|THE PRINCE OF EGYPT
Series: Moses - Part One
Pastor Stephen Muncherian
April 30, 2017
This morning we’re coming to Exodus 2. We are beginning a study of Moses.
How many of you have seen The Ten Commandments? Or, The Prince of Egypt? It’s been said that Hollywood would have had to invent Moses if God hadn’t beaten them to it.
Moses is epic. Rags to riches. Noble dreams. Blown possibilities. Immaturity. Unexpected turns of events. Political intrigue. World changing events. Great struggles between peoples. Religion and romance. There’s even sheep and goats and frogs.
So, we’re looking at Moses. But more than DreamWorks PC version or Cecil B. DeMille’s epic distortion of the Bible - we want to study what God says about Moses and what all that epic is about.
Often the Old Testament comes across as dry history with irrelevant sacrifices and people with impossible to pronounce names living in places we have no clue about and may not even care about. Ever feel that way?
But the Old Testament is real people living real lives in real time in real places - just like us. Nations and people and circumstances that God uses to illustrate what it means to live in real time in relationship with Him. That God uses to illustrate for us what He’s doing in history - for our redemption and His glory.
So, studying Moses and how he fits into all that - we want to start with a brief overview of the big picture of what God is doing in His creation - what we’ve been studying since January.
In Genesis, God creates… creation. Everything out of nothing. Then God forms what we see around us. God creates - forms Adam and Eve - humanity. God creating us in His image. Places Adam and Eve into a unique relationship with Him in a garden He forms in Eden.
Then Adam - who represents all of us - yet to be born - humans - Adam disobeys God - sins - so that we all fall out of relationship with God. Meaning that each of us is born into sin and separation from God.
God - in Genesis 3 - explains what that broken relationship will look like. Which isn’t pretty. There’s a curse. And, God explains what He - God - is going to do about it. Ultimately a promise of redemption - buying us back out of our sin. What in Genesis 3 is the first indication of the Gospel - God’s plan of redemption - what points to Jesus. God dealing with what separates us from Him.
Then moving forward through Genesis - what is sin and depravity on display. The ugliness of what humanity can fall into. In the midst of that is Noah - living rightly with God - and the flood and God’s preservation of Noah’s family. God acting to fulfill His promise. An act that points forward to Jesus. God’s promise
Then God chooses Abraham. Makes a covenant with Abraham - the Abrahamic… Covenant. 3 parts. First… A land - a place to dwell with God - a foreshadowing of living God forever. Second… seed - descendants. In Abraham God is choosing a person but He’s also choosing a people in whom and through whom to work. Third… Blessing. What God promises to do in and through Abraham’s descendants ultimately points to God’s plan of redemption and Jesus - to us as God’s people.
Moving through Genesis - we see God working that out - through Isaac - the child of promise who foreshadows Jesus’ sacrifice - and Jacob who becomes Israel - the father of the twelve tribes.
Which brings us to Joseph - the son of Jacob sold as a slave into Egypt. What Andrew touched on last Sunday. God’s faithfulness to His people in bleak times. God getting His people into Egypt to preserve them and grow them in numbers - in population - and to prepare them to step forward as a people onto the land and relationship that God had prepared for them. (Genesis 45:4-8; 46:2; 50:2-4)
Genesis ends with God’s people in Egypt. God had told Abraham his descendants would dwell in a foreign land as servants - think slaves - for 400 years. Then God would deliver them and send them out with great possessions.
Coming to Exodus - Exodus begins when those 400 years are just about up. There’s a new Pharaoh on the throne who’s oppressing and exploiting God’s people. A king who is deeply concerned because the Hebrews are multiplying like rabbits and potentially might side with Egypt's enemies and take out Pharaoh and company.
So, in a horrendous attempt at population control Pharaoh commands that every male Hebrew baby be exterminated. Which we know didn’t work because the Hebrew midwives feared God not Pharaoh. So then Pharaoh orders his own people to kill off the Hebrew baby boys by drowning them in the Nile.
It is what could be described as the worst of times. And yet - big picture thinking - it is the best of times because God is fulfilling His promise - moving forward His plan of redemption - what will lead to Jesus. Which is where we begin with Moses.
Exodus 2 - starting at verse 1 - we’ve gone from Cecil B. DeMille to Lego. This is familiar. Yes? Let me read for us and we’ll make some observations as we go along.
Verse 1: Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.
We find out later in Exodus 6 that the man’s name is Amram and his wife’s name is Jochebed. Both are descendants of Levi. Meaning that Moses is a descendant of Levi - a line of descendants that God later establishes as where His priests are to come from. (Exodus 6:20)
Verse 2: The woman - Jochebed - conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child - meaning absolutely adorable - healthy - well formed - full of potential and promise.
