THE MIDIAN EXPERIENCE
- Moses was 120 years old when he died (Deuteronomy 34:7). His life can be divided fairly evenly into 40-year segments.
· The first 40 years of his life was spent as Egyptian royalty. He was a prince in Egypt living the lifestyle of the rich and famous (Acts 7:21-23).
· The second 40 years of his life were spent in virtual obscurity as a lowly shepherd in the land of Midian… being spiritually prepared for the last 40 years.
· The last 40 years of his life he delivered God’s people from Egyptian bondage – he gives them the ten commandments (Law of God) – he writes the first five books of the Bible – he leads God’s people to the doorsteps of the Promised Land and mentors the very man who will lead them into the land of Canaan (Joshua).
- D.L. Moody said,
· “Moses spent the first 40 years of his life thinking he was somebody.
· He spent then next 40 years learning he was a nobody.
· And the last 40 years realizing what God could do with a nobody.”
· (We might add: … who discovered that God was the real “somebody.”)
- Today we are going to look at the second 40 years of Moses life. The Bible summarizes it in roughly fifteen verses (2:11-45).
- Although most of us cannot relate to the first 40 years of Moses life (Egyptian royalty) – most of us can relate to the second 40 years – the Midian experience. The Midian experience is when God pulls you aside for extended periods of time to deal with you … to do some intense refining of your heart and understanding of yourself.
· In the Midian experience you are learning about things you cannot learn – in a classroom or from reading a book or from a discipleship group – because the subject is yourself – your own heart. The Lord will pull you aside, into “the desert” and show you things in your own heart that you were totally oblivious to (pride, vanity, ego, self-importance, selfish ambition, vain glory, arrogance, self –righteousness, etc). All the things that must be dealt with from time to time if you want to be used by God for His glory (cf. II Timothy 2:21). To be useful to God these things must be purged from your heart in the obscurity and heat of the desert.
· Midian experiences are desert experiences. Chuck Swindoll says you can be suffering in a desert spiritually, physically, or relationally. In these desert experiences you are learning about the weakness of your own frail flesh. But you also have the opportunity to experience the all-sufficient grace of God if you are willing. You have the opportunity to get to know God – to experience a love in God that is better than a life full of ego and vain glory (cf. Psalm 63:3).
· So the Midian experiences are the refining times in our life when the dross of hidden sins are brought to the surface through fiery trials – so we can see them – be humbled by them (“Lord, I’m not as good as I thought I was. Lord I never knew these things were so deeply rooted in my heart. Help me. Have mercy upon me”) – mourn for them and confess them (“Lord, I’m sorry for thinking more highly of myself than I ought (cf. Romans 12:3) – finally, repent of them and seek God’s enabling – transforming grace.
· (Spiritual Refinement: (Jeremiah 9:7; Psalm 66:10; Daniel 12:10; Malachi 3:2; I Peter 1:7)).
· So Midian experiences are the painful trials and tribulations in our life when God is in the process of breaking us and remolding us to prepare us for greater usefulness or greater experiences in His kingdom.
· Every Christian goes through a series of Midian experiences in his journey to be all he can for the Lord… some will be greater than others. You may be in one right now. I wonder what the Lord is in the process of preparing you for?
- We know that Moses was called to do great things for the Lord, but first he had to be spiritually prepared… in Midian. Let’s read our text to see the events and circumstances that lead to Moses’ Midian experience.
- Read vs. 11-14
· Vs. 11a “grown up”
· Acts 7:23 tells us Moses is 40 years old when he went out to visit his fellow Israelites. Remember we are looking at the second 40 years of Moses’ life.
- The New Testament gives us tremendous insight into what is going on in these verses.
· Acts 7:23-25 (Stephen’s speech to the Sandhedrin)
· “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.”
- There are all kinds of issues going on here
· Moses knows God’s will for his life – to deliver God’s people from Egyptian bondage. Acts 7:25 makes than clear. But he is making several mistakes in trying to do God’s will for his life.
Make in Following God’s
Will forTheir Life
- You will see them here in Moses in verses 11-14
- Things were not yet ripe for the work God was going to do.
- The time was not right for Moses to deliver the Israelites. He was acting on his timetable – not God’s timetable. Moses was getting ahead of the Lord’s timetable.
· Moses was not ready
· He still needed more spiritual refinement and more spiritual maturity – more character development.
· The people were not ready.
· They did not see Moses as worthy to be their leader yet.
· Plus God was still in the process of breaking and refining Israel as a nation (Egyptian idolatry cf. Ezekial 20:7,8)
- This has tremendous applications for us. We may be clear about God’s will for our lives but be out of step with His timing.
· Marriage – know the person but you are tempted to act on your timetable – not the Lord’s timetable… get ahead of the Lord.
· Having children
· Ministry calling
· Making a move in your vocation
- Seek the Lord’s timetable
· Be open – listen to the Lord – seek godly counsel – discern providences
· If He temporarily shuts the door, like he does with Moses – die to your timing and patiently submit to the Lord’s perfect timing.
- (In our carnal, fleshly nature apart from God – apart from living and ministering in the Spirit’s power).
· Moses was in the flesh when he tried to initiate the deliverance of Israel by murdering the Egyptian taskmaster.
