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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 2:23-25; Prayers and Sighs and Groans and Cries

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100530_exodus02_23-25.mp3

5/30 Exodus 2:23-25 Prayers and Sighs and Groans and Cries

2:15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel––and God knew.

In the opening chapters of Exodus, we’ve been following Moses, the one God will use to deliver Israel from bondage in Egypt. We’ve seen the Pharaoh’s direct opposition to God and his blessings and purposes. God is being faithful to his promises by seeing the Israelite population increase and multiply and grow strong. Pharaoh had made three attempts to reduce the population of the Hebrew people, and with each attempt, we’ve seen God thwart his grand schemes by the foolish things of the world. We’ve seen God make a fool of this Pharaoh by having his arch-enemy Moses rescued from his decree of extermination by the hands of his own daughter, The Pharaoh paid out of his royal treasury to have Moses’ own Hebrew mother nurse and train him in the formative years of his life, then he’s fed him at his table, clothed him and sheltered him under his roof, educated him in his universities, trained him with his military, but in spite of all that, Moses hangs on to his own identity as a Hebrew, and embraces his calling to save his people from their bondage. He stands up for the oppressed, but now he finds himself misunderstood, and rejected by his own people, and exiled into the wilderness as a wanted criminal. He ends up marrying into an idolatrous Midianite family, serving as a shepherd to their flocks, and naming his first son as a reminder that he didn’t belong. Anywhere. He is a stranger in a strange land. Forty years pass. Shepherding another man’s flocks in the wilderness. Meanwhile, back in Egypt…

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died,

This would be headline world news. The king of the most powerful nation in the world dies. This was the same Pharaoh that had ordered Moses killed.

4:19 And the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.”

If his death immediately preceded the return of Moses to Egypt, then he reigned for more than 40 years.

If this was the same Pharaoh who had ordered the baby boys to be thrown into the river at the time of Moses’ birth, then he would have reigned for some 80 years by this time. We change presidents every four to eight years, and we expect big things from the man in office. Imagine a leader ruling for multiple decades. Children would have grown into adulthood knowing only one king. That king dying would mean the potential for change on a global scale. Policies, economies, national goals and agendas would all be up for change. This likely was a long-awaited event among the people of Israel. Just as when “there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph (1:8)” meant a change from favored position to cruel oppressed slavery, so this change in dictators might mean a lifting of the oppression and heavy bondage on the people. Maybe this new king would change everything. Maybe he would again look favorably on the Israelites. Maybe oppression would cease. Now there is hope!

We could compare this situation with the circumstances that faced the Jews under king Uzziah. King Uzziah was a good king who had reigned for 52 years in Judah (2 Chronicles 26:3). After a 52 year rule there would be uncertainty of what would happen next. Some kings were good, but many of their kings had been evil and unjust. There was much fear and uncertainty of what the future would hold. It was at this time that Isaiah had his vision.

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

Although King Uzziah was dead, the Lord is still on his throne. In Egypt, the Hebrews were suffering deeply. If their hope was in a new government with a new leader, their hope was misplaced and would disappoint. Psalm 146 helps us keep our focus where it should be:

Psalm 146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! 2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 3 Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. 4 When his breath departs he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. 5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; 8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. 9 The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Put not your trust in princes. Do not hope in a new government. Look to the one who is worthy to be hoped in. Psalm 33 encourages us:

Psalm 33:16 The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. 18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, 19 that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

It appears that the children of Israel did not turn to the Lord until every other hope was extinguished. The evil king was dead. A new king had ascended the throne. But there was no deliverance as they had hoped. If anything, things got worse. Listen to the words that describe their situation: a sigh of pain or grief, slavery or bondage (twice), cried out, cried for rescue, groaning. Finally, in desperation, when there is nowhere else to turn, the people cry out to God. Actually, the text doesn’t even explicitly state that the people did cry out to God. It says that they groaned and cried out for rescue and their cries came up to God.

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel––and God knew.

But whether they were addressing him or not, God heard. God was listening. This is the second time God is mentioned in the book of Exodus. The first time was with individuals. The Hebrew midwives feared God and so they disobeyed the Pharaoh. And God blessed them personally. He gave them families of their own. Now we have the people of Israel – corporately – as a group – crying out for relief. Prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of the church gathered. In the book of Acts:

Acts 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

God hears the prayers of his people.

Psalms 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

He invites us to pray.

1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So Israel prayed, and God heard.

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel––and God knew.

Their cry came up to God. God heard, God remembered, God saw and God knew.

