Old Testament Exodus Faith in Action

Faith in Action

Pharaoh has tried to wipe out the sons of Israel and God’s solution to protect the sons is to send one son to stand up and be a mediator for the sons. We see the amazing story of how God works through women to be able to save this child. Last week we saw two women, Shiphrah and Puah, save God’s sons from death. This week we see three women used by God to be able to save this one son who will save God’s people from slavery. This story of Jochebed, Miriam, Pharaoh’s daughter, and Moses is an incredible display of God’s providence and the courage of these women to save the life of an innocent child. The birth of Moses came at a time when Pharaoh had ordered the death of all male Hebrew children, and yet God continues to work to fulfill his promises, even using the most unlikely means, Pharaoh’s household.


We find out in the first three verses the story of a birth of a child to two parents from the clan of Levi, in Chapter 6 we find out their names are Amram and Jochebed. Jochebed means “The Lord is glory” and Amram means “Mighty Nation” or “Mighty People.” Now we have here a sign of the times that people are living that they give their children’s names that remember the God who revealed himself to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are told they have a son, and they hid him for three months because he was a fine, beautiful, and healthy child. Stephen in Acts chapter seven says that this child was beautiful in God’s sight (Acts 7:20). The author of Hebrews also explains that they were not afraid of Pharaoh’s command to kill all the children (Heb 11:23). Just as the midwives feared God so to these two parents did not fear Pharaoh. Now, we know who this child is; we know what he will end up doing, but they risked their lives to save this one life. They did not save this child because he would deliver God’s people, they saved this child’s life because it was a life. They disobey a civil government’s command to protect this child’s life.

They hid this child for three months but eventually hiding a child gets even more difficult. So she takes action. Pharaoh had told all the people in the land to cast (eject/throw out) all the male children into the Nile. However, we see this mother does not treat this child like trash but she makes a basket out of bulrushes or papyrus reeds. Interestingly the word here for the basket is the. The exact word used in the book of Genesis speaks of the Ark which Noah made. Now when we think about the image here water is the symbol of death, it is how many baby boys had and were being killed during this time. However, he is saved from this judgment made by Pharaoh by this mini-ark. We are not told where this idea came from or what Jochebed’s motives were in making this mini-ark. However, she goes to great lengths to save this child and we must assume the faith that she and her husband had to risk their lives to save this life is the motivation for her actions. I doubt she would know what this child would do.


We find out that this child has a sister, again we. Most likely see the parents’ are involvement to send the child’s older sister to watch over him to see that he is kept safe. She watches as this small ark floats down the river. The miniature ark floats into the reeds that happen to be where the daughter of Pharaoh would bathe under the watchful eye of her servants. Miriam would be at the right time at the right place, and she is sent by Pharaoh’s daughter to find a nurse for the child. Miriam in return goes and finds a woman to nurse the child. As Jochebed, prayed over that small ark and sent it down the river I am sure that she would never have imagined she would be holding this child in her arms moments later and being paid to care for him.

Pharaoh’s daughter

In all of this, we see four women who we know would try and care for these children. The midwives, I suspect are Israelite women, and this child’s mother and the child’s sister. They all would care for this child. However, here we see the daughter of the enemy (you might say). Her father has ordered every single one of the male children should be put to death and yet through God’s providence, he places this child in the house of Pharaoh. She finds a basket floating in the reeds and as she opens it she sees this child and has pity on it. This child was crying. However, we must see that she still has pity on this child even though she knows it is a “Hebrew child.” She also stands in defiance of her father’s command to destroy all the male children. After Jochebed returns this child to Pharaoh’s daughter she adopts him as her son. And we finally know the name of this child, Moses. And we are given the reason, “I drew him out of the water.” The Hebrew word is used to speak of drawing out. Again we must see the irony and humor of the Lord’s providence in all of this, Pharaoh tells his people to throw the sons into the water, but within his house, he has one who has been drawn out of the water.


Here we see the works of God’s providence and the plan that he promised to Abraham, “Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward, they shall come out with great possessions” (Gen 15:13–14). God will raise this young child and deliver his people through him. However, in God’s plan and providence, we see that he is raised in Pharaoh’s house. A time of preparation for this man who is going to be a leader of God’s people. Two other passages help us understand the importance of this providence Acts 7 and Hebrews 11.

Stephen in Acts 7:20b-22a says, “And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her son. And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” We see that God places Moses in Pharaoh’s house to be able to raise him in the greatest education of that day. Moses who would be used to write down the first five books of the Bible had to learn how to write some place. If he had been raised as a slave, then this would have been a difficult task. However, he was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. Moses would be a spokesman to Pharaoh himself. Even with the practical nature of leading this large group of people through the wilderness, and here we see that God might have used this time to instruct Moses on administrative skills.

Whereas Stephen focuses on the positive of being raised in the house of Pharaoh, the author of Hebrews explains that he did not want to call himself an Egyptian. Hebrews 11:24-25 says, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” Moses points out as he writes Exodus that the reason, he is called Moses is because he was drawn out from the water, this focuses on the Hebrew meaning of the word. However, the Egyptian meaning of the word is actually “son of.” Several Egyptian names use the genitive in combination with other words, such as Thutmosis (son of Thut) and Ahmosis (son of Ah). On the other hand, in the name ‘Moses’, the genitive construction lacks an object; he is solely referred to as “the son of.” [1] I believe this is what the author of Hebrews is highlighting, Moses did not want to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but a son of Israel, which Pharaoh was trying to eliminate. He chose not to live a life of pursuing man-gratifying sin but God-glorifying suffering.

From this passage, we see that the people of God still have hope and trust in the God who revealed themselves to their fathers. They are still known as the sons of Israel and have kept themselves separate from the people of Pharaoh. The author of Hebrews shows this point clearly after mentioning that Moses did not want to be known as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter but as counted in the people of God he writes, “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Heb 11: 26). Moses saw that the glorious inheritance from Christ was greater than the treasures of Egypt. Hebrews 11 speaks of that great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us who lived not by sight but by faith. They often in their life on earth had nothing or lived in difficult situations. Moses did not grow up with nothing but in a house of great wealth and riches. However, he did not want those riches and treasures. He sought not the wealth of the world but the inheritance from Christ. He would rather be mocked and scorned (even by the people of God) than have all the riches of Egypt. Asa the author of Hebrews put it, “Moses was looking to the reward.”

Now this is the same for us, right before chapter 11 the author of Hebrews speaks of New Testament Christians who suffer the reproach of Christ, and who look for the reward. “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward” (Heb 10:32–35). As we think about Moses and even the people of Israel during this time, they are going through great suffering and persecution. Things will get a lot worse as time goes on. The people of God live not by sight but by faith. They are forever looking forward and upward to the promises of God.

This is what makes chapter 12 of Hebrews such an encouragement to us. As we think about these Jochebed, Miriam, and Moses had great faith. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:1–2).


[1] John D. Currid, A Study Commentary on Exodus: Exodus 1–18, vol. 1 of EP Study Commentary (Darlington, England; Carlisle, PA: Evangelical Press, 2000), 64.

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