So… when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months.
Why three months? Not sure. Except Hebrews 11:23 tells us that they were not afraid of Pharaoh or his command. So, because they had faith in God, they hid Moses for three months.
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.
At the end of three months when to hide Moses would have been against God’s timing - Jochebed makes a basket for the baby out of bulrushes and bitumen.
She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.
Imagine doing this as a mother. Jochebed goes against her natural affections as a mother and by faith places the baby in a basket made of bulrushes and bitumen among the bushes by the bank. The very place where babies were to be drowned.
And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.
Verse 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. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews' children.”
Pharaoh’s daughter comes to the river to bathe. Could be some kind of religious ritual. Could be pure hygienics. We don’t know. However, it is probable that the timing was regular enough that Moses’ sister knows she’s coming. This is a set-up. Put the basket in. Watch to see what happens.
Notice that Moses being Hebrew is not a great secret. Not a mystery to Pharaoh’s daughter - and everyone who’s with her. She knows what he is. He’s a Hebrew baby boy who is to be put to death and she knows the law. After all - this is Pharaoh’s daughter.
But she takes pity on Moses. Why? There’s a tradition that says that she was an only child and had no children. So there’s a longing here that she’s looking to Moses of fulfill. We don’t know.
Except - grab this - Moses - rather than being drowned in the Nile - by a set of improbable circumstances - Moses’ parents acting by faith in God and according to God’s timing - Moses is saved - by the daughter of Pharaoh.
Do you think God is at work here? Big time. Big picture perspective in the worst of times.
Verse 7: Then his [Moses’] sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”
In Exodus 15 we find out that Moses’ sister is Miriam - who was one gusty lady. But even so - can you imagine stepping out of the bushes on the White House lawn while Ivanka Trump is taking a bath and striking up a conversation with her about some immigrant baby she just fished out of the pond. Just saying. Not only does this take guts but a lot of faith. It’s a God moment that Miriam’s not toasted on the spot.
Verse 8: And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child's mother - who is… Jochebed.
And Pharaoh's daughter said to her - Jochebed - “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.
Worst of times. Big picture thinking - God at work. Moses instead of being dead is raised by his own mother under the protection of a princess of Egypt. Only God.
Verse 10: When the child grew older, she - Jochebed - brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She - Pharaoh’s daughter - named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
There are number of questions here we don’t have answers to. Did Pharaoh’s daughter ever tell Pharaoh the origin of the child? Why did Pharaoh allow his daughter to adopt the child at all? Did the daughter ever marry? What did she tell her husband if she had a husband?
We don’t know. If it was important for us to know God would have told us.
How long was Moses raised in the home of Jochebed and Amram? We don’t know.
What God does tell us is that when the child grew older Jochebed brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter. The wording in Hebrew “When the child grew older” means he was probably a teenager - a young man. Meaning Moses was old enough to have been taught his family history - the Hebrew language - Hebrew customs and culture - most importantly - a belief in Elohim - God. And God’s promises to His people.
What was Moses’ Hebrew name. Something or other ben Amram. We don’t know. The Hebrew for Moses “Mosheh” is related to the word “mashah” - meaning “to draw out” - like out of the water. Probably that may be more intentional irony on God’s part than what Pharaoh’s daughter was thinking.
God tells us that it was Pharaoh’s daughter who gave him the name Moses.
The name Moses may have something to do with the name of the Pharaoh at the time that was Moses was born. Moses was probably born in 1526 BC. The Pharaoh at the time was Thutmose I - reigned from 1539 to 1514 BC.
Take away the “thut and we’re left with “mose” - Thut-mose I - Moses. Which is a way the Egyptians handed out names. Makes sense if Moses was named by Thutmose’s daughter.
What we need to know is that when Pharaoh’s daughter took him into her home. Made him to be her own child. She gave him the name Moses. “Because I drew him out of the water - emphasis “I” - I have the right to adopt him - to name him - to raise him.”
Verse 11: One day, when Moses had grown up,
How grown up was Moses? We don’t know. Stephen - in his message recorded in Acts 7 - Stephen says that Moses was 40. (Acts 7:23)
One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people
That’s significant. Moses raised as the son of the daughter of Pharaoh - grandson of Thutmose I - educated in the finest Egyptian schools - trained in Egyptian warfare - raised in Egyptian culture - in the household of Pharaoh - at age 40 - now a prince of Egypt - is mature and ready to assume his rightful place in Egypt - a man of power and reputation.
And yet - Moses - in Hebrew “drawn out” - was initially raised Hebrew - his values and culture and language and education and religious training - all that was Hebrew - passed down to him by Amram and Jochebed. Moses leaves the palace - travels to Goshen - to his people.
