Several years ago I attended the annual retreat with the women of my church. The speaker was life- time missionary to Argentina, Mrs. Betty Constance; who also happens to be the mother of my good friend Nancy. Betty is one of the most Spirit-filled bible teachers I have ever had the privilege of hearing speak. One of her sessions involved Jochebed, the mother of Moses, and it forever changed my perspective on motherhood. Much of what I would like to share with you today is borrowed from the time I spent with her over that special weekend. Thank you, Betty for being such a willing servant to our Lord Jesus. I hope it makes you smile to know that whenever I picture Jochebed, I see you.
“By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Hebrews 11:23
In Exodus 2 we receive one of the most beautiful pictures of faith and God’s provision in all of scripture. So profound in fact that the Holy Spirit mentions it again in the famous chapter in Hebrews known as the “Hall of Faith.” Although not named in these particular verses, we know that Moses’ courageous parents were Amram and Jochebed (see Exodus 6:20). They had two other children: Miriam, their oldest and only daughter, and Aaron, Moses’ big brother by 3 years.
Can you imagine the emotions that Jochebed must have experienced as she went through her pregnancy under the edict of genocide against Hebrew male babies? Do you think she prayed for a girl? I doubt she or any other expectant mother celebrated the way we do today over the news of another baby. It’s hard to know how she coped during the days she carried Moses, but even more mind boggling is to consider how she lived out the events we read in verses 1-3. So difficult in fact that it leaves us but with one explanation of her ability to carry out this plan: Faith. Although I pray that none of us ever find ourselves in her sandals as she stood on the bank of the Nile that day, I do hope that her story guides us and gives us peace as we face life’s most difficult challenges.
The first facet of Jochebed’s faith that I find exciting is that her faith prompted her to act. She didn’t sit around and ring her hands waiting for God’s plan to fall in her lap. From the time Moses was born she was thinking and planning on how to keep the Egyptians from discovering her son. I wonder if she had any support for her faith that God was going to protect Moses. After all, God’s people had been enslaved for 400 years at this point. I would imagine friends to encourage her to trust God were probably few and far between. But none the less, when the time came to make a decision that was Moses’ only hope of survival, she took action; all the while trusting that God had a plan for this special boy. This is not to say that Jochebed was taking matters into her own hands (if this were the case I doubt we would have read about her again in Hebrews 11). It seems safe to assume that it was with prayer that she devised her well thought out plan to send Moses sailing down the Nile. She didn’t try to dress Moses up as a girl or put the basket on the palace doorstep. She watched the Princess and knew of Egyptian customs which considered the Nile a sacred place. She was a living example of Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” I think she had faith that if she was going down the wrong path, God would put up a road block. But until then, she was headed to the crocodile infested river bank with her baby in a basket and her pre-teen daughter skipping alongside her.
Even as I type these words I keep thinking one thing: Forget it! I don’t care if I would be inducted into the future Hall of Faith. You can keep the “faith building trials,” Lord and I’ll keep my babies, thank you very much. But my heart knows that that is not realistic. Because in reality, my babies aren’t mine at all. They belong to their Loving Creator and He has very specific plans for their life (Jeremiah 29:11). It is a constant challenge for me to follow Jochebed’s example of faith in action and daily turn my children over to the Lord for His purposes. So, what about you? How many of you have sent your children off to war (as did my mother in law)? Into surgical rooms with strangers? Onto hostile mission fields? Away to a college campus very far from home? Even high schools today seem dangerous! My friend Vikki has two sons that serve in the military. She once told me that her constant prayer is that they would be in the center of the Lord’s will, even if that put them in the center of the battlefield. That is faith in action! Just next month the Lord is going to ask this kind of faith from my own mother as she will send off my family and me to a foreign country to live. My hat goes off to her and to each of you that have faced these kinds of trials with faith in the Lord. When you show your faith, He shows His faithfulness! Never forget that.
Jochebed shows us yet one more aspect of faith in this story that is just too good to not mention. Did you notice what is missing from this dramatic scene? The screaming. There doesn’t seem to be anyone freaking out. When we had our youngest daughter, our older children were 9, 7, and 4. I am here to tell you, if I ever had to tell them we were going to give their baby sister away, there would be some serious melt downs. But instead, Miriam seems very at peace. So much so that she takes right after her mom, thinks up a plan and God uses her to land Moses right back in his mother’s arms. You see, faith is contagious and God desires to use us to teach a younger generation the mountains He can move with a little faith (Matthew 17:20).
The sweetest lesson however that we learn from Jochebed’s faith is how it reveals the heart of our Lord. By the end of these verses Moses is back to being nursed by His mother, and getting paid for it none the less! God is in the miracle business, but I never cease to be amazed as to why he allows us to be a part of it. I think God used Jochebed’s faith to fuel the miraculous circumstances that saved Moses’ life (examples in scripture when Jesus performed miracles based on faith: Matthew 9:2, 9:29, and 15:28; example when lack of faith limited miracles: Mark 6:5-6). Why does He do that? Why does He let us be a part of His stuff? Could it be that He loves us so much and so desires to be in a relationship with us that He allows us to work alongside of His Holy Self (1 Cor 3:9)?
Think on this situation: You are in the kitchen baking 37 dozen cookies for the who-knows-what kind of meeting tomorrow at the who- knows-where. Your 7 year old comes in and asks if he/she can help. Do you need their help? No. Do you want their help? Definitely not. Is their “help” going to make your job 10 times more difficult? At least. But do you allow them to break eggs all over your counters and spill flour all over your floor? Yes. And why do we put ourselves through that? Because we love them and we know how thrilled they are when they get to join in our work.
Can you see the heart of our tender Jesus toward Jochebed and Miriam when He allowed them to be a part of His plan? Can you see His love for them as they are rewarded for their great faith? Do you believe that He desires to do miracles in your life if you can take that step of faith? I want to. Join me in praying that He will give us the faith to face any trial life throws at us and that we will all be able to sing together at His feet “Blessings all mine, with 10,000 beside! Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Have a blessed and restful weekend!
Homework for Monday: Exodus 2:11-25