Exodus 2:16-25 – Our failures and the Providence of God

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock.

17 And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.

18 And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day?

19 And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock.

20 And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread.

21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.

22 And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

23 And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.


When we last left Moses, he was not in a very good frame of mind.  He had been delivered from death and by the providence of God, raised by his parents and then by the daughter of the Pharaoh.  He had learned all about his Hebrew heritage and about his God, and he had learned the wisdom and culture through the Egyptians.  He was living in the palace of the King and he had enjoyed the best in education and luxury, yet the Bible tells us that he chose to identify with his people and his God.  He chose to be afflicted along with his brethren instead of living the life of ease.

Now it would have been very easy to look at the outlying circumstances and reason oneself into staying right where they were.  After all, wasn’t it God who delivered Moses and placed him there in the palace?

Wouldn’t it be beneficial to stay and learn as much as possible about the enemy in order to defeat them from within and deliver his people?

All the while using their riches and resources; wouldn’t that be the best revenge?

Yet he did not think that way and he chose to follow God and identify with Israel.

We also learned that at some point in his life, Moses came to the realization that he would be the agent used by God to deliver his people from their suffering but his timing was a little off.

One day he decides to visit his people, and he kills an Egyptian after witnessing him strike one of the Hebrews.

He knew what he had done was wrong but at the same time he believed that this would be the catalyst to start a revolt among his people.  They would see and know that he was their deliverer.

Things didn’t work out the way that he had planned though.  He was rejected by his people and marked for death by the Pharaoh.  He was not the “Somebody” that he had envisioned and he ran for his life to the plains of Midian and we finally see him slumped over by a well.

He was a broken, lonely, and empty man.  No longer the Mr. Somebody, he was now a Nobody.

Scripture doesn’t tell us but I think his actions and words here and in the next chapter give us an ideas as to what he might have been thinking.

He comes to the aid of some women here at the well.  These women are the daughters of the priest of Midian and he invites Moses to dinner.  He is called Reuel here, but Jethro later on.  The people of Midian were descendants of Keturah, a concubine of Abraham, so they were actually relatives of Moses.

We then learn that Moses was content to dwell here with his relatives, and actually marries one of the daughters of Jethro and has a son, whom he names “Gershom,” which means “stranger.”


His actions and words give us an idea of his thoughts:


Moses was content to dwell here – He no longer thought of himself as the deliverer of Israel.  He was now a fugitive and a stranger.

Was he wrong about his destiny?

Was it all coincidence?

Was it all just in his head?


Has this ever happened to you?

It has to me.


We need to be mindful of the difference between the power of God and our own power.  He may call us to service or ministry.  We might see His guiding Hand in a particular way or direction and in every circumstance, but there can come a time where we overstep God and start working things out in our own power.  Things may happen that we didn’t see coming or things happen in a way that we don’t like and then we lose heart.

You see God rarely gives us the whole picture as we walk with Him.  He may only give us the first step and then nothing more until we take that step.

We can also make the mistake of making our walk, our ministry, or our service all about us instead of God and we get the idea that God can’t work out His will without us.

Anything that I do in my power will always end in failure and emptiness and this will almost always end in us doubting the call and election of God in our lives.

Maybe you have failed miserably or screwed up royally.

Maybe you are doubting that God had ever called you to do anything.

You find yourself a fugitive or a stranger to everything and you are content to live a life far removed from where you thought you would be; far removed from ministry or service to God.

Maybe you are in a similar situation.

The amazing thing about our God is that, like Moses, here in Midian, you are right where God wants you to be.

How or why?

Because it is through failure, through the emptiness of our own works and power, and through the brokenness that leads us to the end of ourselves and to the point where God is everything and the only thing that we can cling too.


Moses was right where he needed to be because there were some things that God had to work out.


God was going to deliver Israel through Moses, but first He had to prepare Moses to be a leader.

He had to learn how to lead the people and how to follow the Lord.  He had to develop in him a servants heart and this could only be done through emptiness and brokenness.


We must develop the same in our lives as we decrease and Jesus increases.


God had to prepare the promised Land for the people.

It says that God heard the people and remembered them but that is only a figure of speech.  God never forgot them, rather, it suggests that this meant the time had now come for His promises to be fulfilled.  He had informed Abraham and Jacob that there was a specified time that the land would be ready and that was only after the inhabitants of the land had filled their up of wrath.


God had to prepare the people for the land.

Many of Israel had evidently taken part of the pagan ways and customs of Egypt and even though they were suffering, they still saw their lives as being pretty good at first, but now they were groaning and their cries went out to the Lord.

About Clint Rodgers

I am a father of 2 wonderful children and the husband of a beautiful woman who has taught me more about compassion for goofballs than I could have ever learned. I have know Jesus for many years but about 5 years ago I truly met Him and now I do my best to follow Him as I walk in this world
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