What does it mean for an omniscient God to hear? If God is everywhere present and knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts, this surely means more than simply that God registered the sound waves coming from the people. This is not Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, where if everyone makes enough noise, the sound will come through to God’s ear. In Isaiah, God says:

Isaiah 1:15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

Isaiah 59:2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

This does not mean that God no longer registers the sounds of their prayers. He knows exactly what they are praying, but because of their unrepentant sins, God will not answer favorably. When I ask my kids to do something and they don’t respond, I will often ask ‘didn’t you hear me?’ I don’t rush them off to the doctor to get their ears checked. Their ears work fine. It’s a problem somewhere between the ears and the heart and the feet that causes them not to translate the audible signal into appropriate action. When it says that God heard them, the implication is that appropriate action is shortly to follow.

What does it mean for an omniscient God to remember? Surely we do not have a God with Alzheimer’s that needs to be constantly reminded of things he has forgotten. Throughout the bible this word ‘remembered’ implies covenant application. Again, it is appropriate action in light of the promises made. Remembering is synonymous with honoring or making good on his promises.

24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel––and God knew.

God had made promises to these men. The book of Exodus began with the genealogy connecting the slaves in Egypt to the patriarchs to whom God made these promises. God had promised to make them into a great nation, and in the opening words of Exodus, we see that he’s already done that. They have become so powerful and great that the Egyptians fear them. God had also promised

Genesis 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The Egyptians had dishonored Israel, and now it was time for them to feel the consequences of their actions. God had also promised them land, and it was time to bring them back into the land. God had promised to be with them and to himself bring them up out of Egypt, and it was time for him to make good on all these promises. God remembered his covenant. We can take heart that God is a God who makes good on his promises. We can also be encouraged that God can indeed forget.

Isaiah 43:25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

Because of the cross of Jesus our Lord, God can indeed blot out our sins and remember them no more! Praise God for that!

God heard, God remembered, God saw and God knew. Like Moses, who went out to see his people, this is much more than mere observation. God is looking with compassion on their situation and preparing to do something about it. God will act in response to what he sees. God saw and God knew. Again, this does not mean that an omniscient God received new information. This implies intimacy and experience – relationship. This is what Jesus points to when he says:

Matthew 7:22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, … 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Many will do things in his name and for him, but without a proper relationship with him, those things are meaningless. Jesus said:

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

1 Corinthians 8:3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

Galatians 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, …

God hears, God remembers, God sees, God knows. Our God is a God of action. And he responds to the cries of his people. But how does God respond, how does he answer? God began to answer this prayer 80 years earlier by giving a handful of women the courage to stand for what’s right and disobey the Pharaoh. God began to answer this cry 80 years before when a Hebrew mother entrusted her endangered son to the Nile river in a little ark. God began to answer when the Pharaoh’s own daughter drew him out of the water and had pity on him. God began to answer when he sent Moses out from the palace to his oppressed people to gain a heart of compassion for them. God began to answer even in the rejection of his people and banishment to the desert to learn rejection and alienation and humility and to learn what it means to be a shepherd. God had been working all along in preparation to answer this request of the people. We do not surprise God by our requests and send him scrambling. Jesus taught us:

Matthew 6:7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

We are to pray with the understanding that our Father knows what we need before we ask. This should not discourage us from praying as if prayer was meaningless. Instead it should encourage us. We can ask with confidence knowing that God has all along been putting the necessary preparations in place so that he can respond to our prayers by unleashing his power on our behalf. God delights to give good gifts to his children. And he delights to be asked.

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

****

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel––and God knew.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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May 30, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 2:15-22; A Savior to the Gentiles

 http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100523_exodus02_15-22.mp3

5/23 Exodus 2:15-22 A Savior to the Gentiles

2:15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel––and God knew.

We’re in Exodus, with the Hebrew people, 400 years in Egypt, slaves, cruelly oppressed and under threat of extermination. We’ve seen God raise up for Israel a deliverer – Moses – under official threat of death at his birth, spared by the midwives, protected by his mother, entrusted to God in an ark on the Nile, drawn out of the water by the Pharaoh’s daughter, his own mother hired to nurse him at the suggestion of his sister, then again entrusted to God and handed over to the Egyptians. He was educated in Pharaoh’s house, became mighty in word and deed, and had a promising future. He had nothing to gain and his whole life to lose by embracing his heritage. But still, he chose to identify with his own people, the oppressed Hebrew slaves. He went out to his people, he looked, and he saw. In a daring act of faith he took action to alienate himself from the Egyptians and invest his own future with the slave people.

Acts 7:23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.

Instead, he was rejected by the people he was sent to save. His intentions were thoroughly misunderstood.

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; …

John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him….

They answered:

Exodus 2:14 … “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? …

So salvation through Moses is rejected and he is again under sentence of death, and flees into the wilderness.

2:15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

Moses spends his exile in the land of Midian. Where is Midian? Who were the Midianites?