Forget Cecil B. DeMille - it wasn’t a surprise to Moses that he was a Hebrew - or anyone else for that matter.
Moses goes out to his people - and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people.
Verse 12: He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?”
Verse 14: He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.”
Why wouldn’t the matter have become known? Moses knew what he’d done. So did the rescued and still breathing Hebrew slave. Imagine one minute you’re being beaten mercilessly by an Egyptian and the next the Prince of Egypt comes - kills the Egyptian - and rescues you. What a God moment. Who wouldn’t tell someone. The matter was known.
The reaction here - by the Hebrews - is significant. “Who made you prince? You’re a Hebrew like us. Who made you our judge? You’re a murderer. What are you going to do? Kill us too?” They’re not buying Moses’ authority to tell them what to do.
That Moses is afraid is also significant. Perhaps - as a Prince of Egypt he could have killed hundreds of ordinary Hebrews. They’re just slaves. But what right does he have to kill an Egyptian?
The point is that Moses is operating in his own power - defending and delivering his people - without authority to do so. He’s taken matters into his own hands and he’s in trouble.
Which is what happens. Doesn’t it? When we get ahead of God. It’s scary when we realize we’ve stepped out on our own and without God. When we’re working in our timing by our own whit, wisdom, and working - and not waiting on God. Easy to be afraid when we come face to face with our inadequacy. Easy to be afraid thinking about what may happen.
Verse 15: When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.
A quick orientation. This is the empire of Thutmose I. Tremendous builder and a king who pushed Egypt’s boundaries to their greatest extent. The capital at that time was Thebes - probably the largest city in the world. Goshen is where the Hebrews were living, slaving, and dying. Midian is way over to the east.
Notice that Thutmose I doesn’t try to protect his namesake with some kind of pardon. Could have and probably no one would have dared question it. Question Pharaoh and die. But Pharaoh tries to kill Moses. Another consequence of Moses moving forward without God.
Contrary to Cecil B. DeMille it isn’t Ramses II - half brother of Moses - who sends him into exile to the great sorrow of Nefertiri: “Moses… Moses…” It’s Moses who takes matters into his own hands and flees Pharaoh - the Egyptians - the Hebrews - heading across the Sinai Peninsula to Midian. Why? Because he’s blown it big time in Egypt.
Processing all that... There are two take homes for us this morning:
First: Moses Is Unique - and so are you.
Moses is a Hebrew. He’s born into a nation of slaves. He’s begun life being raised in a Hebrew home. He’s learned to identify with his brethren - their culture - their language. He’s been taught to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - his forefathers. He’s heard of God’s promises and he knows that their 400 years are drawing to a close.
Moses is born into the tribe of Levi. Amram and Jochebed are both descended from Levi. That’s a uniqueness that God is going to use later - Moses with his brother Aaron and the whole Aaronic priesthood. Moses interceding for God’s people before God. Moses the priest.
Point being: Moses’ tribal affiliation isn’t random.
And yet, he’s been raised Egyptian - raised in the household of Pharaoh. Top of the food chain baby! He’s been educated in the finest schools of the world. He lacks nothing material. He has all the prestige and honor that comes with the position of being a Prince of Egypt.
With all that - at a time when God’s people are being brutalized - desperate for a deliverer - Moses alone is in a unique position to understand and appreciate both cultures - both situations in life. Uniquely placed to be used by God to deliver God’s people.
Remember Psalm 139? David considering his own uniqueness before God? You - God - made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You - God - saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139: 13-16 NLT)
In Ephesians 2 - the Apostle Paul writes - same truth put slightly different: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Hold onto the uniqueness of who God has created and called you to be.
It would be easy to say, “Well I’m not Moses.” Which is true. None of us is a Moses or an Abraham or a David or an Isaiah or a Peter or a Paul - or any other of the heroes of the Bible or our faith. But you are a you. The truth still applies.
Try saying this to yourself: “I am a me.” Tell someone near you: “You are a you.”
So many of us go through times when we feel about 3 steps behind - outmatched - confused - knowing we fall short - struggling at the task of being Godly men and women - living Godly in whatever the role He’s called us to.
Too often we look around and wish we were like someone else. By comparison we fill ourselves with self-doubt. Too often we listen to the voices of criticism and not the voice of God. Well intentioned people who expect us to act like something God never intended us to be. We struggle with feelings of inadequacy and failure.
God is personally involved in the very days and details of your life. God has created us and prepared us for His tremendous purpose for our lives - the big picture of where He’s going in His creation. And in Christ we can know and live out the tremendous significance and purpose God has given to our lives.
