Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Do what you can spiritually—praying for your children, training them to be discerning, teaching them a biblical worldview, giving them godly counsel, teaching them to think wisely. Do everything you can do, but when you’ve done what you can do, it’s up to God. You’ve got to parent in faith.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Thursday, August 21.
Do you ever worry what the future holds for your children? Find out how you can be a parent of faith as Nancy continues the series called Remember Miriam.”
Nancy: We’re looking at the five women in Exodus 1 and 2 that God used as a part of His great redemptive story to preserve the life of Moses, who was going to be the Old Testament deliverer of God’s people. One of the things I love about this whole account—and really about the whole of Scripture—is the way you see providence at work.
We’re going to talk more about providence later in this series, but just an initial observation here: As God’s people were suffering under a cruel dictator, God was preparing a deliverer. People didn’t know that. They couldn’t see what God had ahead.
A number of years ago, I was listening to a message by Pastor John Piper, and I heard him say something that has really stuck with me. He said, “In every circumstance and situation of life, God is always doing a thousand different things that we cannot see and we do not know.” It’s true. I’ve reminded myself of that in some seemingly hopeless circumstances, as the Hebrews were facing at this point as slaves in Egypt.
In every season of life—when you can see it and when you can’t—in every season of life, God is always doing a thousand different things that we cannot see and we do not know. He said, “We may see ten or fifteen or twenty things God is doing,” but he said, “God is doing many, many things.”
In this case, God was orchestrating the deliverance, the salvation, of His people. These were desperate circumstances that the Jews were living in. It seemed hopeless. It seemed like Pharaoh was going to wipe out a whole generation of Hebrew young men—which would wipe out the next generation of Hebrews—but no situation is hopeless for God. No situation is too difficult for God.
I want to encourage you. The situation you are facing—some situation you are facing at home, in the workplace, or in your church—may seem hopeless. What we’re facing in our nation today seems very hopeless to me as I look at things. These are desperate and dark times, but we need to counsel our hearts and remind ourselves that there is no situation that is too difficult for God. He is at work. He is orchestrating to fulfill His plans and His purposes.
So what does that mean for us? It means take heart. Be encouraged. Lift up your eyes.Don’t assume that what you can see is the ultimate reality. That’s where we have to be women of faith, and that’s why we can be women of courage. That’s why we can have hope in the most difficult and desperate circumstances.
I hope that word encourages your heart today. Now, let me just reset as we pick up from where we were in the last session.
We saw in Exodus chapter 1 that God used these two Hebrew midwives as part of His plan to redeem His people, to protect His people from destruction. They defied the king’s edict, and they said, “We will not kill these baby boys.” They feared God more than they feared man, and as a result, God blessed them.
Today, as we turn to Exodus chapter 2, we’re going to see a third woman who was used in God’s plan to redeem His people. Beginning in Exodus 2, verse 1: “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.” This woman’s name is not given to us in this passage, but if you look at the cross-reference passages in Exodus 6 and Numbers 26, you’ll see that the man’s name was Amram and the woman’s name was Jochebed. They were of the tribe of Levi.
Ultimately, the Levites were appointed by God to be the priestly tribe. At this point when we pick up the story, the man and woman had already married, and they already had two children. Their firstborn was a daughter named Miriam, and their second-born was a son named Aaron. Then verse 2 tells us, “The woman [Jochebed] conceived and bore a son.”
Now, you say, “What’s the big deal? They got married; they had children.” Well, here’s the big deal: Look back at the end of chapter 1. Now, these chapter divisions aren’t in the original text. If you move the chapter division, you’ll see this is an astonishing thing. Two verses earlier, Exodus 1, verse 22, what does it say? “Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.’”
It’s at this point that Amram and Jochebed conceive and have another child. Now, humanly speaking, this is not a good time to get pregnant—when the official law of the land is that all the baby boys who are born will be drowned in the Nile. So as I look at Jochebed, one of the things that stands out to me is her courage, exhibited by her willingness to have children when it was not safe or politically correct to do so.
The true woman—we’re talking about true women this year—the true woman is willing to go against the flow of what is politically correct. And one of the things that is really politically incorrect in our culture is having more children. Now, there’s no law that says you can’t in our country, though there are such laws in other parts of the world. We talked about China’s one-child policy being such a repressing law. But in our country, where the law permits it, our cultural thinking is really opposed to the concept of having multiple children.
People question often in our society the whole idea of bringing a child into this kind of world. There are a lot of fears. I know women experience this a lot, as you think about what’s happening in our world. The dangers and circumstances make it a world of terror, a world where there is a lot of fear, and there are a lot of people thinking, “This is not a good time to have children. Why would you want to bring a child into this world?”
Many women today are ruled by fear rather than by faith. It’s scary to think about bringing children into this world, unless you believe in a God who superintends and overrules and oversees this world. In fact, it’s at just such a time, in my opinion, that godly parents need to be having children.
There are religions in the world that are having lots of children. Now is the time when God’s people need to be having children and training those children in the ways of God. In this way, we influence by means of sending children into the next generation for the glory of God and for the furthering of His Kingdom.