God promised Abraham a son. At 100 years old, God gave Abraham and his wife Sarah the promised son Isaac. Sarah lived to be 127 years old (Gen.32:1). In Genesis 25, we learn that after Sarah’s death Abraham remarried.

Genesis 25:1 Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.

So Midian was one of the sons of Abraham and Keturah. The descendants of Midian apparently intermarried with the Ishmaelites, descended from Abraham’s first son by his wife’s servant Hagar, so that the names became interchangeable (see Judges 8:24). Midianites were a nomadic group that ranged anywhere from the Sinai Peninsula all the way north of the Dead Sea. It was Midianite traders who bought Joseph as a slave from his brothers and sold him in Egypt (Gen.37:28,36). Interesting that Midianites brought Joseph down to Egypt, and now Moses running from Egypt ends up with the Midianites. Later on as the Israelites approached the promised land, it was the Midianites who along with the Moabites conspired to hire the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites (Num.22:7), and then the women of Moab and Midian tempted Israel to sin and worship Baal of Peor (Num.25) and brought God’s judgment. In the time of the Judges, God raised up Gideon to defeat the idolatrous Midianites (Jud.6-8). It is into the land of Midian that our rejected deliverer runs for his life, and he sits down by a well.

If we have been paying attention to the narrative in Genesis, this should peak our curiosity. Wells were an essential part of life in the desert. The local watering hole was the place for a traveler to find someone to show hospitality. It was by a well that Abraham’s servant found Rebekah, to be the wife of the promised son Isaac (Gen.24). It was by a well that Jacob met the beautiful Rachel and it was love at first sight (Gen.29). In fact Jacob was also fleeing for his life – running from his brother who wanted to kill him. So we have our fugitive sitting by a well in a foreign land.

16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.”

The priest of Midian, Reuel, who we will find out also goes by Jethro. Some have tried to make him out to be a priest of the true God, but that seems to be a stretch, seeing that we have the narrative of his conversion in Exodus 18.

Exodus 18:1 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father–in–law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.

8 Then Moses told his father–in–law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the LORD had delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the LORD had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 Jethro said, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh and has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.” 12 And Jethro, Moses’ father–in–law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father–in–law before God.

This man, like much of his culture around him, would believe in many gods. The Midianites throughout the biblical narrative worshiped the Baals and the other pagan deities. This man was an idolater. After Moses recounts how God delivered them from Egypt, Jethro says ‘now I know that the LORD (YHWH) is greater than all gods’. In chapter 18 when he comes to believe the YHWH is greater than all the gods he has been worshiping, he offers sacrifice to this his new God. But that’s jumping ahead of our story. Here, his seven daughters show up to water the sheep at the local watering hole. They draw the water, which in that culture was only the woman’s job, then after they do all the work, they get bullied away from the watering hole by the local shepherds. It seems this may have been routine for them. Show up, draw the water, get driven away so the shepherds can use up all the water, wait around ’till they are done, come back and draw more water and water our father’s flocks. But this day Moses stood up for them. Wherever Moses saw oppression, he had to do something about it. Whether it was an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, a Hebrew beating another Hebrew, or some mean shepherds taking advantage of some Midianite women in the desert, it didn’t matter. Moses wasn’t sitting around pouting over his own misfortune. Moses stood up and acted on behalf of the oppressed. At no time was he acting out of a motive of personal gain. The first two times he had stood up for the oppressed, it had cost him dearly. But that didn’t discourage him from doing it again. Our text says Moses saved them. This is the first occurrence of this word saved [evy yasha‘] in the bible. The next time this word is used, it is describing what God did for the Israelites in the exodus:

Exodus 14:30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.

He preserved them from injury, harm or evil, he rescued them from danger. Moses, who thought the Israelites would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, now ends up in the desert saving some women from a bunch of mean shepherds. Not only does he rescue them, but he blesses them. He was the guest, and could have expected to be shown hospitality. In the case of Abraham’s servant at the well, he asked Rebekah for a drink, and she gave him a drink and volunteered to water his camels also. After all, it was a woman’s job to draw the water. But Moses, raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter, draws water for the women and waters their flocks.

18 When they came home to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come home so soon today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.”

It was not normal for them to accomplish their task so quickly. That makes me think this was an every day ordeal that these women went through. They bring the report to their father – ‘an Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock’. They assume Moses is Egyptian because of his appearance. He delivered us. The next time this word is used it is used of God:

Exodus 3:8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

So Jethro scolds his daughters for their lack of hospitality to this kind stranger.

