Rescued and Replanted

Exodus 1:15-2:10

July 4, 2020 | Brian Bill

A couple months ago I went for a run.  I was distracted while searching for a podcast on my phone and didn’t notice the sidewalk was uneven.  My toe caught the concrete and I stumbled, tried to regain my balance, and did a face plant on the pavement.  At the last moment I put my arms out in front of me, jarring my right shoulder.

The first thing I did was look around to see if anyone saw what happened.  When I realized I was alone in my shame, I got up, inspected my body and kept running.  A couple days later when starting our lawnmower, I felt something snap in my shoulder.

As I reflected on this, I was reminded that others have fallen during these uneven times, and some have not been seen.  I think of those who’ve relapsed into drugs or alcohol.  I worry about those who’ve slipped into depression.  I fear for children who are being abused, neglected or trafficked.  I hurt for those who are elderly and isolated, for those in the hospital and nursing homes.  And I’m sad for those grieving the loss of loved ones without the opportunity to gather for funerals or memorial services.

Earlier this week I started reading through the Book of Exodus and was struck by the truth that God sees everyone.  Listen to these phrases from the opening chapters: “God heard their groaning, and God remembered…God SAW the people of Israel and God knew…I have surely SEEN the affliction of my people…and have heard their cry…I know their sufferings and I have come down to deliver them…and when they had heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that He had SEEN their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshipped.” (Exodus 2:24-25; 3:7; 4:31)

Let’s ask God to help us see and serve the most vulnerable. 

As we near the end of our Family Matters series, I recognize these sermons may have stirred up all kinds of hurt and pain as we’ve focused on mothers, marriage, serving our spouse, what to look for in a mate, singleness, fathers, parenting your prodigal, and intentional grandparenting.  

I’m reminded some haven’t been able to have children and others have experienced the raw grief of miscarriage or stillbirth.  Our own daughter Lydia wrote something this week that I’d like to share in the hopes you will find it helpful.

Many of you know the statistics of miscarriages.  I know I did. [1 out of 4 women] But I thought it wouldn’t happen to me.  Miscarrying your baby is emotionally heartbreaking and devastating.  It is physically distressing.  It has changed me forever.  I miss my baby and always will. 

I believe all life has value and therefore the loss of any life can and should be grieved.  If you have lost a baby by miscarriage, don’t think you can’t grieve because you “were still early” or whatever lies you may hear or tell yourself.  This loss of life is worthy of grief.  If you think you should “be back to normal by now,” but find yourself struggling to keep up with daily tasks, be gentle with yourself and rest.  Your body and soul need to heal. 

We have been blessed with another pregnancy and are in awe of the gift of life now more than ever before.  Finding out I was pregnant this time brought fear and anxiety.  The first few months were so emotionally difficult, balancing the joy of the life growing inside of me with the heartbreak for the life that we lost.  I was afraid of feeling like we were “moving on too quickly.”  

The truth is, we will never “move on.”  There was a new space in our hearts for that baby and now there is emptiness there.  We look forward to the day we will be with the baby we lost.  In 2 Samuel 12:23, David laments the loss of his son, “Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

There’s another group of people who we don’t always see – orphans and vulnerable children.  

Here’s our main idea: See and serve the most vulnerable.  We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all capable of doing something.

Please turn to Exodus 1:15-2:10 where we will learn how God used women of different ages and stages of life to see and to serve the most vulnerable.  

Here’s a bit of background to put our text in context.  The Israelites were in Egypt to avoid a severe famine and had multiplied greatly.  A new king came to power and was threatened by the increase of the Israelites so verse 13 says he “made their lives bitter with hard service…”

As a way to help me understand this topic better, I read a book called, “Replanted” and consulted a number of websites.  These resources are posted on our Sermon Extras tab if you want to learn more.  I also reached out to five EBC families who have fostered or adopted.  I’ll share some of their insights throughout the message.

