The Faith of Believing Parents
April 10, 2005 / No. 3249
Dear radio friends,
The Reformed Witness Hour today calls your attention to a very important passage of God’s Word in the Old Testament, the book of Exodus, the second book of the Bible, chapter 2, verses 1-10, the history of the birth of Moses. Please open your Bibles and read those verses.
This Word of God has very much to teach us concerning our holy calling as parents. We are very thankful for the example of Moses’ parents. Today we pray that the grace that worked in them faith to bring up their child may also be the grace and the faith given to us.
We need to acknowledge, as parents, that we do not sufficiently realize the value of our children nor the danger to which they are exposed from the prince and the spirit of this present world. So we ask the Lord today to teach us fully that we might recognize the danger and yet, at the same time, never be afraid. We desire that our eyes might be opened in the light of this Word of God and that we might see the children born to believers as being entrusted to their keeping in order that they might train them for the kingdom of God. We need help, help that we might, in humility and in watchfulness and in the boldness of faith, keep our children sheltered, and hide them from the power of the world of sin. And our own life, as parents, our life of faith, must be an example to our children. Our own life must be one that is hid with Christ in God, in order that our children, by God’s grace, might learn that secret dwelling place, that safety that is in Christ.
So, as we come to this passage, we are praying that the Almighty God might awaken us as the church to know our place in this world and our calling to train our children and to hide them and to commit them to the faithful care of God.
In God’s plan, it was time for the children of Israel, after 400 years in Egypt, to return to the land of promise, the land of Canaan. Jacob had come down into Egypt 400 years before, numbering seventy men and women, boys and girls. Now, after 400 years, they number some two million. Only, the people of God would not have left Egypt, for the land of Goshen was the very best of Egypt. They had prospered and become mightier than the Egyptians. Their roots had sunk down deep. Their tent pegs were driven in. God Himself had to pull them up through the hand of affliction.
The same thing is true of you and me. We, too, would make this world our home. One of the purposes of affliction and of trial is that God, through that, pulls us up, pulls out the roots that sink down into this world, in order that we might be directed to the better, to the Canaan.
God sent the affliction of slavery and oppression. God raised up another Pharaoh who did not know Joseph. This Pharaoh took the whip to Israel’s back and made them build him treasure cities and reduced them to poverty. He sought to exterminate the people of God, to commit genocide. But the almighty God looked upon His children and had respect unto them and raised up a deliverer named Moses.
Moses was born at the height of the persecution of Pharaoh. He was born, just as the children of all believers, into a world where everything was aimed at preventing the faith of Christ to be implanted into his heart. But God had worked faith in the hearts of Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed.
Faith in the promise of God is what you need as a parent to bring up your children today. What you need is not the perfect home in the suburbs paid for. You do not need health insurance. You do not need for your children the latest in video games, TV, wealth, things. You do not need that. You need true faith, faith in the promises of God. For by it alone you are equipped by God to bring up your children in the way of life.
Now, humanly speaking, Moses was born at the worst possible time, a time when the life of the male children of Israel was in utmost peril. In verse 22 of the first chapter we read, “And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son [of an Israelite] that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.” There Pharaoh was showing the attitude of the world of sin and of the devil toward Christ and toward all who belong to the promised Christ. There the mask is pulled down from the world and from the devil; the smile is removed, and you see what is in their heart toward those who will live godly and toward the church. There is fear and, out of fear, hatred, and no pity, and the desire for spiritual extermination.
In chapter 1, the new Pharaoh who saw Israel multiplying and therefore as a threat, said to his fellow Egyptians, “Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and overcome us.” He instigated a three-stage plan to destroy Israel. The first stage was to subject them to slavery and to reduce them to poverty. He afflicted them. He made them slaves. His intention was that, through poverty, he would starve them out and they would be reduced. But we read, “The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” There was one thing that Pharaoh had not considered in his calculations. That is the almighty power of God to care for His children.
His next step became more direct. He commanded the Hebrew midwives who assisted the women of Israel in their birth process, that if the child born was a male, these midwives were to kill the child. But, again, the mighty power of God worked in the midwives faith. For we read that they feared God and did not as the king commanded.
His third step became the most open and shameful. He commanded that all male children born from that point forward be cast into the Nile River. All the male children of Israel would be killed and dedicated to the Nile, a Nile River that was worshiped by the Egyptians as a deity.
