Baby in the Bulrushes
April 4, 2022 | Ray Pritchard
Are children a burden or a blessing?
I suppose it depends on who you ask or what you mean or why the question even matters.
If you have to ask the question, you will likely come to the wrong answer.
Are children a burden or a blessing?
The Bible is clear on this point.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalm 127:3).
If we had no other verse, this alone would be sufficient to establish the biblical position.
Children are a gift from God. They are a “heritage” from the Lord. They are a “reward” from him.
We could add other verses to reinforce the point:
“God listened to Leah, and she became pregnant” (Genesis 30:17).
“The children God has graciously given your servant” (Genesis 33:5).
“The sons God has given me” (Genesis 48:9).
“He will bless the fruit of your womb” (Deuteronomy 7:13).
You may wonder why I raise the question because Christianity has always been a pro-child religion. We were “pro-family” before that became a political term.
Christianity has always safeguarded the rights of children.
We were “pro-family” before that became a political term.
Wherever the gospel goes, it honors families, it ennobles motherhood, and it protects and preserves the place of children.
History shows that in cultures where Christ is known and where his example is the model, infancy is sacred, and children are safe inside and outside the womb.
A few years ago, when our grandson Eli was just over a year old, I took him with me to the store. When I picked him up, I held him in one arm and wrapped the other arm around him to keep him from squirming out of my grasp.
As we entered the store, an older man was coming out. When he saw I was holding Eli with both arms, he smiled and said, “Take care of that baby!” “Yes sir, I will!” I replied.
That’s why we do what we do.
God has called us to take care of the babies in this dangerous world. We want to make sure they arrive safely and have a safe place to grow up healthy and strong. Every child deserves our love and care.
Parents Who Feared God
That brings me to the story of Moses’ birth. The Bible mentions his birth in three different places:
God has called us to take care of the babies in this dangerous world
Here is the story in short form.
Because the Pharaoh of Egypt hated and feared the Jews, he ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all the male Jewish babies.
Because they feared God, the midwives refused to follow the king’s orders. In a further act of deranged madness, he ordered all the male babies born to the Hebrews be thrown into the Nile.
Soon thereafter a Jewish couple named Amram and Jochebed gave birth to a baby boy.
For three months they managed to keep him hidden in direct defiance of the king’s command. They feared God so much that they didn’t fear Pharaoh at all.
They feared God so much that they didn’t fear Pharaoh at all.
But they knew they couldn’t keep the child hidden forever, so they placed him in a basket among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. That was a wise thing to do because it was the place where women came to draw water.
When Pharaoh’s daughter came to take a bath, she saw the basket floating among the bulrushes near the bank of the river. Her servants brought the basket to her. When she opened it, the baby was crying.
She recognized it as a Hebrew baby. And in one of the divine serendipities that fill the Bible, Moses’ sister Miriam (who had been watching from a distance) came and volunteered to find a Hebrew mother to nurse the child.
So it turned out that Pharaoh’s daughter ended up paying Moses’ mother to nurse her own baby!
Eventually they gave Moses to Pharaoh’s daughter to raise in the Egyptian court. This was God’s preparation for the day when Moses would go before another Pharaoh and say, “Let my people go!”
No Ordinary Child
When the writer of Hebrews made his list of the heroes of the faith, he included the parents of Moses:
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 (Hebrews 11:23).
Note several key facts:
It was a divine serendipity!
First, they hid Moses in direct disobedience to the king’s command. He said, “Kill all the male babies.” They decided they would not cooperate with that evil command.
Second, they somehow knew he was “no ordinary child.” In a sense, parents always feel this way about their children. It is natural to believe your son or daughter is the best, brightest, most beautiful baby in the whole world. In this case, the parents sensed God had a particular purpose in mind for Moses, one they could not have imagined at the time.
As far as we know, no angel came and said, “Your son will someday deliver God’s people from Egypt.” But they knew he was a gift from God, a special delivery child from heaven, deserving of their love and protection.
And so they risked everything to keep him alive.
Third, their faith rose above their fear. No doubt they flinched every time the baby began to cry because it meant the Egyptians might discover him. They took careful pains to keep him quiet and out of sight. Perhaps only a few others knew the baby had been born.
They risked everything to keep Moses alive.
In a situation like this, you never know who you can trust. Perhaps some of their neighbors would have turned the parents in, thinking that their disobedience invited the king’s wrath on the whole community. Every day Amram and Jochebed risked everything to keep their son alive. But they did not shrink back from their God-appointed task.
Fourth, they could not have foreseen how God would honor their faith. Putting the child in a basket in the Nile was a desperate attempt to save him. But knowing they could not keep him, they put him in the water, hoping against hope that someone who loved babies would come along and find him.
By the way, the word translated “basket” in Exodus 2:3 is used elsewhere in the Old Testament only to refer to the ark of Noah. The basket in which his parents placed him was as safe for him as the ark was for Noah. Moses was safer in that basket than he would have been at home with his parents.
