There are many people in the Bible I immediately identify with and relate to, and Moses isn’t one of them. He’s always seemed so much larger than life. He’s one of the few we remember for what he did right despite the fact that he also did wrong because he got so much of it right. As we’ve started this new series on Moses, I’ve been trying to look at his story with fresh eyes instead of ones that are familiar with the cliffnotes of it.
Moses’s story, like many other good stories, starts with women.
We learn in Exodus 1 that Joseph and his brothers and their generation have died out, but their descendants were plentiful. Eventually, a Pharaoh arose who didn’t care about Joseph or his people. The Pharaoh decided to be harsh on the Israelites lest they populate even more and join Egypt’s enemies in the event that war broke out. They oppressed and enslaved the Israelites, who only grew larger in numbers despite all of this, and the Egyptians despised the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly (vs. 6-14).
“The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, ‘When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live'” (vs. 15-16, NIV).
And all God’s daughters rolled their eyes. We’ve heard this song before. Played a little differently, maybe, but we’ve heard it. The familiar refrain that women are weak, aren’t anything to worry about, won’t do anything. What we know that Pharaoh didn’t is that most revolts directly involve women.
The midwives weren’t having any of this, and in putting God first, they delivered the boys the same as the girls. When confronted about Pharaoh about this, they cleverly told him that the baby boys arrived before they got there. This led Pharaoh to declare to all his people that every Hebrew boy that was born was to be thrown into the Nile River (vs. 17-23),
In Exodus 2, a Levite woman gives birth to a boy and hides him for three months. When she can hide him no longer, she sends him in a papyrus basket down the Nile among the reeds. The baby’s sister tags along from a distance, keeping a close eye (vs. 1-4).
It’s the Pharaoh’s daughter, of all people, who finds the baby while at the river to bathe. The baby was, naturally, crying, and she recognized it was a Hebrew baby. She saw the baby’s sister and sent her to get a Hebrew woman (the mother) to nurse him, and she did. When the boy was older, the Hebrew mother returned him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he was then her son. His second mother named him Moses because she drew him out of the water (vs. 5-10).
The beginning of Moses’s life is obviously touched by God because that baby wasn’t supposed to live. He should’ve died as soon as he entered the world, but he didn’t. And for three miraculous, stressful months, he stayed hidden from a world that had received an ordinance to toss him in a river and leave him to die. Then when he was sent down the very same river of his would-be death in a basket teeming with a mother’s love and prayers through the reeds, he was found by a person one would think would surely kill him, the princess of Egypt. Instead, he was met with sympathy and a good heart. Thanks to his sister, who followed him on his journey and never left him in such a critical, unsure time, he was nursed by his birth mother, who would later return him to the princess, who adopted him. That has God written all over it.
If you’re like me, you’re kind of sitting there thinking, “Of course it does. It’s Moses.” But the very same God who created Moses and orchestrated this whole survival plan did the same for you. Chances are, your story is less dramatic. That doesn’t make it less important or less touched by God. Think of all the things that you’ve overcome, that could’ve destroyed you, that you could’ve succumbed to. But you prevailed with God’s help, whether you recognize it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not. All the things that could’ve defeated you and you’re still standing. You’re a baby floating through the reeds of the Nile as much as Moses was.
God had a plan for Moses, and that is so abundantly clear to us because his story has ended and is available to us. We know his life; it’s as plain as words on a page. God also has a plan for you, and it’s important that we remember that your story isn’t over yet. The plan may not be clear because it’s still unfolding. You may not know where God’s going with the plan. You may only be vaguely aware that the plan exists. What matters is that you put your faith in God that He has a plan for you, a story that gets better. If you’re currently floating in the reeds, God won’t leave you there. There’s more to His plan for you than that.
Five rebellious, loving women mark the beginning of Moses’s life: two midwives who followed God instead of a Pharaoh, a mother who sacrificed a relationship with her son to save him, a watchful and protective sister, and a compassionate princess who was nothing like her father. All a part of God’s plan whether cognizant of it or not. This is the start of the extraordinary life of Moses: an issuance of death, hiding, being sent away, God’s grace. It’s a story full of intrigue and miracles from the start. God was working and moving in the lives of the Israelites of Egypt, and Moses’s birth and survival was only the beginning.
By Carrie Prevette