We are following a series on women in the Bible….we are listening to them and looking to learn from the lessons they have for us… I find Jochebed’s message deeply challenging, disturbing to my current way of life...
Jochebed...the mother of the man who would be Moses!
One of the giants of God’s story with Mankind….
The greatest leader in the Bible?
He met with God…
He communicated God’s law… it is even called ‘the law of Moses’
God says of him, “The most humble man to walk the face of the earth…”
He also says…..., “ to prophets I talk in dreams and visions, … to Moses I talk face to face”
WHAT A MAN….
A man who has the queerest start to his life though…
Let’s read from Exodus 1:15-18, 1:22-2:1-10
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
The Birth of Moses
2 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 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. 3 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. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 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 female slave to get it. 6 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.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 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. 10 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.”
Before we go on I have to acknowledge the midwives… they feared God more than Pharoah… love it..
The Levite man in this story is Amram… and he marries his aunt… her name is Jochebed
My first thought is that is a strange time to have a child… the Pharaoh is ordering that children are killed...why put yourself through that….
She already has a son and a daughter...a pigeon pair….Miriam is quite a bit older and Aaron is about three years older….Why did she fall pregnant..? I don’t know... except that God ordained it…it is a part of his plan for saving Israel….
Whether Jochebed and Amram planned him or not, when he was placed in her arms all thoughts of giving him up were gone… she was taken with him...as any mother would be...she is going to fight for him…
She hides him away, but after 3 months she just can't do it anymore...maybe he is too noisy or perhaps the news of his birth is out there and she knows that sooner or later the authorities will come looking for him… she has to place him somewhere that he won’t be found… he just can’t be at home when they come looking…
She makes up this basket and places him where no one would think to look….not easy skeleton...
Miriam is watching the child….. And who sees him?.... but the daughter of the mighty Pharoah..
She scoops him up and takes him as her own...crazy stuff…
Then Miriam who is both brave and creative suggested that she can find a wet nurse for him and the princess agrees….
An amazing story…… above all we learn that God has a plan and He will make sure that this plan is executed….. His purposes cannot be thwarted… amongst the craziness in the World today… this is a comforting thought….
But out of all this weird stuff there is one detail which strikes me more than any other...Exodus 2 vs 10
10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son.
She took him to pharaoh's daughter….???? Where he was promptly renamed…. He was lost to his mother…. As good as dead?
Yet, it seems that she just delivered him to the front door...how different to the lengths she was prepared to go to when he was born...what has changed?
She could have hidden him again… claimed that he had died and sent him to live with family… she is clearly creative, she could have thought of something…. Besides after a few years there was probably a good chance that Pharoah’s daughter had forgotten….
Jochebed reminds me a bit of Hannah who also had to deliver her son Samuel to someone else… at a young age…
But at least Hannah knew where he was and could go to visit...Jochebed gives up the right to be known as the boy's mother, even his name is changed…her mothering ceases…..
Another thing that these women had in common was that they knew God’s miraculous provision in delivering and also protecting their sons… maybe this made it easier to give up their sons, as they knew that they were walking in God’s plan...they could trust him to care for them..
I have a question for Jochebed… What was she hoping would happen to the boy?...what were her dreams for him?
Miriam ...remember...was sent to watch the boy ..’to see what would happen to him’... what is she expecting when she hands him over to the palace?
Does she hope he will become a powerful prince? Does she want wealth for him? Education? Safety?
I have another question… and this one is widely debated…’How old was Moses ( I wonder what his name was...)when she delivered him to the palace?
Scholars give ages between 4 and 12, but more often between 7 and 12…
While my opinion is not very important… I lean towards at least 7 years…
The important question is actually, “what did Jochebed do with the time that she had with young Levi?”
And this is what Jochebed has to teach us…Her message is in what she spent those first years teaching her son…..
Mothers may not be able to choose who their sons will marry…. After all Moses married a Cushite woman and as you know the last thing you want is for your son to marry a Cushite…
But a mother can….. and they do…..., have a massive influence on who their sons and daughters become as people….
Jochebed is mentioned in two other places in the Bible, but her 3 children are mentioned by name about 1100 times…
If there is any doubt about the influence we can have on children in the first seven years of life then Jochebed is the best example….she had these few short years with her son and she embedded some serious character and values…..
