August 15, 2021
Order of Worship:
Today, we continue in our series Exodus: Journey to Deliverance. Last week we read the story of Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who are the heroines of the first chapter. This week, we hear about a few more women who play a part in the story of Moses and the eventual redemption of the Israelites. We pray the Spirit would open our hearts to the lessons of the Word:
- Last week we talked about how the midwives were protesting by not obeying Pharaoh’s order; we have further ‘civil disobedience’ in today’s story (even from Pharaoh’s own daughter!). For many modern readers, the story of Moses’s mother hiding him for three months (verse 2) brings to mind other stories of those who hid Jews during the Holocaust, an event which has shaped history and Jewish identity as much as this Exodus story. The practice of sheltering Jews was strictly against the laws of the German Reich and was dangerous not only for the Jews themselves but also for those who would help them. But there are hundreds of inspiring stories of people who took the risk to do it anyway. How do you know when it’s appropriate to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1), and when acts of ‘civil disobedience’ and moral protest are called for? What kind of courage and conviction does it sometimes take to do the right thing? What role does/should the Church play today in providing ‘sanctuary’ for the most vulnerable in our midst?
- Eventually, the baby can’t be hidden any longer. His mother fashions a basket for him and “placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river” (verse 3). The word used of basket is actually תֵּבָה which is the same word used in Genesis 6 when God tells Noah to build an ‘ark’ – this is going to be a vessel of salvation through the water. This is not the only mother in scripture who has to give up her son; do you imagine this moment is more like Hagar in the desert (Genesis 21:15-19) or like Hannah dedicating her first-born to God’s service in the Temple (1 Samuel 1:22-28)? How much faith would it take to leave your child in God’s hands? What sort of prayers do you think these mothers said? What sort of prayers could you offer today for parents seeking to provide a future for their children in the midst of extreme circumstances?
- The baby in the basket is found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who immediately deduces what must have happened. The text says she “had pity” on him (verse 6). Sometimes the Hebrew word for pity or compassion is רַחַם (which comes from the same root as “womb”) but here the word is actually חָמַל. Pharaoh’s daughter is not Moses’s mother, but she does feel a warm, charitable sentiment for this crying child. Her act of mercy and compassion, in opposition to her own father’s orders, will save not only this baby but the entire people of Israel. Can you think of a time in your life when a small kindness shown to an individual had a much greater impact in the long run? How to we nurture practices of mercy, compassion, and charity in our community?
- Unlike Shiphrah and Puah, the women in chapter two aren’t named (though we might speculate that the sister is Miriam from later passages in Exodus). Like many women in the ancient world their names are lost to history, but their actions certainly aren’t. There are lots of stories in the Bible of “ordinary” people doing small faithful things that seem to amount to something extraordinary. How do these stories inspire your faith in day-to-day life? What lessons and virtues do these women have to teach us, and how do we follow in their footsteps?
At the end of today’s passage, Moses is named. Verse 10 tells us that Moses means “to be drawn out” of the water; and this is the prophet who is going to lead the entire nation of Israel through the Red Sea as God draws them out of slavery in Egypt.
May God be with us through any storms we might face this week, and may the Spirit always lead us toward the rich promises of our faithful Lord.
Shalom to you all,
Pastor Maggie Rust