5. A Mother’s Wisdom

Meditations in Exodus: 5. A Mother’s Wisdom

Ex 2:1,2    Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, 2and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months.

There is a question that Christians sometimes ask: do we always have to obey the Government? According to the apostle Peter, We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29, 4:19) In the records of Exodus we are about to observe how a very famous man by the name of Moses came to survive as a baby when there was an edict that all Hebrew baby boys were to be thrown into the Nile. In passing it is worth noting he came from the tribe of Levi (Ex 2:1), he was ‘a fine child’ (Ex 2:2) and he had an older sister (Ex 2:4).

Now his mother, like almost any other mother, is very reticent (understatement!!!) to throw her baby into the river to die. Her initial reaction is to hold on to him which she does for three months, but her secret is going to come out sometime and whenever it does the child is going to be thrown into the river. What can she do?

It is at this point that wisdom kicks in. It is fairly clear that Pharaoh’s daughter made a regular visit to bathe in the Nile and almost certainly she would come with a retinue and the onlooking Israelites would see this happening from a distance. This sets this mother thinking. I hope this doesn’t sound patronizing in any way because it is not but have you noticed the response of most women (and a number of men) to the sight of a young baby? Maybe it is the material instinct but there is usually a warm feeling of care.  I suspect it is this that this mother is counting on. If she could put her child before this princess, it is possible that once she sees this baby – this ‘fine child’ – her heart will be warmed towards him, and who knows what might follow.

And so we come to the famous story of the mother making a basket or a mini-ark  that will float and so she puts her son in it and places it among the reeds that bordered the river, just near where the princess usually swam or bathed. The princess comes, the baby is discovered and “she felt sorry for him” (Ex 2:6). Moreover he is crying. Good move Moses; nothing like a hungry anguishing baby to stir the heart. Now the princess recognizes straight away that this is a Hebrew baby, but a baby is a baby! Now what follows is so obvious that the princess must have known what was going on but she has a heart of compassion and the baby is saved. Moses’ sister, one of the onlookers from a distance, no doubt a young girl who is not a threat to a royal princess,  comes near and asks the princess would she like her to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. As I said, it seems all too obvious but the princess goes along with it and Moses is returned to his mother for some while.

We don’t know how long and are simply told, “When the child grew older” so it may have been a matter of months or years. Whatever it was, his mother later approaches the princess again, presumably on one of her regular visits to the Nile and offers him to her. She accepts him and that is how Moses came to be raised as a Prince of Egypt.

It is a strange story with lots of question marks over it. Suppose the princess had been hard hearted and the moment she recognized he was a Hebrew just had him thrown in the river?  Suppose later she put aside all her early feelings and rejected him so again he might have been destined to die as a child? Well the reality it that neither of these things happened and Moses survived. Was God overseeing it all and simply speaking into the heart of the princess to encourage her to take him? We don’t know; it just happened. All we can say is that the events rolled out in accordance with what appears the mother’s wisdom. She faced the circumstances and wondered  how she could use them for a good end. So how might these things apply to our lives today?

Well, let’s generalize the story: the mother was faced with an impossibility. Her child was doomed. There seemed no way out of it. That so often is the starting point; we are confronted with circumstances that seem impossible, we cannot see a way through them. Maybe you are someone who finds themselves pregnant – and you didn’t want to be pregnant. There is one obvious path that involves the death of this fetus but you don’t like that thought. How will it upset your future life? How can this work out for good?  Answer – I don’t know but God does and in His books no child is an accident. He will provide – somehow! Maybe we need to ask for grace and wisdom.

It may be more general ‘impossible circumstances’  and whatever it is, at the present at least, you cannot see a way through. Those are key words, ‘at the present’. That is why they appear ‘impossible’ circumstances. It is not a cliché to say God can give you wisdom – James promised it (Jas 1:3) – and in fact He can give you anything you need to go through whatever it is ahead of you. The apostle Paul proved the reality of this when he wrote, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13) You need strength to see this through? He will provide it. But he went on, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19)  i.e. because of what Jesus has done for us on the Cross, all the resources of heaven are now available to us!  All of them!  Look for that word ‘all’ in another of Paul’s favourite provision quotes: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8)  i.e. God is committed to helping you work out whatever it is that confronts you in life. You are Hs child and He IS there for you. Be blessed in that.

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