Some twists and turns in His Story
Exodus chapters 1 & 2
The inspired book of Exodus brings us to a turning point in history—not just in the history of ancient Mediterranean cultures but in the history of humanity, global. Chapter One (please read it now) starts out with the standard recital of a tribe’s lineage, listing all the sons of its patriarch—but soon comes the bald statement that they all died.
All that generation died, and every generation after that died, too. Our human lot is to live, reproduce, and pass away into history — but during those four centuries God blessed the Israelites until Egypt was filled with them (v. 7).
That ethnic imbalance spelled danger to a new king, so he reacted as any despot would. Persecution, enslavement, and ethnic cleansing were adopted as federal social policies to prevent insurrection and civil war (vv. 8-10).
How could God’s people survive? Man proposes, but God disposes, having His ways of making His plans succeed. It didn’t take a civil war to sift the wheat from the chaff – it took only two Jewish women whom the LORD selected to climb the ranks and become high-level federal employees in the Department of Human Services. They became the LORD’s agents to save Jewish boy babies – through whose genetics an unbroken line would be preserved for Kingdom-Come.
God put them there, they knew their purpose in life, and they lived so as to have a good conscience before God (v. 17). There’s a lesson here about saving babies from legalized abortion and murder—whether at the level of national genocide or individual cases; a nation that sows such a wind will harvest the tornado that it deserves.
Contrariwise, we look forward to seeing Shiphrah and Puah in heaven, shining as the stars (Daniel 12:3) for their service to God and His people.
That’s background for Chapter Two —which informs us that the national abortion/murder mania missed Moses, for his parents obeyed God rather than man (vv. 1-2). They shielded their infant from the murderers until it got too dangerous for them to hide an illegal baby. So they put their cradled child afloat in the Nile—not acting in desperation but in faith (Hebrews 11:23), for they knew God could be relied on to step in and turn everything right-side-up.
God to the Rescue!
As truth IS stranger than fiction, God sent a heathen princess to the rescue! Imagine that! An illegal Jewish baby came under the guardianship of the king of Egypt! The princess knew that harboring a Hebrew baby was a federal crime, but she was touched by the baby’s pitiable sobbing (v. 6), and almost before she could concoct a feasible plan to spare the foundling, Miriam appeared on the scene with an easy, sensible solution to the conundrum.
“Shall I go (so you don’t have to interrupt your bath) and call a nurse (a lactating woman) for you (you’re the one in charge) from the Hebrew women (not an Egyptian, so no ethnic taboo will be violated) that she may nurse the child (as a surrogate mother) for you (the honorable, thoughtful princess)?” Okay?
Not so fast! As Miriam was gathering up her baby brother to return him to their anxious parents, the Princess was having second thoughts. “Wait up! Since I am adopting this baby as MY baby, I am going to pay the nurse for service rendered. Now you may go!”
If Miriam felt a self-satisfied smirk coming on, she stifled it with a silent “Thank You, LORD, for You are able to do exceedingly abundant above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Thank You, LORD, for all Your mercies and kindness to my brother and my parents!”
Dear reader, that’s an illustration of how superior God’s ways are to our ways, and it should strengthen our resolve to yield to His will and Word—always.
Moses grew up in the royal household, blessed by God to excel in all mental and physical accomplishments under the tutelage of the most civilized society of that day. The years went by, and knowing he had Hebrew blood in his veins, he felt drawn to identify himself with his kinfolk being brutalized (2:11). How could he endure it?
At that point Moses let himself be detoured by Satan and his own sinful nature, for instead of exploring legal means (or personal, such as leveraging his foster-mother) to modify federal policies—he gave in to fleshly means. He assaulted an abusive Homeland Security officer, murdered him, and tried to conceal the corpse in a sand-dune.
Moses soon discovered he was not welcomed as a savior of his people, and a well-intentioned attempt to arbitrate between two brawling Hebrews backfired in his face. (Read Acts 7:23-28 for Stephen’s insights into this event.)
Murder will out! Pharaoh put a price on his head, and Moses scooted across the border to find refuge in the backwater country of Midian. The Hebrews writer assures us that “by faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).
Moses forsook his homeland in faith but still lacked humility, good judgment, respect for human life, and reliance on God’s will. God would cull such weeds out of Moses’ heart and soul – even if it took the next forty years to do so. Chastisement is God’s tough-love way of curbing the wayward impulses of His dear child!
In Midian Moses rescued some damsels in distress (vv. 16-17), acquired a wife, received the patronage of a leading clergyman, and then was blessed with fatherhood – life-altering events blueprinted by God to exercise and strengthen godliness in his character.
Meanwhile, God was preparing His people too (v. 24), and at the right time He would bless them by bringing Moses home from those forty years of being trained in God’s school of chastening—a leader now capable of representing the King of kings and Lord of lords—and do so with credit to his Master.
That’s coming in the next chapters of His Story about Moses and Israel.
Praise the LORD, to whom be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end!