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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A child is born: Exodus 1:15-2:20

It is now 80 years to go before release from Egypt will be procured! In this there is a vital lesson for us to learn in a day when everything must be immediate. We easily become frustrated with the slowness of our computers when they do not download something immediately. We are jealous of Japan’s speed of internet connection and yet the time difference is not even discernible to the average computer user! God’s plan is always perfect and on time but things might not necessarily happen when we want them to or even have the results that we might wish! There were many more Hebrew lives to come and go before the boy born would lead the people out of Egypt. Patience is a virtue they say but it is also a necessity as we await God’s plan to unfold. Things might at the moment seem to be slow and difficult but we do not know what God is doing even now in our land. Perhaps the next great evangelist that will bring our nation to Christ is being born today; who knows? The people of Israel at the time when Moses was born were under the cosh but God was at work in a way that they could never envisage.
When God is at work then so also is the enemy, he enrols the help of willing men and women and therefore Pharaoh is more than willing to attempt to dash what God’s plans! God’s plan is to bring about the birth of the Saviour who will build His church and so the church is always in God’s mind when He brings into being all of His plans! Moses is just one person in God’s massive plan of salvation.
At the same time that the enemy is opposing God’s plan there are also a number of men and women who remain faithful to God and His purpose. God uses these people greatly for the outworking of His great plan. Two such people are Shiphrah and Puah the midwives. Their names are Egyptian and so we can assume that they are not Hebrew but the important thing was that they feared God! This is really quite remarkable that they should stand up to the king and protect the enemy of the state. They are really quite amazing characters and through them God is working His purposes out but their stand causes Pharaoh to harden his heart against Israel even more. Because of their stand God provided families for them! There is always blessing beyond measure for all who are faithful to the Lord God.
Consequently Pharaoh decided to make an edict that the boys born to Israelite families should be sacrificed to the river god. There is an amazing irony in this: the god of the Nile was supposed to be the god of life, he was the one that they thought brought life and fertility to the nation and now the very product of what he was supposed to provide was to die in his waters. 
We now go back to everyday life; a marriage is recorded in the first verse of chapter 2; Amram marries Jochabed and they soon after have a daughter Miriam (their names are revealed at later stages in Exodus). This family later expands to four. A boy is born, I suppose Jochabed probably hoped for another girl due to the problems in Egypt. A boy had no future but Moses is born:
Moses was to be a saviour to his people but how would that work out. It is recorded that his mother saw him and she recognised that he was a fine child. You probably are saying that this would be true of any mother concerning her child, which is true and natural. Jochabed displays her maternal instincts by doing all to protect her little son! For three months he is concealed but there is a limit as to what you can do to hide a baby and so she made a basket and floated him off down the river in it.
Let us consider a number of issues that arise from the passage:
Jochabed’s motivation: The New Testament is often vitally important for our understanding of the Old Testament; this incident is one of those occasions. Look up Hebrews 11:23:

“By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”

Amram and Jochabed had faith in God and saw something important in Moses even though he was only a baby.
  • What was it that they saw?
  • What was their faith based on? See verse 24-26 Moses’ faith was in Christ to come.

Miriam’s interest: Some might say typical of a child, look to see what is happening. But Miriam’s interest goes far beyond a childish interest. She also was being used by God in the working out of His plans. Miriam was bold when Pharaoh’s daughter discovered Moses; she offered help and was able to secure the job of caring for Moses to his mother. The best possible result came out of difficult circumstances. God was working His purposes out.
Even a child can be used of God for His purposes; do we really believe that for the church today?

A basket of salvation: Jochabed made for Moses a basket (the AV uses the word ark) in which he can be floated down the river. Ark is a very good interpretation of the word used in verse 3. The Hebrew word is “tebath” which is the same word that is used for Noah’s ark. These are the only two occasions that the word is used. Both arks are vehicles of salvation from drowning for their occupants. Both are sealed with tar and pitch and both are left for God to direct to safety. Jochabed obeyed Pharaoh in that she put Moses into the river. Pharaoh wanted the river to take Him but Jochabed trusted God for Moses’ salvation from the river.

Cared for by the enemy

What happens next is truly ironic. Pharaoh made a judgement because he feared the power of Israel. He feared that Egypt might lose their workforce and so by doing what he thought would protect this he was actually making way for God to bring about the freedom of Israel from Egypt. The irony goes to ridiculous proportions when you consider that the saviour of Israel is actually going to be brought up within his own household and more so because Moses was to be brought up as a Prince of Egypt!
Pharaoh’s daughter was not duped by what she found, she knew the child was a Hebrew boy but when she saw him he cried. Thank God for the natural maternal heart of this woman. God used her caring heart to overturn her callous father’s cruel edicts!

Moses himself: We often forget Moses at this point. He did not know what was going on at the time but even though he was brought up in Pharaoh’s palace he never forgot his Hebrew roots. He could never forget how he ended up in Pharaoh’s palace either. He became Pharaoh’s daughter’s son and she named him Moses an Egyptian name which sounds like the Hebrew word for drawn out. Moses’ very name was a constant reminder to him that he was a Hebrew rescued from the river. He was drawn out, protected and preserved for a purpose. He was adopted against all of the odds into Pharaoh’s household. He grew up as a Prince of Egypt with all of its privileges and education but somehow more importantly he knew Egypt’s ways and protocols and was the ideal leader to bring them out of Egypt. But there was yet much to happen before that could take place. He was being prepared for service through life’s experiences.
How are life’s experiences preparing you for service?
The great thing for the Hebrews was that God was at work in a real and vital way even though there was no way that they could see it at the time. The one thing that they had in their favour was that God had already made great and mighty promises concerning them as a nation. For those who were faithful to Him and his word such as: Shiphrah and Puah, Amram and Jochabed and also Miriam was that there was blessing for their faithful acts whilst many others remained in blind ignorance.
God’s great plan in building the church is still in operation, we are not seeing much in the way of progress here in Britain but nevertheless He is mightily at work. We have His promise of that and so if we are faithful to His promise; active in our faith then there is great blessing for us. Israel was blessed by the faithfulness of Shiphrah, Puah, Amram, Jochabed and Miriam; will the church be blessed or hindered by our efforts? 

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