Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Bible Reading: Exodus 2

Next Stephen moves on to consider Moses as he answers the charge of blasphemy against the Law and the Temple and therefore against God.  His point remains the same, it is not him who is guilty of blasphemy but the religious leaders who have rejected Jesus the fulfilment of all scriptures hopes and promises.  This morning I want to focus on Exodus 2v1-10.

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river-bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. ‘This is one of the Hebrew babies,’ she said.
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’
‘Yes, go,’ she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.’ So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.’
Chapter 1 of Exodus ends with Pharaoh commanding all the Egyptians to throw Hebrew boys into the Nile, it’s a cliff hanger, in ch1 we see God work to frustrate everything Pharaoh does to stop Israel growing, so how will God respond to this? What will God do?

Chapter 2 opens with a birth of a baby and there is a tension inherent in the question every parent asks; what is it? You can imagine the mixed emotions at the answer ‘It’s a boy!’ Because that answer means this new born baby is a criminal, he is a fugitive, he is born onto death row! And with those words the parent’s world is changed forever, now they have a huge decision to make – what do they do with him?

(2)They decide to hide the boy, and they do for 3 months. Three nerve shredding months of trying to pre-empt cries, of shushing baby whenever there was the tramp, tramp of Egyptian soldiers boots on the road outside, trying to make everything seem normal, telling Miriam that no matter how excited she was to have a little brother she must not tell anyone. Every day living in fear that today would bring the fatal discovery, every cry or sound bringing terror and uncertainty.

And then final (3)the day comes when he just can’t be hidden anymore, what should they do? Well, in one sense they obey Pharaoh, Moses is thrown into the Nile.  But first they make a basket – even in that action we get a hint that God has a special plan for this baby, and through him for his people. The word basket can also be translated ark. This word for ‘ark’ is only used 27 times in the Old Testament, 25 times in the Noah story and twice here. And just as in Genesis this ark is waterproofed with pitch, and just as God saved Noah and his family through this ark so God will save Moses and through him his people and all people.

But whilst we know this, the parents didn’t and the tension continues. The ark is put in the Nile and of all the people you wouldn’t want to find it Pharaoh’s daughter finds it. Can you imagine Miriam’s heart pounding as Pharaoh’s daughter looks in and exclaims “This is one of the Hebrew babies”, what on earth will happen next! Surely Pharaoh’s own daughter will simply drop him in the Nile!

(6)But “she felt sorry for him”. God is sovereign, God is overruling Pharaoh again, and the extent of God’s overruling is amazing. (7-10)Pharaoh’s daughter pays Moses mum to raise Moses, and then takes him into the palace where he is educated and treated as a prince. And it is Pharaoh’s own daughter who names Moses, a name commemorating his rescue, saved for God’s purpose and God’s plans.

We need to be careful in applying a passage like this, it would be easy to put ourselves in Moses shoes or his parents and conclude that God saves his people, and therefore God will deliver us from any trouble we face. But that would be wrong! Because not only would it ignore the message of the rest of the bible but it would be to ignore the context here. (2:1-10)Focuses on one family in the big context of(1:22) this decree to kill all Hebrew boys. In other Hebrew families there is no rescue like this.

The focus is on this family because Moses will be greatly used by God to save his people. Not because God promises this protection from conflict with a hostile world for all his people.

God does not promise his people that they will never suffer, but that suffering will never eradicate his people. Just as Jesus does not promise we will never die for the kingdom of God but promises that the kingdom of God will never die and is worth dying for.

Even in the face of such implacable opposition God is working to save his people, who are secure because they are his people and part of his plans. Trust God.  What a thought to take into our day!

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