20 He said to his daughters, “Then where is he? Why have you left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. 22 She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

The priest of Midian extends hospitality to this stranger. He invites him for a meal and gives him his daughter as a wife. So Moses, who alienated himself from the Egyptians, was rejected by his own people, now finds hospitality and welcome in the wilderness with gentile shepherds. He is given a gentile bride. His firstborn son is named as a constant reminder of his status – Gershom; “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”. Honey, what should we name our son? Let’s call him ‘Alien’; how about ‘Outcast’. That should go over really well with the other kids at school. What’s your name? Well, my dad calls me ‘Reject’. For Moses, this would be a constant reminder of his lack of belonging. He was a wanted criminal in Egypt, now he had settled down with a group of people who did not share his belief in the one true God, and the one group he had tried to identify with – the Hebrew slaves – had rejected him. He was a man without a sense of belonging.

The author of Hebrews describes this well:

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.

Moses was not at home. By naming his son ‘Gershom’, he was reminding himself and those around him that he didn’t belong. He was surrounded by a culture that did not worship the true God, but he did not adopt their ways. He was content to be an alien there.

Peter highlights our alien status on this earth. He addresses us as elect exiles (1Pet.1:1). He says;

1 Peter 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

He says

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

He exhorts us to follow Jesus’ example to endure sorrows while suffering unjustly (1Pet.2:19). Moses embraces his exile status and even names his kid that.

But there’s more to this story than just what we see on the surface. Moses comes to bring salvation to his people, but he is rejected. He is exiled into the wilderness, and becomes savior and deliverer to some non-Jewish women at a well. Remember, Moses is a pointer to direct our attention to another, The Savior, The Deliverer. The word ‘saved’ in this text is the Hebrew word [evy yasha‘] from which we get the name Joshua or Jehoshua [ewvwhy Yehowshuwa] which means YHWH is salvation. The Greek equivalent of Yeshua or Yehoshua is [Ihsouv Iesous] – Jesus. YHWH is salvation.

Acts 4:11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Jesus was rejected by his own people:

John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

Jesus was exiled because people wanted to kill him:

John 7:1 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.

Jesus knew what is was to not belong

Matthew 8:20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

Jesus sat down by a well outside Jewish territory. He said to the Samaritan woman who came to draw water:

John 4:13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

And he told her that he was the promised Messiah, the deliverer, and even claimed to be the great I AM.

After Jesus was rejected by his people, he brought salvation to the Gentiles:

Acts 28:28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

Acts 13:46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”’ 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Paul says

Romans 11:11 …through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. …25 …a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, …

So Jesus, in his exile, has taken a Gentile bride – the church.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

We are part of that church:

2 Corinthians11:2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

Moses spent the next 40 years of his life tending sheep in the back side of the desert. Jesus said:

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. …14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. ..26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Jesus – Yeshua – YHWH is salvation.

 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 2:11-15; A Deliverer Rejected

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100516_exodus02_11-15.mp3

5/16 Exodus 2:11-15 A Deliverer Rejected

We’re in the second book of the bible, Exodus. In Exodus, we’ve seen God at work keeping his promises to his people. God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that he would bless them and make their name great and multiply them abundantly. Exodus begins by seeing the blessing of God in the multiplication of the people of Israel in Egypt. But the blessing of God often comes at a cost. God’s blessing on the people of Israel was perceived as an internal threat to the national security of Egypt. The Pharaoh took action to get this threat under control. He appointed taskmasters to oppress the people severely to break their spirits and reduce their population. But instead, “1:12 …the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they were spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.” So the Pharaoh took the head midwives into his confidence and commanded them to kill all the boys that were born to the Hebrews. But these two women, Shiphrah and Puah, feared God and disobeyed the Pharaoh.

1:20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

So, rather than reducing the population as planned, the population continued to increase, with even these barren women now having children of their own.

1:22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.

God moves in mysterious ways. The response we see to this decree is that an unnamed Hebrew family from the tribe of Levi have a baby boy. The mother recognizes the creative goodness of God in this new life, and hides him for three months, then, in faith, she throws him into the Nile herself – in his own personal ark waterproofed with pitch, and sets her daughter to watch over him. The daughter of the wicked Pharaoh happened to come down to the Nile to bathe just at that place, and happened to see the ark, and she just happened to have pity on him and chose to disobey her father rather than drown this Hebrew boy in the river. She adopted him to be her own son, and hired his own mother to nurse him for her. So this evil Pharaoh is foiled in his plan by two God-fearing Hebrew midwives, a Hebrew mother and her young daughter, and his very own disobedient daughter. So this mother who walked by faith in God ends up being payed out of the evil Pharaoh’s treasury to nurse and train and care for her own condemned baby boy during the formative first years of his life. After three or four years of pouring herself and her faith and her history and her God into this boy, she brought him to the Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. Maybe we should all have that mindset when we train our children. We have but a short time before we must turn them over to the pagan world empire, so it is urgent that we do everything within our power to train them up in the way that they should go.

