• “The world looks for happiness through self-assertion. The Christian knows that joy is found in self-abandonment.” – Elisabeth Elliot

Remember Miriam Part 3 – Parenting Under Providence by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The preservation of Moses’ life didn’t just happen. God was superintending it.

But Jochebed hid that child for three months. She found that ark. She made sure it was watertight. She placed it in a strategic place where Pharaoh’s daughter would come along. She put her daughter Miriam out there to guard it. It was intentionality.

“We’re not just going to turn our children over to the enemy,” was the mindset. “We’re going to do what we can to be watchful and alert.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, August 22.

You don’t have to fear, but you do need to raise your children with purpose. Find out how as Nancy continues a series called Remember Miriam.

Nancy: I read a neat response the other day from a mom who was asked what her occupation was. Here’s how she answered:

I am socializing two homosapiens in the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition so that they might be instruments for the transformation of the social order into the teleologically prescribed utopia inherent in the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ. What do you do?

That was her answer. Well, in Exodus 1 and 2, those two chapters we’re looking at this week, we’re seeing the world-changing impact of five women—two of whom are named, three of whom are not named in that passage—who had God’s heart for the next generation and who had a vision for what God could do if they would be obedient and faithful.

They lived out gospel purpose and God’s calling in their lives. As a result, we have been blessed beyond measure, as they became instruments of God’s redemptive plan.

For those of you who have not been with us the last couple sessions, let me give a brief reset here. The children of Israel are slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh has issued this edict that all the baby boys are to be drowned in the Nile.

In the midst of that, one woman who is of the tribe of Levi (her name is Jochebed, though we’re not told that in this passage) becomes pregnant. She conceives and becomes pregnant, and she has a baby boy. All the baby boys are supposed to die.

She looks at this child and says, “This child is precious. I can’t let this child die.” She can’t give this child up to Pharaoh. She won’t give this child up to Pharaoh.

She exercises faith, which delivers her from fear. She hides this child for three months. Then, when she can’t hide him any longer, she puts the baby in a basket in the Nile River, where all the boys were supposed to be drowned, and relinquishes her son.

She could have been fearful, but she wasn’t, because she realized that our lives are not controlled by chance. That brings me back to this subject—I mentioned it earlier in this series—God’s providence. Providence. I’ve often said, I love living under providence.

What is God’s providence? We’re going to see it in spades in this passage. God sees ahead. Pro- vidance: pro = before, voidance = vision. God has vision. He can see things ahead, and He makes provision for what’s coming that only He sees and knows.

You could break the word down this way: Pro-vidence—God’s providence. He provides for what He knows is coming. He’s always orchestrating the circumstances and events of our lives to fulfill His purposes.

As we continue in this account in Exodus 2, I want you to look for evidences of God’s providential hand and care. The thing about providence is that most often you can’t see it when you’re in the midst of the circumstances. You only see it when you look back.

That’s why we need to trust now, when we can’t see what God is doing, knowing that one day we will see and we will understand that God was not oblivious. He was not inactive. He was not asleep on His throne. He was very actively involved, knowing what was going on and working to make provision.

So as we come to Exodus 2, the mother, Jochebed, has put her son in this basket in the river Nile. Verse 4, “His [the baby’s] sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.”

This is where we’re introduced to Miriam, though we’re not given her name in this passage. This is the first reference to the woman Miriam, who we’re going to be studying over these next several sessions.

Probably she was somewhere between the ages of seven and twelve. She was a girl, a young woman. I see in this a young girl who was watchful. She was alert. After all, she was a firstborn child, and we firstborns are responsible, right?

She’s taking care of things. She’s the big sister. And her instinct, like that of her mother, is to protect. As we see Miriam in this first scene of three that the Scripture records for us in her lifetime, she is learning her first lessons in faith as a young girl.

This incident is going to shape her life. It’s going to shape the woman that she will become. As I think back in my life, I think of incidents in my childhood where I began first to see the hand of God at work; and that’s what was happening to Miriam.

In verse 5 we’re introduced to the fifth of these five women we’re looking at in Exodus 1 and 2. The two midwives; Jochebed, the mother of the baby Moses; Miriam, his older sister; and now we meet the fifth woman— verse 5, “The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river.”

I put a capital “P” next to that part of the passage in my notes here. The fact that Pharaoh’s daughter—now, who was her dad? The one who issued the edict that all the baby boys were to be drowned. That daughter of that man came down to bathe at thatplace in the river at that very time.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. Providence. She “came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds.” Put another “P” there—providence.

She saw this basket. The Nile was a big river—easy to miss something like this. But God had her right at the place and that basket right at the place. Had it floated? Had it just stayed where it was? We don’t know. But wherever it was at that moment, she saw it. That’s providence.

“[She] sent her servant woman, and she took it.” I think there’s providence there, that this servant woman didn’t squeal and turn this baby in or object to the princess taking the baby. This was part of God’s plan, that all these women involved would be part of protecting life rather than destroying life.

