THE BIRTH OF MOSES
(A Mother’s Faith)
Exodus 2:1-25 (Key Verse: 2:2b)
“When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months.”
Thank God for our new Exodus Bible study! Through Msn. Gideon’s message last week, we could see how God faithfully fulfilled His promises to His people. We learned nothing can stop God’s plan, even Pharaoh’s will or harsh labor. We also learned from two fearless midwives how to live before God and to save lives including their own with God-given wisdom. Today, we would like to hear more about other fearless women (mothers and a sister) who helped save and raise up one of the greatest leaders of all time (GLOAT), Moses. Mothers’ faith never fails their children. May God bless our mothers so that we may raise many Moses-like leaders in and through us.
I. A Mother’s Faith (1-10)
Verse 1 reads. “Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman …” This Levite couple knew they faced a bleak future because of the mistreatment and harsh labor from the Egyptians. Regardless, they married by faith. Then, the Levite woman b)? ecame pregnant and gave birth to a son. It was the worst possible time to have a child because of Pharaoh’s order. Back in 2008, at the time of severe recession, the people gave up on the hope of child-bearing. Twelve years later, now, colleges like Lewis University worry about 2026 when the number of high-school graduates will be drastically decreased due to 2008 effect. Even with recession, people stop having children, and how could this Levite mother think about having a child, then? She had special faith in God. With faith, she could see that her son was a fine child. According to Heb. 11:23, she saw he was no ordinary child. Surely, every child looks no ordinary to his/her mother. Yet this mother had faith that God had a special purpose for him. She did not know what exactly it would be, but she believed that God would use him preciously. So she was not afraid of the king’s edict but decided to hide him for three months.
In this calculated world, many people live not by faith, but by math. Math tells us if there is any benefit, you do it or do something else. However, there are people who by faith do not calculate but venture out, expecting the unexpected. I know one Princeton PhD student who responded to 1:1 Bible study invitation by faith and attended the worship service held at the inviter’s living room. He became a good professor shepherd. I know one college student who by faith instead of going to a night club but went to a Bible conference in which he received so much grace that he quit drinking and smoking but began to spread the gospel thereafter. He became a good lay missionary. I know one pharmacy student who was looking for true love and happened to read a Catholic book which said God is love. Based on that quote, she could study the Bible with her Bible teacher and later became a good Bible teach herself with the Master of Divinity degree by faith.
Faith is not calculation. Faith is to expect the unexpected. Faith is to believe God would do something great in one’s life regardless of the situation. We do not have to know God yet. The Levite mother did not even have the Bible yet but had special faith. And faith leads to an action such as hiding a child.
Look at verse 3. Just like we said, an unexpected thing happened. The mother could hide her child no longer. Maybe the baby became strong and began to cry loudly. Or Gestapo-like Egyptian solders patrolled more often than before. So the mother had to do something. She actually followed Pharaoh’s order with her own interpretation. Pharaoh did not say anything about using a basket so she got a waterproof papyrus basket and placed the child in it. She then put the basket among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. That bank of the Nile area must have been known as a popular place for the Egyptians for bathing, like King Spa in Niles, Illinois. In placing the child there, the mother hoped that some Egyptian nobility would pick up the child and save his life. Note the child’s sister somehow would serve as liaison between her family and the Egyptian family later.
God responded to the mother’s desperate attempt with the unexpected plan. Look at verse 5. Pharaoh’s daughter happened to go down to the Nile to bathe at that right moment and saw the basket among the reeds. When she got the basket, she opened it and saw the baby in it. The baby was crying, and she felt sorry for him. She realized that it was one of the Hebrew babies doomed to die there. What could she do? For some reason, she instantly had a desire to save him. Maybe it was a mother’s instinct kicked in. Or she secretly wished for a baby when she suffered from infertility. After all, she was Pharaoh’s daughter, and her father’s edict may not be applied to her anyway.
Then, the baby’s sister played a very critical part in that situation. She seized the moment and proposed to the princess a seemingly very good offer. Verse 7b reads. “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” She pretended that she was unrelated to the baby and begged a job for a Hebrew woman, who was actually the baby’s mother. In that way, the baby could be brought up as the Hebrew boy, maintaining his identity. Even if he might lose it, there would be possibility of restoring it in the future because of this upbringing. When the child grew older, the mother took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.” Pharaoh’s daughter played her part in Moses’ life because she raised him up as a leader in general. Acts 7:22 reads. “Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.” She gave him the best education possible at that time. Surely, Moses owed everything to his birth mother, his sister and his adopted mother in terms of the first division of his life.