That truth doesn’t change based on circumstance. What we’re up against or struggling to be free of. That doesn’t change based on what we may think of ourselves or what other people may think of us. It just is. Because God says it is. Big picture focus.
Meaning: No matter how you may feel about yourself - whatever struggle you may be wrestling with deep within - hang on to your God created uniqueness - the value - the purpose - the awesomeness of who He’s created you to be.
Whether you see it or not - whether there’s more exploring to do to understand it - whether there are things that need to be cleaned up - healed - stripped away - it doesn’t change the bottom line reality.
You are God’s unique creation and He has created you for His unique purpose for you.
Which brings us to our second take home which is that our God given uniqueness isn’t about us - it’s about God.
It’s not hard to imagine some of what Moses may have struggled with. Essentially he’s caught between two worlds. Hebrew and Egyptian. A slave and a prince. Sensing God’s call on his life - his unique position and possibilities - where does he fit in? How is he suppose to step forward into all of that?
Moses takes His God given uniqueness and does what? Kills the Egyptian. Saves the slave. Gives the command: “Stop hitting your brother.” Delivering God’s people. Leading God’s people.
At a time when God’s people are being brutalized by the Egyptians - desperate for a deliverer - Moses - prince of Egypt - son of Hebrew slaves - uniquely prepared by God - God’s man - steps in to deliver God’s people - and is totally rejected by his own people. Is totally rejected by the Egyptians. Ends up fleeing across the desert to Midian. Ends up sitting by a well waiting for next Sunday’s episode - a huge disaster.
Ever been there? Not Midian. But, trying to do the right thing and falling flat on your face - epic failure.
We need to be careful. The truth of who God has made us to be is not an invitation to pride and arrogance.
Like Moses - one of our great desires as we’re moving along through life - we want to know that what we’ve done - what we’ve ground away at - how we’ve lived - has counted for something of significance - something that might even out last us.
To accomplish all that we’re so tempted to live off of our strengths. To cover where we feel inadequate. To prove that we’re competent. That we have what it takes. Even sometimes trying to convince ourselves that we’re following God. And like Moses we fail every time. Because all that is about us and not God. Our small perspective of life not God’s big picture of what He’s about doing.
How often do we need to be brought back to the truth that to be Godly - to live out what it means to live life by God and for God - to be Godly we have to begin with God?
God chooses Abram and covenants with him. “This is what I - God - will do.” God promising to make a person into a people. God chooses Isaac. Determines the timing and circumstances of his birth. God chooses Jacob - not Esau - chooses Jacob to father 12 tribes.
God raises up Joseph who was sold into slavery - to be raised up to become #2 in the nation in order for God to send his family into Egypt - away from the land God promised them - so that they can become slaves in order to make them into a great nation.
Moses - the tongue tied younger sibling who struggles with his self-image - becomes the spokesman for God before the king and the leader of God’s people.
Are we seeing a trend here? How God works?
God has His people attacking a city by blowing trumpets and shouting. God has Gideon winnow down 32,000 men to 300 in order to defeat the Midianite army. David - the overlooked youngest brother becomes king. God’s anointed rather than the manly looking choice of the people Saul.
The rich man goes to Hell while Lazarus, the poor man gets carried to Heaven by angels. The women are the first to view the resurrection - not the men. The greatest among you are the servants. To gain your life you need to loose it.
God the Sovereign Creator dies taking the place of His creation in order to fulfill His promise to redeem what is unholy - offensive - depraved - rejecting Him and rebellious against Him in order to make us to be holy before Him - to enjoy relationship with Him forever.
It’s just weird how God does things. Isn’t it? God upending and reversing the order of what we see as the way things are - our perspective of reality - how we’d do things by our own whit, wisdom, and working.
Observing God at work - over and over we see God’s sovereignty and our own human inadequacy. Lessons in Who God is - how He’s working His big picture - how great He is and how greatly we need Him.
Paul writes: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even the things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31)
God’s choosing us isn’t about our ability or what God expects us to achieve by ourselves or our own uniqueness. What matters isn’t our strength or power but our utter dependence on God.
God choosing us isn’t about us but about God. That truth - along with encouraging us in our weakness - that truth should humble us in our relationships with others and drive us to seek utter dependence on God.
In our weakness and failure - in the way less than perfect circumstances of our lives - when we trust God - He strengthens what is weak and restores what is wounded and binds what is broken and lifts us out of the crud of where we live and uses us beyond our ability for His purposes and His glory.
The big picture that we’ve been following since Genesis 1 is God at work redeeming what was broken by sin - each of us. It’s what we’re going to see God using Moses to accomplish. It’s what God desires to do in us and through us - transforming our weakness and failure - into what is useful for His glory.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.