June 24 & 25, 2017 Pentecost 3 (Moses Series #1)
Dear friends in Christ Jesus:
In 1998 Disney came out with a movie called “the Prince of Egypt.” Of course, there was a lot of embellishment about the life of Moses, as is true of most Hollywood movies. But the story of Moses is interesting enough in and of itself, without any embellishment or conjecture. It has drama, dilemma, and even a happy ending. Today we will start a summer sermon series looking at the life of Moses, something we are looking at in our Wednesday night Bible Class. Today we’ll see how The Birth of Moses Has the Makings of a Movie.
Any good movie has to usually have some sort of dilemma. The dilemma in our text involved an evil king who wanted the Israelites, God’s chosen people, dead. If you remember the history, Joseph had brought all of his brothers, the children of Jacob, also known as Israel, down to Egypt during a famine in Canaan. Since God had used Joseph to save millions of people’s lives, the Egyptians were of course incredibly grateful to him and his family. But Exodus chapter one says, Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them. Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.” (Ex 1:6-10) The king decided to have all of the male babies put to death as they were born. But when the Hebrew midwives refused to commit such a terrible sin, Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
Can you imagine what must have gone through the minds of the Israelites. “What have we done to the Egyptians to make them want to murder our children? All we’ve done is farmed on their land and provided food for them, a job that they detest anyway. Yet now they’re threatening to come into our homes and murder our baby boys.” So what could they do? Exodus describes such a dilemma that Jochabed and Amram, Israelites of the tribe of Levi, faced. We begin our text: Now a man of the house 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. Instead of being happy about the pregnancy, they had to try and hide it. Their first reaction was to hide, to retreat from the confrontation as long as possible. They wanted to protect Moses from any harm.
Our initial reaction as parents is to do the same with our children. We want to make sure that we monitor what they see on TV and what they view on their phones and computer. But just as the Pharaoh was very aggressive in his evil, the devil is very aggressive in attacking our children. Once they get in school we can’t monitor what they see and hear as well. They are taught from their peers filthy words and from TV that sex outside of marriage is cool. They are taught that you have to have cell phones and the most modern clothes if you really want to be with it. Even their own teachers attack their faith system by calling creation a myth and sin a choice.
Like Amram and Jochebed, we try our best to protect our children from evil. But as much as we may try to keep our children set apart from the world and monitor the children with whom they play, sooner or later they will be exposed. The devil studies your life. He sees what doorways are open, even if it’s the tiniest crack. And he attacks. If you have a weakness for discipline, he gets your children to expose it. If you have a weakness at anger, he tempts you to show it and give a bad example for your children. Just like Moses could only be hid for three months, there is only so long you can shelter your children from the world.
The story of Moses is made for the movies in that it has a dilemma. Pharaoh wanted Moses and the Israelites dead. More than that, the future of the world was at stake here for the Savior of the world was supposed to be born through the Israelites. In every movie there also seems to be an ultimate showdown where good meets evil. Usually the story goes to the brink of disaster, only to have a miraculous turnaround for the good guys. The birth of Moses gives us a similar kind of delivery. Moses tells us what happened as we continue out text: 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.
If Jochebed’s son was going to be thrown into the water, she might as well do it herself. So she constructed for her son a miniature ark of sorts, placed him in it, and laid him in the Nile. After this was done, she walked away, probably unable to look and see what would happen to her son. Look at what happened next.
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 slave girl 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. And 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. 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.”
Think about the miracle of this. God used the daughter of his enemy, the one who was trying to destroy Israel, to ultimately save Israel. Not only was Jochebed given her baby back, but she was even paid to do that which she had done for the first three months. Now she could display her baby openly and enjoy him. Moses was even given the finest of foods and education, something he wouldn’t have had if his parents were able to have kept him hidden. What an extraordinary miracle and delivery this was.
The neat thing about this deliverance is that this is the way that God typically works. When things seem to be on the brink of despair, God somehow brings about a miraculous delivery. Think of what God did in Jesus. Here we had a world doomed to destruction, born under the curse of sin. Against all odds, God had a Savior be born as a baby into a world and a religious system that wanted him dead from his birth. Instead of providing Jesus with an army to protect him, he had him taken to Egypt for a time. But then, instead of hiding from the danger, Jesus went right into the heart of the battle, to Jerusalem itself. Instead of destroying his opposition, God let the opposition destroy him. Instead of running from the cross, Jesus ran to it. But the ironic thing is that, when things seemed the worst as Jesus was crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” God was saving the world. He was punishing Jesus as our substitute. He was punishing Jesus for our sins. It was through that death that we now live. It was through that sacrifice that our sins are gone. Instead of running from Satan, Jesus faced him head on and conquered him through the very instrument that put him to death. And God raised that Jesus to life and now we have eternal life through him.
God promises all of us Christians the same kind of delivery. He says in Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Maybe your parents didn’t throw you in a river as a child, but abused you. Maybe your spouse divorced you for no reason. Maybe you’ve been given some bills or health problems that seem to leave you at the end of your rope. If God could save not only Moses but the Israelites from seeming destruction by placing a baby in the Nile, then God can do the same for you.
This story of Moses is an intriguing one and, in a lot of ways, there are many similarities between all of us and Moses. The Pharaoh of our lives is called Satan. Because of his temptation of Adam and Eve, sin has come into this world and all of us were therefore born spiritually dead, unable to come to Christ or make ourselves alive. Hell was our future. But just as Moses was saved from death by being thrown in the Nile, so God saved us from death when our parents threw us into a different water, the water of baptism. Moses was given a new name by Pharaoh’s daughter and with his new family he was given new privileges and opportunities that he never would have had if he hadn’t been thrown in the River. In an even better way, the Holy Spirit grabbed you out of the water of baptism and wiped you off. He said, “What a wonderful and beautiful baby you are. You have the blood of Christ on you. I will name you ‘holy, precious, redeemed, forgiven, and righteous.’ Through the waters of your baptism God drowned your old sinful nature, so that a New Man could be raised through the power of the Holy Spirit and you could live a new life. You now have blessings galore from God every day. None of these would have been yours if your parents hadn’t thrown you in the water of baptism. You’d still be dead, headed to hell.
In comparison to Moses, or the modern day movies, you may look at your life and think to yourself, “I wish I had more excitement!” But look at the big picture. When Christ died on the cross and you were baptized, God rescued you from hell. Every day a battle goes on and angels work overtime to keep you in the faith. Every day there is a battle between good and evil as you struggle with the temptations of life. Every day the devil is struggling to take you to hell, but Jesus is there to forgive and help you. How’s that for excitement?
The good thing is, just like in a movie like life of Moses, we know the ending of this movie. Just as Moses was rescued from the Nile, we were rescued from death by Jesus. Heaven is our home. This is your real life documentary. So live it to the glory of God. Amen