Verse 6, “When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying.” Put another “P” for providence there. God knew at what moment to have this baby cry to win this woman’s heart.

“She took pity on him.” Put another “P” there. Providence. The Egyptian women were not schooled to love Hebrew children.

Verse 7, “Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’”

Now back to Miriam. Here we see that this is a girl who has a good head on her shoulders. She’s got quick response in a crisis. She’s a capable young woman, and we’ll see that play out later in her life. Verses 8-9,

Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to [Jochebed], “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.

Put a big capital “P” next to that verse. Here is Pharaoh’s daughter. God turns the heart of this pagan princess, gives her compassion for the helpless, for this little baby. And then the mother of the child ends up getting paid wages from Pharaoh’s household to take care of this baby.

You can’t deny the supernatural element here! There is no human possibility of all this happening. Pharaoh hates the Hebrews. He’s determined to wipe them out.

Apart from the providence of God, the outcome of this story would have been very, very different. There was no human chance of Moses’ life being spared, much less his mother being paid to take care of him, apart from the providence of God.

Now, Jochebed probably only cared for her son for the first two to three years of his life. Hebrew mothers at this point would nurse their children until they were about two or three years old.

So Moses spends those first couple of years of his life nurtured in the context of a family of faith, a believing family. I have no doubt that Jochebed prayed over her son, while he was there and then after he left to go live in Pharaoh’s palace.

But while she had that son, don’t you think she was teaching him his true identity? This is who you are; speaking into his ears, though he could understand so little, the promises of God, the covenant of God; introducing him to the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.

You see, Moses was trained in the Hebrew faith long before he was ever introduced to an Egyptian education. And as he grew up and became a man in the palace of Egypt, this early teaching on the lap of his mother was still embedded in his heart. You see here the lifelong influence of this early training he received from his mother.

Verse 10,

When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”

So Moses is his Egyptian name. The word literally means “drawn out” or “taken out.” It’s a descriptive name first, because he was taken out of the water. The very same water that was intended to kill Moses became his place of salvation. He wasdrawn out of that water.

But it was also a prophetic name, because 80 years later, he would be used to draw out God’s people from Egypt to lead them through the Red Sea.

The whole irony—it’s providence, again, that he’s rescued from the river by Pharaoh’s very own daughter and he grows up under the protection of the one who had threatened his existence. Pharaoh had ordered that all the Hebrew baby boys were to be drowned.

But ultimately God would order that Pharaoh’s whole army should be drownedin the Red Sea. You just see God is in charge. Heaven rules.

Now, let me remind you that God may work in your children’s lives in ways that are different than you might expect. I mean, who would have expected that the daughter of the tyrant who wrote the edict to exterminate all the baby boys would have been the means of Moses’ deliverance from that edict?

What does that say to us? Let God write the script. Let Him do it His way.

Now, Moses grows up to be a great man of God as we all know—a lawgiver, deliverer, leader, servant of God, a man of conviction. Don’t we need men like that today? We need those kinds of men.

But let me say, there would not have been a Moses without five women who impacted and preserved his life at an early age. It really is true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. You see these women being instruments in God’s hands—the midwives, Jochebed, Miriam, Pharaoh’s daughter.

They had diverse backgrounds. Most of them had no clout or political power. Most of them didn’t have a voice. They didn’t have economic privilege. But God used them in a significant way.

Pharaoh saw children as a threat and tried to get rid of them. He thought they were unnecessary, dispensable, disposable. But these women saw children as precious, as a blessing to be protected. Even Pharaoh’s daughter, a pagan princess, saw this child in that light.

These were women who knew how to love. They were women of faith. They were women who were not afraid to intervene. They were willing to get involved.

They didn’t know the long-term ramifications of their choices and their faith and their actions. They were just being faithful in the moment that God gave them.

They were being directed by God even when they didn’t realize it. They were just living out what God put in their hearts. As a result, humanly speaking, these women changed the course of history.

I look at these women and I think, “Oh, God, they were true women. Make us true women.” We need true women today who will be involved in the preservation of life and the furthering of God’s kingdom in many different ways that God chooses to use women today.

Listen, you don’t have to have biological children of your own to have a role in preserving life. Apparently, those two midwives didn’t have children of their own until God blessed them later. But God used those women to help protect other people’s children.

I’m thankful for single women God is using to have an interest and a heart for the next generation. You don’t have to be an older woman. God used Miriam, a young girl. God even used that pagan princess. God can use anybody if they’re willing to be instruments in His hand.

  • willingness to have children
  • love for children
  • sense of responsibility
  • protective instinct

These are the characteristics of the women God used then and the women God uses now.

  • women of courage and conviction who are willing to defy the anti-child system of this world
  • willing, if necessary, to risk their own lives in order to preserve life
  • women who fear God more than they fear men and as a result are not afraid of unrighteous kings and laws
  • women of creativity
  • women who are intentional

This took planning and effort on the part of several of these women. The preservation of Moses’ life didn’t just happen. God was superintending it.

