1. For the next three months we will be reading The Book Of Exodus in our worship services. The main character in the story is Moses. Today we read the passage where the birth of Moses is given. As we know from our initial reading of it, God does not appear in this passage. No reference is made to him. It looks like the entire course of events are decided by human operations. The world that we see is very much like that. But, when we place this short passage in the entire Book Of Exodus, that is, when we place this one scene in the long flow of history, we do see the astonishing hand of God in it. Before we are even conscious of God, we realize that God's hand is there already working long before.
2. The time is when more than four hundred years have passed since Jacob and his household had migrated into Egypt. Because Jacob's descendants the Israelites had multiplied so much in Egypt, a cruel oppression was initiated to curb their increase. The Egyptians placed task masters or managers of forced labor over the Israelites and imposed a labor so hard that it threatened their daily lives. And the darkness that threatened the existence of the Israelites was becoming thicker and thicker, until at last it came to the point where a dreadful command was issued from the mouth of the pharaoh. This command was that "Every single male born is to be thrown into the Nile. Let all the females live," (Exodus 1:22). When Moses was born it was a period filled with such sadness and sorrow as that.
3. Everyone wishes that they live in a good time period. Parents want their children to be born in a good time period. But, the reality is that we don't get to choose the period of time we're born in. Neither did we get to choose the timing for our own children. We often bemoan the period of time in which we were born and raised. Or we bemoan having to send our children out into a world so filled with misery.
4. But, we must not forget. The period of time in which God let this person named Moses be born was a very dark time for Israel. It was the worst of times filled with sadness and sighing, but it was the best time which God had selected, where he prepared this man Moses looking to the future.
5. The great plan of God began in one small home. The text says, "A man from the house of Levi took a daughter of the same Levites in marriage. She conceived and gave birth to a son and in seeing that this son was so sweet, she hid him for three months," (verses one and two).
6. They couldn't endure their darling child getting killed, so they hid him for three months. Any one can understand what they did. But, interestingly enough, later generations didn't see their act as something that came out of the natural affection of parents for their child. In The Epistle To The Hebrews the text says, "By faith, after Moses was born he was hidden for three months by his parents; for, they saw the beauty of their child and did not fear the king's order," (Hebrews 11:23). In other words, this author saw the act that Moses' parents did as an act of faith. The emphasis is on that "they did not fear the king's order." It says that they did not fear the king, which could also be said as they feared the One who is worthy to be feared.
7. Where did this point of view regarding Moses' parents come from? It is believed that it probably came from the chapter before. In chapter one two Hebrew midwives are on the scene. One is called Shiphrah and the other is Puah. This is very odd because even though the real name of the absolutely mighty pharaoh is never given in the text, the text does instead mention the names of these mere midwives. And in what particular way are these characters mentioned? The text says, "As the midwives so feared God, they did not do what the Egyptian king had commanded, but let the boy child live," (1:17). They believed that their true ruler was not pharaoh but God. They recognized that since life belonged in God's domain that it was not in pharaoh's and that people were not free to do that. Because they feared God, they respected the keeping of life more than the king's order. And so, Moses' parents' decision and actions were seen as stemming from this same kind of faith.
8. Even if we claim that their actions came by faith right from the start, still before the hugh authority of the royal pharaoh of Egypt what one little couple as a people among slaves could do would not amount to much. They hardly had the power to overturn the house of pharaoh nor were they even fearless heroes. The least they could do was hide the baby. And that would only be temporary. After three months even that would become impossible.
9. However, even though it was indeed a small act of faith, it was at one with God's plan and it formed a part of God's grand designs. Without this family there would be no Moses later!
God's Mysterious Plans
10. So then, the parents who had been hiding Moses for three months realized that the time had finally come when he couldn't be hidden and the hour had come when they had to let him go. They let their son into a basket of papyrus made waterproof with asphalt and pitch and placed the basket among the thick reeds on the banks of the Nile. Because of their faith there was an hour in which they had to let him go. But also, it was an hour in which they had to do it by faith, an hour in which they had to turn it all over to God. How ever you might call it, the important thing is that they were motivated by respect for God's reign and by trust in Him and not simply by human affections.
11. How did the situation develop next? The baby's sister was standing a distance away and watching things. Then, as if perfect timing there came pharaoh's daughter down to the river to bathe. Of all the people who could have come, pharaoh's own daughter came, the daughter of the man who had issued the order. Next, the basket which had been placed among the lush reeds was so easily discovered by the princess herself.
12. It was the worst of developments. But, at times God even uses the worst developments to advance his cause. The princess had her servants get the basket. When they opened it, in it was a baby and it was crying. Within the princess feelings of compassion arose. Feeling such pity, she said, "This is surely a Hebrew child." Upon seeing from a distance that the princess had no thoughts of harming the baby, the baby's sister without a moment's delay approached the princess and proposed, "Shall I go call a Hebrew wet nurse to give this baby some milk?" The princess comfortably accepted this offer. The person the sister brought back was the baby's real mother. The princess said, "Bring this baby along and give it milk to drink in my place. I will compensate you."
13. Some people might think, "That's such a neatly wrapped little story!" It's hard not to think like that. But, one thing is for sure, if you think like that, even if you experienced something like it yourself, you'll no doubt think "nice success stories" are due to good luck. But one other thing for sure is that at least Moses' mother didn't react to it that way.
14. I would say that if she had hidden the baby for three months by faith and if she had let the baby go by faith, then she shivered at this development in events. If there was great joy within her, it was not some frivolous joy over some luck, but the joy filled with the fear of a person touched by the hand of the living God who even rules over the house of pharaoh.
15. We can see this from how she would later raise her baby whom she had gotten back again. She was told, "Give it milk to drink in my place." As the boy was picked up by the pharaoh's daughter, you might say he was already a child of royalty. [The mother] was entrusted with the upbringing of a royal child of Egypt. But, she did not raise the child as a royal child of Egypt. Through and through she raised him as a Hebrew to serve the living God.
16. Moses later receives an education in Egypt and attains adulthood. But, as we read verse eleven, even at that time he saw the Hebrews as his own fellow countrymen. He had always lived as a Hebrew. Even in The Epistle To The Hebrews which I quoted earlier it says, "By faith, when Moses attained adulthood, he rejected being called a son of the pharaoh's daughter, and rather than indulging in the short-lived pleasures of sin he chose to be held in contempt with the people of God and he considered the scorn he would receive because of Christ a wealth worth more than all the treasures of Egypt," (Hebrews 11:24-26). Obviously, his consciousness as a Hebrew was cultivated by his mother.
17. People who only get happy about their luck don't consider their responsibility and how it is involved in what happens. Those who see God's plan in this world will think of the responsibility given to them in it. This is how God's plans and a human response by faith come to be one and how that something that cannot come to pass in human wisdom does come to pass after all. That is, this character of "a Hebrew trained as a son of the pharaoh's daughter," who should not have even appeared historically speaking, did appear. And this very miraculous thing from God's plan is also God's very preparations in his larger plan for the escape of the Hebrews out of Egypt.
18. He was named Moses. In regard to the origin of his name the Bible explains it as follows, "The princess named him Moses; for, 'I drew him up out of the water ([his Hebrew name Moshe was built off the Hebrew word to draw water], masha),'" (verse ten). But, we readers of the Bible know. We know that Moses doesn't mean that "she" drew him out, but that "God" used her and drew Moses up out of the water. [God did it] to make "a man who would draw" Israel up out of Egypt, to make "a drawer (Moses)" lead the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.