The Death of a Dream

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Shemotשמות : “Names”
Torah : Exodus 1:1-6:1
Haftarah : Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23
Gospel : Mark 1,2

Thought for the Week:

“He supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand” (Acts 7:25). What was Moses planning to do? Kill every Egyptian in Egypt and hide them all in the sand? God had a better plan.


But he said, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said, “Surely the matter has become known.” (Exodus 2:14)

When Moses was forty years old, he went out from Pharaoh’s court to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. He was appalled to see the mistreatment they endured. He realized that God had placed him in a position of power in order to help his people. Moved with compassion for his countrymen, Moses went to the defense of one man who was being beaten by an Egyptian. Moses struck the Egyptian, killed him and buried him in the sand.

He returned to the Hebrews the next day. He had a deep sense of purpose. Somehow he must help his people. He was on a mission from God. When Moses came across two Hebrew men fighting, he attempted to mediate between them. Instead they turned their resentment toward him. Clement, the disciple of Peter, says that they resented him out of a sense of envy:

Envy compelled Moses to flee from the face of Pharaoh king of Egypt, when he heard these words from his fellow countryman, “Who made you a judge or a ruler over us? Will you kill me, as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?” (1 Clement 4:10)

Yeshua taught that a prophet is without honor in his own home ( Matthew 13:57). Just as the Israelites initially rejected the authority of Moses, so too the Jewish leadership in the days of the apostles rejected the authority of Yeshua. Just as Moses disappeared, only to reappear a generation later and bring about the redemption from Egypt, so too Yeshua has been concealed and will be revealed in the last generation to bring about the final redemption.

When Moses realized that his attempts to help his people were not welcomed, nor could he trust them to conceal his secret about the Egyptian he had killed, he fled from Egypt. His noble delusions of being the redeemer of Israel all came crashing down.

This is one of my father’s favorite stories. He always points out how Moses’ life can be divided into three forty-year segments. At the age of forty, Moses thought he was the redeemer of Israel. He had a dream of saving his people. His dream was frustrated, and in exasperation, he gave up. He fled into the wilderness, where he became a shepherd, herding sheep for a pagan. He married a Midianite woman. His dream of redeeming Israel died in the wilderness. Only after the dream was dead and Moses was no longer trying to achieve it at all did God call him. Only then–long after the all the pride and bravado were gone–was Moses ready to be a tool in the hand of God. He spent the last forty years of his life fulfilling the dream that had been birthed in him forty years before.

This can be compared to a carpenter who hired a young apprentice. The apprentice was eager to get busy with building houses, too eager to take the time to learn the carpentry trade. “Very well,” said the carpenter, “if you are so certain of yourself, go ahead and build.” Halfway through the construction project, the lopsided frame he was erecting collapsed. The young apprentice turned in his tools and shamefacedly said, “I have to quit. I’m not a carpenter. I can’t build anything.” “Excellent,” the carpenter replied. “Now you are ready to learn how to build.”

My father liked to tell the story of Moses’ failure in Egypt whenever we faced some great discouragement or setback.


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