Summary: The circumstances of Moses’ birth reveal much about the nature of God.
Lesson # 1: God Never Goes to Sleep
Moses. We all remember Moses best because of the stirring portrayal by Charlton Heston from the great movie, The Ten Commandments. Still today, we can watch that movie and be inspired by the special effects, the costumes, and epic nature of the film, but more importantly we are inspired by the story, and Moses is at the heart of that story.
Why am I inspired by Moses? Well, above anything else, Moses was 80 years old before he ever had a spiritual impact. That means there is still hope for me. Sometimes I wonder how God can use me because I know how I can be—so impatient at times, so impetulent, sometimes I can even be a bit pithy with comments I make. But, hey, I’m only 41, so maybe I’ve got 39 more years for God to clean me up, and there is a great deal of inspiration in that. I like what the great evangelist D. L. Moody said about Moses—“Moses spent his first forty years thinking he was somebody. He spent his second forty years finding out he was a nobody. He spent his last forty years discovering what God can do with a nobody.” I wonder which stage we might find ourselves in. We’ll get a glimpse of what Moody was talking about in the next few weeks as we learn a few lessons from the life of Moses.
There is no better place to start than at the beginning, all the way back in Exodus 2. There we find the story of Moses’ birth. Listen:
v. 1—During this time…
What time was that? Let’s take a quick view of history to see what the time, because the time is terribly important in understanding the lesson we learn in the birth of Moses. Now understand, there are many lessons we could take from this passage, but because in the interest of time let’s focus on only one. Jacob, the man who was named Israel, the father of the nation of Israel, had among many others, a son named Joseph. You may remember from your Sunday school lessons that Joseph was the youngest of Jacob’s sons, and he was not well liked by his brothers. As a matter of fact, they sold their brother into slavery and told their father he was dead. But God worked in Joseph’s life, and Joseph was carried into Egypt as a slave. But Joseph rose to prominence in Egypt, and after many years, those same brothers had to come groveling, in a time of severe famine in the land of Canaan, to Joseph who had become the Prime Minister in Egypt.
The Pharaoh (the ruler) in Egypt favored Joseph, and Joseph forgave his brothers and told them to go get their father and bring all their families to Egypt to live through the famine. They did, and the nation of Israel flourished. God really took care of the nation of Israel. They were living the good life.
But that Pharaoh died, and then another and another until there was a ruler over Egypt who didn’t remember Joseph, or the great things he had done for the nation of Egypt. Instead, this new Pharaoh saw only the threat that the flourishing Hebrews could pose to his kingdom. There was the fear that these Hebrews had done so well that they might even entertain the thought of teaming up with the enemies of Egypt to overturn the nation, and defeat the Egyptians. Pharaoh was convinced that something must be done, so he forced the Hebrews into slavery. Exodus 1 tells the story of how the persecution of the Hebrews in Egypt began. It was only the beginning.
Pharaoh’s oppression didn’t work well. The more he oppressed the Hebrews, the more they proliferated. Pharaoh devised another scheme. Isn’t that how persecution usually comes about? It starts in small ways, like passing laws to forbid ownership of businesses, or passing a law mandating that Jewish people be identified in public by the wearing of a yellow patch. But from there it is only a short step to forcing them from their homes into “work” camps, and then an even shorter step from those work camps becoming “death” camps. Yes, you know I’m talking about Nazi Germany, but what happened in Egypt before Moses’ birth is eerily similar. Pharaoh’s new scheme called for the Hebrew midwives to murder the male children born to Hebrew mothers. But this scheme didn’t work either because the Hebrew midwives would not cooperate with Pharaoh in this plan that was the ancient equivalent to partial-birth abortion. Yet the ruthless Pharaoh was not to be outdone. He ordered every Egyptian person to find and throw into the Nile River every Hebrew male newborn.