words from a broken vessel

Moses’ Disappointment

click Have you ever thought that God had placed you in a certain position, ministry, office – fill in the blank – to fulfill something he wanted you to do, only to have it fall away or removed? Did you receive multiple confirmations that it was God’s will, but then something happened and now your confused? Disillusioned? Disappointed? I know this all too well. So did Moses.

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Whenever anyone talks about Moses, usually it’s about the “wow” stuff, like the burning bush, the plagues, the Red Sea, and all the other miracles and judgments. His stint in the desert before the burning bush incident is seen as just a footnote. However, I think we do ourselves a disservice if we skip that seemingly insignificant bit.


There is a verse in Acts, quoted by Stephen, when he was retelling how Moses killed an Egyptian in defense of a fellow Hebrew:

He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.[1]


Somehow, Moses knew he was the one God had chosen to deliver Israel. Maybe he considered his childhood: Pharaoh commands all Hebrew male children to be killed; yet he survives, sailing down the Nile in a basket.  He floats to the Pharaoh’s daughter, who so happened to be bathing at that exact moment, and adopts him as her own, knowing he was Hebrew, deserving to be executed according to her father’s edict. The whole thing smelled of God’s providence![2] He had the advantage of learning everything about the Egyptians – their culture, wisdom, military – and yet chose to identify with the Hebrews.[3] But when he interjected in an argument between two of them, they called him out![4] So he fled into the wilderness and ended up in Midian. All his education and prominence, all the obvious signs that he was the promised deliverer, even choosing to be identified with the people of God, was for nothing. His reward for it all was to look after sheep.


Imagine how he felt? The Bible doesn’t say, but I can make a few calculated guesses: confused, depressed, angry, hopeless, unsure of God’s calling…again: fill in the blank. A 40 year old man who lost everything. He was now a nobody, a fugitive. After marrying and having children, I’m sure he settled into his new life and tried to forget; maybe he thought he was mistaken about God’s calling. We do have the interjection of God through the burning bush, but remember that this happened when he was 80 years old. For 40 years, he lived as a shepherd, resigning himself to a new normal – humility. And then God showed up.


So what lessons can learn? There are a few:

  • See where you tried to make things happen in a sinful manner and repent: it’s the reason Moses ended up in Midian.
  • Rest in the new position you find yourself in. Don’t allow the emotions of regret and disappointment overwhelm you; they have a proper place, but not to the point of immobilizing you spiritually.
  • Let the Holy Spirit teach you new things in your new position of humility; God used the shepherding of sheep to prepare him to be a leader of God’s people.
  • Keep worshiping the Lord. He still loves you and if he has a specific purpose for you, it will happen, just not in the way (or time) you expect – as Moses discovered.
  • Trust in the Lord Jesus during this time. Enjoy him and let him show up in the down time.


[1] Acts 7:25

[2] Exodus 1 – 2

[3] Hebrews 11:24-26

[4] Exodus 2:11-14; Acts 2:26 – 29