Moses the Murderer

  • Read Exodus 2:11-23 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon (23 August) you can listen to it here.

In the story of Moses’ life we often seem to gloss over one little fact.  MOSES IS A MURDERER.  Perhaps we overlook this little detail because we excuses Moses’ killing of the Egyptian as somehow justified.  But let me give a couple of reasons why that isn’t necessarily the case.

  1. In v12 the NASB reads, “So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.”  This wasn’t a rash act.  It wasn’t self defense, and he wasn’t even protecting the Hebrew the Egyptian was beating.  Moses knew what he was doing was wrong.  He waited until no one was around and then he killed the Egyptian and buried the evidence.
  2. In Acts 7:24, Stephen describes Moses as “taking vengeance” on the Egyptian.  That’s different than protecting the oppressed.
  3. In v14 Moses becomes afraid when he thinks that other people know of his murder.  If he was protecting a slave then surely he wouldn’t be so surprised when other slaves knew of his actions.

Moses reintroduces himself to “his people” as a murderer.  The deliverer God raised up is now on the run for murder.  Let’s not think of this as a righteous action.  His indigence at injustice and oppression may be admirable, but his solution was wrong and deserved gaol time, or whatever punishment is appropriate for murder.

The wonderful thing about this story is that God demonstrates a degree of grace that must of us would struggle with.  How would you feel about a felon/murderer living in the White House, or the Lodge (for my Aussie friends)?  I continue to be amazed at how many people fail to recognize grace in the OT.  That Moses lived and was later used by God to deliver the Israelites from Egypt demonstrates tremendous mercy and grace on God’s part.  Moses certainly didn’t deserve such responsibility based on his actions here.

If we can overlook God’s grace to a murderer in such a well known story, I wonder how often we overlook God’s grace in our lives?  Further, if God could extend grace to a murderer that took justice into his own hands rather than trusting God, who else do we need to extend grace toward?

What do you think?  Is this a legitimate way to think about Moses?  Do you learn anything new in thinking of him this way?  Do you have more difficulty receiving grace, or sharing it?


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