10 When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

I’m sure that when she entrusted him to the Pharaoh’s house, she entrusted him to God, and never ceased to pray for him. Now the narrative jumps ahead forty years.

2:11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

In this passage, we see Moses transition from favored position of prince in the royal courts of the greatest nation in his world to condemned criminal exile hiding in the wilderness. Twice in verse 11 Moses identifies himself with ‘his people’, the Hebrews. He went out to his people… he saw and Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. There is no question where Moses’ allegiance lies. Stephen fills in some background details for us in his sermon in Acts 7:

Acts 7:22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.

He was highly educated in the most advanced center of education in his day. He was mighty in words and deeds. He had a promising career ahead of him. Josephus was a Jewish historian that lived AD37-100. If what Josephus records is accurate, the princess who adopted him was Thermuthis, who had no children of her own and hoped that Moses might one day ascend to the throne. Josephus also records an story of Moses as an Egyptian military leader, leading a victorious attack on the Ethiopians. Whatever the true details of these unknown forty years, Moses could easily have embraced his life as Egyptian royalty and ignored his connection with the slave people. He could have turned a blind eye to the sufferings of his people and held on to his position of power and his life of ease. But a mother’s training leaves a lasting impression. Forty years later he takes action to identify himself with his people and alienate himself from the Egyptians who raised him. Understand, Moses personally had nothing to gain and everything to lose by this move. The writer of Hebrews attributes his actions to faith:

Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.

It was by faith he chose to identify himself with the people of God. He abandoned the wealth of Egypt as ‘fleeting pleasures of sin’. We can imagine what kind of sinful pleasure might have been available to him, but it could be as simple as what James tells us:

James 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Moses knew what was right. He knew what the Egyptians did was wrong. For him to turn a blind eye to unjust suffering and continue to enjoy the benefits of Egypt would have been sin. So in faith, he acts. Faith is trust in the promises of God. God had made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Maybe Moses studied the prophecies of his people and did the math and knew that the time of their slavery was coming to a close. So in dependence on God who is always faithful to keep his promises, he acts.

He went out, he looked, and he saw. The verb ‘he went out’ ( auy yatsa’) is the verb that is used throughout the Old Testament to describe how God brought out the Israelites from Egypt. Here Moses in his own exodus goes out from the Egyptians to his people. “He went out to his own people”.

The verb for ‘he looked’ and ‘he saw’ ( har ra’ah) is the same one that is used in 2:25 and 3:7, 9 of God looking on or seeing the affliction of his people. Just as God would look on his people with compassion and act, so now Moses was looking on the burdens of his people and acting out of compassion. He was not disinterestedly observing from a safe distance. He was investing himself in the situation of his people and doing so at great personal risk to himself.

In Acts 7, Stephen gives us a helpful summary of the Exodus history and even some insight into the thoughts of Moses in this event:

Acts 7:17 “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, …

Genesis 15:13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

Acts 7:17 …the people increased and multiplied in Egypt 18 until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. 19 He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. 20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, 21 and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. 23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.

Moses understands that God has raised him up to bring salvation to his people. He is defending the oppressed and standing up for slaves who are being wronged that have no voice. Later in Exodus when God gives Moses his laws he says this:

Exodus 21:20 “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. …23 …you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Moses is acting as avenger and bringing justice to a cruel and hopeless situation. I’m not saying that what Moses does here is without fault, or that it was the wisest action, but it was right for him to take action and defend the oppressed. (cf. Isaiah 59:14-16)

11 One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

There is something in these verses that doesn’t come through very well in our English translations. The word describing what the Egyptian was doing to the Hebrew slave is the exact word that describes what Moses did to the brutal Egyptian taskmaster. Moses saw an Egyptian beating to death a slave, so he beat to death the Egyptian. He saw an Egyptian striking down a Hebrew, so he struck down the Egyptian. What was being done to the helpless slave, he, coming to his rescue, did to the taskmaster. God was giving salvation to the Israelites by his hand. This was indeed a huge act of faith, a David against Goliath move, as he was one man against a powerful nation. I’m not sure what Moses was expecting to be the next step. Maybe the Israelites would rally behind him as their leader and they would fight against the Egyptians. Maybe he expected that God would do a miracle as he stepped out in faith. I don’t think he was planning on what happened.

13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

Again Moses uses the same word that was used in verses 11 and 12. Why are you striking down or beating to death your brother? To Moses it was not an ethnic thing. It was not the Israelites against the Egyptians. It was right against wrong. When an Israelite mistreated another Israelite, that was just as wrong as when an Egyptian mistreated an Israelite. Moses here acts as judge – one of the roles in which he will serve Israel in the wilderness – and he makes a determination of who was in the wrong and confronts him about it. Moses was seeking to make peace between his people. Moses knew that killing an Egyptian would not win him any points with the Egyptians. But he was not expecting the response that he got from his own people.