While I was studying this passage, I happened upon an article that was printed in theNew York Times in 1869. The article was entitled “America’s Greatest Necessity: Mothers.” The opening paragraph of the article told about a time when Napoleon was asked—by a highly intellectual, beautiful woman—who he thought was the preeminent woman in all of France.
The woman was a little bit miffed when Napoleon responded, “The one with the most children.” Then it told of another occasion when he told his cabinet ministers that the greatest necessity of France was mothers.
Now, if you know something about Napoleon and what was going on during his era, you know that his motivation for wanting women to have a lot of children was not necessarily the most noble motivation. He was ambitious to control the world, and he felt that how he could do it was by France having lots of children.
This article went on to lament the low birthrates among American women in the mid-1800s. Here’s a quote from that article: “How to preserve her looks and how not to have children seem to be the chief thoughts of women nowadays.” I thought, “Is this 1869? Or is this the 21st century I’m reading about here?” “How to preserve her looks and how not to have children seem to be the chief thoughts of women nowadays.”
The article went on to say, “Maternity has become most unfashionable. The causes are many and easily enumerated, but who will suggest a remedy and save the great American nation from utter annihilation?” In 1869 that was being written.
Well, in this day in Egypt, Jochebed is a courageous woman. She and her husband are willing to have children even when the king has said, “You can’t have children.”
Verse 2 goes on to tell us, in Exodus 2, that “when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.” The New American Standard says there, “When she saw that he was beautiful.” She looked at this baby, and she realized, “He’s a precious child. He’s a beautiful child. I can’t throw him into the Nile.” So she hid him for three months.
You see here the fierce determination of a mother’s love. She’s determined to protect her child, and so she defies Pharaoh’s decree at great personal risk. There were probably officials who were responsible to search out and find pregnant women, make sure that their male children did not live, and punish those who refused to comply. So she goes through this effort to protect her child.
It’s interesting in this verse that it says, “His mother saw that he was beautiful.” In Hebrews chapter 11, there’s a recounting of this passage in the New Testament. It says, “His parents . . . saw that the child was beautiful” (verse 23). Then in Acts chapter 7, there’s another passage that tells us again, speaking of this incident, “He was beautiful in God’s sight” (verse 20).
It’s interesting that the word “beautiful” is used in all three accounts of the birth of Moses. It says his mother saw that he was a beautiful child; his parents saw that he was a beautiful child; but he was beautiful in God’s sight.
I thought, as I read that passage in Acts chapter 7, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. They are precious in His sight.” They are precious in a godly mother’s sight; they are precious in the sight of parents. They look at these little ones, and they say, “This child is beautiful. This is God’s creation. I cannot let Pharaoh or the world take this child away. I can’t let the world have this child’s life. This child belongs to God. This child is precious and needs protecting.”
Now that passage in Hebrews 11, that great chapter on faith, tells us what motivated and enabled Moses’ parents to protect him against all odds. Hebrews 11, verse 23, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”
Wow! Think about that. It’s amazing to me. They were not afraid of the king’s edict when he said, “Every boy child that is born will be thrown into the Nile”?
I mean, the children already escaped from the midwives because the midwives wouldn’t kill the babies when they were born. And now the king says, “We’re going to throw all the baby boys into the Nile.” And the parents are not afraid? Can you imagine living in that environment and not being afraid of the king’s law? How were they not afraid? By faith.
Jochebed and Amram didn’t have the revelation of God that we have today. There’s so much about God and His ways that we know today. We have His Word. They didn’t have all that, but in their hearts they knew the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They knew that He was a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God. They knew that He had made promises to preserve His people.
I think of that promise in Genesis chapter 50 where Joseph says to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land”—the land of Egypt—“to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (verse 24). Those were Joseph’s dying words: “God will bring you up out of Egypt.” And Joseph’s children passed those words on to their children, and they passed that promise on to their children, and they passed that promise on to their children.
Amram and Jochebed had undoubtedly heard that “God is going to deliver us out of this land. He’s not going to wipe out this nation. He’s not going to wipe out our people.” They believed the promises of God, as few as the ones that they had. They trusted God’s love. They trusted God’s sovereignty. They trusted God’s character. Ladies, in a fearful world, it is faith that will be your protection. By faith, they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
Now you may not be living with a Pharaoh as far as law of the land is concerned, but there may be a Pharaoh in your home. There may be a Pharaoh in your workplace. There may be a Pharaoh in your life who is making life miserable. I want to say that women of God do not have to be afraid.
Horrible things happen. Freedom from fear doesn’t mean that Pharaoh’s edicts don’t happen. Horrible things do happen. Some baby boys did die in that day, as they did in Herod’s day when he ordered the slaughter of all the baby boys two years old and younger (see Matthew 2:16-18). There was crying and weeping heard of mothers who had their children taken from them. But mothers—women of God—do not have to fear in the midst of the most dreadful circumstances. By faith, they were not afraid.
It takes faith to be a wise, fearless woman of God in this world, and that’s what Jochebed had. By faith, she was not afraid. Verse 3 of Exodus 2 tells us what she did after three months: “When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.”