All of it–every part of it—was overseen by God, who always intended to raise up Moses to one day deliver his people from Egypt.
Thus does God overrule the evil designs of wicked men. This story illustrates a familiar saying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
The ”What Ifs” of History
Exodus 2 shows us how God moves in history. There is a flow to human events. Nothing ever “just happens.” In the words of Alva J. McLain, “From the fall of a raindrop to the fall of an empire, all is under the providential control of God.” After 400 years of persecution in Egypt, the focus narrows to just one family. We see a mother and a daughter and a baby in the bulrushes.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
He is not there by accident but by the sovereign hand of God.
F. B. Meyer wrote of the many difficulties faced by Moses. He was born to an alien race in a foreign land where they were oppressed and enslaved. From a human point of view, Moses entered the world at the worst possible time. But because God always intended to raise up a deliverer, he made sure Moses was born to believing parents in a time of idolatry.
Think about the “what ifs” in this story:
What if the soldiers found the baby?
What if the wrong person came along?
What if Pharoah’s daughter came a day early or an hour later?
What if Pharaoh’s daughter didn’t notice the baby?
What if she felt no pity?
What if she didn’t agree to Miriam’s request?
What if she wanted the baby right then?
There were so many ways this could have gone wrong.
Write over this story two words: But God!
The Battle for Your Child
It’s dangerous to be a child in today’s world.
For one thing, children may get killed in the womb before they are born. But even if they make it out alive, there are people out there who want to groom them for sexual perversion.
What else can we say about leaders who want to ensure that children have access to blocking hormones and gender reassignment surgery?
What about teachers who want the right to talk to little children about their sex lives?
It’s dangerous to be a child in today’s world
What about media leaders who say they are invested in spreading “queer stories,” and “trans,” “bisexual,” and “non-conforming” characters?
Josh Daws (Twitter, March 31, 2022) warns of the danger: “When young children are isolated from their parents, encouraged to adopt different beliefs, and keep secrets from their parents, they are made easy targets for abusers.”
Rebecca L. Christophi (Twitter, March 31, 2022) explains what is at stake: “There is a war going on in this country. It’s not a war on covid. It’s not a war on border security or concern with foreign affairs. It’s the most important war there is…our children. The prize is their hearts and minds. The cost if we lose is incalculable.”
Parents, if you love your children, fight for them!
The devil has declared open season on our boys and girls, and he has recruited Hollywood, Wall Street, and the school system to join his team. Make no mistake. Your kids are Ground Zero in this spiritual warfare. Our children face dangers today that we never dreamed about 50 years ago.
But as bad as it is, Amram and Jochebed faced greater danger. They knew the government wanted to kill their baby boy. They knew the danger, so they hid their son for three months in direct defiance to the king’s edict.
Parents, if you love your children, fight for them!
Note how Hebrews 11:23 explains their actions: “They were not afraid.”
Not afraid of the most powerful man in the world!
In the end, we all must do what Moses’ parents did: release our children to the Lord. We live in a dangerous world where there is much opposition to parents who intend to raise their children for the Lord. In recent days we have seen how certain teachers want the legal right to teach moral perversion to children as young as five years old. Many applaud these teachers for their “courage.”
But the real honor goes to parents who dare to raise their children for the Lord. I understand why some people say they don’t want to bring children into a world like this. But when has it ever been easy? When did we ever live in a Golden Age for raising Christian children? No such age has ever existed.
Every baby is a vote for the future. It’s a way of saying, “We believe God’s promises.”
It can be terrifying to let your children go, but we all must do it. No one is exempt. Moses’ mother cast her baby on the dangerous waters of the Nile. Likewise, we cast our children on the roiling waters of a sinful world.
The God who cared for Moses cares for our children too.
How can we dare to bring children into a world like this? The same way Amram and Jochebed did. By faith!
By faith they came together.
By faith she conceived.
By faith they hid their baby.
By faith they raised him.
By faith they gave him back.
By faith they gave him back
Do not despair. These are wonderful days to raise children for the Lord because the God of Moses’ parents is our God too.
Think of what Jochebed experienced:
She received Moses from the Lord.
She released him back to the Lord.
She got him back.
Then she released him again!
And God made sure she got paid for her trouble!
Everything was against her, but God was for her.
We must not skip what Stephen said in Acts 7:22:
So Moses was educated
in all the wisdom of the Egyptians
and was powerful
in his speech and actions.
Where did Moses learn the truth about God?
Not in Egypt.
Everything was against her, but God was for her.
He learned it from his parents, and he never forgot it. So here’s a question I can’t answer because the Bible doesn’t give us enough information. How long did Amram and Jochebed raise Moses before they gave him back to Pharaoh’s daughter? Some people say 12 or 13 years. Others say 3-4 years. No doubt they kept him until he could walk and talk and until he was completely weaned. Beyond that, it’s impossible to say. But however long or short it was, by the time they gave him back, he knew everything he needed to know about the God of Israel.
