What comes to your mind when you think of Moses? Charlton Heston splitting the Red Sea? Mt. Sinai and the Ten Commandments? Leading the Israelites through the wilderness? All true. Except for Charlton Heston, of course; he wasn’t really there.

Moses born during infanticide

Moses’ first 40 years began in a time of infanticide. All Hebrew baby boys were being drowned in the Nile River. How awful! Was God watching? What was He planning? What about the promise He made to Abraham to give him descendants as numerous as the stars and sand? (Genesis 15:5) It seems a bit like the chaos we experience right now. Has God lost His grip on the purpose He planned for each of us, for the United States? For the world, for that matter? Are there lessons for us?

In spite of the horror Hebrew families in Egypt were experiencing, his future was filled with hope and promise. God arranged and used circumstances to prepare him for the purpose and destiny He had for him.

Exodus 2:1-10 records his early life. Moses was born during the period when Pharaoh was so worried about the population boom that he ordered Israelite boys killed. (Exodus 1:16, Acts 7:19) But Moses’ mother realized there was something significant about him. Acts 7:20 says he was “exceeding fair;” the word “exceeding” is the word theos, which means “god or godly.”[1] She must have recognized that God had a special future planned for her baby. His mother hid him for 3 months, disobeying Pharaoh’s order as great risk to her life.

She placed him in a basket in the Nile River, the very place where the babies were to be drowned! Miraculously, he was rescued and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter in the palace after being nursed by his own mother. Undoubtedly, his mother taught him and spoke over him this divine favor. During his palace years, he was well educated, trained in leadership and military skills. (Acts 7:22) The Bible doesn’t record what he did during his early adulthood, but Josephus suggests he brilliantly led a war with Ethiopia.[2] Hebrews 11:24-26 says he refused to be known as Pharaoh’s son. He choose instead to suffer with the Hebrews.

Did the Hebrews recognize him as their future leader? It doesn’t sound like it. (Exodus 2:14) Did the Egyptians realize he would decide to follow God’s purpose for his life or how they were being used to equip him for it? Probably not. When he was 40, he attempted to rescue his people by striking and killing an Egyptian. He assumed his people would understand his purpose, but they did not. (Acts 7:23-25) Did this event change God’s plan or purpose for Moses? Did Moses still have a future or destiny? What would become of God’s plan for him?

Moses was 80 years old by the time he discovered God’s purpose for his life and led Israel out of Egypt. What’s the story of the second 40 years? It’s a real encouragement to me!

Moses flees at age 40

Moses fled the country. He went to Midian where he rescued Jethro’s daughters from other shepherds at the watering well, much like he had tried to rescue the brickmaking slaves in Egypt. (Exodus 2:16-20) Does he really understand God’s purpose for his life? Does he recognize God’s timing for that purpose? Or, discouraged and defeated, has he settled for being a shepherd, like Israelites before him had done. How much farther from his destiny can he get?

He married one of Jethro’s daughters and had a son whose name gives a clue about Moses’ assessment of his future. He named his son Gershom, which means “a stranger there, driven out, an outcast.”[3] Exodus 2:21 says Moses was content to stay there with Jethro. “Content” means making a choice, but out of mental weakness. Outcast. Finished.

It sounds like Moses concluded God could no longer have a use for him. Did he feel like his mistakes and efforts to fulfill God’s destiny in his own time and way made a failure out of him? He must have been very discouraged. Notice how his self-identity must have changed. He went from being mighty in Pharaoh’s palace to being “just a shepherd.” I wonder if he, like me, labeled himself Worthless. He most certainly would have known what God instructed them to do regarding circumcision, but he didn’t even bother to circumcise his son. God insisted on it later. (Exodus 4:24-26) Maybe he also labeled himself Hopeless. Did any of this change God’s plan? Keep reading.

It’s time!

When we next hear about him, 40 years have passed. (Acts 7:30) What a long time to labor under those labels. What happened during those 40 years? We know the end of the story, so how did Moses get reconnected with what God had originally planned, reconnected with the identity God had for him all along? Exodus 18:3-4 sheds some light. We learn he had a second son, possibly quite a few years later. He named that son Eliezer. Eliezer means “God is my help.”[4]

What happened? We don’t know details, but somehow God encouraged him, changed his thinking. Along the way, God used that shepherding experience to teach him and to prepare him for the real destiny God had for him. Moses made mistakes, but they did not stop God’s plan and purpose. His wrong identity labels could not stop God’s plan and purpose.

God’s response to us

You, too, may have made mistakes. Life experiences may have caused you to adopt some labels that God simply doesn’t buy. You may have decided they change God’s plan for you somehow. I’m here to tell you that is absolutely not the way it works! Just like He did with Moses, God delights in bringing us back to His plan and purpose because He delights so much in us!

Joseph understood what God does with our past. Genesis 41:52 says He named the second son Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

Indeed, God redeems the messes we make along the way. He rescues us from our losses and improves our opportunities! Don’t ask me to explain how; I have no idea how God gets it done. I just know He does so with great delight. His grace is evident all through the history of Israel and of me. So it will be with you.

Does Moses still have a future? God brought Moses back to the future He had planned. God was not limited by anything in Moses’ past. Likewise, He is not limited by our failures, weaknesses, or mistakes. It has nothing to do with us and everything to do with who God is. God never settles for the “good for nothing junk” we may think we are. He never loses sight of the future He planned for us. Like Moses, we still have a future, too. Take a moment to chew on the verses below.

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.     37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28, 37-39 (NLT2)

Nothing in your past is powerful enough to cut you off from God’s love that is sufficient for fulfilling His awesome plan and purpose for your life!


Carol Boggess, author and speaker at A Healing Journey

Carol Boggess © 2021

Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts


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[1] Strong, James. Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary. Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007. WORDsearch CROSS e-book. Hebrew 2316.

[2] Josephus, Flavius. The Works of Flavius Josephus. Translated by William Whiston. Hartford, CN: S. S. Scranton, 1905. WORDsearch CROSS e-book. Book 2, Chapter 10.

[3] Smith, Stelman and Cornwall, Judson. The Exhaustive Dictionary of Biblical Name. Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 1998. P 59.

[4] Smith, Stelman and Cornwall, Judson. The Exhaustive Dictionary of Biblical Name. Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 1998. P 48.