Like anyone else in the world, God’s people today frequently find themselves in the midst of changes and feelings of being out of control. As long as they look at their circumstances from any perspective other than God’s, they will also fall victim to such internal calamities as discouragement, despair, worry, anger, bitterness and resentment.
On one occasion of great change in old Egypt, a new Pharaoh coming to power (see Exodus 1), the people of God found themselves suddenly faced with a hostile power that was determined to control them and even wipe them out entirely.
“…There arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, ‘Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves…. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live” (Exodus 1:11-14, 22 ESV).
An evil plan from an evil man, meant to thwart the purposes of the Most High…. When will we ever learn?
The one thing that does not change is God. His love and power cannot be conquered. Time cannot erode them, whittling them to false hope. Nor is the promise of them for us ever forgotten by the One from Whom they flow. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 ESV). “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8 ESV). “For I said, ‘Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness” (Psalm 89:2 ESV).
Now, even though the worldly powers-that-were in Egypt were weaving a web meant to snare and destroy the people with whom the Lord had established a special covenant, God was also at work behind the scenes. He was moving in the lives of those the world had branded unimportant. And He did it specifically through a mother.
“Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him” (Exodus 2:1-4 ESV).
Through this woman, God secured two provisions essential to this nation that would be the line through which the Messiah would come. These things that He provided are the highest achievements of motherhood and define what it means to truly be a “mother”. The first provision was in the guarding of the life that God had entrusted to her in her son. In granting her a child, the Lord was giving her a part in the shaping of the future.
She could have shirked that responsibility, walked away from it, made excuses as to why she could not fulfill it in a time when it was very possible that she also could have been killed for harboring her son. But she didn’t turn from the responsibility. She shielded him as long as she could and then, in placing him in the floating basket on the Nile River, trusted God to protect him when she could no longer do so, and then had her daughter stand nearby so she could still watch over him. And because she did all these things, her little baby boy was “given back” to her when she is “hired” to be nanny to her own son as he grows up in the house of the princess who pulled him out of the river.
“Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’ Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Go.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed him” (Exodus 2:5-10 ESV).
So, in addition to the awesome task of guarding the future in the guarding of her son, she was also given the privilege of fulfilling another facet of her motherly calling by being a vessel through which God brings about His second great provision: the establishment and handing down of a godly legacy. The Scriptures do not actually say what she may have specifically taught her son, but we have a tremendous clue given us when we read later that, “One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people” (Exodus 2:11 ESV – emphasis mine). He knew where he came from. And in knowing it, both a courage and a loyalty were stirred up within him to respond to the injustice that he saw taking place.
While the way Moses initially responded to what was going on in the world around him was a human way of dealing with problems resulting, of course, in failure, the foundation that his mother had laid within his heart would get dusted off again in later years and be the very ground upon which God Himself would build His great work of deliverance for His people from bondage and oppression.
Today is no different in this respect. It is true that cultures change and that societies shift in their values and morals. It is even true that things that seem immutable can be gone in a flash: skyscrapers collapse, cities are nearly wiped off the face of the planet by wave and wind, governments are toppled and replaced. Even here in America, things can change in an instant.
But God is even now preparing for the future and is at work behind the scenes as He always has been. Today He has given the keys of the future into the hands of mothers. So let us thank God for His provision of godly mothers and let us pray for them that they might be instruments in His hand to guard the future and to hand down of a legacy of hope and holiness through Jesus Christ.
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)