Snapshots: Day 35

Snapshots: Day 35

The Snapshot: “a Levite woman… gave birth to a son… she hid him for three months.” (Ex 2:1,2) A godly mother from a priestly family, a family with history, but now living in the most terrible of circumstances. She determines not to submit to those circumstances; she will not give in to the powers of evil that surround her. She takes risks, she preserves her son, she takes steps to ensure his future, and so Moses is eased into the world. Little did she know the role this son would play, becoming one of the most famous founders of Israel; little do we know the destiny of the child we carry or bring into this world. Who knows how this life may impact and bless the world as we create shelter and a haven of love, security in which a child of grace may grow, so the world will be changed?

Further Consideration: Exodus records of Moses’ mother, “When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months,” (Ex 2:2) but the writer to the Hebrews declares, “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child.” (Heb 11:23) Was it just that they were his parents that they protected Moses? The texts suggest not; they imply that when they looked at him, something in them said he was special.

In one sense this is true of every child, unique and made in the image of God. In the argument of nature versus nurture there is the acceptance that the way you bring up a child determines a lot of how they will turn out.  The truth is that the end product when you look back on a life, is a combination of genes, upbringing, chance opportunities, decisions made and, we would say as Christians, no doubt the invisible hand of God upon us.

Powerful ingredients! We may only help the work of God through prayer, genes are set, but we can play a major and thus significant part in the way we love, accept and are there for our children. The random opportunities and their decisions are beyond us so the way we treat them becomes doubly important as far as we are concerned. If only more parents would understand this. How often do we see parents for whom having a child appears to have been an inconvenient mistake which they regret?

Such parents tend to ignore their responsibilities so caring is minimal, discipline is rare and then, under stress, becomes harsh. How sad that we can hinder the potential of our children when we do this. Moses’ parents risked severe retribution from the authorities of Egypt, just because they sensed something of his potential. They risked everything to save him – that’s what loving parents do. They are a challenge and an example to us.

5. Twofold Birth Required

Short Meditations in John 3:  5. Twofold Birth Required

Jn 3:6    Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit

Previously Jesus had said, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Thus now he explains that that means two sorts of birth, a natural one where the natural baby had been protected in water (in the womb), and now a spiritual one where the Holy Spirit surrounds and fills a person. Some suggest that the reference to water speaks of baptism but it is surely far more likely that Jesus parallels natural birth with spiritual rebirth. (The other interpretation is that Jesus means to be born again you need to be baptised in water and in the Spirit. Although true I think the simple parallel here is of natural versus spiritual rebirth and we will see that in the coming verses)

There is within this something far more obvious that we need to note in this illustration. One of the biggest problems that every human being has is that they are stuck with Sin, this propensity to be self-centred and godless. But we also have an ongoing sense that there is something better that we could be. Thus we find shelves of books on self-improvement in bookshops, or courses you can go on to improve yourself. People want to be different but for all their trying they know that still they are those people prone to getting it wrong and failing. Trying harder doesn’t seem to get us there.

More than this, people have a sense of the divine possibility, or a spiritual possibility, and thus we find all the religions of the world with most of them reaching out through various means to touch the spiritual – but failing, for the material cannot contact the spiritual. We need a part of us changing so that it can make contact with God otherwise we are just fruitlessly reaching out into the void. Somehow we need help from outside us to meaningfully be able to touch God.

However else we might put this, the simplest way is to say we need a new start, but not just a new attempt at doing things differently but our very being changed to be able to operate on a spiritual level as well as a material level. Unless the source of everything spiritual – God – can do something in us and actually change us, we will never be able to relate on the spiritual level despite all our yearnings.

This spiritual birth that Jesus is hinting at has to have its origin with God because we cannot do it ourselves. The best we can do is try harder but that will never enable us to move in the spiritual realm. No, we need God to do something in us that makes us spiritually receptive, able to communicate spiritually, able to communicate with a two-way communication with God Himself. This is what Jesus is working towards as he prompts Nicodemus.