February 22, 2021
Jochebed’s Plan is Set Afloat
We have followed the life of Joseph from childhood through his death in Egypt. Shortly after his death the new Pharaoh put all of Israel in bondage. As we begin today Israel will have been in slavery for over 350 years. It must have seemed, to most of them, that they nor any of their descendants would ever see freedom again. Even though all along they knew that a deliverer was supposed to come for them, so far they haven’t seen one.
Through the years, as the numbers of the Israelites grew, the Pharaoh feared them more and more. He feared them revolting against Egypt or joining with one of Egypt’s enemies. Exodus 1:8-10 (40)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.” (NIV)
And with this fear in mind the Pharaoh also issued an order that all male children of the Israelites would be put to death. Exodus 1:22 (41) Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.” (NIV) This would serve two purposes, limiting the numbers of Israelites and limiting the number of men who might fight.
While in slavery a Levite man married a Levite woman and they had children. This Levite woman, Jochebed, decided to try to save her first-born son with a unique plan. She kept him hidden for months and realized that she could no longer do that. So, she decided to set him afloat on the Nile River, hoping he would be saved in some way, by someone down-river. It may seem strange that a mother would take such drastic measures with their little baby, but knowing that he faced certain death at the hands of the Pharaoh’s soldiers, she hoped against hope that her child would be saved. Exodus 2:1-4 (41) 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. 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. (NIV)
She fashioned a papyrus basket lined with pitch as an “ark” for her little son. With tears in her eye, I’m sure, she set him afloat and sent his sister along the riverbank to watch what happened to him. It has long been thought that Jochebed would have “scouted” out the situation and probably knew the habits of the Pharaoh’s daughter, which increased the probability of it being her that found the baby. And in fact, the Pharaoh’s daughter did in fact find Moses.
Exodus 2:5-10 (41) Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. 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.” (NIV)
We need to remember that God was in all of Jochebed’s plans. Moses was to be the deliverer of the Israelites, sent by God. The rest of Moses’ life is an amazing story of survival, drama, miracles, and God’s Grace that eventually leads the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, from slavery in Egypt to the promised-land God had promised to Abraham centuries before.
Even before Abram’s name was changed by God to Abraham, he was warned that his people would live in bondage in a land not their own. Genesis 15:12-13 (10) As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. (NIV)
And now that prophesy was being played out. The Israelites were under heavy bondage in Egypt and being treated very cruelly. In the midst of all of this is where Jochebed hatched her plan to save her little boy. Not knowing that at the same time she would be saving Israel.
There is no doubt in my mind that the plot to control and possibly eliminate Israel by the Pharaoh was Satanic in its base. Since the dawn of time Satan has tried to work his will to eliminate the Jewish line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which would eliminate the source from which would come the deliverer of Israel, Moses, and eventually Jesus Christ, Himself. Without the full line of decadency from Abraham through King David there would be no Savior for us today.
So these were the circumstances under which Moses was born and raised. He was born to a Hebrew woman of the tribe of Levi, the priestly descendants of Abraham, and raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter in the halls of power. He was well educated and grew up strong and bold. Every good thing for a great future was laid at his feet. Yet some believe there may have been something in the back of his mind that led him to think he had another purpose on earth besides the one he was being groomed for. He, in fact did have a higher purpose, a higher calling.
Extreme cruelty existed in Moses’ day. The slaves were treated no better than dogs; constantly mistreated and barely fed. Satan was alive and well in those days and evil abounded. (1 Peter 5:8) Moses witnessed some unusual cruelty one day and did something about it. Exodus 2:11-12 (41) One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. (NIV)
When an Egyptian guard was being cruel to one of the Hebrew slaves, Moses stopped it, then struck and killed the Egyptian. He hid the body in the sand, thinking no one had seen his crime. The next day Moses stopped a fight between two Hebrews and the truth of his crime came out. Exodus 2:13-14 (41) The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.” (NIV)
He realized that the story of what he had done must have gotten out. Knowing that the Pharaoh would not put up with it, Moses was afraid and fled to the desert of Midian.
For the first 40 years of his life he had lived in the lap of luxury. He had worn the finest clothes with rich leather sandals. He was well educated in the marble halls of the Pharaoh’s palace. But, now at the age of 40 he wandered through the desert not knowing what would come next. He had no past to go back to and no future that he could see. He was drifting alone in the desert sands and in his own personal desert.
It was during this Wandering and Wondering that he came across a well, and a place to rest. During his rest daughters of the Priest of Midian came to water their flocks at the well. Other shepherds came and drove them away so they could water their own herds. Moses stood up for the women and defended them and their flocks and drove away the strangers.
The women returned to their father and told them of the heroic actions of Moses. His strength and bravery were a large part of their story. The Priest of Midian was very thankful to Moses, so much so that he offered Moses a job and one of his daughters as a wife. Thus began the second phase of Moses’ life. For the first 40 years of his life Moses had lived in luxury, with the finest of everything at his fingertips. He was raised, even though he was born a Hebrew slave, to be and feel privileged. He walked around every day thinking he was somebody special.
Now he embarked on the second 40 years of his life, realizing as it sank in more and more, that he was a nobody. No one special. All the privilege and the best of everything was gone. Now, as the movie “Ten Commandments” says, he was kept company by the snakes and scorpions. For 40 years he Wandered around the desert with his Father-in-law’s flocks Wondering what would become of him. Was this his future to look forward to from now on?
Have you Wandered in your own desert at some time in your life? Do you Wonder what God has in store for you? As I have said before, God didn’t make any spare people. We all have a specific purpose in life. Sometimes it takes longer to find it, it took me a long time. Moses wandered in the desert for almost 40 years before he found his purpose, it only took me 30. I pray your time of Wandering and Wondering has been or is much less than 30 or 40 years.
Toward the end of Moses’ wondering he saw a very strange sight. He saw a bush, burning with fire, yet not being consumed. He paused his wandering and turned aside and said, “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.” (Exodus 3:1-3) (41) Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.” (NIV)
Has God put a burning bush in your path? Has He called you aside? Believe me, God has a long memory. Once you are called, you are called. That calling on your life never leaves your life. Put you thumb here and stay tuned next week.
Bostwick UMC 2/21/21