“Now a man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son; when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
When you read the story of the Exodus – and specifically the story of Moses – through the lens of the Gospels, it is remarkable just how much the one echoes the other. Yet in the moment, its characters certainly didn’t experience it as good news. Still, though, there is a reminder here of God’s sovereignty in our stories. Let’s talk today about Moses’ birth, the contours of our own stories, and how God accomplishes His plans.
The list of ways the story of the Exodus and the story of the Gospel rhyme goes on for quite a while. Consider just a few places. Both stories unfold when the people of Israel were held captive by another nation – another nation that happened to be the current global superpower. In both stories the real action begins with the birth of a baby boy. In both situations the life of the baby boy is threatened and in mortal danger very soon after his birth. Both families experience a miraculous rescue of their son which involves some time in Egypt. In both cases God was using this child to bring rescue to a much larger group of people than just this one family.
One more point of similarity: We look back on both stories and marvel at how God was working through them in miraculous ways to accomplish His plans for His world. But for the characters who were actually living through these stories, while they perhaps looked back on them and marveled, and they might have even celebrated specific moments when God acted on their behalf in some powerful way, without being able to see the end from the beginning like we can, their way through was much scarier than for which we often give them credit.
Just consider Moses’ story here. Because the narration here is focused on telling Moses’ story, it glosses over some details that add a little bit more to the drama. For example, we don’t know exactly how Moses’ birth coincides with Pharaoh’s command to kill all of the Hebrew baby boys, but we can discern from later details that it came after his initial frustration with the inability of the midwives to follow his original command led to the subsequent command to drown them all in the Nile. My guess is that this occurred over a period of a few months to a few years. We’re not told that Pharaoh ever rescinded this evil command, so the drowning of the boys in the Nile could have been going on for some time.
What that means is that Moses probably wasn’t his parents’ first rodeo when it came to hiding their infant sons from the Egyptian authorities. We know from later on in the story that Moses’ brother Aaron was three years older than him. What’s more, Miriam, his sister, was a few years still older than Aaron. We don’t know how many other children the couple had beyond these three. How many of them were boys and had been taken and drowned in the Nile? Given the way this specific verse is worded, did they concede to have other boys who were less beautiful drowned? Aaron likely represented an act of resistance in some capacity. I wonder how they had managed to hide him. Could it be that Moses’ birth came just after the switch from outright murder to drowning and Aaron had been one of the boys the midwives allowed to live in defiance of Pharaoh’s command?
However exactly the details here actually played out, Moses’ parents were living with the constant stress of the authorities of the nation oppressing their people coming in and taking their baby boys away from them to be killed. If you’ve walked the journey of being a new parent before, you know that the first time you hold that little one, your whole world changes. The scene in the movie Storks when the pack of wolves discover the baby girl and instead of eating her, fall instantly in love and commit to doing everything they can to protect her gets it about right.
In the vast majority of cases, having a child of our own tames us and makes us want to do everything possible to protect our kids out of our great love for them. And this couple was powerless to prevent the murder of their children. There were tragic pictures and stories to accompany them from the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan of Afghan parents desperately trying to hand their babies over the fence around the airport to waiting U.S. soldiers. They knew they might never see them again, but if setting them adrift in the water, so to speak, gave them a chance at a life better than what they knew was facing them under the Taliban’s evil rule, they were willing to do that. And, just like those desperate parents in Afghanistan, Moses’ parents had no idea what would come when they set their baby adrift in a basket on the Nile rather than see him taken and drowned by the authorities.
We could keep going here, but let me jump straight to a point of connection with our own stories: We are living in them. We can’t see the end from the beginning. In the vast majority of cases, it is only hindsight that allows us to recognize certain events as now-obvious indicators of God’s saving activity. In the moment of the drama, we can only live through it with faith and faithfulness while praying and hoping for the best. This is a reminder that even in the midst of the hardest circumstances we can imagine, we must not lose hope. God is still working in even the darkest of places. Even when we can’t conceive of how He could redeem some situation and bring good out of it, yet He is still able because He is God. All the wisdom and power are His. His plans are not thwarted by anything we do or that is done to us. When your life feels like nothing but the biggest mess it could possibly be, God’s grace is bigger still. If you will entrust your life and your circumstances to Him, He can and will redeem them. He can and will yet make His glory and your joy complete in them.