Scripture recounts how, upon seeing his Hebrew brethren mistreated, Moses struck an Egyptian taskmaster and killed him. In the book of Acts, Stephen retold the story and made this statement:
“For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.” (Acts 7:25)
Before the encounter at the burning bush, Moses already knew that God placed him in a position of power in order to deliver Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. That is fascinating to consider especially when so many have supposed that Moses had no idea about his calling until the burning bush incident. Scripture indicates that, years before, Moses already knew of his calling. But Scripture also records that it didn’t go the way that Moses expected it to.
“And when he went out the second day (after killing the Egyptian taskmaster), behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, ‘Why are you striking your companion?’ Then he said, ‘Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ So Moses feared and said, ‘Surely this thing is known!’ When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.” (Exodus 2:13-15)
It’s easy for us to see from our vantage point that it was not yet time for Israel to be delivered from Egypt. That time had been predetermined by God. But let’s put ourselves in Moses’ situation: he realized that he was in a position to deliver Israel, and given that position, who knows what could have happened? If they had recognized Moses as their deliverer, would it have hastened the day of their deliverance? Perhaps not, but it bears noting that they were not willing to recognize that their deliverer had come. This reluctance was made manifest through the strife that existed between the two Hebrew men. That internal strife had a direct bearing on why Moses left Egypt, and why they were forced to labor for another 40 years.
Historically, God’s people have a hard time discerning their time of deliverance. Might it be that it’s because they’ve always been at odds with one another? There’s a common belief in rabbinical sources and in Jewish history, that the Second Temple was destroyed because of the strife and hostility that existed between the Jews, themselves. If that is accurate, then observe the consequences:
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because (here’s the reason) you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)
Jerusalem was destroyed because the people did not recognize their deliverer nor the time of their deliverance. Consequently, they were destined to suffer, even more than they had. Is it possible that, had the Jewish people recognized Jesus as their Messiah and that the time of their visitation had come, would their fate have been altered? Is it possible that the Kingdom could have started very soon, thereafter?
Why is this important for us to consider? We cannot afford to fail to recognize the time of our visitation. We dare not fail to recognize the time of our deliverance and redemption. If history repeats itself – and it does – the one thing that might contribute to a failue in this area is internal strife and division within the Body. Therefore, we must be willing to do something about the internal strife among believers.