EXODUS 1, 2, and 3
Some people never show gratitude, no matter how much blessing they receive. The same applies to some nations. Egypt had been rescued from starvation and annihilation by Joseph and his Israelite family – but national memories are short, and soon Israel was seen as a threat to them, in rather the same was as, today, many nations have fears of unfettered immigration.
Slave labour, whilst unpleasant, only made Israel grow more numerous, stronger, and more threatening and Pharaoh realized that a drastic solution was called for: kill all the boy babies at birth and, within a generation, the problem has gone! Firstly, he tried to coerce the Hebrew midwives, who refused to go against their consciences and simply ignored their orders; God rewarded their principled stand by protecting them and giving them children of their own. “Those who honour me, I will honour” (1 Samuel 2:30).
Realizing that, somehow, he had been tricked (just like Herod in Jesus’ day), Pharaoh changed the law and announced genocide on the Israelites, by ordering every baby boy to be killed. It is hard to imagine a nation so heartless that it would stoop to these actions – although a voluntary version of this does seem to exist currently in the UK and all other Western nations, causing surprisingly little public offence, except (rather perversely) on gender equality grounds. Think about it!
So, Moses was born and hidden by his mother until it became impossible to conceal him from the secret police any longer, so she gave him his final feed, put him – along with a few fluffy toys – into a papyrus boat (the name is the same as for Noah’s ark), and leaves him on the waters of the Nile and in the hands of God. Pharaoh’s daughter then discovered Moses and adopted the compassionate, common sense and moderate stance that her father had rejected as weak. But the baby needed a wet-nurse, of course! In a flash of inspiration, Moses’ sister fetched his mother and, not only did she receive her baby safely back, but she is now being paid to do it! When God rescues you, he generally leaves you better off than before you got into trouble in the first place!
Fast-forward 40 years and Moses is a man with strong nationalistic views. So is Pharaoh – but for a different nation. As a result, Moses runs into exile and spends the next 40 years getting married, getting mature, raising children, and raising sheep. God is never in a hurry! Meanwhile in Egypt, the conditions become worse for the Hebrews, and, at just the right time, God begins to honour his promises to Abraham & Sons regarding the new national homeland. The 80-year-old Moses at last meets with his God, who reiterates his promises and identifies Moses as his chosen instrument in fulfilling them. Moses has only two questions: “Who are YOU?”, and “Who am I?” – which God answers in sequence. “I AM WHO I AM” (rather a circular argument to us, but not to the Ever Existent One who never changes). He says: “I AM” and we say: “HE IS”. And Moses? He is to be the worker of miracles and the leader of the nation. God will do signs and wonders, acts of judgment, hardening of hearts, softening of hearts and the bringing of Israel out of Egypt with enough wealth to recompense them for the years of slavery during which they worked for nothing.
It’s almost exciting enough to be made into a film!