Summary: God’s mission without God’s methods is a recipie for disaster. Note: You should have a Hershey’s chocolate bar for this sermon.
Milton Hershey started out by learning to be a printer. He lived just north of Lancaster, PA, and worked on a German paper. But soon, he realized how much he hated the work. So one day, he threw his straw hat into the press, and promptly got himself fired.
And so, needing a job, his mother got him an apprenticeship with a candy maker. But he didn’t stay there very long either. It was 1876, the year of the American centennial, and he realized that thousands of people were flocking to Philadelphia. Like any good businessman, he realized that where there were lots of people, there was lots of money to be made. He borrowed seed capital from his family, and off he went.
Six years later he returned, penniless. So, Milton Hershey moved to New Orleans to make his candy. His business failed there too. The same was true in New York, Chicago, and Denver. And so, by 1886, when he returned to Lancaster, he was a pretty much a broken man. So accustomed to failure, his family saw him as nothing more than a drifter – a boy who had potential but no future.
With one more effort he decided to make caramels in the Lancaster Caramel Company. When a £500 order was placed, he convinced a banker to sign his own signature for the loan he needed to fill it. When the money arrived, Milton Hershey was so overjoyed, that he ran through the streets of Lancaster with the check. He had finally made it.
He wasn’t loaded – but his caramels had made him enough money to be a respectable businessman.
I tell you all this so that you can imagine what is going through his head, when in 1903, he decides that chocolate is the candy of the future. He sells his profitable caramel company and breaks ground for a new factory in his boyhood home in the middle of Pennsylvania dairy country. You see, when he was in Denver he had learned that good candy needs a special good ingredient – fresh milk.
He was about to get very, very successful. I’m sure you know what happened from there. After all, Milton Hershey is synonymous with milk chocolate.
But to think that any old chocolate would be as successful as Hershey’s would be to miss out on some special, secret ingredients. These ingredients are vital to our text this morning too. You see, anyone can be successful, but if you really want to make a difference, you need God.
Throughout Lent, we’ve been in a series called “My Deliverer is Coming.” My goal is to walk you through the beginning of the Exodus – to see how God led the children of Israel out of bondage. I’m rather impressed with myself that I could go for three weeks without talking about the person whom God used to do that – Moses.
I’m sure you’re all familiar with his birth. Pharaoh orders all the boy babies to killed, but his mother hides him. When the baby gets too big to be hidden, his mother places him in a basket in the Nile, where he’s found by Pharaoh’s daughter. There, Miriam is smart enough and bold enough to offer the princess a wet-nurse, one who just happens to be Moses’ birth mother. It’s a miraculous story, but this morning, I want to talk about what happens what that boy grows up.
You see, Moses was in a bind. He had been given all the advantages of life as an Egyptian. But he had the eyes of Hebrew. He could see the injustices that were being perpetrated on his people. If you were Moses’ roommate, you might wonder whether you should be jealous of him or pity him. He had everything, including a conscience.
So, you can imagine what happens when, one day, he goes out to see how the other half live. And what he sees is pretty bad. What pushes him over the edge? A cruel taskmaster just doing his job – beating the slaves to get maximum performance out of his labor.
Moses hasn’t forgotten his roots. This makes him mad, and it should. Moses has been blessed or cursed with the ability to see things clearly. There is no reason that the Egyptian should be beating his Hebrews. Moses is going to put a stop to it. And he’s going to do it in a very Egyptian way.
You know, as Americans, we probably wonder why Moses didn’t just fire the Egyptian, or somehow use his position of authority to stop this senseless brutality.
But Moses had been schooled as an Egyptian. He had power, and he knew how to use it. Ancient historians tell us that Moses may have been the general who just took all of Ethiopia. This was a man who knew that if you wanted things done right, you did them yourself.