Let us appreciate and give our thanks to those who help us grow as spiritual leaders at the very beginning. They are like our spiritual and physical mothers and sister.
II. A Foreigner in a Foreign Land (11-25)
Look at verse 11. Now Moses grew up. According to Acts 7:23, he was forty years old at that time. As an Egyptian royalty, he could lead a comfortable and easy life. Instead, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites (Ac 7:23). He watched them at their hard labor. He felt injustice and seriously thought about some actions. He became like a Hebrew Lives Matter (HLM) activist. Moses then delivered his version of justice. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the ruthless Egyptian and hid him in the sand. Hiding was his specialty inherited from his birth mother. But something more problematic in his genes was Moses’ impatience, burst of anger and delivering his own version of justice. Maybe it was passed down from his ancestral father, Levi, who did the exact the same thing when he felt injustice regarding his sister. Moses had to fix this and God prepared a course for that.
Look at verse 13a. This time, he wanted to deliver another type of justice to his fellow Hebrews. He intervened the Hebrews’ internal matters and tried to reconcile them. In verse 13b, we see he was trying to correct one in the wrong by saying, “‘Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?’” Similarly in Acts 7:26, he was saying, “‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’” However, whatever he intended good backfired. Verse 14a reads. “The man said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?’” According to Acts 7:27, this man even pushed aside Moses. At this, Moses not only realized he was not well received as their rescuer (or possibly ruler and judge) but also his life was in an immediate danger (15). When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from him and went to live in Midian. The name Midian first appeared in Genesis (Ge 25:2) and the Midianites were the descendants of Abraham and Keturah. By God’s sovereign guidance, Moses could go and live among the people of God.
We see that it would take another 40 years for Moses to return to Egypt. Of course, he would rescue the Israelites from the bondage of the Egyptians as he desired originally and yet he would lead them in the wilderness for around 40 years. So roughly speaking, Moses had three general divisions in his life. In our Friday meeting, we could aptly summarize each of these three divisions in three simple sentences: the first 40 years, “I am something”; the second 40 years, “I am nothing”; the final 40 years, “God is everything.”
Surely, it would take 40 years to bend one’s will and become a different person who claims, “I am nothing yet God is everything.” It is a slow and painful process. That is how the humanity works. Do you want to be on a fast-track procedure for such development? Then, look at how Jesus struggled in Gethsemane. Since our Lord Jesus also had his humanity, he mightily struggled to bend his will on God’s will until his sweat became like blood. If you do not want blood, then possibly you break your leg or become blind to be changed like Jacob or Apostle Paul did.
Now look at verses 16-17. This is how Moses settled down in Midian. The seven daughters of a Midianite priest was struggling to water their father flock. It was not just because of the hard and difficult work of water-drawing but also there were some troublemakers who drove away those girls not to do so for their selfish reason. Possibly water was scarce and was very precious at that time. They were kind of modern-day bullies in those days. Look at verse 17b again. Moses’ instinct of defending the weak kicked in. He came to the girls’ rescue and even watered their flock.
Verses 18-20 tell us what happened next between the father and his daughters with a little humor. Their father, Reuel, wondered how come his daughters returned from flock-watering so early that day. His daughters innocently answered him that out of nowhere an Egyptian man rescued them from the bullying shepherds and even drew water for them and for the flock. At this, the father asked his whereabouts and urged them to invite him for a dinner. They did not know the agony of the father who had many aging daughters to wed. It is a headache for a father to match-make his many daughters with good husband candidates.
Moses agreed to stay with Reuel and even married to one of his daughters, Zipporah. He got a son with Zipporah and through his son’s name, we can see his perspective change. He felt foreign in a foreign land. Many of us feel that way even in this land of the free and the home of the brave. Even Dr. Jason went through that feeling in serving NJ UBF. Until we reach our true home, we are meant to feel foreign even if we go back to Korea or Ukraine. May God help us to be homebound in our spiritual journey.
Look at verses 23-25. What was God’s response to the cries of the Israelites? He heard their groaning and remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He was patiently but faithfully fulfilling his promises by transforming one man in a foreign land. Powerful kings like Pharaoh died but humble men of God like Moses was being raised as spiritual leader.
In conclusion, we learned today how a mother’s faith changed the course of history. With faith, she did not fear Pharaoh’s edict but hid her child, firmly believing in God’s special purpose, though not knowing the details. Even Moses’ sister and Pharaoh’s daughter played their part unknowingly and preciously. And when Moses thought he is something, God humbled him until he would think he is nothing. Even if it takes 40 years, it is relatively short because in that way a true spiritual leader is raised. May God bless our mothers and raise up many littles Moseses.