We get a first glimpse of the results of the power of her influence when we are introduced to Miriam…. She will grow up to become a prophet of God… but right here as a youngster she takes on the responsibility to look after her brother and the bravery to take on the princess of Egypt...on top of that she has the creativity to come up with an ingenious plan on the spur of the moment…..
Where does this strength of Character come from?
What has her mother been teaching her at home?
I would suggest that we can get a hint or two as we look at the life of Moses…. As Jochebed spent those first few years with Moses very sagely….
Her children are not perfect...Moses murdered someone amongst other things ….Miriam and Aron had to be reprimanded by God…..but there is definitely something here that she instilled in Moses….. What are these things….??
Jochebed knew that she was sending him to be educated in the ways of Egypt...arrogant and proud and contemptuous of all others...
She knows that there would be indoctrination and temptation…
She knows that the palace will offer Moses everything that a person at that time would desire…
Yet she is able to deliver him to the palace confident (maybe hoping)... confident that she had taught him all that he would require to get him through….
So what did she teach him?
She taught Him the great truths…don’t be fooled into thinking that the four points in today's sermon are just nice ideas without these truths being central to our lives and those of our children we will fail as people and then parents too….
This is more relevant to us today than at perhaps any other time... How confident do you and I feel about delivering our children into the hands of the World today? A World with values so different to our Christian values. Will they be indoctrinated? Will they lose their faith? Will they lose their way? How will they resist?
There are no guarantees… I think that as a parent I have to accept that up front.. I also believe that insulating our children from the World completely is not at all helpful...
The only hope I have, is in the lessons that Jochebed instils in Moses... that they would learn them and that God would call them….and then they must make their own way… they have to make their own decisions and then our prayer is that at some point this will be to follow Christ….
What I love about this story is that Jochebed teaches us some fundamental principle to teach our children…. Mothers are probably most influential and then perhaps fathers…..But also ...
This is not just for parents... aunts, granpas, Sunday school teachers, youth leaders... Jochebed’s lessons place a responsibility on all of us to teach the children under our influence…
Wider that this….these are the things we need to learn.... These are fundamental principles we as Christians should be living by in order to withstand the corruption of this World……
At 40 years old Moses has spent 30 years under the influence of the Egyptian palace and its religion, culture and temptations… foreign in every way to a Jewish home… yet there are at least 4 things which his mother taught him which survived this indoctrination….helped him to survive the indoctrination…..
Exodus 2:11 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.
One of his own people- the Egyptian prince?
Jochebed had taught her small boy that he was a Hebrew….
Her teaching was so strong that after all those years Moses still knew that he was different…
His identity was so strong in him that the pervasive culture was not able to shake him… he knew who he was…. Thousands of years later the Jewish people are still good at this of course….
His identity was so strong that he was even prepared to give up his life of luxury and his position in the palace as a prince...he was prepared to risk it all…. To side with a slave.. Because who he was, was that important…
It makes me wonder what I am teaching my children about their identity… about who they are...who we are…?
Jochebed teaches us that if we embed an understanding of who they are into our children when they are young then there is a good chance it will be claimed in later life….
Do we do this ? I am not sure what it was like in those days, but it is not really politically correct to drill into children who they are...it is much more acceptable to let children find their own way…. But there are consequences for this… an insecure lost generation...tossed back and forward like the wind…
Who do my children think I am...a teacher who is a Christian or a Christian who happens to teach?
What a challenge…. Honestly… I think ….I think I fail Jochebed’s first lesson….
I asked my boys….. holidays
We laughed…….it’s not funny…. I cried...Sam promised that next time I ask him he would say Christian first….
How can I teach my children to own our Christian identity if they don’t see it in me?
I will bet my bottom dollar that Jochebed lived it…. And that she:
- Directly taught her children that Hebrews are different from the Egyptian World….in word and deed...
- Used specific language like, “In our family we…” but mom everyone else is…….. Levi, in our family we don’t do that we …..
- Told them the stories of their family ancestry…. Of God’s work and provision…
- She explained everyday Hebrews are oppressed…
- She used holidays and religious days to explain their history…
- That His people were loved by God…
But mostly Jochebed had to have lived it...children are not as dof as they look...
The temptation is to go with the flow...to be as much a part of society as we can, to be a Christian, but not too different from the World… but is this something which will carry our children through their highschool and Varsity years? A vague understanding …
Perhaps we need to be upfront about being different to the World…. And make a scene about not chasing after the same goals as everyone else….. Maybe even… instead of being apologetic about choosing not to be involved in something because of your faith, but to use it as a teaching tool…. That being a Christian is radically different to the World…..
