Summary: Jochebed, the mother of Moses, reared up Moses to be the man of God he became. This Mother's Day sermon shows the unique contribution mothers can have in the lives of their children in helping shape their destiny.

Jochebed—Woman of Faith

Chuck Sligh

May 11, 2014

A PowerPoint presentation is available for this message upon request by emailing me at

TEXT: Turn to Hebrews 11 and we’ll begin in verse 23 in a few moments.


I trust that today has been a good day for all of our mothers. But I’m very conscious that there are some in our service today for whom Mother’s Day is uncomfortable at best and even painful at worst because they have tried, sometimes desperately, yet unsuccessfully, to have children. To them, Mother’s Day can be a reminder of unfulfilled dreams.

To you, let me say that today’s message will be about a mother in the Bible, and I will be speaking at times directly to mothers in particular, but the applications of the sermon are universal. That is, they apply to everyone here, whether you have children or not; whether you’re married, single or a single parent; whether you are male or female, teen or adult. I hope my sermon does not add to your pain, but that somehow you will be able to internalize “the message behind the message” this morning.

Illus. – One Mother’s Day a “For Better or Worse” comic strip had Michael’s mother tossing and turning in bed, thinking about her role as a mother, asking herself: “Am I too tough or am I too lenient? Do I give in too much or too seldom? Do I listen to what he has to say? Do I understand him? Do I nag him too much? Am I really a good parent?” The last frame shows Michael lying on his bed saying, “The problem with grownups is they think they know it all.”

No, Michael, maybe not.

In fact, mothers recognize all too well that as they send their children off in the morning all kinds of bad things lie in wait for them—things like drugs and gangs and alcohol and pornography and moral temptation.

And they must be strong if they’re going to overcome that. In the past, our educational system encouraged development of Christian principles and attitudes. Not anymore. Too often, kids are taught that there are no absolute standards of right and wrong.

So it’s difficult being a Christian mother today. But as hard as that may be, we need to realize that difficulties are not unique to our time. In every age motherhood has had its share of difficulties. Today I want to talk about Jochebed, the mother of Moses, who reared Moses up in a difficult time, and in a pagan culture.

In case you didn’t grow up in church and learn the story of Moses from the Bible, or see Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments or Dreamworks’ animated film, The Prince of Egypt, here’s a synopsis of the life of Moses.

The Hebrews had been in Egypt for 400 years. Though at first welcomed during a famine Joseph prophesied through Pharaoh’s dreams, they multiplied so rapidly that the Egyptians felt threatened, ultimately leading them to force the Hebrews into slavery. Yet the Hebrew population continued to increase.

In a desperate measure to control this population growth, Pharaoh direct that all male babies under two years old were to be killed. Moses was still a baby then, so you can imagine the horror Jochebed experienced.

Fearing discovery of Moses, she conceived a plan to put Moses in a basket of reeds and pitch so it would float, and put it in the Nile River, trusting God to protect him. Moses floated down the river to where Pharaoh’s daughter happened to be bathing, and when she saw the basket, she sent a servant maid to fetch it.

Exodus 2:6 tells us what happened: “And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” So she called one of her servants, who just happened to be—you’ll never guess— JOCHEBED, and told Jochebed to nurse the baby for her and that she would pay her to do it as well!

“Well, if I must. I guess since you’re PAYING me.” Wow!—Now THAT’S a deal.

Later, Moses became part of Pharaoh’s household, growing up right in the palace.

But Moses never lost sight of his identity as a Hebrew due to Jochebed’s training. He began to go out and mingle with his people. One day, seeing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, he killed the Egyptian, thinking no one had seen him commit the crime. But when he discovered that there had indeed been witnesses, Moses fled to the wilderness where he lived as a shepherd for several years and got married.

It was in the wilderness that God called him to go BACK to Egypt (you know…the burning bush and all that…) and lead the Hebrews out of the slavery of Egypt to the land God had promised the Jews.

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