The last time Egypt saw him, he was Moses the Murderer. The man who killed a soldier and buried him in the sand. He was the one telling the Hebrews how to treat one another, with guilt dripping from his fingers like the blood of the Egyptian he shed the day before. Every time his name was mentioned after this, year after year, he was remembered as Moses the murderer. Moses the hypocrite. Moses the failure. Moses the deserter.
But while their image of who he was would be imprinted in their minds like a photograph, he was living out life in a desert, becoming a new man in the refuge he fled to. He was becoming Moses the husband. Moses the shepherd. Moses the protector. Moses the father.
40 years passed after Moses ran from Egypt until he spied the bush of God burning in the desert. Time had raced forward, challenges and responsibilities had shaped him, and his desirability to God grew. While his estranged Hebrew relatives and Egyptian government leaders still spoke of him as the murderer and hypocrite, God saw him as Moses the Deliverer.
Isn’t that how it is with us sometimes? We cling to our moral license because we only remember the good we’ve done, but crucify others for their public mistakes. And while they spend their lives learning and transforming, repenting and changing, we are convinced that the last image we had of them must still be the person they are today… even after years have passed.
And so, we dig our defensive trenches as deep as our disdain for the one who failed long ago, refusing to let them live and escape the prison of their past.
It’s The Past to them because they’ve left it behind, but to us, it’s still The Present because we just can’t let it go.
When Moses entered the city, looking a lot more like a Hebrew and much less like an Egyptian, it was critical for the people to stop viewing him the way they did when he left years ago. He had come to be a blessing to them, and release them from imprisonment. They just had to see that.
Could it be that the one you refuse to forgive… the one you refuse to let live… could be the one who could lead you to freedom?
Everyone fails, don’t we? Everyone. And when, not if, we do… wouldn’t it be great if those we’ve let down would allow their picture of us to change? If they would allow us to learn from our failures? If they would let us live?