Summary: In celebrating a Mother’s Faith we see 1) Faith in Perception 2) Faith in Planning & 3) Faith in Providence.
Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday in May. The first Mother’s Day observance was a church service honoring Mrs. Anna Reese Jarvis, held at Anna Jarvis’s request in Grafton, West Virginia, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 10, 1908. Canada was one of the first nation’s to pick up the US version of Mother’s Day, making it a national holiday in 1909, one year later the United States did (Pulpit Helps, May, 1991 as found in Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.)
• Even though few know the name of Anna Reese Jarvis, her legacy remains.
Names mark out the unit this section of Exodus. Verse 1 names the house (tribe) of Levi as the genealogical locus for the story, and v. 10 ends with the naming of Moses and an explanation of his name’s meaning. The name that is the agent of faith for this story however is a name not even mentioned.
On one hand, the story concerns a baby born a humble Israelite but, surprisingly, adopted as a royal Egyptian. On the other hand, it forms part of a cheering story of God’s careful provision of a deliverer for his people. Of course, at this preliminary point in the book the reader has not yet learned formally that Moses will function in the role of deliverer of God’s people. But that is of little consequence since the earliest readers were already familiar with Moses, who wrote this story only after he had become Israel’s divinely-designated leader. The story of his birth is thus both a prelude to his call and, in part, an indication of his call.
Although this portion of the overall narrative features Moses, it is also the story of how God used three women to save a baby from death. It features two mothers and two daughters, with the daughter of Pharaoh in two roles, initially that of daughter and eventually also of adoptive mother. Moses’ biological mother, Later identified as Jochebed in Exod 6:20 and Num 26:59, also figures prominently in these events as the one who not only did everything she could to preserve the life of her child, but also as the woman who ended up being able to nurse and thus substantially rear (see vv. 7–10) her own little boy.
The final major figure is this woman’s daughter, that is, Moses’ sister, who will be identified later as Miriam, one of the leaders of the exodus. Miriam is first named in Exod 15:20–21 as the leader of the Israelite women singing the battle victory song recorded in that chapter; she is identified as a leader of Israel in Mic 6:4 (“I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam”).
Miriam’s oversight of Moses as he floated among the rushes of the Nile and her quick thinking in proposing an Israelite nurse for the baby (knowing full well she would “recruit” his own mother) helped preserve Moses for her family and for Israel’s salvation.
The motives of all these women appear to have been pure and appropriate. God used them to do what they were good at and what their culture especially honored in women: preserving and raising a child. Their faithfulness to that noble role parallels in no small degree the faithfulness of the Israelite midwives to theirs as described Exodus 14. In each instance children were preserved from the death the pharaoh had decreed by women who defied his repugnant command.
Pharaoh’s daughter could do so by reason of her privileged status; Moses’ mother and sister, by reason of their wit and fortitude and—though it is only implicit at this point in the narrative—their faith.
1) Faith in Perception (Exodus 2:1-2)
Exodus 2:1-2 [2:1]Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. (ESV)
Exodus 2:1 might seem at first glance to provide only incidental and minor information to the reader, but it does more. It demonstrates that Moses was a chosen child from the only proper tribe for his future calling, fully in compliance with the law that God had not yet revealed to Israel but would reveal within Moses’ lifetime. In other words, the verse assures the reader that Moses was prequalified for the service God later gave him, even in advance of the revelation that would make that qualification necessary.
The house of Levi refers to “the tribe of Levi” in this context, since Levi was a distant ancestor, one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Both the man and the daughter of Levi are to be understood as his descendants and therefore members of the same tribe. “tribe” is a group of people who are descended from the same ancestor. Often, as in the case of the Hebrews, it is further subdivided into smaller groups called “clans.” (Osborn, N. D., & Hatton, H. (1999). A handbook on Exodus. UBS handbook series; Helps for translators (31). New York: United Bible Societies.)