Exodus 2:1-10 ‘Getting In’ Reflection by Anne Stewart
So, this morning we have set off on our journey with Moses. Were you surprised at how much you remembered about Moses that you may not have initially thought you knew?
When we talked about this at worship on Thursday, I made the comment that I had a memory of Moses having something to do with chariot races. Fortunately, Trevor Agnew was there and as it turns out was having a similar thought process. He was quicker than me though, in realising our common mistake. We were mixing up Charlton Heston’s role in the Moses story The Ten Commandments with his role in Ben Hur. Charlton did play Moses but Moses didn’t do the chariot thing; that was Charlton in another role. Easy mistake!
The early part of Moses’ story that I am picking up this morning, is of his arrival in the Egyptian world. As we heard earlier, the Pharoah of the time had grown fearful of the Israelites as they grew in strength and numbers. He had ordered that the midwives ensure that all baby Hebrew boys be killed at birth. When the midwives, who feared God more, refused, he demanded that all Hebrew baby boys be thrown in the River Nile. Not a nice man, it turns out!
So, Moses’ Hebrew mother hides her baby boy for three months, which can’t have been easy. Then she constructs a papyrus basket which she lines with bitumen and pitch so it will be waterproofed and places her dear baby in it and sets him off down the Nile. Can you imagine doing that? I guess a chance at life is better than no chance at all!
This next bit is wonderful, he floats down the Nile and right into the heart of the Egyptian royal household. Right into the Pharoah’s private world, where he is found by the Pharoah’s daughter. How subversive is that! Pharoah is at war with God, so God puts his ‘instrument of freedom’ right under the Pharoah’s nose, from where he can most easily dismantle Pharoah’s power and free his people, the Israelites. No one could be threatened by a baby in a basket, because no one could see what was to come.
It’s a curious part of the story. Moses’ sister just happened to be there and she points out to Pharaoh’s daughter that it might be helpful to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby. Pharaoh’s daughter is happy with this idea so Moses’ sister gets their mother to come and be reunited with the son she has cleverly managed to save. His birth mother continues to nurse him until he grows up and then she hands him over to Pharaoh’s daughter who raises him as her own. So, Moses is now part of the family of the man who had previously ordered his death as a baby. Furthermore, God has a voice deep in the powerhouse of the oppressor of his people. How about that for a clever way to get under the skin of a tyrant leader, in order to turn a system on its head and release people from their bondage.
The other point, in this part of the story, is the idea that God would begin his work of freeing his people from their oppressor, with a baby. Babies are great but they can’t really do a lot, in the early days anyway. They are an unlikely tool if you are intending a quick fix. This is proof, perhaps, that God is in this for the long haul. God is patient, God can wait for Moses to grow before God begins to make it clear to Moses that he wants him to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. Moses, as we will find out over the next few weeks, takes some convincing that he is the man for the job. He goes on to have an extraordinary life full of encounters with God that he never asks for, is often surprised by and generally resists.
God can and does use the most unexpected characters to do the most extraordinary work. That’s a message we probably all need to hear and remember. It might even be you that God is calling to do something that you never realise the importance of. These big stories have a lot to tell us about the importance of our lives, which we might consider to be very small and ordinary. As we heard again today this journey of God’s people out of oppression, to the promised land, all began with a tiny vulnerable baby whose mother risked everything in faith.