The Fearless series launched with a hefty bang. I didn’t feel like I was particularly engaging/funny (believe it or not, there’s a degree of playfulness that feels critical to me as a communicator) and perhaps a little heavy, but I believe God showed up to make sense of it all. It’s a subject for another time, but it’s really easy for pastors to slip into cranky preaching; it’s hard to describe how weirdly natural it is to preach to the choir. For you church-neophytes, that means telling Rambo-xtians what they think others should hear…and it’s usually about performing better. But I digress.
I would love to do a whole series on Moses. It’s absolutely discombobulating for me how the writer of Hebrews (chapter 11) and Stephen (the Church’s first martyr in Acts 7) describe Moses compared with the Exodus account.
The writer of Hebrews characterizes Moses this way: “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27). But Exodus reports: “The man said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid and thought, ‘What I did must have become known.’” (Exodus 2:14). It reads as though the fear factor was higher than the faith factor.
Then Stephen says, “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.” (Acts 7:22). But Moses' response in Exodus at the burning bush was: “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” (Exodus 4:10). Perhaps Stephen wanted us to know Moses was really ducking in Exodus.
I’m no theologian. I gave up on that years ago; nothing as smarmy as a pastor who tries to be smarter than he/she is (“…but the Greek actually says…”). Still, it seems to me that the New Testament writers may have a little different view of faith (not simply a belief system) and more about motivations expressed in actions. The question is: did Moses do that by running from Egypt? It makes me wonder how we define faith in our current church culture. It could be that comparatives are critical: was the desire to go after the “invisible” larger than the fear of being discovered as a defender of the Hebrews? Maybe. Jesus used a hyperbolic-comparative when he described how we are to love him: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).
Anyway, the two accounts have a unique distinctiveness…and one that should be explored. But you can do that on your own. Next week I’m tackling Joshua. Stepping into someone else’s bigger shoes: I’m familiar with that story.