During the long years of growing up in the royal court of Egypt, he never forgot what Amram and Jochebed taught him when he was just a child.
Children Are Wet Cement
Never underestimate the importance of your child’s early years. Ann Ortlund wrote a book entitled Children Are Wet Cement. Yes, they are, and that “cement” hardens very quickly.
The world understands this principle better than we do. That’s why the state argues so forcefully in favor of educational control. Whoever teaches a young child sets the course for his entire life. My mom (who was raised Catholic) liked to quote the nuns who said, “Give us a child until he is seven, and he will be a Catholic for life.”
There is a world of truth in that statement.
God bless Moses’ parents because they implanted the truth that kept Moses on the right path when he easily could have forgotten his Jewish identity.
Think about this. They didn’t have Genesis because Moses hadn’t written it yet! Ditto for Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. They didn’t have the tabernacle because it hadn’t been built yet. They didn’t have the Torah of God, but whatever they had was enough.
They didn’t have Genesis because Moses hadn’t written it yet!
Moses never forgot where he came from. Although he looked like an Egyptian, underneath he was Jewish to the core.
So what did Moses learn in Egypt? Since Pharaoh’s daughter raised him, he got the best Egypt had to offer. He learned language, literature, writing, history, mathematics, music, agriculture, architecture, chemistry, anatomy, astronomy, astrology, Egyptian religion, trade and finance, and Egypt’s role in the world.
He could have become Pharaoh, but God had other plans.
Life is all about choices.
We make our choices, and our choices make us.
In the words of Bob Dylan, you “Gotta Serve Somebody”:
Moses never forgot where he came from
It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord,
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
When Moses grew up, he chose to suffer with God’s people rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
The Fingerprints of God
Every detail was under God’s control:
The King’s edict.
The baby’s beauty.
The mother’s plan.
The placing of the ark.
The baby’s cry.
The daughter’s compassion.
The sister’s wise suggestion.
The mother’s agreement.
All of it woven together by the Lord.
Nothing by chance.
Nothing happens by chance
As the story begins, we see the hand of God moving through circumstances to prepare the way for the birth of Moses who will one day deliver his people. And what are circumstances if not the fingerprints of God?
Great events come from small beginnings. It seems impossible that a baby in the bullrushes would one day save his people.
But that’s how the story starts.
Who’s the hero of this story? God!
He arranged every detail so that at just the right moment Jochebed would place Moses in the basket,
the basket would float in the reeds,
Pharaoh’s daughter would come along,
she would see the basket,
she would recognize Moses was a Hebrew baby,
Miriam would step forward,
Moses would be cared for by his mother,
he would be given back to Pharaoh’s daughter, and
he would be educated in Egypt.
All this happened at just the right moment so that when the time came, Moses would be ready to deliver his people.
Nothing happened by chance.
God orchestrated every detail.
Do not despise the day of small things!
From small things come vast miracles.
Do not despise the day of small things!
Check out that baby in the bullrushes. He’s got a good set of lungs. That will stand him in good stead when he parts the Red Sea.
You may feel small and insignificant.
Fear not! Do not despair.
God knows who you are and where you are.
Who knows what will come from your faithful service to the Lord?
One final word. I began by asking, Are children a blessing or a burden? The answer is yes! Children are both a blessing and a burden. Ask an exhausted mom or dad when a newborn starts crying at 3 AM. Or ask any parent when a seven-year-old decides to disobey. Or ask them again when that same child turns sixteen.
Children are always a blessing.
They are sometimes a burden.
Often the burden is heavy indeed.
A New Moses
Who knows what God will do through our children if we receive them with love, protect them from those who would hurt them, and raise them up with all the strength and grace God provides?
If we do that, who knows what God will do with our children?
Who knows what God will do with our children?
A gospel song says, “Little is much when God is in it.” This passage illustrates that truth. Nothing seems more hopeless than a baby in the bulrushes.
Pharaoh’s daughter came along at just the right moment, saw that basket, and the rest is history!
Our day is not unlike that day. We live in troubled, dangerous times when the world has little use for our faith. You may feel there is nothing you can do.
Do not despair!
Be faithful to Jesus.
Do what you can with what you have.
Raise your family for God.
Pray for your children.
Pray for your grandchildren.
Take what you have and use it for God.
Who knows what God will do?
Perhaps you will raise a new Moses for our generation.
God knows what he is doing, and he is doing it!
In the meantime, rest in this. God knows what he is doing, and he is doing it.
Father, we thank you for this story of grace and goodness in a dark and dangerous time.
We thank you that when evildoers go from bad to worse, your promises are still true.
We pray that our children and grandchildren might grow up to be mighty servants of the Living God.
Lord, help us to take what we have and give it to you because “little is much when God is in it.”
In Jesus’ name, Amen!