1. The Impact of A Godly Mother (Ex. 2:1-10)Related Media
Mother’s day is not a day of celebration for everyone. Some of you may have lost your mothers through death, divorce, or distance. Some of you may want to be mothers but for various reasons are unable.
This study is about a godly woman who is an example for all women, no matter whether you are a mother or not and whether you have a mother or not, for, no matter what your circumstances may be, all of you have an influence on someone else – men, women, and children.
You will remember well the story of Joseph. Joseph was greatly loved by his father, Jacob, but hated by his brothers, who sold him to traders, who, in turn, took him to Egypt where they sold him to Potiphar. Eventually he was raised to the highest position in the land. A famine in Egypt led to Joseph’s food storage plan. People from all over came to buy their food, including his family who were eventually reunited with him and settled in Goshen. While Joseph was Prime Minister, Egypt prospered economically and Jacob’s descendants multiplied greatly, but then a new king came into power who had not known Joseph. He was afraid of the power of the Hebrews, so he set taskmasters over them to afflict them and keep them in servitude. Suddenly, they were stripped of freedom and prosperity and plunged into forced labour and poverty, but the more they were afflicted the more they spread and grew. And as they suffered, they wished for a deliverer to relieve their distress.
In order to stop their population growth the king secretly ordered the midwives to kill all Hebrew baby boys, but the midwives feared God and disobeyed the king (Ex. 1:16-17). So, the king openly intensified his plan and commanded all the people to kill all Hebrew baby boys at birth (Ex. 1:22). The prophecy of Genesis 15:13-14 had come to pass - the Hebrews were “resident aliens… in a land that does not belong to them.” But hard times don’t erase God’s promises, harsh treatment doesn’t escape God’s notice (Heb. 4:13b), and heavy tests don’t eclipse God’s concern.
In the midst of this terror, we come to the story of Jochebed, Moses’ mother. It’s amazing how much we learn in the O.T. about people who are unnamed and silent. Neither Moses’ parents nor his sister, not even Pharaoh’s daughter, are named here. It seems that the Spirit of God keeps them in the shadow to allow the light to shine on the God of Amram and Jochebed. Jochebed is not well-known like Sarah or Rachel. Yet more than any other, she set the foundation for Moses’ faith and she did it under the most adverse circumstances in Hebrew history.
Our subject in this study is “Courageous faith.” In our passage we will see that Jochebed demonstrates the principle that God honours the courageous faith of a godly woman. In her, we see the concern of a godly woman, the love of a godly woman, the faith of a godly woman, and the reward of a godly woman.
I. The Concern Of A Godly Woman Experienced (2:2a)
“She conceived and bore a son” (2:2a). Perhaps Jochebed worked in the brick kilns as a Hebrew slave (cf. Ex. 1:10-14). It was a very oppressive, hateful environment. No evident miracles took place there during the day. The more bricks they made the more was demanded of them and the less straw they were given with which to make them.
The day came when Jochebed discovered that she was pregnant for the third time. Miriam had been born perhaps 7-12 years before, and Aaron about 3 years before. Then began the long wait to discover if this was a boy or a girl, and during those 9 long months she would have had many concerns.
1. She would have been concerned about the conflict in Egypt. At the time of Moses’ birth, the forces of good and evil were in open conflict in Egypt. The king was opposed to the Israelites, fearing that they might rebel against them (1:10). The midwives were opposed to the king and they defied him successfully (1:17). Now all the Egyptian people were under royal orders to oppose the Israelites by killing all the new born Hebrew baby boys (1:22).
Jochebed would have been concerned about that. And...
2. She would surely have been concerned about her pregnancy. What must she have thought during each day of her pregnancy? The threat of death hung over her like a cloud. Every pregnancy had the sentence of death hanging over the child if it was a boy. Those were not the days for renting a mobile sign and putting it on your front lawn announcing, “It’s a boy!” She would have heard the daily wails of other Hebrew mothers as they delivered their babies, only to hear the dreaded news. And she would have seen the Egyptian attendants throwing Hebrew babies into the river. The suspense of those months was broken only by the anxiety and anticipation.
Then, as the days of her pregnancy advanced...
3. She would have been concerned about the birth. Every birth carries with it certain anxieties mixed with a certain awe and wonder at the miracle of childbirth. Every birth is, after all, a miracle. Some births just defy circumstances as God exercises his providential care and control. One of my cousins was born 17 years after his parents had been married – long after they had concluded that they would not be able to have a child! Another family relative was told that her unborn baby would have Downe’s syndrome and that she should have an abortion. Today that baby is a beautiful, normal young adult!
