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May 4 – The defender of the oppressed

When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. – Acts 7:23-25

Scripture reading: Exodus 2:11-15; Acts 7:17-29

What was Pharaoh’s fear? In chapter 1 vs 10, he fears that the Hebrews would join the enemies of Egypt and fight against them and escape from the land. Amazingly, that’s exactly what Moses does here. Here’s a son of esteem and privilege in Pharaoh’s court, next in line to the throne according to the ancient historian Josephus. What does he do? He joins the enemy. What’s more, he fights for them and escapes from the land.

In this remarkable scene, Moses served as a defender and avenger of the oppressed. This is the inspired interpretation which the martyr, Stephen, sets before us in Acts 7:24-25. Moses strikes the first blow against Pharaoh’s forces. Yet the weary hearts of the Hebrews were not prepared to see that God was giving them salvation by Moses’ hands. They looked at the prospect of deliverance and thought it was too far-fetched and they rejected Moses. When Stephen preached on this text before the Council, he made the point all too clear for them: you are acting with greater disdain and danger to your soul if you reject Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, Who has come to defend the oppressed and avenge all wrongdoing.

For unlike Moses, who shrank in fear once he realized what he had done, Jesus unfailingly overcame our great enemy and now He opens the gates of Heaven to all who believe in Him. Moses’ actions were only a preview of the glorious way in which God has now given us salvation through the pierced hands of His Son!

Suggestions for prayer

Pray for God to remove every obstacle in the hearts of those who think salvation from sin is either unnecessary or simply impossible. Pray for courage to be a witness of Christ our Defender and Redeemer!

This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church in BC.

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