14 …“Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”…

Moses expected that his people would see what God was doing and embrace him as their deliverer. Stephen tells us:

Acts 7:25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.

Instead of welcoming their deliverer, the Hebrews reject his rule over them. Their question is rhetorical – who made you a prince and a judge over us? But the answer is God. God was giving them salvation by his hand. But they did not understand. Moses came to do good to his people. Instead, they accuse him of intending them harm. Moses is afraid, probably very confused. As he expected, Pharaoh heard and was after his head. This is the second time Moses was under sentence of death from this Pharaoh. The first time he was protected by his parents, then adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Now he runs, a condemned criminal exiled in a strange land. Born of the Hebrews, raised by the Egyptians, now rejected by both. He had nowhere to lay his head. He flees to the wilderness.

I’ve often heard it said that Moses missed his cue and jumped the gun. He was not supposed to do what he did and that’s why it turned out so bad. But throughout this passage, God is persistently keeping his promises, and from our perspective, things seem to be going from bad to worse. But God has his good purposes and is moving things according to his plan. Moses spent four years under the training of his mother, then 36 years under the training of Egypt, and God wanted him to spend the next 40 years of his life under his schooling in the desert. Moses needed to understand that to lead God’s people does not mean glory and praise, but often rejection and criticism and a wilderness experience. Moses needed to feel what it felt like to be an alien and stranger looking for a home. He needed to learn what it meant to lean not on his own strength and wisdom, but entirely on God who guides and gives strength. Moses needed to learn humility and dependence and patience and God taught him those things and more in the next forty years seemingly on the shelf. We can take heart when we end up in the wilderness, because God does have a purpose and he makes no mistakes.

But we can’t miss the connection with Jesus. Moses was another sign to point us to Jesus. Moses himself pointed to this:

Deuteronomy 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers––it is to him you shall listen–– …18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

Moses, like Jesus, was preserved from a maniacal tyrant who was afraid of any threat to his power and had all the baby boys executed. Moses tried to make peace among his brothers. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came to bring peace. Moses came to his own people and was rejected as their leader. John’s gospel says of Jesus:

John 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

This is exactly the point Stephen is making to the Jews in his farewell sermon. There is a historical pattern that Israel rejects the deliverers that God sends. Stephen continues:

Acts 7: … 35 “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’––this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands.

Stephen began with Joseph, who was rejected by the patriarchs and sold, moves through Moses rejected by his people, and on to the prophets, where he makes application to those who are about to stone him:

Acts 7:51 “You stiff–necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

The whole story of Moses is meant to point us to Jesus. Just like Moses’ rejection by his people was not a surprise to God, So the rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people and his reception by a people who were outside the covenant community was all part of God’s plan. It was foretold by the prophet Isaiah that Jesus would be:

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

But we do not have to reject him. John goes on:

John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

We can receive him. We can believe. We can become children of God. We can be born of God.

 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Exodus 2:1-10; A Mother’s Faith

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20100509_exodus02_1-10.mp3

5/9 Exodus 2:1-10 A Mother’s Faith

1: 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” 2: 1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. 5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 And 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. 10 When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

In Exodus, we see God fulfilling his covenant promises to his people and bringing his creation blessings on them. He did good to them and made them fruitful and multiplied them, he made their descendants numerous and filled the land with them. He made them exceedingly strong. But in response to God’s blessings, the Egyptians feared. They saw them as a threat. God’s blessing does not mean that our lives will be problem free. But in the problems and in the trials, God will show himself strong. The Pharaoh feared the people of Israel, so he conspired to deal shrewdly with them in order to weaken them and reduce their population. He enslaved them and afflicted them with heavy burdens to break their spirit and make them so exhausted and weak that they wouldn’t procreate. But the more they were ruthlessly oppressed, the more God blessed and the more they multiplied. So this king of the most powerful nation in the world, because he feared the Israelites, called on two Hebrew women, midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill the male Israelite children. But these two women did not fear the Pharaoh. They feared God and so they disobeyed the king and helped the male children to thrive. God confounded the plans of this Egyptian monarch through the God-fearing actions of two Hebrew women. When these women were called on to give an account of why they disobeyed, they gave an answer that managed to confound the Pharaoh and insult all Egyptians, and the Pharaoh let them go. For their God-fearing actions, God blessed still more and gave even these barren midwives families of their own. So Pharaoh’s plans were again thwarted and even the barren women in Israel were having children. But as God’s blessing increased, so did the Pharaoh’s oppression. The last verse in chapter one gives the Pharaoh’s response:

22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

And it’s on that dark note that we pick up the story today. The Nile river was the source of life in Egypt. The Nile was worshiped as a god that had the power to give and take life. It brought water to the desert, and it also served as the country’s sewer, washing away all the unwanted refuse. It was into this river that the Pharaoh commanded all the Egyptian people to cast every son born to the Hebrews.

