, the person whom God used to shape Israel into a nation and lead them out of Egypt. Again God’s interventions are instrumental in advancing his plans.
We discover that Moses was forty years old (v 23) when he made an explicit attempt to become Israel’s leader and “give salvation to them” (v 23). It was a disaster and Moses had to flee for his life. Apparently it was not God’s timing or God’s method. According to Stephen Moses had some awareness of God’s plans for his life, i.e., to rescue Israel from Egypt, but he had to wait another forty years in order to step into this role.
From the time when God decided “it was time to do what he promised Abraham” (v 17) to Moses’ commission at the burning bush eighty years transpired. It would take another forty years before Israel arrived in the Promised Land.
Today we expect God to work quickly, if not instantaneously. After God made his covenant with Abraham four centuries passed before he took action to fulfill some parts of his promise. From the time Moses is born until Israel enters Canaan one hundred and twenty years go by – three generations. And when we think of God’s promise that through Abraham “all the families of the earth would be blessed,” this only gets fulfilled when the Messiah comes and the gift of the Holy Spirit is poured out (Galatians 3). God’s timing certainly does not conform to our sense of timing. And this can be frustrating and challenging to our faith.
What timing issue do you need to trust God for today? How long will you be willing to pray for someone, for some action, because you are convinced God will act? And how will you use the intervening time for God?
Dear Father God, Truly your ways are not my ways nor does your timing fit into my schedule. Keep my faith strong as I wait and trust for your plans to mature. Help me today to live obediently and “redeem the time” which you give to me. Amen.