Jochebed’s anxiety of 9 months finally gave way to the pain of childbirth, and the pain of childbirth gave way to the relief of delivery, and the relief of delivery was shattered by the shock of the news – it’s another boy! Jochebed’s concern of nearly a year had become reality. Now she would oppose the king, determined that Moses should live.
Such were the natural concerns of a caring, godly woman. But her concerns gave way to...
II. The Love Of A Godly Woman Proven (2:2b)
Upon Moses’ birth, Jochebed “saw that he was beautiful” (2:2b). Undoubtedly, every mother thinks her baby is the most beautiful in the world. But this comment about Moses is recorded 3 times in Scripture, so it evidently has more meaning than simply that the child was good looking.
This beauty was more than skin deep. This child was to his mother’s natural eyes a beautiful baby boy, but to her eyes of faith he was also a special baby before God. God had provided him and God would providentially protect him. He was “beautiful in God’s sight” (Acts 7:20). Jochebed knew that he was a special gift from God and that God had a unique role for him.
All Christian parents ought to see their children as special gifts from God, whose lives they are to shape and mould to serve God. The training that children receive in their early years sets the pattern for their lives. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
Nothing is more important than for parents to train their children spiritually so that they are raised for God. Someone once said: “First talk to God about your children. Then talk to your children about God.” John Wesley said: “I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians of England.”
First, then, we see the concerns of a godly woman. Those concerns then give way to love, and that love is strengthened by…
III. The Faith Of A Godly Woman Tested (2:2c-3)
While Jochebed loved with a mother’s heart, she also acted with the faith of a godly woman.
1. A godly woman’s faith trusts implicitly. “She hid him for three months” (2:2c). By faith, Jochebed now defies the king’s commandment. Having recognized that the <“child was beautiful in God’s sight,” Jochebed began to act in faith.
It would have been very difficult to hide a newborn baby for 3 months, but there would be more to the future of this child than just another infanticide. Even though she didn’t know what the outcome of her actions would be, she trusted God implicitly for the future.
St. Augustine’s mother agonized for her son’s salvation. She implicitly trusted God that he would save her son. During Augustine’s years of reckless living, his mother wept and prayed for him. Later Augustine would write in his Confessions: “My mother had now come to me, resolute through piety, following me over sea and land…full of confidence, she replied to me, she believed in Christ that before she departed this life, she should see me a…believer... Fountains of mercies poured she forth more copious prayers and tears, that Thou wouldest hasten Thy help and enlighten my darkness.” Reflecting on his mother’s faithfulness, Augustine wrote: “It is impossible that the son of these tears should perish.”
Even though Jochebed couldn’t have known what a great man Moses would become, it was faith that drove her to hide Moses for three months. What she did know was that a day would come when she wouldn’t be able to hide the baby any longer. And so not only does a godly woman’s faith trust implicitly, but…
2. A godly woman’s faith plans wisely. “When she could no longer hide him, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with asphalt and pitch” (2:3a). Her plan of faith defied all her motherly instincts. It defied natural affections when she put Moses in the ark. It defied reason when she placed Moses beside the river - after all, that was the very place where the babies were being drowned! (1:22). I think that Jochebed took that full three months of waiting on God to conceive this plan.
Here we see the providence of God directing her in every detail: (a) The stream that carried the ark to its appointed landing place. (b) The bulrushes that provided protection. (c) The princess taking her bath at the right time, at the right spot. (d) The princess’s curiosity which changed to compassion. She knew her father, Pharaoh’s, edict but her heart was touched not only by the baby’s cry and, perhaps also, by the extent to which a Hebrew mother would go to save the life of her child. (e) The intervention of Moses’ sister and the return of the child to his mother. And, ultimately, (f) even Pharaoh himself took Moses into his own palace.
Jochebed’s faith was accompanied by a well thought-out plan, which she carried out with great skill. Trusting God involves thinking, planning, and applying. Acting in faith includes foresight and wisdom, not simply hindsight and wishful thinking.
Notice that a godly woman’s faith not only trusts God implicitly and plans wisely, but…
3. A godly woman’s faith acts bravely. “She placed the child in it (the papyrus basket) and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile” (2:3b). Now Jochebed did the unthinkable - she gave up her baby. Everything within her would have screamed out against such an action but her faith was rooted in the providence of God, faith that God would work all things out according to his purposes.
She bravely faced danger when she laid the ark in the reeds beside the river. She put him into the river in a basket of bulrushes and then she waited to see what God would do. This was an act of ultimate commitment. Ironically, it complied with Pharaoh’s edict to put the babies in the river, except that this didn’t lead to death.
