Power to Save

Posted on 19 Aug 2018, Pastor: Rev Hans Vaatstra

Manuscript of this sermon is available for reading services.

Reading Hebrews 11:17-26
Text: Exodus 1:22-2:10

Power to Save

Reading: Hebrews 11:17-26.  Text: Exodus 1:22-2:10

So far in the book of Exodus we’ve seen the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 in the formation of a nation. Chapter 1 verse 2 says “The sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly and multiplied and became exceedingly mighty so that the land was filled with them. We also see the fulfilment of that prediction God gave Abraham centuries earlier recorded in Genesis 17:13 that the Abraham’s descendants would be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.

To be sure while Joseph was alive their subjugation was bearable, they flourished in the land of Goshen and later as well under the reign of the Hyksos (the shepherd kings). However when these kings from the north were ousted and new Egyptian rulers took over the Hebrews slavery became a lot harder to bear.

The significant thing here for us is that these experiences remind us that God’s promises do not fail and that his word can be trusted. They also remind us that God, not man is sovereign and that he has the power to save. We see that power to save in this account of the saving of baby Moses who was destined by God to be Israel’s leader and mediator.

So the theme of the sermon is that God has the power to save therefore we should put our faith not in dictators and despots but in God.

We look at our text in three parts

1 A dictator’s final solution.

It seemed that Pharaoh tried everything to prevent the Hebrews from spreading out over his land. First he put them to hard labour. He had slave drivers with clubs and sticks to beat the Hebrews into submission. He made them build entire cities, palaces and probably some pyramids as well.  But that didn’t seem to hurt the Hebrews at all since according to the record they continued to multiply. I guess hard work never hurt anyone.

So Pharaoh figured if these people have any more strong young men they’ll outnumber our own and have the numbers and strength to take over. So on to plan B. Pharaoh ordered the senior midwives Shiprah and Puah to order all the other midwives to kill every little Hebrew boy at birth.

But thanks to these two splendid women that didn’t work. They feared God and weren’t about to go about murdering baby boys as so as they were born.

So then this deranged Egyptian king, having failed at slavery and infanticide resorted to genocide. Exodus 1:22; “Every son who is born you are to throw into the Nile and every daughter you shall let live. Pharaoh was determined to decimating the male population and have the surplus women marry Egyptian men thus gradually absorbing them into Egyptian nation and way of life.

This is one of Satan’s strategies today too. If Christians yoke unevenly, take up unbelieving spouses, take on more and more worldliness such as skipping church, doing as they please on the Lord’s day like everyone else they’ll gradually get secularized and loose more and more of their Christian character.

And so Pharaoh was determined to annihilate these Hebrew as a distinct people of God. First subject them to slavery, then kill the baby boys in secret and then give up any pretence of being nice and openly throw them into the Nile. We can compare that kind of behaviour to the WW2 Holocaust. First develop nationalistic pride among those of Aryan descent, then mount some  hate propaganda towards the Jews, then close their businesses, then openly harass them with the ‘final solution’ send them to the concentration camps and gas chambers.

We see the same escalation of evil in our own day and nation. At first the murder of children in the womb was performed secretly in backstreet clinics.  It then received political sanction through softening abortion laws with the final step, to decriminalise it altogether.  The End of Life Choice bill is just as dangerous since it leaves the way open to involuntary euthanasia and eugenics with someone else determining whether or not a human life is worth living.

This is what life is like when people turn their backs on God and are not God fearing as they may once have been then in a country with a Christian heritage. The Christians influence wanes. More and more restraint is thrown off, sin and evil increase and God’s people are hated and persecuted as it happened over 400 years in Egypt.

Even so,  for those who continue to trust in God there is no need to fear because Pharaoh by harming God’s people was working against the plans and promises of God. History clearly shows that any king or regime which does that will not last.   Like other kingdoms which have come and gone, Egypt became a wasteland, its many monuments destroyed and damaged. Neither did Hitlers 3rd Reich succeed. It was obliterated.  Neither will those who promote a culture of death today succeed. God is on the side of those who trust and fear him. That takes me to my second point.

  1. A mediator is born and saved

It must have been a ghastly sight to see the Egyptian police seize the Hebrew baby boys and watch them throwing them into the River Nile as food for the crocodiles. Imagine the terrified and heart-broken parents. It was in those desperate times that a brave young Hebrew couple from the tribe of Levi conceived and bore a son.  In Exodus 6:20 we learn that Moses Father’s name was Amram and his mother Jochabed. Having the child and keeping him alive must have been a frightening ordeal for the fsamily because at any moment a passing Egyptian might hear the baby cry and report the family to the authorities.

So they devised a way of saving the child. Jochabed made a wicker basket and waterproofed it by covering it with pitch. She then placed her baby in it and carefully laid him among the reeds by the River Nile. She called her daughter Miriam and had her stand near by and watch over her the basket and it precious contents.