Moses was born at the height of this persecution.
We must see that this was not simply racial genocide. We must understand that the real issue here was between God’s cause in Jesus Christ and Satan and the world of sin. We must understand that this is still the issue and still the warfare that is being waged for eternal stakes. The issue is God’s promise (to save a people in Jesus Christ) and God’s glory in that work, versus the attempts of the world of sin and of Satan to overcome that promise. You see, when God in Genesis 3:15 gave the promise of the Savior, the devil (the serpent) was there, and he understood. God had said, “I will put enmity, devil, between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
The devil understood those words. He understood that, central in God’s plan of salvation, would be the family. Not only would God bring forth the Savior out of the descendants of believing women, but God would attain His purposes of salvation by forming for Himself a church through lines of believers, through the generations of the God-fearing. God would, then, accomplish His plans of grace especially through believing families and through bringing up children in the way of God. The devil is a very capable and astute theologian. He is not dumb. He understands principles well. He knows that it pleases God to show forth His love and grace especially through the use of family, of parents in whom He plants faith. These parents would bring up their children, not for this world, but for another world. They would bring up their children to be children of the heavenly King.
This is still the devil’s policy, to attempt to destroy that promise of God. For instance, in the book of Revelation, chapter 12:14-17, we read that the dragon, after he was expelled from heaven, was wroth and went forth to make war with the woman (that is, the church) and the remnant of her seed (that is, the children of the church). All children of the church? No. Those children, we read, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. True, God-fearing homes; homes dedicated to the love of the gospel and to a holy way of life — these homes are in the cross hairs of the devil. His plan is to exterminate them.
Yes, when we see Pharaoh commanding the boy children of Israel to be cast into the Nile River, we do indeed see the policy of the devil to kill off the line of Christ, to prevent that one male child — the Savior — from being born.
But there was more. We might ask, if that was his intent, why not just kill all — the boys and the girls — every child? Pharaoh’s command was not that. Pharaoh’s command was “Cast the sons into the river and save the daughters alive.” Why? Because, you see, the devil knows the biblical truth also of the headship of the male. He may dupe the world into obliterating the differences between the sexes. And the church world also might follow along like an ox and throw out the truth of male headship and say “that’s only chauvinistic oppression.” But the devil knows that male headship is a powerful thing in the hand of God. That is, through spiritual leadership of the male, homes are organized and children are brought up in the love of Jesus. Pharaoh believed that the girls would be swallowed up by Egypt by removing the element of male godliness from the Israelites. He knew that if that appointed place of spiritual leadership and spiritual influence were removed, the girls would, in time, simply be swallowed up into Egypt. Cut the head off the body and you have destroyed the body, or you take the body into the world.
Now in such days, Amram and Jochebed, the parents of Moses, had children. Let us see that today. Before Amram and Jochebed could hide the little baby Moses for three months, they first had to have him. Moses was their third child. Aaron his brother was three years older. And Miriam his sister was, perhaps, nine or ten years older than Moses. They had both been born before the edict of Pharaoh to cast the boy children into the river. Aaron might well have been delivered during the time when the midwives had been commanded to kill the baby boys. But now Moses was conceived. And Moses was born at the time when Pharaoh’s command was that male children of Israelites be killed. That speaks to us.
Moses’ parents had this child. Though they were living together as husband and wife, in poverty and in fear, yet they had this child. We imagine that, in their little hut, made perhaps of discarded lumber or mud, and after the evening meal was over and Miriam had cleared away the few little dishes and was getting ready for bed and little Aaron had been put down for the night, Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed, were in much prayer. And the woman conceived. God is speaking to us.
More and more today parents, young parents, are saying, “Before we have children we must see to the kind of life that we want, the things that we want, and we need first to build upon our own relationship before we have children.” Put Moses’ parents into such a mentality. Then they would be saying, “Would we be able to feed another mouth? We are in poverty. Can we afford another mouth? Besides that, what kind of life will he have? He’ll be taken from us. He’ll be killed.” If, you see, the criterion for having children was first their earthly things and first themselves, Moses would never have been born.
