SAFE AND SECURE
Anyone who has been a Christian for even a short amount of time knows from their own experiences that being a Christian does not in any way guarantee protection from the daily trials and challenges that trouble the rest of humanity. What being a Christian does guarantee is that we have been given an inner presence, the Spirit of Christ living and working in us, and it is the Spirit’s presence which strengthens and guides us in the midst of life’s difficulties. God is at work in all things, as Paul says in Romans 8:28, to bring about the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. This morning we are beginning our summer sermon series from the book of Exodus where the story is told of the Israelites, the Old Testament people of God. They would certainly agree that belonging to God does not guarantee peace and harmony with the world.
When the Israelites first came to Egypt, they were given the land of Goshen in which to settle and raise their flocks. Goshen was on the eastern edge of the Nile Delta, located on the route that an invasion force would come down as they sought to conquer Egypt. In Exodus 1 we are told that the Israelites have become so numerous that the Pharaoh is concerned that should war break out they would side with the invaders and help them defeat Egypt. So, he enslaved the Israelites, hoping to whittle down their numbers through brutal labor and cruel treatment. But, God blessed his people in their oppression and they continued to grow in numbers.
Pharaoh’s second attempt at population control was to have the Hebrew midwives kill the male infants as soon as they were born. The women refused to follow the king’s order, telling him that Hebrew women were so strong in childbirth that by the time they arrived to assist in the birth, mom and baby were safely away. Chapter one ends with Pharaoh’s third edict, which was to order all his people, that is, his fellow Egyptians, to throw into the Nile River every infant Hebrew boy. How will God respond to this terrible treatment of his people? Join me in Exodus 2:1-10
About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him. Soon Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her. When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This must be one of the Hebrew children,” she said. Then the baby’s sister approached the princess. “Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” she asked. “Yes, do!” the princess replied. So the girl went and called the baby’s mother. “Take this baby and nurse him for me,” the princess told the baby’s mother. “I will pay you for your help.” So the woman took her baby home and nursed him. Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, “I lifted him out of the water.”
The way God delivers his people is sometimes surprising and unexpected. God may seem absent as his children struggle with their troubles, but all along he is working behind the scenes to bring about an amazing outcome. To save his people from Egypt he begins with a baby. He begins with a helpless little human, born to simple parents, who happen to be Hebrews, causing the powerful to seek out the baby in order to kill him. In fact, some 1500 years later God is going to redeem humanity from sin, and what does he begin with then? A baby, born of a virgin.
The story of the birth and early years of Moses is the story of God at work in ways that will only later become obvious. The evil command of Pharaoh causes a mother to put her three-month old son in a basket and lay it among the reeds along the river. There the daughter of Pharaoh discovers the child and eventually makes him her own son. This boy, who she names Moses, grows up in the royal household learning all the wisdom of Egypt, and receives the military and leadership training given to Princes. He is being equipped to do the work to which God will one day call him by the very administration that had sought his death. The Prince of Egypt will become the deliverer of his people from Egypt.
As we see so often in the Bible, God shows his power and his love by meeting his people in the depths of their despair and working those very circumstances for ultimate good. Pharaoh wants to kill God’s children by throwing them into the Nile. God saves Moses by placing him safely and securely in a basket on the Nile and bringing him into Pharaoh’s own house.
What circumstances in your life and in my life are causing us grief and despair? What are the things that oppress us, that have taken or are threatening to take away things that we enjoy and find meaningful? Whatever hardships we are facing, we are not doing so apart from God. We are held in his arms, safe and secure in spite of all that rages around us, just as Moses was safe and secure in that basket. Not because the basket was anything special, but because a very special God, a powerful and loving God, was watching over him and causing all things to work together for good. Whether or not we can see it with human eyes, be assured that God is at work. He is at work through COVID-19. He is at work through injustice and violence. He is at work in a fallen, sinful world to deliver us and to bring us home, safe and secure in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.