When I asked them how they were first introduced to fostering or adopting, one person said it was seeing some extended family removed from their home when she was a teenager: “It was a seed planted by the Lord for a need I would get to help with later.”  Another couple was moved to take their next step after hearing about adoption at a Christian concert.  One woman mentioned her journey has been “startling and Holy Spirit-driven.”  She remembers being called to this ministry on a Thursday morning in 2016.  Another simply said, “I remember thinking we had been blessed by God and we should help others.”  One husband attributed it all to “God’s providence.”  Another dad-to-be heard about embryo adoption on Moody radio.  One wife said it was a Father’s Day sermon at Edgewood.

I see four pro-life roles in our passage.  As we go through each one, ask God which role God is calling you to play.

To me, the key is to see.  When I don’t see, I short-circuit who God wants me to be.  See and serve the most vulnerable.  We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all capable of doing something.

1. See and rescue (Exodus 1:15-21). 

After Pharaoh made life miserable for the Israelites, he instituted euthanasia.  Notice verse 15: “Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah.” Since there were no OB/GYNs back then, it was common for a woman to use a midwife.  The word literally means, “One who helps to bear.”  The name “Shiphrah” means, “beautiful or brightness” and “Puah” means, “blossom or splendor.”  

Verse 16 details their gruesome task: “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.”  Essentially, he was commanding them to do partial-birth abortions on all the boys.

In verse 17, we see that because of their convictions they refused to follow the king’s command: “But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.”  Don’t miss why they refused to take innocent life.  It’s because they “feared God.”  They knew God would be dishonored if they carried out the king’s desires.  To fear God is revere Him, to live in awe of Him and to submit to Him.

When we see God for who He is, we will understand the taking of any life He has created as a direct assault on Him.

Abortion is ultimately an attack on God and on His most prized creation, those whom He has created in His image.  Abortion is not simply a social justice issue, though it certainly is that.  It’s not primarily a political issue or a women’s rights issue.  This is a God issue and the baby is not just tissue.  That’s why it all comes back to fearing God.  When we see God for who He is, we will understand the taking of any life He has created as a direct assault on Him.

On Monday, I was saddened that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.  I was heartened to hear what Justice Clarence Thomas said in his dissenting opinion: “Our abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled.  The idea that the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment understood the Due Process Clause to protect a right to abortion is farcical.”

On that same day, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill requiring women to wait 24 hours to get an abortion.  This is what she said: “I’m proud to stand up for the sanctity of every human life.”

These godly women were so committed to God there was no way they could take human life.  They were living out Proverbs 24:11: “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.” 

Pregnancy Resources, one of our Go Team partners, helps people see and rescue babies.  Shiphrah and Puah, the first pro-life heroines in the Bible, saw and served the most vulnerable.  We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all capable of doing something.

The next role won’t apply to all of us but will be fulfilled by some of us.

2. See and release (Exodus 1:22-2:4). 

Pharaoh is now amped up because his plans have been thwarted, which led him to make a proclamation in verse 22: “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”  This is a direct order to all people and is very specific: “every son” is to be thrown in the Nile.  

In Exodus 2:1 we’re introduced to a couple: “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.”  The Levites were set apart for worship and service.  Look at what happens in verse 2: “The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.”  The word “fine” means, “well-pleasing.”  When she saw the beauty of God’s creation, she did everything she could to protect her son.

We know from other passages that her name was Jochabed.   She faced an inconvenient pregnancy but actually could be killed herself if she kept her baby boy.  

She was living out what the Bible clearly teaches about the beginning of life as stated in Psalm 139:13: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”

We see what she does next in verse 3: “When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch.  She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.”  

Jochabed is a birth mom who recognizes it would be unhealthy for her to keep her baby, so she places him for adoption.

In the whole topic of adoption, we don’t think enough about the grief and loss that birth parents and birth grandparents experience.  I can’t imagine how hard this was for them to do.  One dad of an adopted child put it like this: 

“The word adoption for me is a dark and sad word.  When I hear the word adoption, I hear brokenness.  I feel pain.  I see loss and I know it is surrounded by confusion.  I often see joyous pictures of “adoption day” and proud new parents.  However, having been through the process, I know how hard most of their journeys have been.  I can relate to difficulties they will soon face.  Some see it as the start of a puzzle, I see it as the beginning of putting a broken mirror back together.  Is adoption beautiful?  Of course, it is.  Is it a joyous occasion?  Most definitely.  However, on the day of our son’s adoption, I celebrated the new beginning as an official father, but I also mourned for all my new son had just officially lost.  There is a dark and sad side of fostering and adopting that most parents wish they didn’t know. Adoption is caused by tragic events.”

Pastor Chad helped me understand this “cycle of loss” and referenced a term called, “ambiguous loss” that affects adoptive parents.  He also sent me a couple articles to read.  Here are some highlights: 

“Adoption may seem a simple concept, but anyone inside it knows it as a complex and layered family experience with deep and invisible undercurrents…adoption loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful…every adoption is built on a foundation of tragedy and loss…adoption is not a win-win, but involves loss for all parties…far too many are left out in the cold, feeling nothing but emptiness, loss and betrayal…no matter what type of adoption occurs – open or closed – the mother has experienced a grievous loss she will never forget.”

We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all capable of doing something.

See and serve the most vulnerable.  We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all capable of doing something.

The third role is where the majority of us will find ourselves.

3. See and respond (Exodus 2:4, 7). 

In verse 4, we’re introduced to Miriam, the sister of Moses: “And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.”  She knows that Moses is in a basket among the reeds, so she stays close.  By the way, she may have been 10-12 years old or maybe a young teenager.

The irony of what happens next can only be described as God’s providence in verses 5: “Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river.  She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it.”  

Miriam jumps into action, using words that are both wise and respectful in verse 7: “Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’”  Her emphasis is on the princess, not on the baby – “call you a nurse…for you.”  Miriam was watchful, creative, inventive, available, faithful, cordial, and nearby.  In short, she was resolute and resourceful.

I’m so glad we also partner with Safe Families for Children.  Perhaps God is calling some of us to host a child in our home, provide care for a mom who needs to attend a doctor’s appointment, or help another host family with resource needs such as a crib, diapers, clothes or even a meal.  If you’d like to learn more, check out the link on Sermon Extras.

When Miriam saw the need, she stayed near so she could help meet that need.  We must be near someone to help them when they’re in need.  If you’re close you can reach out in a crisis.  

Incidentally, because schools have been closed, fewer people are seeing the most vulnerable children.  This is leading to underreporting of abuse and neglect.  This is very concerning.  One foster mom writes: “There is a huge need.  Children right now under shut down are suffering.  The usual mandated reporters are teachers and daycare workers.  With kids mostly at home these problems are going unseen.  They are predicting an influx of children coming into foster care as schools open back up.  They have already called us and asked us if we could be willing to take an emergency temporary placement when things get back to normal because they know their foster homes will get full.”

Because Miriam stayed close, she was able to speak up and speak into a crisis situation as she lived out Proverbs 31:8: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

See and serve the most vulnerable.  We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all capable of doing something.

I see a fourth role in this passage.

4. See and replant (Exodus 2:5-6, 8-10). 

Pharaoh’s daughter (we believe her name was Bithiah from 1 Chronicles 4:18) represents someone who used her platform to protect life by adopting Moses.

She was moved with compassion when she opened the basket and saw the “child, and behold, the baby was crying.  She took pity on him and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’”  The word for crying here is “wailing and weeping.”  The poor little guy is in deep distress.  The phrase, “took pity on him” is the idea of compassion that involves doing what is right to provide relief for the plight of the child.  When she sees his tears and hears his helpless cries, she is committed to help.  

After Miriam comes up with the idea to have the mother of Moses care for the baby, Bithiah says in verses 8-9: “‘Go.’  So the girl went and called the child’s mother…‘Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.’  So the woman took the child and nursed him.”  Jochabed is not only able to nurse her son but also nurtures him during his formative years and she gets paid to do so!  How ironic that Pharaoh, who called for the killing of boys, ends up paying the mother of Moses to raise her own son!  

Don’t miss the importance of this time she had with Moses to teach him about the ways of God.  We read in Hebrews 11:27 that his faith was strong: “Not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.” 

In the providence of God, we read in verse 10 that Pharaoh’s daughter then raises him when he’s older.  She serves as a foster parent, who ended up adopting him.

She named him Moses because she said, “I drew him out of the water.”  Ironically, Moses ended up leading his people out of the water when they fled from Egypt.  He was drawn out so he could draw others out.  One of Pharaoh’s own children rescues and replants a Hebrew child who would later release God’s children from the bondage of Egypt.  God uses one from the house of the seed of the serpent to help deliver the seed of the woman.  That’s some deep stuff right there.

Interestingly, Moses was given a great education as the grandson of Pharaoh and received military and administrative training, which later helped him lead the Israelites.  Only God can do this!  He has a plan.  He loves to bring good out of bad.  

Who do you identify most with in this pro-life narrative?  Are you ready to use your role as God writes His story for His glory?  The whole narrative moves forward because women saw and served the most vulnerable.  Get this – God’s plan to save the entire nation of Israel turns on the hinge of a few women who love children!

I like Kevin DeYoung’s perspective…

You never know what God is up to.  The word for “basket” in Hebrew is only used in one other place in the Old Testament: Genesis 6-8, where it’s translated, over and over again, as “ark.”  Surely, Moses is making a deliberate connection: just like God built a great big ark so eight people and a whole bunch of animals could survive the flood, saving his people, now He’s going to build a little ark for one baby, saving His people.  That’s how God works.

That’s how He worked in Jesus.  Jesus faced the same thing: a tyrannical king who ordered that all the baby boys would be killed.  But his parents believed, so they fled to Egypt.  Just as God saved Moses to save his people, so God saved baby Jesus to save His people.  When the human rescue looked impossible, the world’s power seemed impressive, and God’s people seemed so vulnerable, God had a plan that could not be thwarted.  He delivered Moses so that He could deliver the Israelites.  1,400 years later, He would deliver Jesus so that He could deliver us.  God always has a plan, and He can use anyone to carry it out.

That’s the good news…the even better and more surprising news is that God used the death of the Messiah, his own Son, to save us from our sins.  It’s a small hinge, but it changed history.  If you believe, it can change your life too.

See and serve the most vulnerable.  We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all capable of doing something.

  1. Like Shiphrah and Puah, will you see and rescue?
  2. Like Jochabed, are you called to see and release?
  3. Like Miriam, will you see and respond?
  4. Like Bithiah, will you see and replant?

As I reflected on all this, I was drawn to a few other passages. 

  • Deuteronomy 10:18: “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”
  • Psalm 68:5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” God’s heart is for every widow to have someone to watch over her and every orphan to have a family.  
  • Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” 
  • Matthew 25:40: “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”  We’re called to see the little, the least and the lost and to serve them.
  • Romans 8:15: “But you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”  Everyone is a spiritual orphan until they are adopted into the family of God through the new birth.
  • James 1:27 gives us some specific ways to respond to our topic today: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

The word “pure” is from the root “catharsis” or cleansing and “undefiled” is the idea of being sincere.  The word “visit” means to see someone closely, which leads to concern, which leads to contact, which leads to serving.  Plus, it’s is in the present tense, meaning we’re to have “the habit of helping in continual ministry.”  We’re to help the helpless and care for the little and the least.  The word “affliction” refers to stress, pressure and affliction.  

Someone said it like this: “We are never closer to the heart of God then when we care for orphans and widows.”  There’s an old saying, “There is none so blind as he who will not see.”  

Perhaps these statistics will help us see those who are most vulnerable.

  • There are approximately 153 million orphans worldwide
  • In the U.S. there are about 443,000 children in foster care
  • More than 123,000 in foster care are waiting and available for adoption
  • In Illinois, there are 18,220 in foster care; in Iowa there are nearly 10,000
  • In Rock Island County, there are 231 in foster care; Scott County has 366
  • There are between 600,000 to one million frozen human embryos, some of whom are available for adoption.  One Edgewood couple is doing embryo adoption right now and the wife is six months pregnant!

The evangelical church has been vocal and active in its objection to abortion…and we’ll continue to do so.  But we have generally fallen short in seeing and serving the most vulnerable.  We must do a better job promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion.  Could God be calling you to be a foster parent or to adopt a child?

Check this out.

  • 5% of Christians have adopted, compared to 2% of all Americans
  • 38% of Christians have seriously considered adoption, compared to 26% of all Americans
  • 3% of Christians have fostered, compared to 2% of the rest of the population
  • If only 7% of the world’s 2.1 billion Christians each cared for an orphan, there would effectively be no more orphans!

It would be great if seeing and serving the most vulnerable would not be a special ministry but rather a normal response from God’s people.  It’s not just for special people – it’s for everyone.  In fact, it’s one more way for us to live on mission.  Those who foster and adopt should be seen as missionaries in need of our support.

See and serve the most vulnerable.  We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all capable of doing something.

In the book “Replanted,” the authors give three key truths about caring for vulnerable children:

  • It’s holy work.  One mom who has fostered, adopted and is now a Safe Family host writes, “It feels good knowing we’re doing something that is specifically mentioned several times in the Bible…you don’t have to have it all together to do adoption.  If all of us waited until we were ready or had more money, or we were older, or we ‘arrived,’ we’d never do it…If you are feeling called – take that next step.”  One adoptive dad says, “Foster care is for the brave, the faithful, the meek, and the called.”  A mom-to-be exclaims, “Do it!  This has been one of the biggest blessings in our lives.”  A foster mom writes: “It’s worth every minute.  It’s worth every tear and heartbreak.  It is always harder on these little ones than it is on us.  Always.  We have Christ and a support system to help us.  They don’t.”
  • It’s hard work.  One dad gives this counsel: “It is a difficult job and without God building the house, the labor is in vain!  Should you act on the mission service that God leads you to?  Absolutely!  Will God provide? Most definitely.  Is it scary?  Of course.  Are there 10,000 reasons not to do it?  You bet.  But there is only one reason you should say yes…if God asks you to do it.”  One mom writes: “The challenges are many, and I am sure there are many more to come.  I am parenting a boy that has been passed around and rejected by the people who are supposed to care for him.”  Another foster mom gives this counsel: “Life is hard.  No question about it.  No matter what we do life will be difficult.  And if the Lord is calling, we will have more hardship and consequence if we avoid His call.  If we are in His will and follow where He leads, He will equip us and comfort us for the hard things He asks us to do.  He is so much more faithful than we are.  We can choose a hard life without Christ or a hard life with Christ.”
  • It’s holistic work.  One couple who adopted later in life writes, “There are many children, especially in war-torn countries, who need loving families.  We believe Edgewood is a resource for families who have adopted children, a place those children can learn the truth about Jesus Christ.  Edgewood staff and members are very supportive of families with adopted children.  Anyone wanting to adopt should know they are never alone in the process.” An adoptive mom writes: “I wish people knew that even if they aren’t called to foster or adopt, there are many ways to support those who are…the biggest blessings have been friends who bring us dinner, friends who text and ask what size diapers to bring over…it is overwhelming and humbling to see our community be the hands and feet of Jesus while we stand in the gap for these precious children.”

See and serve the most vulnerable.  We’re not all called to do the same thing, but we’re all capable of doing something.

Are you ready to find your something?


Unbelievably, I fell again on Monday.  Only this time, Beth saw it happen and ran out to help.  She found me in the fetal position, whimpering on our patio holding my shoulder.  She compassionately cared for me, helped me up, got me some ice and a pillow and laid me down on the couch.  In short, she saw, and she served.  This week I’ll have surgery on my shoulder to repair and reattach what’s wrong.

Do you see those who have fallen?  Do you see the most vulnerable?  

Will you see and rescue?  

Will you see and release?  

Will you see and respond?  

Will you see and replant?

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?