I do about 70 hours of interviews over this six week period and my main message to parents is that unless our children see us make sacrifices for education they wont believe that is important
We don’t do parties on a Sunday morning...we go to church…
We don’t watch movies like that because the values they teach us are against God’s way...
If a child has this foundation then they have enough knowledge to make their own decisions in life…. But also this proper foundation will help them to make sense of the world later on when things may seem out of control…. And perhaps even to return to these principles...
Children or not, as adults, if you and I live as Christians first then we are much more likely to withstand the storm…..
We see the second value which Moses could only have learned in the early years, when he stands up for a mere slave…… but more impressively Exodus 2:16-17
Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock ….
Why does a prince of Egypt care about a slave or some lowly shepherd girls? He did not learn this from an arrogant and proud palace entourage….
Someone has taught him that people are worthy of respect… that people should be treated with dignity….. Jochebed taught him in those early years to stand up for the weak….
How did Jochebed teach this to her children?
- There must have been a role model in the home…. Maybe Amram treated his wife with the respect she deserved….
- She must have explained about God’s creation and His intention for mankind….how humans are made in God's image
- She must have taught him about relationships and gender
- About people and respect for all mankind…..
- Joseph was probably taught in the palace that some people are more special than others...but Jochebed’s firm teaching about us all being created by God….. means that we are one of many people loved by God
This concept of equal value for all human beings is being attacked from all sides in our present World…..
The humanist culture derived from evolution directly results in a hierarchy of value...some or more evolved than others …. It results in racism and an understanding that genetics determine value,....survival of the fittest results in an ingrained belief that those who are more successful according to societal norms have more value….
This must be counteracted every day by the way we speak to our children, by the way we think about ourselves, treat others and by what we value….but most of all by a daily mantra that God created us all just the way he wants us…in His image.. And that He values us...and others equally..
How are you on this one? I guess that I am better at this one, but only because I see the devastating results of people who don’t see intrinsic value in their own humanness as I deal with the lives of the children and their parents every day….. But without a real understanding of God no one can know how valuable they are…
Moses learnt These things in those first few years with his family….and they stuck
The third thing we can learn from Jochebed is that she instilled a fear for God in her children….
Moses was inquisitive to see the burning bush… he walked up to it...the bush spoke to him...mild alarm perhaps...but he kept chatting… “take off your sandals” so he took them off….
“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Moses is a brave chap… but when he realises that it is God, he hides his face ……he is afraid to look at God….
for all those years he has been schooled in all the gods of Egypt… yet it is the God of his father which he learned about 70 years ago which he fears….. His mother has taught him well….
Is it popular to instill the fear of God into children? No...of course not…..
Is it popular to teach the fear of God to adults from the pulpit?...no
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
Without the fear of God sin increases…. The need for repentance decreases and respect for God disappears….
I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. (Jeremiah 32:39
Without the fear of God… the chances of both us and our children having a real faith is vastly diminished
Hellfire and brimstone? …. Yes this works for a while…. True fear of God comes by getting to know him…. To spend time in his word.. To understand his character…..
This is a challenge for us as parents…..
Lauren Daigle….. This is fear of God having an understanding of His holiness and my sin...
Or in a child like verse….
To fear God is to love Him so that His frown would be your greatest dread and His smile would be your greatest delight.
While there are more lessons from Jochebed… for this morning ...finally. She taught her son that there is a right and a wrong…
This is pervasive through Moses’ life..
This common sense concept of their being one truth.. Is under direct attack in the world today… even if our children are not prepared to accept God’s truth Yet..we have to teach them that the idea that we can all believe what we want and expect it to all be okay is Complete nonsense….and No rational person...
I often tell the children I teach that they can choose what they want to believe just don’t be a coward and pretend to believe that there are lots of truths… there is a right and wrong..
Jochebed was a great mother .. even if it was just for a few short years… the lessons she instilled in her son have rippled through the history of the World….
I guess the first challenge is for each of us to reflect on what we were taught as children …. Whether it was directly or by chance….whether by our parents or through experiences in life….
Deep inside of us what do we really believe? Even those amongst us who on the surface are most ‘worthy’ of respect….the best Christians….Without these four lessons of Jochebed deeply a part of our being….we will, each one of us, never be able to live the life for which Jesus redeemed us….
Thank you to this simple mother for her example and to God for preserving these lessons for us in His Word….