The Pharaoh’s edicts became more and more sinister. Because the people of Israel had multiplied so rapidly, the new king over Egypt feared them. But how do you stop an ethnic minority from growing? Beginning with enslaving the Israelites, the Pharaoh moved on to genocide in the form of ordering all the male babies to be killed.
This was the condition that a Levite couple found themselves in. The woman gave birth to a child but she could not bring herself to kill him. After hiding him for three months, it got to the point that she could no longer hide him. So they obeyed the Pharaoh by casting him in the river, only they made sure he was in a basket that would float.
When the Pharaoh’s daughter pulled him from the water, undoubtedly there was relief from the baby’s parents – their son would live! But there was probably some apprehension as well – what would it be like for their son to be raised as an Egyptian and more than that, as Egyptian royalty? Fortunately the Pharaoh’s daughter needed a nurse and she ended up hiring the baby’s mother. So Moses not only was saved, he was able to be taught about who he was from his mother.
Moses grew up with the best that Egypt could offer. “Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. So Moses was trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds” (Acts 7:21-22 NET). But because of his good parents, despite his adoptive parent and training, he knew who he really was. “By faith, when he grew up, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be ill-treated with the people of God than to enjoy sin’s fleeting pleasure. He regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Because he knew who he was, he could not stand his people being abused by their Egyptian overlords. “He saw an Egyptian man attacking a Hebrew man, one of his own people. He looked this way and that and saw that no one was there, and then he attacked the Egyptian and concealed the body in the sand” (Exodus 2:12). He thought this would be a sign to his people that their deliverance was near – notice what Stephen said: “When he saw one of them being hurt unfairly, Moses came to his defence and avenged the person who was mistreated by striking down the Egyptian. He thought his own people would understand that God was delivering them through him, but they did not understand” (Acts 7:24-25).
Can you imagine how disappointed he was when the Israelites rejected him? When he stopped two Israelites fighting, one said to him, “Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? Are you planning to kill me like you killed that Egyptian?” (Exodus 2:14). We are not told how Moses knew this early that he was to be Israel’s deliverer – but he seems to have known.
Do we realise who we are, as God’s people? Do we put our old lives and ties behind us when we become a Christian and stand up for God and what is right, as Moses did? Although Moses seems to have got the timing wrong, he realised who he was and what God wanted from him. May we never forget who we are because of Jesus.
Readings for next week:
9 November – Exodus 3
10 November – Exodus 4
11 November – Exodus 5
12 November – Exodus 6
13 November – Exodus 7