Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’
One can only imagine the pain and turmoil of parents as they came near the Nile – the watery graveyard. Think of the anxiety of pregnancy – a wondering fear of whether the baby would be a girl and get to live, or a boy facing certain death. The pain of labour giving way to irrepressible joy only to turn to overwhelming anguish that a river of death awaited.
We all know what became of Moses. He led Israel out of Egypt, out from under the bondage of Egyptian slavery. The salvation of Moses was the salvation of Israel. And how was Moses, and thereby all of Israel saved? By the most unlikely of means, in a patriarchal world – three women: a determined mother who was also very shrewd, a daring and quick thinking sister, and a compassionate and persuasive daughter of Pharaoh. Not only did Moses owe his life to these three women, but Israel owed its liberation to them as well.
We do not always know or understand how God works in the world but it is obvious here that God is somehow at work in the actions of these three women. There are not yet astounding miracles to wow us. Yet the message here is that God sometimes works behind the scenes in the shrewd actions of mothers, the love of sisters, and in the compassion of a tyrant’s daughter. Before the amazing miracles there is simply the faithfulness of ordinary people who live their lives under God.
This is a story about the faithfulness of God in the midst of ordinary human living. This story was told because it gives hope that regardless of how bleak the present/future might be, God is able to bring salvation out of despair, life out of a tomb.
God works through people like you and me. God is faithful to and through us! God always uses whoever (and whatever) is available.
Ever Faithful, hopeful God We thank you that you use ordinary people like us, working through us to proclaim your word. We thank you also that we can always rely on you to be there for us in our times of need. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen
Sue Knight, Lay Preaching Commissioner – Southern Synod and Local Church leader, Reigate Park URC