She bravely faced her fears by faith and she became the preserver of a boy who became one of the world’s greatest figures. She trusted God to protect and preserve her child in this most unlikely of habitats and nothing would stop her from protecting the child’s life - not a murderous king, nor a crocodile-infested river. And because of her bravery and faith, she is listed in the Hebrews Hall of Fame: “By faith Moses, after he was born, was hidden by his parents for three months, because…they didn’t fear the king’s edict” (Heb. 11:23).
God is fully trustworthy even in the face of life-threatening danger. It’s fear that holds us back from trusting Him, but faith gives birth to courage. That’s why the people of faith in Hebrews 11 were tortured, mocked and scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, and killed with the sword (11:35-37). It was faith that spurred them on, as Paul says: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Waiting is tough but waiting in faith is tougher as we wait for God to do His work. Jochebed did everything she could, then she set that little ark by the river and waited. There was nothing more that she could do but wait. Trusting as we wait is the secret.
When a godly woman’s love is proven and her faith is tested, God responds with…
IV. The Reward Of A Godly Woman Granted (2:4-10)
Jochebed is rewarded in that...
1. Her plan worked flawlessly. Pharaoh’s daughter took pity on the baby even though he was a Hebrew. What relief must have swept across Jochebed and Miriam when they saw Pharaoh’s daughter’s reaction. And God rewarded Jochebed by permitting her to raise Moses during his formative years - and she even got paid for it (2:9).
Perhaps Jochebed had about 5 years to pour her life and faith into her son. These were the years when he would have received his basic childhood instruction about God and about faith. No wonder Moses grew up to be the man he was with a mother like that. He practiced her implicit faith in God and he acted with her fearless courage. Jochebed and Amram were not afraid of the king (Heb. 11:23b) and Moses, later in his life, wasn’t afraid of the king either (Heb. 11:27a).
This godly woman was rewarded by God in that her plan worked flawlessly. And also in that...
2. Her children followed her faith. God honoured her love, faith, and courage. Aaron became Israel’s first high priest and founder of the Aaronic priesthood. Miriam became a gifted poetess and musician. Moses became the great leader of God’s people out of slavery and wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. From Adam to Christ none was greater than Moses.
In Moses’ life we see so many striking antitheses:
a) The child of a slave…but the son of a queen.
b) Born in a hut…and lived in a palace.
c) Inherited poverty…but enjoyed unlimited wealth.
d) Leader of armies…and keeper of flocks.
e) Mightiest of warriors… and meekest of men.
f) Educated in the wisdom of Egypt…but lived by faith.
g) Fitted for the city… but wandered in the wilderness.
h) Tempted with the pleasures of sin… but chose to suffer for righteousness.
i) Backward in speech… but talked with God.
k) Carried a shepherd’s rod… but wielded divine power.
l) A fugitive from Pharaoh… but an ambassador from heaven.
m) Giver of the law… but the forerunner of grace.
n) No one was present at his death…but God buried him.
What an example Jochebed is of a godly woman, a godly woman whose concerns were overshadowed by her love for her child and her faith in God. A godly woman who was rewarded with children who followed her faith and her God. A godly woman who demonstrated courage in the midst of danger, who trusted God without knowing the outcome. A woman who knew the truth that He who is for us is greater than all the forces of evil against us (Rom. 8:31).
And the good news is that the God of Jochebed is our God! He still preserves our children, still provides courage, and still rewards faith. Jochebed’s God is still “able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20).
To every woman today, whether you are a Sunday School teacher, aunt, friend, grandmother or mother, you can have the same impact on the children whom you influence in your life. And when the chips are down and you face challenges as to how to give these children good advice, how to protect them in times of danger, how to teach them in a way that will serve them well when they grow up, know this: God is still sovereign and in control of their lives.
Can you trust them to God? Do you believe that He will care for them just as Jochebed believed that God would care for the ark in that river? What relief and peace comes from resting confidently in the providence of God. God works in our children’s lives as providentially as He moved in Moses’ life, and He controls the actions and thoughts even of unbelievers to accomplish his will. When we have done all that we can in any task or situation, then we must wait and trust everything to God.
We must never deny or forget the providence of God by which He sovereignly cares for and controls all things in carrying out of his grand design. Around the cradle of bulrushes was the shield of God, just as an army of horses and chariots of fire were all around Elisha. But, like Elisha’s servant, we often fail to see it (2 Kings 6:15-17).
No matter what the circumstances or the forces that are marshalled against us, God’s sovereign purposes will be done for the God of Jochebed still lives!