This also says something about abortion. Again we could well use or hear the arguments being made here. Those arguments would go like this: “The child, if he is going to be born, is only going to go through the horror of being taken away and thrown into the Nile River. We should just stop the life at two or three months.” If Moses’ parents had done that, they would have done Satan’s work for him. Abortion is sin. Abortion is not the way out. In the love of Jesus Christ, the gospel of Jesus calls you as a girl to love your virginity and you, as a young man, to live purely. But now, if a young girl becomes pregnant outside of marriage, and as the world presses you to abort and to take that life, the word of your God is this: No!! You take this very word in Exodus 2 and you lock it into your heart. By faith in God, Jochebed had her baby boy in the most impossible circumstances, not knowing how she would ever be able to care for him. Why did she do that? Because she feared God, that is, she reverenced Him in her heart. She looked to God and believed that God would be both merciful and powerful. She bare a son, and she hid him three months.
There is a whole lot that we are not told. We ask the question, How could a pregnant woman have a child and no one know? God protected her, God took care of that. She hid him for three months. And that, of course, involved a great risk. There was the stress of discovery. Every time an Egyptian walked by, every time there was a knock at the door, we can imagine her heart jumping within her breast. Then, not only the risk of having Moses snatched away from her and killed, but, perhaps a penalty to Amram and Jochebed the parents. That in itself was not so great a concern for them, for they would give up their life for their little baby Moses, but if they were taken away, what would happen to Aaron, and what would happen to Miriam? The risk was great.
But they stood in faith. Why? Because, we read, she saw that he was a goodly child. In Hebrews 11 we read it this way: Because they saw that he was a proper child, and they were not afraid of the king’s commandments. Proper child, or goodly child, refers to “beauty of countenance.” Moses was a very beautiful baby boy. But, of course, more is meant — because it was not for vain reasons that she kept her baby. Is not every child born to redeemed believers exceedingly beautiful and fair? Does not grace teach our eyes to see the beauty in special needs children? What, shall we abort if we learn that they have what men call a defect or are not beautiful? Grace shows us the beauty of the hand of God in every child. No, that they saw that he was a goodly child means that Moses’ parents were given to see the child from God’s perspective. Not necessarily that they understood that Moses was the one selected to be the deliverer of Israel, but that God opened their eyes and gave them to sense something beautiful, something spiritually beautiful. God gave them to see the child in the love of Jesus. God gave them to see God’s hand of bringing forth and building a glorious church. They were bonded to the child in the blood of the Lamb.
Jochebed saw much more than a woman, a mother, would naturally see. She saw much more than a father could ever see. Do you see what they saw? They saw grace. They saw covenant. They saw God’s wondrous grace and love to call into being His church. They saw a child whose worth exceeds the whole world. They saw one who would, by promise, be partaker of the precious blood of Jesus Christ and would one time soon be the object of God’s joy and pleasure. They saw one who was being fitted to be a jewel upon the crown of God’s Son.
Have you seen your child?
Therefore, they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. They refused to obey the king’s commandment. They (Jochebed) did not say, “The issue is about my body as a woman.” As husband and wife they did not say, “The issue is about our time as a couple. This is an unwanted child.” No, they said the issue is about God’s love. And they had the courage to disobey the commandment to kill but to bring up their child in perilous times.
That was great faith. They did that by faith in God and trust in His promises, believing those promises that God would be with them. And, as we read, God rewarded that trust and preserved the baby. We do not have time to go through those instances. Read once again the narrative yourself (Ex. 2:1-10).
That is our duty. Hide our children. Not in physical isolation from the world, but hide your children in the only safe refuge by teaching them the sweetness of God’s countenance. Hide them under the shadow of the Almighty. Teach them, show them what it is to live by prayer. Open to them the Word of God, instruct them. Tell them all about Jehovah and all of His glorious truths in Jesus Christ, and trust in God, trust in God alone.
God powerfully preserved this little baby Moses. God did so through the weak instrumentality of parents. In fact, God was going to show His mighty power by using Moses’ mother to bring him up in the fear of God so that what was implanted in his little heart, by God’s grace, was never removed or erased even by thirty-five or more years living in a palace. So, when Moses becomes forty, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, and chose to suffer reproach with the people of God. That is the mighty power of God’s grace.
That is our mighty encouragement. God will call a people to Himself. God will form a church in Christ. God now has entrusted your children to you. Call your children “Moses” — drawn out of the water, drawn out of the impossible. Look upon your child in the grace of God and hear God’s promise: “I will save the children of the covenant and I will bring them home to me.”
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word and we pray for its blessing now upon our hearts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.