Courage for life Blog

What influences your response to God?

May 1, 2024

Have you ever considered the divide between what is beyond your control and what you actively choose? Both influence how you respond to God and others. In the book of Exodus, a man named Moses was born into circumstances out of his control, just like you and every other person ever born. You didn’t choose to be born, but God chose to create you in His image for His purposes.

To understand Moses’ birth, some context is helpful. When the book of Genesis concludes, a family of siblings and their elderly father named Jacob (also known as Israel) are reunited with their brother (and son), Joseph, who was enslaved and imprisoned while a servant to the Pharoah in Egypt. Eventually, Joseph rose to prominence as second in command in Egypt because God was with him (Genesis 39:2-3, 21, 23; 41:46), and God strengthened Joseph to accomplish God’s purposes: to save the people from famine (Genesis 41:55-57; 45:6-8). After Joseph’s death, his ancestors grew in number, so the new Egyptian Pharaoh felt threatened by their population growth and enslaved them. Genesis 39:1 through Exodus 1:10 explains why Moses was born in Egypt.

What Moses did not choose for himself

Moses did not choose to be

  • born. (Exodus 2:1)
  • born in Egypt. (Exodus 1:1-7)
  • born to Israelite parents from the house of Levi. (Exodus 2:1)
  • born during a time of persecution and slavery. (Exodus 1:8-14)
  • born when Israelite baby boys were being murdered at birth. (Exodus 1:15-22)
  • hidden for three months by his mother from Egyptian authorities. (Exodus 2:1)
  • placed in a basket on the bank of the Nile River by his mother. (Exodus 2:3-4)
  • rescued from the bank of the Nile River by Pharoah’s daughter. (Exodus 2:5-6)
  • returned to his birth mother and biological family for nurturing and upbringing during his infancy. (Exodus 2:7-9)
  • given over to Pharoah’s daughter in early childhood. (Exodus 2:10)
  • adopted by Pharoah’s daughter to be raised as her own son. (Exodus 2:10)
  • visited by God in a burning bush. (Exodus 3:2)
  • God’s selected servant to lead the Israelites from Egyptian slavery to the land promised by covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Exodus 3:10)

In the book of Exodus, Moses expresses a great deal of anger related to the things in his life that he did not choose for himself (e.g., his birth, his parents, his birth location, his biological family, his adoption, his adoptive family, his identity, his relationships, his education, his physical abilities, his selection as God’s servant, etc.)

What did Moses choose for himself

Moses did choose to

  • remain in Pharoah’s household until he was a grown man. (Exodus 2:11)
  • observe daily the Israelites’ being oppressed by the Egyptians. (Exodus 2:11, 13)
  • murder an Egyptian and hide the body. (Exodus 2:12)
  • disrupt a quarrel/fight between two Israelites and question their dispute. (Exodus 2:13)
  • flee Egypt when he learned the Pharoah was seeking to kill him. (Exodus 2:15)
  • defend women trying to water their flock from antagonistic shepherds. (Exodus 2:17)
  • water the flocks of the women he protected. (Exodus 2:19)
  • stay with the women’s father, a priest, and his family. (Exodus 2:21)
  • marry one of the priest’s daughters. (Exodus 2:21)
  • have children with his wife. (Exodus 2:22; 4:20)
  • become a shepherd and remain in a foreign land (Exodus 2:22; 3:1)
  • inquire of the burning bush. (Exodus 3:3)
  • respond to God’s commands from the burning bush. (Exodus 3:4)
  • show reverence in the presence of God. (Exodus 3:6)
  • initially reject God’s invitation to be God’s servant to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. (Exodus 3:11)
What did God choose to do for Moses?

Based upon the Egyptian Pharoah’s edict, Moses should have been killed at birth, but God providentially kept Moses alive to accomplish God’s purposes. God protected Moses’ mother through her pregnancy and childbirth. God enabled the basket holding Moses on the bank of the Nile River to remain unbothered by any animals or the river water, keeping Moses unharmed until Pharoah’s daughter found him. God orchestrated Moses’ biological mother, who received a salary from Pharoah’s daughter to care for Moses. God provided for Moses the best resources (i.e., foods, clothing, housing, education, and training) available to Pharaoh’s household. Even after Moses committed murder, God allowed him to escape from Egypt before Pharoah was able to kill Moses. God protected Moses through his desert travels and allowed Moses to encounter a priest’s family who would receive Moses into their family. God selected Moses to be God’s servant. Therefore, God did not accept Moses’ initial rejection of God’s invitation but continued to pursue Moses and explain to Moses who God was and what God desired for Moses’ life.

How did Moses choose to respond to God?

Moses offered multiple excuses to God for why He should choose someone else to accomplish God’s purposes (see Exodus 3:12-4:17). Moses had a different perspective than God about the events of his life and himself. Moses’ excuses seem to come from who Moses believed he was – his previous life events, actions – his past, not from what Moses could become – his potential life events and actions – his future. Nor did Moses acknowledge that God promised to be with Moses, providing His presence and power to accomplish His purposes. Eventually, Moses agrees with God and returns to Egypt to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The people God wants Moses to free are Moses’ relatives, God’s covenant people.

How have you chosen to respond to God?

Just like Moses, many things have happened in your life that you did not choose for yourself. You did not choose to be born, nor did you choose the time in history when you were born, with its political climate, economic challenges, or world leaders. You did not choose your family of origin, parents, birthplace, family members, upbringing, etc. Just like Moses, you may have allowed the things you did not choose for yourself to create a great deal of anger in you.

But many things in your life you have chosen for yourself. Like Moses, you have consequences for all your choices. However, God chooses to pursue you. God chooses to make a way for you to have a relationship with Him and invites you to be His servant to accomplish His purposes in the world. God chooses to help you respond to His invitation by affirming who He is and promising to be with you wherever you go.

God also invites you to lead others to freedom and a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. “So if the Son [Jesus] sets you free, you are truly free!” (John 8:36). But first, you must choose for yourself to respond to God’s invitation.

Have you chosen to:
  1. admit God created you in His image for His purposes?
  2. acknowledge God’s sustaining care in your life?
  3. respond to God’s invitation to lead your family, friends, co-workers, community to the freedom found in a saving relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ?
  4. refrain from making excuses to God about your past, but rather embrace your God-given courage to lead others to know God and accomplish God’s purposes through your life?

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