Friday, December 17, 2010

Hall of Faith Series : The Mother of Moses

Happy Friday everyone.  Of course you that means it is Hall of Faith day.  Today, we will be talking about Moses.  In fact, we will be talking about Moses for several weeks.  Today, though, we begin at his birth in an account that is more about his mother than him.
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command. Hebrews 11:23 NKJV
For a change of venue, today our attention turns to the book of Exodus and we fast forward several hundred years from where we were last week.
And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land." Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage— in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.  Exodus 1:6-14 NKJV
And so Joseph and all part of that generation passed on and over the next few hundred years, the Israelites grew and grew in numbers.  God did say that the children of Israel would become a great nation, and that promise is now coming to be.  They were becoming a great nation.  Over the years, the Egyptians forgot about Joseph and all he did and were threatened by how large Israel was becoming.  The response was to make them into slaves doing hard physical labor.  Unfortunately for the Egyptians, they were facing square on with a promise of God.  When God makes a promise, that promise will come to be, period.  There is a bumper sticker that reads "God said it, I believe it, that settles it."  My former (and probably in my heart at least still is) pastor, once commented on that sticker saying the last two parts should be reversed to "God said it, that settles it, I believe it."  I am going to take it further.  I believe it should read "God said it, that settles it."  I say that because in all honesty, if God said it, it will come to be whether I or anyone else believes it or not.  So despite their being forced into slavery, the Israelites still continued grow in numbers.  The response was to make their slavery even harder, making for them a grueling miserable life.  Of course this did not work and as you read through the Exodus account, you realize that even this played right into God's hands.
Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, "When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live."  Exodus 1:15-16 NKJV
The Egyptians, getting even more desperate, now decide to just kill all male newborn Israelites.  The midwives, however, feared God rather than Pharaoh.  This is interesting to me.  At this point the Israelites were living in Egypt for hundreds of years.  They were in a land of foreign gods, they were separated by many generations from the ones who received the promise of the Promised Land, and their lives were made to be hard and miserable.  Yet despite all of that, they still feared God.  They still had faith in God's promise made so very long ago.  Keep that in mind when you are going through any kind of a trial.  Never lose that faith that God will come through. 
So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?" And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them." Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.  Exodus 1:17-21 NKJV
I just want to pause here a moment. Please do not think that God rewarded the midwives' dishonesty.  While it is commendable that they feared God to not kill the male babies, they did not have to lie.  God had mercy on them for their dishonesty and He rewarded them for their faith in Him.  We also see here that even the command to kill all male Israelite babies did not work.  They continued to grow and multiply.
So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive."  Exodus 1:22 NKJV
Pharaoh is now mad with anger at the fact that the Israelites continued to be grow in numbers and offers this desperate command.  This is where Moses enters the story. 
And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank. And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.  Exodus 2:1-4 NKJV
And so Moses was born into the tribe of Levi.  His mother could not bring herself to kill him, so she hid him.  She hid him for as long as she could and there came a point in time where that just would not work.  In a way, she obeyed Pharaoh in what she did.  She cast her son into the river, though she did give him a little help.  I can not imagine how hard this must have been for this mother.  She knew she could not hide him and so she, in faith (as we learn in Hebrews), put him in a makeshift boat and put his fate in God's hands. Moses' sister stood and watched her baby brother float down the river to see what would become of him.
Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children." Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?" And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go." So the maiden went and called the child's mother. Then 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. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, "Because I drew him out of the water."  Exodus 2:5-10 NKJV
If this does not convince you that God works in strange and wonderful ways, I do not know what will.  This baby was put in a basket on a river, Pharaoh's daughter just happened to be bathing, and her maidens just happened to be walking along the riverside.  They were curious about it and Pharaoh sent her maid to fetch it.  They opened it and Pharaoh's daughter noticed right away that it was a Hebrew child and had compassion on him.  She disobeyed her own father in that she kept him and decided to raise him. Considering Moses was visibly Hebrew, it is amazing how God kept that fact hidden from Pharaoh. She had her maiden go and seek out a Hebrew mother to nurse the baby and it just so happens they found the baby's actual mother.  Now Moses and mom were reunited, Moses was allowed to live, and Moses's mother was actually paid to raise her own child. 

The history of young Moses is truly an amazing story.  It is a story most of us know, but I think few realize just how much God did.  We focus on the act of putting him in the basket, but we neglect what that faith-borne work produced.  We can learn much from Moses's mother.  We can learn much from this whole account. 

First, we learn that when God gives His word, His word will come to be.  As I said earlier, "God said it, that settles it."  It did not matter if Pharaoh believed it.  It did not matter if Pharaoh even knew it.  For us, we have His word that Jesus will return.  Last week, I wrote a lot on how, just like the Israelites, we hold onto the promise of God in that Jesus will return and that His return can come at any time.  That message is affirmed this week in that the even after all this time and the growing persecution, the Israelites held onto their faith in God.  May we cling to God with that same faith no matter what the circumstances tell us.  Perceived circumstances do not define our reality, God's word does. 

We also learn that sometimes we need to take a step in faith.  I can not think of a mother alive who would think that putting your 3-month old baby in a sealed basket and floating him on a river would be a good option in just about any circumstance.  What she did was off-the-wall and desperate, but what she did she did in faith.  It was a step in faith and despite how reckless her actions may seem to us, they were not reckless to God.  We have to keep in mind that what she did was put her child on God's hands.  Moses was never in any danger.  Her faith produced the work of hiding Moses then putting him in the basket, and her faith was rewarded in getting her son back with interest.  She was now legally able to care for her child and get paid while doing it.  God does work in wonderful and mysterious ways.

God often asks us to give something up for something even better.  God asks us to give Him our hearts of stone and He creates for us hearts of flesh.  God may ask us to give up our earthly riches and in return He gives us eternal treasures.  God asks us to give him our lives and in return He gives us eternal life.  What is God asking you to give up?  Is God asking you to give up your life in America and become a missionary in some far off land?  Is God asking you to give up your job and do the work of the ministry full time?  Is God asking you to give up your hopes and dreams for His will for your life?   Is God asking you to give up your desire to be a wife and mother or husband and father and spend your life in His service?  What is God asking you to give up?  Any of those things do not fit in with worldly norms, but God can and will work marvelous things through our obedience.  Not only that, but trying to hold on to what God asks us to give up never works out very well.  Either you will lose those things anyway or you will never find that place of contentment while you do have them.  In the end, you holding onto the inferior for sake of the superior.  You are cheating yourself of your own blessing.  Take that step in faith and see what amazing and wonderful things God can do.  I am going to close with a verse that has been on my heart and in my posts a lot lately, but I think it is a verse we all need to have seared into our hearts.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."  Matthew 16:24-28 NKJV

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