How would God intervene this time? It seems he delights to do the unexpected and act in ways we would not even think of. Often God chooses surprisingly inconspicuous means of accomplishing his sovereign purposes. When Pharaoh tried to crush the Israelites with oppressive labor, God simply caused them to have more babies in the normal natural way. When Pharaoh tried to employ midwives to carry out the murder of the male children, God put the fear of him into two women so that they chose to obey God rather than the king. Instead of reducing the Israelite population, God blessed them so that they contributed to it, further foiling the Pharaoh’s plan. Now, when the order comes for all of Egypt to throw the Hebrew male children into the river, God responds by causing a boy baby to be born to an insignificant Hebrew family in Egypt.

2:1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.

So we have an unnamed man and and unnamed woman from the tribe of Levi. Later, in Exodus 6:4 (also Num.26:59) we find the mother’s name was Jochebed and the father’s name was Amram, but for now it is simply a man from the house of Levi and a Levite woman. Later in the book of Exodus, we find that the tribe of Levi is chosen to be the priestly tribe, the tribe that would give spiritual and judicial leadership to the people of Israel, the tribe that proved itself loyal to YHWH. But that’s reading ahead of our story. At this point in the history, what we know of the Levites is that they were a cursed tribe because of the bloodthirsty act of Levi and his brother Simeon against Shechem:

Genesis 49:5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. 6 Let my soul come not into their council; O my glory, be not joined to their company. For in their anger they killed men, and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen. 7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel.

So the Levites were a cursed and disenfranchised tribe, destined to be scattered among the other tribes. We are yet to learn how God turned this curse into a blessing.

So we have this couple, Levites, who have a son under the command of Pharaoh, destined to be destroyed. They see that he is a fine child, literally ‘good’. This is the same word that God used seven times in the creation narrative to declare that what he had made was good. I don’t think this means that there was something uniquely special about this child in contrast to other Hebrew boys that caused his parents to try to save him. I think it is meant to remind us of God’s creative acts. As God created the world and declared that it was good, so now, God is at work bringing about good in the midst of evil and darkness and hopelessness. She saw that he was good, – a good creation of God, so she hid him. We are told that this was an act of faith on the part of his parents. Faith in God rather than fear of the tyrant. Just like the midwives who feared God more than the king, now these parent’s trust in God supersedes their fear of punishment and even death.

Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

She hid him for three months. When she couldn’t hide him any longer at home, she obeyed Pharaoh’s command and threw him in the river. Well, here’s what it says:

3 When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. 4 And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.

She technically obeyed the Pharaoh’s command by casting him into the Nile, again, not because of fear but in faith. This was her next move in trusting God and protecting her child. She prepared an ark and covered it with tar and pitch. The word here translated ‘basket’ is [ hbt tebah tay-baw’] ark; This is the same word used in Genesis:

Genesis 6:14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.

In fact, 26 of the 28 times this word appears in the bible it refers to Noah’s boat that God instructed him to build for the preservation of life. The other two occurrences are in this passage referring to the boat this Levite mother made to preserve the life of her treasured son. In both cases the boat was covered with tar and pitch to make it waterproof. Moses is using this word ‘ark’ to describe this basket to cause us to make the connection between this story of preservation of life from water with the account of the flood. The passengers of both boats were spared a tragic watery fate that claimed the lives of many of their contemporaries. The passengers of both are the instruments used by God to create a new people for his own purposes.

This loving Levite mother did not send her ark out into the current of the river, but placed it among the reeds by the river bank, where it would remain in place and could be observed carefully by the older sister who was probably still young enough to play inconspicuously by the river bank, but old enough to watch out for potential danger – probably somewhere between 6 and 12 years old. The intention was most likely to keep the boy there where he had less chance of being discovered, and to come when it was safe to feed and care for him. We find out in chapter 15 that the sister’s name is Miriam. The baby boy has been kept safe by his mother for three months, and now she has made preparation to continue to care for him secretly. Things are looking promising for this Hebrew family, but an unexpected turn of events could spell disaster.

5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river.

This is the worst possible thing that could be expected. The tyrant’s own daughter coming to bathe in the sacred Nile much too near the secret hiding place. Maybe she would not notice the basket and leave. Maybe the baby would remain quiet and not draw her attention.

