Summary: When God starts searching for a leader what traits does He look for? The answers may surprise you.
“Moses: A Real basket Case”
Some years ago my family and I had the opportunity to visit the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents. We were able to walk through the log cabin he grew up in. It took us about two minutes. It’s small. There is nothing really special about it. Dirt floor. One window. Really just a square hole. No glass. And a front door. But no actual door. Just an opening. As you walk through you cannot help but wonder, how did this man succeed?
It is said that Mrs. Lincoln only owned one book: the Bible and that Abe was taught daily from the scriptures. His accomplishments are almost too many to list…and in time he became one of America’s greatest leaders. When you look at all that Lincoln accomplished you have to ask how did a man with such humble beginnings, with very few advantages, become such a great leader?
Lincoln is not the only person we have seen who has emerged from having almost nothing to becoming a truly remarkable leader. We could also count Franklin Roosevelt, Nelson Mandella and many others who had very humble beginnings, faced many trials but became truly great leaders. This morning we add one more to the list: Moses. This chapter doesn’t mention it but Moses was not their firstborn child. Moses had an older sister named Miriam and an older brother named Aaron. Verse 2 tells us that his parents hid him for the first 3 months. Now they did this for two reasons. (1) in an attempt by Pharaoh to destroy the Israelites, any male child ran the risk of being killed by Pharaoh. Only the girls were allowed to survive. This was Pharaoh’s way of decreasing the population. So Moses was born at the wrong time in the wrong place and he was the wrong gender as well. (2) the Bible says he was a fine child. Some translations say that he was beautiful.
I’ve been to the hospital countless numbers of times when a church member has just had a baby and I can tell you one thing I have never seen…I have never seen an ugly baby. To hear the parents talk she looks like a model or the next great football player. I overheard one family looking at the newborns at the hospital and they had found their little grandson and were arguing about who he looked the most like …the father or the mother. He had grandpa’s eyes, he had Aunt Susie’s smile and they had just about figured the baby out completely when the nurse pointed out to them that they were looking at the wrong baby. There have been times when I would look at the baby and you just don’t know what to say. You know when a baby is 1st born they sometimes look a little rough…head is stretched out a bit and you just say yeah that’s a baby alright. Or of all the babies I’ve ever seen that’s one of them. I don’t know any parent who has ever thought that their child was anything but beautiful and that’s how they felt about Moses.
So to keep him safe they hid Moses for the first 3 months. But as Moses grew it was harder to hide him. They were concerned that Pharaoh might find out so they had to come up with an alternate plan. They got a basket made from papyrus and coated it with tar and pitch. Papyrus was used to make baskets, sandals, boats, a variety of things. Papyrus is a plant-like reed that grows along the Nile River and it looks like a giant stalk of celery. Scrolls, parchment is also made from it. The Bible then says that they placed the child in the basket and placed it the water near the bank of the Nile River. This was very smart because the basket being made from those reeds was now floating in an area that was surrounded by the same things the basket was made from. So it was great camouflage. We don’t know exactly how long Moses and the basket were in the water before he was discovered but we get the impression that it wasn’t very long.
Pharaoh’s daughter had gone down to the Nile and she saw the basket and sent one of her slave girls to get it. She opened up the basket and Moses was crying. The girl immediately recognized that this was one of the Hebrew babies. When I read this story I get the distinct impression that it was almost as though Moses had a wall of protection around him. Here was a child who would come from a very unlikely place found in a basket in the river; he could have drown, he could have starved to death, could have been injured in a thousand ways yet God says that is someone I want to use. He was an unlikely candidate for leadership. This is something we notice in many of the men and women in scripture who became leaders. Many of them started life at a great disadvantage. Let me give you 3 examples from the scripture.