· Beware of trying to do what God has called you to do in the flesh. God will not honor it.
· Beware of relying solely on your talents, abilities, and knowledge. God’s methods involve a spirit yielded and dependant upon His power. That’s what a healthy prayer life indicates – “I’m looking to and dependant upon You, and Your power, Lord… apart from You, I can do nothing of spiritual significance.”
· God’s will must be done in His timing and by His methods (dependant upon His Spirit).
- Read vs. 15-22
· Vs. 15 Midian
· “Moses traveled southwest to the northwest corner of modern day Saudi Arabia (cross over the Red Sea). It was a desert/wilderness type country made up of nomadic peoples- wanderers.
· Vs. 17 “drove away… watered flocks”
· Matthew Henry
· “Whenever the Providence of God casts us we should desire and endeavour to be useful… and be ready to do the good that we can.”
- Moses, the educated – trained – Egyptian prince, spent the next 40 years of his life as an obscure shepherd in the deserts of Midian (cf. 3:1)
· Behold, the ways of God.
· In Egypt he learned to be a scholar – a statesman and a soldier… and a man completely full of himself.
· But in the deserts of Midian he learned…
· The true state of his own fallen heart
· To die to visions of personal greatness
· To die to personal dreams and goals that were mostly about himself and not the Lord.
· About living a yielded, surrendered life before the Lord.
· (“not my will but Your will be done, Lord”).
· About the absolute sufficiency of God’s grace for desert experiences
· Deep, sweet, soul-satisfying communion with God
· (desert experiences are some of the best places to experience an intimate relationship with God… who else do you have in a desert?)
· Real dependence upon the Lord
· Patience… Moses learned to patiently wait upon the Lord’s timing.
- Over the years I’ve experienced a number of “Midian experiences” to one degree of another. I’ll share one.
· Post-seminary – 1985- 25 years old
· Took almost a year and a half to find a job (15 months)
· I was called – trained and educated and equipped with a Masters’ degree – but no job.
- For months after graduation I put this entry into my journal – dated September 23, 1985.
· “During this time of transition I need to find security in the Lord… waiting is tough. The other night as I walked I had to affirm to the Lord that I wanted Him more than a job, more than a wife, more than material possessions. That’s a hard desire to maintain.”
· From that time it would be almost another year before I was called to be the pastor of this church and over eight years before the Lord brought me a wife.
· Worked construction and slept on the couch of an old fraternity brother in Birmingham.
· Called – trained and equipped yet God had a deeper work to do in my heart.
- Midian is where God takes us when He wants us to do a deeper work in our heart… and it goes on from time to time throughout our life and ministry.
· Robert Murray M’Cheyne
· “Every wise workman takes his tools away from the work from time to time that they may be ground and sharpened; so does the only wise Jehovah take his ministers oftentimes away into darkness and loneliness and trouble, that he may sharpen and prepare them for harder work in his service.”
- What about you – are you in a “Midian experience?” Are you having a desert experience – spiritually, emotionally, vocationally, or relationally? Could God have you out in the desert preparing for something special?
- If so, what’s your response to your “Midian experience?”
· My counsel is this – accept it. You don’t have to understand all the things the Lord is doing in the secret counsels of His sovereign plan. Just trust Him and know that this is normal in His dealing with His children. Submit to the deeper, refining, purging, transforming work He’s doing in your heart, while you’re in the desert.
· Yes it is hard and painful but know this: God always sprinkles “Midian experiences” with sweet providences.
· Moses found a wife and supportive family.
· What are the sweet providences in the midst of your “Midian experience”? (Don’t be cynical. Look for them, they are there).
- Word of warning
· Have you ever heard of God’s Sit and Spin?
· Describe the toy – disc- 2 or 3 year old sit on – turn top and spin around and around in the same place.
· God’s Sit and Spin is what people get put on when they get stuck in sinful responses to their “Midian experiences.”
· (They fight it – resist it – complain – get angry and bitter – throw pity parties – they even begin to run away from the Lord)
· They never get out of Midian because they are so unwilling to learn the hard lessons of the heart. They just sit there in rebellion spinning around and around with the same rotten attitudes in the same rotten circumstances. God just leaves them there. Midian becomes a permanent residence
· God continues to do the refining work but it goes on in vain because the idols and vanity and pride and rebellious spirit are never allowed to be purged out of their hearts (cf. Jeremiah 6:29).
- It is a pitiful sight to see someone on God’s Sit and Spin – never learning – never growing – never truly submitting to the Lord’s heart work. They just keep on repeating the same folly – spinning round and round in a state of absolute misery. They become what the Lord calls, “rejected silver” – because they refused to be refined (cf. Jeremiah 6:29-30).
· Rejected silver is silver in which the dross/impurities could not be removed even thought it was exposed to an intense refining process. The refining process goes on but in vain, Jeremiah 6:28 describes them as hardened rebels. Rejected silver that’s what hardened rebels become… “because the Lord has rejected them” (Jeremiah 6:30).
- Don’t become “rejected silver.” Soften your heart to the refining work of God.
- When God tries you in Midian be sure you come forth as pure, refined gold so He can use you for great things in His kingdom.