As we honor motherhood this month, I want to offer a word of encouragement to all moms everywhere by taking a brief look at the mighty ministry that Moses’ mom had in her son’s life.
“A man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a find child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basked for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him” (Exodus 2:1-3).
The names for this family are not given here, but later in Exodus we learn that Moses’ mother was Jochebed, whose husband was Amram. The baby in this story was Moses, of course; Moses’ sister was Miriam.
The people of Israel were living in Egypt after God used Joseph, the patriarch Jacob’s son, to save them during a great famine 400 years earlier. God caused the Israelites to be fruitful and multiply; the land was filled with them. But a new Pharaoh rose to power who knew nothing about Joseph. This Pharaoh grew anxious about the increasing numbers of Israelites in Egypt. If war broke out, Pharaoh feared the Israelites might join with Egypt’s enemies. So Pharaoh put slave masters over the Israelites, intending to wear God’s people down and reduce their growing population.
However, working against God’s people meant that Pharaoh was working against God. The more Pharaoh oppressed God’s people, the more God multiplied them! Pharaoh’s first plan had failed, so he ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all the baby boys and let the female babies live. But the midwives feared God and did not murder the babies. So now Pharaoh ordered, “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile” (Exodus 2:22).
This brings us to Jochebed. We might think she acted like any mother would instinctively act to save her baby, but Hebrews 11:23 tells us, “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Jochebed did more than follow motherly instinct; she acted by faith when she hid her baby. She obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do everything she could to save her child. And when she could no longer hide Moses, in her strength and her wisdom she had to release him to God and trust God for the results. There comes a time in every mother’s life when she must exercise the strength and wisdom to transfer total trust to God.
The rest of the story illustrates God’s sovereign control over all things. The baby was discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter, who felt compassion and named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water” (Exodus 2:10). Miriam, who was watching from a distance, stepped up and asked Pharaoh’s daughter if she should get a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby. Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, so Miriam ran to get her mother (Moses’ mom), and Pharaoh’s daughter gave Moses back to Jochebed and paid her to nurse him. Jochebed never expected to see her baby again, but God not only gave her baby back for a season, she received pay for it! Isn’t that just like God? When He doesn’t meet our expectations, it is because He is planning to exceed them.
We don’t know how long Jochebed was allowed to nurse her baby; some scholars say two to four years, others believe it was as many as twelve. Whatever the length of time, it was long enough for Jochebed to teach Moses about the One True Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Never underestimate the power of a godly mother’s influence in the life of her child!
Moses was not going to learn anything about God and His people in Pharaoh’s court; he would only learn the ways of the Egyptians and their pagan gods. Knowledge about the One True Living God would only be learned at home from his godly parents. This is where the foundations of the Christian faith must be built: in the home, learning from the hearts and minds of mothers who love God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength. Jochebed had no way of knowing it at the time, but her commitment to teach her baby about God was God’s way to prepare Moses to deliver His people out of their bondage in Egypt. Never underestimate what God will do with the investment of a mother’s time in teaching biblical truth to her child!
Far too many parents cede this responsibility to the church and even to the Christian school. But in God’s economy, the home is the primary place of instruction for training up children in the way they should go. Moses’ parents lived out this truth in a culture that was cruelly hostile to their faith, and they set a wonderful example for us to follow.
Jochebed not only had to release her child once, she had to do it a second time. One of the hardest things for parents to do is release their child to the hands of God. We all try to control our kids; often we control way too much. But the day will come when the child becomes an adult, and we must let go and trust God.
Here are three things for us to remember about the ministry of Moses’ mom:
Jochebed had a personal relationship with God. She was an Israelite and a member of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe. Every mom must have her own relationship with God first before she can pass it on to her child.
Jochebed feared God more than she feared Pharaoh; she defied Pharaoh’s order to kill her baby. Had she been found out, it’s likely her entire family would have been executed for disobeying Pharaoh’s decree of death. Every mom must be ready to stand for the Light in these dark days, regardless of the cost.
Jochebed had confidence in God. The Amplified Bible says of Abraham that “No unbelief or distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). The same could be said of Jochebed. She yielded control of her baby to the sovereignty of God, trusting God even when she could not trace Him. And the rest, as they say, is HIS STORY!
The ministry of Moses’ mom is the ministry available to every mom who surrenders to Jesus as Savior and Lord. In Christ you have the credentials, you will receive the courage, and you will live in confidence that when God does not meet your expectations for your child, it is because He is planning to exceed them in His way and in His timing.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
Dr. Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach (www.thecrosscc.org). He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.
For more articles by Dr. Tommy Boland, visit goodnewsfl.org/tommy-boland.