5 …She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. …

The boy is discovered! And by an Egyptian! By one of the Pharaoh’s own daughters. It would not be much different if the Pharaoh himself had discovered him. But this young girl who was to watch over her baby brother walked by faith and not by sight. God was in control even over what seemed like utter disaster and total failure of their careful plan. What are the odds of the enemy’s own daughter coming to bathe here? How could God let this happen?

6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

This is a turning point in the story. She had pity on him. She did not carry out her father’s command. She recognized him as a Hebrew male, one who was under the condemnation of her own father, and she could have silenced his crying immediately in the water, but instead she took pity on him. The next move is courageous and daring. The baby’s sister approaches the king’s daughter and dares to speak. A child addresses the princess with a suggestion.

7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”

She is careful and diplomatic in the way she addresses the princess. She is offering assistance to benefit the king’s daughter. It is for you, o princess, that I will call a wet nurse. She can nurse and calm the boy for you. The Pharaoh’s daughter responds with one word.

8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother.

Imagine for a moment this scene. Young Miriam comes running to fetch her mother. Her mother sees her coming without the baby – she has left her post. Something must have happened! “Come quickly Mama – the Pharaoh’s daughter had found your baby!” Oy Vey! Panic, grief, fear… is he dead? What has happened? Why are you smiling? “Come, Mama, come. I will explain on the way.” Are you sure? Is it safe? Could it be?

9 And 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.

The irony of this is deep. The mother of the child who had to entrust him to God on the Nile is now given back her baby boy – to nurse and care for and teach – with pay. Pay from the treasury of the Pharaoh whose decree it was to execute him. The Pharaoh who attempted to break the backs of the Israelite slaves, the Pharaoh who commanded the midwives to kill all the Hebrew baby boys, the Pharaoh who ordered all his citizens to execute all Israelite male children, is now paying this Jewish mother to nurse and train up her own baby boy! Imagine the joy and relief in this household! Imagine Amram coming home to find his boy back at home, no longer being cautiously hidden but now openly enjoyed. Imagine the wonder and amazement and worship. They certainly had asked God to protect their child. But do you think in their wildest prayers they ever would have asked that they would be paid wages by the Egyptians to care for their boy, whom these same Egyptians wanted dead?

Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Of course, the good news is bitter-sweet. The boy would be adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Jochebed had probably three to four years to nurse and train and pour love and truth and stories of their history into this young boy. She had a short time to impress him with the fear of the Lord. And as she had entrusted him to the Nile, now she had to entrust him to the Pharaoh’s daughter and to the omnipotent hands of her God. It would be more than seventy-five years before they would see how God used their boy to be the instrument God used to deliver Israel from the Egyptians. They would have to pray and trust and wait.

10 When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

The name ‘Moses’ was a somewhat common Egyptian name meaning ‘son’ or ‘to give birth to’. It was part of the well known names Ptahmose, Tuthmosis, Ahmose, and Harmose. [Durham, p.17]. But it sounds like the Hebrew verb ‘masah’, to draw out. It is this connection that the princess emphasizes because she drew him out of the water. This name will become prophetic as Moses will be the one God uses to draw the nation of Israel out of Egypt and literally out of the waters.

The Pharaoh acted shrewdly in dealing with the Israelites. His plans were crafty and they seemed wise. But in his scheming, he found himself fighting against God.

Jeremiah 9:23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

The Pharaoh was wise. But he did not know God. He thought he was god.

1Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

1Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

Although God is not named in this story, we see God’s sovereign hand moving all the circumstances to display his infinite wisdom and poetic justice and even his timeless sense of humor. The great Pharaoh of Egypt set himself against God’s people, and therefore against God himself. And God confounded him with two Hebrew midwives, a Hebrew mother, and his own daughter. God used four humble women to frustrate the plans of the most powerful man in the world

We can take heart from this history. Whether we can see God’s hand or not, God is most certainly working behind and in and through each and every circumstance that is in our lives, good and bad, ultimately to display his glory and bring good to us. We must remain humble, we must not be fearful but faithful. We must learn to trust God like Jochebed and Miriam and Shiphrah and Puah trusted God. They did not sit back and say ‘God is sovereign so we will just sit back and see what he does in this situation’. Rather they said ‘God is sovereign, so we will be faithful to do what we are responsible to do to the best of our ability – to care for, protect and preserve life, to train and nurture – and we will trust that our sovereign God will do what we cannot hope to do – to bring hope and life and joy and meaning out of a hopeless, senseless, desperate, deadly situation. We must simply be faithful to do what we are called to do and to trust God to bring good results.

And God saves his people. Just as God preserved Noah safe inside the ark during the judgment, and just as God kept Moses safe inside his little ark, so if we run to Jesus, we will be kept safe from the judgment to come

Colossians 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

May 9, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment