20130901FBCPM & 20130905FBCTH
1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.
5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.
7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.
10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water. (Exodus 2:1–10)
I. GOD SAVES THE DELIVERER
A. The Need For A Deliverer
Israel, as we have seen, is in dire straits in Egypt. Their newborn boys are being thrown into the river. Their men and women are enslaved in rigorous servitude. The king of the land, Pharaoh, would prefer to see the Israelites eliminated from the face of the Earth.
If there was ever a need for a hero—a deliverer, Israel had the need. Four hundred years had passed since Joseph had led them to Egypt. Those were times of prosperity, but now, for who knows how many years, their lives were grievous and miserable. Perhaps by now many of them did not believe that the Lord God cared for them any longer. Perhaps they didn’t even believe in the God of Abraham any longer.
In some ways, we face the same situation. Things are getting worse in our nation. Some Christians have already had their rights and freedoms infringed upon. Every where you turn there are those who don’t believe in the God of Abraham. Today, as there was then, there is a need for a deliverer.
B. The Birth Of The Deliverer
Exodus 2:1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
Exodus 2:2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
Notice that Moses would be born of the tribe of Levi. Why would that be important? Because it was the tribe of Levi that God would later assign spiritual leadership duties (Exodus 32:26-29 Deuteronomy 10:8-9).
Secondly, notice the phrase “the woman conceived, and bare a son.” Moses, as you know, wrote the first five books of the Bible. In the first, Genesis, he used this phrase fifteen times to describe the birth of a baby: from Cain in Genesis 4:1 to Shelah in Genesis 38:3.
Here Moses uses it a sixteenth time to describe his own birth and then he never uses it again. Why? Perhaps he was making the point that he would be the final person in a line of Patriarchs that God used to establish the nation of Israel.
Jochebed (yaw-keh-bed, her name is given in Exodus 6:20) had a baby boy and the Bible notes that “he was a goodly child” (meaning, beautiful or special). This was something that she noticed and passed on to Moses later. Can you hear her teasing him as an adult, “Oh, you were such a goodly child!”
She must have believed that God was going to do something special with him. We get the indication that she did from Hebrews:
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. (Hebrews 11:23)
C. The Hiding Of The Deliverer
(1) Hidden For Three Months
So by faith, she (her husband was away slaving away—literally) “hid him three months.” Three months is about how long it is before babies start making a lot of racket. Interestingly enough, it’s about three months before babies are heard in church!
What do you suppose she was thinking? What was the plan? Hide him until when? Perhaps she hoped that Pharaoh would change his mind. Perhaps she hoped that God would intervene somehow. It does say in Hebrews that they hid the baby for three months by faith.
(2) Hidden In An Ark
Exodus 2:3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.
Exodus 2:4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.
She “could not longer hide him” probably means that the Egyptian soldiers (or perhaps nefarious neighbors) patrolling her neighborhood would have heard his crying and checked to see if it was boy or not.
So, she builds an “ark of bulrushes” (papyrus stems, the same things that the Egyptians built their boats out of) and seals it “slime and with pitch.”
The Hebrew (tevah) for “ark” is used twenty eight times in the Bible. Twice it describes this basket that carried baby Moses. The other twenty six times it is used to describe Noah’s Ark.
This was certainly an act of creative civil disobedience. The Pharaoh had ordered male babies thrown into the Nile—but he didn’t say that they couldn’t be in a waterproof basket!
Now, in every movie and book depiction of this scene, what happens? The basket is pushed into the river where it floats downstream to Pharaoh’s daughter. But what does it say? It says that “she laid it in the flags [reeds] by the river’s brink.” The basket was among the reeds, it wasn’t going anywhere!
So what is she doing then? There’s a couple scenarios:
(3) Scenario One: She Wanted The Baby Found
In the first scenario, Jochebed wanted the baby found. Perhaps she even wanted the baby found by Pharaoh’s daughter. For Pharaoh’s daughter to save a Hebrew baby boy against the direct orders of her father indicates that she might have been a strong and independent sort of woman. That sort of reputation would have gotten around.
So Jochebed noticed where and when she bathed. Maybe she didn’t even feed the baby so that he would cry when the Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing. She set her own daughter, Miriam (Numbers 26:59), on guard to watch (if she had stayed, they would have perhaps identified her as the baby’s mother, or at least, questioned her).
Perhaps she even knew that the princess would need a wet nurse and directed Miriam to approach the Pharaoh’s daughter and offer to go find one—namely, Jochebed.
Is this suggesting a lack of faith on Jochebed’s part? Not in the least. Human planning and thinking doesn’t mean that we are lacking in faith. There were still plenty of things out of her control: would Pharaoh’s daughter have compassion? Would the baby cry? Would the princess hear?
(4) Scenario Two: She Didn’t Want The Baby Found
It’s also possible that Jochebed didn’t want the baby found. Perhaps her faith was that God would protect the baby, yet keep him with her. So she did what she could: she placed the baby in the reeds on the river (and why else would she put the basket in the reeds if not to hide it?) and set Miriam to keep watch from a distance.
Perhaps her thinking was that the outside noises: the crowds, the children, the noise of the river, etc. would mask the sounds of the baby crying. If someone came near, Miriam could provide a distraction.
Her faith was that God would protect the baby until something about their situation changed. Perhaps she had, like we often do, no idea how God is going to work, only that he will.
(5) A Lesson About Salvation
We should stop here and consider something we learn about salvation from this account: God works salvation through human history. The story of Moses is not just a nice story. It is real history. This really happened.
There are those who claim that it isn’t real history because the Exodus isn’t mentioned in Egyptian history. But, wait, if you let two million slaves get away, do you think you would let the few scribes that existed in those days record such an embarrassing defeat?
Or some claim that the birth of Moses is based on older stories. That it’s just another piece of ancient literature. While it’s true that it has similarities with other stories (like that of an Egyptian king named Sargon who was rescued out of the water by a gardener), there’s also enough differences to argue for it being original history.
So Moses, the Exodus, it’s all history, despite what the scoffers want to say. God works salvation through human history.
The story of Jesus also comes under the scrutiny of scoffers. Not just atheists, even liberal Christians don’t hold to the historicity of the Gospels. The stories of Jesus are just guides for us as we each pursue our own pathway of faith.
Well, I beg to differ, our faith is not based on fiction. It is based on fact. Peter felt the same way when he said:
16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)
Peter says that they didn’t follow “fables” (maybe like the goose that laid the golden egg variety), but they were “eyewitnesses” to God intervening in history to work out salvation.
Faith in Christ is never a blind faith. It is a faith in a real, historical person—as real as you or I, and as real as Moses.
D. The Protection Of The Deliverer
(1) The Baby Discovered
Exodus 2:5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it.
Pharaoh’s daughter did not see the basket floating on the river, but she sees it in the same place where the mother had left it—”among the flags.”
The ark may have been well-hidden (especially if Jochebed didn’t want the baby found), but the Pharaoh’s daughter could hear him crying as (see verse six). She didn’t want to go among the reeds, so she sent a servant girl to “fetch it.”
No matter what scenario you think is being played out, the situation is tense. If Jochebed wanted the baby discovered by the princess, there’s still the question of how she’d respond.
If they didn’t want the baby found, then you can imagine the fear that went through little Miriam’s heart as she watched the “maid” carry the basket to her princess. She may have froze for a moment, wondering what she was going to do.
Verse six is where we see God’s providence at work:
(2) The Baby Delivered
Exodus 2:6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.
The fact that Pharaoh felt like he could escalate the campaign against the Israelites by ordering the public (1:22) to participate in throwing male Hebrew children into the Nile would imply that he felt many would participate either out of fear of himself or fear that the Israelites would swarm the land like grasshoppers.
Here, however, is one member of his own house who could not bring herself to participate, even though it would have been easy to do so, just tip the basket over, or push it into the current and let the crocodiles take care of it.
The Pharaoh’s daughter was committing treason by saving this Hebrew baby.
Now we don’t know if the Pharaoh knew that the baby was Hebrew (or even if he knew there was a baby—one commentator suggested that he could have had scores of daughters).
Or perhaps she did tell him, and was brash enough to stand up to her father who happened to have a soft spot in his heart for his headstrong daughter.
In the end analysis, however, all we can say is that God was working. Either he was working out the prayers and planning of Jochebed.
Or, he was working something greater than she could imagine by revealing the hidden baby to the one human being in the kingdom who could keep him safe.
God’s providence is not the only thing on display here. We also get to see his grace and mercy toward his people.
E. The Return Of The Deliverer
(1) Miriam Steps Forward
Exodus 2:7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?
We don’t know how old Miriam was at this point (brother Aaron was three, Exodus 7:7), but she was apparently too young to work as a slave and yet old enough to keep her head about her when the Pharaoh’s daughter found the ark.
You can imagine her sneaking a bit closer, to hear what was being said, and overhearing the Pharaoh’s daughter saying something like, “He’s crying, he must be so hungry, poor thing, does anyone know of an available wet nurse?”
Sensing an opening, Miriam rushed up and said, “Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?” We don’t know if this was preplanned by her mother, or if it was a brilliantly clever maneuver by a little girl (perhaps with some nudging from God).
But it worked:
(2) The Mother Hired To Be The Mother
Exodus 2:8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother.
Can you imagine what Miriam coming to her mother would have been like if their intention was that the baby not be discovered?
Jochebed would have been greatly alarmed at first, the enemy had found her carefully hidden baby! But after Miriam assured her that all was okay, and that her attention was needed right away, the mother rushed out the door to her baby boy.
On the other hand, what if it was a trap to catch the mother who had tried hiding her baby from the authorities? What if they simply snookered the little Miriam into believing that they had compassion on the baby?
But then we see God’s providence and his grace and his mercy come together. Jochebed, breathless, runs up and bows before the princess:
Exodus 2:9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.
Imagine the relief the mother felt! It was true! God had protected the baby from harm. Not only that, he had reunited her and her baby at least until until he was weaned, three or four years down the road.
And, as frosting on the cake, God arranged it for her to be paid to raise her own son!
B. Moses Prepared For His Future Task
Exodus 2:10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
(1) Moses Named And Adopted
For Jochebed, this must have been a bittersweet day. Bitter from losing her precious child, but sweet knowing that he would live.
You can imagine all the songs and Bible stories she told him in order to plant in him God’s truth. Young children do retain so much more than we know.
At this point Pharaoh’s daughter adopted the child, and named him: Moses.
Moses’ name sounds like the Hebrew for “draw out” and refers to him being drawn out of the river. The Pharaoh’s daughter gave him a name in her own language, but that also sounded like a Hebrew word.
This doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have had any contact with him—it appears that Moses knows his brother Aaron pretty well in Exodus 4:14.
(2) Moses Raised And Trained
From then on, Moses was raised and trained as an Egyptian in Pharaoh’s court. In the New Testament, Stephen, guided by the Holy Spirit, elaborates on this:
21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. (Acts 7:21–22)
God’s ways may not make sense to us until 20/20 hindsight kicks in. I’m sure that Jochebed didn’t understand this plan until later. Now it’s obvious: God was training Moses to be the deliverer of his people.
He would have the education and the training to lead two million people.
He would know how to speak before Pharaoh. Stephen says that he was “mighty in words,” which Moses didn’t think was true, but he may have simply been trying to be humble.
No, God knew what he was doing. He was raising and training the deliverer.
There’s a second lesson about salvation that we learn here. The first was that God works salvation through human history; the second is that, in salvation, God triumphs over evil.
We saw this truth about salvation in what we’ve seen in Exodus thus far. Satan, through Pharaoh, attempted to destroy the Israelites, and especially destroy any chance that Moses the deliverer could survive.
Ultimately, that’s why Pharaoh wanted the baby boys killed—Satan was attempting to destroy the deliverer named Moses, and also the Messiah named Jesus. It was an evil plot. But God triumphs over evil.
This is also true when it comes to salvation through Jesus. Salvation is much more than a “get out of jail” card. Salvation is the defeat of all that is evil in the world. Salvation is the triumph of Jesus over evil.
Death, for example, is evil, and salvation triumphs over death:
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55–57)
Sin, of course, is also evil, but salvation triumphs over sin:
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? (Romans 6:1–3)
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: (Romans 6:7–8)
Satan and his demons are evil, But God’s for salvation triumphs over them also:
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:15)
So fear not, Christian, as God triumphed over evil in his salvation of Moses from the river, so he triumphs over evil in his salvation provided through Jesus.