Now it’s quite likely that Jochabed thought carefully about where to place the basket since his best chance of survival was if a kind Egyptian would adopt him. As it turned out she chose a place near which one of Pharaoh’s daughters bathed. And so Pharaoh’s daughter came along, saw the basket and had one of her maids retrieve it. Verse 6 says that when she opened the basket and saw the child she had pity on him and said this is one of the Hebrew children.”

Pharaoh’s daughter could have been like her father and ordered her maid to throw the baby to the crocs. But no, she took one look at the boy, saw how beautiful he was and her heart melted. Against her father’s orders she decided to care for this little child.

Her compassionate response reminds us that salvation wasn’t just for the Jews. Ultimately it was meant for the whole world including the Egyptians. And so when the Hebrews eventually did leave some 80 years later chapter 12:38 says that a “mixed multitude went with them”. It was always God’s intention that his people be a light to the nations and that the gospel be universal and so on the day of Pentecost which is recorded in Acts 2, among the people who heard the gospel were Egyptians.  And so as the narrative goes, when the child was weaned Pharaoh’s daughter took little Moses in and raised him as her own.

Behind these event is God who is at work carrying out his plan of salvation.

God was at work in the birth of a saviour. He formed Moses in his mother’s womb a goodly or beautiful child which reminds us that everything God makes is very good.

He was at work in the baby’s basket.  God’s plan of salvation triumphed over evil as that basket floated down the Nile with baby Moses safely tucked up inside. We are reminded that this was also God’s saving work because the basket is called an ark, the same word used to describe the vessel which saved Noah and his family through the great flood.

God was at work in Pharaoh’s daughter who took pity on this beautiful little Hebrew boy and defied her father’s orders.

Finally God was at work through Moses sister whose name we discover in Exodus 15:20 was Miriam.  Miriam while watching Moses being picked up by Pharaoh’s daughter had the presence of mind to run up to her and offer the services of a Hebrew wet-nurse. To Miriam’s great relief the suggestion was welcomed by Pharaoh’s daughter and Miriam raced off to fetch her mum. Imagine the joy Jochabed felt to see her own child and, instead of losing him to be paid to look after him at Pharaoh’s expense!

The point is that all these events took place in the providence of God in the fulfilment of His plan of salvation. God saved the child Moses,…. so that he could save the nation through whom the saviour of the world Jesus Christ would come.

Like Moses Jesus was born to save although according to Hebrews 3:3 Jesus is greater and more glorious than Moses. Jesus was no ordinary child but the son of God incarnate.

Like Moses he was also born under a death sentence. Herod saw him as a rival and determined to kill him by ordering that all the baby boys born in Bethlehem be put to death  As with Moses that deadly plan failed and Jesus escaped to Egypt. And there, like Moses the boy grew and became strong filled with wisdom.

But that’s where the comparison ends because Jesus did what Moses or any other person could not do. He died an atoning death for our sins and rose again for our justification. (Romans 4:25)

That then takes us to the third point

  1. Living by faith

The triumph over evil and the salvation God accomplished in history becomes ours when we trust God and accept Jesus Christ as our personal. We live by faith.

An example of such faith for us is seen in Moses parents, Amram and Jochabed . Hebrews 11:23 says; “By faith Moses, when he was born was hidden for three months by his parents  because they saw he was a beautiful child and they were not afraid of the kings edict.” This brave couple feared God more than they feared men and were determined to live by faith by obeying God.

The problem with Pharaoh was that he had no faith. He left God out of his thinking and his life completely. Tragically the next 13 chapters in the book of Exodus show us that Pharaoh paid dearly for his failure to acknowledge God.  On the other hand God never disappoints those who do trust him.

So we do learn an important lesson from this chapter about the faith which trusts God; not just with words but with actions. That is often not easy, especially in times of trial. A faith which survives the dark days is one that believes in the God who works through every situation for our good.

Look at our spiritual ancestors in Egypt! The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied! Amram and Jochabed trusted God and took the risk doing what they could to save their baby boy Moses, The outcome exceeded their expectations.

Similarly for us God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly,…  beyond all that we ask  or think according to the power that works within us. “ (Ephesians 3:20)

The Christian faith is also an expectant faith. When Abraham climbed Mt Moriah and his Son Isaac asked him “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering my son.” (Genesis 22: 8)

The Lord also provided midwives who refused to carry our Pharaoh’s plan and he provided Pharaoh’s daughter who had compassion on baby Moses. The Lord has provided us with a perfect sacrifice for sin in Christ and will he provide for every other need according to his perfect and holy Will.

Finally this account in Exodus 2 tell us that the Christians faith is a patient faith. From the time of Moses birth to the time of the Exodus was 80 years; a life time for many but if God’s people continued to trust Him and His chosen mediator they would all pass through the sea on dry land to safety.

So, keep the faith!  Too many give up on the church when trouble strikes like those who grumbled against Moses and against God in the desert on their way to the promised land saying let us go back to Egypt. They ended up perishing in the desert.

Clearly this account shows that God is on the side of those who trust him and who put Him first. He is the One who has the power to save. Amen.