Birth of Moses
1Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.” – Exodus 2:1-10 ESV
Probably, no matter how long you have been a Christian, or not, the story of Moses birth, is most likely common. How a child is born, abandoned and left in the reeds along a river and found by someone of significance. For me as a child with a sad and weak childhood, this is a fairytale, dream of “what if”.
An interesting note on this passage is that there are a lot of people involved , but they are all anonymous. It does not seem to be by ignorance that these people are not identified, but it is with intentional focus. Later we learn of some of their names, but at this point the focus is intended to be on Moses, not the others.
This chapter also has a lot of tension. There is a lot riding on the story. The Hebrews were down trodden and in despair (slaves, with increased labor and killings of baby boys). We live in a challenging time today, but if we pause and slip into the lives of the Hebrews at this time, it can be pretty overwhelming. What kind of hope could these people have? Awakening each day with the optimism of getting to labor for hours in horrible conditions for what?
In view of it all, how are your days? With the political challenges, racial tension, terrorist threats, financial challenges, degrading health, weather challenges, not to mention relationships; how’s it going?
We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 ESV
We know that God works in mysterious ways, providing hope and inspiration from that despair. But it is not easy. The truth is, even when we see the whole story, it is never promised to be easy, just worth it. In this portion of the bible and our life the weak will be used to do God’s work.
In this section of scripture God uses women again to oppose the pharaoh. The very specimen of pharaoh’s fear has not come to haunt him. A Hebrew boy has now taken residence right in his own palace.
Life is so much more than just us. This evil man, pharaoh at the time, has risen to a powerful position. There is not much disclosed about the pharaoh, but it is evident that within the time of this chapter, he has a family, at least one daughter. Besides the influence of her father, lifestyle and environment, somewhere deep down, her heart is love.
When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” – Exodus 2:6 ESV
Have you ever been in a situation where your heart spoke to you louder than your mind? Where you had been taught or believed a certain way, but a power greater than yourself overwhelmed you?
Then in verses 7-10, God interjects his love and attention to the story. Moses’ real mother is appointed the opportunity to raise Moses for a while before turning him over to pharaoh’s daughter. Don’t we find it actually ironic that the pharaoh declares that all Hebrew baby boys in the land be killed, yet his own daughter knowingly takes in a Hebrew boy to be her own.
Isn’t it crazy to think that the mother of Moses, actually secretively raises her child for a few months, or as long as she could before being discovered; puts him in a basket in the reeds along the river, and then gets called back to nurse and raise him a little bit longer? How coincidental is that?
Decisions and Consequences
11Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people, the Hebrews, and he saw how hard they were forced to work. During his visit, he saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews. 12After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand. 13The next day, when Moses went out to visit his people again, he saw two Hebrew men fighting. “Why are you beating up your friend?” Moses said to the one who had started the fight. 14The man replied, “Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” Then Moses was afraid, thinking, “Everyone knows what I did.” 15And sure enough, Pharaoh heard what had happened, and he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian. When Moses arrived in Midian, he sat down beside a well. 16Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters who came as usual to draw water and fill the water troughs for their father’s flocks. 17But some other shepherds came and chased them away. So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds. Then he drew water for their flocks. 18When the girls returned to Reuel, their father, he asked, “Why are you back so soon today?” 19“An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds,” they answered. “And then he drew water for us and watered our flocks.” 20“Then where is he?” their father asked. “Why did you leave him there? Invite him to come and eat with us.” 21Moses accepted the invitation, and he settled there with him. In time, Reuel gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife. 22Later she gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, for he explained, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” 23years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. – Exodus 2:11-23 NLT
It says that after Moses grew up, he went to visit his people. How does Moses not believe that the Egyptians and pharaoh are not his people? Growing up in the palace, most likely with servants and a multitude of blessings, he is still drawn to the oppressed. The story actually says he saw a confrontation between an Egyptian and a Hebrew, master and slave, and yet Moses sided with the lesser. It literally says “an Egyptian beating one of his fellow Hebrews”. In that exact moment, Moses’ emotions become overwhelming and he has a desire to react, but in his heart there is something bigger stirring.
After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand. – Exodus 2:12 ESV
Moses knew that his actions were going to have consequences, and he made a decision to go with his heart.
Can you recall when something in your life stirred you to the brink of having to evaluate some major consequences in your life and making painful decisions?
The results are dramatic. Pharaoh, Moses’ step-dad has learned of Moses behavior and sought to kill Moses. Moses makes another bold decision and flees for Midian. He continues to show compassion and meets up with the Midianites and finds favor and starts a family of his own.
In verse 19, we see where the Midianite woman actually believes that Moses is an Egyptian and that he is showing favor. The full circle of confusion continues. Hebrew, raised in Egyptian palace, escapes the slavery life, and then finds himself a long way from home, but still reference to his past, but who is the true man? Moses goes on to declare…
I have been a foreigner in a foreign land
Have you ever felt like you were not where you were intended? Have you ever felt outcast? Where things were (or are) not as they should have seemed? Maybe even where you feel lonely in a crowd?
When we know the bigger story and we trust in the Lord to know what is going on and what is going to happen, it gives us the ability to endure, persevere, but that does not always make it easy. This condition and situation is documented throughout the bible.
14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. – John 17:14-16 ESV
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4 ESV
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12
11Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. – 1 Peter 2:11-12 NLT
While we are in the midst of where we are at, we can take confidence in the fact that we are here, but more so that this is not the end. The challenges of this world are just temporary and we get our internal hope from the eternal hope.
In a magical way, the first two chapters of Exodus unfolds a tragic story. Oppression, pain, sorrow, snuggle and yet there is one not described… Up to this point, God has been silent. There has been a lot of tension, and indirect actions, but God had not made any bold moves, until we get to verse 24.
24God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act. – Exodus 2:24-25 NLT
God sees all, he is not absent. He does hear our cry. He knows what is going on. It is not like things are going on and we have to remind him. Our faith and hope is based on the truth of God himself. As we go through these times in our life, let us not be consumed and taken out by these times, but know that there is a bigger story that we are a part of. The one that is in control is still in control. Let us not allow ourself to be taken out of the story by a disappoint that our agenda and storyline is not our own. God knows when it is time to act and he will do what he needs to do.
He may not come when you want him, but he’s right on time! – “Right on Time” by Nina Hagen
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.