But Jochebed hid that child for three months. She found that ark. She made sure it was watertight. She placed it in a strategic place where Pharaoh’s daughter would come along. She put her daughter out there, Miriam, to guard this. This was intentionality.

“We’re not just going to turn our children over to the enemy,” was the mindset. “We’re going to do what we can to be watchful and alert.”

But while they were watchful and alert and intentional, they also trusted God to do what they could not do. I love the fact that here you have the most adverse circumstances imaginable when it comes to the matter of children—not a child-friendly government by any means—but you see women who are not frantic, are not panicked and are not fearful.

I find myself sometimes, when I hear what’s going on in the news—I hear about a certain law, I hear about certain elected officials or certain would-be elected officials talking craziness and things that are unbiblical, and anti-God and anti-family measures—and sometimes I want to throw things at the television.

It doesn’t do any good. You don’t see these women being screamers or displaying knee-jerk reaction or panicked. You see them being calm, determined, and trusting women, courageous women.

Here’s something else I notice as I look at these women. This was not a solo effort for any of them. In God’s providence He brought these five women’s lives together.

No human could ever have written this script. Nobody could ever have orchestrated how these midwives and Jochebed and Miriam could ever have gotten together with Pharaoh’s daughter. Only God could have put this together.

But God did put it together “for such a time as this” [see Esther 4:14]. It says to me that there’s value in women banding together, in true women of God saying, “Look, we can’t do this alone; but by God’s grace we will link arms and hands and hearts with other likeminded, like-hearted women to believe God for a movement of revival and reformation in our lives, in our marriages, in our homes, in our churches, and in our world.”

That’s one of the reasons we’re calling women together for True Woman ’08 not too many weeks from now. True women coming together saying, “This is not a solo effort. This is not Nancy Leigh DeMoss Ministries.”

This is true women of God saying, “We’re going to get on our knees. We’re going to seek the Lord. We’re going to live lives together of faith and intentionality, believing God to rescue our generation and the next from the attacks and the assault of the evil one and to set captives free and to raise up young men who will be deliverers that God will use to be leaders, godly leaders, in this generation.”

We need a vision not only for our generation but for the next. And we need to have a mindset that we’re not willing to just surrender our families to the enemy, to capitulate to the demands of the culture.

Listen, our children are far more at risk from ungodly ways of thinking that they’re picking up from culture, from media, from friends, than they are at risk from government policies in our nation today.

The day may come when they’re at risk from government policies—and there are some bad ones. But it’s the unseen things. We have to say, “We are not going to let the enemy have our children. We’re going to be intentional in calling out to God and doing what we can to preserve their young lives.”

Pharaoh’s bloody edict was just one of many satanic attempts throughout history to destroy God’s chosen people. He did it then; he does it today. He wants to attack your family. He wants to attack your marriage, your children, your grandchildren. Satan wants to attack the whole next generation.

That’s why as a single woman I have a burden for the young women, for the young men to get God’s ways and to become men and women of God who can provide godly leadership in their generation.

Satan was trying to wipe out this whole nation so that Christ the Messiah would not be born. And he wants to wipe out the church today. If not exterminating it entirely, then he wants to render it useless, put us on a shelf, get us caught up in the world so that we’re not having an impact on the world.

That’s what Satan wants to do so that the gospel of Jesus Christ will not go out to the world. We’re calling for true women to come together and say, “We’re not going to let Satan win in this world. By God’s grace we’re on the winning side, and we want to see King Jesus reign and rule in this world.”

Listen, when God determines to bless His people as He did in the days of Moses, there is no king and no ruler whatsoever that can cause God’s plan to fail. Whatever men may try to do to destroy God’s people will ultimately become an instrument that God uses for their greater blessing and for the increase of His kingdom.

Pharaoh was plotting for the extermination of God’s people, but God was planning for their emancipation. I think we’re often much more mindful today of the plots of how the world and the culture are trying to snuff out the life of the church and silence Christianity.

But we need to be more mindful of the fact that God is alive. The Holy Spirit of God is hovering over this world, and He is planning for the emancipation and for the shining and broadcast of His glory in this world.

In the battle between God and Satan, true women can play a key role in God’s plan. Pharaoh, the most powerful man of his day, had a plan that he was sure would work. But that plan was defeated by the love, the faith, the courage of five women, including one mother named Jochebed.

Jochebed didn’t know what Moses’ role would be, what his calling would be, what his future would be. She was just a mother who loved her child and exercised faith on his behalf.

And here’s something that struck me: Jochebed did not live to see the outcome of her faith; and you may not either. But take heart, and be sure that God is writing the story, and in the end it will be one that brings Him great glory.

Used with Permission. Revive Our Hearts.

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  • “Christ makes it clear that we cannot love both Him and the things that charm and ravish this world. We cannot be dazzled by the images of pop-culture and captivated by the King of all kings” – Leslie Ludy

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