So for three months she hides this baby. Now, in the first three months babies sleep a lot. Right? So it was probably easier for her to hide the baby then. But she finally got to the place where she couldn’t continue to hide him. Babies don’t sleep forever. They cry, and they make noise. Sometimes, try as hard as you might, you can’t keep a baby from crying. The bigger they get, as their lungs develop, their cries get louder. And the point came where she couldn’t hide him anymore.
So she comes up with a plan, and I believe God directed her in this plan—as God will direct you when you don’t know what to do. She makes this basket. The Hebrew word for “basket” used in this passage is used in the Scripture only in this passage and one other place. Do you know where that is? It’s in Genesis chapter 6, where God told Noah to build an ark.
It’s the same word—an ark, a basket. That ark in Genesis 6 was quite a bit larger. It was made of gopher wood, and it was covered inside and out with pitch, which we’re told is this sticky, tar-like substance.
When God wanted to save Noah and his family from the flood that destroyed the world, He gave Noah instructions for how to build this watertight vessel. And when God wanted to preserve His son Moses from the onslaught of Pharaoh, God gave his mother wisdom to build a miniature version of the ark.
The same God who watched over and protected the eight men and women in the ark while the rest of the world perished during the flood—that same God watched over and protected this three-month-old baby boy in that basket, while other baby boys were perishing in the Nile. See how God is able to rescue and to deliver, to save out those that He wants to use for His kingdom purposes?
Now, there were other God-fearing women who lost their sons. Their sons did perish, but when it comes down to it, what we see in this passage is that it’s not about us. It’s not about a particular family or a particular child. It’s about God’s kingdom purposes. As women, we give ourselves to God’s kingdom purposes, and we say, “Lord, whatever they are, I will not fear what man can do to me, but I will trust in You.” This wise, courageous woman lets God show her what to do, and God uses her as an instrument through whom this child’s life can be spared.
I see in Jochebed a woman who did everything that was humanly possible to protect her child. When the time came where she couldn’t do anything else, rather than succumbing to fear, she entrusted her child to God’s care and God’s protection.
We need to remember as we read the story that we know the outcome. We know what happened. We know what comes next. Most of us do, anyway, and if you don’t, come back to the next session, and we’ll fill you in on what happened. But remember, Jochebed did not know the outcome.
She puts this child in this basket into the Nile, and there’s a huge potential for danger there. Think of all the things that could happen—that child could die of starvation, or one of Pharaoh’s thugs could come and find this child and kill this baby boy. There were crocodiles in that river. Your mind can go to all kinds of places, and that’s where you have to ask the Lord to keep you from vain imaginations: to guard your heart and guard your mind as you keep it fixed on Him.
What did she do? She relinquished that child into the river, but more than that, she relinquished that child into God’s hands and left the outcome to God. What else could she do? What else can you do other than relinquish those that you love and your life circumstances and yourself into God’s hands?
Listen, there are people out there—there are forces, there are influences—that want to destroy your children. They want to destroy you, and they want to destroy your family, your loved ones. There’s physical danger. There’s spiritual danger, false teaching, ideology, sinful influences, ungodly friends—all kinds of dangers out there.
First, you need to do everything you know to do to protect your child from dangerous and ungodly influences. Trust in God’s providence does not relieve us from responsibility. Do what you can do. You protect them to the extent that you can. We see Jochebed doing that for those three months, and then she takes that ark and she puts that child in it. She does everything she can.
Be careful what you expose your children to physically. Don’t put them in foolish situations that could be hurtful or dangerous in terms of protecting their minds and their heart. I hear about moms sending their kids off with friends to movies that parents haven’t checked out, sending their kids with friends to the mall—which used to be a safe enough kind of entertainment, but no longer is today.
They are not being careful about their children’s friends, not being careful about their children’s education. Listen, even if you’re putting your kids in Christian school, you need to be watchful. You need to be careful.
I have a friend who has five children. They’re in a good Christian school, but I want to tell you, this mom is watching. She’s listening. She’s seeing what her children are learning, seeing what they’re being exposed to. She’s become a good friend of the principal because she feels responsible to protect her children and to check out the things they’re being exposed to.
Do what you can spiritually—praying for your children, training them to be discerning, teaching them a biblical worldview, giving them godly counsel, teaching them to think wisely. Do everything you can do, but when you’ve done what you can do, it’s up to God. You’ve got to parent in faith, realizing you cannot ultimately be the one to protect your children’s hearts or their minds or their physical bodies. Ultimately, God is their keeper and their caretaker.
Are you praying for your children? Are you trusting them to God’s care and His protection? Listen, God cares for your children more than you possibly could. He loves them, and He’s better able to protect them than you are, as He protected that child Moses. God sees the big picture. God is fulfilling His eternal purposes. He’s glorifying Himself. You can trust Him even when you cannot fathom what He is doing. So wait on the Lord. Exercise faith and be faithful in the midst of what you don’t know.
Used With Permission. Revive Our Hearts.