Moses' Mother and Freedom
I want to talk about Moses' mother for a minute... her name was Jochebed
I know, it's 4th of July and we're supposed to be talking about freedom, but hang in there to the end and perhaps I'll get there.
Moses was born during a pretty turbulent time. The reigning Pharaoh was worried that his Hebrew slaves would become too powerful and overthrow him... so he first decided to order all the (women) midwives to kill all (and only) the baby boys born to Hebrew mothers. These women were part of the Hebrew community- and they chose to follow God instead of Pharaoh... telling him basically that the Hebrew women were so much stronger and more fit than the Egyptian women who needed help birthing their children.... They told him Hebrew women had already had their babies by the time they arrived so they couldn't covertly kill any boys.
So... Moses is spared first by clever midwives who follow God first and man second.
Pharaoh is still frightened of the Hebrew MEN and the danger he believes they pose... so next he orders that all the Hebrew baby boys be thrown into the Nile... in most retellings you hear only that the order was to kill the boys... but words matter I think.
Jochebed is not "free", she is enslaved in Egypt and so it is all the more difficult to skirt the law of Pharaoh. She bears a boy child. Now the man on the throne, who owns her physical body, says she has to throw that child in the Nile... but her God says to value life and take care of the children given to you...
I LOVE Jochebed... she is a woman after my own heart. I love to know the rules so that I can see the holes I might slip through. Jochebed FOLLOWS Pharoah's law. Did you ever realize that? She totally did what he said she had to do! She takes her precious child down to the river.... wraps him with love and care, places him in a basket.... and THROWS HIM IN THE NILE!!!
Gosh, I love her. But truly, think about how hard it must have been to be clever in this moment. Think how long and hard she must have thought and prayed about how she could honor her God first, but go along with the unavoidable and unreasonable law placed on her by man. As a slave, she couldn't just run away with her child, and you can't hide a baby for long... she HAD to trust God enough that when she chose him first, but still did what she was being forced to do... that her faith would be honored.
Other Hebrew mothers undoubtedly followed Pharoah's law to the letter- with bitter tears and great misery- reacting in fear over the earthly threat, they believed MAN was the one to fear more than their God... they broke God's laws, and they paid for it dearly. An awful lesson.
Moses' mother honored God, in the face of earthly fear... and BOY did she make out on the deal. Not only did her son live... but he was picked up by the Pharaoh's daughter and Jochebed was then PAID to raise her own son and be with him every day.... Moses went on to be used by God to orchestrate the release of her people. The irony.
So, what do we learn here?
1. Pharaoh was so concerned with his own belief, that the boys of the Hebrew nation would be his undoing, that he overlooked the strength of the women. These clever, strong, God-focused women walked through the fear they must have had of Pharaoh's earthly power and instead obeyed the greater power of God.
BE CAREFUL what you fear... you might be overlooking the greater threat.
2. We are told often that God can use any situation to the good. Do you trust it? Do you walk it out? Jochebed did. She followed her God first and man second... she didn't have a choice about the man part... but she had a choice about trusting God. Her faith that God would honor his promises, even in the face of unspeakable horror brought her and her whole family through to a path they never would have imagined being placed on... advisors to the Pharaoh, responsible for leading their people out of bondage.
God rewards those who give absolutely everything over to him. If you look at any situation through God's eyes, there is always a way...our eyes only see the dead end.
3. The women in this story were truly free- they knew how real freedom was granted- and what it cost.... even though they were enslaved. WHAT?!? Yep, they were free to choose their God, or the world. Choosing their God meant to give everything to him and live in his purpose for their lives without swerving...I believe we can say with certainty that it was God's purpose to put Moses in the Nile, in the way of the Pharoah's daughter, to insinuate him into the family and eventually use him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt- through the Red Sea and the wilderness and on into the promised land. The women of this story played a vital part of bringing Moses' purpose to fruition.
The midwives were willing to give their lives to play out God's purpose. They could have feared man more and killed the children to preserve their own lives.
Their utter dependence on God, made them free of the control the Pharaoh sought to hold over them- they were FREE, even in bondage.
Jochebed not only offered her life... something many mother's might be willing to do to save their child- but she also offered up the life of her son- an impossible thing to envision. Trusting that as she set him adrift, abandoning him totally to God's will, that it could be made good... that miracles were possible. In that complete abandonment of all she had- she was FREE to follow God. She broke away from a law that insisted she kill her son and was rewarded with his life and more.
Freedom isn't granted through a Pharaoh, or a Constitution. Our Constitution is a good one because it recognizes that we are FREE to choose to honor and follow our God and we are FREE to choose otherwise. Freedom (political) isn't real or permanent if it can be changed as emotions and cultures shift, or legislated by corruptible man day-by-day. The only freedom worth fighting for is the one that the midwives and Jochebed understood... even in the face of true enslavement and fear for their lives and the lives of their children they honored God and stood for Truth... and it set them FREE. (John 8:31-32)
Happy 4th of July.