Moses’s life is neatly divided into three periods, each lasting forty years. He lived in the Pharoah’s palace until he was forty years old (Acts 7:23) and in the Midianite desert for the next forty years (Acts 7:30). And as we know, Moses and the Jewish nation then wandered in the wilderness forty years (Acts 7:36, Deuteronomy 29:5) until Moses died at the age of one-hundred-twenty (Deuteronomy 31:2; 34:7).
For his first four decades, Moses was trained, first in the home of his loving parents, and later, in Pharoah’s palace. How long did Moses live in his Hebrew home? We simply can’t know. At whatever age, the transition from slave-quarters to royal palace must have been both startling and heartbreaking. Moses was ripped from the loving arms of his mother and sent to a strange place behind locked and guarded gates. Everything was suddenly different for young Moses. The language spoken was different. His diet was suddenly altered as was the thread-count of the sheets that he slept on... from burlap to softest silk. For Moses, it must have been similar to today’s foster-child waking up in new surroundings with new guardians.
“Pharaoh’s daughter adopted and raised him as her own son. So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:21-22).Harvard, WestPoint, or maybe Massachusetts Institute of Technology might be comparable to Egypt’s royal university. Moses must have received training and education in literature and arithmetic, as well as management and administration, military tactics and strategy, architectural design and civil engineering. Young Moses was also schooled concerning the Egyptian’s mythological gods associated with the Nile River, the sun, the moon, and the earth.
I wonder if Pharoah’s daughter watched her adopted son grow and mature with hopes that he might rise to the highest ranks in the Egyptian government. Did she voice her pride and pleasure? “Daddy, Moses is doing such a good job! He’s ready for a new challenge with greater responsibilities and higher honors.” Maybe she dreamed that Moses might become the next Pharoah!
Throughout Moses’s teens, twenties, and thirties, he never completely forgot his earliest education. He still remembered those quiet evenings sitting on Amram’s lap. He recalled learning about Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Esau, and of course, Joseph who had become Egypt’s Prime Minister. Moses probably remembered his family’s reverence for the living God who sovereignly and compassionately orchestrated the events of His beloved people. He could recall his daddy’s words: “You are a child of Abraham, a child of God. We may be living as slaves in Egypt, but God has not forgotten us. Someday soon, God will deliver us and usher us into the Promised Land, a land of milk and honey!”
There in the opulent Egyptian palace, Moses was constantly reminded of his Egyptian identity. He was Pharoah’s grandson. He was a graduate of the national academy. He was a ranking member of the ruling family. He was special. He was heir to Egypt’s throne.
But like the prodigal living in a distant land, he “came to his senses” (Luke 15:17). Moses realized he wasn’t really at home in Egypt. He remembered his heritage. He remembered his God. “When he was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites” (Acts 7:23). He “went out to his own people and observed their forced labor.” (Exodus 2:11). He remembered.
Who are you? Are you defined by the world, by your education, your possessions, and your position? Or are you defined by your Creator, your Savior, and by His Living Word? God says, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). “We are children of God... heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17, ESV).